31 March 2011

Libyans: Dumber than they look (which is saying something)

Best article yet on why the US should do nothing to help Libya, at all, ever. Interestingly, it doesn't set out to make a case for or against aiding the fight. It merely explains how naive, ill-equipped to lead or organize, and plain dumb the 'rebels' are.

Read it for yourself and then try to make a case for 'intervention'. 


Here's an excerpt:

If there's an ammunition shortage, no one has told Khalif Saed. He was firing off a large machine gun welded to the back of a pick up truck, sending the contents of the heavy belt of bullets darting through the weapon and in to an empty sky.

It's a regular enough occurrence on the open desert road along which Libya's conflict has swung back and forth through this month. Sometimes the stream of fire is celebratory, as earlier this week when it was falsely claimed that Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte had fallen.

In recent days it seems to be more out of frustration as the rebels were forced back in the face of Gaddafi's attack. What it was not was aimed at was the enemy.

Asked why he was shooting when the revolution's military leadership has appealed for discipline and its fighters not to waste ammunition, Saed said simply: "It's my gun."

It isn't. He concedes that he seized it from a military base in Benghazi as Gaddafi's forces fled at the beginning of the revolution. But it says much about the state of the loosely organised rebel militia which foreign governments are now considering arming.

The truth hurts, vol. III

One of my teachers in college once told me that the goal of any parent should be to raise a child capable of paying for their own therapy.
She was kidding. Kind of.

30 March 2011

Science tackles the big issues: The best Bloody Mary

This is the scientific equivalent of TMZ reporting, and for that I apologize. I couldn't help myself.

Bloody Mary Gives Up Its Flavor Secrets

Chemical analysis provides tips for making a better Bloody Mary. Karen Hopkin reports.


First, make it fresh. The acids in tomato juice can degrade the drink’s other ingredients. Also, make it cold—ice slows the degradation. Use the best tomato juice—the major source of flavor. But feel free to cheap out on the vodka. Its taste gets lost in the complex mix. In other words, chemists say to save the Grey Goose for other experiments.

Tools are good; good tools are great

Sharp looking, no? (HONK)
My fascination with well-made objects has already been documented in this space. Tools, denim, motorcycles, jackets, workout clothes, pencils (I did a post on pencils, right?), watches, pocketknives, whatever. Some of the items I appreciate I don't even own; the original picture from an advertorial in the 'outside gear guide' in 2007 still hangs on my wall. It reminds me that in the best design form follows function, and that sometimes you have to pay more to get more.

I was pleased to see that an American company called Best Made decided to see if they could get a piece of the Gransfors Bruks business. They have crafted a singularly beautiful and functional tool. Interestingly, Best Made appears to be targeting both a utilitarian and decorative demographic. Not a bad idea, considering that most people have little to no practical use for an axe, and they do make an excellent decoration.

The limited edition models are gorgeous and much too expensive for field use. Also, the painted sections will wear off almost immediately and get paint all over your hands. If it were up to me they would have moved the color further up the neck, so that it would last. Anyway, it will look superb on your wall, and it may come in handy during the zombie apocalypse.

Funny thing about an axe is you never need one until you need one, and then nothing else will do.

The quote below is courtesy the Best Made Co. Projects web space. Change 'out in the wilds' to 'out on the road or track' and that's how I shop motorcycle gear:

"The only really satisfactory way to approach the price problem is to ignore it. Good equipment always seems expensive, but whenever you find yourself in a store scowling at a price tag, try to remember that out in the wilds, where money is meaningless, the failure of a single item can easily ruin a trip. It may even endanger your life."

— The New Complete Walker, Colin Fletcher (Knopf, 1968)

thanks for reading :)

Cats = win, part II

Somewhere in the wide, wide world there is a Siamese cat, and that Siamese has a tank, and you better not give him any lip.

29 March 2011

I am an international financier, part the Xth

A bit behind on my international financier posts. I can't remember if I told you that Arlene from the Phillipines paid her loan on the pigs back in fully, but she did do. And on time, to boot. Sweet.

In more finance updates, Eric from Rwanda (pictured) is paying his loan back on time too. So far, so good.

According to Kiva I have some monies to re-allocate, so I'll find a new loan to fund and kick those monies back into the system, post updates here. Get excited. If you're on Kiva and have a pet project feel free to post in the comments. No promises but if it meets my criteria then I'll make a contribution.

28 March 2011

We love our skate videos around here...

Big Cheese forwards some great skate videos. I like them because they're a fun contrast of styles: modern vs. retro. The longboard skate scene is becoming more modern in its approach, and that's cool to watch, until you see modern skate tricks. Then your jaw drops and your eyes pop out of your head. Don't believe me?

Check out these sweet tricks on a longboard skateboard:

Can't get any better than that, right? That's what I said. Then I watched this and my head exploded:

25 March 2011

:: shakes fist at sky ::

I've heard that when big-wave surfers like Laird Hamilton and his ilk go long periods without riding waves they become sullen and morose. I can't speak to that directly, but I can tell you that if it rains one more goddamn day in southern California and I can't ride my motorcycle I'm going to have to start taking Lexapro again.


