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October 31, 2004


Jan writes

I just downloaded the trial version of Keyhole 2 NV, and it's pretty darn amazing. I'm sure you've all seen satellite photos of your own house before, but the hook in the Keyhole app is that you can drop from space all the way down to your house. Because of caching, the drop works much better the second time around. I also found our old apartment in Daikanyama, Tokyo. (Big cities get much higher-res coverage.) The "Tilt" feature is more interesting than I thought—don't miss Mt. St. Helens. Way, way cool.

[From (Jan's) archives] Meet the purple team.

In the 1999 game, we stopped our van, bristling with electronic equipment, just outside the World Trade Center. I'm sure we weren't legally parked. Five team purple members in matching shirts embroidered with scrabble letters spelling "PERMUTE PAL" (a TEAM PURPLE anagram, duh) jumped out of the van nearly simultaneously, carrying walkie talkies. I don't remember what we looking for—certainly no clues that I remember ended up being in the WTC. Then a WTC security guard stopped us. "What are you guys doing?" he asked us. "Uh, well, this is just a game," we said. The guard said, "Oh, I thought y'all we're the A-Team," and continued his rounds.

Nowadays, we probably would have been shot on sight, instead.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:27 PM

Darth Vader unmasked


Posted by tplambeck at 08:57 PM

Grim Reaper


Posted by tplambeck at 08:55 PM

October 30, 2004

Ponchai Wilkerson

One of the many executed in Texas before the Shrub became Resident of the United States:

(March 15, 2000) HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A convicted killer who twice escaped his Texas death row cell stunned authorities during his execution by spitting out a small key as lethal chemicals flowed into his body. "The secret, as of Wilkerson," Ponchai Wilkerson mumbled, according to James Brazzil, a chaplain who stood next to the inmate in the death chamber Tuesday evening. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Larry Fitzgerald described the inch-and-a-half key as a universal handcuff and leg restraint key. It's unknown how Wilkerson got it.


Posted by tplambeck at 12:28 AM

Electoral operating system and browser

Results by Operating System usage:

* Windows users picked George Bush 55.80% to 41.00%.
* Macintosh users picked John Kerry 58.10% to 39.40%
* Linux users also picked John Kerry 87.50% to 12.50% in a small sample

Result by Browser usage:

* Internet Explorer users picked Bush 55.80% to 41.10%
* Firefox users picked Bush 49.70% to 43.60%
* Safari users almost mirrored the MacIntosh results 60% to 38%

The Firefox numbers just can't be right. link

Posted by tplambeck at 12:13 AM

October 29, 2004

Kelly Blue


Recorded 10 March 1959. Amazon helpfully recalls

Instant Order Update for Thane Plambeck. You purchased this item on October 26, 2004.

Sure did.

So should you.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:49 PM

Lunar Eclipse

Using an image-stabilized telephoto lens, I tried to take photos of the 28 October 2004 total lunar eclipse from the street in front of our house. It was 7:20pm Pacific time, and the eclipse was not yet total. I kept having problems with overexposure and multiple images.


I did end up with a good picture of the great pumpkin.

From the archives (10 June 2002): Dozens of partial solar eclipse images cast onto our garage by light passing through tree leaves.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:20 PM

The wizards of career management

From an essay by the music critic Michael Steinberg:

At a recent concert I found myself seated next to a lively and charming woman, a retired professor, and at some point during our chat she said, "Of course, the greatest living artist is X." Now, X is a first-rate musician. What bothered me was the idea that there could be such a creature as the "greatest living artist." It is typical of the distractions that the wizards of career management set in our path daily. It is a distraction from music itself, and it is a disservice in that it promotes the lie that a Beethoven concerto becomes worth our attention only when it is performed by a superstar. Those eternal cocktail party questions, "Which do you think is the greatest orchestra in the world?" or "Who do you think is the greatest conductor?" are fatiguing and discouraging, not just because I don't know the answer, not even because there can be no answer, but because the sources of those questions are so confused. An outstandingly successful concert pianist remarked not long ago that this is fast turning into a society where merely to be very good at something is regarded as a birth defect.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:00 PM

Terminal Tours

We have escorted people like you all over the world. Our pilgrims have traveled to Lourdes, the Parthenon, Graceland, and other religious sites.

[My italics. The link]

Posted by tplambeck at 01:54 PM

October 28, 2004

Clearview font

Reading about fonts mandated by the federal government for use on highway road signs, I learned two terms : halation and overglow:

On a road with a posted speed limit of 45 mph, a driver is traveling at 66 feet per second. With Clearview-Bold, the desired destination legend is recognized 1.3 seconds earlier (84 feet) and with greater accuracy, giving the driver significantly more time to react to the information displayed.


