Mike Beversluis

Thursday, October 30, 2008

More of ...

Io vivro' senza te - I shall live without you. It deserves a translation of the lyrics, but I need to postpone it to some other time.


Jaimie Moyer - Ancient Mariner - World Series Champ

After 22 seasons Jaime Moyer gets championship

Moyer Guides Phillies to 2008 World Series Championship

Watching this World Series was kinda fun, as I would have been happy with either team winning - I liked the Rays youth and seeing their excellent management pay off, and I could root for the Phillies in part because of Moyer.

It was fun watching Moyer pitch for the Mariners in 2001, winning 20 games for that historic team. The better part was his Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig awards in 2003. He still lives in Seattle, with his wife and seven kids. I'm glad he finally made it to the champioinship and won. The amazing thing is that, given how low-impact his pitching style is, he'll probably be playing when he has an AARP card.

I'd love to see Edgar Martinez get into the Hall of Fame someday, but I doubt it because he got a late start and doesn't have the hit totals you'd like. Moyer has a good shot, I'd say, at 300 wins, and he should get in, either way.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star

MTV posts nearly every video online for free.

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Pretty

Thinking machine chess A.I. draws pictures while playing chess.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Schadenfreude is not attractive

But mea culpa, I enjoyed this premortem (née Washington Post-mortem, ha ha) of the newspaper industry's looming financial apocalypse. [via] In the spirit of reconciliation, let me hope that they rise again, phoenix-like from this fire, and other clichés.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bar Trek ha ha ha


Normally not a fan of the hipster t-shirts, but... Also, does Spock's expression seem a little alarmed because of Sulu back there?

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Life on Mars

I like the ABC remake of Life on Mars, or at least the two episodes I've seen so far. I can't compare it to the British original, but I'd be interested in checking it out now. I'm not sure if the Bowie reference made any sense in the first one, but I doubt it will now. Maybe that will become manifest in one of his magical realism hallucinations. Harvey Keitel is fun as always, and the rest of the cast is solid too - Dean Winters, Gretchen Mol, etc. I'll pretty much watch anything with Dean Winters in it. Michael Imperioli sports ridiculous '70's facial hair.

BUT, like Mad Men, the show pulls a fast one by moralizing over the prejudices of that time. And in Life on Mars, the main character sermonizes for us instead of leaving it implicit. My, aren't we so enlightened compared to those neanderthals... Pot meet kettle, timber in your eye, etc. etc.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Worth a look



I read through World War Z last night, and really liked it. It's written as a serires of interview transcripts with various characters - doctors, smugglers, soldiers, survivors, etc., and their disjointed union tells the tale of a massive outbreak of a deadly zombie virus. It's very War of the Worlds in its style. Easily found at my favorite book store, the library.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I, for one, welcome my freeloading overlords


In general, I don't have a problem paying taxes. I pay a lot of taxes, but I like living in a fancy part of the city, and I like driving on free roads, and I like libraries, and I think (with some self-interest) that national security is important, and it's important to take care of the weak and needy.

BUT, I do think that there will be a long term problem if the majority votes themselves government spending programs for which they don't have to pay for at all. No, I'm not ready to shrug, but c'mon. Consider this to be less Ayn Randish, and more Myles Standish.

N.B., I'm not sure how they calculated the above numbers. It's in the NY Times, so caveat emptor.

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Slip-sliding away


The San Andreas Fault runs through a orchard, creating a slip-dislocation.

From 5 enormous cracks.

And, no, plumbers are not involved. [via]

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Reality vs Total Recall


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Students Unite!

You have only your student loans to lose: America's Most Overrated Product: the Bachelor's Degree


[..] Today, amazingly, a majority of the students whom colleges admit are grossly underprepared. Only 23 percent of the 1.3 million high-school graduates of 2007 who took the ACT examination were ready for college-level work in the core subjects of English, math, reading, and science.

Perhaps more surprising, even those high-school students who are fully qualified to attend college are increasingly unlikely to derive enough benefit to justify the often six-figure cost and four to six years (or more) it takes to graduate. Research suggests that more than 40 percent of freshmen at four-year institutions do not graduate in six years. Colleges trumpet the statistic that, over their lifetimes, college graduates earn more than nongraduates, but that's terribly misleading. You could lock the collegebound in a closet for four years, and they'd still go on to earn more than the pool of non-collegebound — they're brighter, more motivated, and have better family connections.


Previously: Are Too Many People Going to College?

(yes)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now that gas is super cheap again, who cares?

