Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zero and Sixteen

Well, they did it. I'm actually kind of glad that they did it.

The Lions have finally shown themselves to be the team I always knew that they were.

I took a look at the various webernet sports-yak message boards which are genarally forums for small-minded people to spout-off hateful things in semi-anonymity that would never be acceptable in polite society (the political sphere is not part of polite society). But the triumphalism, civic chauvinism, and juvenile taunting that normally passes for discourse in these forums was (largely) replaced by something far worse: abject pity for the team, the city, and (especially) the fans. No hate, no disdain, just pity.

I don't know what else to say about them. They cannot get worse. They will refuse to improve. I interact with a lot of fans of other teams at work who remind me of all the good draft picks that we'll get next year. I'm not sure they understand the nature of futility in the same way that Lions fans do. They will squander their draft picks on more highly athletic players with attitude problems, or that play glamor positions and will not make them better (or both).

This is a team that deserves no wins.
This is a team that deserves no TV air time, being regularly blacked out.
This is a team that deserves no free agents that can sign anywhere else.
And this is a team that has embraced losing at all levels and that deserves not another line of text on this blog... despite how easy of a topic it is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fesitve!

Lolcats X-mas Carrol:


Fa La La La La La La La La.
Tis teh seezun 2 b jolly.
Fa La La La La La La La La.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weasel Meme vs The Cats

I really don't want to be a heel and poke fun at the Humane Society.

They really do a lot of good for animals. Yes, there are some euthanasia issues that I've heard that are not unreasonable things to be concerned about, but on the whole, they are not a ridicule worthy institution.

Still, in preparing for the Weasel Meme's arrival, I ran into these "helpful" hints for introducing your pets to a new baby:

http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/introducing_your_pet_and_new_baby.html

I'm sorry, but bullet point number 14 deserves... at least a little ridicule:

Talk to your pet about the baby, using the baby's name if you've selected one.


I'm a fan of reason, but come on. I love how you are encouraged to use the forthcoming little bugger's name in order to get your pet used to hearing it. But they seem to indicate that, if you have not picked a name yet, this exercise will have some kind of benefit. People already mistake their pets for people, projecting onto them human attributes and motivations, with disastrous consequences (watch any episode of the Dog Whisperer). IT'S A CAT!!! THEY DON'T SPEAK HUMAN!!!1! Not even this well!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Guest Post (Sort of)

The Sarcastic Weasel is somewhere deeper than neck deep in research commitments that are behind schedule or on their way to being behind schedule. Hence, he is avoiding unproductive and optional activities such as sleeping, eating, breathing, and blogging.

To tide you until I reengage in some of the aforementioned activities, here is a video suggestion from bunny aficionado and Official Sister of the Sarcastic Weasel, Jen.

Many lessons are apparent from this video. First, bunnies are evil, but the need some help from headless Donald Trump figures and silent headless ladies with abundant cleavage. Second, internet videos are not required to make sense. Third, bunnies are really evil. Fourth, I think that the Official Sister of the Sarcastic Weasel is paying me back for making her watch The Maxx, in all its MTV-ized, existential, affected, low-budget weirdness.

I'm sure other lessons will become apparent to you as you watch this video again and again while waiting for my triumphant return to the internets. feel free to comment on what you learned in to appropriate message boardy forum that might be attached to the end of this post.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Igor Larinov Wines

My favorite? The Triple Overtime Zinfandel. Not that I've had it... or any of them. I like the name. That's all... And the pic of the Professor relaxing and maxing behind a fancy desk.

http://bottlenotes.com/igor-larionov-wine-club
http://bottlenotes.com/wines/igor-larionov

This is even better than the Dominik Hasek Hot Sauce.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feedback

Got some grumbly feedback on the blog this weekend regarding the large number of video posts. They don't appear to be super popular, at least not in high numbers.

I do understand and do wish to cater to my beloved readers so, from me to you...





I see I'm still great at dealing with criticism!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Peter Schiff is Not Making Me Feel Happy

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan's blog, we can see what Peter Schiff is telling us now. It appears that it will soon be time to trade our dollars for gold. Gold? What is this, a Heinlein novel? The guy's been dead-on until now though.



The Sarcastic Weasel plans to weather this financial storm by converting his dollar assets into baby furniture... and clothings... and toys... and diapers (though those tend to lose their value very rapidly if used)...

Friday, November 21, 2008

$9 Wings Tix? I Don't Believe It.

Here's the story.

I still don't believe it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More WW Inspired Madness

At the risk of another I-told-you-so from Ish (regarding the high value of Will Wilkinson's blog), I'm posting this, because it really must be shared far and wide. So share it on your blog too, and give credit where credit is due.


In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Geeking

Friday, November 14, 2008

It Will be a Girl (Plus Poll Results)

Thanks to unholy technology, I am pleased to announce that we have peeked through the great veil and have seen that the Forthcoming Weasel Offspring will contain two X chromosomes.

Now, many movies, video games, and comic books may seem to imply (by exclusion) that all evil geniuses are boys. I hope that, in a surprisingly short period of time, we will be able to prove that misconception wrong. So, please do look for her threat of doomsday device detonation in the very near future.

Speaking of hijacked democracy, the manual recount of the Name the Forthcoming Weasel Offspring poll results are in and I am pleased to announce that, in the digital domain, she will henceforth be referred to as the Weasel Meme. Taking the manual recount results into account, Weasel Meme received the highest number of votes (563,553) beating the second place finisher, Harbringer of Insomnia (10 votes) soundly. Special congratulations to sprezzatura for suggesting the winning entry. Your cogent writing and keen insight, I'm sure, will be a welcome addition to this blog for years to come.


Weasel Meme waves hello!

Hindsight v. Foresight

This post is for those who have been following the financial sector's current idiocy in some amount of detail.

I saw this video originally on Andrew Sullivan's Blog:

Once in a while it's important to look back and see who's powers of prognostication seem to be genuine and who's powers are mere fantasy.



The Sarcastic Weasel has known for quite some time that real-estate was way overvalued and that speculation, ARMs, and other sub-prime nonsense was going to bite us in the ass eventually (Interest only loans? Are you f***ing sh***ing me?) I was not aware until recently of the practice of credit default swapping nor how these things were knitted together to supposedly "hedge risk" (hint: when you think you've got something for nothing, it might be time for some skepticism). So I had no idea just how badly this would turn out... but apparently Peter Schiff did, and was willing to take a great deal of abuse to tell us.