Standard Alphabets for Traffic Control Devices

Posted by tplambeck at 10:56 PM

October 27, 2004


surface features of Titan

Posted by tplambeck at 10:53 PM


hobbit joins family tree

Posted by tplambeck at 10:38 PM


The American League half of hell may have frozen over, but it's still hot over on the National side.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:20 PM

October 26, 2004

Der Schornstein muss rauchen

Der Schornstein muss rauchen

I had trouble with this one. Literally—"The chimney must smoke."

I think it means something along the lines of "things need to go well?" Anyone?

Note added later. OK, I found this

Früher, als alle Welt noch Kohle verfeuerte, gab es eine Redewendung, die hiess: Der Schornstein muss rauchen. Sie sollte ausdrücken, dass die Wirtschaft zu funktionieren hat, wenn ein Land bestehen und vorankommen will. Nicht gemeint war damit, dass Ökonomie ein Selbstzweck sein sollte.

Knitwear translation:

In earlier times, when people still burned coal, there was an expression—the chimney must smoke. It was supposed to mean that the economy must function well if a country is to improve its station. It was not supposed to mean that the economy was to be the only goal of the society.

So I guess it's more along the lines of "gotta chop down a few trees to build a house" (which may not actually be an idiomatic expression in English, but no matter).

Or maybe "can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs?".

Posted by tplambeck at 11:33 PM

Eric Alterman

From an essay in The Nation by Eric Alterman, "When Presidents Lie," 25 October 2004:

On the one hand, Americans carry an unrealistic picture of the world "in their heads"—one based on their faith in their own divine direction, disinterested altruism and democratic bona fides rather than the realities of politics, force, and diplomacy. But education has never lived up to Dewey's hopes, and Lippman's critique of the inherent ability of democracy to cope with complexity remains salient. These failures, moreover, are exaggerated in the American case by a particular distaste for the practice of power politics and media that have insufficient incentive to provide the basics of civic literacy to their audience. Even those Presidents with the best of intentions come to view deception as an unavoidable consequence of a system that simply cannot integrate the unpleasant realities of international diplomacy.
Posted by tplambeck at 11:10 PM

In the neighborhood

Plenty of Democratic contributors

I'm not listed. I think it's because all my donations came too late to make the cutoff for their database.

Not so many Republicans

Looks like somebody famous has given $2000 to Kerry twice (is that allowed?) and also the same to Wesley Clark, Dick Gephardt, and Howard Dean.


Posted by tplambeck at 10:45 PM


Titan's first closeup; also fly-by movie (quicktime)

Posted by tplambeck at 10:32 PM

Der Köchel Schuberts


If you ever want to write a book about Mozart or Schubert, Otto Erich Deutsch [german link] is your man. His "Documentary Bibliographies" contain nicely cleaned up copies of all the contemporaneous source material—for example, letters to and from Mozart, petitions by Mozart or his father for work, concert programs, testimonials written by people who witnessed Mozart performing as a child, newspaper announcements, journal entries, and much more. So in one volume, you have all (or practically all) relevant material about Mozart (or Schubert). There's no need to go any farther looking for new stuff (although I'm sure many people do).

Instead, you just read Otto's book, and then write your own.

Here is an excerpt from "Daines Barrington's Report on Mozart" to the Royal Society, 28 November 1769:

I carried to him a manuscript duet, which was composed by an English gentleman to some favourite words in Matastasio's opera of Demofoonte. The whole score was in five parts, viz. accompaniments for a first and second violin, the two vocal parts, and a base. I shall here likewise mention, that the parts for the first and second voice were written in what Italians stile the Contralto clef; the reason for taking notice of whic particular will appear hereafter. My intention in carrying with me this manuscript composition, was to have an irrefragable proof his abilities, as a player at sight, it being absolutely impossible that he could have ever seen the music before. The score was no more sooner put upon his desk, than he began to play the symphony in a most masterful manner, as well as in the time and stile which corresponded with the intention of the the composer. I mention this circumstance, because the greatest masters often fail in these particulars at the first trial. The symphony ended, he took the upper part, leaving the under one to his father. His voice in the tone of it was thin and infantine, but nothing could exceed the masterly manner in which he sung [...] When he had finished the duet, he expressed himself highly in its approbation, asking with some eagerness whether I had brought any more such music...

From pg 415 of his Mozart book, in a chapter with title "1791":

From the "Weiner Zeitung", 3 December 1791

New Music

At the Musikalishes Magazin [...] have appeared completely new works, fresh from the press, on the best paper, well and correctly engraved, viz:

From the opera die Zauberflöte by Herr Mozart:

Terzetto: "Seid uns zum zweitenmal wilkommen" for the pianoforte, 15 kr.

Duetto: "Bei Männer, welche Liebe Fühlen", 15 kr.

Aria: "In diesen heilgen Mauern," 10 kr.

On 3 December there was a slight improvement in Mozart's condition.

At 2pm on 4 December a kind of rehearsal of the as yet unfinish Requiem was held at Mozart's sick bed.

