Saturday, July 31, 2010

We are still married

As Angry Alex says, "That's going to leave a mark, I think."
Dee Snider is fully capable of making fun of himself, by the way. His "best story ever"

Friday, July 30, 2010

Campus Map from XKCD

Mr. Overwater sends this link: Campus Map Image.

It's true, you know.

Random Observations

Random observations from the last two weeks...

1. The very staid and proper tour guide at the Chilean National Congress (Congreso Nacional) Building was talking to us about history. Then his cell phone went off: ringtone was Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy." Broke us up.

2. Same building, same tour. Guide tells us that the chairs of Diputados (House members) and Senadores (Senators) always face front. UNLESS the President is speaking, and then the chairs all face the center aisle, so that no one is showing the President his (her) backside. There is a door at the entrance, where the Prez walks in, called something like "The Door of the People," with lots of bas-relief bronze figures and faces of people. Since the Prez walks AWAY from that door, I guess that point is that the Prez is supposed to show the people her (his) backside. I point this out, rather loudly, but the tour guide either didn't speak English or saw fit to pretend not to have heard.

3. Entrevista con nuestro amigo Ernesto Silva.

4. Walking on Av. Don Pablo, near Cafe Melba, we heard a truck with loud music playing. I stopped, to hear what cool Latin music the driver was blaring. It was ... "Evacuate the Dance Floor," by Cascada. I wanted to go take a shower.

5. On the flight, on the way back from Santiago to Atlanta, we each got our own row of three seats to stretch out in. Yay! We were a bit giddy. So when the announcement comes on about how the TSA is concerned about our safety, and that means that under no circumstances can the people from coach go up and use the 1st class potties, and 1st class can't use our coach potties, the EYM unexpectedly pipes up, "Thank goodness the TSA is protecting us from bano class fraternization!" Loudly. I was so proud. When, 30 seconds later, the same interminable announcement had still not termined, the person got to, "And under no circumstances can anyone pass through the curtains." So, I shouted (I was giddy; three seats!), "I have no corporeal form! I can pass through curtains, because I have evolved into pure energy! If you strike me down now, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." Several passengers cheered, but they mostly had their own rows, also, and so were giddy. The act played to mixed reviews among the crew, I'm sure.

6. Here at the Liberty Fund conference in Vermont, KPC friend R. Lawson pointed out a correction. I had said that I looked like an idiot, because of the trench coat in the Atlanta airport. He noted that in fact I looked like an idiot already, just one who happened also to have a trench coat. The trench coat was kind of gilding the lilly, he thought. Hey, Bob: Bite me.

Vegas is fun but I wish I was here last weekend

People! LeBron may have exited the playoffs early, but he pwnd champion Lamar Odom in a dance off at the Palazzo (right across the street from us) last weekend:

Soon after arriving at Lavo, a restaurant and nightclub at the Palazzo, a scene straight out of "West Side Story" breaks out when James and Lamar Odom, seated at a nearby table, engage in an impromptu dance-off to California Swag District's "Teach Me How To Dougie."

Odom, smoking a cigar, can't quite keep up. James celebrates by crossing himself and taking a shot of Patron.

C'mon Lamar, a stogie during a dance off is a rookie mistake. A Kardashian man should know better than that. Bruce Jenner: step up and mentor Lamar why dontcha!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another burning question

People, has Mungowitz bought a motorcycle??

How many is enough?

Now I know Coach K is a genius, and I know that a lot of the big stars opted out, I know that it's only the FIBA World Championships, and I know about the trapezoid.

But, according to Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe, there are 6 point guards on the roster?

"After a six-day training camp in Las Vegas last week, USA Basketball trimmed its roster yesterday afternoon, and Celtics All-Star Rajon Rondo is one of the 15 players (including six point guards) remaining."

Let's see. There's Rondo, Billups, Westbrook, Rose, Gordon. That's 5. Does Steph Curry play the point? Really? If so, that's an awesome (and typical) Don Nelson misallocation of talent.

Even 5 is a lot though, innit?

Don't we need a bunch of bangers to soak up fouls and try to compensate for us not having dominant big men?

Wouldn't Nick Collison be a much better 3rd Thunder player on the team that Jeff Green?

I never thought I'd say anything like this and Tyler will likely hurt himself laughing, but where's Brendan Hayward? (OMG, I hate myself so much right now).
Can KD and the midgets win this thing?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We're baaaaAAAAACK!

The EYM and I left Santiago last night at 8 pm, on time. Each of us had a row to ourselves. That's the most I have ever slept on an airplane, probably five of the nine hour flight, maybe a little less.

