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August 23, 2005

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Oh, lawdy. Speaking of getting what you wish for.

So last night, our boy flew back in; he's been gone for a few months visiting relatives. He's four, almost five, and extremely precocious. We're driving back from the airport, going up and down a lot of hills--this is Seattle, after all. Someone mentions this fact, and from the back seat, the Tadlet declares: "Don't say that word!" He thought we were saying "hell", and thought "hill" was therefore a bad word.

This prompted the observation that the politically correct term was "Elevationally-Challenged Mountain-American".

:)

this is pretty good (redneck montage set to Dueling Banjos)

this is good (Faux Faulkner contest winner)

This is certainly the funniest thing I've seen today. And if you don't already read Achewood, you are A Bad American.

My absolute favorite image out of that is the guy using a dining-room table as a boat. Just invert it and clamp an outboard to it, and you're good to go.

Can't beat oldies but goodies. So here are, imho, Fafblog's three best posts on Iraq:

one

two

three.

I can never think of anything funny on the humor threads.

This morning, the 3 year old looked at her baby sister and said "Hi [blank], we got you at the pet store".

Worthy of Art Linklater, at least.

this is my favorite Fafblog post, simply because of this line:

    "They say no mortal woman was enough for him so he made one himself outta whiskey an liquors an ale," says me. "An he loved her like a lumberjack made of eating loves a woman made of ham."

so this morning I was ready to say that the Poorman was the most brilliant comic writer on the globe, but now you guys are reminding me of Fafblog. Tough call. Very, very tough. If we get Billmon in there, it might just be impossible to settle it. And then the people at the Onion. A lotta talent out there.

But a lot of material, too....

Did someone say The Onion?

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

Heh

Let's see. Courtesy of T&PNH of Making Light, there's this test and these functional sculptures. And a look at Survival Research Lab's Pitching Machine always brightens my day.

This new ending to Lord of the Rings had me. I was in a weird mood. (It's work-safe, if you're in that sort of workplace, but you have to be able to listen to the audio.)

http://www.badtree.com/Just_Funny.php?FN=Lord_of_The_Rings_-_New_Ending.wmv

Well, the following is certainly funny in some sense:

"We are in a war. As far as I'm concerned, those people driving SUVs are aiding and abetting the enemy, and helping to finance the terrorists that want to kill us all. "

That's from Sully today--you remember, the guy who said that liberals were going to mount a fifth column?

You know, I'm just as opposed to SUV's as he is, but on the whole, I'd just as soon that we drop the accusations of treason, all around.

Ted, here is your fixed link. (You cut off part of the url.) The video didn't do much for me, but maybe I wasn't in the same kind of wierd mood.

There's the newly created "The Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony."

http://www.thepoorman.net/2005/08/23/institutionalized/

Here's an old time favorite of mine:

"213 Things Skippy Can't Do:

1. Not allowed to watch Southpark when I'm supposed to be working.

2. My proper military title is "Specialist Schwarz" not "Princess Anastasia".

3. Not allowed to threaten anyone with black magic.

4. Not allowed to challenge anyone's disbelief of black magic by asking for hair.

5. Not allowed to get silicone breast implants.

6. Not allowed to play “Pulp Fiction” with a suction-cup dart pistol and any officer.

7. Not allowed to add “In accordance with the prophesy” to the end of answers I give to a question an officer asks me.

8. Not allowed to add pictures of officers I don't like to War Criminal posters.

9. Not allowed to title any product “Get Over it”.

10. Not allowed to purchase anyone's soul on government time. "...

http://www.skippyslist.com/skippylist.html

Bio-product review:

NOTE: The notion that kittens can be fabricated by throwing an adult cat at a cyclone wire fence is unsupported by evidence.

Cats being hellbeasts notwithstanding.

And of course, going through the memepool archives, you're bound to run into the timecube a few times.

So, inevitably, you run across something pretty damned funny. And to think I'd been doing it right until corrected.

And then there's Mamet's purported rework of the dialog between Hal and Dave Bowman.

After 90 days of 90 degree plus weather, with only 6 100s, just as we get exhausted and hopeful, Dallas has moved into constant 100 degree plus highs. With a low barely under 80 in the morning. It is kinda funny, but my sense of humor is on meltdown. Reminds me of why I moved down here, which was the heart-breaking blizzard we would get every April after the March thaw.

Makes me kinda grouchy, but I survive every year, so y'all can laugh if you want. Me, I have to shut the computers down around sunset. Looked at the water computer coolers Friday at Fry's. $79-$129. Hmmm.