Count Franz Walsegg-Stuppach (see 2 April 1788) had the Requiem commissioned from Mozart anonymously in Spring, 1791, wishing to perform it as his own composition in memory of his late wife. Mozart had already tried out parts of the work with Constanze, Süssmayer and other friends at his home. On this occasion he sang the alto part to Schack's falsetto, Hofer's tenor and Gerl's bass.

On Monday 5 December 1791, a five minutes to 1 am, Mozart died.

Dr Closset had been called in during the evening of 4 December, but was unable to do anything more. The diagnosis at the time was "heated miliary fever"; the supposition today is that the cause of death was a "uraemic coma following a lengthy kidney disease." (Aloys Greither)

The book goes on for over 300 more pages, though. Otto explains:

The series of documents extends as far beyond Mozart's death as I consider useful, and for the first time brings together all the memoirs of him that are worthy of credence or consideration and were written or published during the ensuing 100 years.
Posted by tplambeck at 10:14 PM

October 25, 2004

Suzuki Violin I

Cole and I are learning how to play "Perpetual Motion":


Posted by tplambeck at 11:22 PM

Donald Runnicles

From an article at the Washington Post:

Last month, while talking to a reporter from the Austrian daily Der Standard, conductor Donald Runnicles said, "I would really have to think about whether I could stay there [in the United States] if Bush wins a second time."
Runnicles, who is Scottish-born, is the music director of the San Francisco Opera and principal conductor of the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York. But it was in Atlanta, where he holds the relatively more minor position as principal guest conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, where he got the most flak. Not liking George W. Bush—not liking him to the point of fantasizing about leaving America—doesn't raise eyebrows in the rhetorical landscape of blue-state America. But those are fighting words in more conservative Atlanta (where Runnicles was instant fodder for right-wing talk radio), and the Atlanta Symphony and Runnicles quickly issued statements.
"The recent comments made by ASO Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles, reflect his personal opinion and not the opinion of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra," read a statement released by the symphony. Runnicles was abjectly apologetic: "I profoundly regret that my words might have had any negative impact on the ASO, which is so clearly a matter of civic pride for the city and the state."

Posted by tplambeck at 11:10 PM

who knows?

From a nice article on the wikipedia at the guardian:

The truth is that Wikipedia is continuously evolving. There are now around 3,000 new entries being added each day (about 700-800 of which are in English); and as the site has got bigger, so has the amount of editing that takes place on it. In September this year, there were an average of 11 edits per article. The entry on the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been edited more than 250 times this year alone.
The most contested entry, though, is that of George Bush, which has caused so much controversy that it has been frozen from editing. It had had more than 500 edits between August and the start of October, and there are more than 13 pages of discussion about the entry.

I arrived at the wikipedia yesterday, searching on the term "romance languages." I'd wondered—how many are there, really? My first thought was, hmmm, let's see, maybe four? Then I thought, well, maybe some of those little countries in Europe have their own languages? OK, maybe eight?

I underestimated.

I just checked to see what the current most recently changed entry is. It's a page updated thirty seconds ago on the Montreal Underground City.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:11 PM

October 24, 2004

Geological homophones



Posted by tplambeck at 11:06 PM

In search of the incompatible food triad

[wikipedia problem statement].

George Hart has the latest research.

Posted by tplambeck at 03:40 PM

October 21, 2004

At gladwell.com

This is probably in the category of "Okay, so it's another problem. I've got plenty of problems already!" (something David Robbins once said to me, in response to a question about something he was working on), but anyway:

Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?
Posted by tplambeck at 11:31 PM

Note to self

I don't want to forget this:

Tune in to Titan: NASA TV Coverage of Cassini Titan Flyby Begins at 6:30 p.m. (PST) on Oct. 26.

It's good to have no TV to turn off prior to enjoying an Internet broadcast.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:11 PM

October 20, 2004

On stage with the Emerson String Quartet

THE SCENE: The Tresidder Student Union, on the campus of Stanford University. It's 7:45pm, and THANE is watching the bottom of the 6th inning of the seventh game of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

He is carrying this ticket in his wallet:


A WOMAN enters the coffee house.

WOMAN: Would anyone like to buy an extra ticket for the Emerson String Quartet? It's starting now, right close to here...

THANE: No thanks (I know I have a ticket already, which I haven't looked at).

[The Red Sox retire the Yankees in the bottom of the 6th. It's time to head across the way into the Dinkelspiel auditorium. Amazingly, the Red Sox lead the Yankees 8-1. It would be nice to watch the end of the game, but THANE is a huge Emerson string quartet fan.]


USHER: (Takes ticket)—Ah, this is a good seat, almost the front row....

USHER: Let's see, seat 118. Oh, you would be in the very last seat on this row.

THANE: Thanks very much.

[The seat is not a bad one, but it is at the extreme left, in the second row. But there are no truly bad seats in Dinkelspiel. It's a small auditorium. THANE takes his seat, and unfolds the cryptic crossword of The Nation magazine to occupy himself prior to the performance, just 10 minutes away. Enter GRAD STUDENT, taking seat just next to THANE.]

