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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in shagbark's LiveJournal:

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Friday, September 11th, 2009
2:20 pm
You heard it here first
Rock Band: The Beatles came out 2 days ago. I predict that this will bring about greater respect for Ringo's drumming. That is, if they actually mark the beats where he played them.

I'm a fan of late Beatles, but early Beatles must have been a lot more fun for Ringo.
2:17 pm
Only in America
Today I heard some Muslims interviewed on NPR comment on how much more sensitive government has been to the Muslim community since 9/11/01.

All other neglected minorities in America, take note. Or, er, don't.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
12:07 pm
Bad idea of the day: GPS Dylan
I heard Bob Dylan on the radio today - not singing, but talking. He's trying to license his voice out to give instructions on the GPS navigation units in cars. And 40 more years of cigarette smoking hasn't made his voice any clearer.

So, someday soon, you can have this conversation in your car:

GPS Dylan: Tuurr werrf gorn, at the marn way shun.
Driver: Tour worth going? What?
Passenger: I think he said, "Turn left soon at the Penn station".
GPS Dylan: Froom! Werble in ferglesuh.
Driver: I think I was supposed to turn there!
Passenger: No, he said "soon!" Turn soon!
GPS Dylan: Howduz it fheil? Ti be hon yor hohwn? Wid no derekshun hoome?
Driver: I don't think he's giving directions at all.
GPS Dylan: Laka rawhlin schtone!
Passenger: You're making Dylan angry, man!

I know one of the only people to co-author a song with Bob Dylan - my late friend Bernie Statland. He went to summer camp with Bob Dylan when they were kids (only Dylan was Zimmerman then). Somebody was supposed to write a song for their cabin, and Bernie and Bob volunteered. So Bob wrote the first version. Bernie ripped it to shreds: "Bob, this song kind of wanders, and some of it doesn't make any sense. And it doesn't even rhyme right!" So Bernie fixed it up for him.
Monday, August 17th, 2009
11:35 am
I recently started buying a McLatte on my way to work, to give me enough caffeine to negotiate the beltway. One of the McDonalds on my way to work has a guy working the front counter who is remarkably cool. I don't mean "cool" like The Fonz; I mean that he isn't disturbed by the mayhem around him. Some servers manage to stay polite and smile at the customers, but this guy is levels above them. You can tell that he's not making an effort to act undisturbed; he's genuinely calm and unstressed and has a genuine smile, greeting everyone and taking every order as if it were the first one of the day.

I said to him, "It's remarkable that you stay so calm working here." And he said, "Sir" (he calls everyone Sir or Ma'am), "after a few weeks on Parris Island having drill sergeants scream in your face from six inches away, it takes more than McDonalds to get to you." And then added, "You make your attitude yourself." He was a Marine.
Friday, August 14th, 2009
6:51 pm
Things I've learned from fmylife.com

  • Never prepare expensive surprises for anyone.

  • If you live with siblings, parents, or housemates, password-protect everything.

  • If you have children or animals, you will eventually be pooped on.

  • People have no sympathy for fat people or vegetarians.

  • Married With Children is not over-the-top. It's not even near the top.

  • Sex and relationships cause people more distress than everything else combined.

  • Men are idiots.

  • Things that cause more distress than public speaking: Sex, nudity, romance, feeling fat or ugly, being mistaken for someone of the opposite gender, kids, animals, underwear, poop, pee, vomit, farting, being robbed, and falling down.

  • Old people still have sex.

  • Parents are horrified to think of their children having sex.

  • Children are horrified to think of their parents having sex.

  • Women will eagerly give a random man their phone number if he asks out of the blue and they think he's cute.

  • Facebook is the greatest invention ever made for humiliating and embarrassing yourself and others.

  • About 1% of people will say "you totally deserved it" to anything that happens to you, including getting cancer.
Sunday, August 9th, 2009
12:43 pm
Ever notice that you never meet most of your neighbors, but the assholes go out of their way to meet you?
Saturday, June 27th, 2009
7:23 pm
Strangeness within strangeness
About that video you've probably seen of prisoners in orange jumpsuits dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller, from CNN:

"Every able-bodied prisoner must dance. If they refuse, they lose privileges, mostly conjugal visits. According to Garcia, the dancing occupies up to five hours a day. However he rejected claims he's abusing the prisoners' rights by forcing them to dance so many hours a day."

Being made to dance to Michael Jackson's music 5 hours a day?!?!
Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
11:45 am
Sex offenders
How come convicted sex offenders can't live near a school, are on a public list, and have to tell their neighbors that they're sex offenders -

- but convicted murderers don't?
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
6:15 pm
Elsevier for sale
Elsevier is possibly the most important publisher of scientific journals in the world. And they published a fake journal for Merck for pay.
Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
5:08 pm
User interface simplicity!
Apple believes that having more than one button confuses people!

