Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Class Act

This is really cute.

When Talia Maselli envisioned her perfect prom date, one man immediately sprang to mind: Vice President Joe Biden.

“Joe Biden makes me laugh,” Maselli said. “He just cracks me up.”

So she mailed Biden a handwritten note last fall asking him to escort her to the Newington High School prom.

“I am inviting you so far in advance because I’m sure many 17-year-old girls send you prom invitations, and I had to beat them to it,” Maselli said in her letter. “I could only tolerate a high school dance if I was to be escorted by the most delightful man in America.”

[...]

Maselli, who says she’s interested in politics, considered the invitation a lark and never expected to hear back. A staff member would glance at the note and toss it, she figured.

At about 10 a.m. Thursday, on the eve of the prom, Maselli got a shock. Her doorbell rang, and a deliveryman handed her a wrist corsage. Inside was a handwritten note from Biden.

“I am flattered, but my schedule will not permit me to be in Connecticut on Friday evening,” the vice president said in the note. “But I hope you will accept this corsage and enjoy your prom as much as I did mine.”

Aw.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bundyfest

I heard about this event a couple of days ago but waited to see if it was for real or from The Onion.  Apparently it’s for real.

bundyfest 04-23-14

Come celebrate TOTAL FREEDOM at BUNDYFEST, just across the road from the Cliven Bundy Ranch, in Bunkerville, Nevada! 240 bands, 24 hours a day, for a SOLID ROCKIN’ MONTH!!!!
*NO PERMITS REQUIRED
*CAMP ABSOLUTELY ANYWHERE
*FULL NUDITY NOT A PROBLEM
*GAY-FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE
*PENIS ERECTION CONTEST: Erect the largest penis in the open desert, win valuable prize! (tbd)

BACKGROUND: For years, we paid permitting fees to hold Burning Man on the beautiful Playa in Northern Nevada. But now, Cliven Bundy has shown us a NEW WAY! ABSOLUTE FREEDOM! Bundy has declared the entire area surrounding Bundy Ranch as a TOTALLY RULES-FREE ZONE! ANYTHING GOES! WOO-HOO!!!

Why should Burning Man end on September 1st? Swing down to Vegas for a few days for some R&R, a few good buffets, and then HEAD ON UP TO BUNDYFEST! All 50,000+ Burning Man participants are invited to attend — and as many more as can make the trip from anywhere in the world! 100,000? 250,000? THE SKY IS THE LIMIT AT BUNDYFEST! The desert surrounding Bundy’s ranch is LIMITLESS!

Sounds like fun.

(PS: BYO outhouse.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Today’s Video

This was my first computer.  I still have it in boxes in the garage.

The “get the hook” cane was a nudge against IBM, who was using a Charlie Chaplin lookalike to sell their personal computer.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spock vs. Spock

Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto face off for a car commercial.  Stand by for lots of inside Star Trek references.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Reading

Obama’s LBJ Moment — David Rohde on how Barack Obama’s war on inequality matches the efforts of the war on poverty.

He quoted Jack Kennedy but sounded more like Lyndon Johnson.

In an audacious State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama made sweeping proposals to reduce poverty, revive the middle class and increase taxes on the “well off.” While careful to not declare it outright, an emboldened second-term president laid out an agenda that could be called a “war on inequality.”

“There are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it is virtually impossible to get ahead,” Obama declared in a blunt attack one a core conservative credo. “And that’s why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.”

In his 1964 State of the Union address, Johnson introduced the legislation that became known as the “War on Poverty.” Those laws – along with many others he shepherded – stand today as perhaps the greatest legislative achievement of any modern president. Whether or not one agrees with him, Johnson’s laws – from the Civil Rights Act, to Medicaid, Medicare and Head Start, to sweeping federal urban renewal and education programs – changed the face of American society.