GRAD STUDENT: Whoa. Look at that lectern on the stage. We can't see a thing. Especially the pianist. It's going to block all of us.

[THANE looks up, for the first time. The grad student is correct. The lectern is in the way. In fact, more in THANE's way, than the GRAD STUDENTs.]

THANE: Yeah, that really shouldn't be there. What are they going to do, give a lecture? Someone should just move it. I guess we could move it, right now...

GRAD STUDENT: Well, I might wait until the intermission. [To USHER]: Will they be moving that lectern?

USHER: Uh. What. I don't know.

[This inspires little confidence in THANE].

THANE: [To GRAD STUDENT, and to others in the area] Well, if they leave it there, I'm going up on stage to move it. [Thinking: surely I'm not going to have to do that...]


SENIOR USHER: The lectern will be moved. Don't worry.

Enter ALAN SKLAR, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford. (Thane doesn't know him yet, but will later). He is with a friend, perhaps his wife.

SKLAR: [Examining his ticket]. Oh—our seats aren't together?

GRAD STUDENT: Would you like to switch with me? Here, you can both sit here.

SKLAR: [Doesn't realize he's being messed with by the GRAD STUDENT]. OK.

THANE: [To SKLAR]: Don't worry, the ushers say that lectern will be moving before the performance.

SKLAR: [Regards lectern]. Ah. Good.

[BORING LIVELY ARTS PRESENTER enters, and stands behind the lectern. There is no applause.]

PRESENTER: World renowned....blah-blah. The lively arts family....the community...blah-blah. And now, I present: The Emerson String Quartet!

[LIGHTS UP. AUDIENCE (a sell out) is applauding loudly.]

THANE: [Half outloud] "C'mon guys, the lectern..."

[Nearby USHERS look like so many waxen renditions of minor figures from the Andropov Politburo.]

SKLAR: Let's move it. Do you want to move it?

THANE: Lets go....

[SKLAR and THANE climb up the stairs onto the stage, temporarily standing directly in the way of EUGENE DRUCKER and the rest of the Emerson String Quartet, who are trying to make their entrance on stage.]


[The AUDIENCE is applauding. But THANE and SKLAR are blocking the quartet. Still, THANE and SKLAR pick up the lectern, and move it aside, off stage, then return to their seats. There are a few titters audible in the audience]

[Delightful Mozart and Britten quartets....]

SKLAR: The final movement of that Mozart. [K. 387 (1782), G major]. It's so clever.

[It's INTERMISSION. SKLAR is in the lobby. THANE has returned to his seat]


WAGNER: You really shouldn't have done that. They told you the lectern was going to move.

THANE: Well, we got it out of the way okay.

WAGNER: You moved it right into their face! Don't do it again. If we say we're going to move it, it means we're going to move it, OK? Don't do it again.

THANE: [Thinking: "what do you think, I'm some kind of serial lectern mover?" Also thinking— "I wish SKLAR were here—he's so much more distinguished looking than me." (Sklar looks a bit like Freud, especially after you know he is a psychiatrist).] [To WAGNER]: OK.



THANE: Well, you missed the scolding.

SKLAR: Oh? What happened? I'm sorry I missed it.

THANE: Lois Wagner came over and said, "Don't do it again." You know, I was saying before you arrived that I would move the lectern, but at the critical moment I don't think I would have done it. Lois said someone was going to move the lectern, but I don't know—I didn't see anyone who looked like they were going to move the lectern. I'm glad you said, "Let's go."

SKLAR: Yes, you could have just blamed me. Don't worry, we did good—the people in the lobby—they were congratulating me.

THANE: It's been a pleasure working with you.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:58 PM

October 19, 2004

A flickr photo of Jerry Brown

Every time I see a photo of Jerry Brown, he seems to have changed in some unexpected way.

I remember when he suddenly lost all his hair. Another time, his face abruptly took on an oval shape, upsetting my previously aquiline notion of his appearance.

This time it looks like he has sprinkled flour over his eyebrows.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:33 PM

Schadenfreude Bush

A new search term is suddenly popping up in my web server logs—people are searching on the phrase "Schadenfreude Bush." Maybe they're looking for this:

Schadenfreude Bush

...but that's somewhat old information. Maybe it's something else?

Having strange search terms appear in your web logs is like being in a room full of people laughing at a joke you don't understand.

Posted by tplambeck at 05:00 PM


popular photo tags

Posted by tplambeck at 10:45 AM

October 18, 2004

Original language of the Dictionary of the Khazars

Was it translated from the

1) Serbo-Croatian,
2) Czech,
3) Hungarian,
4) Italian, or
5) French?


Derrida and the civilization of the book.