Listen, if you want to understand where the economy is going... long-term-ish... you only need to pay attention to one fundamental thing: production. Look at who is making money. Usually, it's many different sectors (not now, but it will be again). Make a mental list of which sectors seem to be the most dominant. If the top of you list is populated by people who are producers, that is they make things you can use (commodities, consumer goods, equipment, music, art, I.P., etc.), or provide services that are genuinely necessary (engineering, medicine, transportation, 1 out of every 10 lawyers), you are living in a healthy economy. If the top of your list is populated by transactional parisites (financial services, politicians, distribution specialists not engaged in transportation, the other 9 out of 10 lawyers), you are living on borrowed financial time. Expect corrections. There will be a lot of very smart people working very hard to prevent that crash, but fundamentals is fundamentals; a crash is coming. Our economy is a (mostly) peacful means to exchange and distribute resources... too many transactional players and not enough genuine resources = trouble brewing.

Good news is, Wall street is run by MBAs who, best as I can tell, can be defined by emotion, denial, wishful thinking, fear, and (most of all) herd mentality. When things are widely acknowledged to be good, they rush in to buy. When there's fear, they panic. Why is this good? Because, eventually, despite their best efforts, the market will eventually correct itself... if I had did a chunk of money to invest, I'd be looking for (long-term) bargains... not just quite yet... but soon. Short-term, there's a fair amount of pain left to endure.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Offspring Naming Poll Results... Pending Recount!

The Sarcastic Weasel, as you all well know, is COMMITTED to making elections as free and as fair as humanly possible. Therefore, with regards to the recently closed "Name the Forthcoming Sarcastic Weasel Offspring" poll, please remember that we cannot trust the apparent (and obviously skewed!) preliminary results that have been tabulated by biased, mean, and unreliable computers!

A manual recount will most certainly be required before I can certify the results.

Please be assured that my manual recounting techniques will conform to my highest standard of ethics and integrity. Voter intent will be deciphered in a non-partisan and wholly transparent manner. Votes from IP addresses that are more likely to vote for my favorite result will NOT be given ANY kind of preference (except, of course, in clarifying, after the fact, any votes that were obviously made by confused senior citizens who did not understand the complicated ballot... or voters who were clearly underrepresented due to their reliance on antiquated ISP technologies... or other votes that just don't seem right because obviously most Americans agree with me and meant to vote for my favorite... yeah, that should about cover it).

In the end, I promise you that we will have a result that everyone (who matters) can feel proud about, and does justice to American style democracy.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You Know You Want One

Replica Tribble:

Get 2... or 2^24...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will Wilkinson on Obama's Victory

Will essentially hits the nail on the head here.

http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/11/05/one-night-of-romance/

I'm really mixed about this election. My own inherent distaste for identity politics and political tribalism (his term, I tend to think of it as the less condensed idea of politics as spectator sport: emotional, zero-sum, and irrational) threatens to be overpowered by the pure unadulterated joy that this result has created in some quarters. It is genuinely moving even as I distrust the abstract rightness of being moved by such events.

It is both wondrous and terrible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Today

On this sacred day for democracy, do not forget to do your highest duty for your country... for indeed mankind and VOTE... in my Name the Forthcoming Sarcastic Weasel Offspring poll.

Clear your cookies if you want to vote again. I'll allow your vote no matter how fictional your name is.

Monday, October 27, 2008

ATHF: Dumber Dolls

I know. I know. It's dumb, it's asinine, it's unpleasant to look at. But Christ, this one kills me... every time.

Without looking it up, who's the voice of Happytime Harry?

Celebrity Collage by MyHeritage

For anyone who didn't figure out that the collage from my previous post was a fake, I thought I'd put a real one up.

It's strange, actually. The first time I tried this photo, I got a bunch of "celebrities" I'd never heard of and my highest percentage was 55%. I thought this is boring, so I made my own populated by really funny looking people. Everyone seemed really willing to accept it as real so, thanks... asses.

This time though, same photo, but some people I've heard of. Still not terribly flattering though.

MyHeritage: Celebrity Collage - Free family tree - Genealogies

James Blunt must be a pop music personality, right? That's why I've never heard of him?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Online Aps are Mean!

I wanted to do the celebrity look-alike thingy that I saw on TAZMINTA. It looked fun.

But sometimes these things can be really mean!

I'm not talking to anyone for several days!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slate = Fail

My original plan was to quietly take Slate online magazine off of my Blog list 'o links. Slate has long been a guilty favorite of mine. Many of their regular contributors (Fred Kaplan, Jacob Weisberg, John Dickerson, and Daniel Gross) share their founder's (Michael Kinsley) unfortunate penchant for partisan hackery. The usual article from any one of them for the past 8 years has had the same basic same formula: Choose any problem currently getting press, presume that the current presidential administration is evil, stupid, always wrong, and all the all-powerful cause of all that's wrong in the world, from that premise prove the current presidential administration is wrong and that they caused the problem in question through their mendacity, stupidity, and persistent wrongness.

Slate makes no pretense of ideological balance. No Fox News-like claims of fairness or balance. The editors seem to get a special kick out of crafting inflammatory and misleading headlines to get you to click on stories that are only marginally about what's promised (advertizing $$$). The Fray (their message board, like ALL internet message boards) is an utter waste of electrons (they, of course devote a regular column to tracking it). Bruce Reed seems to have some sort of horrible learning disability that makes everything he writes come out as pointless, shallow, and ugly.

Yet there are several features and writers I generally enjoy. Dahlia Lithwick, Witold Rybczynski, Chris Hitchens, Emily Yoffe, The Explainer, The Green Lantern, and Anne Applebaum come to mind. I may agree or disagree, but they are at least often worth reading. Slate also introduced me to some I follow despite their moving on: TMQ and David Edelstein for instance.

But as presidential/congressional race polling data begins to trend toward inevitability, I am beginning to sense emanations of liberal entitlement and pomposity from Slate writers (similar to Rush Limbaugh is 1994), particularly the less talented ones listed in my first paragraph. Seemingly, as a result, the dumb articles are getting dumber. To my eye anyway, as the masturbatory back patting grows more frenetic within their partisan bubble, the idea that thought, evidence, or even the occasional clever turn of phrase might be necessary (or even desirable) in political writing has been jettisoned in an avalanche of pent up hubris, nastiness, and schadenfreude.

Anyway, finally came along the article that was so stupid, shallow, wishful, and mindless, that I had to remove the tacit Sarcastic Weasel endorsement that comes from being linked on my blog:

Libertarianism is Dead, by Jacob Weisberg

Not that Slate benefits from my 3 readers.

Not that I wanted to make a big deal about it.

Not that I even planned a post.

I really don’t have time to put together my own refutation... something about 3 journal papers and one month to write them.

But the article was really ridiculous. And I don't seem to be the only one to find it to be an especially regrettable example of diminishing standards.

