Friday, October 31, 2003

I'm starting tonight ticked off, mostly because I'm going to miss out on the fine office tradition: The Mystery Bag of Candy. I've got no shot at it this year. Not only have I moved to the other side of the building, so I won't have access to the kitchen where the candy appears every November 1, but this year, November 1 is a Saturday. This means that unlike all previous years, where the candy would be stolen from the kids had they had collapsed into sugar coma, the kids will have three days to pace themselves, and that means nothing will be left. Not good, not good at all.

S'anyway... Why don't you score some points off this: In this article on a new artificial sweetener, you'll find a nice quick history of artificial sweeteners. (Probably 30 points a year here)

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Possibly part of a continuing series of my baffling utterances at quiz bowl practices:
"Well, that explains why the sponges fled Nauvoo."
Believe it or not, it made perfect sense at the time.

And that wasn't even my neg I was trying to justify. (My bad neg: Wrong: Lilliput, Right: Ethiopia. All the names in the question sounded fake to me, and well...)

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Which finding from this list of celebrity impersonators is most disturbing? (Admittedly this is a Vegas-casino-size buffet of weirdness of which I'm sure I've only scratched the surface.)
1. The abundant number of typos, e.g. Patsy Kline, giving the feeling like your buying the services of a fine Rolax watch.
2. The concept of getting celebrity golf impersonator just weirds me out. I assume this is some sort of scam that I don't know about, not being a golfer. That and the fact that the two celebrity golf impersonators are Tiger Woods (OK, I understand), and Tom Kite (?!?!)
3. I can sort of understand how they put together entire teams of celebrity impersonators, the Rat Pack makes sense, I can see how a couple of women could begin to accrue a group that would look reasonably like the Spice Girls. The one that is however throwing me a major curve is how exactly six people got together and realized that, "you know, together, we look like the cast of Renegade. We can make this work for us."
4. I would like to think that this particular one is not merely an actual excellent physical resemblance, but in fact is Don Novello, achieving a new level of situational comedy, by actually selling himself as his own impersonator.
(via
Boingboing)

Friday, October 24, 2003

Whereas last Friday it was the two most unrelated things I could find in two minutes to put together, today I have the two things I found with two minutes between them that led me to find all these:

The Cod War (1|2)
The Chocolate War
The Pastry War

To these, let's add two more, found about 2 minutes apart from each other:
The Butter War and the Marmalade Rebellion.
(various pieces via MattW, Dave Barry, and Saute Wednesday)

In other news...

Believe it or not, it is only now that the Pat Meares era ends in Pittsburgh.
(the proof)

This is interesting, mostly due to the idea that you could combine both Gaelic and Australian Rules.

I kept meaning to mention Scrabbl...no, Wordblo....no, Puzzleblog, because of its interesting approach, and because it's now including the Countdown number rounds every day. (That's Countdown, the UK game show, not Countdown, the Olbermann Evening News). It's a tack with these things that seems obvious to drive hits, but as far as I had seen no one had done it before. Now I'm a little concerned because they've added the feature of an interactive Flash version, allowing you to move the tiles and check your word. The possibly fraught aspect of this is, now anyone can do it on their own site. (See!) Hopefully this won't cause the original site to suffer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I hope it's not me, but I'm sure that someone's going to play the "given the nickname of a national rugby team..." card at some tournament this year (The Rugby World Cup is afoot, in case you didn't know). Well, think of this website as innoculation against that. It'll be worth 30 points somewhere.
Day 19.
19A. IMDB
19B. Historical Atlas of the 20th century
19C. Eserver Drama Collection
19D. Virtual Museum of Computing
19E. Wikipedia
This is going to require a taste test to determine fraught capacity. If this Snapple Pie is anything resembling the company's old Cider Teas, which may have never left New York State, then it at least has a chance (the black cherry cider tea was absolutely excellent, balancing all three flavors against each other). However, the bit that completely scares me is the concept that they want the entire flavor of apple pie in the beverage, right down to the crust. We're so close to Cookie Dough Gatorade in this concept, it's frightening.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Okay, added two little things to the left hand column. The first is just an actual list of what I've called fraught, for future liability proceedings. Note that I've moved Maurice down on the fraught scale, because there's little more he can do for a couple months, outside of reenacting an episode of Playmakers.
Second bit, I've appropriated Memetracker, a script which tracks searches which lead to your page (thanks to the guy over on LaputanLogic), and the results, as you can see, are a bit interesting. Apparently people really want to go as the Labatt's bear for Halloween, and really, it's a fairly simple costume, rent bear suit, buy six pack.
I guess now might be a good time to make this suggestion, we're about midway through the first semester at most schools, so you've basically established your freshmen for this year, and you have them developing. Now might be a good time to ask them if they know of anyone who they went to high school with, who might be interested in playing in college, but are at other schools. Then if you get any hits this way, you can talk to the other teams and make sure those teams are aware of potential players. Basically, by doing this you're doing a favor for all the other teams out there. We always need additional players, and people always slip through the cracks. I'm sure some teams have done this already (I know of at least two people who joined up with teams this way), but I just want to make sure other people consider this action.
Day 18.
18A. Bardweb
18B. InfoPlease
18C. ESPN
18D. Chemistry Hall of Fame
18E. 100 Events that Shaped a Century of U. S. Business