Obama, of course, is very different from LBJ and governing in a vastly different time. While Johnson excelled at cajoling legislators, Obama reportedly finds it distasteful. Where Johnson could offer new federal programs, Obama must maneuver in an age where the federal government is distrusted. And while Johnson had full government coffers, Obama lives in an era of crushing fiscal constraint.

Those differences, though, make Obama’s second inaugural address and Tuesday’s State of the Union all the more remarkable. As Richard W. Stevenson noted in the New York Times, “he continued trying to define a 21st-century version of liberalism that could outlast his time in office and do for Democrats what Reagan did for Republicans.”

Torture vs. Drones — Jane Mayer at The New Yorker.

There are some disturbing similarities between the Obama white paper and the Bush torture memos. Both use slippery legal language to parse dark government programs. Both have been deliberately hidden from public and even congressional oversight. And both involve the blurring of C.I.A. and military operations, and even include some of the same personnel. John Brennan, Obama’s nominee to direct the C.I.A., is a long-time veteran of the agency who, prior to joining the Obama Administration, served as chief of staff for former C.I.A. director George Tenet, under the Bush Administration during the depths of the torture scandal. Despite this, several human-rights experts have endorsed Brennan’s promotion, and Obama seems to respect him deeply. Whether that trust is well-placed remains to be seen; Brennan’s refusal, during his Senate confirmation hearings last week, to admit that waterboarding—the partial drowning of a prisoner—is a form of torture was a chilling display of institutional loyalty.

Clearly there are plenty of troubling questions surrounding the Obama Administration’s targeted-killing program. But, that said, are Obama’s drones comparable in terms of human-rights violations, to Bush’s Torture program?

Those who argue so miss an important distinction, one that David Cole also has brought up: torture under all our systems of law—including the laws of war—is illegal. This is true without exception, regardless of the circumstances, including national-security emergencies. Torture is also condemned by every major religion. Waterboarding was, and is, a form of torture. This has been established as far back as the Spanish Inquisition, and as recently as the Vietnam War. To argue otherwise is to legalize criminality. That was what the Bush Administration’s torture memos did.

Bark Bark Woof Woof — According to Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods, maybe dogs really can talk.

During the day, our dog Mystique is sweet and demure, but at night she becomes a different animal. She guards our house, barking ferociously every time someone comes within earshot. The only problem is that our house is on the main trail where the night staff walk back and forth after dark. Mystique dutifully barks at all passersby whether she has known them for a day or all her life. But if there was really a cause for concern, like a strange man with a gun, I wonder if Mystique would bark in a way that would alert me that there was something dangerous and different about the person approaching the house.

Dog vocalizations may not sound very sophisticated. Raymond Coppinger pointed out that most dog vocalizations consist of barking, and that barking seems to occur indiscriminately. Coppinger reported on a dog whose duty was to guard free-ranging livestock. The dog barked continuously for seven hours, even though no other dogs were within miles. If barking is communicative, dogs would not bark when no one could hear them. It seemed to Coppinger that the dog was simply relieving some inner state of arousal. The arousal model is that dogs do not have much control over their barking. They are not taking into account their audience, and their barks carry little information other than their emotional state.

Perhaps barking is another by-product of domestication. Unlike dogs, wolves rarely bark. Barks make up as little as 3 percent of wolf vocalizations. Meanwhile, the experimental foxes in Russia bark when they see people, while the control foxes do not. Frequent barking when aroused is probably another consequence of selecting against aggression.

However, more recent research indicates that there might be more to barking than we first thought. Dogs have fairly plastic vocal cords, or a “modifiable vocal tract.” Dogs might be able to subtly alter their voices to produce a wide variety of different sounds that could have different meanings. Dogs might even be altering their voices in ways that are clear to other dogs but not to humans. When scientists have taken spectrograms, or pictures, of dog barks, it turns out that not all barks are the same — even from the same dog. Depending on the context, a dog’s barks can vary in timing, pitch and amplitude. Perhaps they have different meanings.

Doonesbury — Anybody can do it.