July 2007 Archives


Spent the weekend camping out in southwest Minnesota with telescopes, a borrowed and rather quirky car, and a somewhat incompetent (very much a theorist) presenting partner, bringing astronomy to the masses. Fun was had, on average. For some reason, passing all those Dairy Queens left me craving sweet frozen things, so one of the first things I did after unpacking was to make one.

Then I used the borrowed car to pick up my newly acquired arc welder. Which will be teh awesome.

The political blogs (and similar) have been generating some interesting imagery of late, mostly as a by-product of churning out high-grade snark. Examples:

Ezra wrote:

magine, for instance, that you came across a mime on a unicycle. Would you assume that this mime was inexplicably wedded to an ineffective form of transportation? Or that he thought looking hilarious on a unicycle would be good for his career as a mime?

Same with Kristol. You'd have to be a fool to look at the hornet's nest we've stirred up in the Middle East, the endless ground war we've entered in Iraq, [etc] and conclude, as Kristol does, that "[a]s for foreign policy in general, it has mostly been the usual mixed bag." Mixed bag of what? Nails and explosives?

Sam Boyd paints a lovely picture of my alma matter:

To start with, the idea of using the University of Chicago as a typical college experience is something like judging the experience of the average car owner by interviewing a guy in rural Idaho who drives a biodiesel-fueled Yugo -- he has his reasons and his choice is admirable, but it's also hardly typical. The UofC is a great place and I'm glad I don't go somewhere else, but it is a very odd place. We print t-shirts that say "where fun comes to die" and "hell does freeze over," and people who choose to go there are almost all very academically-focused and interested in ideas.

Michael Berube pens a hillarious meditation on third-party politics that includes the paragraph:

Of course, we don’t want to give Republicans too much credit for electoral smarts, especially since their current slate of candidates consists of the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, some other lunatics, and Mister Excitement himself, James Gilmore. I’m just suggesting that the GOP neither demonized nor courted the Reform Party; it simply let Perot and the Perotistas disappear over the horizon and/or return peacefully to Zzyzzych 7.

And finally, I would be remiss if I failed to cite the newly-discovered Cheney Superposition (via Dean):

Quantum Cheney Superposition

Speaking of Criminal Robots...

Due to a particularly insistent spam-bot attack, for the time being I have set comments to moderated. This means that your posts won't show up until I swing by to mark them as not-spam. I find this a bit discouraging, as I value your feedback and worry that you folks will be less inclined to leave comments, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

There may be a delay in comments showing up over the weekend, as I'll be out bringing astronomy to the teeming-ish masses of western Minnesota. Universe in the Park will be hitting Camden on Friday evening, and Lake Shetek on Saturday. Looks likely that the weather will hold through the weekend, so two nights of clear dark skies are a good possibility.

On the vegetable front, the kohlrabi fritters did in fact resemble a somewhat juicy, broccoli-flavored potato pancake. Also, pesto is basically the salad equivalent of a neutron star. My blender was making funny noises by the end of the process, but I converted an entire crisper (and then some) worth of assorted greens into three jars of pestos this week. I've resigned myself to the fact that my roommates do not eat nearly enough vegetables to finish off a CSA bushel box in a week, so my cooking of late has been all about the preservables.

If one were so inclined, it is probably possible to infer how many extracurricular projects I'm involved in at any given time by measuring the frequency with which I post here. They do tend to compete.

Starting off with a quote that really speaks for itself: (from Bruce Schneier)

Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says.

I haven't said much about it, but don't think I haven't been paying attention to the Scooter Libby mess. While those presently inhabiting DC have behaved in a thoroughly compromised fashion (as usual), the money quote actually does come from a political elite; you just have to reach a bit farther back:

In the same convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." James Madison responded:
[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty...

As Digby, Rick Perlstein, and others have pointed out, the present lawlessness doesn't exactly start with the present administration -- it's endemic to the nature of the Conservative movement, which from the very start has been about authoritarianism and trampling the freedom of the non-wealthy. Impeachment would be only the first real step in the long fight to discredit and dismantle the beast.

Actually, as Sam Boyd recently pointed out, living by the pirates' code would be a significant improvement. With their relatively egalitarian society, democratic organization, and even health insurance, you'd think they were European or something.

Did you know that the CIA is actually trying to make it easier to find out what they've been up to ... under other administrations, at least. Thank heavens for the Freedom of Information Act. There have been some interesting revelations coming out of the latest batch of releases, but most of the attention has focused on Fidel's cigars.

And speaking of spooks and spies and criminal robots, this article from the IEEE Spectrum reads like a techno-thriller. It describes the anatomy, at least to the extent of what is publicly known, of a recent scandal in Greece, in which persons unknown hacked into Vodafone's Greek infrastructure, secretly took over the wiretapping system and monitored numerous cell phones for a year or more. Including the Prime Minister's.

On a differently creepy note, Orcinus highlights a followup report on hate groups infiltrating the military to, I kid you not, "get training for a race war." The brass apparently doesn't see the problem.

Finally, another panorama experiment.

Thunderheads catch fire on the horizon as the sky goes gray.

Assorted Updates


Life with the CSA has been an adventure so far -- you don't realize the degree to which laziness nudges variety out of your diet until you're confronted with eating from a box full of whatever happens to be ripe this week. I've rediscovered radishes, found that fresh beets are better than I'd remembered, realized that almost any sort of leaf you can think of can made edible by stir-frying. Supposedly you can make a fritter from a kohlrabi, which I imagine will be almost but not entirely unlike a potato pancake.

If you're in Minnesota and weren't at the July 4th party I was at, you missed out. On my enormous box of combustibles, that is. (The comestibles were also top-notch, thanks to our hosts Clay and Ruby.) Later on I joined friends at the Soap Factory's third July 4th ten second film festival. Two of our films made the cut; neither of them won anything, although the audience generally thought we were robbed of the comedy award. Eventually the production will probably be posted at the festival website.

Our videos are credited to schwa. You should keep an eye out for it.

I'm experimenting with the hugin panorama stitching suite, and I've gotten some pretty sweet results so far. Here's one below:

A squall line blows in from over the river at sunset. Click to enlarge the panorama, but be warned that it is gigantic.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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