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February 25, 2008

Owen pitching

Owen pitching
Originally uploaded by thane
Last weekend Owen played with the Crushers in a U10 tournament.

They went 5-0 and won the tournament.

The weather was nice—almost springlike.

Now it's all rainy and cloudy again
Posted by tplambeck at 04:29 AM

February 24, 2008

At CNN, on the Oscars

The Coens also won best directing and best adapted screenplay for "No Country," and Javier Bardem won supporting actor for his role as a creepy killer with a bad haircut.

* * *
The character played by Javier Bardem in No Country is nothing less than The Devil, Himself. That Coen Bros movie is just too perfect, in too many ways.

Of course the devil has a bad haircut!


Posted by tplambeck at 12:35 PM

February 21, 2008

From the LimerickDB

A dying mosquito exclaimed,
"A chemist has poisoned my brain!"
The cause of his sorrow
Was para-dichloro-


Posted by tplambeck at 03:17 AM

February 20, 2008

Muhammed Ali vs Sonny Liston, 1965

At about 1:33-1:34 in the warmup, the Ali Shuffle becomes a Michael Jackson moonwalk.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:44 PM

The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner

The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who can thus avoid all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private, but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear.

I've reread Self-Reliance at least 50 times, and still keep changing my idea of the best paragraph in it

Posted by tplambeck at 01:15 PM


Let's try to make my stretching exercises more fun—maybe I'll actually do them


ADDITIONAL IMBIBERS ONLY (... and gemutlich!)

* * *
GLORIA: You should come to yoga. We do a lot of stretching.

THANE: So, I'd have to have a mat?

GLORIA: They have mats.

THANE: Is there some kind of philosophical indoctrination involved? You know—would I be expected to know something about incense, recycling, the identities of various Hindu deities, and so on? Because, you know, I'm not too interested in that stuff.

GLORIA: I'm not listening to you.

THANE: I don't think it's for me. I'd probably snap in half, suddenly, during the first pose. Is that what they're called? Poses? By posers?

GLORIA: No. And I'm not listening to you.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:58 AM

February 19, 2008

The Battle of Proper Names

But how is one to distinguish, in writing, between a man one mentions and a man one addresses. There really is an equivocation which would be eliminated by a vocative mark.

[Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Relating to Music, Rousseau]

Into such seemingly inappreciable differences, there steps—[what]?



Why I Want to Go To Northwestern

From "The Chaos Machine: An Essay on Postmodern Fatherhood," by Charles Baxter with footnotes by Daniel Baxter, in the Feb 2008 The Believer, pg 27:

* * *
One late afternoon, while [my son] is laboring to complete the application for Northwestern University, which includes the demand that the prospective student write an essay explaining why he or she wants to go to Northwestern, I slip into my study and write a goof version of this essay for him, for laughs.

Why I Want To Go To Northwestern by Daniel Baxter. Many is the time I have thought of the pleasing location of Northwestern University, situated on the shore of picturesque Lake Michigan. The campus, I have noted, is close enough to the rocky shore of this Great Lake so that students, carrying their heavy textbooks on the way to classes, can be pleasantly diverted by hearing the sounds of waves crashing on the rocks. These sounds are almost always mixed, in damp and rainy weather, with the sounds of foghorns, which make their way into the liberal arts classrooms where Shakespeare's plays are being taught by bearded and grizzled scholars. Foghorn sounds are like the lowing moos of anxious herds of cows, waiting to be milked. Certainly, from time to time, one must also be able to hear the muted clash and clang of freighters colliding. With the right kind of police scanner, you might also hear the radio distress calls. Perhaps, as Lucretius says in the second book of On the Nature of Things, it is pleasant, even sublime, to see ships sinking in the distance if you yourself are on the shore, that is, at Northwestern, safe in a sort of "ivory tower" from danger. Lucretius calls this the sublime experience of beauty, and so it would be on the campus of this great institute of higher learning, home of the #1 Business School in the United States. But the beauties of Lake Michigan are not the only advantages of which Northwestern can boast, and there are many other reasons why I wish to attend this fine Big Ten center of erudition. The architecture of the buildings varies from Gothic Revival to 1950s Bauhaus to Frank Geary Las Vegas-style "postmodernism." This distinctive brand of eclectic architecture, so different from the bland brand of monomaniacal "Ivy League" architecture favored by our so-called "prestige" universities, gives to Northwestern a more democratic and populist "grab bag" appearance. Moving from one building to another on the Northwestern campus, from the threatening appearance of the Music Building to the turreted castlelike appearance of the Humanities Building (where many damsels are possibly in distress), the student hardly knows what to expect from one moment to the next. Call me an eclectic student, if you will, but I must say that Northwestern's unpredictable appearance, whether you approach it by bus, truck, train, or family car, is one of the particular sources of my interest in it. On my two visits to Northwestern, I have noticed that most of the learned professors are quite mature. Their gray hairs and beards (not the women, of course) are signs of learning and experience. Walking about on campus, one cannot but be impressed by their slow pace, their hands on their canes, as if they were thinking about "thoughts to deep for tears." I was impressed by the colossal lecture halls and huge classes, and the Wildcats who were listening and dozing through lectures, knowing that the professors would cover material that they had missed, thier voices echoing in the immensity of the lecture chambers [...]
Posted by tplambeck at 11:11 AM

Cosa sento! (Le nozze di Figaro)

Just too funny, too beautiful, too clever, too-too-what-have-you.

