Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

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Midweekly Linktopus

Congratulations! You are the first person to read this alt-text!

If Linktopus sees one more article about the iPad Mini he’s going to kill you all

Since it’s rainy all of a sudden and I suffer from the autumnal version of seasonal affective disorder, I haven’t rocked you all with my truth recently. I think typing out the entire Chang opus probably ruined my respect for the written word. Oh well.

\scriptstyle\Box  Terrible Sex Advice. I had a girlfriend who used to read Cosmo. So while she was frantically casting around her room for the car keys she lost again, I’d casually flip through it to avoid wondering whether we’d actually be able to get to the airport in time. Between the onslaught of half-baked and frequently contradictory information about weight control and celebrity interviews that always seem to have been conducted entirely with publicists, there was the really bad sex advice. The attitude of it was usually actually fairly positive, if they stripped out all the tips themselves you’d just end up with something along the lines of: “try new things, be enthusiastic, don’t be afraid to take charge, and have fun!”…and that would be great advice. And there were 50/50 odds the flight would be delayed anyway. But…unfortunately for the women, (and men) of America, they can’t just write that over and over again every month, so it is easy to see how those articles eventually morphed into a freaky netherworld of activities no one in their right mind would actually engage in. Every other one seemed to involve a food. A weird, or at least messy, food, because they did all the ones involving chocolate sauce or strawberries—the only two sexy foodstuffs.

Someone else has noticed how funny those articles are. Those someone elses are, who have a running series of these, with commentary. Such as this one. And this one. You get the idea.

Before I let this link live as itself, I must mention the most memorable of these cosmo tips. It was thus, approximately: Find a smooth stone, possible while wondering in a meadow with your boyfriend. Is it smooth? If not, make sure to run it under a faucet for a while. So you have a smooth stone then, right? Good! Now, while intimacy is occurring with your boyfriend, stick it on his perineum. That was an actual tip that someone put in a magazine. Harrowing.

\scriptstyle\Box  Seagulls do the darndest things! Like stealing little cameras.

\scriptstyle\Box  Stephen Colbert’s new book, reviewed by, of course, Stephen Colbert.

\scriptstyle\Box  List of common phrases derived from obsolete technology. And then this even longer list. Including favorites such as: upper case, lower case, groggy, leeway, skyscraper, and many more!

\scriptstyle\Box  Aggressive takedown of the worst, but most inexplicably published comic strip, “Close To Home.” If you are like me, you have often wondered why this is a thing that is in newspapers.

It wasn’t funny the first time.



Zombs On The Tee-Vee

I am going to stick my neck out, or extend my arm outside of the moving vehicle, or avail myself of the glory hole, or whatever your preferred metaphor for risky behavior may be. I am going to make the statement that I enjoy watching The Walking Dead mostly because of the outrageous violence. Feel free to pontificate on character development, well-maintained evolving story lines, and great camera work. Agreed that those are all positives. But if you are a hardcore subscriber to those things, try tuning in to any other AMC production, because they do it much better. This show is made great by unrepentant head trauma infliction. I refuse to carry on bloviated discussions that dance around this core facet any longer. Along that line of thought, Talking Dead is a truly stupid thing, and Chris Hardwick irritates me to no end. Between that guy and the entire Ghost Hunters team, I have spent a lot of time recently praying for people to be reincarnated as toilets.

Edit: spolier alert, season 2 mid-season finale, next sentence.

Yes, the girl was in the barn the whole time and they had to put her down, that’s whatever. Consider that point as read. I tune in for the facial perforations. I do acknowledge that the folks doing makeup deserve all of their awards and nominations. Were I to be completely candid, however, this is just icing. The walkers could look like they just staggered out of an 8-bit video game, and I would not particularly mind. In fact, that might be preferable, vis-a-vis escapism. My entire life is a constantly evolving character-driven narrative, and I see people who look like they’re dead every time I leave the apartment. The only thing in that show that doesn’t resemble my daily routine is the use of a katana in anger.

I realize that claiming enjoyment of that sort of thing calls into question my entire moral character. To quote Biggie: fuck ’em, I didn’t want to go to Heaven anyway.

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Today in History: October 15th

Thanks a lot, Turkey

1529: The Siege of Vienna: Austrians fend off a Turkish invasion of Vienna, halting the tide of Ottoman conquest across Europe. This proves to be a turning point, and counterattacks eventually drive the Ottomans from the continent. In retaliation, the Turks cease their importation of Fezzes to Europe, cursing hat-wearers to endure brimmed headwear. They also withdraw the closely-guarded Turkish technique for removing the naturally-occurring buttons of hard fabric-covered material that form at the uppermost part of hats. The haberdashiary-schism is the origin of the unwanted “squatchee” found atop today’s baseball caps. For this reason, the schoolyard trick of slapping it to produce a sharp pain is known as the “Turkish Tap.”

