Monday, January 29, 2007

Objective analysis

When I read the excellent book Moneyball a few years ago one of the things I was amazed at what I learned about Sabermetrics, a system that attempts to be an objective way of evaluating baseball players (as opposed to the traditional method of going with looks and a scout's gut instinct). So I was excited to see that some have taken to applying such methods to other fields of human endeavor, as seen at Babermetrics. I especially like how the individual pages are similar to those at sports reference pages: compare my favorite baseball player with the pretty Beyonce.


RIP, Bitpass

I got an email a couple of weeks ago that Bitpass was going the way of the Dodo. Bitpass was a fledgling e-commerce company that was in the business of micropayments, a method of making small payments that some think could serve the growth of the internet.

On the bright side, you can now read something that was originally only available via Bitpass: The Right Number, a cool online comic by Scott McCloud, author of the great book Understanding Comics.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Shady doings on Sesame Street

We went to a burlesque show recently and saw one number that used a song from Sesame Street as its soundtrack. The song, which I didn't remember but Ms Goat did, was Would You Like to Buy an O?, the subject of which was replaced with an alternate meaning in the show we saw. But in watching the video, I'm struck at how not only this alternate meaning may have been intentional but how the character of Lefty seems to be a drug dealer or at least a black marketeer.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 15, 2007

Farewell, Dr. Klahn

It was a life of extraordinary magnitude. If you don't know his funniest work, from Kentucky Fried Movie, there are a few clips on YouTube.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Goat report: 1/14/07

When in Morocco, beware goats in trees. I was originally tipped off to this phenomenon by a Life magazine photo.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Forgive me

I really don't have much sympathy for the four really rich families who lost their homes in the Malibu fire. Maybe it's because I just saw Spike Lee's great and saddening documentary about the Katrina victims, maybe it's because I'm a raging socialist and hate rich people. But why does the loss of 4 homes in Malibu deserve national news attention? On the local radio this morning was a disgusting interview segment of one of the victims' neighbors, who was bemoaning the fact that "we have to break the bad news to our neighbors, who just left the country on a vacation the other day, but at least their pets were rescued...." There's no need for hand-wringing as nobody was injured and they're all insured up the yin-yang and they always wanted to rebuild that troublesome back porch. And it's sickening to see them call it a war zone when none of these people have to join the military for a chance at making a living, like many of today's soldiers.


Lawn Darts

I'm very happy to have lived thru the days of Lawn Darts. 'Full-contact Lawn Darts' lived on amongst my high school friends as a metaphor for pure danger.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Retail chains

After New Year's in the OC, we made our way south to see some family in San Diego. On the way we passed some huge boobs and then took CA 78 east, passing thru some suburbs in the north county. I was a bit disgusted to note that we kept passing malls that all looked identical in appearance and content; we must have passed 3 that all had a Wal-Mart, BestBuy and Office Max. Later that night I was reading thru The Nation and saw an ad for a book called Big Box Swindle, a fascinating excerpt of which talks about the history of chain stores in America.

I find myself split between the values of such huge chains. On one hand, it was very cool that when I first moved to New Jersey almost 10 years ago, there was a whole new set of chains that I wasn't familiar with. By the time we moved to California in 2004, chains had spread countrywide and most of the stores I knew on one cost were now on the other, with locals being absorbed by the chains. On the other hand, I do respect being able to see a store name you know; I wouldn't have gone to NJ if they didn't have Trader Joe's, after all. Ms Goat makes a very valid point when she says that the golden arches is the international symbol for a clean bathroom.

We got a membership to Costco as a xmas gift and we'll certainly take advantage of it given the presence of a babygoat in the house. Although I know they're one of the better retailers in terms of social responsibility, the whole bulk-consumption thing can be a bit disturbing, especially when one sees some of the stuff that sells there.

Update: MsGoat points out that Golden Arches represent free bathrooms, not necessarily clean.


Friday, January 05, 2007

What's the cost?

I recall Yodelling Llama making the argument that when people quit smoking and live longer, the put a greater strain on the health care system than if they died sooner from smoking-related disorders. From the folks at Terrapass comes a few similar arguments on the costs of living more eco-friendly: live longer and use more resources, a response to Forbes' similar thoughts along those lines and the environmental benefits of going veggie for a week. Another good post was about how good it felt to drink low-carbon beer, but that's only available to those who are near a brewery. For those of you who care about workers, The Nation's recent food issue had an article on problems with organic food growers not paying their workers well that could cut into my carrot eating.


Hotel computer

Spent New Year's at a very snazzy hotel. The morning of New Year's Day I took a walk around the premises and found their 'business office' with computers hooked up to the internet. I took a brief look at some things online and then noticed that there was a peculiar icon on the desktop: a very naughty link, as well as similar sites in the recent history list.