28 December 2008
Liverpool ended the match with four center backs on the pitch, with Skrtel making a return from injury and Carragher and Agger filling in right and left and Hyypia rounding out the party.
We're hitting the road today to drive to New Orleans; posts may be infrequent for the next few days.
27 December 2008
Judging by his actions and the company that he keeps, Saltsman is exactly the kind of cynical partisan political operative that I despise. Quote below from a CNN article.
Saltsman, a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, was a top advisor to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and managed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign.
26 December 2008
24 December 2008
22 December 2008
21 December 2008
20 December 2008
19 December 2008
I have thousands of photographs on it, and this is very cool; it's like carrying your photo albums around in your pocket. Unfortunately, iTunes only allows you to sync a list of folders. If you've got a couple of dozen snaps of the kids, this is not a problem. But when you get into thousands of images, you need better organizing functionality. Apparently, there are better options if you're using a Mac and I'm not ruling that out. The only Mac we have at the moment is so old that it's not viable to act as our image repository. I'm using Google's Picasa to organize the pictures on the PC, and like a lot of Google software it is pretty impressive, especially at the price.
To manage a non-trivial number of images you need keywords, albums, and hierarchical organization. Come on Apple, I expect better of you.
18 December 2008
An article at the Freakonomics blog talked about a GMAT question, and how it is possible to deduce the correct answer without even reading the question. See how you do.
Which of the following is the correct answer?
a) 4π sq. inches
b) 8π sq. inches
c) 16 sq. inches
d) 16π sq. inches
e) 32π sq. inchesFor the answer (and the logic they used) go here. For what it's worth, I got it right (though using much more superficial logic than they did).
For extra credit, deduce the question.
17 December 2008
The first was a Winter Sidecar (made with Winter Pimm's, which I have personally imported into the US). I thought it was too bitter, and the lemon overwhelmed the drink. Not bad, but I think it needs a lot of work.
The second was a Corpse Reviver No. 2, which is a pre-prohibition drink intended as a hangover remedy (I did not employ it in this capacity). It calls for equal measures of Gin, Cointreau (I substituted Grand Marnier), lemon juice, and Lillet Blanc (I used Noilly Pratt dry). It is a remarkably smooth and balanced drink; quite elegant really. Recommended.
16 December 2008
This article is what The Economist thought in 1930 of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act (before it had wreaked its sadly predictable devastation).
My daily commute is short (about five miles), and uses only two roads with appreciable traffic. Scooters are an obvious safety concern, but the route I take would make it about as safe as you are likely to find in a major American city. I don't spend very much on gasoline (compared to most). Not counting driving to lunch, I burn about a gallon of gas every two days. While gas prices are absurdly low at the moment ($1.50/gallon; 25p/l at today's exchange rate), I expect that before long they will rise to about $3/gallon. The cheapest scooter is around two grand, and the cheapest practical Vespa is about twice that. At $3/gallon, commuting to work in the Solara costs about $1.50 per day in gas. A scooter would cost about $.50 in gas. With savings of $1.00/day, it would take sixteen years to cost-justify the Vespa. I could pay off the 50cc Vespa in about twelve years; one of the Asian-built scooters in about eight. And this assumes no incremental cost to having the scooter. I'd retain the Toyota, which means I'd keep all of the overhead costs (insurance, repairs) of the car, and have overhead costs of the scooter added (reducing the savings rate).
The bottom line is that I can't possibly cost-justify buying a scooter. Still, they are cute.
15 December 2008
The thought occurred to me that the world might be a better place if these mouth-breathers had been involuntarily sterilized. See? I do know what irony means.
I wonder for whom they voted in November.
Ferguson's response was utterly predictable.
13 December 2008
12 December 2008
I have said that the News is an hour long, irrespective of whether anything important happened. Friends have corrected me: the News is on around the clock. They're going to report with exactly the same amount of coverage every day. That makes it more difficult for the public to differentiate between O. J. Simpson and Robert Mugabe. I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of Americans only know one of those. Americans are predisposed to be more interested in the death of a single Florida girl than an African child every fifteen seconds. That is a cultural sickness that I have no hope will be cured.
11 December 2008
Lions at Colts: Peyton Manning will step to the line of scrimmage on Sunday, start pointing to coverages and potential blitzers, then suffer an existential crisis. Does it really matter where the safety is lined up if he cannot cover a receiver anyway? Why change the blocking assignments to stop a pass rusher who has no chance of reaching the quarterback? Why call plays at all? He'll spend the second half contemplating the futility of all human endeavors while Jim Sorgi mops up the blowout. Colts.
10 December 2008
Pool Winners: Roma, Panathinaikos, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester Utd., Bayern Munich, Porto, Juventus
Runners up: Chelsea, Inter. Milan, Sporting, Atletico, Villareal, Lyon, Arsenal, Real Madrid
The sixteen remaining teams are drawn from these leagues: England (4), Spain (4), Italy (3), Portugal (2), Germany (1), France (1), Greece.
This reinforces my position that reducing the number of teams from the top leagues will only serve to dilute the competition. Does anybody seriously believe that a fifth English club, say Everton or Aston Villa would have done as poorly as Basel?
Half of the remaining teams have won the tournament, and only Sporting, Villareal and Lyon haven't at least made the finals.
Liverpool can't draw another pool winner, another English club, or the other club from their own pool, which leaves: Inter. Milan, Sporting, Villareal, Lyon, Real Madrid.
So there's a 20% chance of the "Special One" pacing the technical area at Anfield in March. On the other hand, it's even money that one of Arsenal or Chelsea will draw Barcelona.
