Friday, November 6, 2009

I Love Fail Blog

For anyone who has not clicked on the Fail Blog link on my page, you probably should. It is part of the ever growing I-can-has-cheezeburger online empire, has about 3-4 new posts per day so you can keep up with it for a minimal time investment, and produces great perspective building videos like the one below.

Sometimes I have bad days at work. These days are defined by constant interruptions, unplanned meetings, or exploration of researchy things that don't work. These days I get no actual work done (actual work = concrete progress toward something publishable). Then I see a really bad day at work like this one and feel better:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's About Time Someone Said Something

New episode of South Park redefines the f-word... again (no, not that f-word, the other f-word). It's something I've been thinking for years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

b-r-1-d-g-3 w-h-1-s-p-3-r-3-r update

The Pop. Sci. article is now online:

See it here.

My advisor is number 10. The picture is... stunning is the word I'm going to use. Stunning.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

They're All Going to Laugh at You

According to a recent press release from my university, Popular Science has named my advisor as one of a group of ten scientists they feature as "brilliant" and who are producing relevant and important work.

While this is pretty cool and all, it also appears that they have dubbed him "t-h-3 b-r-1-d-g-3 w-h-1-s-p-3-r-3-r" (dashes inserted to protect against teh Google), which means I may never be able to look at him again with a straight face.

I can see him now at the abutment of the Tacoma Narrows bridge. The deck starts to vibrate out of control. He stands confidently, points his finger, and goes, "Shhst!"... and all is calm.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Journal Article Another TIF Debacle

I quite simple cannot fathom the logic behind journal submittal rules that demand you upload figures in .tif format at 600 dpi, then put strict, tight file size limits on the submittal package!

You've already specified that my figures will be enormous; don't tell me I have to be under 30 MB. Go to hell, assholes.

And the submittal is 100% web based with a Java app checking compliance at every step. "Sorry, it's not us refusing your submittal for trivial shit; it's the system!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Post-Like Substances

The Sarcastic Weasel is currently writing his thesis and has absolutely zero time or energy for blog posts. I hate seeing a blog go completely inactive, so I have devised some polls to fill space and entertain the masses until such time as I can breath again.

Today's poll is a list of things that The Sarcastic Weasel thinks are horrifically overrated. Vote for the ones you agree with. Complain in the comments section too!

It's interactive!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Stanley at G20

It's really hard for me to praise Penguins fans, but this is really great:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Peter Schiff Calls Out Cash-for-Clunkers

Peter Schiff has an article full of second-rate sarcasm, but good economic analysis regarding the recently concluded government boondoggle commonly known as the cash-for-clunkers program.

In it, he mentions the major flaws inherent in the program:
  • Capital: many of the cars destroyed under the program still functioned and their destruction represented an unnecessary loss of net capital.
  • Resources: replacement cars did have better fuel economy, but if the idea was a net reduction in resource consumption, it is incredibly difficult to overcome the consumption cost of building a new car (before it is necessary... OK, "necessary") through gains in fuel economy. Building a car requires an enormous investment of resources.
  • Financial: the program encourages Americans to assume more consumer debt. Americans, as a whole, do not need any additional consumer debt.
  • Moral hazard: People who have already made the government approved decision to buy vehicles that consume less fuel are now subsidizing those who previously haven't. If fuel efficiency is indeed a virtue, it is unjust to demand that those who choose to behave virtuously pay to incentivize those who would apparently, left to their own devices, never do so.
While I prefer my sarcasm to be less of the earnest, smarty-pants high school senior variety that he employs at the beginning of the article, I cannot fault his analysis. Build unnecessary stuff and save the environment! More debt for all! Punish the early adopters! This is, according to many analysts that I hear on the news, the result of a massively successful government program. Makes you afraid to analyze the unsuccessful ones.

Effin' Hillarious

The Sarcastic weasel is taking a teaching engineering class this coming semester. It is his final course he is required to take, which is good, because he is (in theory) graduating at the end of the semester too.

The textbook for the course is out of print, but available online.

