Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy 80th to Mr. Hockey

Gordie Howe turns 80 today. He could still beat the crap out of the S.W.

Happy Birthday Gordie!

Brokeback Lenny Pictures (Because I Can)

I know that Princess Blogonoke was kind enough to post these for me on her blog, but I'm jealous and want Brokeback Lenny pictures on my blog as well. I ask you, is that so wrong?

Oh, pictures of Lenny the Cowboy, I wish I could quit you!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Brad Neely Videos

These are not tasteful.
These are not sophisticated (well, maybe a little).
These should not be played for children nor coworkers.

But they must be played.
More Brad Neely is at


Late Date

Bible History #1 (Surprisingly accurate)

Journal Paper

After nearly 4 years and almost two completed Master's degrees, I have just submitted my first journal paper with myself as the first author. Provided that it is accepted (it better be, it's awesome) it's a very significant step toward graduation and a tenure-track position. Yay me... and that guy who advises me (I'll have to come up with some kind of pseudonym for him).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stress Management

The Sarcastic Weasel does not claim to have an unduly stressful life. Potable water comes straight to my home with the turn of a valve; hot water is available too. The lights come on 99% of the time when I flip the switch. I misses an occasional meal, but only because I'm busy enough that I forget to eat; food is always available. When the bills come in, they get paid (by my wife). I has never been shot at, kidnapped, nor mugged. But since stress is relative, I do experience various forms of pressure that add to my life higher levels of stress than those to which I am normally accustomed.

Today, for such eventualities, I rely on my Stress Management playlist. It is not a collection of the greatest songs, nor necessarily my favorite songs, but songs that are selected to snap me out of any foul, ill-tempered, or nervous mood I find myself in. The order in which they are arranged is important as well. Mixing tone and genre in bizarre and often jarring ways is as effective a manner that I know to alter my mood (without alcohol). So enjoy the list. Feel free to let me know what you listen to when your regular ambient stress levels are greatly exceeded... or mock my taste in music.

(Click to enlarge.)

S.W. Now With Commercialism

I've added the Google Ads thingy to the blog. I certainly don't have enough traffic to have any kind of delusion that I will make enough money so to retire from this life of tax-payer funded largesses. If it fails to amuse me, I'll cut it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More Signs from Above

There are days that I get the distinct impression that my data is trying to tell me something. This is a histogram of analog-to-digital output by bin. It should only have three bins with non-zero values provided that my circuit is not too noisy.

Instead, there seems to be another message from God.

Maybe I'm paranoid though.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wiki-Humor: Better Than You'd Think

From the Wikipedia entry on Meta-jokes:

"Three people of different nationalities walk into the bar. Two of them say something smart, and the third one makes a mockery of his fellow countrymen by acting dumb."

"Three blokes walk into a pub. One of them is a little bit stupid, and the whole scene unfolds with a tedious inevitability."
—Bill Bailey

"How many members of a certain demographic group does it take to perform a specified task?"
"A finite number: one to perform the task and the remainder to act in a manner stereotypical of the group in question."

Anyone who can post a meta-joke that is better than the third entry (better = liked more by S.W.) wins a prize.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Confession and a Review

All right, so people who know my occupation know that my time for reading the things that are fun has been curtailed, impoverished, reduced to almost nothing. I’m not complaining (much), my choice. But it has been dispiriting. My Hugo winners project is on hold, I have a stack of neglected Analog magazines going back more than a year… I’m telling you this because I have a horrible and shameful thing to confess… how do I say it? I guess… just admit it: My name is the Really Sarcastic Weasel, and I have started reading manga.

I’ve been OK supporting an anime habit, some Outlaw Star here, some Bebop and Champloo there, a crap-load of Kenshin and Studio Ghibli… I can still hold my head high. But the glittering racks of manga at the Borders were anathematic to me: too Otaku. The Taipei MRT really turned that around for me. Specifically, seeing firsthand the truth of the Otaku claim that perfectly respectable adults do read the stuff (in public, no less) as a way to unwind. So, without the time or energy for Old Man’s War, Paladin of Souls, or the Pevear and Volokhonsky Tratranslation of War and Peace, I resort to short, unchallenging, manga. Not just manga, but harem, shōnen manga. Well, enough groveling and excuses. The review:

Love Hina (Ken Akamatsu)
Love Hina is, on its surface, is the story of Keitaro Urashima, an undistinguished 2nd year rōnin attempting to get into the prestigious Tokyo University (think someone with borderline community college grades repeatedly applying to Harvard). Keitaro is not smart, not handsome nor charming, nor strong, has never had a girlfriend, never been popular, is terribly clumsy, careless, and is plagued by supernatural bad luck. The only time a girl was ever interested in him during his life was when he was 4 and he and another young girl promised each that they would someday go to Tokyo University together. After being thrown out his parents’ house, he goes to see his grandmother who owns a traditional hot springs inn. Completely oblivious to the fact that the inn has been converted to a women’s dormitory, he makes himself at home once he fails to find his grandmother there. This start leads the residents of the dorm to believe that he is a pervert, an idiot, and a liar. Too bad for them, his grandmother makes him the new manager while she’s off to travel the world.

