Friday, September 29, 2006

20 Science Myths

I enjoyed this page about common "facts" that are not true. I had only recently read that it is not true that water drains one way in the northern hemisphere and the other way in the southern hemisphere, so I was pleased to see that confirmed.

Fire on the Mountain, Ventura, July 13, 1985

Mr. Jumbo has posted some pictures of wildfires currently burning along his biking route in Southern California. They reminded me of a Dead show in Ventura, CA, on July 13, 1985. From the fairgrounds, in the mountains on the other side of the city, a quiet drama was taking place before the show: a wildfire was creeping down the hillside toward some houses. My sight might have been playing tricks on me (or my memory is playing tricks now), but I can still picture how the arcs of water were playing over the roofs of houses to keep them dry. Then the Dead came out and opened with "One More Saturday Night" seguing nicely into, you guessed it, "Fire on the Mountain."

I thought I'd put a link to the Live Music Archive recording of the show here, but for some reason it is no longer available. So anyone who wants to hear that version of FOTM will have to get a copy from me!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What Miles Heard

Miles likes the Rolling Stones. This is how he heard the chorus of the song "Happy":

I need a loan to make me happy!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Good poets steal

Bob Dylan's been at it again, borrowing lines and images from one source for Modern Times, this time from a nineteenth-century American poet named Henry Timrod. One article on the subject is in The Independent.

As for the Eliot line that I stole the title of this from, I have always heard it as "bad poets imitate; good poets steal," but the web is full of references to "bad poets borrow; good poets steal." The former sounds like a better maxim to me, and since TSE was good at maxims, I hope he said "imitate" and not "borrow." But the web is not very useful in answering this question, since a search only gives you a zillion unreferenced citations of the maxim, in both forms!

(I'm expecting at least one occasional reader of my blog to be able to provide an immediate answer to this question!)

Timrod, by the way, wrote South Carolina's official state anthem, "Carolina."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Here's a site for language fans (and nitpickers): the Eggcorn Database. "Eggcorns" are misused words or phrases, like "mute point" for "moot point" or "eggcorn" for "acorn," and this database has collected over 500 of them!

One of them is "ten year" for "tenure." When I was growing up, my father was a tenure-track professor in Math at the University of Toledo. I was always puzzled about the fact that "getting ten year" meant "getting a permanent contract" when it ought to mean "getting a ten-year contract"!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Trying to be double-skunked II

We tried again. This time Miles was trying to be double-skunked—and he failed. He ended up with 70 points, for two primary reasons: I was not scoring many points; and, over and over again, he was getting bad cuts (that is, he was getting what would usually be good cuts, turning a dry hand into a five-point hand, say, but since he was trying NOT to score, they were bad cuts).

Our conclusion based on this very slim sample: it is VERY hard to double-skunk anyone in cribbage. I, for one, do not remember having ever seen or been involved in a double-skunk. Are double-skunks as rare as 29-point hands?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Trying to be double-skunked

Miles and I did a cribbage experiment this morning: Could I be double-skunked on purpose? It turns out it is quite hard to avoid scoring points! I did manage to let him double-skunk me, but I still ended up with 48 points, and part of the reason he was able to do so is that he got a couple of quite powerful hands (16 or 17 points). It's hard to strip a good six-card hand of points! So that makes it clear why double-skunking is so rare. I wonder if it is as rare as a 28/29-point hand?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

August and September photos

I've just put some new photos on a web page. As I don't want to post the link publicly, send me an email if you'd like to have the link!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dewey Redman obit in English

The NYT obit is here. See my thoughts in my previous post.

Dewey Redman (1931-2006)

I never had a chance to hear Dewey Redman live, but I used to play lots of albums featuring his brilliant sax playing on the radio back in my KZSU days. Pat Metheny's "80/81," Keith Jarrett's American Quartet in the 70s (with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian), Ornette Coleman LPs, and the wonderful band Old and New Dreams all made frequent appearances on my radio show. Now Charlie Haden is the only survivor of that last group, which also featured Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell (another great player whom I never heard live). Live long, Charlie.

I haven't yet found an English obituary; a German one appeared in the NZZ.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Flying Spaghetti Monster

A student of mine sent me a link to the Wikipedia page for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody of Intelligent Design that has taken on a life of its own: the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The founder, Bobby Henderson, gets a lot of hate mail.

As for me, I am still a Militant Darwinist, but I am sympathetic to the Pastafarians, as the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monsters call themselves.