But, this guy won a fuel economy contest with his Corvette Z06. Obvs, the rules were a little different than you might think, with the goal to get the biggest percentage improvement over the manufactuer's rating.

Occasionally I try to "hypermile" and see what I can get my TSX to do. It's spec'd at 20/30MPG city/highway. Cruising at 80 usually gives 32MPG, but I took it down to 55 and with a little help from my friendly beltway friends, I got 42MPG on a 72 mile round-trip from Alexandria to Gaithersburg. Not too shabby, but I only would have scored 42% better in the test above - I would have beat the Yaris though. To celebrate, I took fifteen cross-country flights.

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A bit of nostalgia


I miss Louis Rukeyser, and I wish he was around to comment on all of this. It would be reassuring to hear from someone who looked like George Washington. Which was an appropriate look for him after he won the George Washington Honor Medal of the Freedoms Foundation.

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For Laura




Hey, when you wanna unlock your kids from the basement, you can keep them "safe" in this snake-proof "crib."

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A wee bit to the left

The eyeballing game.

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Even worse than the real thing

Apparently this was one of the better candidates from the latest Turing test: Elbot

Take one look at Youtube comments, and it's quite apparent that things would be better with the proverbial thousand monkeys, but man, the computer programs are still a ways off.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is the universe still precariously balanced in my favor?

Eric Hoffer: The True Believer

Offhand one would expect that the mere possession of power would automatically result in a cocky attitude toward the world and a receptivity to change. But it is not always so. The powerful can be as timid as the weak. What seems to count more than possession of instruments of power is faith in the future. Where power is not joined with faith in the future, it is used mainly to ward off the new and preserve the status quo. On the other hand, extravagant hope, even when not backed by actual power, is likely to generate a most reckless daring. For the hopeful can draw strength from the most ridiculous sources of power -- a slogan, a word, a button. No faith is potent unless it is also faith in the future; unless it has a millennial component. So, too, an effective doctrine: as well as being a source of power, it must also claim to be a key to the book of the future.

Those who would transform a nation or the world cannot do so by breeding and captaining discontent or by demonstrating the reasonableness and desirability of the intended changes or by coercing people into a new way of life. They must know how to kindle and fan an extravagant hope.

[..]

Both the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, they who have achieved much or little can be afraid of the future. When the present seems so perfect that the most we can expect is its even continuation in the future, change can only mean deterioration. Hence men of outstanding achievement and those who live full, happy lives usually set their faces against drastic innovation. The conservatism of invalids and people past middle age stems, too, from fear of the future. They are on the lookout for signs of decay, and feel that any change is more likely to be for the worse than for the better. The abjectly poor also are without faith in the future. The future seems to them a booby trap buried on the road ahead. On must step gingerly. To change things is to ask for trouble.


Our bank and financial system's failure, and the moral failures of both lenders and borrowers which underpin them, are very real problems. Their correction will involve displacement and difficulty for many people.

But at the same time, I read Hoffer and agree that we are plagued by unwarranted self-doubt, and the panic and fear that swirl inchoate around us stems not from our current weakness, but from the opposite condition of our long-time dominance. That it stems from the belief that we are, or were, at the pinnacle of development and existence, and that we now face our inevitable decline.

Frankly, I don't think so at all, and despite my own (slight and vague) concern about my job, it has to be tempered by my very blessed existence. It seems perverse to live in such wealth and yet be so unhappy and worried about losing it. And if I am wrong, I feel that much of what I worry about are lilies of the field, and that if they are gone tomorrow, then I will still be okay. We'll see how that works out.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

How green was my valley

Try to quantify that, if you dare. Otherwise, check out this review for How round is your circle? Where Engineering and Mathematics Meet.

Let's start with the book's title, which is connected to the problem of how to determine whether a roundish object is exactly round, to a certain tolerance. This turns out to be much trickier than one would expect. For a start, there are the curves of constant width (such as the Reuleaux triangle, which is made by drawing three 60-degree arcs of a circle centered at the vertices of an equilateral triangle). Because one can make such curves with many bumps, a device that just checks several diameters for equality can be fooled. The authors describe various ways in which one might try to confirm roundness, but they all have drawbacks, and when it comes to the definitive answer, Bryant and Sangwin admit that it takes very complicated machinery to perform a proper check (basically by rotating the given object around an axis).