But, since Brink Lindsey (Cato@Liberty) took the time, I’ll point you over to his post.
If you want the quick version:
-Economic meltdown causes and effects still unknown.
-Most likely though:
-Public policy failed to stop the problem
-Private actors failed to stop the problem
-Public policy exacerbated the problem
-Private actors exacerbated the problem
-Weisberg = idiot

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nametags

It's a new semester. There are too many events requiring me to fill out the ubiquitous do-it-yourself name tag. My mind wanders...


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Way Too Much Wind Related Fun




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Economy and Reality

Below is an excerpt from the best writing I've seen yet putting the current world economic situation in perspective. I'm excerpting it rather than just providing a link because it came from the middle of a football article (you shouldn't need my help to tell you which one).

Anyone currently panicking or considering cashing in their 401K (or equivalent) should give this a read.

Excerpted from Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback (10/14/2008)
Gasoline Plentiful, Perspective Scarce:
"Financial chaos is sweeping the world," a New York Times lead story said last week. I didn't notice any chaos in my part of the world -- every business was open, ATMs were working, goods and services were plentiful. There are economic problems to be sure. But chaos? Collapse? Next Depression? Please, media and political worlds, let's stop hyperventilating and show some perspective.

What is going on is a financial panic, not an economic collapse. Financial panics are no fun, especially for anyone who needs to cash out an asset right now for retirement, college and so on. But financial panics occur cyclically and are not necessarily devastating. The most recent financial panic was 1987, when the stock market fell 23 percent in a single day. Pundits and politicians instantly began talking about another Depression, about the "end of Wall Street." The 1987 panic had zero lasting economic consequences -- no recession began, and in less than two years, stocks had recouped all losses. (See John Gordon's excellent 2004 book on the history of financial panics, "An Empire of Wealth.") Perhaps a recession will be triggered by the current financial panic, but it may not necessarily be severe.

Politicians and pundits are competing to see who can act most panicked and use the most exaggerated claims about economic crisis -- yet the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are, in fact, strong. Productivity is high; innovation is high; the workforce is robust and well-educated; unemployment is troubling at 6.1 percent, but nothing compared to the recent past, such as 11.8 percent unemployment in 1992; there are no shortages of resources, energy or goods. Here, University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan shows that return on capital is historically high; high returns on capital are associated with strong economies. Some Americans have significant problems with mortgages, and credit availability for business could become an issue if the multiple bank-stabilizing plans in progress don't work. But the likelihood is they will work. When the 1987 panic hit, people were afraid the economy would collapse; it didn't. This panic is global, enlarging the risks. But there's a good chance things will turn out fine.

Why has a credit-market problem expanded into a panic? One reason is the media and political systems are now programmed for panic mode. Everything's a crisis! Crises, after all, keep people's eyes glued to cable news shows, so the media have an interest in proclaiming crises. Crises make Washington seem more important, and can be used to justify giveaways to favored constituent groups, so Washington influence-peddlers have an interest in proclaiming crises.

An example of the exaggerated crisis claim is the assertion that Americans "lost" $2 trillion from their pension savings in the past month, while equities "lost" $8 trillion in value. "Investors Lose $8.4 Trillion of Wealth" read a Wall Street Journal headline last week. This confuses a loss with a decline. Unless you cashed out stocks or a 401(k) in the past month, you haven't "lost" anything. Nor have most investors "lost" money, let alone $8.4 trillion -- crisis-mongering is now so deeply ingrained in the media that even Wall Street Journal headline writers have forgotten basic economics. People who because of financial need have no choice but to cash out stocks right now are really harmed. Anyone who simply holds his or her ground with stocks takes no loss and is likely, although of course not certain, to come out ahead in the end. During the housing price bubble of 2003 to 2006, many Americans became much better off on paper, but never actually sold their homes, so it was all paper gains. Right now many Americans holdings stocks or retirement plans are much worse off on paper, but will be fine so long as they don't panic and sell. One of the distressing things about last week's media cries of doomsday is that they surely caused some average people to sell stocks or 401(k)'s in panic, taking losses they might have avoided by simply doing nothing. The financial shout-shows on cable tend to advise people to buy when the market is rising, sell when the market is falling -- the worst possible advice, and last week it was amplified by panic.

We've also fallen into panic because we pay way too much attention to stock prices. Ronald Reagan said, "Never confuse the stock market with the economy." Almost everyone is now making exactly that mistake. The stock market is not a barometer of the economy; it is a barometer of what people think stocks are worth. These are entirely separate things. What people think stocks are worth now depends on their guess about what stocks will be worth in the future, which is unknowable. You can only guess, and thus optimism feeds optimism while pessimism feeds pessimism.

There is no way the American economy became 8 percent less valuable between breakfast and morning coffee break Friday, then became 3 percent more valuable at lunchtime (that is, improved by 11 percent), then became 3 percent less valuable by afternoon teatime (that is, declined by 6 percent) -- to cite the actual Dow Jones Industrials swings from Friday. And the economy sure did not become 11 percent more valuable Monday. Such swings reflect panic or herd psychology, not the underlying economy, which changes over months and years, not single days. For the past few weeks pundits and Washington and London policy-makers have been staring at stock tickers as if they provided minute-by-minute readouts of economic health, which they do not. It's embarrassing to see White House and administration officials seemingly so poorly schooled in economic theory they are obsessing over stock-price movements, which they cannot control and in the short term should not even care about.

Consider this. On Black Monday in 1987, the market fell 23 percent. If you had invested $100 in a Dow Jones Index fund the following day, it would be $460 now, a 275 percent increase adjusting for inflation. That's after the big slide of the past month, and still excellent. So don't panic, just hold your stocks. And if you'd invested $100 in real estate in 1987, it would be $240 today, a 30 percent increase adjusting for inflation. That's after the housing price bubble burst. A 30 percent real gain in 20 years isn't a great investment -- until you consider that you lived in the house or condo during this time. To purchase and live in a dwelling, then come out ahead when you sell, is everyone's dream. Not only do stocks remain a good buy, America on average is still coming out ahead on the housing dream. (This example uses the Case Shiller Index for the whole country; because housing markets are local, some homeowners have lost substantial ground while others enjoyed significant appreciation.)

Economic problems are likely to be with us for awhile, but also likely to be resolved -- the 1987 panic and the 1997 Asian currency collapse both were repaired more quickly than predicted, with much less harm than forecast. Want to worry? Worry about the fact that the United States is borrowing, mainly from foreign investors and China, the money being used to fix our banks. The worse the national debt becomes -- $11 trillion now, and increasing owing to Washington giveaways -- the more the economy will soften over the long term. It's long-term borrowing, not short-term Wall Street mood swings, that ought to worry us, because the point may be reached where we can no longer solve problems by borrowing our way out. TMQ's former Brookings Institution colleague Peter Orszag, now director of the Congressional Budget Office, was on "Newshour" last week talking about the panic. Orszag is a wicked-smart economist -- for instance, he is careful to say pension holdings have declined, not been lost like most pundits are saying, as if there were no difference between decline and loss! The below exchange occurred with host Jeffrey Brown. Remember these words:

PETER ORSZAG: One thing we need to remember is we're lucky that we have the maneuvering room now to issue lots of additional Treasury securities and intervene aggressively to address this crisis.

