Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Heart-warming Okie Story

A heart-warming love story.

An Oklahoma man proposed to his girlfriend last week while an officer tried to arrest him on two outstanding warrants.
An officer spotted Justin Harrel of Elk City in a local park last Friday and discovered that he had outstanding warrants out of two counties for obtaining cash or merchandise by bogus check, according to court documents.
Police said Harrel resisted arrest at first.
"I advised Justin that he was under arrest and directed him to turn around and place his hands behind his back," the officer wrote in his police report. "Justin said, 'Steve, let's talk about this. Give me five minutes.'"
When the officer took him into custody, Harrel explained that he was about to propose to his girlfriend. He asked if he could go ahead with the proposal.
The officer allowed Harrel to complete the marriage proposal, and Harrel's girlfriend eventually said yes. Harrel then asked the officer to get the engagement ring from his coat pocket and give it to her.
The officer handed the ring to the girlfriend.

How do we know for sure this is a true Okie girl?  She said...yes!  And, now, ladies, he's taken.  For about 3-5 years, at least. 

Nod to the LMM.

UPDATE:  Ha!  A guy did the reverse Angus.  Grew up in OK, moved to OH (Sandusky, in fact).  Appreciates the props for Okie ladies.  

Down? This will help!

Sometimes, you just have that "Bah! HUMBUG!" feeling, this time of year.  You feel...well, like this:

But wait, there's hope!  These awkward family cards will cheer you right up.  Check it out. You'll be happy and wearing those plastic antlers in no time!

UPDATE:  What do dogs want for Christmas?  Hard to tell, but this might be it

Friday, December 20, 2013

Man Wins!

Why is the "news" that "Man Wins $1 million Picasso with $138 lottery ticket"?

Why isn't the news that 49,999 people won nothing at all with $138 lottery tickets?

After all, if you multiply 50,000 x $138 you get more than $6.5 million.  So the "news" is "Somebody makes $5.5 million from bunch of chumps."

Focusing on the winner makes it sound like such a great deal.  I suppose, if given the chance to buy the WINNING ticket, $138 is cheap.  I'll try that for the NC Lottery:  please sell me a WINNING ticket.  I'll pay double for that!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Annals of Shameless Self-Promotion

We Won the War on Poverty

A truly remarkable quote, from the NYTimes, of all places:

... the poor have made progress since the ‘60s as the nation’s living standards have risen. If poverty were defined based on what people bought in 1967, adjusted only for inflation, the poverty rate would have fallen to about 11 percent today, according to research by Jane Waldfogel and other researchers at Columbia University

But poverty is best measured relative to the actual living standards of our own society. By the standards of the 19th century, for instance, practically no American is poor. In comparison with Bangladeshis, there are precious few poor in the United States. 

A more nuanced analysis of the evolution of poverty and America’s efforts to combat it is not so consoling. Recent research on poverty suggests that government programs have done, in fact, a much better job than the headline statistics suggest. 

The reason the poverty rate has budged so little is that the job of fixing it has gotten harder. “The government is doing more to reduce poverty now than it did in the 1960s,” Professor Waldfogel said. 

Um....wait.  The reason the poverty rate has budged so little is that we keep moving the target.  If the income of the poor doubled, but the rest of the country tripled its income, we'd say the poverty problem had gotten worse, when in fact the health, income, and other measures of welfare have improved dramatically. That's...that's...Orwellian!

It may be fair enough to redefine poverty that way.  But the usual narrative is the poor are getting worse off as "the rich get richer."  Instead, the poor are much better off, and the market economy has delivered on its promises of ending poverty, by any consistent definition.  The only way to say that the poor are worse off is to assume that the poor are as obsessed with relative status as the envious intellectuals of the left.  (On which Dr. Nozick had some interesting things to say).

Nod to Anonyman

UPDATE:  We DID!  We DID!  We DID win the war on poverty.


So, Angus posts his music recommendations, and I post a Billy Joel video.  But that's about right, I guess.  Got to give Mr. Joel a little credit, here.  That was pretty brave, unless it was set up in advance.

Take This Town and Shove It

I left DC in 1986, for Texas.  I have never been comfortable in DC.

This fellow has some very trenchant observations.  Very. trenchant.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Angus' 2013 Music Picks

For me the list is split between great new music from old favorites and fantastic stuff from new (or new to me) bands.

