Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beat that, Occupy Wall Street

An anti-bureaucracy protester has nailed his scrotum to the pavement of Red Square.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quote of the day

To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That's literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.
- Scott Adams,

Monday, October 07, 2013

Wile E. Coyote, Super-genius

I spent much of the weekend trying to debug a strange Saxon XSLT bug.  There was a unit test that failed with the mysterious message:
 Variable Code has not been declared
This error message is nowhere to be found in the Saxon Javadoc, or anywhere it the Saxon source code, and according to Google nobody has ever reported it before.  Nor could I find any hint about what a "Variable Code" could be.

This morning I looked at my own code and, yes, I used an XSL variable which I called "Code" and which I neglected to declare.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Swiftboating Adolph Hitler

An article on Spiegel Online discusses the new German translation of Thomas Weber book Hitler's First War.  In his book, Weber debunks many of the heroic war stories that Hitler spun about himself when he was running for office in the thirties.

Actually, it seems that people who actually served with Hitler tried to debunk his fibs while he was spinning them, but millions of German citizens decided to believe the politician's flunkies rather than the evidence of soldiers who had actually been there in battle at the time.

Strange but true.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Quote of the day

We parents of young kids think that our children are the most precious things in the world, but it seems that, at least statistically, few other adults want them. 
 -  Philip Greenspun

Nature abhors a vacuum

From "News of the Weird"
An atheist "church" in Lake Charles, La., run by lapsed Pentecostal Jerry DeWitt, conducts periodic services with many of the trappings expected by the pious -- except for the need to believe in a supreme being.
Such "churches" (reported The New York Times and Washington Post in coincidental stories the same day in June) can help soothe the "biological" needs for survival and avoidance of loneliness by congregational rituals (such as celebrating a sabbath) and in helping find meaning "in something other than (oneself)."
For example, atheist Sigfried Gold praised a "rigorous prayer routine" (beseeching a "vivid goddess he created") in overcoming his weight problem. [New York Times, 6-24-2013; Washington Post, 6-24-2013]
It's difficult to imagine the personal pain or trauma that would cause somebody to reject God, and then make up a new god to fill the void that's left.  You picture mothers who abandon their babies and then start playing with rag dolls.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Loaves and Fishes, a lifeline for the homeless in New Milford

Some quick notes on a political controversy in New Milford:

Loaves and Fishes is a lifeline for many of the homeless in New Milford.  Their soup kitchen feeds about 100 people dinner each day.

It is easy walking distance to the HART bus stop, and also to the camp that the homeless have set up in recent years near the Housatonic bridge (which I am told the police regularly raid, and the homeless for some reason regularly come back to.  Don't they have better places to be?)

Since February, the mayor of New Milford has been trying to move the soup kitchen to a location 6 miles from the center of town.  Does she think that this population needs a 12-mile walk each day to stay fit?  The poet Neil Silberblatt compared the Mayor's proposal to Jonathan Swift's modest proposal to eat the poor.  He notes that most of the homeless "are residents of New Milford and are no less residents than those who have gorgeous country homes in that town."

In the words of Rachel Sampson:
"There but for the grace of God go I" -- anyone could be in need of social service assistance, even the mayor, some day.
 And in the words of my Aunt, Penny O'Gorman:
My son is Major Robert Kitchen, a New Milford High School graduate who went into the U.S. Air Force and became a high-ranking, highly decorated officer and veteran of two wars.

Recently, my son passed a homeless man on the street while he was on his way to work. He brought the man to a coffee shop, bought him breakfast and chatted with him.
I am as proud of him for that action as I am of his many military accomplishments.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Business advice of the day

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that when your competition is using "We Won't Sue You" in their promotional materials, you might be doing something wrong.
 - Jack B, commenting at Popehat.

наименьший в мире скрипок

The Washington Post reports that Americans who seek asylum in Russia don't lead very happy lives. The cases they examine include Lee Harvey Oswald, Martin and Mitchell, and Joseph Dutkanicz. You have to ask though: were any of these people particularly happy before they betrayed their country?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

"Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers"

"Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers" notes George Will.  Some graduates of public schools might question whether this is in bald point of fact a bad thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quote of the day

We ought to be living in a golden age of public discourse, given how many people now have the opportunity to attend college. But we are not.
- Catherine Sevcenko

"Good luck readin' Beowulf, ya monsters!"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quote of the day

No one should have an excuse not understanding this book.
- Martinus Veltman, in the preface to his book Diagrammatica: The Path to Fenman Diagrams.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A very New York story


Yesterday afternoon I took a city bus to the Metro-north train station in Manhattan. There were only a few passengers, including two guys with two small children.  The older child was four or five, and was eating cookies out of a cardboard containter.  He was stretched out on the seat using his dad as a backstop.

The younger child was about 6 months old.  His father was obviously exhasted, but every time he tried to sit down the baby cried.  So he kept standing, and the baby got to look out of the bus windows at the cars and people.

After about a mile, the father with the baby got off the bus.  The kid who was using his father as a day-bed looked up and said: "Boy, was that baby spoiled."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quote of the day

The primary design goal [of] MUMPS was to create code that, once written, can never be maintained by anyone ever again ... At the company Bryan worked for, they didn’t just use MUMPS, they used it cleverly. Partially as a result of MUMPS’ limitation and partially because they had all gone insane.
- Alex Papadimoulis

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quote of the day

In every walk in life, whether among the coarse, rough and ragged, untidily mouldering ranks of the lower orders, or among the uniformly frigid and tediously tidy higher orders -- in every condition of life a man is likely to behold at least once in his life a vision unlike anything he has ever seen before, which for once rouses in him feelings unlike those he is destined to experience all the rest of his days.
  -- N. V. Gogol, Dead Souls (translated by George Gibian)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

"Happy New Year" from our family to yours, either in your current form, or as a pitiable undead banshee, howling your own damnation from an obscene and impotent throat.  Go Red Sox too!