Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dave Barry's Blurred Groin

We don't think Dave Barry is as funny as some people seem to think he is, but he turned his humiliating pat-down by the TSA into good material, which is worth something. Thing is, last time we flew, we weren't looking for new material for the ol' NPR segment--we were just trying to exercise our right to travel freely. And our right to privacy.

ADDENDUM: TSA agents do not have the authority to remove prostheses from travelers' bodies, but may demand the traveler remove the prosthesis.

ADDENDUM #2: After TSA agent #1 pulled down a woman's blouse and exposed her to the entire airport, TSA agent #2 exclaimed, "Damn, you mean I missed that?! Thank God for the video tape!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

QotD: The Bullshit Detector

In 1914, John Alexander Smith, Oxford University Professor, began his two-year lecture series with this benediction: 
“Gentlemen, you are now about to embark on a course of studies that (will) form a noble adventure…Let me make this clear to you. ..nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life – save only this – that if you work hard and intelligently, you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole purpose of education.”


Saturday, November 13, 2010

How Cats Lap Water

Beautiful research inspired by the family cat, published in Science this week. via.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The FDA Grows a Pair

The FDA released 36 graphic warning labels for cigarettes, mostly gruesome, for public comment.

We agree that smoking should be discouraged, and we agree that pictures of autopsy specimens and cancer victims are more powerful than staid Surgeon General's Warnings.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks

Of course, "necessary" is in the eyes of the author, not the rules of English usage and grammar.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Atelier for Malerei

"Studio for Painting and Calligraphy," ca 1910. Flickr stream and backstory.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pre-Election Round Up

Christine O'Donnell is for separation of thought and speech. The Republican party machine that thinks she should be Delaware's senator even though her closest tie to Delaware is that she defaulted on her mortgage there also doesn't mind that she doesn't know the difference between the 14th and 16th amendments. Since GOP voter turnout is directly proportional to the stupidity of the candidate, we predict she'll win Joe Biden's seat in a landslide.

Sharron Angle thinks the difference between Asians and Latinos is important--ie, they're not all just brown people--but isn't sure which is which--ie, they all look alike to her. Again, the high-functioning racist morons that pass for GOP voters are likely to elect her in a land slide.

Meanwhile, Juan Williams at NPR announced that when he sees people in "Muslim garb" on an airplane with him, he changes flights; bastion of liberal media that it is, NPR fired him for putting opinion above the news. Fox News immediately offered him a $2 million contract if he will only keep putting opinion above the news, which is to say, he'll be senator from Ohio as soon as Diebold gets the check the write-in campaign is launched.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sign up at then head over to and re-discover reading a good article that's longer than a blog post. This is seriously what makes the iPad a killer device.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

As good a time as any to honor the 10th amendment

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.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Thought for the Day

When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
--Sinclair Lewis

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Khan Academy

Loads of online lectures. Learn anything, from high school algebra to how the capital markets work. Now if only there was time to absorb this stuff...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Language & the Way We Perceive the World

The myth of Eskimos with 30+ words for snow will live forever, but this is about the real impositions of language our on experience with the world.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Panama Canal's Ripple Effects

Panama is expanding its canal, which makes sense, given that they make up to $300,000 for every ship that passes through. But here's what makes this such huge news: the largest ship, called a Panamax, that can traverse the canal is also the largest ship ports along the East Coast must accommodate.

The original locks are about 1000ft long, a little under 110ft wide, and barely 40ft deep; there is also a bridge over the canal that provides nearly 200ft of clearance at low tide, which is apparently more than most ships drafting less than 40ft need. But for the 100th anniversary of the canal's opening, there will be a new set of locks parallel to the original pairs, nearly 60ft deep, 180ft wide, and 1200ft long. 

That means that the Port of Virginia will become much more important for the next generation or so, because they are already deep enough for a New Panamax and they are preparing for the new volume by doubling the size of every railroad tunnel between Norfolk and Chicago. The Savannah River will be dredged deeper and similar railroad improvements will follow. In New York, the harbor itself is big enough, but the port per se is no deeper than a Panamax, so it will have to be re-dredged and possibly redesigned, and the Bayonne Bridge is barely big enough for a Panamax--so within another 20 years, the Bayonne will be gone. Mind-blowing to think of all the repercussions of digging a bigger trench across Panama.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More and More, We're In Favor of English as the National Language

If only there were a way for Sarah Palin to find this out BEFORE she speaks. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Brief History of Junk Food

From the NYTimes. Popsicles were in fact named after dear ol' Dad and Twinkies were originally banana-flavored. But even harder to believe, there was a time when a Big Gulp wouldn't fit in the cupholder in your car!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sen. Graham's Contempt for America

The poet summarized America's founding spirit thus:

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!
... Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC), in the final piece of the GOP's filling for reputation bankruptcy, wants to repeal the 14th Amendment, specifically the Yankee-mumbo-jumbo about citizenship as birthright.

Instead, I propose we reduce the representation of States in Congress in proportion to the number of inhabitants who support this anti-American sentiment, as laid in out in the same Amendment.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

What do Pamela Geller, Mary Matalin, and Dracula All Have in Common?

They suck. And so do their books... okay, maybe that's being too hard on Dracula--after all, he didn't write his books.

