Friday, April 18, 2008

Re: Widgets

Scratching his head yields, "Meow."

Another cool thing - blidgets!

In addition to playing with the animated cat tonight, I'm learning about "blidgets". A blidget is a widget that displays the headlines (and optionally text and images) from a blog in a little window on a web page. It updates often or continuously or something, and the headlines are clickable. So for a test, I created a "blidget" for/of SSJ and put it on the web site for my book club.

Also, just discovered that I can put SSJ headlines on my iGoogle home page, yielding this:


I'm not expecting Maukie the Virtual Cat to last long. (But look! He chases your cursor! And you can make him purr!)

Find widgets here if you feel so inclined.

[Update: If you move your cursor around really fast in his face, his pupils dilate.]

Optics question

One of my pet peeves in binoculars, telescopes and other optics aids is that wink one gets when one's moves eye. In other words, if you don't keep your eyes really centered at the lens, you get that "wink" that causes the image being viewed to disappear.

Is there a term to ask for when buying quality optics to allow for more forgiveness when the eye moves off center?

Brad Stone blogs for the NYTimes today about that now provides "mash-ups" that allow people to write their own punchlines for a Dilbert cartoon strip. I just tried it. Here's my result:

This site requires Adobe Flash, please click here to get it. provides the embed code, so I take that to be a license to be allowed to post like this.

[Update: Embed isn't working. Can anyone else get it to work?]
[Update 2: Maybe it is working. It's showing just the part that I wrote. Not much fun to embed this, though.]

I'd like to have been at this pitch meeting

"I've got a great idea for a new game. And a catchy name, too!"

Ana-nothra etc

If you use Google to search for Scooter's word, as punctuated, here's what you get:

[Update: I see it's too small to see. SSJ is second of two results. Tried posting a "large" image, but it was taking forever.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I've always wanted to know how to spell this:


From Ace.

Who owns corporations?

In the wake of LJ and Scooter's exchange about corporations, I wondered about the demographic picture of stock ownership in America.  Here's a graph from the Economic Policy Institute's publication, The State of Working America 2006/2007, showing stock ownership by wealth class during the period 1989-2004:

The graph is presented here with permission from EPI.

EPI describes that this chart shows that "[i]n 2004, the wealthiest 1% owned 36.9% of all stocks, while the next 9% owned 41.9%. Hence, the wealthiest 10% controlled about 80% of all stocks while the bottom 90% owned just over 20%."

More information on this chart is on EPI's website.

There are several things about this that are fuzzy to me. For example, the text on their site says that this is for "all stock", but I'm guessing they mean all U.S. stock. Also, ownership adds up to 100%, in spite of the fact that there's obviously lots of foreign investment in U.S. stock. So I think the percents are based on U.S. stock owned by U.S. citizens.  Maybe the answers are there somewhere, but I just haven't found them.

Anyone have better or clearer information on this topic?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is LJ listening to?

These days, I'm listening to the 2nd (and last) album by one of the most influential British bands of the late 70's. The music was rhythmic, the lyrics were introspective and tended to be sad and painful. And they had an event occur that usually cements the on-going legacy of a band - tragedy. They were THE band of the post-punk era; they were major influences of bands ranging from U2 to The Cure. Their live shows were a bit different, from the lack of lighting to the lack of stage banter to the audience. The cd I'm listening to is a remastered reissue, which includes a cd of one of their last live performances (recorded in February 1980). What is striking is that while the songs on the studio albums are very melodic and clean, they actually preferred the raw, aggressive and loud style you hear on the live cd. The band is Joy Division - the cd is "Closer".

My favorite songs are "Twenty Four Hours", "Isolation", and "Passover". After their lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide just before their first US tour, the band changed their name (and musical style) to New Order. One of the greatest songs of the rock era, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", was released just after the suicide of Curtis. And for anyone that is interested, "Control" was a biographical film of Ian Curtis released in 2007. It is very good and the actor (who I don't recall at this moment) who played him did a great job.

Metzger footnote

I could have mentioned that you won't see Mike Metzger in the Moto X World Championships 2008 video below because he didn't compete in this event. He was injured last year jumping his motorcycle from one barge to another for the Discovery Channel. I believe he's been retired since then and has moved on to art, merchandising his brand, and doing commentary for Moto X events. He also blogs.

No Moto X TV coverage is complete without a compilation of interviews with riders listing their career injuries and I enjoy this immensely for some freakish reason. Of course, you expect they've broken some bones, but the quantity of broken bones per rider is jaw-dropping. And there are of course, plenty of internal injuries as well, like lacerated kidneys. Before the barge accident, Metzger had lost a testicle and had broken his back three times. I don't suppose the riders can find an insurance company to insure them. For the stars in the sport, I suppose their sponsors agree to foot the bill for medical care and provide payouts for disability and life.