JEFFREY BROWN: Wait a minute. Explain that. Lucky in what sense?

PETER ORSZAG: That people are still willing to lend to us. If in 20 or 30 years we continue on the same path, with rising health-care costs and rising budget deficits, we would reach a point where we wouldn't have that ability.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Uctural-say Elth-Hay onitoring-May on Ind-Way Urbines-Tay

If Google ever learns to translate Pig Latin, by efforts to avoid linking of my "professional" life and my bloggy life will disappear in a uff-pay of oke-sma.

Since I just got back from somewhere in northern Germany on a research related trip, I thought I would share some pictures.

Here's the big picture of what was going on in... uh, picture form:

(Notice the sexy beast in the lower right-hand corner.)


One nerd:



Two nerds (S.W. w/ ATZ a.k.a. TUWotSW):



Biggest Nerd Ever (actually not the Sarcastic Weasel {shock}):

(That's a Segway under his dress, in case you were wondering.)


The future (the things are going offshore):



Some guy in a very sarcastic pose:



A church bombed during some war they had over there. The roof was not replaced and the church is now a memorial. Some jackass is spoiling the shot with his compulsive need to follow lines on the ground:



Finally, a bucolic scene:



Oh noes!

(illustration source: http://www.donquijote.cc/ signed G. A. Harker: composite made in < 1 min using M. S. Visio)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Even Less Impressive In Person

Unholy f***er of mothers! The Lions were awful.

The Bears fans were nearly as numerous as Lions fans, much more vocal, and were way more likely to stay to the end of the game (4 to 1 margin, at least). Out of a masochistic sense of duty, I stayed to watch every last impotent gasp of failure and sub-mediocrity that the Lions put forth until the clock ticked to 0:00.

This is a team that isn't afraid to be a laughingstock. They are as far beyond laughingstock as a quasar is beyond an off-brand AAA battery. They have reached the point where Schadenfreude turns off, irony cannot insulate your senses, and we as a species of humans have to stop, take stock, and feel humbled, confused, and ashamed that this sad example of institutional failure and stupidity has somehow oozed its sorry way to a playing field from among our number (Similar to any enterprise headed by an MBA). They are going through the motions of playing professional football, but are already mentally, morally, and emotionally checked out.

Beating this team in football is like beating up a mentally handicapped, blind, quadriplegic,... pacifist... with very advanced osteoporosis. I'm not sure how an opposing team can derive any sort of enjoyment from the process. If I were a Bears player after the game yesterday, instead feeling triumphant, I would feel dirty. Dirty, ashamed, and a little sick to my stomach that my job forced me to come into such close, nearly intimate, personal contact with this sad bunch of contemptible cowards who dare to claim the moniker of "professional" athlete. I might consider demanding a written apology from the team for the very direct insult that the Lions' level of play represents to them and to the rest of the league (and to the idea of professional, spectator sports in general).

My favorite moment of the game was, after managing to grab a turnover down near the goal-line, the Lions did score a touchdown making the score 31-7. The Lions players on the field celebrated like they just won the game, and they actually had the gall to have some guy come on the P.A. and sing their ridiculous "fight song" which, I kid you not, goes like this:
Lyrics to Gridiron Heroes
(The Victory Song of the Detroit Lions)

(Verse)
Hail the colors Blue and Silver let them wave.
Sing their song and cheer the Gridiron Heroes brave,
Fighting for fame, winning the game,
Dashing to victory as they go.

(Chorus)
Forward down the field,
A charging team that will not yield.
And when the Blue and Silver wave,
Stand and cheer the brave.
Rah, Rah, Rah.
Go hard, win the game.
With honor you will keep your fame.
Down the field and gain,
A Lion victory!
(Source: Lions Website)

I laughed till I hurt.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Goodbye to Matt

John U. Bacon bid farewell to Matt Millen today:

Good Riddance to Millen

He did a good job in summarizing the prevailing mood regarding Millen, the Lions, and their ownership. He did also point out something positive that I'd forgotten about Lions ownership (easy thing to do), and that was their willingness to build a new stadium and stay in town with very little in the way of public financing (bribes from the city and state). Many other NFL franchises extort stadium money or they threaten to bolt to another city... on the other hand, if the Lions ever did "threaten" to leave town, I'd chip in a few bucks to help see them on their way.

On a related note, the Official Husband of the Official Middle Sister of the Official Wife of the (officious) Sarcastic Weasel is a Bears fan and has tickets for the upcoming Bears game. The Sarcastic Weasel is invited. I'll go, but the Bears game happens to be in Detroit and I now have to decide, should I get/borrow some Bears paraphernalia to wear, or should I consider donning the internationally recognized Lions fan game-day apparel shown below:

(picture source: NY Times Website: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You May Now Vote

The Name the little weasel poll is now open.

Please bear in mind:
a.) The poll is only to choose the blog pseudonym for the forthcoming kid, not to select its actual real-life name.
b.) The Sarcastic Weasel has already narrowed the field to winnow out any suggestions that are overly biologically graphic (i.e. yucky and not fun to type).
c.) The Sarcastic Weasel reserves the right to hold a super-selective manual recount (using his own rules) of votes from areas more likely to vote for his favorite results. No court (whether Supreme or lacking tomatoes and sour cream) will be allowed to intervene.
d.) Cook County election rules apply regarding number of times you may vote. If you can game the system, vote all you want.
e.) Anyone confused by the butterfly ballot format, is way more confused than they think.
f.) Vote for more than one option if it pleases you. Voting for all of them is nice too, but somewhat defeats the purpose of voting (just like selective recounts).
g.) Any rules not spelled out in advance will be made up by me when they become necessary.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mr. Brown is Mr. Bad-For-You

(Picture source: Alibaba.com)

While in Taiwan, the Sarcastic Weasel is known to enjoy a Mr. Brown or two (or six). Mr. Brown being a locally produced, Japanese-style, cold coffee product in a can. "Enjoy" is a bit of a relative term here since Mr. Brown uses artificial dairy stuff instead of real milk for flavoring. But it has caffeine, it's dirt-cheap, it doesn't hurt my stomach, and it's available everywhere over there.

Apparently, it's not as local as I thought though. Certain Mr. Brown products are being recalled as part of the broader Chinese (People's Republic of) melamine/milk recall. So far, it is restricted to instant powder mixes, which the Sarcastic Weasel has not consumed. But am I foolish enough to believe that none of the imported fake-milk crap found its way into the canned coffee products consumed by yours truly? I can try, I suppose. It has been about a month since I drank any of the stuff, no ill effects yet. For now, I can just imagine what passing a Kidney stone might feel like.... Mmmph! Oh! OW! Sweet Jesus! UNHOLY @%$&ER OF MOTHERS!! [Uncontrollable sobbing]. OWWWwww!

