Since it's halloween, I adopted an awesome-looking black cat from the park. I haven't decided what to do with him (her?) yet, but look at those I'm-coming-through-the-internet-to-kill-you eyes!

Aaaaaaaa don't hurt me halloweencat!

Update: Halloweencat was a little crybaby about getting put back outside this morning. Look, possibly-diseased stray animal, you were only a decoration - don't you get it? HALLOWEENCAT you don't have to go home but you can't stay here!

INTERNETTERS you should scare children tonight

It's 10:27

I refuse to take government handouts - they can take that extra hour and shove it!

That's super! Super...BALL!

These stills are from a new Sony commercial for the new Bravia hi-def TV. It was shot on a soundstage, which is a little disappointing, but still - who didn't want to do something like this when they were 12?

The full commercial is worth downloading (60 sec, 19mb)


Oh, '80s - you so crazy (right-click, Save Target)! Wait - what are those guys...are they...and a robot? Oh...ummm..AAAH! 3.14159265....WORSHIP ME!

'sup Clyde!

From a thread entitled "I am so sick of misinformation about the TAA [the teaching assistants' union at UW-Madison]" on the Madiscon.com forums. It's five pages long, and excerpts were on the front page of the State Journal this morning (i.e. it's gonna get longer). I understand how people are upset about the issue of health care when they know only the most basic information about it - i.e. that the TAs don't want to pay $9/mo to contribute to their health care plan. Those lazy, whiny little ingrates! Honestly, I try to avoid discussing the issue because I know it makes us come across looking a little silly. But I had to take a step back from Clyde's rant - does someone have some employment-related bitterness? My mom says you're mean because you're jealous, Clyde!
TA's should get no pay, no tuition reimbursements, and for crying out loud no health care benefits. All they should receive for their work is a one-time number of degree credits that would go toward graduation. And that is provided their work during their time as a TA was acceptable.

As a university student I would have killed to get free tuition and free health care back then. Who wouldn't?

To the TA's -- if your "working conditions" are so bad, then don't do it. No one is requiring you to be a TA. No one.

Only in the realm of public employment/education does this happen. God forbid that TA's ever go into the real world outside the public safety net and have to depend on doing some real work and make a living.

For once you would think that these whiny little ingrates would actually say "thank you" to the taxpayers that foot their bills. Instead all they do is demand more more more.

They are yet another gross example of the system taking care of a group of undeserving ingrates. Not to mention why are taxes are so damn high.

We should not be in the business of supporting professional students which is what these TA's are. They already get subsidized tution. How it ever got the way it did should be re-examined, changed, and, never allowed to get to this degree of absurdity ever again.

UTA: ...and more from Clyde further down the thread!
I'll give them this, the TA's constant carping and whining is right in line with the rest of the government employees and public school teachers out there that line up at the public trough and suck it dry and just keep asking for more. So I guess in that respect the TA's "training" does prepare them for their real world.

Heaven forbid they ever take it upon themselves and go outside their welfare system and be independent. That would take some real initiative and an independent thought process though. I guess they don't teach that at TA school. Too bad too - we really could make do with fewer sheep. They make such a mess.

More music of days gone by -

My cassette collection was built by BMG and Columbia House - joining, buying one tape, referring Mister Vertigo, quitting, being referred by Mister Vertigo, rejoining - it was a cycle that got me dozens and dozens of cassettes for, like, $1.59 apiece. But the selection was crud, it really did take 4-6 weeks to ship, and if you forgot to mail the little tear-off card in - well, start getting your return excuse ready.

It turns out that the current incarnation of BMG works about the same way, but without all the hassles I remember - you get 7 free (well, $2.79 ea for shipping), but one (at a ridiculously inflated $17.98), and then get four more free. But shipping is quick (~3 days), you can decline the offer-of-the-month online (or for eight weeks at a time if you check the box that says you'll be traveling), and the selection is not second-rate anymore. Check these out -

The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows / Everyone Who Pretended to Like me is Gone
Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Built to Spill - Ancient Melodies of the Future
French Kicks - One Time Bells
Phantom Planet - Phantom Planet / The Guest
Clinic - Walking with Thee
Gorillaz - Demon Days
The Killers - Hot Fuss
Franz Ferdinand - self-titled / You Could Have It So Much Better
British Sea Power - Open Season
The Libertines - self-titled / What Became of the Likely Lads EP
The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives
The Vines - Winning Days
The Von Bondies - Pawn Shoppe Heart
Louis XIV - The Best Little Secrets are Kept
The Fiery Furnaces - Burberry Boat
The Coral - self-titled / Magic & Medicine

(Spice - I'm not sure what they have in the way of major-key, folk-influenced music with rhythmic syncopation and acoustic guitars.)