Or the end of the book

Posted by tplambeck at 11:44 PM

Brief introduction to Italian

1) Che isn't that "Che" you're thinking of. Instead, it's "K"; it's who, that or which. If you had only been paying attention to those Mozart librettos, you would have known this already:


1a) Also—those numbers from the beginning of Il Nozze di Figaro—"cinque, dieci, venti, trenta, quarantatre"—these are in fact the only numbers used by Italians.

2) C'è (on the other hand) is "che"; it's there is.

3) Ci sono is "chee sono", it's there are.

4) The meaning of Italian verbs can be determined by guessing.

5) Shoulder shrugging and making non-word noises passes for Italian communication.

6) They really do say "Mamma Mia." (I have this from a reliable source, although I haven't been to Italy in over twenty years).

7) If someone's pestering you—"Basta!" (that's enough).

8) Where is = Dov'è

9) Scusi.

10) Piacere.

11) Prego.

12) Buona sera.

13) Si, no.

14) Ecco _____. Here is the ______.

15) Sono, ho, abbiamo (perhaps we're moving into advanced Italian here. I'll stop)

Posted by tplambeck at 11:14 PM


you forgot poland

Posted by tplambeck at 11:05 PM

Shoe size 14

Bobby Fischer vigorously defends his manhood

Posted by tplambeck at 01:19 PM

October 17, 2004

They flash upon that inward eye

Opening up today's Sunday NYT crossword, my eye fell on 65 across, a long one:

What Wordsworth did before he got hip? (21)

It came to me immediately:


I even wrote it in, gutsily, without checking any crossing words, and also without noticing the title of the puzzle, "You Will be Missed."

Although I finish most puzzles I start, I'm still not fast enough for competitive solving I think. Maybe I'll try a tournament sometime.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:05 PM

PostModern Computing, Deconstructed

From a 1997 Computer Science thesis by Matthew Stevens at Villanova:

I will use common sense when showing the following material in such a way as to promote the advanced design patterns and techniques found in PostModern Computing (now Visigenic)'s product...

Then follows amazingly accurate guessing about the source code, given that he had only access to header files.

I couldn't figure out our software even with the source code. I ended up not begin smart enough to work in the very company I started, so I quit.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 PM

Nimzowitsch's question

Why must I lose to this idiot?

Only 75 hits at Google—it deserves to be better known.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:53 PM

October 16, 2004

Sweden's Army

From the NYT, Sunday, Without a Doubt, by Ron Suskind:

There is one story about Bush's particular brand of certainty I am able to piece together and tell for the record.
In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored ''road map'' for the Israelis and Palestinians would be a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.
''I don't know why you're talking about Sweden,'' Bush said. ''They're the neutral one. They don't have an army.''
Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: ''Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They're the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.'' Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.
Bush held to his view. ''No, no, it's Sweden that has no army.''
The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.
A few weeks later, members of Congress and their spouses gathered with administration officials and other dignitaries for the White House Christmas party. The president saw Lantos and grabbed him by the shoulder. ''You were right,'' he said, with bonhomie. ''Sweden does have an army.''
Posted by tplambeck at 11:34 PM

An easy Saturday

Today's (Saturday) NYT puzzle was an easy one.


Only two double-inkings:

(6 Down) It was largely destroyed by a 1650 earthquake (5). I wrote in TOKYO, since I already had ONTARIO written in as the answer to Where the Dionne quints were born (7). I have no idea who the Dionne quints are, but ONTARIO went well with other things in that area. Besides—how many five letter cities ending in O can there be, anyway? Still, the answer to 6 Down proved to be CUZCO. Scribble, scribble.

When I came to 47 Across, Portable service station? (7), I already had the first three letters, TEA, written in. I completed it as TEATRAY. It proved to be TEACART in the end.

The best clue is probably 17 Across: They're concerned with shooting stars (9), PAPARAZZI. It connected to 7 Down, Free to do with as one wishes (7), UNZONED.

One that gave me a little grief, from the upper left hand corner: Square things (5), REPAY.

Posted by tplambeck at 07:50 PM

Instant kibitzing

At the Internet Chess Club this morning: Grandmasters (GM), International Masters (IM) and others kibitz on the Kramnik v Leko world chess championship match taking place at the Centro Dannemann, Brissago, Switzerland:

