Friday, July 31, 2009

Introducing: Quotations of Kristin

Having abandoned (or supplemented?) the trusty journal-notebook, friend Kristin is committing the funny things she and her friends say to zeros and ones. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Brownpau took photos of a "Ghost of My Friends" book from 1900. This is a clever little volume that exploits the splotchiness of fountain pen ink and the florid personal signatures of the times.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I like my coffee...

(this is what I was trying to think of when I wrote the below post... came up with it yesterday):

I like my coffee the way I like my divine love: stronger than death.

I like my mango juice the way I like my bank tellers...

_________ and _________. (you finish the joke).

Meanwhile, I like my tacos the way I like my webcomics: cheesy and over the top.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Good Victim

Good victims make good movements possible.
That's Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff at UCLA, chiming in on the Cambridge racial profiling incident. And he's right. But it is clearer and clearer that the "good victim" in this case is Sgt. James Crowley. Crowley could have been just another white cop. And then who would know: maybe he really is a racist?

Instead, it turns out that Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., picked on the wrong white cop. Dr. Gates profiled Crowley immediately, responding to the officer's initial request for I.D. with a tirade.

But Crowley doesn't play to type. Sgt. Crowley was handpicked by a black police chief to teach the racial profiling course at Lowell Police Academy for the past five years. Crowley's better spoken (and written) than the average cop: his public comments have been confident but not rancorous; his incident report is lucid. Also, it turns out Crowley already had his 15 minutes of fame - trying desperately to revive Reggie Lewis when the Celtics star's heart stopped in 1993. Crowley grew up in Cambridge, has black friends on and off the force, and knew protocol for working in and around Harvard.

Gates chose the wrong cop to write a "racial profiling" documentary about.

Crowley can be the "good victim" for a "good movement": restoring the presumption of innocence to crimes of political incorrectness.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Just Another Harvard Ego

Responding to a report of breaking and entering, Cambridge police arrested celebrity Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. outside his own home.

Why did they think he was breaking and entering? Well, he tried for 15 minutes to break down the door, so a neighbor called the cops. Why was he arrested? Because he yelled at cops for a while. According to Dr. Gates, the cop who saw Gates' ID wouldn't give his own name in return, as Gates hectored him about the injustice of it all. Gates was free to remain within, but once he stepped outside, lecturing, questioning, and probably yelling at the police, they arrested him for disorderly conduct and put him through the usual hassle.

Dr. Gates now says "this is outrageous and that this is how poor black men across the country are treated everyday in the criminal justice system. It's one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it." He obviously thinks this wouldn't have happened to a white professor; and maybe he's right. But his judgment of injustice preceded and contributed to the actual incident of unjust treatment!

Let's recap: police get a call reporting "two black men" breaking and entering. They show up and find only a middle-aged nerd. He happens to be black. No injustice so far. They ask the nerd for ID. Would they have asked if he was white? Absolutely: they ask for ID of any person they interact with; I've been asked by police for ID both as a witness and as a victim. So still, no injustice.

Here, Gates' own anti-police prejudice kicked in. He refused to come out on the porch. He did show his ID to one (white) officer who (obviously unafraid) entered the house with him. Then, in Gates' own telling,
he began to ask the officer this question, repeatedly. "I said 'Who are you? I want your name and badge number.' I got angry."
Then he followed the officer (who claims to have given his name) outside and was promptly arrested for disorderly conduct. The police should not have arrested him; they could have just driven away. Maybe they would not have arrested a white professor doing the same thing - it's hard to know. The officers here ought to gut-check whether they projected a bunch of stereotypes onto this black man. They should also realize that anger does not always entail danger.

Back to Dr. Gates. Why was he angry? Because police had responded to his neighbor's call? Or because they asked for ID? If they mistreated him otherwise, it's not reported in the very favorable WaPo story.

The impression one gets of Dr. Gates, who reportedly yelled "You don't who you're messing with" as he was arrested, is of a man who carries a chip on his shoulder, assumes he's better than those around him, and doesn't take the time to get to know his neighbors. In short, he's just another overinflated ego from Harvard.

USAID as Kenya's activist librarian

The FT reports on one of the most daring activities USAID has ever initiated.
It’s Our Turn to Eat, by British writer Michela Wrong, is the story of the man who blew the whistle on multimillion-dollar corruption at the heart of the Kenyan government. Most Kenyans cannot get hold of a copy.

Kenyans who want a copy go to hawkers such as Mr Ngure, who fishes a battered mobile phone out of his pocket and slips away to call his supplier. This indirect route for the book to reach its readership exists only thanks to an unlikely collaborator: the US embassy in Nairobi. It has masterminded a guerrilla distribution programme to challenge the political elite by promoting an exposé of its failings.
With Mr. Obama as president of the U.S., one imagines the U.S. has a great latitude to act in Kenya even outside the norms of diplomacy. Here's hoping the book gets all over Nairobi - and ends the careers of the most corrupt "public" officials.