If there's a more enjoyable opera scene I'd like to know it.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:38 AM

Non piu andrai (Le nozze di Figaro) 1991

YouTube was made for watching opera, I think.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:27 AM

February 17, 2008

Beacon & Washington

Beacon & Washington
Originally uploaded by thane
I'm back from Boston.

The "Washington St" sign looks semi-transparent, but it isn't.
Posted by tplambeck at 10:25 AM

Stanford vs Arizona, 2004

Tonight, Stanford beat Arizona 67-66.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:34 AM

February 14, 2008

Waiting for flight to Boston

1) T-Mobile Hotspot, $9.99 one day pass. Maybe I should subscribe.

2) Chairs paired like this make it unpleasant to sit next to someone you're not planning to talk to:

Chairs at an angle, SFO

3) Subway sandwich place: busy. Customers in line bugged by AngryMan who asked for three sandwiches to be remade. ("No-no-no!" he groaned, "Don't make it like THAT!"). "Perhaps he should work behind the counter," I suggested, quietly, to no one in particular, and the woman behind me started to laugh a little louder than I'd hoped. It drew the attention of AngryMan—"what's so funny?" "Nothing," the woman said, defiantly. I pretended to be part of the airport scenery, distracted by my cellphone. Somehow I find myself in these type of strangely escalating situations more often than I care for. I recall the encounter with guy in Yosemite: "Is there some sort of Problem, here?" he asked. "That's right, I'm Your Problem," I imagined myself saying. "You Got a Problem with This Problem?" Seem to be plenty of AngryMen around.

4) American Airlines > United Airlines. It's taken me too long to realize this. Shorter line, quick checkin.

Posted by tplambeck at 01:25 AM

February 13, 2008

Go Obama!

1) "I don't involve myself in the internecine conflicts of the Democrats." [my physicist neighbor]

2) home office bathroom bookstack, top to bottom:

order of books slightly scrambled

a) Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley (John Gaventa. I took this book to Jamaica, but didn't make much progress in it. It's doing much better in the bathroom bookstack).
b) Commutative Semigroup Rings, Robert Gilmer. [After the Banff conf, realize I need to learn this]
c) Nature magazine, 24 Jan 2008
d) 5 Jan 2008 Economist magazine, folded back to an article on Brazil: "If redemption fails, you can still use the free bathroom." (pg 31)
e) Lectures on Rings and Modules, Joachim Lambek, McGill University, 1966
f) Hudson Review, Autumn 2007
g) Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk
h) Relativity, Wolfgang Rindler (Oxford)
i) Quantum Field Theory, Itzkason and Zuber (utterly, utterly unread)
j) Spinors in Physics, Hladik

Finally: I wish more people published what books they're reading (or at least have mustered the intention to read, which, I'm sorry to say, is a more frequently relevant personal metric). Whenever I'm over to someone's house, I can't resist the temptation to study what books they have on a shelf (I'm mildly interested in CDs, too, but not at all in DVDs). See the Dr. Johnson Q, below.

Quite possibly "Go Obama!" is not the appropriate title for this blog post. But I cannot be bothered to change it.

Finally, finally: From the deep archives:

No sooner had we made our bow to Mr. Cambridge, in his library, than Johnson ran eagerly to one side of the room intent on pouring over the backs of the books. Sir Joshua observed aside, 'he runs to the books, as I do to the pictures, but I have the advantage. I can see much more of the pictures than he can of the books.' Johnson, ever ready for contest, instantly started from reverie and answered, 'Sir, the reason is very plain. Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and at the backs of books in libraries.' Sir Joshua observed to me the extraordinary promptitude with which Johnson flew upon an argument. 'Yes,' said I, he has no formal preparation, no flourishing with his sword; he is through your body in a moment.'

Boswell's Life of Johnson

Posted by tplambeck at 11:58 AM

February 12, 2008

Nixon in China

[OK—I PROMISE to stop posting opera YouTubes real soon now...]

Still—how about that Kissinger, and the Pat Nixon? [it is Pat, right?]

Posted by tplambeck at 12:45 PM

Der Vogelfaenger bin ich ja

Best one I've found on YouTube, but you've got to ignore the French subtitles:

Posted by tplambeck at 12:33 PM

Overture to The Magic Flute

For the gestures to the brass at about 6:13 to 6:21.