Let's get to it.

My Bloody Valentine: MBV.

I never wanted Kevin Shields (third greatest Kevin after Kevin Durant and yours truly) to make another My Bloody Valentine album. Figured it would suck. Figured it would sour me on their earlier two. I figured wrong. It's a freakin' masterpiece. Clearly the best thing this year.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II.

"Swim and Sleep like a Shark" is the best pop song of the year, and there are 4 other songs on this album that are mesmerizing. These guys are still on the way up for what they can do, but this is awfully good.

Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt.

More electric and in your face than "American Weekend". Katie Crutchfield is awesome. You would also be well served by checking out her twin sister's band, Swearin'.

Those are the three records I enjoyed and listened to the most this year. Now here's the next tier of good stuff:

Bill Callahan: Dream River
Kurt Vile: Walking on a Pretty Daze
The National: Trouble will find me

These three acts can seemingly do no wrong. Everything they've ever recorded is outstanding. Vile and Callahan are somehow still getting better, and the National continue to amaze me by not falling off a cliff.

Now let's head off the beaten path a little bit:

No Joy: Wait to Pleasure
Mutual Benefit: Love's Crushing Diamond
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold
Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana
These New Puritans: Field of Reeds

I'm not sure any of these guys will turn into Bill Callahan, but these particular works are terrific. No Joy is clean-up shoegaze, Mutual Benefit is immaculate folk, Parquet Courts is perhaps the best of this bunch, Speedy Ortiz is adorably weird and These New Puritans really impressed me with Field of Reeds. I've got to check their back catalog.

Finally, here's 4 things I listened to, liked a lot but haven't really fully absorbed. I think they might belong on the list, but I'm not sure.

Mazzy Star: Seasons of your Day
Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus
MIA: Matangi
White Fence: Cyclops Reap

Everything I said about not wanting Kevin Shields to revive MBV goes double for David Roback and Mazzy Star, but the new album appears to be quite good. Fuck Buttons are great but never topped their first album. I'm tired of MIA, but Matangi is actually pretty good. White Fence is Guided by Voices mixed with the 13th Floor Elevators.

The Big Clock Loves You!

The Big Clock love you, and wants what is good for you.  And, the Big Clock KNOWS what is good for you.  Some pix; click for an even Big Clockier image!

At Duke, the Big Clock watched over freshmen (I left the screen up; it's too noisy.  But Big Clock doesn't care; it still loves us):

And now, at BYU, Chris K send this photo:

Wait, the Big Clock at BYU?  That's....that's Big Love!  Yay, Big Clock!

If you want to use the Big Clock for an exam, just go to this web site and then turn on the Mr. LCD.  Nobody will be raising their hand to ask "What time is it?"  (You mean, NOW?).

The web site:

Please send more pictures of the Big Clock!

"Severe Adverse Outcomes": She Beat Him Like He Stole Something

Not sure how they got this past IRB.  Clearly caused extreme physical danger for husband. An experiment.

...they found a couple who were willing to record their quality of life on a scale of 1 to 10. They told the man, who wanted to be happy more than right, about the purpose of the study and asked him to agree with every opinion and request his wife had without complaint, even when he profoundly didn’t agree. The wife was not informed of the purpose of the study and just asked to record her quality of life. 

Things went rapidly downhill for the couple. The man’s quality-of-life scores fell, from 7 to 3, over the course of the experiment. The wife’s scores rose modestly, from 8 to 8.5, before she became hostile to the idea of recording the scores. Rather than causing harmony, the husband’s agreeableness led to the wife becoming increasingly critical* of what he did and said (in the husband’s opinion).

After 12 days he broke down, made his wife a cup of tea (New Zealand is, after all, a Commonwealth country), and explained the experiment. At this point the Data Safety Monitoring Committee, as the researchers called it, stopped the study because of “severe adverse outcomes.”

*(Ed's Note:  Clearly this is right.  Often, the lady wants to know what you actually think, so she can correct you.  She doesn't know what you think, but it is clearly wrong.  Agreeing is very dangerous at this point.  Give her what she wants, before someone gets hurt!)

UPDATE:  The actual study.  

UPDATE II:  Windwheel's commentary is truly awesome.  Please do savor the comments.  Well beyond psychosis, he crosses into a realm of mystic lyricism.  As always, thanks for providing such excellent entertainment!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ant Hill Art

This is great in several ways.  If you have ever dealt with fire ants, you'll immediately recognize the joy of incinerating them.  The art is gravy.