I can't say enough good things about the old Brunching Shuttlecocks site. They had an excellent comic strip called Lore:
http://www.lorebrandcomics.com/seeclearly.html

But my favorite part was the ratings. They'd give grades out to various things (eg Marvel Superheroes, punctuation marks, pasta shapes, etc). The canonical (and original) thing to rate was breakfast cereals. eg

"Cinnamon Mini-Buns
This is just not an exciting cereal. Let's face it, when you were a kid, Cinnamon Buns were just not as thrilling a breakfast sugar food as, say, doughnuts. So from the beginning you're got this kind of "capture the tedium" feeling. Then there's the interesting discovery that when reduced to miniature size, cinnamon buns resemble some sort of tidepool mollusk. The box I got came with a little superhero comic book, so they're obviously trying to hit the kid market, but I think it's pretty well doomed from the beginning. D"

There's a lot more where that came from. They also do movie reviews and general weird toys (eg the Alanis Morrisette Lyric Generator - http://www.brunching.com/alanislyrics.html )

http://www.brunching.com/archive.html
http://www.bookofratings.com/archive.html

oh, how could I forget:
http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song/

Warning- that particular song is perfectly clean, but some of the other songs on the side are not, er, family-friendly.

Hm, well, probably not the funniest but this is worth posting: Making Fiends

i found some pretty good Engrish recently.

weird experiments...

Atrios had the funniest one line post I've seen in a while on Volkh. It also involves an Onion link.

Oh hilzoy. Oh hilzoy. How could you link to Fafblog in this thread without including some of the greatest, most poignant thoughts in the history of philosophy?

A Serious Philosophical Discussion on the Mind-Body Problem

A Serious Philosophical Discussion on Utilitarianism versus Deontology

And, in honor of your latent Luskinism:

A Serious Legal Discussion on the Commerce Clause

This isn't comic at all, but does anyone know what happened to Arthur Silber's site? The error message there seems... ominous.

PET scans show cool things.

I remember reading recently about how you can watch people performing different tasks, and see what parts of their brain are showing increased activity. This allows you to draw (wildly premature and woefully unndersupported) conclusions about what cognitive tasks are alike.

So, e.g. car-buffs who were asked to ID cars by being shown the front grille were using a part of their brain that most folks reserve for facial recognition. Conclusion: these people are recognizing cars the way most folks recognize faces. (Or not--check back with neurophysics in 50 years for the real story).

I was so intrigued by this that I went to a lab with a PET scanner, and volunteered to be scanned while reading a variety of blogs, to see which parts of my brain were activated by reading them, and what those parts are normally used for.

The part of my brain activated by reading TPM Cafe was the same part that is used in _______.

The part of my brain activated by reading BitchPhD was the same part that is used in ________.

The part of my brain activated by reading ObWi was the same part that is used in __________.

And I read a few other blogs, too.

Okay, audience--time for you to participate!

The part of my brain activated by reading TPM Cafe was the same part that is used while struggling to remain awake after extended sleep deprivation.

Ah, Arthur Silber's back up. Buuutttt...

[And don't forget to feed the Farber, neither! He's one of nature's most valuable resources!]

"[And don't forget to feed the Farber, neither! He's one of nature's most valuable resources!]"

Thanks. As is usually the case, I could quite use it (no meds, a $15 budget for food for the rest of the month). (Although, for the record, last time Hilzoy made a plea here, nobody responded (unless I missed someone, in which case I abase myself); on the other hand, I entirely understand people wearying of the repetition; me, too; boy, me, too.)

But should I attribute myself to nature or nurture? After all, I once was an Artificial Seattleite.

Oh, having now read the Silber post, you should donate to him, too, if you can, and it's not too bold of me to suggest.

Perhaps we should form a Collective of Impoverished Bloggers, or something. I'm sure writing our Constitution and By-Laws would be thrilling.

This is a little old, but anyone who hasn't already played Battleground God should really try it out.

"Our battleground is that of rational consistency. This means to get across without taking any hits, you’ll need to answer in a way which is rationally consistent. What this means is you need to avoid choosing answers which contradict each other. If you answer in a way which is rationally consistent but which has strange or unpalatable implications, you’ll be forced to bite a bullet."

Reply: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Interesting, Gary. Some of the questions I wanted another choice of answers. Definitely thought-provoking, but today I'm fresh out.

I just took the Morality Play test on the same site and discovered that I am not quite yet enlightened enough to consider that strangers have an equal as my kin and neighbors, but that I consider the morality of acts and omission of acts, of no matter what scale as nearly equivalent.

This result makes me suspect that deep-down, I'm an old-school conservative.

And Gary, theological consistency is the rule of the game; it doesn't necessarily make for good religion!

