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:: Thursday, April 30 2009 ::
Oh my - a supreme court opening. I wonder if the entire liberal old guard will turn over, now that there's a Democrat in the white house. Of course, Souter wasn't supposed to be liberal (Bush I appointed him), so there's no absolute assurance that Obama's picks will line up ideologically with him. But I certainly hope they do. Either way, on a purely selfish note, I hope his next pick is a David too (a woman named David will also be acceptable, as that seems to be where the discussion is leading).
One of the joys of Toad Suck Daze (the local festival happening this weekend) is apparently the Stuck on a Truck contest, in which people remain in contact with a pickup until only one person remains, who then gets to keep the truck. Being such a fan of pickups, as I'm sure you all know I am, I was thrilled to learn of this contest as it was hyped up over the last few weeks. But very little could contain my joy today, when I learned there is a live webcam where you can watch people being stuck on a truck.
:: Tuesday, April 28 2009 ::
Mark Taylor, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia, has written an op-ed piece in the NY Times calling, more or less, for an end to graduate studies as we know them. Citing some well known problems ("It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors"), he suggests what it sounds like is a 'liberal arts Ph.D.', and goes further, calling for an end to both traditional academic departments and the traditional dissertation. The opinion-o-sphere has reacted to his proposals, and Geeky Mom has an overview that links some of the major players.
Me? I think the academy could use a good solid shake up. Abolishing tenure would be a nice start. The down side of that is the possibility of the chilling effect it might have on teaching and/or researching certain unpopular topics, and of course the race to the bottom that would occur in wage levels.
The BBC did a really interesting series on manbirdpig flu this morning, starting with an interview with Keiji Fukuda from the World Health Organization, who said that containment was judged to have failed, and that mitigation was where governments should be focusing their energies. In a different interview he did, he said "With the virus being widespread, from the international perspective, either closing borders or restricting travel would really have very little effect, if any effect at all, at stopping the movement of this virus." This was followed by an interview with another guy who commented that the media was falling down on the job, not only through scare tactics, but through a failure to educate people - for example, although the word 'pandemic' is being thrown around by governments and NGOs, very few people have any understanding of what a pandemic is, and the media isn't helping (perhaps for sensationalist purposes?)
Apparently MTV will be filming around town today, due to a certain television show that I will not name. We were hoping they were coming for Toad Suck Daze, which is this weekend, but I doubt they'll hang around until then. Which is too bad - that's going to be live music all weekend, though perhaps not MTV's usual fare (do they even do music anymore?)
:: Monday, April 27 2009 ::
I knew it had to happen sooner or later: facebook is now twitter. It's pretty exciting to think about all the things you can do with the ability to interact with the facebook stream. Of course, as soon as Facebook is replaced by the next big thing it will all be moot.
:: Sunday, April 26 2009 ::
So here's a thought - the US has declared manbirdpig flu a public health emergency (and special kudos to South Park for giving it a name before we knew it needed one!). And even though the Obama administration has said it's too early to talk about the economic impact of the flu, that hasn't stopped people from doing it. But here's a little spin on the idea - most people are currently talking as if the flu would have a negative impact - and in Mexico it might. But I also noted that lots of money is being mobilized to fight the disease. According to Bloomberg, "The [Mexican] Finance Ministry said the government has 6 billion pesos ($450 million) from an emergency fund to fight the virus and will help state governments cover the costs by advancing budget transfer payments." And that, my friends, is an economic stimulus - and one that might not have gone out were there not a scary disease. So if you are planning on talking economic impact, remember how weird the world is set up.
:: Wednesday, April 22 2009 ::
Here's a classic, courtesy of Maureen Dowd:
As noted earlier in the (truly bizarre) interview - 'brevity is the soul of wit'.
:: David (12:25 in Arkansas, 19:25 in Paris) - Comment
I'm not trying to make this into an American Idol blog, I swear! I just happened to be looking for the results from last night (our guy is still in, tho I think the Kalamazoo dude went home), and I ran across this L.A. Times article all about how disco was way more than the crazy outfits that now seem to be all that are left. I'm not absolutely saying I'm ready for a Disco resurgence (though I'm sure I'll get one whether I want it or not), but I will confess that some of the crazy orchestrations were, at the very least, original, which is something we don't get that often in music.
By the way - a little debate starter - Sasha and I have had the conversation that the musical genre where the most innovation is taking place is either Hip-Hop or Country. Any thoughts on the matter?
:: Monday, April 20 2009 ::
American Idol is seriously big here:
I keep thinking I should watch, either the show or the individual from Conway, just to see what it's all about. But I really cannot be asked.
:: David (8:56 in Arkansas, 15:56 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, April 19 2009 ::
So the Obama trip abroad is over, and he finished it as he began it, diplomatic even to Hugo Chavez. There's been a lot of hot air wasted by fools on various elements of the trip, but I was reading one story that made me very curious as to how the long term will play out:
The dialog is open, and now both sides of the aisle want action. Previously, there wasn't even the potential for action. Let's pretend that Cuba is ready to do some horse trading. If this blows open, and suddenly relations with Cuba were normalized, it would be a huge, huge thing. It would, all by itself, be something any leader would be proud to have in their portfolio. And all it would have taken was the slightest change in tone. Where else are these opportunities waiting for us to grab them?
:: David (15:30 in Arkansas, 22:30 in Paris) - Comment
I think, in my own special limited way, I've managed to add some facebook functionality to the blog. If for any reason you feel a story worthy of posting, just click the little facebook links. Right now they're only on posts that have been commented on (due to the fact that this was easier to do, and I am, at heart, lazy).
