Monday, October 30, 2006

Which Quiz are you - the Meta Quiz

You knew it would come to this, a quiz to determine which quiz are you.

Which quiz are you ?

This pointless quiz was made by TMO

The results are so true.

Now I need a quiz to determine which quiz determines which quiz I am...

(via Exploding Aardvark)

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Ted Neeley and Buddy Jesus: Separated at birth?

Perhaps they could get someone slightly younger to play the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Ted Neeley has been playing Jesus for 35 years (Dialogue article, caution .pdf, News Journal article), longer than the real Jesus had been alive. It showed in his awful, vacant performance at the Dupont Theatre on Friday. We walked out at intermission, so maybe I am not qualified to give a full review. Jesus was looking a little long in the tooth, but perhaps we Wilmingtonians are so starved for a brush with celebrity that the audience gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Ted Neeley was in the film version in 1973 and is 63 now. He was better (and younger, and had more hair) in the movie. Friday's performance was empty and cartoonish, with much outstretched hands and mumbled blessings, I expected him to do the "beauty pageant screwing in a lightbulb" wave at any moment. His resemblance to Buddy Jesus from the movie Dogma was eerie. Worse, the microphone or whatever stuck to his forehead was very prominent and distracting.

The rest of the cast would have been worth staying to watch but Neeley was too painful to sit through. Corey Glover of Living Colour fame was a fantastic Judas, using his signature "Cult of Personality" voice to match the intensity of the music and lyrics. The ensemble had strong voices, meeting the almost unnatural dynamic range required for some of the smaller male parts, the priests in particular.

All in all I am sorry I got suckered into getting these extra tickets; they were not part of the regular subscription series. Our little DuPont Theatre is admirable in its attempt to bring a piece of Broadway south to Wilmington, but sometimes the most the performances have going for them is it only takes me ten minutes to get downtown to see them.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Raging Torrent

Here is a shot of the raging torrent that was Shellpot Creek behind my new house on Saturday morning. This is what the normally babbling brook looks like when you dump an inch or two of rain overnight into it. Apparently it was even more raging earlier in the morning before the rain stopped.

The water came no where near up the bank so the house is safe. It is almost hypnotic to look at, and very loud. That is fine by me, as long as it stays in the creek where it belongs.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Matrix Rewritten

For some reason I said I told someone to have hope the other day. Not about anything important, it was just a superficial comment. But that put me in mind of the line from the film, "The Matrix Reloaded".
"Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness"
- The Architect in the film the Matrix Reloaded
Just replace hope with whatever you like.
"Ice Cream. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness"
"Blogging. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness"

Just for fun.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Phillies baseball urns and coffins

Since you can't do almost anything without the express written permission of Major League Baseball, I am sure "die"-hard fans are glad that some of the baseball team logos have been licensed so they can be placed on your casket or urn.

I know one Tigers Fan who will seriously consider this. I wonder if Paul noticed that they used a Phillies logo for the artist conception urn. Is the urn for the fans or for the team who stopped playing baseball just a few games before the actual end of the season.

Go Tigers! (since the hometeam self-destructed after providing false hope, again)

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Sunday, October 15, 2006


'Honest Hypocrite'
anagrams to
'This potency hero.'

Enough said.

(Make your own at Anagram Genius.)


The value of pennies

When the object you need is worth about a penny, maybe a penny itself will do.

My earlier collision with the pull tab urban legend caused me to suggest collecting pennies at $1.81/lb instead of soda pop can pull tabs (about 750) at $.42/lb because you would make more money per pound of donations to Ronald McDonald house.

BoingBoing posts Tom Parker's suggestion to use a penny as a washer because it would save you money. Now if only I had a penny punch, I could go into the washer business.

I can't emphasize enough to do the math!

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Advertising everywhere

Trying to watch Battlestar Galacta on SciFi Channel while ad after ad appears at the bottom of the screen reminded me of a truism:
Advertising is the particular pathology of free market capitalism.
I couldn't tell if some of the ads were part of the show or not. I think NotPhil would agree. Just as disturbing is the sometimes mismatch of commercial with apparent target audience. It is possible that I need Depends or that I am watching the wrong show, or they are for my parents. I am still not buying any. Those poor marketers desperately trying to differentiate undifferentiated products. And those callous consumers buying whatever they want instead of what they are told to.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fixing the New World domination by Eurasian originating civilizations through recourse to science fiction

Yesterday's Columbus day post about the book , 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann reminds me that "fixing" the destruction by disease of the New World civilizations that occurred upon their discovery is a theme of science fiction writers as well. If you haven't read the books and short stories below, I recommend them, and caution you that there are spoilers in this post.

The question before us is how would you prevent the destruction of the civilization in the Americas when the Europeans arrive in 1492.

The fictional scientists in Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus find a way to view the past and use it not just for study, but potentially for alteration of mistakes. The biggest of which is the discovery of the new World by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction by disease of the indigenous civilizations that followed.

