Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum is great. I don't mean the beverage; that's good too, though if you're present when it's being made, the amount of butter relative to the amount of rum/other ingredients will not make your arteries feel very comfortable.

No, HBR is an excellent bluegrass group. (If they were a rap group, it would probably read Hott Butttered Rum or something. You gotta have those extra t's.) Several of their songs are so good that I have to think they have the potential to be another Yonder Mountain (self-promoting link to my highly successful lyrics site).

Here are the lyrics to one song I've been listening to a lot recently.

Across the Great Divide

I've been walkin' in my sleep
Countin' troubles 'stead of countin' sheep
Where the years went I can't say
I just turned around and they've gone away

I've been siftin' through the layers
Of dusty books and faded papers
They tell a story I used to know
And it was one that happened so long ago

It's gone away in yesterday
Now I find myself on the moutainside
Where the rivers change direction
Across the Great Divide

Now, I hear the owl a-callin'
Softly as the night was fallin'
With a question and I replied
But he's gone across the borderline


The finest hour that I have seen
Is the one that comes between
The edge of night and the break of day
It's when the darkness rolls away

Chorus Twice

[ All right, I'm just finding out that it's a cover. But it sure as hell feels like a bluegrass song. ]

Bored Housewife

So, has "feature blogs" that they like to promote for one reason or another. Today, one of those feature blogs was Bored Housewife.

Now, there's no question that the woman does indeed have a nice rack. But isn't the concept kind of cliche? And where's the compulsory porn tie-in? The fact that it doesn't have one is just plain weird.

A Ramen Noodles Puzzle

So, Ramen noodles (and other similarly-packaged fare) require boiling in a saucepan of hot water for about three minutes. Now, if I don't have a saucepan over which to boil the noodles, but I do have hot water, can I repeatedly pour hot water over those noodles and still get them a nice al dente?

These are the questions that science has no answer to. This is why I turn to Intelligent Design as a theory of nature. It has answers when it comes to the Ramen noodle puzzle.

But ultimately the answer is: yes, yes you can. But they won't be as soft as you had hoped.

In other news, the Christmas lights I put up in my apartment are so bright, that if I try to go to bed with them still on, they provide enough light to comfortably read a book.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

DSL nightmare

I hate SBC.

I wouldn't hate them so much if all they did was screw up my DSL order. No, I was fine when they did that in Chicago. But now, they've managed to screw up even more--to the tune of needed to send out a line engineer to fix something in my apartment or apartment building.

And of course they can't send someone on the weekend. No. To have a problem with your DSL, you have to be either: 1) a stay-at-home mom; 2) a student; or 3) unemployed.

Way to narrow it down, SBC.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The food comic

What other comic has so many one- or two-liners on food?

All McDonalds commercials end the same way: "prices and participation may vary." I want to open my own McDonalds and not participate in anything. I want to be a stubborn McDonalds owner. "Cheeseburgers? Nope. We got spaghetti!...And blankets. But we are not affiliated with that clown, he attracts too many children."

-Mitch Hedberg

Sunday, November 13, 2005

You might be a graduate student if...

# you look forward to summers because you're more productive without the distraction of classes.
# everything reminds you of something in your discipline.
# you find yourself explaining to children that you are in "20th grade".
# you start refering to stories like "Snow White et al."

From Dead Thesis Society.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Is YOUR last name a verb?

It's great having a last name that shouldn't be a noun/verb, but is. For example, if your last name was Kennedy, it would be weird if "The dog decided to kennedy his way to the pool".

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On Language

I've been on an English language kick during the past few days, and I came across a superb article by Orwell called "Politics and the English Language". It's superbly written, and spot on in many regards. Nevertheless, he doesn't develop much his point that sloppy writing or sloppy speaking leads to sloppy thinking. For some reason I get the sense that Orwell would have something particularly interesting to say, which makes his silence frustrating.

There is one bit in the article that is either famous, or should be famous:
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
Good stuff from the man who brought you 1984 and Animal Farm.

I should do a retrospective one of these days

You know, because I've had so many good posts over the months, and they should be revisited.

Actually, I've had close to zero. And most of them were probably on Hobo Obituaries, a blog which has a fantastic name but no one to write articles for it.

Anyway (the universal, ever-applicable transition word), some sort of organization released a list of the top ten Internet Events. It's not clear who exactly this organization is, or why the mainstream media actually picked up this story--besides the fact that people like lists of things, especially rankings--, but nevertheless I will perpetuate.

Lenghthy aside, which has no bearing on the above-mentioned list: The verb perpetuate, from now on, is not transitive (by my fiat). The transitive/intransitive distinction is a good one, and underappreciated. Transitive verbs take an object, while intransitive verbs don't. SO while I can say, "I run" (intransitive), you can't say, "I run St. Louis" (verb+object). You cannot say, "I put" (transitive+no object), you have to say, "I put the clock on the table" (transitive+object+preposition+object). I picked all of this up while learning Spanish, which goes to show that 1) learning English grammar for its own sake is boring and ineffective when taught in elementary school; 2) learning grammar is lots of fun when you learn it in another language, and then turn around and apply it to English. I learned the distinction in Spanish class.

Anyway, back to the list:

1. The Dotcom Boom and Bust (1995-2001)


2. The Drudge Report Breaks Lewinsky Scandal (1998)

A classic. A man who, previously, had had his own news show on Fox News but was fired because he showed (or wanted to show, I don't remember) an aborted fetus on the air. He wore one of those detective hats, too. How cool is that?

3. Amazon's Jeff Bezos Named Time's Man of the Year (December 1999)

Lame. They announce one of those every year. While I love Amazon, I don't buy into the whole dotcom-CEO-worship that the media does. Frankly, I don't care who owns all these companies whose products I use. I care about the damn products.

4. Elections Worldwide (2004). Howard Dean Revolutionizes Politics

Meh. Kind cool. Not a big Howard Dean fan, though.

5. September 11th (2001)

It was on every media outlet.

6. Asian Tsunami (2005)

Likewise. If you're not going to make a distinction between what is big news on the web, and what is big news everywhere, there's no point in putting out a list.

7. Napster Shut Down (July 2001)

This had a profound effect on college life nationwide. Big news.

8. Live 8 on AOL (July 2005)

Uhhh, no. This will be forgotten in a couple of months. You shouldn't confuse recent news with big news.

9. Booms (2002)

What? This is news in the sense that I'm just hearing about it as I'm scrolling down in this window, commenting on each item in the list. You literally just saw me learning this bit of news.

10. SARS Virus Discovered Online (2003)

Kinda tight.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Prose, and self-congratulation

Every once in awhile--say, every three or four months--I look back at what I've just written and stop, re-read it, and say to myself: "Damn, that's good prose".
If I am a subject under a socialist (or highly welfare-inclined) government, am I treating the poor well by paying my taxes (and thus supporting them indirectly via social programs) when I do so not for charity but for fear of punishment? It would seem that if society has forced me to be giving, it has robbed me of the opportunity to be charitable.
That's not the line I was looking for, but I stumbled across it just now and it reminded me of the idea of saying to myself, "damn good prose".