2009 November minutiae

  • I find it difficult to internalize the fact that the calories-to-volume content of food is not uniform. My weight these days tends to swing back and forth between 138 and 143 and it seems to depend entirely on how much dessert I've had recently. A couple of days without dessert, even if I'm totally stuffing my face at dinnertime, and those five pounds will drop right off.

  • This made the rounds early in the month, but I recolored it for consistency of color scheme. So here you go — what the U.S. electoral map would have looked like in '08 if only white men could vote:

    That's right: Obama got less than ten percent of the white male vote in Alabama and Mississippi. Forget about Recovery and Reinvestment — what we need is Reconstruction.

  • I watched a fair amount of "Schoolhouse Rock" as a kid, but I mostly remember snippets of the grammar ones and "I'm Just a Bill." I don't really remember the multiplication ones at all. But I watched a few on Youtube and I was impressed by their ambitious agenda — though their main project is to teach the times tables, they sneak in more advanced concepts. For instance, the cartoon for six also introduces kids to the commutative property. Seven and nine cover the distributive. Twelve throws in alternate bases! Hooray for New Math.

  • The Wikipedia entry for the song "Yellow Submarine" contains the following note: See also: List of fictional submarines.


  • Here's a nifty link if you're into map porn at all. Make sure to press the Play button at the bottom.

  • Billboard on US-101: A Civil War Christmas. Great idea! I'll celebrate it right after Holocaust Halloween and Rwandan Genocide Thanksgiving.

  • latimes.com: The Chinese credited the Bush dynasty with cementing trade ties that brought about prosperity here. In fact, China is one of the few places in the world where George W. Bush was popular. Albania is another.

    There is no further mention of Albania.

  • I went to a semi-upscale Mexican restaurant in San Francisco town where the check comes in a glass weighted down with a mixture of uncooked pinto and black beans. While I was there the waiter dropped off the check at the table across the way. When he returned he found the patron at that table munching away on the dried beans with some difficulty. The waiter hurriedly explained that the rocklike legumes were provided for aesthetics and ballast, not for dessert.

  • Pairs of shoes in my apartment: 9
    Pairs that belong to a woman: 8
    Women who actually live here: 0
    Number of times I've been woken up by men delivering shoes: NOT 0

  • One thing that I don't think I've ever mentioned is that I write pretty much exclusively with blue pens. I like to be able to distinguish what I've written from any text that's already printed on the page.

  • Some of you may also not be aware that on 1992 March 28 I had to go to the hospital after a bike rider cheerfully ran a red light and plowed into me in the middle of a crosswalk. I had to get friends to walk me to said hospital because I'd cracked my head on the asphalt and went blind for a couple of hours.

  • Something like 95% of my exposure to rap comes from repeated viewings of this commercial when I was in high school.

  • One of my least favorite aspects of modern life is password masking. I don't check my bank balance in public. Let me see what I'm typing.

  • I know that nowadays phones can identify songs that are playing nearby. What I need is one that can identify birds and trees.

  • Robb Sherwin writes: With the holiday travel season coming up, it means one thing: Wikipedia trolling over untraceable airport IP addresses. Time to settle some scores!!

  • Mandy's three-year-old Lucy: "I'm a little bit big, and a lot little. I'm a mixed-up child."

  • One downside to leading a nocturnal lifestyle is that blackouts become crippling rather than merely inconvenient. The power went out at 1:21 a.m. on the morning of the 29th and I eventually went down to my car to read by the dome light for a bit. After an hour of that I couldn't take the dim light anymore and went back upstairs to try to sleep. Luckily I had a bit of a sleep deficit and was therefore able to drift off after a few minutes. The lights came back on at 4:04 a.m.

    The following afternoon the power went out again. At first I was confused because my computer screen went dim and the lamp wouldn't turn on, but my alarm clock was still on. I checked the power strip and then looked over at the alarm clock again. It was now flashing id:dC. Creepy.

  • Dan Schmidt posted about underrated Beatles songs, and I tried to comment but my comments on his posts almost never go through and this time was no exception. So even though I already responded to another Beatles post just a few months ago, here's the list I came up with:

    • "Don't Bother Me" (from With the Beatles, 1963): Easy pick, since this is probably my second-favorite Beatles song after "A Day in the Life" and yet even fans tend to scratch their heads and ask "Which one was that again?" when I mention it. (It's George's first song.)

    • "I'll Be Back" (from A Hard Day's Night, 1964): I think this one gets more respect from the aficionados but I still find it criminal that it's not in the top rank of well-known Beatles songs.

    • "I Need You" (from Help!, 1965): Another early George tune. Not in the league of the previous two, but when it pops up on my MP3 player I pretty much always turn it up.

    • "Tell Me What You See" (from Help!, 1965): I really like the way the verse alternates between one loud line with two-part vocals and one gentle line with Paul alone.

    • "I'm Only Sleeping" (from Revolver, 1966): I think this is Matthew Amster-Burton's favorite Beatles song and it's a very good choice. There's so much to like — the ooh-wooh-ooh backing vocals at 00:26, the cat's-footsteps bass lick at 00:33. (Spoilers: this one gets a couple of appreciative mentions in the book I'm working on.)

    • "Cry Baby Cry" (from The Beatles, 1968): Everything about this song makes me nostalgic, most of all the high-pitched whistle that comes in at 00:40.

    • "Hey Bulldog" (from Yellow Submarine, 1969): Apparently this one isn't really underrated anymore, since Wikipedia tells me it's attracted dozens of cover versions and landed a spot in the video game. (Back in the day I worked out a grunge version that was going to be part of the Sadie Hawkins set list.) But a song banished to Yellow Submarine and then cut from the movie still has to qualify as pretty obscure, right? To the extent that any Beatles song can be called obscure, anyway?

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