23 March 2011

Gifted and Talented

When I was a kid we had "Gifted and Talented Education" for the special kids. Not sure how they selected us for these GATE kids, but it was designed to help the high-achievers achieve highly. I was not much of an achiever, but I can crush a standardized test and that was good enough to get me in. (This says more about how dumb the rest of the kids were than how smart I was.) It was nice of them to give us an opportunity to do whatever it was that we did in those classes. I can't really remember, except that it got us out of regular class. Since I hardly ever paid attention in class anyway it was fun to walk down the hall at Bagby Elementary and play with computers or art or string or whatever. I do remember our GATE teacher one year was Mrs. Bagby. She married the grandson or great-grandson of the person after whom the school was named. So that was fun.

In the many years since my matriculation at Bagby Elem. I've developed an appreciation for truly multi-talented people. My friends in college that were super nice, could shred on guitar, run 15 miles, pwn a physics test, write a good essay, hold down their position in anchorman, or some combination of those things: These people are very hard to find. It takes a unique combination of hard work and intellect to be a person like that, along with a generous helping of physical talent. (I have the unfortunate handicap of being lazy, not very bright, and not terribly gifted.)

Anyway, some of these superbly gifted people have become great friends of mine, and they are an inspiration to me. One of them got a new job today, and although I am deeply sad to see him take his awesomeness elsewhere, I look forward to hearing how things work out at the new gig, and wish him the very best. 

I include this song from Timmy Curran. Not because the subject has anything to do with my buddy leaving for greener pastures, but because Curran is one of those multi-talented people, and I think it's a great song for anyone to have written and sung, never mind a world-class surfer.

Whatcha thinkin' about?

Oh nothin. Just cat stuff I guess.

22 March 2011

Let's (not) talk it over

Why are so many people in constant violation of these rules? And why do they get their own television show?

Image comes courtesy the internets. I forget where, and I apologize to the source in advance. I should have linked to it but I was in a hurry and wanted to make sure I didn't lose it. Bad blogger. Bad.

Get your read on, and maybe also watch some TV

Since I finished the books about the siege of Leningrad I switched back to a book about dogs and dog behavior, which I rate as merely okay. It is wonderfully written, but I don't feel that there's a whole lot of useful information there. The author has done exhaustive research on dogs, but doesn't include much of it in the book that I can tell. It is for a non-technical audience, so I'm sure that helps her sell a lot of books. It didn't help me much at all, because I'm a huge nerd and love nerd things. Made for nerds.

After that I started on Where Men Win Glory, about Pat Tillman. It's a difficult read, in part because he wasn't a terribly exciting guy, and in part because you'd have to be a hermit not to know how the story ends. The details don't make the reading any easier. In short, Tillman was killed by members of his own platoon, and then the cause of his death was hidden from his family and the public for many months. Soldiers were ordered to lie about it. The soldiers responsible for his death were given very mild punishments ('released for standards' from the Rangers and kicked back to Regular Army - you can be 'released for standards' for stuff like getting a traffic ticket). I don't know much about the US Army Rangers, but I know that lying is not the type of thing they tend to endorse. Except when it suits them, in which case they endorse it at the highest levels.

That the reading is difficult does not mean that it isn't worthwhile. Quite the opposite: the sordid, depressing circumstances of Tillman's death and subsequent exploitation as an American "hero" (a designation that he would probably have found repugnant) is definitely worth your time.

If movies are more your thing, then another amazing piece of reporting on the war in Afghanistan is Restrepo. You can watch it with commercial interruption on NatGeo, or you can order it on Netflix. Highly recommended.

17 March 2011


In year's past I have celebrated St. Patrick's day in grand style, usually getting to the bar before noon and carrying on into the evening. This year I'm not really feeling it, so I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe meet my friends for a beer after the gym. Not quite as ambitious as my usual, but since the usual tends towards the excessive I figure this might not be a bad thing. 

I wore no green today, in part because I don't think I own any green t-shirts, and also because I wear my ethnic irish-ness every day in my face, skin, hair, and unisex Irish name (it means 'watchful' or 'vigilant' in Gaelic). I'm not at all connected to actual Ireland - I'm a 5th generation Californian but for one reason or another my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all married people of (mostly) Irish descent. And here we are.

I hope this St. Patrick's Day finds you well. If you raise a glass today my favorite toast is "May your house be too small to hold all your friends."  And may it be so!

Thanks for reading.

12 March 2011

LOLcats to your FACE

This isn't strictly an lolcat, but I laughed.

Tune in next week when we try to be a bit more sophisticated.

(Unintentional?) Irony

This from a blog about religion or jesus or something:

"Japan was just hit with a devastating earthquake and tsunami. Now the whole Pacific Rim is on tsunami alert. Pray for the countries bordering and within the Pacific, but especially Japan."

Just to be clear: you're making voices in your head (or out loud) to an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful being that by definition just enabled, allowed, or enacted the 'devastating earthquake and tsunami'.

That makes no rational sense. But it did give me a chuckle.