While I'm on this topic, I'll pass on this link to footage of Travis Pastrana working toward the double backflip. Lots of crashing.

Someone should report on the Moto X World Championships

In 2002, I watched Mike Metzger land back-to-back backflips in competition. It's not often that something on your TV pulls you out of your chair and has you jumping up and down and hollering, hardly believing what you've just seen, but a man doing a backflip on a motorcycle had that effect on me.

Here's where the sport has taken the backflip, from the Moto X World Championships last week:

Mike Metger holds the record for the longest backflip, after backflipping over the fountain at Caesar's Palace.

Riders typically learn the backflip by landing in a pit of foam blocks, but legend has it that Metzger learned it on dirt.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Trigger pulled

I went to eyebuydirect rather than Zenni only because I found a frame that fit better. Total cost (including a $35.00 charge to make my coke bottles extra thin) came in at $95.00. That is some $250.00 cheaper than my last pair from Eyemasters (where I had a 50% off coupon). Site said two weeks.

Btw, for those who still want to buy at a bricks and mortar store, always visit the store's website for downloadable coupons first.

Re: Don't sigh at me, mister

From another site from GlassyEyes this site got a good review from the WSJ (at least according to the site) and they have Nickelodeon glasses:

PD Measuring.

Eyeglass measurements made easy:

How do I measure the frame I already have?

On the inside of the frame, you will see numbers that tell you the frame measurement of your existing frame.

The temple arm length is usually written on the inside of one of the temples. The number is usually between 125 and 145, and represents the full temple length (including the bend) in millimeters (mm).

The eye size and nose bridge measurements are sometimes stamped in that same place, and are either separated with a dash ( - ) or a small box between the numbers. An example is 49-19, which would mean an eye size (widest part of the lens) of 49mm and a nose bridge (also called DBL or distance between lenses) measurement of 19mm. It is also very common for these to be stamped or engraved on the inside of the nose bridge.

My nikes have the nos. 48 20 140 printed on the left temple arm so I've got 48mm wide lenses (missed that measurement by 2mm), a nose bridge of 20mm (a measurement I hadn't considered) and temple arm length is 140 (missed that one by 5mm). No dashes or small boxes.

I measure temple to temple across the top of my glasses (turning them upside down and laying them on the ruler seems to work best) to their widest point which on my nikes is the outside of the hinges which extend slightly beyond the outside edges of the lenses. I hate getting too narrow glasses...causes the temple arms to flex.

More help here (click on "What do these numbers mean?").

Re: Specs (sigh)

There is a measurement for each pair of glasses on the Zenni website that is "frame width." I assume that a measurement was taken of your still thick noggin that you then related to "frame width." What measurement was taken and how was it taken? How does that measurement relate to "frame width?" Is it the same number? Is it 10 mm less? How does one measure for "temple arm length?"

New poll -->

Grateful over clueless, 5-1.

New Sherlock Holmes stories

There are many. Go to this link and look at the nine pages of "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought." Stephanie's favorite writer, Michael Chabon, wrote "The Final Solution" with Holmes as a very old recluse, which I read and enjoyed. Perhaps the best-known post-ACD story is "The Seven-Percent Solution" by Nicholas Meyer, which was also a pretty good movie.

There are of course many versions of the original canon in print. The best is the recent 1878 page two-volume annotated set.

From the Publisher's Weekly blurb: Sherlockians and more casual Holmes fans alike will delight in this comprehensive edition of the 56 original short adventures featuring the world's first private consulting detective. Modeling his efforts on William S. Baring-Gould's 1968 Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Klinger (The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library) packs as many extras into these two volumes as a special director's cut DVD: detailed essays on subjects as diverse as the Boer War and the history of rugby, illuminating citations to early drafts of Doyle's original manuscripts,and full discussions of the numerous theories developed over more than a century concerning ambiguities, contradictions and unresolved issues in the stories. Those new to such scholarship will be fascinated by the sophisticated multidisciplined approach, much of it based on close readings and historical research similar to Bible study. The synthesis of the commentaries will engage veteran Sherlockians, who will be able to compare hypotheses concerning, for example, the true identity of the king of Bohemia or Holmes's actual whereabouts during the Great Hiatus.

The four novels have now been added in a third volume (on my Christmas list).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Umm, sandwich

VDH on a point I wish I'd posted this morning on the latest Obama flap:

So the frustrated protectionists of Middle America are “anti-trade”, what then does that mean for the Harvard-educated NAFTA-trashing Obama?

Really, really, I thought about this this morning. I couldn't figure out what Sen. Obama meant when he threw in the anti-trade comment given the whole Colombia trade deal. I guess I attributed it to a too unpolished politician.

My initial reaction is really turning out to be wrong.

Woody's not bitter...

Woody- "I'm not bitter, Sam. I'm just consumed by a gnawing hate that's eating away at my gut until I can taste the bile in my mouth."