What went wrong with Science blogging

Hint: It wasn't the ads along the side of the page.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

The St-Germain Cocktail:

equal parts sparkling wine and St-Germain (2 shots of each in a Collins glass works well)
pour over ice
top with club soda

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rainbow Gardens Restaurant

Who knew there was anything good in Milford, CT? Turns out the beach wasn't anything to write home about, but this little restaurant on the green was great!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
A Declaration
By the Representatives of the
United states of America,
In general Congress assembled

When in the course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the Present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People; unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislature.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule in these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Powers to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by Order and in Behalf of the Congress,
John Hancock, President.

Charles Thomson, Secretary.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

For summer happy hour, may we suggest the Tom Collins. There's a reason it has become a synecdoche for preppy New England summers.

We've made a few modifications in the name of lazy summer days; normally, we don't approve of cocktail mixes, but this once, we're skipping simple syrup and lemon juice for lemonade. Use a good one.

1 shot pre-made lemonade
1 shot gin
pour over ice, top with club soda

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Throw it on the Grill!

Running out of ideas for the grill? Mark Bittman has enough to keep the grill going all season. We think eating our way as far down as grilled peaches with bourbon would be a noble goal for a summer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Free Music from Starbucks for the Summer

Goes with your Frappucino, apparently. Link. 

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Art Portals

Portal for art at and also

Friday, June 04, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

We suggest a classic: The Whiskey Sour

2 oz whiskey (doesn't have to be Irish, just not too smokey)
juice of one lemon
3/4 oz simple syrup (or 1 oz if you like)

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Any of you using this? via.

How to Pack

Pretty cool. Also feels a bit like an infomercial, which is a new format for the NYTimes.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What a Wonderful Time to Be Alive

Want to know if that watermelon is ripe? There's an app for that.

Moonshine: Yet Another Reason Why Brooklyn is Better than Manhattan

A Cobble Hill bar with 150+ bourbons to choose from can't keep enough white dog (bottled moonshine) on the shelf.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Jurassic Park: Coming Soon to a Cornfield Near You

Turns out Monsanto's plan to rule the world by selling Round-Up herbicide and Round-Up Ready herbicide-resistant corn, soybeans, and cotton has an Achilles's heel: Round-Up Resistant Weeds.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

"Don't Drink the Water!"

A huge water main broke in Boston over the weekend, with two remarkable results: First, 8 million gallons an hour rushed out of the broken line and spilled down the banks of the Charles River, DOUBLING its downstream flow and raising its level by nearly 8 inches in places. Then, the Boston water supply had to be shifted to the ancient system of open-air reservoirs in the area, meaning that untreated pond water is currently flowing through the pipes of Boston.

A Glimpse of What The View of Healthcare Reform from Across the Pond

The Economist has a very condescending look at American healthcare.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Books on the Shelf Still Worth Something

Kids who grow up with 500+ books in the house go to school 3.2 years longer than kids who don't, even after adjusting for dad's occupation and income. That's nearly a bachelor's degree, right there, or a master's if a bachelor's is the standard.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Health Inventory and Goal-Planner from American Heart Association

My Life Check: painless and helpful in suggesting, quantitatively, what you could be doing better for your health, without being puritanical about the salt, sugar, and fat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ode to the Cast Iron Skillet

In an essay that would make Strunk & White proud, Salt & Fat lays out the virtues of cast iron in the kitchen.

A Plea for Pragmatism Over Ideology on Earth Day

A little practice often upsets a lot of theory. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The New Non-Profit Journalism

This may be the only way investigative journalism will continue to get done: ProPublica, which is funded by a non-profit and by individual donations, not subjected to focus-groups or concerns about news-stand sales. Of course, that is what NPR is supposed to do, but they aren't exactly investigative, are they?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Now THIS is Web2.0

TripIt: You email it reservation confirmations (flights, hotels, car rentals, etc) and it mashes up an itinerary for you, publishes it as an iCal feed, alerts you to people you know who live (or, if they use TripIt too, people who will be traveling nearby), and suggests sights to see. Via.

Free Coffee!

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Happy Hour

Courtesy of David Wondrich, who knows his drink:

The Shandy Gaff
Fill a pint glass a little more than halfway with a good American pale ale (eg, Red Tail) that's been well chilled. Top off, slowly, with ginger beer (we recommend Goslings). 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Monday, March 08, 2010

Best Rube Goldberg Machine EVER!

It's also a music video for OK Go's latest. Via.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Not More, Just Different

Turns out when broken down by social program spending and sick care/rescue spending, the US values sickness more than health, and, just as interesting, the USA's overall spending on health & sickness is similar to other countries'.

One could apply some supply-side thinking and hypothesize that if we did more to keep the 300+ million Americans healthy, they'd be more productive than they are now, what with all that sick time missed at work, and GDP would go up, so that as a percentage of GDP, health/social program spending would go down...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I.Am.Bored: The Mariana Trench

How deep is it? It is so deep...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Which Cars Are Assembled in the USA?

Interactive graphic at the NYTimes. We thought more BMWs came from South Carolina than just the SUV-types, but nice to know we have a decent selection of Mazdas and Subarus if we want to buy American.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Complete '53 to '89 Corvette Set

We especially like that they've been sitting, largely ignored, in a garage in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Perfect Timing

On the heels of yet another annoying Facebook re-design comes Google Buzz, which is like the Facebook feed without the time-wasting games that people of weak minds (like ours) are so easily addicted to.