11 March 2011

Sad bookshelf redux

Sad bookshelf is sad

Linking to images is easy, but sometimes they move or get deleted.
That happened in a couple old posts. I hate that, so I'll work on keeping a properly referenced catalog. You care.

Anyway, one missing photo was this super sad bookshelf. Awwww...

someecards freebie

This is kicking around the internets but it comes to me courtesy someecards. I laughed.

Also, did you see what happened in Japan? Damn. I'm glad I don't live near a major fault line in a coastal area with a nuclear power plant. Wait... what? Shit.

10 March 2011

UPDATE - REPOST: It's good on everything

This is courtesy the interwebs, and I reproduce it here because it rules.

UPDATE: A member of the genius readership points out that sriracha has been covered in depth by theoatmeal, and it is awesome.


I especially liked "Napalming the Jungle".
Hat tip to Jenni for the suggestion.

09 March 2011

Muppets are always an option

I trend towards Chaotic Good, if you must know
This was on the nerdist, and the comment in the original was "Well this is only the greatest thing in the world."

I think that might be an understatement. Only problem is my favorite character didn't make it onto the poster.

In related nerd news, the Royal Mail released a new set of stamps with 'famous wizards and witches'. I rate it only okay, mostly because they used photos of real people in some of them. I feel like that's cheating a bit. Tilda Swinton is not the White Witch, she is a person. The comparison is especially unflattering when shown next to artists renderings, as for Merlin or (personal favorite) Morgan le Fay.

I think this post has further reduced the odds of me kissing a girl. We're approaching zero asymptotically.

And finally, I've been load-testing the speakers with the Florence & the Machine record. Recommended.

07 March 2011

Bicycle domination: Chris Akrigg is winning

A Hill in Spain from chris akrigg on Vimeo.

We love our trials and mountain biking videos around here. We actually love trials motorcycling too, but we don't feature it because there's only so much motorcycle the readership can be made to endure.

This video has some fantastic riding and a listenable soundtrack. It gets no better.

03 March 2011

I am not ashamed to eat sushi at a baseball game

Click to embiggen
What baseball team should you root for?

OP: yfsf.org

02 March 2011

Put a suit on (no not that kind)

It's more awesome in person, I promise
Been having some fun back and forth with my friend abut whether or not he should wear a suit to a job interview at a company that is explicitly 'business casual'. Since I put the casual in business casual every day, it may come as a surprise that I am unapologetically old school about (A) suits and (B) white-collar job interviews. You should wear A if you have B. No exceptions.

There was some pushback from my homie because he doesn't own a suit, and has 'never needed one'. Let's be clear: not owning a suit IS the need. One suit only, in basic black or dark blue, is suitable (HONK!!) for everything: funerals, weddings, interviews, trips to vegas, nice dinners with your lady, etc. You can find reasonably priced suits from H&M or Macys most any time of year, and get steep discounts if you hit one of Macys frequent sales.

What do you do if you show up to your interview and you feel overdressed? Display adaptability: Take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves, loosen (or remove) your tie and voila! You're good to go. If you show up and you feel underdressed, well, then you're just a jackass and didn't prepare properly. Good luck with that.

What does any of this have to do with the sweet ass one piece race suit (pictured)? Nothing, except that I went ahead and picked one up for my birthday. Brand new, though from craigslist, so I got a nice discount on the retail price. Still had the tags on it and everything. It was originally destined for a motocross racer sponsored by alpinestars, but he ended up giving it to his mechanic. The mechanic wasn't much of a road racer so he put it on the market.

It fits like it was custom made for me, which is problematic because a properly fitted suit is very hard to get in and out of by yourself. So much so that I tried it on at home to break it in a little and when I tried to get out of it I got stuck. Was a little claustrophobic for a few minutes, had to settle myself down before I could escape get out. More fun facts: you can't stand up straight in it, at least not for long, and not without, um, unfortunate uncomfortable tension in vital areas. Nor can you straighten your arms and legs completely. Fits great on the bike though, and looks the business.You care.

01 March 2011

Reader responses and related random ruminations

Brilliant reader Shannon (NMSNSS), heretofore best known for a) living in Louisiana, b) crushing me at Words with Friends, and c) writing thoughtful responses to posts in which she can only be moderately interested (at best),* says:

I don't understand why you don't have a girlfriend. You bake. You read. What more could a girl want??

To which I respond, what indeed? Well, quite a lot, as it turns out.
I've given this question some consideration. I'm single for several reasons. In no particular order:
  • Girls can be tedious, and I can be impatient
  • I won't date just to have someone around, and I'd rather be in no relationship than a lame relationship.
  • I may have a delusional sense of self (there exists the possibility that I am not as awesome as I think I am; this is unlikely, but possible)
  • The girls I've been interested in weren't interested in me, and vice versa (this is the most important factor, by a lot)
 If I do ever date a girl for any length of time, then I will totally play that song in the video for her. It's so sweet! Awwww...

* This is in contrast to Lovely Reader Erin, who enjoys the blog but "skips anything related to motorcycles", which, if you're keeping score, is quite a lot. Also, some of the content has a motorcycle photo, but may not actually be about motorcycles. I mentioned this to her but she remains unaffected. She thinks the blog needs more dog photos.