One excerpt from the homework for final chapter that covers professional concerns (mainly promotion and tenure) that made me laugh:

3 Assume that you have just been appointed department chair. At your university the department chairs set raises within very broad guidelines. However, the total dollar pool for raises is a fixed sum which averages to 5 percent of the total faculty salaries. Determine a scenario for how you will reward faculty. Consider the following faculty members:

a R does research. He is nationally known and has a standing offer for a position from another university. His teaching ratings are absymal.
b T is a wonderful teacher, but he has not done research for ten years. He routinely alternates winning the best teacher award with professor S.
c E is a good teacher, does modest research, and serves the department whenever asked to do so.
d A is the best known professor in your department and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is getting ready to retire in a year or two and is no longer doing research.
e S is the chairman of the undergraduate curriculum committee, does all the departmental advising of undergraduates, is adviser to the student professional society, and is a good teacher. The students talk to him all the time, and he single-handedly prevented a revolt of the seniors in Prof. R’s class. He is not doing research.
f D has been an associate professor for the last twenty years. He is the outstanding racquetball player on the faculty, but you cannot think of anything else outstanding about him. He is a member of the organizing committee for a proposed faculty union.
g N is a new assistant professor who has been with the department for one year. She seems to be off to a fast start in her career and already has one research grant.

Why, oh, why do I suspect that Professors {R,T,E,A,S,D,N} represent an unvarnished view of a department that one of the authors used to work in. Also, was "D" originally "O" with the first two professors listed in reverse order (until some killjoy editor made the authors change it)?

Wankat, P. C. and Oreovicz, F. S. (1993). Teaching Engineering. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, USA.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


  • The Red Wings are bringing back Todd Bertuzzi. Awesome. I get to feel ashamed for rooting for a sports team again.
  • The Weasel Meme is cutting herself some teeth. Top canines should be in for Halloween. Vampire baby!
  • "Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye? Aren't you the guy who hit me in the eye?"
  • The Red Wings are also bringing back Jason Williams. Please, please, please don't play him on the point in the power play this time. Frickin'-A.
  • I understand that there are some people out there that buy their hair care products somewhere other than the grocery store. I fail to see why. My grocery store has a little bitty space for junk aimed at men that doesn't smell like a fruity dessert or a moose in heat. When they change what they carry there, I change what I buy. As a result, I am currently using a product from Axe to hold my cowlicks in place that refers to itself as a "Pomade". Every damn morning now when I reach for it I involuntarily think, "I don't want Axe, God dammit! I'm a Daper Dan man!"
  • On a related note, in my experience anyway, the "Axe effect" is somewhat exaggerated.

    I wonder what those girls are going to do when they reach that unassuming young man. I bet they're all CPAs who will do his taxes.
  • "I hear the wind blow. I hear the wind blow. It seems to say, 'Hello, hello, I'm the one who loves you so.'"
  • If the quality of the writing, the acting and the depth of story wasn't enough to convince you that Deep Space Nine was the greatest of all six Trek series, what if I threw in costumes too?
  • Will the Detroit Cowardly Lions go 0-32? The Sarcastic Weasel is confidently predicting yes.
  • A link from Ish about Journal submission policies. Apparently, I'm a massive sucker for bothering to meet their formatting requirements. They do just retype and reformat the whole thing anyway.
  • New website for house hunters.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TMQ = Back

Football content of first article for the season? 2%... maybe 3%.

Only One Vote for Prince?

What if you see this?
Chappelle's Show
True Hollywood Stories - Prince
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Manga Review: Ai-Ren

Series name: Ai-Ren (translation: "lovers")
Author: Tanaka Yutaka
Number of volumes: 5 (series is completed)
English language distributor: none
Fan translation link: on Manga Volume

I didn't think I was going to review this one. Ai-Ren is a sci-fi Manga set on a grim future version of Earth. The human race has lost its vigor and appears destined to die out. Most people do not have children, those that do have them by artificial means; people have forgotten what sex is. People no longer build, nuclear weapons detonate in some part of the world on a nearly daily basis, coastal cities are inundated. World events are not really presented in a complete or coherent way, either as a result of deliberate narrative choice or sketchy amateur translation. But world events are generally not important.

What is important are the main characters. Ikuru is very ill. Due to some mysterious past catastrophic accident, extraordinary experimental measures have been taken to save his life, grafting parts of another person's body to his. These measures are inadequate however, and he is slowly dying, frequently in pain, and usually unable to eat. Because he is dying, society has given him a gift: an ARG-RMS which is a companion for the dying, an artificially created, genetically enhanced girl left over from some unknown project (experimental super human?, assassin?, sex-slave?). She has been genetically tailored to love him (an only him) absolutely. When he first takes her to his home, an isolated crumbling house on the "coast", she has no memory or sense of self. These companions for the dying are themselves doomed to a very short lifespan, frequently dying before their beneficiaries. Typical to this genre, her name comes from the first word she can say, Ai ("love").