Cyclocross history

Filthy Fun
Gabe Conrad
Turn of the century "dead seasons" would find the young French army private, and later secretary-general of the French Cycling Union, Daniel Gousseau cycling through the forests along side his horse-mounted general, sharing their love of the outdoors. He enjoyed these winter outings so much that he invited a few of his friends along and soon dozens of cyclists were rolling along the trails. Impromptu racing occurred among the sporting cyclists and soon organized events were scheduled.
In 1902 Gousseau was given the opportunity to organize the first French championship, which was won by F. de Baeder. For years this "rough stuff" and "mud plugging" remained mainly a French indulgence until its popularity exploded when Octave Lapize attributed his 1910 Tour de France win to the off-season sport. The first International Criterium, which was won by the Frenchman Gaston Degy, was held in 1924 in Paris. Following Gaston to the podium were many of cycling's greats: Charles Pelissier in 1926, 1927 and 1928, Sylvere Maes, the handlebar namesake, in 1933 and Robert Oubron who won in 1937, 1938, 1941 and 1942!

And from the always-plagiarizable Wikipedia:
Cyclo-cross began in the early 1900s as a way for European road cyclists to train during the winter months. Having to run whilst carrying their bike helped keep their feet and hands warm during the coldest part of the year. In addition riding off road in much more difficult conditions than smooth pavement increased the intensity at which the cyclists were riding. According to Konrad (1996) Daniel Gousseau of France is credited as having inspired the first cyclo-cross races and organizing the first French National Championship in 1902.

No one appreciates my art

I realized tonight that my students and I have wildly different conceptions of a good lecture. I was stoked about tonight's lecture on third-party intervention - it had excellent flow and rhythm, good symmetry of examples and theory and readings, just the right balance of powerpoint to talking, and the components (of which there were neither too many to be overwhelming nor too few to be unmanageable) not only fit well with one another but with the previous weeks of material and with the overall goals of the course. In a word - scrumptious. My students couldn't have been more bored. I resorted to telling them my hiiiiilarrrious story of visiting Tim Horton's in Windsor, Ontario just so they would react to something.

Oh well - I suppose it's not THE END OF THE WORLD!!! (Props to LittleSisterBro for the link)

Ahh - the high school memories...

I must have had hundreds of these, and I know Mister Vertigo had more than that. I used to give him my Maxell points because he actually took the time to redeem them. Probably for a shitty Maxell-logoed polo or something. Or maybe that poster with the guy and the cheeks and the aviator glasses. You know the one. Whooooooooosh!! Because it's so loud.

Draining Europe

They're not exactly abandoned urban spaces, but this photo gallery of two men exploring Europe's storm drains is pretty fascinating.

An Autumn classic

Hi Kyle, Mom and Grandpa - I wrote a race report about the cyclocross race I did today. As a bonus, it not only has pictures, but a handy Cyclocross for Beginners reference guide.

Prussian Blue: The Olsen Twins of Hate

I'd love for my kids to be as entrepreneurial as Lamb and Lynx, but..you know...for math or science or something.
"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

Children-of-the-corn-esque evil kids, or just manipulated? Either way, they're charitable! To a degree -
Like many children across the country, Lamb and Lynx decided to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina — the white ones.

The girl's donations were handed out by a White Nationalist organization who also left a pamphelet promoting their group and beliefs — some of the intended recipients were more than a little displeased.

You know what makes me feel better about missing the New Pornographers?

That an arrest warrant was issued for Delay, that there are serious discussions of Cheney being forced to resign, and that even conservative bloggers are calling for the Miers nomination to be withdrawn. This hasn't been a very political blog lately (Hi, students who may have found me!), but those things make me smile.

I'm crushed! Just like the bass player's appendix!

The Barrymore Theater sent me this e-mail 3 minutes ago:
I am very sorry to report but after last nights show in Chicago for the New Pornographers, John Collins, the bass player, suffered from an appendix attack. He ended up having to have it taken out and the band will be canceling their last two shows in Madison tonight and Minneapolis tomorrow.