Observing 1 [*Leko(GM) vs. *Kramnik(GM)] (Ex: scratch): 2839 people

Moonspell(IM) kibitzes: please computers let me know the evaluation
Drahacik(FM) kibitzes: Most people saying computers are useless in this position would lose either side to a computer
Initiative(DM) kibitzes: it's amazing how many positions people say computers are useless in...it must be the most amazing coincidence of all time that computers keep getting the very few positions they can handle, because they kill GMs most of the time
Game 1: Zek moves: Ke6
Aagaard(IM) kibitzes: Trying for a win, obviously
AndrewMartinIM(IM) kibitzes: that last move by kramnik was incomprehensible
Drahacik(FM) kibitzes: The game is over now. Draw.
Petrovich(GM) kibitzes: no perpetual
Immatt(GM) kibitzes: Re8 Kf6 g4
Petrovich(GM) kibitzes: dont you see it guys
Petrovich(GM) kibitzes: where do u see perpetual, kibtzers?
Caselli(FM) kibitzes: Black menace Ke5-f4-g3
Caselli(FM) kibitzes: zeitnot decides
Petrovich(GM) kibitzes: go Kramnik
Petrovich(GM) kibitzes: Rd1+ wins by force
Game 1: EeEk moves: Rd1+
Game 1: EeEk moves: Ke6
Drahacik(FM) kibitzes: Kramnik gains time to make move 40
Moonspell(IM) kibitzes: kramnikaze :)
Caselli(FM) kibitzes: Re8 Kd5 Rxe2 Rxe2 Rg7 Re5 big advantage for black. White can't play now f4 for Re3 Kf2 gxf4
Game 1: EeEk moves: Re8+
GuessTheMove(C DM) whispers: Correctly predicting 41.Re8+: MrMojo DeepFritz guest7888 Caselli TerminatorII josje luckyac Mika91 plambeck littleboby Kronos hamish VanWinkle Cross-X Balrog HangerOn Kapitalq rockdoc (Tell GuessTheMove your guess)
Pawn-Artist(FM) kibitzes: Black should win after kd5
Caselli(FM) kibitzes: re5-+
frappeboy(FM) kibitzes: the match is over
Drahacik(FM) kibitzes: Now we get to see Leko go for a win with Black on Monday!
[In fact, the game was drawn in the end. Leko leads the match by a full game going into the final game on Monday]

From chessbase.com (also: their report):

Game 13, the penultimate in this match, saw classical chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik turn on the heat, with the black pieces. Challenger Peter Leko was clearly surprised and was soon hanging over the cliff. But using some incredible defensive moves he managed to hold on and is now just half a point from the title...
Posted by tplambeck at 10:19 AM

October 15, 2004

Pumpkin Globes Ascendant

My web logs reveal that it's once again that time of year when Americans come to Google in search of pumpkin globes.

But pumpkin globes still have a long way to go to catch up with the popularity of the chocolate martini recipe, which is still (by far) the #1 reason random people arrive at this web site.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:32 PM

Jonny Quest


That's the slightly effeminate Dr. Benton Quest (yes, "Bent On Quest") in the upper right, with Hadji Singh and Bandit the dog in front of him. Bandit could be depended up to bark at just the wrong moment.

Naturally Jonny is front and center.

I don't remember Jessie Bannon at all, but I do remember Race Bannon, behind her.

Joe Pallas once pointed out that it's harder than one would expect to think of new types of unusual creatures to be the bad guys in science fiction. Once you've exhausted classical deities, animal amalgams, and various exaggerated humanoid kind of creatures, all that seems to be left is the "Amorphous Energy Being."

There is an episode of JQ I remember where some sort of amorphous electrical blob was eating its way through a jungle (you saw it consume long twisting swaths of jungle, from above, like some kind of gelatinous bulldozer). Then on the ground, shattered village huts and screaming peasants. It reminded me of the news I saw on TV from Vietnam (this was the late 1960s).

I don't remember how they stopped it—perhaps by driving it into a electrical tower or something.

A clue in today's NYT crossword puzzle:

Feared weather system (15): ELECTRICALSTORM

Hadji was an interesting character. I don't recall too many Sikhs following in his footsteps in the Saturday cartoons of my childhood. You had the feeling that this cross cultural collaboration of Jonny and Hadji, backed up by Race, could pretty much handle any weird shit the world might throw at them.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:39 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 09:31 AM

October 14, 2004

Laura Bush


A creepy image from the official Bush reeelection web site.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:42 PM

October 13, 2004

Grim Reaper


Pearl the dog did not like this Halloween grim reaper decoration at Tony Levitan's house at all. She pulled at the leash and kept looking backward to make sure it wasn't chasing us.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:50 PM

The Red and the Black

Black ink: Cole's violin lesson. He learned how to play spiccato. I tried it myself, on his violin. I think I would have finished the puzzle in the lesson, had spiccato discussions not intervened.

Red Ink: back at home.


I usually don't start doing the NYT puzzles until Thursday (they get harder progressively through the week). This one was a typical Wednesday puzzle. Too easy—no possibility of grid rage.

Double inking: 57 Down: Boot (5). I wrote in EJECT, stupidly. EVICT is correct.

postscript: I looked up spiccato in my Italian dictionary. It means "strong." I was reminded of the "Strongman Egyptologist" Gionvanni Belzoni, googled him, and found that there is a town named Belzoni in Mississippi named after him.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:04 PM


Eventually, this Google news search on the simple numbers "70-10" won't turn up unpleasantnesses like this:

Nebraska Tries to Forget 70-10 Flogging

Sun Oct 10, 8:55 PM ET By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. - One day after the most lopsided loss in the 115 years of Nebraska football, the coaching staff told the Cornhuskers to forget about it. The fans, to be sure, won't soon forget Saturday's 70-10 flogging at the hands of Texas Tech...