Something to look forward to.

Official Info:
FDA Updates Health Information Advisory on Melamine Contamination
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting consumers that
seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products are being
recalled by the Taiwanese company, King Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd.,
due to possible contamination with melamine. King Car Food Industrial
Co. used a non-dairy creamer manufactured by Shandong Duqing Inc.,
China, which was found to be contaminated with melamine. The recalled
products are:

Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)

The FDA recommends that consumers not consume any of the above Mr.
Brown instant coffee and milk tea products. The FDA also recommends
that retailers and foodservice operators remove the products from sale
or service.
As of September 25, 2008, the FDA testing of milk based products
imported into the United States from China has not found melamine
contamination.
The FDA is working with regulatory agencies in other countries. The
New Zealand Food Safety Authority reports that its testing of White
Rabbit Creamy Candies has shown melamine contamination at high levels.
In light of the widespread contamination of milk and milk-based
products in China and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority's finding,
the FDA recommends that consumers not eat White Rabbit Creamy Candy
and that retailers and foodservice operations remove the product from
sale or service.
To date, the FDA is not aware of any illnesses in the United States
stemming from consumption of either White Rabbit Creamy Candy or the
Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products.
Individuals who have experienced any health problems after consuming
either White Rabbit Creamy Candy or any of the identified Mr. Brown
coffee and tea products are advised to contact their health care
professional.

Background

On September 12, 2008, in light of reports from China of melamine
contaminated infant formula, the FDA issued a Health Information
Advisory to assure the American public that there is no known threat
of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have
met the requirements to sell such products in the United States. That
advisory also warned members of Chinese communities in the United
States that infant formula manufactured in China, possibly available
for purchase at Asian markets, could pose a risk to infants.
The FDA had contacted the companies who manufacture infant formula for
distribution in the United States and received, from the companies,
information that they are not importing formula or sourcing milk-based
materials from China.
At the same time, the FDA—in conjunction with state and local
officials—began a nation-wide investigation to check Asian markets for
Chinese manufactured infant formula that may have been brought into
the United States. In particular, this effort focused on areas of the
country with large Chinese communities, such as Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Seattle and New York. To date, investigators have visited
more than 1,400 retail markets and have not found Chinese infant
formula present on shelves in these markets.
The FDA also advises consumers not to purchase infant formula
manufactured in China from Internet sites or from other sources.
The FDA has taken, and will continue to take, proactive measures to
help ensure the safety of the American food supply. In conjunction
with state and local officials, the FDA will continue to check Asian
markets for food items that are imported from China and that could
contain a significant amount of milk or milk proteins. In addition,
the FDA has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of
milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk,
such as candies, desserts, and beverages that could contain these
ingredients from Chinese sources. Milk-derived ingredients include
whole milk powder, non-fat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder,
and casein.
In addition to state and local governments, the FDA is working in
close cooperation with Customs and Border Protection within the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
other federal agencies, and foreign governments.

http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01891.html


Additional Information

QFCO, Inc. Recalls White Rabbit Candy Because of Possible Health Risk
(Sept. 26, 2008)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I feel so happy...

This really speaks for itself.



Awesomeness made flesh.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Traveling Again

Very few posts lately.

The Sarcastic Weasel will be traveling for research related purposes again shortly and preparations for the next trip (as well as fallout from the previous trip) consume his time.

This time, the destination is not in Asia (thank the god of jet lag), but Germany. I suppose I'm going to be spending the bulk of my time working on my research rather than getting to do distinctively German things like drinking warm beer and invading Poland.

This trip is largely devoted to burnishing the Sarcastic Weasel's environmental research street cred. The most important part of being "green" is, apparently, flying on a jet very long distances (seems to work for Al Gore).

In the meantime, please amuse yourself by providing additional pseudonyms for the forthcoming Sarcastic Weasel sequel. There are certainly some quality submissions, but a few more suggestions would really help round out a nice looking poll.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Public School Spending

A recent action/stunt (depending on your p.o.v.) in the form of a student "strike" took place in the greater Chicago area, attempting to highlight the vast disparity between spending levels, per pupil, in rich versus poor districts. A number of students from a poor urban school were bussed to a wealthy suburban district where they attempted to enroll so that they too might be able to take advantage of that school's "four orchestras, a rowing club, a course in "kinetic wellness," and AP classes in French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Latin, and Chinese" (quote and links from Slatle).

A summary article from the Chicago Tribune can be found here.

While it is amazing that the equal protection clause of the constitution does not seem to apply when it comes to funding our public schools, one other fact leaped out at me too as I read the story (from Chicago Tribune article linked above):

At issue is how much money schools spend per student. In a funding system fueled largely by local property taxes, New Trier Township spent nearly $17,000 per student in 2005-06 and Sunset Ridge spent about $16,000, while Chicago Public Schools spent an estimated $10,400 per pupil.

The vast discrepancy comes from the coupled facts that, in the U.S., local public schools are funded largely through local property taxes and that we tend to live segregated by class (as well as race, ideology, and accent... wait, might be mixing some cause and effect here... oh well). That's not the fact that caught my eye, it was the $10,400 per pupil that the under served students were "striking" about that caught my eye.

In Michigan, local property taxes have been de-emphasized in school funding in order reduce this disparity, and the bulk of school funding comes from the state now and has been for over a decade now. But in order to get parents living more prosperous areas to sign on to the change, the state had to promise to keep some of the disparity intact and fund traditionally richer districts at higher levels than traditionally poorer districts.

Just for fun, I checked the 2008-2009 funding level of the rural school that the Sarcastic Weasel attended: $7316 per pupil.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bad NFL Reporting

Another story about how a team with a lot of question marks hanging over it at the beginning of the season has dispelled a lot of doubts by embarrassing an opponent in the season opener:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=280907001&campaign=rss&source=NFLHeadlines

The problem is, of course, the opponent was the hapless Official NFL Team of the Sarcastic Weasel, more commonly known as the Detroit Lions. No achievement, no matter how seemingly impressive or record breaking, counts when it is achieved at the expense of the Detroit Lions. They are, simply put, the worst, most pathetic excuse for a professional sports franchise in modern sporting history (I'm hedging with "modern history" since there may have been some kind of Roman Gladiatorial team that got massacred on a regular basis more frequently than the Lions... but I suspect that the only contestants in Rome's Coliseum to fare as poorly as Detroit's NFL franchise were actual lions).