The band has been racking their brain to figure out a way that they can play without him but they have exhausted all possibilities.

This is a postponement. The date will be replayed as soon as possible. Ticket holders should hold on to their tickets. Tickets are not being refunded until a rescheduled date has been announced, which should be either today or tomorrow. Please check in at our website for more information over the next few days, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

I'm torn between being disappointed and feeling guilty for being disappointed when the postponement seems to be for a valid, serious medical reason. I wonder how rescheduling a concert works - will they try to squeeze us in between Boise and Helena? Or would that be inefficient? Would it be more efficient to tag these two shows onto the end of the tour? When they play the rescheduled show, should they be expecting more out of the fans, since we're so appreciative they didn't just cancel it? Or should we be expecting more out of the band, as an apology for the delay? Or, if it's both, will this concert exceed the rockingness of the Shins/Brunettes show in Milwaukee this spring? Is that even possible? My head is spinning.

I almost forgot math-joke Thursday!

From eye-roll-inducing to nerd-tacular, math-joke Thursday runs the gamut:

Q: Whats the difference between a degree in math and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: What did zero say to eight?
A: Nice belt

Q: What do you get if you cross an elephant with a mountain climber?
A:You can't, a mountain climber is a scalar.

Q: What's 5x4x3x2x1?

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one approaches and asks for a beer. The next comes up and asks for half a beer. A third comes and says he wants a quarter of a beer. Annoyed, the bartender just puts two glasses down on the bar and says, "Look - just divide it among yourselves!"

God hates Camel Toads too

This photo is from yesterday at Southern Illinois University, but Fred Phelps and the God Hates Fags gang make pretty regular stops on Library Mall here too. I like to get lunch from one of the carts, find a bench, and watch the counter-protestors agitate.

Let me try to help you make sense of the logic:
1) God hates fags.
2) Fags live in America.
3) Some non-fag Americans (perhaps you!) don't hate fags, so God hates YOU!
4) The U.S. government doesn't:
a) kill the fags
b) hold citizens responsible for not doing what the government should but won't do (see a)

5) God hates America, by the transitive property
6) Soldiers defend the U.S., and therefore this system of fag-not-killing
7) What? Are you gonna pray for America now, you sissy? Those fag-tolerators are WAY past forgiveness!
8) Ham sandwiches and Hi-C in the bus after the protest - let Marcy know if you're not coming!

It's "la-tech", Pervy McPerv

Thanks to Spice (who comments regularly), ELF (who used to comment, but now hates my blog) and Herr Goebbels (who has always hated my blog), I know how to write super-awesome LaTeX documents. I was a little ashamed that I didn't know how before, and I'm even more ashamed now, since it's no harder than putting links in this post. Also, now I can pretend to be working for a week or two while I re-format everything I've ever written and put all my citations in Jabref.

Some question for you to have answers to

1) Imagine you have a car with a single penny in the cupholder or ashtray. How many miles do you have to drive before the coin's additional weight is equal to its value in extra gas consumption?

(edited for clarity)

2) If you could have one plastic surgery, done gratis by Sean McNamara and Christian Troy, what would you choose?

Crossing a Cyclo

I have done next to nothing, exercise-wise, for about three weeks, but there's a cyclocross race at the Cam-Rock course near Cambridge next weekend. I can't decide whether the fun of a cross race would outweigh the pain and embarrassment of doing one on zero training, but mostly I just wanted to post these pictures -


On the Righteous Brothers commentary track, Michael Cera mentioned the existence this picture of Maebe and Ann from State of Grace. "Who?" My girlfriend - Ann. You let her in. She's sitting in the kitchen. "Her? Really?"

Update: I've tried it on two computers, so I think blogger is having some photo hosting problems. Here's the photo on imdb -

Update: Aha!

Another Update: Dammit.

Innie or outie?

In the tradition of Grrrrbear, I present to you this (slightly more risque) quiz. I missed two - both of which I thought were men but were really just women with strong jawlines.

Post-apocalyptic Mario

Is it a screen-shot from the new Nintendo Revolution? Or just some nerd's imagination?

It is the latter.

You can't get enough of Tom

Dan Drezner, a political scientist/blogger that was just denied tenure at Chicago, has a nice post on Schelling's work, the Slate article criticizing Schelling's role in the Vietnam war, and game theory's perception in the mainstream press.
...game theory has the wrong name. It is a theoretical tool rather than a theory in and of itself. Because of this, Mandel is correct that it is possible to devise game-theoretic models that lead to contrasting predictions. However, the virtue of game theory is that the differences made in starting assumptions, institutional rules, and causal processes are laid bare. One can then argue about how realistic the assumptions, rules, and processes are.