Posted by tplambeck at 12:32 AM

Speak No Evil


Posted by tplambeck at 12:19 AM

St. Thomas Aquinas


I remember looking up the word concupiscence as an undergraduate.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:04 AM

October 12, 2004


High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.

That dot on the "Midwest" looked to me like it's just about centered on my hometown of Kearney, Nebraska. In fact, Buffalo County (containing Kearney) is sandwiched by the Dawson and Hall county trouble spots, but it's not highlighted itself.

From the archives: a friend writes.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:47 PM

3 November 1960


A photo of Gloria's father (left), who died 5 years ago this month. The reverse reads:

DATE: 3 November 1960

NEGATIVE NO: 41-014-4100-4/AK-60

CAPTION: Brigadier General Wallace Brucker, CG, 1st GM Bde, presents the Bde Flag Football Runner-up award to Sp4 Doy Gatlin, team captain, of Headquarters Btry, 1st GM Bde, flag football team.




I was curious about the general, and found this information on his burial plot at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso County, Texas.

Brucker, Wallace H, b. 02/03/1908, d. 04/06/1981, US Army, BG, Res: El Paso, TX, Plot: C 0 1124, bur. 04/09/1981

Doy died of a heart attack at his home in Ruidoso, New Mexico in 1999 and is buried in a cemetery not far away from there.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:04 PM

October 11, 2004

A familiar form of madness

From the NYT, 1924


Posted by tplambeck at 12:12 AM

October 10, 2004

NYT online

A message to a Palo Alto reference librarian:

I read in the Fall 2004 "City Pages" that
"...thanks to three new databases funded by a grant from the former Cable Coop via the Friends of the Palo Alto library, [Palo Altans have access to]
Historical New York Times: Contains complete coverage from 1851 to 2001. You'll find articles, photos, maps, and even advertisements"
I'm interested in this, but all I seem to be able to turn up are article titles, not the text of articles.
Am I missing something?

I was missing something.

Once I found it, I typed in "Bertrand Russell" as a test and got over 3100 results, each (apparently, based on a random sample) backed up with a PDF image of the page that mentions him. Here's one of the first three, from 1907:


As if I needed another reason to spend long hours staring at my laptop.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:48 PM

October 09, 2004


Jim and Sue came over and took my dwell magazines. They're interested in prefab. They made an offer on this house in Albany, but weren't the highest bidder.

I was glad to be rid of the magazines. I still have too many other magazines, in three big stacks on the floor behind me in my office. Unread copies of the New Yorker, The Economist, The Nation, Experimental Mathematics, Harpers, The American Scholar, the American Mathematical Monthly, and Nature magazine dominate the pile. There are also quite a few Washington Spectators, even a fair number of Partisan Reviews (it went under a year or so ago). Not to forget the AMS Bulletin, or the New in Chess Yearbooks. Did I mention the Threepenny Review, the Wilson Quarterly, or the Mathematics Magazine? What about Alexander Cockburn's and Jeffrey St Clair's Counterpunch? It's only a few pages, twice a month, but it all adds up.

Every once in a while, at least several times a week, I pick up a magazine from the top of one of the stacks, firm in my intent of moving it directly to the recycling bin. But I feel obligated to scan it over quickly, just to make sure there's nothing obvious that I would simply be sick that I missed. Suddenly I've forgotten that this was supposed to be a quick forensic disposal. Now I'm actually reading the whole magazine. One hour later, I put it down and think, "Good God, I can't throw this away, this is a perfectly good magazine!" So over time, they accumulate. And accumulate.

Thank God didn't review my IEEE membership. It delivered a bunch more magazines, almost entirely filled with boring research. I suddenly realized—wait a minute—this stuff sucks. Another time, I had the sudden idea that some physics magazines would be nice to have. No, I have too many magazines, already.

Yet when I pick one up, I find some article that I've already read. So am I reading these or not? I'm not sure. I don't think so.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:13 AM

October 07, 2004

In today's mail

I harvested a bumper crop of misspellings in today's mail:

Thare Plam Beck

Thane Plambech

Thane Flambeck

Posted by tplambeck at 10:20 PM

Visa Phishing


An interesting phishing attempt, with a nicely deceptive domain name, visa-secure.com. The URL is even a TLS secured web page, although the digital certificate is issued by some bogus authority.

One misstep: the word "Enrollement" in the subject of the email.