1582: As decribed in a previous “Today in History” the Gregorian calendar is implemented in Italy, Portugal, Poland, and Spain, causing October 15th to directly follow October 4th. On the morning of the 15th, citizens of those countries awake groggily, with the nagging feeling that they have forgotten something important. They halfheartedly do old-timey things while gazing disorientatedly from their windows or wall-holes, and rack their brains over the strange, unsteady feeling that they woke up with. Meals across the continent are punctuated by awkward conversational silences as 16th century people find themselves unable to think of things to talk about. For roughly 10 days (presumably due to the amount of time skipped on the calendar), much of Catholic Europe hangs under a cloud of vague unease.

It happens that Pope Gregory XIII pushed back implementation to October 4th over the initial choice of October 1st because he was concerned that the Cardinals would forget about his birthday which fell on the 3rd. He had a strong suspicion that they had pooled their gift money to buy him a reeeeeally special new pope hat, and he always felt that he never got what he really wanted for his birthday. But 1582 might be the best one ever if he got the hat he wanted the most in the whole world!

1864: The Battle of Glasgow is fought. This is probably exactly what it sounds like. Some kind of Scottish insurrection or something. Don’t worry about it. Who would ever name a second place after Glasgow, one of Britain’s most dismal industrial towns? And even if someone else did, it would probably be in like, Australia or Canada or something… but since nothing really happened in any non-American former British colonies prior to at least the 1960s it wouldn’t have happened there. It doesn’t matter, just move along.

They put their jackets on for this photo.

1954: FORTRAN, the first high-level programming language, is released to the coding community for the first time. In 1954 the “coding community” consisted almost exclusively of men wearing horn-rimmed glasses, white short-sleeved shirts, narrow ties, and working in bright windowless rooms full of whirring machines. Developed by IBM, it was the first programming system consisting of readable statements rather than hard-coded machine language (though it still involved the use of punch cards). The first program run in FORTRAN was a sequence that would accept any input and return the statement “SEGMENTATION FAULT: NULL POINTER”

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To a Lone Traffic Cone in the Breakdown Lane

You're my cone, bro

Keeping it cool. Keeping it orange.

I see you there, cone. Repping it in the breakdown on the I-195 bridge. They say to pick one thing you love and do that as much as you can, and you are living that right now. How did you get there, all alone in a 2 foot wide shoulder? No one knows. But I do know this, you are doing what you were put on this Earth to do: keep drivers out of a narrow trash-filled corridor.

If it weren’t for you, I’d be scraping the concrete wall. You heard me—I push myself to the limits of advisable driving technique whenever possible, and that means testing the bulkheads of highway bridges. Is my ‘97 Honda Civic winning any beauty contests because I have made this bold and reckless choice? Of course not, but that’s just the cost of living outside of society’s false conventions. Does my choice to employ a non-traditional facial hair pattern offend you? Of course it does, if you are living a box, provided for you by the mainstream barber community…but I digress. Cone, you are my kind of cone, making a stand while thoughtless minions speed through life, barely looking where they’re going. Is grinding a beige sedan against a stone barrier at 65mph the reason my so-called “friends” and “relatives” refuse to travel with me? Maybe. It sure generates a lot of sparks. Does all the junk on the shoulder result in almost constant flat tires and damage to the undercarriage? Why wouldn’t it? Does hitting the seams in the wall every 9 feet, constitute a painful, frame-stressing impact? You bet it does. That’s what makes it all worth it. I ride bridges hard. It’s what I’m about. And in that same way, I know what you’re about, cone. Stopping people like me. And I respect you for it.

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Saturday Morning Breakfast Ramble

Do you Tweet? I do not Tweet. I phone. I blog. I face. I chat. I tube. I snap. I lick. I golf. I do have a Twitaccount, originally obtained so that I could unlock extra Angry Birds levels. I’m not really sure what I’m expected to do with it other than that. I keep it so that I can follow two things, or people, or whatever Twittererers are: TNG_S8, and wekriskross. That is essentially my universe, triple distilled, served in a chilled tumbler. Not a tumblr. That’s another thing I don’t have or understand.