The Sarcastic Weasel, knowing in advance what the outcome would be, owing to an advanced technique known to its practitioners as "guessing", did not watch the game, nor will he be watching any Lion's games this year (employed the same technique to correctly predict that the sun would appear to rise in the East this morning too). He has stated for years that the fools that buy tickets to Lions' games are simply rewarding the NFL for allowing such a poor and predictable entertainment product to waddle desultorily onto the field every year. It's very difficult to reward/punish any individual team in the NFL by your economic behavior due to the League's revenue sharing practices, so the NFL as a whole are the only ones who might be brought to bear through any kind if Lions boycott. As a non-ticket/merchandise buyer, the best I can contribute to such a cause would be to avoid watching the games on TV. Truly, in such a manner, I am confident that I will become an instrument of positive change (HA!).

There is something to be said for being a loyal fan, sticking up for you team in fair or foul weather. But there's something about this level of professional incompetence, continuing unabated for so long that, to me, is unacceptable and, dare I say it, un-American (now is not the time to bring up Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide... the American banking sector in general... hedge funds, people with MBAs being put in charge of anything... I'm on a roll talking about football and bringing real reality into the conversation will just ruin it... damn).

So this year, as usual, I will be looking for a secondary team to follow. Due to geography and, my own stupidity, I will probably always be a Lions fan... so much as it is possible to be a fan of such a sad assortment of pathetic, undisciplined failures. But, to keep some level of interest in the NFL season, I have to choose a secondary team to root for, one whose fate does not seem so indelibly preordained. I know a lot of Lions fans that do the same thing, though they often have permanent secondary teams whereas I choose a new one each year. This year though, I just can't seem to choose one. I'm dangerously close to a confluence of emotional and intellectual realizations. Intellectually I've known, seemingly forever, that professional football is nothing more than an entertainment product produced by different branches of the same corporate entity that employ grown men to put on silly costumes and roll around on each other (a statement that, with minor modifications, can be applied to any spectator sport). But, emotionally, I've been willing to set that aside and believe in various fantasies relating to civic pride and redefining the bounds of human accomplishment. As Ish has said in the past, there is considerable enjoyment, even spiritual humanist enrichment to be garnered from "watching people who are the best at what they do accomplish amazing things" (well, I gussied it up a little, but it's essentially what he meant... I think... he'll correct me if I'm wrong). It's becoming difficult to continue to indulge in that emotional fantasy where the NFL is concerned though, when you own team, year after year, demonstrates that uncompromising ineptitude and incompetence are also perfectly acceptable in their realm as well.


Other Lions fans, how are you holding up?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Help Name the Official Kid of the Sarcastic Weasel

...not in reality, but for the blog.

As "Official Kid of the Sarcastic Weasel" is a pain to type a lot, I need something shorter to refer to him/her/it in posts and comments in the future. And with good fortune, there will be many future opportunities to post comments, as child fabrication progresses.

Submit your ideas in the comments section of this post. Submit as many time as you wish. The Sarcastic Weasel reserves the right to counter-suggest potential names for people posting particularly unflattering suggestions.

The suggestions that I like will be rounded up into a poll for voting so that, at a leter date, I can ignore the votes and pick the one I like best (it's kind of like democracy!).

Ready... and... GO!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Latest Version of iTunes

I made the mistake of falling for the iTunes "upgrade" dialog box when it popped up yesterday. Not only did the sucker monopolize my system resources for 5 minutes then demand a reboot, it came with some little unnanounced piece of crap software called Bonjour.


There are three things that Apple needs to pay attention to here:
  • iTunes is generally awful as a music player. The options it has and the options that I want are nearly completely disjoint sets. Anything that they do that makes keeping it seem more awful than replacing it should, really, be avoided.
  • Slipping in little trojan programs that are difficult to remove, like to eat up processor time, and make unsupervised connections to remote IP hosts, makes Apple seem less like a mainstream software company and more like a warez site. Don't give me crap that even looks like a virus.
  • Anything with a french name = evil... and not the good evil... the evil evil.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Collapse of Western Society

It looks like it was a tie between sweetened iced tea and counter-terrorism for the eventual cause of the downfall of our way of life. Thank you to everyone who voted. Extra thank yous to everyone who voted multiple times.

Since it was a tie, I will exercise my prerogative as blog owner to break the tie.

Therefore it is my pleasure to announce to you that I have decided to destroy western society under an endless deluge of sweetened iced tea. This seems fitting as I'm still in Taiwan where sweetened iced tea is the almost the only thing you can find. So you now have something to look forward to, though I'll leave it as a surprise as to exactly when.



Look forward to the next poll... which I'll dream up when I'm not so friggin' tired.

Picture source : (Lost source. Please help me cite it if you happen to know.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blogging from KIX Because I Can

Sitting around in Osaka's airport waiting for my "connection". I put that in quotations because I'm really just waiting to be let back on the same plane that took me here from Detroit. But they were kind enough to make everyone who is traveling the entire way (Detroit->Osaka->Taipei) get off, clear security and sit and wait. There's also the looming threat of bumpage with the 747 being overbooked by 18 people. I'm looking at an ultra-cute little-league baseball team that seems to be composed of about 18 people. I bet they'd love another night in Japan.

Actually, given the number of times I've been in a Japanese airport and never actually set foot on Japanese soil, and given how badly the otaku in me wants to see Japan, and given the fact that due to unexpected inspections and whatnot I can't start my research until Wednesday... it's tempting to take the free hotel room... but I cannot contact my hosts in Taipei and I absolutely will not leave them in any kind of lurch. Japan will have to wait for another day.

Kensai International Airport doesn't have a lot in the way of crap to entertain travelers (e.g. shops, restaurants, etc.) but it does have the single most important thing that an airport really needs: free Wi-Fi. God bless Osaka. Half way through typing the last sentence I was asked to fill out a survey, apparently for the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau. I made sure to point out my particular love of free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi!

Christ, I'm tired.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

6 Days to Vote!

There's less than a week left to vote on the highly exciting and divisive Weasel poll that will determine the mechanism by which Western Society will collapse.

Make your voice heard!

(Hint: all votes for "Other" will be ignored... jerks.)
(Second Hint: if you clear your browser's cookies you can vote multiple times; it's almost as good as living in Cook County!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Longstanding Flaws

Due to a chain of not-so-unlikely research related events, I have been forced to do something that I really thought I'd never do. I have installed Skype in my laptop.

I'm really not a fan of telephones. Nor do I like instant messaging. If I'm going to communicate with a person, I like to do it in person or, if not in person, with time for editing. Skype is really a horrible mishmash of the phone and IM that fills my heart with dread.

Because I never imagined a circumstance that would cause me to want to digitize my vocal output and use it in any fashion on my computer, I had to purchase a headset with a microphone at the same time.