Click on through for more.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Show Your Bones - A Timely Review

The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Show Your Bones is pretty good. Not as good as Fever to Tell, but a couple of very good songs. Gold Lion isn't even the best one. Cheated Hearts is (so-so video). Yeah, they're artsy with a capital A - easily the most so since Franz Ferdinand or Talking Heads, or whomever the whipersnappers are listening to nowadays Yeasayer?. Yesh. Why not get David Lynch to direct all of your videos while you're at it. That said, those bands wrote some catchy tunes, and what could be more unforgivable than that?

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Halfsies

Greg Mankiw's modest proposal to help recapitalize the financial market.

I peeked at my 401k yesterday. I'm going to pretend I didn't and not look again for a few years.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Denied again

2008 Ig Nobels

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Nucular

Nucular:

Nucular is an ad hoc spelling of an incorrect pronunciation of the word nuclear, representing the IPA: /ˈnjuːkjələr/ (NEW-cue-lurr) pronunciation of that word instead of the correct /ˈnjuːkliːɚ/ (NEW-klee-urr).

[...]


Steven Pinker has proposed a phonotactic explanation for the conversion of nuclear to nucular: the unusual and disfavored sequence [kli.ər] is gradually transformed to a more acceptable configuration via metathesis. However, Arnold Zwicky notes that [kli.ər] presents no difficulty for English speakers in words such as pricklier. He also regards the proposition of metathesis as unnecessary. Zwicky suggests a morphological origin, combining the slang nuke with the common sequence -cular (molecular, particular, etc.).[9] Supporting Zwicky's hypothesis, Geoffrey Nunberg quotes a government weapons specialist: "Oh, I only say 'nucular' when I'm talking about nukes."[10]

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

What else



This one was written by Lucio Battisti, who had a success a singer as well despite not having great singing talents; in fact he had a success as a singer only because he sang his own songs, that he knew how to write.
When translating I met again with the fact that I cannot make total sense of the lyrics (my fault perhaps); what does it mean exactly "two people that do not hope but keep looking for each other" in this context where everything else gives the impression that the two people in fact know each other? (there is a bit of complication, the italian expression "si stan cercando" in this context in my opinion really implies that you don't know where the other person is). But it could be that the singer is thinking about someone she has lost; and in any case let us give a little bit of poetic credit.


E penso a te
And I think of you




Io lavoro e penso a teI work, and think of you
Torno a casa e penso a teGo back home, and think of you
Io telefono e intantoI'm on the phone and in the meantime
penso a te I think of you.
Come stai, e penso a teHow are you, and I think of you
Dove andiamo, e penso a teWhere shall we go, and I think of you
Gli sorrido, abbasso gli occhiI smile to him, lower my eyes,
e penso a teand I think of you
Non so con chi adesso seiI don't know with whom you are right now
Non so che cosa faiI don't know what you are doing
ma so di certo a cosa but I know with certainty
stai pensandowhat you are thinking about
e' troppo grande la citta'the city is way too big
per due che come noifor two people like us
non sperano pero'do not hope but
si stan cercando ... cercandothey keep looking for each other... looking for each other.
Scusa e' tardi, e penso a te I am sorry, it's getting late, and I think of you
ti accompagno, e penso a teI'll walk you, and I think of you
non son stata divertente eI wasn't fun tonight, and
penso a tethink of you
sono al buio, e penso a teI am in the dark, and think of you
chiudo gli occhi, e penso a teI close my eyes, and think of you
io non dormo e...penso a teI can't sleep and ... think of you.
Non so con chi adesso seiI don't know with whom you are right now
Non so che cosa faiI don't know what you are doing
ma so di certo a cosa but I know with certainty
stai pensandowhat you are thinking about
e' troppo grande la citta'the city is way too big
per due che come noifor two people like us
non sperano pero'do not hope but
si stan cercando ... cercandothey keep looking for each other... looking for each other.
Scusa e' tardi, e penso a te I am sorry, it's getting late, and I think of you
ti accompagno, e penso a teI'll walk you, and I think of you
non son stata divertente eI wasn't fun tonight, and
penso a tethink of you
sono al buio, e penso a teI am in the dark, and think of you
chiudo gli occhi, e penso a teI close my eyes, and think of you
io non dormo e...penso a teI can't sleep and ... think of you.

The anti-Segwey


One of these power-trowels has been working on the building next door. It is indeed just cool, as it slides and spins across the surface. It's amazing that someone gets paid to ride this thing.

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Check out this fully operational Death Star pumpkin


more

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Senator, I do not recall

Whether I linked to this before, and I'm too lazy to search - all that typing and clicking! But, it's worthwhile to check back in on tryork5ifp's ebay profile.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Ah, that explains it


The source of many problems, it would seem.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

NYCotD

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