Friday, October 17, 2003

Notes from all over:
If someone asks what exactly this weblog is about (and believe me, I ask myself that on occasion), I guess the best answer I can offer is this: This may be the only weblog where you'll find articles on Sumerian mythology, side by side with a quick analysis of the crucial role in the war on drugs played by asparagus.

Based on this article, folks, do you think that we could/should resurrect Manute Bowl as a charity event? (via SportsFilter)

Also in sports today, expect this story to become a total trainwreck in a few months. It would be difficult for me to call fraught on the entire sports-entertainment-litigational complex, but if anything could, this might.

I'll point this one out, as an excellent quick guide to your post-Soviet dictators. There's probably about 100 points a year in this for ya. (via Ed Cohn)

If, during the interview for this article, anyone uttered the phrase "look what KFC does to increase the size of its breast meat," we would have had the first irony-related fatality.

I mention this only because now you, my loyal readers, can say "I know TWO Dutch authors!" And mean it. (Cees Nooteboom + 1!)

Finally, this article gives the wisest advice I can give you all: if you leave your laptop unattended in Nairobi - leave a banana on top of it as a protection offering. That's important to know.
Day 17.
17A. Historic US Maps
17B. Famous Trials
17C. Amino Acids
17D. A Great Day in Harlem
17E. History of Economic Thought

Thursday, October 16, 2003

There are a number of problems I have with this article, mostly with its statement of how it's "a very elegant upper-class field sport" in America. Come on, for America, it's a town which couldn't even keep its NIFL team.
(via Cronaca)
Day 16.
16A. Timeline of Asian civilizations
16B. Anthropology Biography Web
16C. Google News
16D. Toonopedia
16E. Constellations

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Anyone who's been following the story of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, (shown in this article): How have you been able to follow this without having the phrase "Fading into Bolivian" cross your mind?

Also, in world news: Azerbaijan has a brand new dictator (TheDictatorship.com put the father in the field for one of their contests, and well, their bit about why he didn't run is kind of amusing. We need more dictators ending public appearances with satisfying BONK! noises. Haven't really had that since Chernenko.)
You know... you guys might actually be cursed...
I was all set to watch the Cubs-Marlins game, I had just laid out on the couch, and was all set to enjoy it. And then... the power went out. The storms that went through the area must have done a direct hit on the power lines or something. So there I was, unable to get any game. The radios I did have had battery backup, but I didn't have the right batteries. (doh) So, lacking everything but the emergency light from the next complex over, I decided to take a nap until the power came back on. About two hours later, I awoke to the sound of the Cubs being up 3-0. Then the roof immediately caved in. Even in my limited comprehension of the finer points of pitching, I could see Prior was laboring, and then all of the sudden, my mind flashed back to 1992 NLCS. And wouldn't you know it, another F'in Cabrera was involved. It was one of those slow motion accidents, but you could sense the fraught building. I would have called it, had I not still been half-asleep. The other part of this that totally threw me, was the sudden appearance of Baseball Primer legend Admiral Ackbar appearing in ads. In fact, yes, it's a trap. And finally, further channelling the Baseball Primer image, just before his second at bat, I thought of him as Mike F'in Mordecai.

Having seen the ads, I think I have to do it. Mostly because ESPN has had a history, through the This is Sportscenter franchise, of absolutely pitch perfect ads which always amuse, and still keep it fresh. So what happened with their ads for Cold Pizza? Here's four people you've never heard of, don't they make you want to watch? Thus far the ads have shown me nothing that wouldn't make me turn from the mothership for the rebroadcast of the 1am Sportscenter, were I so inclined to be up at 7am. What's really grinding on me is the ads are trying to tell me exactly how different this will be, when the ads are showing how exactly the same they will be to every other morning show that's failed. The closest analogy I can give for this feeling is the exact same feeling I had seeing the ads for the show MD's last year. That show had a quick end, and I suspect it will be the same here. Cold Pizza...fraught.
While looking at CNN.com during lunch today, I ran across the following two article titles back to back, having previously read the bit about China's space launch.
Asian elephants losing battle for space
Meet China's Ming Dynasty astronaut

The image playing in my head is of Asian elephants trumpeting "Failure is not an option", while an astronaut made of porcelain looks on...
Day 15.
15A. The Constants and Equations Page
15B. Ballparks.com
15C. Ethnologue database
15D. AllAfrica
15E. Monarchs of Britain