The EYM didn't really sleep. He was playing Pokemon, on a Gamebay, vintage 1998. Once he started playing....played for six hours. Getting pumped for SC2, I guess.

We arrived in Atlanta, and waited 65 minutes in line for a 30 second check of passports. Just stupid. They had THREE stations open, and there were so many Americans waiting that they overwhelmed the rope line and ran out the door into the American arrival cloaca. "Visitors" had 7 stations open. Now, that's fine, there are more issues there, and it taks longer. But why worry only about budget cost, and not the cost of our time. Since that is only station 1, of 4 (you get your luggage, you go through customs, you recheck your luggage, and then you go through security, with a 20 minute wait and a bunch of aggressive bullies yelling at you), LOTS of people missed their flights. I had left three hours for my connection, because I had seen the US government in action. (And, to be clear, I don't really blame TSA, though it sounds like it. Congress has never funded the agency properly for what the agency is asked to do. I hate to be fair, but, it's not TSA's fault)

Anyway, waiting now for flight to Raleigh, and then I think I'll roll in the arms of Morpheus for a bit.

Oh...and it's hot here. I'm carrying a giant trench coat, and look like an idiot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Does "lossless" REALLY mean lossless?

People, here at Chez Angus we are on a campaign to remove clutter. Target #1 is our CD collection.

I may be late to this party, but it now appears to me that you can finally have a truly high quality music system with a computer as the source.

I have gotten an asynchronous USB DAC, a quiet laptop, and a 1T external drive to store the collection on (yes, I got a LOT a rippin' to do).

But I am torn over what format to store the files. WAV or AIFF are uncompressed so they should be bit perfect copies (you can rip using an error correction package), but they are HUGE and we have a fair amount (>1000) of CDs.

Apple Lossless or FLAC are compressed but allegedly no musical information is lost in the compression. This to me sounds like the free lunch I've been warned against lo these many years.

Any thoughts or suggestions folks?

I guess I will try making a couple copies of some favored CDs in each format and listen to them "blind" letting Mrs. A choose the type of file to play.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Scrubbing the planet with a diamond crusted toothbrush

As we settle into the aftermath of the death of the "climate bill", it is worthwhile I think to consider the effectiveness of another government program designed to reduce carbon emissions, the ethanol program.

The CBO just released a report showing that the cost of a metric ton of carbon abatement via this program is $750!

By way of comparison, the WSJ points out that the price of carbon envisioned in cap and trade would be something around $25 - $30.

But that's not all. The NRDC points out that the CBO's estimates of abatement costs do not include "the emissions associated with land use change—i.e. the carbon dioxide that is released from forests or grasslands that are cleared and converted to farmland as a result of ethanol production—though the report notes that if those emissions were taken into account, the cost could increase substantially. Indeed analysis done by EPA shows that when you factor in the impacts of indirect land use chance, corn ethanol actually increases emissions relative to gasoline."


So our main biofuel program is fairly expensive and in all probability actually raises carbon emissions?

Is this a great country, or what?

Political economy of speed cameras when the ticket price is not set close to equilibrium price

The State of Arizona has taken down their automated speeding ticket cameras. This despite an initial argument that it increases safety and only enforces that law with a 10 mph cushion above the speed limit. The State failed to see the unintended consequenses. So after paying 20 million to put up the cameras, the Arizona Politicians are now realizing the huge cost in time that they were imposing on their drivers by making them slow
down 5 to 10 miles per hour. I would also guess that the transaction cost to collect their tickets is fairly substantial. More evidences of the motive is the State of Arizona made it a Civil Penalty to avoid litigations cost that would reduce their net revenue (rent).

It looks like the folks with the pickaxes may have had more sense than the legislature did when the cameras where installed. A ticket may improve public safety but it still has a price that needs to be considered. Also note the revenue from the camera was 50% lower than initial projections, how did that play into the calculations?

(Thanks to JS for the guest post! Those are good questions, sir. What is happening in the rest of the country, and world, with those automatic cameras?)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Peruvian Restaurants in Chile

Lots of Peruvians in Chile. And lots of Chilenos like to go to Peruvian restaurants. We have been to several, but two were remarkable. I recommend them.

1. Restaurante Barandiaran. Old school, very colorful, perfectly serviceable, and as cheap as comida peruana should be. Very close to the Manuel Montt metro stop in Providencia on the Red Line. They claimed to have cui (guinea pig) which of course I ordered, but they said they were "out." Not sure if they ever realy have it, but I certainly disgusted everyone at the table. Very good cebiche, big portions, good drinks (pisco sours big and well executed, not too expensive, nice cheap wines), and cheerful if somewhat spotty service. If you want a "real" Peruvian restuarant that is cheap and easy to get to, La Barandiaran is your place.