These scientists are meddlers, so they intentionally infect the New World people and Old World people of Columbus' time with a more innocuous form of virus that conveys immunity to smallpox after only a short mild sickness. Fix disease, check. Then they convince Columbus and his crew to treat the natives they meet more kindly(mostly because they are not dead from epidemics). Stop atrocities, check. There is also some social engineering of the Old and new World religions, you can read the book for more. (The book also has an especially good chapter on a theory of Noah's flood, and the Tower of Babel located in a different place than you would think.)

This theme is evocative of a recent story in Futureshocks edited by Lou Anders. The story, "The Teosinte War" by Paul Melko addresses the same issues in Pastwatch: how to get the Native Americans in the New World to the same technological level as the Old World before Columbus discovers America and wrecks everything.

The author appears to have read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, who contends that the reason that the Eurasian civilizations rose to technological civilization faster than the rest of the world and went on to colonize the Americas was because of the suite of domesticated plants and animals available to them that the indigenous people of the Americas, and Australians did not have. These tools led to the development of large cities and virulent germs (and immunity to them) bred through the close association of people and animals.

Imagine what would happen if both the Old World and the New World had populous complicated civilizations with large cities and different germs...

Melko's story is not exactly time travel, the science in the story suggests that intervention in the past breaks off an alternate history that continues along as new path. The author has his characters deliver modern maize and horses to the Americas long before the first Europeans arrive, read the story for the results of the experiment.

(teosinte and maize picture via Univ of Wisconsin Doebley Lab)

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Monday, October 09, 2006

The day before Columbus Day

Coincidentally on this Columbus Day, I have just completed reading, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann. Mann surveys the exciting new and reviews the old research about the people inhabiting the Americas before Columbus arrived (called Indians or Native Americans, there is plenty of controversy surrounding these labels).

Newer estimates of the population of the Americas at the time Columbus landed have been pushing up to 100 million. That would represent a fifth of the world's population at the time. Unfortunately much of this population was ravaged by contagious diseases (smallpox, viral hepatitis in some places) to which they had no natural immunity. In some cases only 1 in 10 people survived. Earth lost a fifth of its population and we live in a post-apocalyptic world and don't even really know it.

It is sad that we couldn't have met these people and learned from them at the height of their cultures without the deadly impact of our diseases. The book reports research which is beginning to reveal complex civilization after complex civilization existed, especially in Mesoamerica (Central America) and South America. At the time some of these ancient cities were the largest in the world. The impact on the environment of these early Americans was so thorough that there may actually be no natural environment in North and South America, just a giant continental garden gone to seed after the population crashed in the 1500's to 1700's. Even the Amazon forest may be a creation of man.

My review doesn't do the book justice, it is well worth reading for learning about the controversies regarding even research into the arrival of man to the Americas (25,000 years ago), how many there were (100 million), and just what kind of culture they had and the heights of civilization they achieved (complex societies with cities of 100,000).

(picture is Indian Village of Secoton by John White, 1585)

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hot coffee spilled on conventions of civility

On Friday I was in a very crowded Einstein Bagel. Just before I got my lunch I set my coat and newspaper at an empty table and then turned back to get my sandwich.

As I turned to put my lunch down I saw a man and a woman set there coffees on the occupied table and then proceed to spill coffee all over it! My newspaper and coat were in danger. They made a few desultory swipes at cleaning up the mess and then abandoned it when they realized the rest of the group was at another table.

They were senior citizens, so my normal self rightous indignant attitude was short circuited by feelings of respect for the elderly. They might even have had health issues preventing them from doing the correct thing and cleaning up.

In confusion I simply asked the counter person for a rag so I could clean it myself. This was met with some annoyance as she took my helpfulness for impatience with a dirty table.

I am not sure what age society gives a buy to people for polite behavior but I have been well conditioned.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Sudoku for the impatient

I was never really that interested in sudoku. This sudoku was more my speed.

(via xkcd)

The new rage out on the net is not only computer programs (three lines, four lines) to solve every sudoku for you, but simple algorithms that you can apply yourself using pencil and paper. Instructables has provided a simple process to follow to solve not just one sudoku, but every sudoku. I solved a few using the technique and now I am satisfied that I could solve most any I encountered, which takes out most of the fun.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Nerdy is as nerdy does

I suppose you might have guessed this about me already. Take the quiz yourself.

I am nerdier than 90% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

10% scored higher (more nerdy), and
90% scored lower (less nerdy).

What does this mean? Your nerdiness is:

Supreme Nerd. Apply for a professorship at MIT now!!!.

I am glad that we rule the world now. It is almost cool to be nerdy now. (At least that is what we should keep telling ourselves.)

(via Gazizza)

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The true opposite of love

I always used the phrase "the true opposite of love is not hate, but indifference", not knowing who I was quoting, or remembering where I had first heard it. Dr. Mardy Grothe of serendipitously supplied the answer in last week's chiasmus e-mail newsletter. It is from the writings of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, who became a professor at Boston University after a career as a journalist. The full quote is:

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."

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