Hence the simple interface on their iPhone earbuds:

    Press once to answer a call.
    Press twice to send the call to voicemail.
    Press once to hang up.

    Press once to hold the current call and switch to new call.
    Hold for 2 seconds and release to ignore the new call.

When listening to music:
    Press once to play or pause a song.
    Double-click to skip to the next song.
    Triple-click to return to the previous song.
Friday, May 1st, 2009
1:38 pm
Stupidity roundup
I heard an "expert" on child care on NPR asked about parents being abusive by leaving their children unsupervised. She said that it was probably acceptable to leave children unsupervised once they reach the age of 13.


What kind of pampered attention-hungry wussies will the next generation be made of?
Thursday, April 16th, 2009
8:05 pm
Stupidity roundup
A commentator on NPR representing an insurance agency said that it was too expensive to hire guards for all of the 30,000 ships that pass by Somalia every year.

Instead, he suggests we add to the 20 warships already patrolling the area.

Everything's cheap when somebody else pays for it!
Monday, April 6th, 2009
2:16 pm
Demotivator of the day
WW2, Liberation of Paris: whites only
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
6:04 pm
4:57 pm
Is anybody keeping track anymore?
With the new $1.2 trillion bailout of mortgages etc. the Fed announced today, the US government's total spending on bailouts since November comes to $6 trillion. That's nearly half of the US 2007 GDP of $13.8 trillion. We've spent that in less than half a year.

Congress and the Fed are literally spending money faster than America earns it. I don't mean tax dollars. I mean total pre-tax money.

In November, Congress raised a fuss over a mere $900 billion. Now, anything less than a trillion barely makes the news.

I thought that whoever was elected President couldn't possibly do worse than Bush.

I may have been wrong.
Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009
12:18 pm
Good jobs
Obama said today: "The jobs that we're creating are good jobs, that pay more than average, jobs grinding asphalt and paving roads, filling potholes, making street signs, repairing stoplights, replacing guardrails."


We could create millions of "good jobs" like these by deporting illegal aliens. Alternately, we could let the Mexicans in and use bailout money to send Americans to college. But instead we have a border policy that says we need cheap foreign labor, and a domestic policy to spend $1 trillion to hire Americans to fix potholes.
Saturday, February 21st, 2009
2:42 pm
The Fall
A new top-10-favorite movie for me: The Fall

"Set in the 1920s, director Tarsem Singh's visually lush drama stars Lee Pace as paralyzed movie stuntman Roy Walker, who bonds with an imaginative 5-year-old named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) as they convalesce together in a Los Angeles infirmary. To coax the girl into procuring the cache of morphine he wants from the hospital pharmacy, the suicidal Roy regales Alexandria with an elaborate fantasy about larger-than-life heroes."

Thanks to Sir Muckford!
Friday, February 20th, 2009
11:17 pm
"A symphony for YouTube"

The LSO plays a piece for YouTube. The conductor's expressions are great. But did anybody notice the percussionist about halfway through, who appears for about half a second playing... the rims?

Pause the video at 2:58, and you'll see a guy in the London Symphony Orchestra, playing a bunch of automobile wheel rims.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
5:47 pm
How did we fail to foresee the financial crisis?

I heard on NPR today that the largest Chinese bank had only 0.02% of its assets invested in the "toxic derivatives" associated with our financial crisis.

So apparently one-sixth of the world's relevant population foresaw it.

Economists used to believe that technological innovation and competition was a matter of some companies adapting to new technologies, and others failing to adapt and going bankrupt. That's still the popular view. But studies have shown that it's more profitable for some companies to continue doing what they've been doing and go out of business, than to adapt and survive, because the larger short-term profits can be invested long before the eventual profits of adaptation. Adaptation is more favorable to small companies.

Similarly, conservation groups who want to encourage African countries to conserve their endangered species out of economic considerations were horrified to discover that it can bee more profitable to kill all of your elephants this year and sell their ivory, than to keep a constant population of elephants alive so that you can sell their ivory forever.

Who "failed" to foresee this crisis by investing in toxic assets? Big companies. The same types that profit more by exploiting a resource to its extinction than by managing a sustainable system.

The "failure" to foresee the crisis is taken as proof that the market is not smart enough to regulate itself.

Maybe the market succeeded.

Has anybody asked whether the financial organizations that failed, and the people running them, made more money by failing than they would have by not failing?

If so, then the problem is not that the market doesn't work. The problem is that the incentives were wrong, and that we let the power to prevent a financial collapse be concentrated in the hands of people who had no reason to prevent it.
Friday, January 30th, 2009
3:28 pm
Flying killer cyborg beetle army: Step 1
Coolest thing this week: A DARPA-funded neural implant for a flying beetle that lets it be remote controlled.
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