Friday, July 17, 2009

(Unborn) Babies Remember

Experiments confirm what parents have known for a long time: unborn children are capable of memory. A Dutch research team released their results yesterday.
The team also found that the tiny test subjects actually improved these skills as they grew older, with those who were 34- or 36-weeks old clearly showing that they had become familiar with the hum outside the womb...
Tellingly, though,
A call to NARAL Pro-Choice America for comment on the implications of the research were not returned.
Hmm. I can't imagine why. Hat tip to James Taranto at BOTWT.

Tek Talks Pitches

Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek is cagy about his pitchers. So when a sportswriter asks for details on how a particular pitcher designs strategy, 'Tek dishes on the methods of Mike Timlin - now retired.
"There are different ways you can go," said Varitek. "Take [Mike] Timlin: he could four-seam away, sink away, and cut away, so he’s created this."

Now, as if chopping the side of one hand with the other, Varitek formed an 'X' to mark one corner of the plate.

"One [pitch] goes beneath the barrel [of the bat], one goes over the barrel and one goes across the barrel," Varitek continued. "That's basically three varieties of one pitch - a fastball."
Mazz goes on to talk about Jon Lester's turnaround (he found control inside to lefties), Pedro's dominance, Derek Lowe's growth and mastery of the corners (especially inside to lefties), Justin Masterson's problems (he lost control inside to lefties), and Buchholz's prospects for pitching inside to lefties tonight.

In the midseason break, most baseball reporting is silliness; if you've been dying to sink your teeth into some serious baseball reading, here it (finally) is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Cost of Living

Peter Singer makes a point in the NY Times Magazine that I've been making for years: we'll soon be faced with one of the greatest questions of applied philosophy ever to face mankind. That question is, How much is a year of life worth? When expensive medical treatments can extend and extend life, we - either individually or as a society - will be in the uncomfortable position of deciding approximately when we will die.

It's easy to project this forward to a dystopia: Brave New World residents stay young until 60, then die rapidly. More chillingly, the British health agency that has made one of the first notable decisions in this line is the NICE, named in apparent ignorance of the British agency NICE in C.S. Lewis' dystopia, That Hideous Strength.

In Lewis' novel, NICE is a government-financed but independently run British organization that seeks 'scientific' dominance over nature, valuing humans for utility and obliterating moral senses. In modern-day Britain, NICE is a "government-financed but independently run [British] organization set up to provide national guidance on promoting good health and treating illness". By "national guidance" it is apparent from the story that what is meant is in fact incontrovertible orders.

Of all the dystopias I've read, I wouldn't have predicted That Hideous Strength as the first to come true. Yikes.

*Bleep* the National League

What's the secret to American League All-Star game dominance?
[T]he greatest pregame speech since Rockne invoked the Gipper, one laced with profanity and delivered to the American League All-Stars every year.
Huh? A profanity-laced anti-NL tirade? What old-schooler still has the gonads to bring that?
Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners’ wisp of an outfielder, a man who still uses a translator to do interviews with English-speaking reporters – and happens to be baseball’s amalgam of Anthony Robbins and George Carlin. Every year, after the AL manager addresses his team, Ichiro bursts from his locker, a bundle of kinetic energy, and proceeds, in English, to disparage the National League with an H-bomb of F-bombs.
Sportswriters got the secret out last year in New York.
The exact words are not available. Players are too busy laughing to remember them. Ichiro wouldn’t dare repeat them in public. So here’s the best facsimile possible.

“Bleep … bleep bleep bleep … National League … bleep … bleep … bleeeeeeeeep … National – bleep bleep bleepbleepbleep!”

Ichiro was asked how much he believes the speech has contributed to the AL dominance that has stretched more than a decade now. "I've got to say over 90 percent," he said.
Apparently, he didn't get a chance to give the speech this year, but no difference: the AL still won (as they did for the four years preceding Ichiro's presence).
The NL's losing streak is as long as Ryan Franklin's beard, and just as mangy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Price Movement Predictor

Check this new Microsoft service out: they'll predict whether a flight price will move up or down, and thus whether you should buy or wait. I'm looking forward to trying this out next time I fly.


If this kind of excitement doesn't make you a fan of cricket, nothing will:
I can only think Doctrove thought there was a little nick on that, but if so it should have been a catch. A life, no doubt about that. Siddle digs one in and KP swivels on it and picks up one to square leg. Siddle strays onto Colly's pads and England pick up four leg-byes. Short from Siddle, and Colly, who's seeing it like a planet now, whip-cracks him through point for four more.

For a more accessible world sport, check out the Tour de France.

Monday, July 6, 2009


This blog falls quiet when little of note is occurring in the world or when a great deal of note occurs in my life. The present stillness is due to the latter.