Posted by tplambeck at 12:14 PM

Gladding, McBean

Gladding, McBean
Originally uploaded by thane
an old photo, but still deserving of reposting
Posted by tplambeck at 11:39 AM

John Ciardi quotation—where?

Something like this:

Thought after the party: Did I make at least one good pun?

So—Somewhere John Ciardi wrote a short poem incorporating (at least) this idea.

Anyone know which poem it is?

* * *
Now, I Google: Holy hell—Ciardi died over 20 years ago. Why wasn't I informed? For over four years I've been trying to decide if Ciardi's Inferno translation beats Heaney's Beowulf (current answer: Heaney), and I didn't know J.C. is dead!

Posted by tplambeck at 11:14 AM

February 10, 2008


Good news:

1) No trade of Lincecum.
2) Obama sweep in NE, LA, WA.
3) Stanford basketball team #9


Description of recent tornados in the South: winter twisters. Can't quite get that little turn of phrase out of my mind—how to incorporate into a little poem?

These sisters, these whispers, these winter twisters— (sounds good, but doesn't make sense)

Listen mister, you winter twister, ... (same problem)

Somehow King Lear comes to mind? (Search online concordance---No)

A twist of rotten silk (Coriolanus)

Posted by tplambeck at 11:05 AM

February 07, 2008

Tiger Tales: A Critical Examination of the Tiger's Enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo

Given the recent tragedy involving a 350 pound Siberian Tiger and the death of teenager Carlos Souza Jr., one must ask a fundamental question: Can a tiger overcome an obstacle that is thirty-three feet away and twelve and a half feet tall? Are these dimensions sufficient enough to protect the zoo-visitors from a potential escape and/or attack? To answer these questions we use simple two-dimensional projectile motion to find the minimum velocity a tiger needs in order to clear the obstacle. With our results we conclude that it is highly likely that the tiger was able to leap over the obstacle with ease!

Erica Walker, Raza M. Syed


Posted by tplambeck at 09:11 PM

VR video via the Wii remote

Best line:

"OK—so now the tricky part—how am I going to find a way to mount the sensor bar on my head?"

Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote

Posted by tplambeck at 03:58 AM

February 05, 2008

TV shows recently viewed for the first time that were stupider than I expected them to be

1) Numb3rs
2) House

Maybe I'm just a hoity-toity snob.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:14 AM

TV shows recently viewed for the first time that I couldn't turn off

1) Ultimate Fighting Championship. I actually hate fighting, but still.
2) Chinese language news station. Best viewed with sound off, with Bartok in background.

Call me a hoity-toity snob. Again.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:13 AM

Helpful, or ambiguous?

Helpful, or ambiguous?
Originally uploaded by thane
Do these little illustrations with a hand holding an ATM card that's about to be stuck into the machine truly disambiguate the sense in which you're supposed to insert the card into the machine?

Whenever I encounter such a picture, I somehow twist the issue around in my mind until I'm able to think, "No, it's still ambiguous," but now, absent the beep-beep-beep urgency of completing a transaction, I think the answer is "Yes, they do."
Posted by tplambeck at 10:42 AM

February 04, 2008

From Ian McEwan's For You, a play in the most recent Granta

Charles comes away, lost in thought, confiding while the music continues:

CHARLES: It does not touch me,
this music of my younger self,
when my name was unknown
and I lived on nothing but sex
and cigarettes and fast food,
when I was love again every other week.
I hear it clearly, each intricate part,
I understand it, even admire it,
but I cannot feel its passion,
the longing, the sharp hunger,
this lust for newness of that young man.
It does not touch me now.

The car is ready, Sir!
The usual table, Maestro?
The Minister of Culture is waiting.
A famous man with a rich wife—but
the dimmed perception, the expiring powers,
stamina, boldness, vigour wilting
under the weight of years.
The long descent to uselessness.
Every man's fate, how banal it is,
and still it makes me angry, the clock
that's beating me to extinction.
Stop! Enough! How can I make it stop!

[OK, I offer this passage as something that strikes me as simultaneously excellent and something I find myself wishing I were capable of writing myself (especially the last four lines), but most of all, I find it funny. I love this kind of writing, whatever it is—and it doesn't depress me in the least. So?]

Posted by tplambeck at 10:02 AM

February 02, 2008

Bill Gosper's packing puzzle

Bill Gosper's packing puzzle
Originally uploaded by thane
Bill Gosper brought by an extremely difficult packing puzzle this afternoon.

He writes:

I just delivered my first real deal Arnold today, and another is scheduled for Monday. The proud owners aren't too optimistic of solving it, especially after my antipeptalk, but you never know.

"What do I get for solving it?" [Cole asked]

"A chance to give me CPR." [Bill]
Posted by tplambeck at 07:36 AM

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