I plugged in my new (and cheap) headset into the analog jacks of my laptop's sound card and discovered, the microphone didn't work. I figured, "Weasel, you've done it again. The crap at Best Buy that's on sale isn't reduced because it works well." (I have a tenancy to fall prey to Best Buy and their discounted items that are not compatible with anything). After some checking though, I found that the headset worked fine; my microphone jack did not work. Some cleaning of the little guy, ignored for three years as the laptop traveled around the world through some of the dirtiest labs in existence, yielded no results. Finally, a Google search turned up that no one with a Dell Inspiron 700m has a working microphone jack. The sound card was designed improperly (no filter between the digital elements and the microphone jack resulting in massive noise or no signal at all).

My computer has been defective for three years and I never even noticed!

Well, I bought a more expensive (and actually, less nice) USB headset which works fine, and gave the analog headset to the Official Wife so that we can talk when I'm on another continent, something that will happen twice in the next month or so. Also, anyone who knows my full name and town can look me up. I can't promise to be online without prior email warning though... but it is free (free = $50 for the two headsets).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Public Service Announcement

The latest season of Tuesday Morning Quarterback has commenced. Now that he finally has an RSS feed though, you probably don't need me to tell you this.

The first posting might set a new mark for having the highest length to actual football commentary of any TMQ, that's even counting past pre-season entries. But, of course that's what TMQ readers tune in for.

As much as I dislike ESPN, I do have to admit that a new pleasure of reading TMQ is to marvel at the vast array of user comments describing in detail how they read the article every week and how horrible it is. Sports fans on the internet are generally idiotic... Wait... I'm on the internet now...

Death to Tuesday Afternoon Productivity!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Extreme Date Movie

The Times Online has a list of 20 best Date Movies. I was curious to see if their definition of the perfect date movie matched mine. In my definition, the movie is long, dark, quite, and unobtrusive such that no one on the date feels tempted to actually watch it.

Their definitions were all over the place, but I was mostly shocked by Number 18, "Shortbus".

The Parents Guide entry for "Sex/Nudity" from IMDB's Shortbus summary: is a rather terse 652 words which I will not reproduce here for fear of the kind of Google hits it might create.

Suffice it to say, the film is sexual, graphic, and unsimulated. Oh, and it's a musical!

Best save this one for really special occasions!

Monday, August 11, 2008

5.43e7 Bloggers Are Probably Making the Same Joke

But it's the best when I tell it.



Somewhere in Harlem, Bill Clinton is really missing being president right now.

Picture source: (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Too Late...

I was flipping through the xkcd store and stopped cold when I saw this shirt:

I don't really have a lot of use for it these days. I can actually introduce myself to people at conferences and hold a conversation without breaking out in hives. Heck, the other day I talked to a total stranger on campus as though he weren't some sort of status seeking troll about to grab my arm and twist it in ways counter-indicated by its manual and shove my head in the space behind the pop machine in order to impress some girl with a single-digit IQ... stupid high school memories...

Man, perhaps the Official Sister of the Sarcastic Weasel has a point that I may need to take up judo or something. There is an old Klingon proverb though...

My point is, this would have been a really great uniform for a certain very cold engineering university I may have attended in the late 90's. Now, I'd never wear it.

Friday, August 8, 2008

4.3 mm Long Dinosaur

Had first post-transfer ultrasound this morning. Since we're dealing with IVF we have some very early ultrasound pictures. At this phase, there is just one baby, slightly smaller than a lemon seed and resembles a dinosaur more than a person.

Here's some pictures:



As you might guess, the Official Wife of the Sarcastic Weasel had to come prepared, having already swallowed the letters B-A-B-Y such that, once under the ultrasound device, some clever positioning was all that was required to have them appear in the correct position on the picture.

On the last picture, there is a graphical representation of the mechanical vibrations picked up from the probe corresponding to the movements of the primary pump organ in the primitive circulatory system that is developing... some people might refer to this a the baby's heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Truly Extraordinary Nut Snack

They recently changed the ad. Watch the original version while you still can.



I laugh every time. The cynic in me is convinced that the fact that the original sounds obscene was not an accident.

Ego Odium Latin Lingua

I'm sure the title's wrong.

It rarely fails, given that I read more than I talk, that I can manage to make an ass of myself stumbling over the pronunciation of a word that I am quite familiar with, but don't particularly know how to pronounce.

Latin words are the worst for me.

Today's offender was a posteriori.

It sucks because in System Identification literature, a priori and a posteriori are not just Latin rhetorical flourishes, but technical terms.

Tell me I'm not alone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Strange Autos

Since Moving to the People's Republic of Rich Yuppies, I have seen things that are markedly different from my formative rural experience. The most striking is the number of exotic autos that regularly pass me on the freeways. I've had several first-time-ever (and sometimes second) on-road sightings of various high-end driving machines such as Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini. Needless to say, more moderate, less flamboyantly wasteful people conserve their money for worthwhile endeavors like charity and environmental sustainability, selflessly limiting themselves to more practical and humble cars... like Porsche, Lexus, or BMW.

But today I saw something on the freeway that I just wasn't prepared for...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Weaselly Announcement

As some may have guessed from recent cryptic postings, The Sarcastic Weasel and Official Wife have been busy dutifully defying both God and Nature.

Due to my unfortunate encounter with The Cancer and the side effects of the copious amount of poison that I consumed to rid myself of it, I am no longer able manufacture new gametes for... gamete-specific activities. Fortunately, thanks to medical foresight, liquid nitrogen, and a kind of odd guy named Paul, I have a limited supply of chilly gametes that are older than the average house cat.

So there are cheap and enjoyable methods to introduce gamete to gamete. But when those don't work, there are technology assisted methods that are opposed by several major religions. These methods are incredibly expensive, unpleasant to experience, and have questionable success rates.

But, as of yesterday, the Sarcastic Weasel and Official Wife have confirmed that we have beaten the odds and started one to two miniature weasels (or weaselettes) that are about two weeks along into their development.

There's still plenty of uncertainty until the standard first trimester benchmark, but after considerable expense, artificial hormones, and lots and lots of injections, we have a real result; one or both of the embryos pictured in the Debugging Entry post have implanted.

As for that post, I wasn't especially ready to announce to the five or so people that read this blog that such endeavors were underway (at least until some results were known), but the picture was too cool not to post, so I made the description as unhelpful as possible. A prize will be awarded to the first person who can respond in the comments section where exactly I got the post title, "Debugging Entry" from.

Now I have to start planning to arrange the best possible education for a mad scientist and the future enslaver of mankind. Mwa!, Ha, HA HA, HA!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Article That Made My Day

Read this article about criminals screwing up their own sentencing with by putting their real selves on Facebook. It warmed my heart.

