May 2007 minutiae

  • I was watching old political commercials online and was reminded that Gary Hart's campaign logo in 1984 looked like this:

    "President"? Looks like he was running for Master Control Program.

  • Since I spend so much time driving for work I have taken to stopping at the library and checking out CD packages that aim to teach foreign languages. One of them utilized something called the "Pimsleur method." It was excruciating! The Pimsleur method appears to be predicated on the notion that nothing gets a language across like incessant repetition of a few basic phrases. Seriously, if the Bushies want to get serious about this torture thing they should just play a Pimsleur CD to the prisoners at Gitmo. After 240 minutes of listening to nonstop repetition of "io vorrei mangiare qualcosa" they would confess to anything.

  • I have also discovered that all-audio is probably suboptimal for me in any case. If I can't visualize the printed words (because I haven't been told how they're spelled) I am pretty much at sea.

  • On the other hand, this totally doesn't apply where songs are concerned. I don't really pay much attention to lyrics in songs — some songs that have been in my collection for years I still only know as strings of syllables. When I learn what the words are, I am often surprised. Just recently I looked up the lyrics to "Rapture" by Blondie and discovered that the line I had thought was "Back to back / Something in the air" is actually "Back to back / Sacroiliac." That is much better! In fact, I would say it qualifies as awesome.

  • While in Hollywood I stayed at a hotel that had a widescreen TV. It was set to stretch 4x3 images to 16x9. Buh? So I poke around online to figure out how to set the TV to letterbox mode, and I read this on CNET: many wide-screen TV owners prefer looking at slightly stretched people rather than windowbox bars. Gyah! What is wrong with people?

  • I recently discovered a band called Sugarcoma whose singer, Jessica Mayers, alternates in every song between wonderfully sweet vocals and a horrible masculine bellowing that one critic described as "like a 50-year-old male geezer from Romford demanding another pint." Another commentator noted that the band's songs are "not bad until she starts . . . whatever that is" and that "almost every track starts out compelling and becomes unlistenable to the point of being laughable." I found a copy of the band's one studio album available for $0.10, so I bought it. I then translated it into .wav files and used Soundforge to remove the bellowing. Some tracks were unsalvageable, but one turned out so well that I am now wrestling with the issue of whether my Top 100 can include a song that only exists on my hard drive.

  • You know how some people say "actually" too much? I am one of those people. However, more recently I've noticed that I also say "exegesis" and "predicated" way more often than I probably should.

  • I have noticed that the extent to which I call my students by name depends on how much I like their names. Obviously I use the student's name to signal whose turn it is to speak, but after that I usually don't say the student's name again... except when I suddenly find myself saying things like, "That is correct, Jane. So now that we're down to two choices, Jane, which would you select? Would you pick (C), Jane, or does (D) look better?" (This happens every time I have a student named Jane.)

  • One of the problems with buying non-white socks is that when you lose one the other is sort of useless. I mean, I suppose I could mix and match but I'm not an eleven-year-old girl.

  • Bubonic plague killed Denver monkey. That's unfortunate but it isn't stopping me from giggling at the phrase "Denver monkey." "In other news, a Salt Lake City man and a Denver monkey were apprehended attempting to break into the home of a Flagstaff ocelot."

  • checks in with one of the stupidest statements I have ever read: [...] with a 46 percent chance at one of the top two picks, the Grizzlies are sitting pretty. If they didn't get a Top 2 pick, I'd be shocked. As it turned out, the outcome with the 54% likelihood triumphed over the outcome with the 46% likelihood and the Grizzlies got #4. I hope this guy was able to pick his jaw up off the floor.

  • Some say that there's nothing as beautiful as a pretty girl, and I am pretty much on board with that. But I am fully aware that the reason that I find the lasses so very lovely is straightforward: the rules of math that govern natural selection dictate that genes driving a male to find women so blinking gorgeous tend to perpetuate themselves. What I wonder is this: a while back I was poking around on the web and instead of looking at porn I was gawping at photographs of the planet Saturn, which were just awesomely, lump-in-the-throat beautiful. What set of processes led me to be programmed with that sort of response to such an unlikely stimulus?

  • I don't own a television. I do watch The Daily Show on, however. Recently, between every couple of clips, the site has taken to playing a Chevrolet commercial featuring various people singing songs about Chevrolets. There are four songs, each in a different genre. All of them are horrible, but that first one — when I hear the lady sing "buy you a Chevrolet" it hurts my soul so much that I want to do violence. It is with genuine anger that I stab at the mute button.

  • One nice thing about the spring term is that kids are taking the SAT subject tests, which means that I get to teach history. I was going over a sample test with a student who zeroed in on a question about the constituency of the Progressive movement of 1900-1920 and dispatched it with authority. "The Progressive Era is my go-to era," he explained.

  • So it turns out that Italian has a word that is spelled "arrivederLa". If I'd wanted to learn a language with intercaps I might as well have gone with Klingon.

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