Feh. I played the God game, and puzzled for a while over whether I should say that any being worth calling God could do anything. What counts as part of 'anything?' I asked myself. Making a square circle (in Euclidean space, with the side longer than a point) -- is that a coherent 'thing' that is as it happens impossible, or not a thing at all, in which case God's inability to do it doesn't curtail His freedom? (I mean: God can't make green ideas sleep furiously either, but there is no possibility He can't realize in that case.) Finally I opted for 'Yes, He can do anything', thinking: anything I'd count as a possibility, at least. And then, of course, got hit with a contradiction for denying that He can make 1+1=72, or whatever.

Hmmph.

"...theological consistency is the rule of the game...."

Because that's the norm in religions, after all.

Hilzoy, this is why I've had Great Problems ever since earliest childhood with test questions of ambiguous meaning and only multiple-choice answers. Same in later life with polling. It's rare that at least some questions won't get me asking for terms to be defined that aren't; noting that the question is written so as to clearly call for This Answer, but fails to take note of the fact that two other answers would also logically apply; or noting that I don't agree with a presumption necessary to the question.

Most test-writers, and too many poll question-writers, don't seem to have much of a clue as to how ambiguous words and meanings can be.

I'd like to take this opportunity to boast about my alma mater, Reed College, which has just been recognized by the Princeton Review as being the national, number 1, best in the country, in three areas:

Best overall undergraduate academic experience
Their students never stop learning;
and the coveted:
Students who ignore God.

Yes, that's right: first in war, first in piece, and first in ignoring God on a regular basis.

Because that's the norm in religions, after all.

I would argue that "religion" encompasses more territory, much of it less schematic, than "theology" does.

Erg, I just caught the pun. Sorry.

okay, but here's the really important question:

who the hell *is* Fafblog?

That gal/guy (people) is *really* impressive. I mean, I'm used to the fact that they are unreasonably funny. But how do they know the details of Aristotelian brain-theory? I mean, how many folks know that Aristotle believed that the brain had nothing to do with mental activity, and was simply a radiator for keeping the blood cool? (He had proof, too--men have hotter blood, and that's why they go *bald* more often; can't cool as efficiently with that extra insulation).

Who *are* those guys?

Whoever the evil geniuses behind Fafblog! are, they seem to be reading the exact same blogs that I do. Just with special humor goggles. For example, Fafblog is one of the few noticably lefty blogs that links to ObWi--and also, interestingly, to Ed's art blog.

(Warning: what follows is nearly useless.) I followed a link once that suggested Fafblog was this aspiring English comic writer; he was an oxbridge type of some sort. I've since forgotten everything because 1. the sample writing wasn't nearly as funny and 2. the style has always seemed much more US than UK. In other words, I have no idea who Fafblog is--but they could be posting here under an assumed name right now!

Here are moving pictures of Giblets and Fafnir (or possibly just one of them; that's the one fact I'm slightly unsure of); there are links to other pictures of Fafnir I've posted in the past.

They're an autonomous collective, I believe.

Could I politely point out that speculation that the three are anything other than who they say is fairly interpretable as prying into Private Lives in a way that wouldn't be either welcome or helpful to Their Mission In Our Dimension?

They're little furry rabbits and a Medium Lobster, damnit. And those are completely authentic pictures of them I posted (not of the ML, that is, who is hard to photograph, due to his nature and our perceptions), and I swear to $DEITY I'm not being ironic or sarcastic or anything other than 100% truthful in saying so. As Fafnir and Giblets have verified.

Whatever happened to the time-stamps here, by the way? They're extremely useful, and I much miss them. Can they return, please?

Whatever happened to the time-stamps here, by the way? They're extremely useful, and I much miss them. Can they return, please?

Seconded.

They mysteriously vanished. I blame Typepad. I have no idea how to make them come home.

"I have no idea how to make them come home."

As an HTML illiterate myself, I sympathize. But -- and, mind, I'm hardly demanding -- just whimpering some -- you could find someone who does? I hear that the world of people with Typepad knowledge is not actually tiny.

This is the funniest thing I have read today:

WORLD'S SHORTEST FAIRY TALE

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl,
"Will you marry me?"

The girl said, "No."

And the guy lived happily ever after and went golfing and fishing a lot.

Hilzoy, this is why I've had Great Problems ever since earliest childhood with test questions of ambiguous meaning and only multiple-choice answers. Same in later life with polling.

My fields prof had this annoying habit of making all of his tests multiple choice. And working out all of the best wrong solutions in advance, and offering them as choices. The man was a genius; he could pose a problem in one sentence that you'd agonize over for hours. And I never, ever got anything different much better than a C on any of his tests (and given that he wrote the tests for three different engineering courses, this had a rather undesirable effect on the GPA. Not that I cared all that much. Learned a lot, though.

My fields prof had this annoying habit of making all of his tests multiple choice. And working out all of the best wrong solutions in advance, and offering them as choices.