Now I described the series as part of the harem sub-genre, in which some unlikely young male becomes the object of affection of many girls who surround him, and it is exactly that. Unlike many of the works in this genre, it starts with the protagonist being universally despised at first and is relatively believable as the characters grow and their relationships change. Throughout the series Keitaro suffers such physical abuse at the hands of the girls that, in a completely meta-moment, they begin to speculate on whether he is an immortal. The series also suffers from a nearly overwhelming amount of fan-service as Keitaro continually barges in on dressing, undressing, bathing, and otherwise semi-clothed girls precipitating the aforementioned violence (leading the series to be, by my estimation, rather burlesque but without ever crossing the line into hentai). The series also suffers from some fetishism indulgences: warrior women, oniisan (not blood relation), kitsuni-musume, nekomimi, cosplay, etc. Furthermore, the pure magnitude of dues ex machina used to keep certain plot line unresolved would make a soap opera “writer” blush.

All that said, the damn thing is entertaining and has real heart. Not only that, but it threw me a major curve. Sometime in Volume 12 or so I began to get annoyed because Keitaro’s story, from a personal growth point of view, was essentially complete and the story was growing ever more bizarre. But there was no resolution to the central conflict of the story despite the fact that the protagonist had clearly earned it. It wasn’t until nearly the end (I’m a little slow sometimes) that I realized that, while Keitaro may be the protagonist, the main character, whose growth is even more important for a successful resolution, is probably Naru Narusegawa, Keitaro's primary love interest. The final two chapters, if you’re an emotional old softie such as the Sarcastic Weasel, are very gratifying.

I bought the first two volumes thinking I’d read them slowly over time. I found myself addicted and read the bulk of the rest of the series on Manga Hut, as they have very high quality scans, but had to supplement from other sites as some pages are missing. I am now going back and showing my support for the author and artist (and U. S. distributors) by purchasing the remaining volumes and reading the official translation. There also exists an anime version, but my understanding is that there is quite a difference in tone and plot.

Anyway, if you can swallow you pride (and some juvenile silliness), I’d recommend it despite the fact that the covers look like they are designed to appeal to sexually confused teenage girls. I found myself much more emotionally involved than I ever expected to be and it was a nice lift in a winter that refuses to end.

Actual S.W. Meeting Notes

All emails to Jesus must CC Adviser and Tom Brady.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Detroit is... well, Detroit

It' always nice to see Detroit getting a little well-deserved attention from the national news media.

The person I think who should be most embarrassed about this whole mess is Freman Hendrix. Is there anyone more hapless?

S.W. Endorses Lifetime NHL Ban for Chris Pronger

Before the playoffs start, I'll have to do a post about the two issues that are really killing the NHL, but for now, let me just allude to one of them in a picture.

(Picture source: CBC The Instigator, Full Archive)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Eostre

Have a fun and festive day whether you celebrate a pagan rite of spring and fertility with eggs and hares, or the resurrection of a certain sweet-talking carpenter from Galilee. Have yourself a wonderful day (if you happen to be in Michigan, or nearby, looking out at the big piles of Easter snow, at least pretend to be having a wonderful day).

(Picture Source: I Can Has Cheezburger?).

Saturday, March 22, 2008

BNL for people who hate BNL

There are some people, who for ideological reasons, cannot acknowledge the greatness of the Bare Naked Ladies. Something about being capable of writing really good music, but then belittling their own work with gimmicky lyrics and riffs.

My own rather blase attitude about music, prevents me from being annoyed by such gimmickery, in fact it entertains me immensely. But, it bugs me, people who don't like one of the few bands capable of penetrating my own personal musical sphere of ignorance so, in honor of musical integrity, I have decided to compile a short list of truely great BNL songs without gimmicks, inappropriate irrelevance, or underwear references.

No need to thank me.

Brian Wilson (Gordon)
When I Fall (Born on a Pirate Ship)
Call and Answer (Stunt)
Old Apartment (Born on a Pirate Ship)
What a Good Boy (Gordon)
Conventioneers (Maroon)
Alcohol (Stunt)
When You Dream (Stunt)
Break Your Heart (Born on a Pirate Ship)
Straw Hat And Old Dirty Hank (Born on a Pirate Ship)

Think I missed something? Use the comments.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Divine Research Inspiration

We were doing modal testing on a cable-stay bridge in central Taiwan in the middle of the night. The bridge was covered in lights: lights for the street, lights for the cables, but none of them were on.

I was tasked with documenting the work, which was actually impossible given the soul-crushing darkness, but even in such darkness lies the possibility of grace. God his-own-self had an addition to make in the lab notebook.

What did he write, you ask?
"Remember my beloved children: always use an anti-aliasing filter."

The Truth Revealed

This totally happens:

Memorium: Arthur C. Clarke

Two days ago Arthur C. Clarke took the last space elevator out of Sri-Lanka, and we lost the last of the true masters of the first golden age of sci-fi. Not as thinky as Asimov, and not as emotional as Heinlein, Clarke's was never as well defined in my mind. He always seemed to have a belief in a higher power. It was never, or rarely, deity, but it was a repeated theme in his work: the builders of Rama, the monoliths of the Space Odysseys, the aliens in Childhood's End and in the coda of The Fountains of Paradise. Despite the amount of his work I've consumed, he will always remain a bit of an enigma to me. I enjoy his work, The Fountains of Paradise is thoroughly engrossing and I'd designate it as one of the greatest sci-fi works of all time, but I never reacted to them as strongly as some of my absolute emotional favorites. That said, I'm very sorry to lose him. I felt that, as long as he was still around, we still had a link to that generation of writers.

When thinking of a quote of his to remember him, I immediately thought of Against the Fall of Night, a dark and haunting work about a human race emerging from millennia of obsolescence as the stars of our galaxy were headed toward their final days. The final line of that book are:

"In the universe the night was falling: the shadows were lengthening toward an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered: and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Morning in America

It's morning in America.

Time to save the world... with a blog!