Nod to Angry Alex

Flower Shell

From Nick Gillespie:

Shotgun shells loaded with seeds (have to be hard seeds, of course, but many are). 

A video:

A Good Guy with a Gun Stopped a Bad Guy with a Gun

So, the kid in Colorado bought a shotgun, and waited a pretty long time before going on his rampage.

None, yes, none of the proposed laws and restrictions on guns would have affected this at all.  No one has proposed that restrictions be placed on shotguns.  Obama himself was famously shown shooting one.  It was ridiculous, but that's the "safe" gun Mr. Obama wanted to be associated with.

What did work?  We all mocked the NRA's Wayne LaPierre for advocating an armed guard.  I did, too. It is not a great idea, and it's expensive.  But in this case, it worked

I still don't think that excuses the NRA's pigheadedness on perfectly plausible gun regulation.  I let my membership lapse, in fact, because the NRA is clearly trying to protect extremists and corporate stooges.  But in this case, you gotta say...LaPierre 1, Obama 0.

An Old, But Good, Joke

A man in northern Minnesota woke up one morning to find a bear on his roof.

He looked in the Yellow Pages, and sure enough, there was an ad for "Down South Bear Removers." He called the number listed and the bear remover said he'd be over within an hour.

The bear remover arrived, and got out of his van. He had a ladder, a baseball bat, a tranquilizer gun, and a mean looking, heavily scarred old pit bull.

"What are you going to do?" the homeowner asked.

"I'm going to put this ladder up against the roof, then I'm going to go up there, and knock the bear off the roof with this baseball bat. When the bear falls off the roof, the pit bull is trained to grab his testicles, and not let go. The bear will then be subdued enough for me to put him in the cage in the back of the van."

He then handed the tranquilizer rifle to the homeowner. "What's this for?" the homeowner asked.

"If the bear knocks me off the roof, you shoot the dog."

With a nod to WH.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Can this be the greatest "Headline says it all" Headline ever?

Man banned from every supermarket in Britain for masturbating in Sainsbury’s meat aisle

That is all.

You are welcome.
Hat tip to Liz Mair.

Confusion About Union Fusion

So, a vote at NYU.  Grad students fight their oppressors.

Except....grad students actually do very little of the grading.  VERY. LITTLE. of the grading, in most undergraduate classes.  It's just a myth.

Grad students are getting paid to learn.  And they are getting paid a lot.  Very few work ten hours a week on class stuff for undergrads, at least at Duke.

Don't get me wrong, I value my TAs very much.  And this semester I had four, and they graded all the papers for my classes.

But I graded the midterms and finals.  My TAs didn't.  It wouldn't be fair to ask them to do all that.  So for the last three days I have been grading 700 essay questions for exams from 300 students.  If the TAs were cut I would cut the papers, and the class would suffer.  The students get a lot from having smart TAs work with them on the papers.  But I would do all the grading of exams either way.

Faculty Prom

With thanks to MAG

Monday's Child

UPDATE:  The comments from "Windwheel" are marvelous.  NSFW.  But don't miss them.  The world needs more of that kind of craziness.  His....well, "blog" is the wrong word.  How about "His Web Site."  He is making a LOT of those delicious Troll House Cookies.   As a rule I try not to feed trolls.  But trolling is a techne, and Windwheel shows a certain excellence, I'll admit.  Well played, sir.

1.  This is a little icky.  Hard to say NSA is underfunded, if they can surveil WoW.

2.  This is pretty amusing, and shows a wonderful poetic sense of...something.

3.  My new cause:  "Free Rooster Monkburn!"  And get him his gun back, too.

4.  At first, I couldn't believe this could happen.  Then I noticed it was a United flight. I see.

5.  For Scott de Marchi.  Who shrieks at the very thought of roaches.  The new uber roach.  With love.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Cats

Sorry about the cats and dogs theme.  But it is Sunday.  And the internet was created for cat videos.

Finally, in my defense, what happens on this video just after the 3:30 is pretty much the epitome of what Chateau and I thought was hilarious when we were in grad school.  And I expect we still think that.  I know I do.  Waaaaaaaaaaaah!

You Shall Not Pass! Or, Cats are Mean Jerks