It just goes to show, no one should use Facebook... or Myspace... or have a blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Old Video Finds a Stable Home

I've been meaning to blog this for... well, forever, but due to copyright issues, etc., an embeddable home hasn't existed.

Until now.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Please, By All Means, Waste Your Life Away

The Face Transformer.

See what you look like as a baby, an old person:

a person of a different ethnicity, an El Grecko painting:

or even a manga character.


Warning: use only if you have at least 15 minutes you don't particularly ever need back.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Debugging Entry

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NHL Free Agency Begins

And it's flipping insane!

Some Highlights so far:

Red Wings:
Resigned (D) Lilja (2 years)
Resigned (D) Stuart (4 years)
Signed (G) Ty Conklin (1 year) Formerly backup goalie for Pittsburgh
Signed (F) Marion Hossa!!! (1 year) WTF! Word was he would only accept a multi-year contract for something near the league maximum. Now he took something less than the Pens were offering for just one year (so that Holland has the $$ to resign Zetterberg and Franzen next year).

Chicago:
Campbell went to Chicago as well as Huet. Look for them to be much better next year. If the people they have now gel, they're easily a playoff team.

Colorado:
Your long national nightmare is now over. Theodore has signed with the C(r)apitals. But you lost Andrew Brunette to the Wild, though. Looks like they've signed Raycroft to to be Budaj's backup. Hmm.

Penguins:
Lost Malone, Roberts, and Hossa. Retained Malkin. With some secondary scoring, they could still be good next year, but could also drop precipitously.

Edmonton:
Traded to get Eric Cole. Cole has been a favorite of the Sarcastic Weasel since the Red Wings/Hurricanes finals a few years ago. He's had some injury problems, but should be a real good pickup for them.

New York Rangers:
Lost their minds.

Toronto:
Lost their minds (part 1).
Lost their minds (part 2).


Dallas:
Co-GM Brett Hull brought an old friend/roomie/loud-mouth home by signing Sean Avery. Many people hate Avery. True, he lacks class and Klingon-style honor, but he's damn effective.


It's not over yet...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New Least Favorite Matlab Function

datetick.m must die!

(in the timefun toolbox)

Whoever decided that the 'keeplimits'/'keepticks' options were the best way to handle user options... GRR!

Wait, I can check...
C.F. Garvin & Clay M. Thompson

You are on my list!

(Yes, I know, I could have rewritten it to suit my own preferences in the time it took to blog a complaint... but then what would I blog about today? You have to think about these things, man!)

Old least-favorite function: newp.m (Neural Network toolbox).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Recipe: Really Great Crappy Scallops

The first in my new recipe series: Really Great Crappy Scallops.

In the Midwest, getting your hands on good scallops is not terribly easy. Particularly, they tend to be wet-pack scallops that have had phosphates added to help them retain water during freezing and shipping increasing their visual appeal and weight. Unfortunately, when you try to cook wet packed scallops, the excess water drains out into your pan causing two problems:

a.) The presence of water in the pan makes searing impossible. No crusty goodness for you.
b.) The water takes a fair amount of flavor with it when it jumps ship in the pan.

Also, it means you paid somewhere between $5-$15 dollars (depending on size) a pound for the added water.

What can you do? You can buy dry-pack scallops (for a lot more around here). You can go to your favorite upper-end restaurant who likely has a better supplier than your local grocery store. Or you can do what I do; accept that these scallops are just not going to cook "right" and do something else with them. Pan-searing will not end well with these. Below is my recipe for making something pretty damn tasty using "inferior" scallops.


Really Great Crappy Scallops
Ingredients:
1 lb wet-pack, bay (argopecten irradians) scallops (thawed and drained)
1 strip of bacon
1/2 cup dry white wine
juice of one lemon
3 T salted butter
salt
freshly ground pepper

Tasks:
In sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy and set aside.

Turn heat to high end of medium and keep the fat in the pan and add the butter. When it's melted, mix with bacon fat and wait for the butter solids to begin to brown (if it turns dark brown, you've already ruined it. Start over... sorry).

Add scallops, salt, and pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. If your scallops are anything like the ones I seem to get, quite a bit of scary looking pale whitish fluid will seep out of the scallops.

Add wine and lemon juice. Cook until the scallops are cooked through (2-3 more minutes).

Remove the scallops to a bowl and set aside. Let the liquid in the pan reduce to a syrupy consistence (it will brown up too). You've just made a really odd (and tasty) sauce.

While you wait, chop up the bacon strip into small pieces. Once your sauce is set, add the scallops and bacon and leave on burner long enough to reheat the scallops.

Serve with pasta.


Optional:
Add one or two additional items that are tasty with seafood: e.g. herbs, roasted red bell-peppers, capers, cream, morels, walnuts, etc. Don't go crazy.

Nerdcore Rising

Well, here's a topic that definitely needed an indy documentary.

Tailer:


Another crappy video:

(Disclosure: The Sarcastic Weasel's MP3 sports the Front-filled dub... but you knew that.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

XKCD

Thanks to Aaron for inadvertently pointing out to me what a tremendous dork I've become... wait, how much more of a tremendous dork I've become since starting grad school. He attached a link to xkcd.com which, four years ago I would have found pretentious and nerdy. Today, I find entirely too much of it to be f**king hilarious.

Enjoy a collection of some of my favorites... Except Aaron... You made me laugh... Up yours, jerk!

Accident:

A-Minus-Minus:

Compiler Complaint:

Diet Coke Mentos:

Fourier

GOTO:

Matrix Transform:

Pointers:

Poisson:

(Two really nerdy jokes in one... so sad.)

Random Number:

Stove Ownership:

Wikipedian Protester:

Zealous Autoconfig:

Updates Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Best Energy Harvesting Idea.. Ever

Since my normal research involves the judicious use of wireless sensors for monitoring of infrastructure assets, I do usually pay attention to the developments in the field of energy-scavenging. While not precisely my area of interest/expertise, a breakthrough in that field could lead to very positive results in my field.

Lots of interesting work in scavenging is being done for energy-scavenging in rotating machinery, athletic equipment (bikes and backpacks), and (of course) military applications. The enabling technologies can be anything from wire-coil generators, to piezoelectrics, to nanotechnology (danger, academic buzz word, could mean nearly anything). In these applications, there exists quite a bit of kinetic energy that could be leveraged into electrical energy. The mechanism is highly dependent on the magnitude of the kinetic motion as well as its frequency content. The Sarcastic Weasel happens to know some of the people working on these topics. Neat stuff.

Now, in Slate Magazine of all places, comes the breast possible energy scavenging application that I have ever seen. Screw powering wireless diagnostic sensors from the energy provided by rotating machinery, I want to be able to power an iPod using a smart-bra. I think my shopping for this year's Christmas gift for the Official Wife of the Sarcastic Weasel just got a lot easier!