Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The World Cup Finals and LinksI'm back to posting in the blog.
First order of business: I get the keys for my new apartment on Thursday, and move in on Friday... Thank god. I'm condo sitting, and the air conditioning is broken and I'm dying.
Second: I watched the World Cup finals, and I was rooting for France. Of course, France lost and Zizou performed his well-executed headbutt. I've read lots of reactions to this event, and my opinion is as follows:
(a) Even if Materazzi yelled a racial slur, Zidane shouldn't have headbutted.
(b) If the red card was given based on a video playback in the stadium (this conclusion was disputed as of last night), it should NOT have been given and Zidane should have gotten away with it. FIFA has a long-standing tradition of arguing vehemently against the inclusion of instant replays in judging (they argue -- not without opposition -- that it will disrupt the flow of the game by stopping it too often). And it's not like this is unprecedented.
But dang, aren't we all curious what Materazzi said? And did he twist Zidane's nipple? (Watch the video here.)
Dedicated to Robin, here are some link-i-loos:
1. A PDF of where my graduating college class is. I'm not complaining (read: yes I am), but on average, people from my major started out making $54k/year. I can only imagine how much they're making now. Well, maybe I'll find out: I'm going to our PI reunion (3.14 years) this summer.
2. I might have posted this before, but one of the foodblogs I read: Foodie Universe. It has lots of restaurants near where UCLA students live & hang out. I've actually been to a large number of these, which is a pleasant surprise.
3. RIAA: do you have a strategy because this is just lame?
4. If you read French, the blog of one of my friends in France.
5. I haven't tried this, but it seems complicated, which obviously translates into a product which works incredibly well: the world's best paper airplane.
6. This makes me wish the rumors that Screech did have and OD and die were true. Okay, okay, exaggeration, but are you KIDDING me? Plus the shirt is HIDEOUS. Saved by the Bell, you're dead to me now.
7. Non-survival of the fittest. RIP Harriet, our last direct living link to Darwin.
8. LOMO photography. Cool, but not really worth the effort.
9. Once I move into my new apartment and set up my sewing machine, I'm going to make this ASAP: a paint chip wallet.
10. Two cool movies coming out: The Science of Sleep and The Fountain.
11. A job I would LOVE to have: a book interior designer.
12. IKEA needs to have a city-wide art & furniture exhibit in LA too.
13. Coupon codes: If you are ordering from standard online sellers (amazon, ebay, half.com, etc.), you should check here to see if you can't save a few bucks.
14. I haven't tried this out yet, but if you have hotmail, AOL mail, etc., and want to forward all the messages sent there to another email address (e.g. gmail) for free, check this out.
15. Diplomatic immunity. Parking tickets. Murder. Okay, everything but the murder, but you CAN get away with murder if you are a diplomat, and people have.
16. I'm debating whether to buy these: the coolest ice trays ever. And to match, the coolest cloth ever.
17. Have you ever been to a master's class for piano? I've been a couple of times for some where my friend Suelin was a student. For me, the hoi polloi, it was a way to understand the difference between good (belting out the keys and following the playing instructions) and great (using tempo, fingering, pedals, etc. to bring out a feeling). Reading and listening to this Slate.com article is like attending yet another master class, a definite must read & listen.
18. Recently I decided to study up on smoke rings and the way they led to a new model for atoms. See some cool smoke rings here and William Thomsons work on smoke rings here.
19. My new desktop wallpaper: VELCRO.
20. I want to see a photograph/video of this t-shirt to see what it looks like.
21. Van gogh, turbulence, and chaos. I wonder what got these physicists involved with this project. I skimmed the article, but I haven't read it in detail yet, so I don't know how valid the conclusions are. I have to say, however, that I want to know what conclusions they draw from the last sentence of their abstract: "We also show that the most turbulent paintings of van Gogh coincide with periods of prolonged psychotic agitation of this artist."
22. "In the early 1980s, Elsa's daughter, Margot, gave almost 1,400 letters to Hebrew University, which Einstein helped found. But Margot directed that the letters not be released publicly until 20 years after her death. She died on July 8, 1986." The letters have been opened and Einstein was a ladies man.
23. A picture of the UV sun.
24. The Supreme Court has a fascinating oral argument on due process that I always recommend to Supreme Court oral argument virgins. They have just decided a very similar case -- one that has a "brilliant dash" in the opinion apparently.
25. An inexpensive way to have a unique cell phone.
26. Ever read Freud's The Uncanny? If so, you'll know that it's all about words that mean their opposite. I came up with a few English ones on my own after that: cleave and scan. But here are so so so many more.
There you go Robin.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
sleeplessI've loved, and I love, a lot of books: This one, and this one, and this one, and this crazy-gorgeous thing, and this and this and this, and on and on and on.
But there are the books you love, and the books you physically, helplessly love, however irrationally and however that love meshes with what you wish to regard as your intellectual predilections. A lot of this has to do with when you first encounter a book or a writer, and here I stop to offer my deepest thanks to the high school English teacher who assigned Play It As It Lays and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to a roomful of sixteen year-olds. (The former led directly to Slouching Toward Bethlehem and The White Album, the latter to The Great Shark Hunt, with the tramp digger and the bowl of beans. And thank god.)
But then, finally, we have the category of books that you can't -- literally, physically can't -- put down, reading urgently in the middle of the night even though you can see by the clock that it means you'll be going without sleep at work the next day. These seem to have very little to do with literary greatness or canonical significance: I remember, somewhere around my fifteenth birthday, staying up all night with a copy of a book by a writer who has for a very long time made me feel a little bit of illness and a whole lot of boredom. I also vividly remember sitting down in the living room of a house in Denver shortly before bedtime, eight or nine years ago, to read a few pages of Let the Dog Drive -- and looking up from the last page at the morning sunlight. Not sure I could explain that one, either, but I just couldn't stop reading.
Context adds to the experience: I remember (again, vividly) sitting up all night in bed in a guest house in Massachusetts with this book (nb: the restored edition), trying to get to the end so I could close my eyes, with Ann asleep next to me. That one is an exceptionally good memory.
So are the first memories in the series, like the childhood birthday when I got a hardcover copy of James and the Giant Peach and couldn't leave the chair for the rest of the day. I can see the living room of our house in Garden Grove, with that last one; I can see the chair; I can see the book in my hands.
So last night I put this book aside for a while to read a little of this one. You know the rest. (It was The Dain Curse that got me.) And now I'm at work on three hours of sleep.
Which is my favorite thing in the world. Or, well, very high on the list. That moment when you know the hook is in, and you look over at the clock and recognize the implications. It's fucking awesome, and it doesn't happen very often. And I'm looking forward to the next one.
In the comments thread, if you're game: Books that kept you up all night.