:: Saturday, April 18 2009 ::
Magic: the Gathering to anyone who asked for it. Since it was free, I asked them to send it to me (I'm a sucker for freebies). On Friday, the sample arrived, and I thought I'd take a picture. Maybe someday I'll actually open the packs (heck - maybe after I type this post). Their goofy 'here I rule' campaign reminds you that the target audience is not adults (well, there's a whole batch of psychoanalysis that could be done here, actually, but let's skip that).
:: David (23:51 in Arkansas, 6:51 in Paris) - Comment
I worked a live television show today, running the scoreboard for the Arkansas quiz bowl finals. This is what the set looked like, and it approximates my view of the day. There were seven categories, each with their own final, so it ran for the entire day. Working TV is weird - anything that happens that isn't where the camera is pointed doesn't count. Overall it was definitely a memorable way to pass a Saturday. And the questions were fun too - like seven hours of really tough trivial pursuit, with things like 'what is the electron that gets ejected from a nuclear reaction called?', or 'whose home run record did Babe Ruth break?' Crazy stuff. And the young people were nailing all of them.
:: Friday, April 17 2009 ::
I know I should resist, but it's late...
There but for the grace of God go I...
:: David (0:53 in Arkansas, 7:53 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, April 16 2009 ::
It must be that time again:
Like soccer and Kylie Minogue, the "Eurovision Song Contest" is a global cultural phenomenon that has never quite captured a U.S. audience. A talent competition open to 41 European nations plus Israel, it’s a bit like three hours of “American Idol” sung in Esperanto, with choreography by your mother. But it’s also the most fun you can have on the Internet without a credit card.Special bonus points to the Times for calling their article imported cheese. If you're living over there, or have an affinity for one country or another, who is your band of choice? I'll probably be youtubing the results after the fact, unless I feel particularly fiesty.
:: David (7:26 in Arkansas, 14:26 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, April 15 2009 ::
Proof that I shouldn't be let loose in the evening: I just spent several hours writing a program to create galleries from my photos. I expect some other evening I will spend several hours making it all swanky and cool. It's scary, really.
OK, people who live in Conway, Arkansas (and people who might, I don't know, come visit?): here's the 2009 Silver Moon Cinema Schedule (that's the outdoor movies they show here in town).
:: David (9:44 in Arkansas, 16:44 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, April 13 2009 ::
So as you may have worked out I'm fairly excited about the Tesla S. I'm also now kind of excited about the CEO of Tesla, who recently (on the record) called a NY Times reporter "a huge douchebag" after the reporter said Tesla shouldn't be given any stimulus money, in the form of low interest loans, because the technology wasn't proven. There's nothing like an outspoken CEO to test the rule that 'all publicity is good publicity'. And the auto companies have had some real doozies, no pun intended.
:: Saturday, April 11 2009 ::
There are days the BBC is just weird.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.I can't decide what I think of the so-called 'literary mash-up', of which Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is the first I've heard. I generally find these sorts of jokes last for a five minute riff, and then are done. But I find interesting the idea that it might lead people to read who might otherwise not read.
:: David (0:06 in Arkansas, 7:06 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, April 10 2009 ::
It was fascinating last night - there was a tornado west of here (in Mena, Arkansas), and I discovered twitter can be used as an emergency warning service. The posts started coming in early that there was a serious storm (it wasn't bad at all in Conway - although Mina was forced to move to a central room to escape the thunder), and then reporting hail and finally a tornado. Lance Turner examines the phenomenon in more detail, noting some of the state officials who were posting details as the storm developed. This is perhaps the first time I've thought twitter might be more than another goofy social media service.
:: Thursday, April 9 2009 ::
You know, I took political signs out of peoples' yards as a stunt when I was younger. It was a lark. I probably wouldn't do it, however, on general principal, if I were the town mayor, and the signs were opposing one of my political objectives. That would be... what's the word here... dumb.
:: Tuesday, April 7 2009 ::
TechCrunch, home of all things new and shiny on the interweb, has an entry on a language learning website, which as a bonus lists the websites it considers competitors. I hadn't heard of any of the sites, and since I'm a language learning junkie (except this morning - RFI was on strike), I plan to work my way through them to see if anything sticks. My French is starting to get icky when I write.
:: Monday, April 6 2009 ::
I love the way history has a way of being dirtier than people want to believe. The BBC is reporting that, although there were a large number of black troops in the Allied forces in WWII, special care was taken to be sure that only whites liberated Paris.
We had what can only be described as an amazing time in San Diego. The wedding went off without a hitch, and we even found time to do a little touristing, visiting the boats and submarine along the waterfront. I took about a billion pictures, though far fewer than I would have if I hadn't been standing up front for the ceremony, and we met just a ton of really fun people, which was tremendously nice. And, of course, two wonderful people got married, which just makes you feel all gooshy inside. Now all I need to do is allow my face to relax from all the laughing I did over the weekend!
:: Friday, April 3 2009 ::
We made it, finally, to San Diego. At noon (an hour after the flight should have left), it looked like we would be spending the night in Houston, Texas. Then we were going to fly to an airport two hours North of here, rent a car, and drive down. But in the end it all worked out. It looks like a very busy weekend, with lots of lunches, dinners, and, of course, a wedding. It's a little crazy here, with so many folks from all over showing up, but, I think that's the point of these sorts of events. And I'm quite sure each additional person will only add to the merriment!