Dear Visa Cardholder
You were automatically enrolled in the Verified by Visa Program**.
Verified by Visa enhances your existing Visa Card with a personal password of your choice. When you shop at participating online stores, you enter your password in the same way you would enter your PIN at an ATM. It means that only you can use your Visa Card online, giving you the same assurances you have when you use your card in a physical store.
To avoid service interruption we require that you confirm your card information as soon as possible.
Please take a moment to confirm your card information by going to the following address* :
Follow these steps:
Confirm your card by clicking the link above.
Verify your Visa card information and create your personal password.
Your account will then be updated, you may continue using your visa without any interruptions.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Thank you for your business.
The Visa Staff.
* Please note: If you FAIL to update your Visa card, it will be temporarily disabled.
* To learn more about the Verified by Visa enrollment or transaction process, or to read about the technology behind the Verified by Visa program, visit our Web site at http://visa-secure.com or call our Customer Assistance Center at (800) 847-2911
* If you have more than one credit card, please re-submit the form.
* If you have more than one credit card, you can set different passwords.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:40 PM

October 06, 2004



Posted by tplambeck at 11:45 PM

The endorsers

From a NYT article by Alessandra Stanley on the Vice Presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards:

Both candidates obviously absorbed the lesson of the first Kerry-Bush debate: they spent an inordinate amount of time taking notes to avoid the kind of unflattering facial reactions that undercut President Bush's performance last Thursday. Their note-taking competition got a bit silly: for the few minutes before the networks went live and the debate began, C-Span showed the two men exchange a firm but brief handshake, then sit down side by side at the desk and scribble furiously on their pads, occasionally exchanging wary glances, then looking away. They looked like two strangers endorsing checks at the bank.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:51 AM

October 05, 2004

Cup girl


Posted by tplambeck at 10:18 PM

No relation

From the Omaha World Herald, and other places:

Killer Margaritas
OMAHA, Nebraska (July 2004) The margaritas were a real killer. A Nebraska woman has been sentenced to up to 26 years in prison—for spiking a margarita with potentially deadly anti-freeze. Maureen Plambeck will have to serve at least eleven years for attempting to kill her former sister-in-law. The victim survived the poisoning attempt but spent three days in a hospital intensive care unit. Plambeck apologized in court yesterday, and said the spiked cocktail was only meant to scare—not kill.

I probably am related to Maureen, somehow. Shall we discuss the possibility over drinks?

Google "I'm feeling lucky" searches:

Maureen Plambeck
Plambeck Margarita
Plambeck antifreeze

While we're on the subject:

Plambeck terrorist
Plambeck Red Army Faction

Some derring-do:

7 July 1976—German left-wing terrorists Monika Berberich, Gabriella Rollnick, Juliane Plambeck and Inge Viett escape from Lehrterstrasse maximum security prison in West Berlin.
Posted by tplambeck at 12:15 AM

October 04, 2004


dear mike, iraq sucks


I am an LCPL in the US Marine Corps and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mr Moore, please keep pounding away at Bush. I'm not some pussy when it comes to war. However, the position we were put in—fighting an enemy that used women, children, and other civilians as shields; forcing us to choose between firing at "area targets" (nice way of saying firing into crowds) or being killed by the bastards using the crowds for cover—is indescribably horrible.
I saw more than a few dead children littering the streets in Nasiriyah, along with countless other civilians. And through all this, I held on to the belief that it had to be for some greater good.
Months have passed since I've been back home and the unfortunate conclusion I've come to is that Bush is a lying, manipulative motherfucker who cares nothing for the lives of those of us who serve in uniform. Hell, other than playing dress-up on aircraft carriers, what would he know about serving this nation in uniform?
Posted by tplambeck at 10:24 PM

Happy times at craigslist

(1) [Analytic] disillusioned with post-college life

(2) [Poetic] i'm slowly getting rid of everything I own

Posted by tplambeck at 10:12 PM

Keeping America Scared


Posted by tplambeck at 12:27 AM

October 03, 2004

December 1961


It's been one year since my mother died.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:53 PM

October 02, 2004

Presidential Debate

how bush did

Posted by tplambeck at 11:40 PM


Solar energy company, prescription medicine, or microbrewery?

(decide for each one before you click)

(1) Xantrex (2) Red Rock (3) Abraso
Posted by tplambeck at 10:48 PM



From a Martin Gardner book:

What do you sit on, sleep in, and brush your teeth with?"



Gnomes in the fog, and a review (PDF) from the AMS Bulletin

Posted by tplambeck at 09:40 PM

Alim Khan [1911]

Alim Khan, Emir of Bukhara

Posted by tplambeck at 09:09 PM

Color photos from WWI

Color (colorized?) photos from WWI (keep clicking the photo for the next one).

Posted by tplambeck at 10:36 AM

veer divergently

Battle frizz with quick hair epoxy jel—mends broken strands, untangles

Beats the quick brown fox.


Posted by tplambeck at 08:39 AM

Your printer is watching

At CNN, "U.S. offers download of new $50 bill"

One document obtained by the AP, a 1998 U.S. government business solicitation, mandated that "any color printer must include a tracing system that encodes system identification in any output. This will tie the output to the originating equipment so that forensic identification of the equipment is possible in the event of illegal printing of currency images due to failure or circumvention of the recognition system(s)...."
Posted by tplambeck at 08:31 AM

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