Friday, September 23, 2005

Great High Mountain

I`m still climbing upward and my journey`s almost ended
I`m nearing the top and you ought to see the view
Oh the water flows freely, there`s enough to make you free
So friend if you`re thirsty climb this mountain with me
Cold Mountain is a superb movie if you like both sappy movies and great bluegrass music. Yeah, that may not qualify a lot of people...

"Handbags at dawn" (My new favorite phrase)

From the OED:

handbag, n.
2. colloq. (chiefly Brit., esp. in Association Football). In pl. A confrontation, esp. one which is ineffectual or histrionic; originally and chiefly (replacing pistols) in phrases alluding to a duel, as handbags at dawn (also at ten paces, etc). Also (in sing.) attrib., as handbag situation, etc.

1987 Times 1 Jan. 24/7 Who said what in the world of sport in 1986... It was a case of handbags at three paces and he was unlucky. 1990 Independent (Nexis) 26 Mar. 14 Another such relationship was with Terence Rattigan whose In Praise of Love (1973) was extracted page by page; always with [John] Dexter's threat that it would be ‘handbags at dawn’ if the work did not satisfy him. 1994 Daily Tel. (Nexis) 25 May 13 One case in which he and the Crystal Palace player Andy Gray were shown the red card was ‘more of a handbag situation, where you push and shove’. 1997 News of World 14 Dec. 74/3 It was handbags in the dressing room but we were able to sort things out. 1998 P. LOVESY Death Duties (1999) xv. 101 Come mob-handed, have you Ruth? What's it to be, handbags at twenty paces? 2001 Evening Chron. (Newcastle) (Electronic ed.) 30 Mar., All I saw was some pushing and shoving. Really, it was no more than handbags at 10 paces.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Samuel Johnson

I recently found a superb site on quotations of Samuel Johnson; one section has general quotes, and one has quotes from his Dictionary. I recognized quite a few of them, and yet I don't think I knew they were from Johnson; some are funny, some are just good. Here is a sampling:
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

"A man of genius has been seldom ruined but by himself."

"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned."

Distiller: One who makes and sells pernicious and inflammatory spirits.

Excise: A hateful tax levied upon commodities, and adjudged not by the common judges of property, but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.

Far-fetch: A deep stratagem. A ludicrous word.

Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.

Pension: An allowance made to any one without an equivalent. In England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.

[ Editor's note: Johnson was a Tory. ] Tory: One who adheres to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy of the church of England, opposed to a Whig.

Whig: The name of a faction.

To worm: To deprive a dog of something, nobody knows what, under his tongue, which is said to prevent him, nobody knows why, from running mad.

The Simpsons - Still (kinda) got it!

"If Scooby Doo has taught me anything, it's that the only thing to fear is crooked real estate developers" -- Lisa

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Green tea is good for you

Green tea has been shown by researchers to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. From an AP article:
An ingredient in green tea has prevented Alzheimer's disease-like brain damage in mice, researchers report.

The compound, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), decreased production of the protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and causes nerve damage and memory loss.
Now, what's the moral of the article? Feed your pet mouse green tea so it doesn't come down with Alzheimer's.

Just when we thought the tides were turning

After a recent spate of articles lauding the beneficial, and indeed salubrious, effects of wine, beer, and alcohol in general, there comes word of a new study showing that beer may be linked with a higher incidence of colon cancer:
Patients defined as heavy beer or spirits drinkers had more than twice the risk of developing significant colorectal tumors, compared with abstainers or moderate consumers, the authors report. Moderate wine drinkers, on the other hand, faced about half the risk experienced by abstainers.

Colorectal tumors were also associated with age older than 60 years, smoking and obesity, the report indicates.

The investigators note that “patients who regularly drink spirits have an increased risk for significant colorectal (tumors) and perhaps should be targeted for risk modification by their gastroenterologist in addition to their primary care physician.”

In fact, Anderson noted, “I would target anyone who has more than one beer or drink per day.” He added that he and his colleagues are currently comparing the effects of red and white wine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Planck's Chauffeur

From a rather wide-ranging, and anecdote-filled speech of some sort, about what needs improvement in economics:
By the way there’s a famous story about Max Planck which is apocryphal: After he won his prize, he was invited to lecture everywhere, and he had this chauffeur that drove him around to give public lectures all through Germany. And the chauffeur memorized the lecture, and so one day he said, “Gee Professor Planck, why don’t you let me try it as we switch places?” And so he got up and gave the lecture. At the end of it some physicist stood up and posed a question of extreme difficulty. But the chauffeur was up to it. “Well,” he said, “I’m surprised that a citizen of an advanced city like Munich is asking so elementary a question, so I’m going to ask my chauffeur to respond.”

Health Care Costs: Notice a Pattern?

From, a list of the top ten costliest metropolitan areas in the U.S.:

Rank -- Metropolitan Area -- Percent prices were above the average
1 - La Crosse, WI-MN ---- 48%
2 - Wausau, WI ---- 46%
3 - Eau Claire, WI ---- 42%
4 - Madison, WI ---- 41%
5 - Jonesboro, AR ---- 35%
6 - Janesville-Beloit, WI ---- 32%
7 - Great Falls, MT ---- 29%
8 - Green Bay, WI ---- 28%
9 - Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI ---- 27%
10 - Racine, WI ---- 24%

I think it's pretty clear that the Democrats are to blame for this one.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Damn them interest rates!

"As the implications of Blinder's words dawned on Clinton, the president-elect turned red and, in a critical moment of self-awareness, declared: "You mean to tell me that the success of the program and my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?" (quoted from Maestro, pp. 126)

Monday, September 12, 2005

I heard him talkin' to some chick through a thick ghost of smoke

Through a thicker haze of Southern Comfort and Coke...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Proverbs, proverbs everywhere

...and not a one to drink!

Notwithstanding my Yahoo-topping previous post on proverbs, there's a list of superb proverbs from a Roman named Syrus.

The good thing about proverbs is their parsimony: you can pack a whole lot of wisdom into a single sentence, avoiding unnecessary tangents, observations, and illustrations.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

It's the pants

If you think of how many advances in technology we've seen over the past ten years, there have been a lot, what with computers, cell phones, wireless internet, etc. But when it really comes down to it, when we really think what advance has fundamentally changed the fabric of human society and day-to-day life, the greatest advance we've seen must be that my pants are now invincible.

Think of it: They do not wrinkle. The crease (more or less) stays with them after they're washed. You can spill things on them, and the liquid just slides right off. I had nearly a half glass of water spilled on them a few weeks ago, and it just didn't matter. I panicked at first, before realizing that nothing can phase the modern pair of pants.

What makes recent advances in pants technology most impressive is that the human race has been wearing pants for a very long time, and over that time they have remained more or less the same. After all, it's hard to "improve" clothing. Sure, fashions change, and so how clothing appears certainly changes often enough, but improvements in actual pants technology? The invention of the pocket is the only other advance that comes to mind. That was a big one.

Now, my question (a variation on the "if you're clean when you use a towel, why do you ever have to wash it?) is: if modern pants are invincible, why do we have to wash them?

And the answer?:

Who says we wash them?