Monday, September 29, 2008


Baaa Sky

Avebury, England

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman, RIP

Sadly, another great American passes on...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Unexpected Hanging Paradox

Hadn't seen the Unexpected Hanging paradox before (aka Unexpected Examination):

"A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week but that the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on his cell door at noon that day.Having reflected on his sentence, the prisoner draws the conclusion that he will escape from the hanging. His reasoning is in several parts. He begins by concluding that if the hanging were on Friday then it would not be a surprise, since he would know by Thursday night that he was to be hanged the following day, as it would be the only day left (in that week). Since the judge's sentence stipulated that the hanging would be a surprise to him, he concludes it cannot occur on Friday.He then reasons that the hanging cannot be on Thursday either, because that day would also not be a surprise. On Wednesday night he would know that, with two days left (one of which he already knows cannot be execution day), the hanging should be expected on the following day.By similar reasoning he concludes that the hanging can also not occur on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday. Joyfully he retires to his cell confident that the hanging will not occur at all.The next week, the executioner knocks on the prisoner's door at noon on Wednesday — an utter surprise to him. Everything the judge said has come true."

Unexpected Hanging Paradox, Wikipedia

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mr. W

One of the best spots in a long time...

Kill Hollywood Me

I hear hints of 10,000 Maniacs in this tune by Swedish singer Britta Persson.

Artist: Britta Persson
Song: Kill Hollywood Me
Disc: Kill Hollywood Me
Year: 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack

Found an official Civil Defense film from the 1950s on how to survive a nuclear attack. Great tips. Like hiding behind a bridge post.

Narrator: "People caught in the open as far as two miles away suffered flash burns. Yet, protection could have been easily achieved. Here a bridge post and rail shielded the surface behind it. Any solid material afforded similar protection."

video link

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wire for Sound

1960s informational film on making wire, which was apparently one of the coolest, hippest things a person could do in the sixties. Great quality, eerily avant garde with requisite jazz soundtrack.

1940s Los Angeles

There's something mesmerizing about this clip with scenes from late 1940s Los Angeles set to Miles Davis. The second half segues a bit awkwardly into the McCarthy witchhunts of the time, but the first half is sublime.

The Derivatives Genie

Warren Buffett, 2002:

"The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Knowledge of how dangerous they are has already permeated the electricity and gas businesses, in which the eruption of major troubles caused the use of derivatives to diminish dramatically. Elsewhere, however, the derivatives business continues to expand unchecked. Central banks and governments have so far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts.

Charlie and I believe Berkshire should be a fortress of financial strength – for the sake of our owners, creditors, policyholders and employees. We try to be alert to any sort of megacatastrophe risk, and that posture may make us unduly apprehensive about the burgeoning quantities of long-term derivatives contracts and the massive amount of uncollateralized receivables that are growing alongside. In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal."


Sunday, September 14, 2008

David Foster Wallace, RIP

In the Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro reflects on DFW:

"He told me that after his first burst of fame that followed the publication of his debut novel, "The Broom of the System" (1987), and the short-story collection "Girl With Curious Hair" (1989), he'd entered a hospital and asked to be put on suicide watch.

"In a weird way it seemed like there was something very American about what was going on, that things were getting better and better for me in terms of all the stuff I thought I wanted, and I was getting unhappier and unhappier," he said."


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bad Disney Movie

Matt Damon on Palin:

"It's like a really bad Disney movie..."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Blue Screen of Humor

John McCain spoke in front of a blue screen at the RNC and Barack Roll video creator Hugh Atkin decided to have a little fun:

"This is a bit of a return to the well, but after McCain delivered his acceptance speech in front of an alternately green and blue screen, it was too good an opportunity to pass up."

Great work!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Let Go

California Golden Overtones singing Let Go by Frou Frou. Solo by Penny Chitamitara. Arranged by J. Shumway.

The California Overtones are an a cappella group at U.C. Berkeley.


Sam Harris writes in the L.A. Times:

"Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the “Who would you like to have a beer with?” poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages – and loses – both necessary and unnecessary wars."