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Day 14.
14A. Biographical Dictionary (excellent props to my old teammate, Eric Tentarelli, for compiling this)
14B. The Smoking Gun
14C. Hickok Sports History
14D. Webmuseum
14E. The Catholic Encyclopedia

Monday, October 13, 2003

Friday, October 10, 2003

Day 12.
12A. Encyclopedia of Mesoamerica
12B. National Inventors Hall of Fame
12C. Chronology of Russian History
12D. Historic Supreme Court Cases
12E. WebElements
Maybe I do scare the freshmen.
Case in point, during practice this evening, after a question on the information contained in this, I unleashed a fairly underwhelming impression of Al Michaels. Then again it's probably wasn't the impression as much as the bad taste of the shouted phrase: "DO YOU BELIEVE IN MASSACRES?.... YES!!!!"
(I guess it was either that or "featuring Kristi Yamaguchi, brought to you by Discover.")

Incidentally, nothing says canon skew like the google search where there are 3 hits, and two of them are in the Stanford Archive.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Okay, there was more than a little touch of surrealism going on last night seeing Arnold up there, but you could get through it with a mild suspension of disbelief. However the moment I simply had to turn it all off and go to bed because the weird turned pro was this: After Arnold left the stage one of the commentators was noting all of the people who weren't traditional Republicans who were up on stage, like "Rob Lowe and Gary Busey."

The Governor's with Busey.

Nothing I can do with that, folks. Reality just got dealt the ace comedy needed to complete the straight.
Day 10.
10A. Hyperhistory
10B. The Laws List
10C. Baseball Reference.com
10D. HNH-Naxos Classicals
10E. Library of Congress Country Studies

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

This article, kind of gets at something I was feeling following the Lit Nobel awarding (and commented on). There's not a lot of good candidates right now for the Peace Prize, and unlike the Lit Prize, there's at least some stable of favorites you can play with, for your betting pleasure...

For those of you in California right now, have fun. I'll point out a few articles on the guy who's ultimately responsible for this: Hiram Johnson. 1, 2, 3
Day 9.
9A. Physics News Update
9B. The HistoryNet (was previously an archive of several magazines)
9C. Roll Call
9D. Cracksmoker.com (Not only good for finding out all about the intersection of crime and sports, it tests your nanny software!)
9E. NYCSubway.org (Mostly as it has maps and info on subways and rail in other cities.)

Friday, October 03, 2003

It's not "unearthly glow day" is it? I saw these two articles within 15 minutes of each other, and have to wonder.
the setup
the punch line
Day 7.
7A. Independence and Union Movements
7B. Biography Center
7C. Anthropology News
7D. College Football Traditions
7E. Major Battles of the Civil War
The Nobel for Literature was announced early, spoiling my chances to get a pool together. I remind everyone that knowing your Nobels every year is usually worth around 100 points a year.

Many times I have seen versions of the babelfish hall of mirrors, I mention this one (found via J-Walk) only because I actually succumbed to the urge to use it on a couple of my posts. Some paragraphs become even more pathologically random. To wit:

During him it offers in the Near west, people decide its site of the term in Wisconsin. The citizen of the circumstance of vivid the end to select √Čvidemment obstructs it not here it express, but esteem cheese one. The cow never has "that of the most luminous Vista flied in left I? It had no. of idea!" The data of course, I know the free rule in, of which what would appreciate.

The herring of the changes of the cramp smooth-man-communicates regularly to professor of the university of the university in the man of the grammar, a super hero ignited, to that the defective negation and the hostile double raised more crossing to the preliminary standard to the relative of the battle, not like her everything except the effect, Reime and a complete knowledge of the English applications.

I just don't want to know how exactly a herring smooth-man-communicates, do I?

I just love the engineering solution described here. Something very refreshing about the notion to trade small-scale efficiency for large-scale reproducibility, for a net win. It's one of those things that may get taught in school, but it's always glossed over, and it never sticks with people. Nice to see it did stick here.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Correcting a common misconception among freshmen: I do not know everything. Among the things I do not or did not know:
1. Kendal Mintcake is not merely a character in the Young Ones University Challenge episode.
2. That there's a difference between Morse Code and International Morse Code.
3. I don't know what the unknowns are on this project. If I knew what the unknowns were, they wouldn't be unknowns now, would they?

UPDATE: Wisconsin has chosen (well, the governor has.)

Finally, having heard this bit while sitting in the drive-thru lane at lunch today, I really think one person could pick up a nice thesis comparing and contrasting the work of MF Doom (it's in the middle there), with that of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa.
Day 5.
5A. CNN
5B. Book-A-Minute
5C. OurSportsCentral
5D. The Avalon Project
5E. De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors