February 2009 minutiae

  • Most recent president whose Wikipedia article is editable by unregistered users: Herbert Hoover.

  • I think most of the blue jeans I have ever owned have been acid-washed. It wasn't a conscious fashion choice — they were pretty much the only kind available when I was in high school, so it didn't occur to me that years later they would be considered a fad — and by the time they went out of style, I had stopped wearing blue jeans.

  • Me in 1993: "the last thing we need is for the Millennials to establish a generational hegemony"

    Wikipedia in 2009: "Kay Hanley (born September 11, 1968) is an American alternative rock musician. She is known as the vocalist for the band Letters to Cleo. [...] Hanley is currently touring as a backup singer with Miley Cyrus for Hannah Montana concerts and events."

  • This seems like an appropriate month to observe that if you were to ask me to name a powerful magazine cover, the first one to spring to mind would be this. Maybe it's the contrast between the beautiful starburst and what it means.

  • I was fascinated to read that there is an antidote to thallium poisoning: it's, of all things, Prussian blue. "Eeeagh! I just swallowed some 40-year-old rat poison!" "Here, eat this blueprint." "Ahh, that's better!"

  • Barack Obama on why it's taken so long to get that dog: "The labradoodle we picked has some problems with back taxes." One of the recurring topics on ifMUD's #standup channel back in '99 was the question of when specificity adds to a joke and when it detracts: e.g., "a rat the size of a '57 Buick" is funnier than "a rat the size of a car," but "a horse walks into a bar" is funnier than "a chestnut Clydesdale walks into a bar." What I find interesting about Obama's joke is that the humor derives from at least three different sources, none of them clearly dominant:

    1. the simple absurdity of a dog paying taxes

    2. the self-directed jab implicit in a reference to his nominees' tax woes

    3. the incongruity between the silly word "labradoodle" with its round vowel sounds and the sharp unvoiced velars in the very serious phrase "back taxes"

    There are all sorts of ways in which the transition from Bush to Obama has constituted leveling up, but it's really quite something to go from someone who thinks calling a tall guy "Stretch" is funny to someone who exploits the bouba/kiki effect in the service of a quip.

    (That said, John Kerry is also not without some comedic chops.)

  • Reuters: "We are willing to talk to Iran, and to offer a very clear choice: continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation; abandon your illicit nuclear programme and support for terrorism and there will be meaningful incentives," Biden said. Based on the orthography there I have to assume he said this in a comical British accent.

  • Overheard at a Menlo Park breakfast spot: an elderly man saying "oh em gee."

  • Guy in a bbc.co.uk article on the Israeli election: "We must demonstrate that we are happy," he added, jumping up and down.

  • Looked up the résumé of someone I went to high school with. It read:

    • 1998-2002: mortgage underwriter, NovaStar Mortgage
    • 2002-2006: mortgage underwriter, Encore Credit Corp
    • 2006-2007: mortgage underwriter, Quality Home Loans
    • 2008-present: dog walker

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the American economy.

  • I randomly picked up my guitar and tried to play a song I hadn't played in about fifteen years ("Oh Me" by the Meat Puppets if you're keeping score). I didn't actually remember how to play it, but after I doped out the first three notes, muscle memory clicked the rest of it into place. Took about twenty seconds.

  • One of the Skandie ballots this year included the following votes for Best Scene:

    • Tender autopsy of Alyssa Milano
    • Parkour brat blown up by rocket launcher
    • Beauty allows lesbian crush pity finger-fuck
    • Breakfast recap of previous day's events

    All of these were attributed to the movie 10,000 BC. This turned out to be due to some sort of glitch with the form, but for a moment a number of people looking over the list of results wondered whether they had missed out on the best movie ever.

  • Wow, I cannot even begin to estimate how much of my childhood was spent playing the pinball game available here.

  • It was while I was searching for that pinball game that I found the Prince of Persia port I mentioned in my web log on the 26th... and from there I wound up looking at screenshots of all sorts of Prince of Persia ports over the years. A few years ago I wrote a post — one of the most-read pages on this site, actually — lamenting the switch from beautiful 2D to hideous 3D graphics. But since then time has raced ever onward, and I'm pleased to see that that awkward transition period seems to be behind us. Because while, as a child of the 1980s, I still find this perfectly acceptable, I have to confess that I can't see too much wrong with this either.

  • I was interested to read a study that showed that the #1 state for Internet porn consumption, by every metric, was Utah.

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