Well, shalom, I guess

I had no idea that so many of my students were Jewish - close to half, based on attendance in class last night. Another 10-12 walked out when they found out I was showing a video, which left an intimate group of me and 40 students to enjoy Dr. Strangelove. And enjoy it they did - although they may have been a little annoyed that I kept pausing the DVD to point things out (Did you know that President Muffley's conversation with Premier Kissov was ad-libbed? Or that Dr. Strangelove's glove was one that Peter Sellers took from Kubrick because he thought they were creepy? Or that Slim Pickens, the B-52 pilot, was a staunch anti-communist conservative and didn't realize the film was a black comedy until the cast screening? Or that new Nobel laureate Thomas Schelling was a consultant on the film?)


"J.Bro - the advice column is funny and all, but I really come to your blog for the abandoned-urban-spaces photography. Do you have anything in the way of an abandoned Japanese island?" Yes.
Off the westernmost coast of Japan, is an island called "Gunkanjima" that is hardly known even to the Japanese. Long ago, the island was nothing more than a small reef. Then in 1810, the chance discovery of coal drastically changed the fate of this reef. As reclamation began, people came to live here, and through coal mining the reef started to expand continuously. Befor long, the reef had grown into an artificial island of one kilometer (three quarters of a mile) in perimeter, with a population of 5300. Looming above the ocean, it appeared a concrete labyrinth of many-storied apartment houses and mining structures built closely together. Seen from the ocean, the silhouette of the island closely resembled a battleship - so, the island came to be called Gunkanjima, or Battleship island.

Camel Toads

I certainly hope he gets the toads' permission before licking them -

150,000 songs!

Steps to turn your ridiculously small (in terms of storage capacity) IpOd Nano into a portable music device that's actually worthwhile are available here.
Before the conversion:


Note that there may be a slight reduction in battery-life with your new ipOD Nano - from 8 hours to around 6 (minutes)

T-minus 41 minutes

My students take their first exam tonight - I'm probably as nervous as they are. Did I write good questions? Do I teach well enough that they'll be able to write good answers? It's like a referendum on my last five weeks of work.

MemoryTrends Update

From steamy, seedy Las Vegas, M.Bro reports that the trade show is "underwhelming" - nothing buzz-worthy to report in terms of new products. She did spend a while with the folks at the EK Success booth (since she's sort of an employee of theirs now) and found out a little more about how they picked the design team and about her upcoming trip to their headquarters in NJ. Apparently it was a completely blind choice based entirely on submissions, and not at all on the fact that Missy works for one of EK's largest accounts in the midwest (which she told me last night she had secretly feared). They also strongly encouraged Missy to think about designing a product line and hinted that they're going to ask her to teach some classes at the December trade show in Orlando (which is sponsored by EK - it's the "EKstravaganza"). She was just headed out to dinner and then to a piano bar with the VP, sales manager, some other executive-y person, and a couple other people on the design team when she called me. I wonder if I can finish my dissertation in New Jersey?

Goodbye blue monday

Two interviews with now-82 Kurt Vonnegut - on the Daily Show (if you're not behind the UW's firewall, that is) and The Globe and Mail.
From the latter:
And he'd just as soon have it all end. "I felt as I did when the Second World War ended: 'Please, I've done everything I'm supposed to do, can't I go home now?' " he says.

A truck out on the street honks its horn and Vonnegut looks toward the restaurant's entrance. His eyes seem to water a little and his voice lowers almost to a whisper. "Where is home? I've wondered where home is, and I realized, it's not Mars or someplace like that, it's Indianapolis when I was nine years old. I had a brother and a sister, a cat and a dog, and a mother and a father and uncles and aunts. And there's no way I can get there again."

In honor of Columbus Day - no mail.

Instead, please celebrate the subjugation of the native American peoples with this list of the songs I'm absolutely in love with at the moment. They're certainly worth $2.97 if you have itunes and $2.97 to spend on tunes -

New Pornographers - "Three or Four"
Death Cab for Cutie - "Soul Meets Body"
Spoon - "The Way We Get By"

Oh, fun!