That's how all multiple-choice tests should be written, and that's how they're usually designed, but IMO it's rare that you can actually make the wrong choices compelling.

Of course, my favorite multiple-choice test of all was the first quiz my friend gave in multivariable calculus, where all the answer options were 0, 1, pi and e...

They mysteriously vanished. I blame Typepad. I have no idea how to make them come home.

I like that it's easy to comment on TypePad, but I can't stand trying to follow threads with the flat flat display. So, so flat. Is there any chance of ever having threaded comments?

"Is there any chance of ever having threaded comments?"

Oh, please, god, no! If this were Usenet, and we could use a threaded newsreader, sure, in a flash! Because being able to use, say, PINE, or a real newsreader, that's fantastic and powerful.

But "threading" messages on a flat presentation, to be read with a web-browser, has to be one of the most inefficient and unusable ways to present comments, imaginable. Unless one likes being completely unable to control the threading -- which is, uh, the point of threading. And unless one likes having to click three hundred times to three three hundred individual comments, rather, than, I dunno, gee, once.

Not that I have strong feelings about this. But if "threading" ever came in here as a vanilla web-page, well, that's sure one way to get rid of me.

I realize that linear reading is kinda old fashioned, but has, you know, been the way reading worked for thousands of years.

My response is quite a bit less detailed, but: the minute OW goes threaded, I go elsewhere. Probably there will be (or are, for all I care) weblog tools that allow the individual user to choose, which might be good for everyone, but Typepad, as far as I'm aware, doesn't offer that.

Scoop and Slash both allow the user to select "threaded" or "flat" reading modes.

And unless one likes having to click three hundred times to three three hundred individual comments, rather, than, I dunno, gee, once.

I don't think I've seen a threaded web comment system that didn't let me tell it "show me everything on one page, slave." The better ones let me specify it once so that it shows up that way all the time.

I realize that linear reading is kinda old fashioned, but has, you know, been the way reading worked for thousands of years.

You've shown me the light; my blog will be on papyrus tomorrow.

Moreover, comments are not linear. A single comment might have three replies, none of which were posted right after it and so don't appear anywhere near it in the linear list.

I agree that I've not seen a web page that holds a candle to even worst of the newsreaders I've used. I also think that threaded comments are overkill for small discussions. That having been said, following a 200-comment discussion (especially when I'm not actually interested in every thread in it) without threading is a pain on the order of AOL's buggy gateway posting everything twelve times.

Did someone answer that question? I have to read every other comment to find out! What is this person talking about? I have to go to earlier comments to see which ones appear to be on the same topic! Did I know these answers only ten minutes ago and forget them while I was reading? Tough cookies, space cadet!

If OW wants participation only from people who have the time and motivation to hold a whole thread in-head, fine. I realize no one is begging me to participate more; I don't have any leverage here. I just thought I'd let the kind folks here know that there have been times that I wished I could participate (or even just read) more but didn't because I refused to deal with threads without threading.

"Feh. I played the God game, and puzzled for a while over whether I should say that any being worth calling God could do anything. What counts as part of 'anything?' I asked myself. Making a square circle (in Euclidean space, with the side longer than a point) -- is that a coherent 'thing' that is as it happens impossible, or not a thing at all, in which case God's inability to do it doesn't curtail His freedom? (I mean: God can't make green ideas sleep furiously either, but there is no possibility He can't realize in that case.) Finally I opted for 'Yes, He can do anything', thinking: anything I'd count as a possibility, at least. And then, of course, got hit with a contradiction for denying that He can make 1+1=72, or whatever.

Hmmph."

Aaah, Hilzoy! My soul-mate!!

Not only do you share my generation (well, not exactly, but closer to me than that callow 'Anarch') and my general political orientation, but you think about philosophy _exactly_ as I do!*

I'd marry you, if my wife would let me.

------------------


* When I was about ten years old, IIRC, I encountered the "omnipotence" paradox in the form: "If God is all-powerful, can he make a wall so high he can't jump over it?" It took me no time at all to decide that this was really silly. Either "all-powerful" is completely meaningless OR it means "able to do anything that is logically possible, not self-contradictory."

So in taking this test I, like you, assumed that we must adopt the latter definition. Otherwise one does not just contradict oneself by selecting _two_ apparently conflicting answers, but one contradicts oneself by _any_ individual support of omnipotency - because you're saying that God CAN build a wall so high he can't jump over it!

Acting (as you did) on this reasonable assumption, I answered in a reasonable manner, only to find that the so-called philosophers don't have the courage of their own contradictions.

Feh, indeed.

(well, not exactly, but closer to me than that callow 'Anarch')

Callow, eh? I blame the parents.

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