Speaking of folks who fail at jumping on social media bandwagons, I enjoyed watching CNN’s version of the presidential debate. The opinion indicator taught me that undecided Colorado women voters really enjoy higher education, while men sometimes like it and sometimes hate it, but both sexes generally enjoy spoken words, or maybe just buttons. As long as we’re adding future tech to our heads-up displays, I strongly advocate remote sensing of both candidate’s vital signs. Next to that, animated waveforms and needle indicators that flicker wildly, like we’re in some kind of Science Room. Below that, real-time stock indicators soaring through record highs and lows in response to candidates’ reactions to being asked questions about things. In the lower right, a mini-map showing terrain we’ve already explored, and all of our own units in green, and other units in red. In the center can be a pop-up box that tells me when the dryer is finished. CNN should either do this or redirect effort into fixing global warming or curing cancer, but no more half-measures.

And speaking of half-measures, last night was that night that one sees Taken 2 for some reason. The name alone sets off warning bells. This is not Scream; I feel that the appropriate action for a movie which tries to take itself seriously is to come up with a title other than “Sequel.” And Liam Neeson does take things very seriously, though nothing moreso than getting a driver’s license. Whatever the fuck that has to do with anything, we shant know. Here are some thoughts and spoilers in list form.

  • Liam Neeson either won or lost all of the fights; it’s hard to tell since the cameraman seemed to also be brawling with some unseen assailant, or perhaps simply his or her own personal demons
  • Liam Neeson learns things by reading books, and, if you want, you can borrow them
  • In Istanbul, it is acceptable to run over any number of people while plowing through a bazaar
  • In Istanbul, it is acceptable to throw grenades anywhere you please. If you destroy a reservoir holding clean water for a building full of people, +5 points
  • In Istanbul, it is not acceptable to abuse taxi services
  • It is customary to enter the US embassy by way of driving through the cardboard guard shack. People may shoot at you. If your car is made of metal, you will be okay
  • If you have just entered the embassy after leaving half of its host country a smoldering ruin, that is fine, those things happen. Recent history has taught us that people in the Middle East have great respect for our embassies
  • The door is actually open for Taken 3. If there is no Kraken, Ryan will flip the fuck out



You are a Providence DPW worker. You stand, shoulders slumped, mouth agape, on a busy sidewalk. Directly in front of you, a foot from the curb, is a traffic sign. This sign has made some grave transgression against the City, and it is your job to remove the iconoclastic guidepost completely, shaft and all, before it can cause further chaos. Somewhere in desolate, wind-scoured badlands of your mind, a lone synapse indolently fires once or twice before slouching over and calling it a day. “This sign doesn’t really look like an agent of mayhem,” it says. “It seems unnecessary to remove it wholesale. We could just remove the sign and leave the post, or replace it with a different sign.” But, meh, your brain just works here. We gotta get this sign out of the ground and then make sure rainwater is flooding the streets before we go to the bah.

You are faced with two choices.

  1. You can break into the concrete around the post and remove the entire assembly. This will leave a small crater in the sidewalk, approximately the same size as every other crater already in the sidewalk, including the one your right foot is currently in. Patching it is entirely optional. The job will likely require a jackhammer, or maybe just a sledge.
  2. You can hack the sign off midway through the post, leaving a four-inch razor-sharp nub protruding from the pavement, which will become a bangin’ night club for C. tetani. You can optionally allow tall grass to grow through the cracks around the nub, effectively camouflaging it from people who might be trying to watch where they are placing their sandaled feet. The job will require any sharp tool that might be in the back of your pickup.


Can you intuit, based on the fact that there is an article about it, which option you choose?


Providence actually has an app for reporting woes on the go, called ProvConnex. You can use GPS to report your exact location, and you can totally upload some sick hazard snapz. You have to choose a specific category under which to file these reports, but they have conveniently left “tetanus” out of the listing. Luckily the picture says it all. The DPW web team will review my complaint and wonder, is that rusty piece of metal always covered in blood? Not always. Only when it matters.

Do you remember the date and location of your last tetanus shot? If you’re like me, computerized records don’t stretch back that far. Computers don’t really stretch back that far. I was feeling particularly slothful after I was bandaged up, so I decided to ask Dr. Interwebs if medical treatment was truly necessary. Tetanus sounds like Tetris, which brings a deluge of fond memories of ten-pound monochrome Game Boys and that Russian squat-dance. I ignored all of the Google links to the NIH and CDC websites and went straight for WikPed. Fun fact: the first symptom of the disease is “lockjaw.” I read that word and didn’t even finish the rest of the sentence, just stood up and made a beeline for the doctor. I refuse to contract pirate diseases.

I suppose I should be thankful that the injury wasn’t massive, and that I could limp into Health Services for prophylaxis, and now that I have I can wrap myself luxuriously in discarded barbed wire for another 7-10 years. I am not thankful. They stabbed me in the foot with rusty negligence.