09 December 2008
Rafa took advantage of the lead to bring on three graduates of the youth squad, two of whom made their senior squad debuts. I'm tempted to be overly encouraged by the showing (especially with the squad missing Reina, Gerrard and Torres), but I don't think PSV (who couldn't afford to just stay back and defend) played particularly well. Still, we won the group (compared to needing to win out just to advance last year).
Trivia (from Wikipedia): As its name [English: Philips Sports Union] indicates, the club started out as a works team for employees of electronics conglomerate Philips on August 31, 1913 to celebrate the centennial defeat of the French in the Napoleonic wars.
08 December 2008
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.
Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.
Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
That evening, we dropped T off at his Boy Scout lock-in and had dinner at nearby Sugo. I had the pork Braciole with another (disappointing) Manhattan (on the rocks, even). R had one of the specials Scallops with squash blossoms, and a blood orange Cosmo.
Saturday, B fenced sabre. Or maybe foil. I get them confused. He usually fences épée, but not this time. He came in fourth out of ten, which is pretty good considering it was his first tournament with that blade. He was using borrowed equipment and finished ahead of all of the other fencers inexperienced in that blade, but behind the three who regularly fence with it. I stayed home (with T) and watched Liverpool.
Saturday night we drove in to town (inside the perimiter twice in two days!) to our (apparent) favorite, Holeman and Finch (mentioned last week in the New York Times for having a bar on the cutting edge). We arrived while the SEC championship game was still being contested, so had no trouble getting a table. Over the course of the evening we had: Pork Belly, Radicchio, Crispy Gentleman, Pimento Cheese and Saltines, and Bratwurst. In the way of cocktails, I tried their Blood Be Damned (Tequila, Aperol, sweet Vermouth, and Orange Juice)[light and refreshing] and a drink whose name escapes me that consisted primarily of Rye Whiskey and Amaretto [I don't recommend it - there was far too much Amaretto which made the drink cloyingly sweet] while R had her standard Piedmont Apple (fresh Apple Juice, Pechaud's Bitters, and Sparking Sauvignon Blanc) and also tried a Johnny Ryal (Heering Cherry Liqueur, fresh grapefruit, Angostura bitters + Miller High Life). There was also a dessert, but they haven't updated the menu on their web site, and I don't remember much about it (except that it was gooey and sweet).
Sunday, we watched the Saints beat the Falcons (always a good thing). R made Minestrone for dinner. Yum.
07 December 2008
06 December 2008
Hyypia played specifically because he'd been left off the Champion's League list and is ineligible for the match on Tuesday, but was named man of the match by the announcers (and if the selection was arbitrary, no one had an obviously better match). A couple of Rafa's selections seemed to have an eye on the final group stage match at Eindhoven. Hopefully, the Reds can find a win in Holland while Atletico fails to do the same in Marseille.
For Burress, I'd say a 90 day suspended sentence with a couple of years of probation is about right. He wasn't going to rob anybody; he was guilty of both ignorance and stupidity. But three and a half years?
In the case of Simpson, while I believe he was guilty of the Simpson/Goldman murders, he was acquitted and therefore not guilty in the eyes of the law. For the crimes that he was convicted, fifteen years for a first offense seems absurdly long. He, too, was guilty of stupidity (and claimed ignorance).
Both have demonstrated idiocy. But we don't have enough prisons to incarcerate all of our idiots. They're also both evidently jerks, but again: not enough cells for all of those. Neither one posed any meaningful threat to the general public.
America is clueless about a lot of things and its bankrupt belief that the only way to combat crime is to be "tough on crime" is near the top of the list. We have the highest incarceration rates and one of the highest crime rates. Still, every politician campaigns on being tightening the screws. Why can't we evaluate our policies on a rational basis? When policies don't work, recognize that fact and explore alternatives.
05 December 2008
Here's what's going on in my home town.
The article mentions three old-style cocktails: Aviation (which I've had), Corpse Reviver #2 (which looks interesting), and Last Word (which looks bitter). Of course, no list of classic cocktails should leave off the Sazerac. Other classics (among others): Sidecar, Manhattan, Mint Julep, Champagne Cocktail, Old Fashioned, Ramos Gin Fizz.
Excluded is the Bloody Mary, which I suppose technically is a prohibition recipe, invented in France the week before prohibition was repealed.
Maine ratified it the next day. Slackers.
"Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, and blew up at last on December 5, 1933 -- an elapsed time of twelve years, ten months and nineteen days. It seemed almost a geologic epoch while it was going on, and the human suffering that it entailed must have been a fair match for that of the Black Death or the Thirty Years War." - H.L. Mencken (hat tip: Wall Street Journal)
04 December 2008
03 December 2008
I wonder if college enrollment will plummet. Seriously, who can afford the kind of six-digit tuition, per child, that even modest private universities now charge for a four year degree? I've read that we are at a crest of college-aged Americans. Right now more people are competing for acceptance than ever before, but the demographics suggest that's going to change in the next few years.
02 December 2008
01 December 2008
Liverpool's back four were hardly tested, and Hyypia, slow as ever, might have been Liverpool's best player on the night. Not that anyone seemed to stand out. Dossena looked better than he has, but that's no great consolation. Alonso was able to pass at will in midfield, but West Ham was mostly content to play defensive football.
Most remarkable (in a very unremarkable game) was that the ball hit Ilunga on the arm or hand no fewer than five times.
Chambliss failed to garner the majority of votes in the primary election, so a run-off election will be held tomorrow to determine the winner. Unfortunately, I believe that Chambliss will win comfortably; his opponent Jim Martin won't have Barack Obama's coattails to ride this time. Chambliss has twice run contemptible (i.e., dirty misleading) campaigns, he's everything I hate about politicians.