I should be working on my Vilas application, but I've become enchanted by abandoned ships at the Staten Island sea-graveyard. There's lots more time-wasting to be had on the site too. Why are modern ruins so fascinating?

Quick update:

Could this be the site from above?

My (dorky) academic idol

An academic rockstar and my favorite political scientist, Thomas Schelling, just received (half) the Nobel Prize in Economics for, ""having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis". Read The Strategy of Conflict or a summary of Schelling's major contributions here.

Really suck that Autumn into your lungs

Gosh - doesn't the air just smell fantastic? First, lunch, then something outdoors. I wish I had a lawn that I could rake or some other sort of yardwork to do.

It's a yardworkey afternoon, my friends - yardworkey.

I didn't realize there'd be crying

It was disappointing to miss Illegal Music Swap '05 and the movie last night, but the wedding was really pretty great - even better than that. The ceremony was on top of the ski hill at Tyrol Basin - it was a hair over 50 last night and ride up the chairlift was frigid, but we're hardcore and their photos will absolutely be worth an hour of shivering. Going stag to the reception - not so much fun. Human pyramid rather than clinking glasses to make Stephen & Emily kiss - a blast.

I don't think I'm a good enough writer to put you there, so hopefully BurritoEater will step up with some photos. Double-fingers-crossed that Jess got pictures of our pyramid and Hava Nagila.

Congratulations to the Ballsdonkies!

UTA: Here are a couple pictures from BurritoEater's post - I'm still hoping to get the link to his entire Kodak gallery.

Stephen (left) and Emily (right)

Some gymnastic action to get the kissin' started, featuring BurritoEater as the lower right keystone and me as the lower left. We held it together for a solid four seconds, until Cowboy Mike up there knocked us down.

No "Get out of my store, you British soccer hooligan"?

In what I'm sure was a survey with well-written questions with non-biased language and appropriate sampling technique, these are the most annoying things sales clerks say to customers:
1) Not my department
2) If it's not on the rack, we don't have it
3) That's the policy
4) I'm on a break
5) Ask the person over there
6) I'm new here
7) You'll have to wait your turn
8) The computer is down

If this isn't evidence that shoppers' expectations are way out of line with what retailers can provide, I don't know what is.

"NO - the computer is working just fine. The customer is always right!"

"I don't care if you're walking to your car and it's 30 minutes after the store closed. The customer is always right!"

"Yes, you certainly are going to check the back for these Dockers in pink. The customer is always right!"

"I will absolutely not wait in this line like a human being! How dare you! Let me speak to your manager!"

"I don't care if you're the Pepsi rep - I'm a paying customer in this grocery store and the ATM is out of deposit slips!"

Live, from my blog, it's Friday morning!

Lance Armstrong is hosting Saturday Night Live on October 29th, and I propose we gather for drinking and watching this trainwreck. Watch his Subaru commercials - apparently the reason he only gets one tagline at the end is that he's a horriblicious actor.


I can't believe wives can just go to Las Vegas for a week and leave me here with weather in the 50's. There's a illegal music-swap in the pipeline and a group trip to Racing Stripes or something but neither lets me wear shorts. I wonder if I should have tried to intervene at the bus stop when that girl was stuck in an uncomfortable conversation with a possiblyhomeless man. But she said oh have you had a hard week so she couldn't have been trying too hard to extricate herself. Is extricate too pretentious?

Celebrate them. They're celebrate-ies.

I can't even make my brain do the thinkeymaking anymore. Hollywood - over. Nick&Jessica - divorced. No - they're not. Scientology spawn.

In less-weird news, M.Bro is turning into a little runner. After a summer of training for Max-o-Mania that was mostly me dragging her out the door, she's been self-motivatedly running for almost three weeks now. And, from what she says, going further and faster and happier than when we were training. Could it be that she just doesn't like the pressure of some terrible event hanging over her. Yes, it could indeed be. When I got home today - a note on the table - "4:00 - out running - back around 5:30" and a new file saved on the desktop called "Half-marathon plan".

Bateman v. simple-minded Americans ("hey, that's the name of this show")

Look at picture, blogreader! Relive my favorite moments from last night's episode while I finish learning about Medellin v. Texas.

Brown, Black, Polar, Whatever

If this guy turns out to be right about FOX cancelling Arrested Development mid-season, I'm turning this into a blog about bears. The Bear Blog. In protest. Eat my furry bears, FOX.

The Arcade Fire

Spice posted a concert-review-from-the-hallway that you shouldn't miss