Audio here almost to the bottom of page.

specs specs

Temple arm length 145 mm

Lens width 50 mm

Lens height 30 mm

Temple to temple 135 mm, my readers; 140 mm, my nike specs

PD 62-63 mm

The Italian Secretary

A Sherlock Holmes story by Caleb Carr. Holmes and Watson go to Scotland at the request of Mycroft, who is working for Queen Victoria. Interesting descriptions of Edinburgh, Balmoral Castle, and Holyrood Palace, but that's about all.

Since Stephanie's post about slogging through or bagging, I've bagged two stinkers, Relic and Seven Deadly Wonders.

I wanted to give Lincoln Child another try and he's co-written a lot with Douglas Preston, including Relic. The writing's fine but the story appears to be about a man-lizard creature hiding out in the catacombs of the Museum of Natural History. Meh.

SDW is filled with lots of maps and diagrams (which probably sucked me in) but it is a preposterous story that appears to have some modern-day adventure associated with each of the Great Wonders. I got 50 pages into the first adventure about the search for the head of the Colossus of Rhodes, which was hidden by someone inside a jungle mountain somewhere. Lots of deadly secret traps are avoided or thwarted by our team (which includes an eight-year old girl), while racing against a competing faction of Euros led by a monk. And there's a team of Americans not far behind! Bah. It looks like the editor couldn't finish it either because the really important stuff is italicized so you don't miss it. "And then he stomped on the key stone, releasing an avalanche of flaming clkjdnflk;sj;vb...."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Re: Gay Marriage and States Rights

Thanks for not holding me to the state’s platform. There are many things in there that make my more libertarian side cringe. And, egad, we certainly don’t need a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The reason there are efforts to redefine/codify the other relationships is because marriage is, save only in Massachusetts as far as I know, between a man and a woman.

This is obviously a question about which you feel strongly. It is not one that keeps me up at night. I certainly don’t care about what relationships into which any consenting adults want to enter (even the polyamorous). Accordingly, this is just me spouting off as opposed to any real study.

The question to me is not so much about denying rights to nontraditional relationships, as to whether special rights should be conferred on relationships other than the traditional one of marriage between man and woman. Those special rights can all be obtained in other, granted much less romantic, ways: contract, powers of attorney, etc.

Indeed, I just helped an associate here in Austin "divorce" from her partner by helping get all the assets divided properly. Fortunately for me there weren’t all that many and they had prepared all the paperwork correctly. I'm not married and have none of the benefits that the married designation carries with it. If I want those benefits, I can arrange for almost all of them. Marriage "penalty" coming back in a couple of years by the way.

The states rights question is pretty easy actually to me. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Granted that it’s gotten all mucked up since 1789 (Michael’s con law prof says that even "judicial review" is extra-constitutional), but to me, the idea that experimentation should go on at the state level was a thing of beauty. Let the states be scientists with the grand experiments. If one is going to overturn a 400 year old "traditional" definition (here at least) of the institution of the family, why rush pell-mell into it?

Cognitive dissonance: full faith and credit clause.

Re: Reading habits

I generally can tell ahead of time if I'm going to like it. I'm too cheap to buy anything other than airport fiction that I haven't pretty well researched. Ultimately, it depends upon why I'm reading.

Certainly, if I'm not enjoying a piece of fiction, I'll bail early like Michael unless it's something I "need" to have read, e.g., my occasional (I shoot for annual) foray back into Maugham, Austen, Wilde, Tolstoy, etc. Except for Joyce, I find him unreadable.

If it's non-fiction, then it is less about enjoyment than utility. So much the better if I can get both. I've been reading Liberal Fascism for two months now. It is taking a long time, not because I'm not enjoying or because it is overly difficult, but because I find myself in a really slow reading period. I'm usually good for your puny 2-3 per month. Don't know what's up with me. Too much religion and guns I guess...just kidding.

If I'm reading because Michael told me to, then I....must.....finish. Actually, of the two most recent recommendations of his that I've read (Roth's The Plot Against America and Buckley's Little Green Men), I enjoyed both.

Are you smarter than an 1895 8th Grader?

Sample questions from the 4 hour test for Salina, Kansas 8th graders from 1895:

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

Full test here.

H/t: Dr. Dean

Obama's SF remarks

What Obama was trying to say is perfectly reasonable and valid.  He's saying that when Democrats don't have policies that respond to economic needs of working class people, working class voters turn to other issues to decide how to vote: for the party more affiliated with gun rights, for the party that claims ownership of respect for religion and for the party that shows more hostility to illegal immigrants.  His mistake in San Francisco was in saying all this in a much too short-hand manner.  Here he is, saying exactly the same thing, but in the long-hand version on Charlie Rose in 2004:

H/t to Josh Marshall, who cites a reader GB, at TPM.

Any one care to defend

Obama's SF remarks?