2. La Mar. One of the five best restaurant meals I have ever had, and I can't think immediately of what the other four are. Remarkable. Remarkably good service, remarkably good food, remarkably self-consciously trendy, and remarkably expensive. Each pisco sour is $8. They are good, but...yikes! Wine reasonable, but then it's Chile. A nice cortado after the meal will set you back another $7. That's a pisco sour and a coffee that EACH cost more than some of the entrees at Barandiaran. But, the food at La Mar is miraculous. They call themselves a cebicheria, and...yes. We got a sampler (diversa) of three kinds of cebiche, and (very unusual for Chile) they had actually used some SPICE, including aji or red chilis. Terrific fresh ingredients, beautiful. For dinner, the EYM had pulpos a la brasa con chimichurri parrillero, or grilled octopus with a green sauce. Astonishing. Saying it was the best octopus I have ever tasted is an understatement. It was better than any octopus that I could have imagined. I had shrimp, scallops, and fish in an almond sauce, which was tremendous. Dessert was fine, the bill was shocking, and it was well worth it.

UPDATE: I have to add that ANY of the "El Otro Sitio"s are extremely fine choices for comida peruana. Had a most extended and inebriated almuerzo there today, and...two thumbs up. The "diversa" sampler of cebiches was worth the price of lunch on its own. And excellent pulpo.

Superheroes Take On Westboro Bab-Tisk Church

I was amused. Best sign: "How the *&%$ do magnets work?" or maybe "All glory to the Hypno-Toad!"

Or maybe you have a favorite yourself.

(Nod to Angry Alex)

You lie like a rug

One of the last things we did in NY was hoof it down to Chelsea and visit one of my favorite galleries of all time, Cavin-Morris.

They had a terrific show of new-wave Berber rugs. Crazy, colorful, and wonderful.

We bought one.

Friday, back at home here at Chez Angus, I get a call from the gallery. The Times did a story on the show and used my rug as their featured photo.


And here is our rug. I love how it has the core of a traditional design but is also completely insane. I can't wait til the show is over and we get to have it in our home.

Eclipse: La Saga

The EYM was a bit bored with my stay at home ways. We had an early supper (5:30, which is at least 3 hours before dinnertime here), and I was ready to start reading stuff for the evening.

He wanted to do something. It was Saturday night. So, I suggested a movie. Karate Kid just started here, and that looks cute, so I proposed that. He looked a bit startled. So we went to see the new Twilight movie, "Eclipse." (Eclipse was not is first choice either, but there is really nothing else showing except kid movies). I had not seen the others, but how complicated could it be?

Complicated. But the movie was fine. In fact, I liked it a lot, but then I have always like chick-flicks.

Some odd things, though.

1. We had a hard time catching the bus up the hill to the theater. The buses either have the wrong routes on the front lights (they don't change from the previous run) or the lights are off. This is tough, because it is dark. You can't see the number of the bus until it is beside you, doing 30 km/hr or more. And there are 8 different buses that stop (or as it turns out, don't stop) at that bus stop. Kevin finally flags one down, and he stops 50 meters up the street. The drivers get paid based on whether they are on time, not whether they pick up passengers. We were lucky he stopped at all.

2. A sales woman, basically a beggar with some trinket to sell, latched on to me outside the theater. I told her no, twice. She physically pressed up against me, and got on the escalator in this position. I do not react well to such things, and pretty much shouted at her, right in her face. She was amazed at the reaction, I could tell. (At least, she started crying, ran up the escalator, and then ran back down). Clearly, the expected value of the tactic is high enough that it pays her to try it. Angus and I should hire out as anti-beggar phage cells in Latin American malls. We would reduce that expected value calculation in no time.

3. At the theater, I said, "Dos para Eclipse, a las diez y nueve, y diez" (the movie was at 7:10, and they use the 24 hour clock, like we should). The guy stares at me, so I repeat the request. He stares some more, and says, in perfect American-accented English, "Two what? Do you want two TICKETS?" Now, all they sell is tickets at the ticket booth. Perhaps "Two for Eclipse, at 7:10" is not the normal request he gets, though that is the literal translation of what I always ask for in the States. But this guy didn't just speak English, he spoke American. What else could I have possibly been asking for?

In any case, I am a fan of the movie. And forget Edward, honey. A big slice of Jacob is what Bella needs.