Despite the monstrous morality (my judgement) of Ai's creation, purpose, and the massive way in which her innate volition has been violated, what transpires between them is one of the most beautiful, innocent, disturbing, and heart-rending short love stories I've ever seen. All of the things you think could be creepy about this situation are in fact, creepier than you think they are. This creepiness is enhanced by the fact that Ikuru is stalked in his dreams by a shadowy feminine figure of death and Ai seems to fell that she is destined to kill him, the person she loves most in the world. Besides the near continual presence of death, the fact that Ikuru and Ai (ages unknown) are drawn to look so young (manga, go figure) there's a very creepy, Blue Lagoon vibe to the whole thing. As an aside, the artwork is (almost) top notch for manga.

This is not one of those sci-fi stories where the mysteries about the state of the world are resolved with some big reveal, or we learn more over time. Humanity's crisis is not resolved. The story shifts back and forth between Ikuru and Ai, and other world level plots involving a dragon... or an alien, or ghosts in space. It's unclear just what it is, but in essence, there's a starman waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds. Just who or what he is, like so much else, is never reveled. And it doesn't matter, because there's Ikuru and Ai, whose story blows my mind effectively enough without the starman... dragon, ghost... whatever he is.

Do I recommend it? No... Yes... No... don't read it. Well, you should,... but you really shouldn't. I've been holding off a review until I can say just what I think of it, but I am still unable to really characterize it. Is it a great piece of art? Maybe. Is it an exploitative, amature, trashy work? Maybe. Is it good, bad, moral, immoral? I don't have a mental compartment where it fits... which is an artistic triumph in a way. If you can get past the cover art on it's page at Manga Volume and the end of the second chapter without completely freaking out, congratulations, you've made it through some of the most disturbing parts; you might as well finish the series. It's very short.

Americans, I think, will view this series from across a very long cultural divide (I did), probably why it has not found an English language distributor yet.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kindle Now Actually Freaks Me Out

Amazon recently debased itself apologizing for their terrible solution to a copyright infringement error they created on the e-version of George Orwell's 1984 for their Kindle device.

I had heard enough good reviews about the thing that I was beginning to think about learning about them and (someday) acquiring one. No time soon. I don't do pleasure reading at present, and Amazon is not selling Adaptive Control e-books. But I was interested.

I'll include some words that Jeff Bezos used in the apology letter to set the tone for just how badly they screwed up:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO
He really doesn't go far enough in apologizing. He also doesn't mention just what it is he's done.

In short, they bought an e-book version of 1984 and Animal Farm from people not legally empowered to sell those properties. The correct thing to do would be to fess up, and pay the real copyright holder some moneyto compensate for the fact that a whole bunch of people interesting in owning those e-books now own pirated copies. Instead, Amazon tried to limit their damage done, and take back the pirated books.

It turns out that the Kindle does not simply download your new purchases when you link it up with the mothership (Amazon's server). Instead, it performs more of a hot-synch, uploading status, downloading new crap, deleting old stuff when told to... including pirated books... maybe stuff that says bad things about Amazon or the government, you know... just whatever.

Or maybe it lets you keep your copy of 1984, but subtly changes it over time, into something unrecognizable. Maybe the totalitarian govenment is benevolent, efficient, keeps people safe, provides economic justice, and oly hurts bad people from that group we hate.

When I buy a freaking book, I own the book. It stays the same. The ideas are only corrupted my my preconceptions, my failure to understand them, or mildew. But my Kindle e-book? Who has access to that? What is it doing as when it syncs?

Suddenly, every heavy-handed, dystopian polemic I've read, Brave New World, Farenheit 451, Anthem, If This Goes On-,... um, Animal Farm and 1984, jump, sharply focused, into my mind and I question the wisdom of e-books, web mail, netbooks, and digital resources in general.

Thanks to Bezos, I'm not afraid of, I'm afraid of the internet. I want a backup of my digital data with no physical connection to the rest of the cyber-world... possibly paper.

I understand the need for paranoia, but it's time consuming and hard work. Bezos has reminded me that it's worth it.

Apologize again. I'll see how I feel after putting a lock on my paper library.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Stupid .TIF

I really don't know how it happened that the .tif (tagged image format) became the go-to, most demanded, image format for journal submittals. It's really horribly inefficient. Some plots that consist of really fine, orthogonal lines look slightly better as .tifs rather then .jpgs. Slightly.

I just finished rescuing a file that actually exceeded the size limit of MS Word 2007. It had 27 images and was over 700 Mb in size. Word will not open files greater than 512 Mb in size.

I can understand a maker of word processing software having an upper size limit on the files that it will deal with, but if you're going to insert a check that refuses to open a file greater than that max size, insert another $%&*ing check that prevents me from saving my files if they're going to be that big. (And before any of you smug m____f___ers tells me "That's what you get for using that Microsquash stuff..." at least have the decency to verify that this problem does not exist in your favorite MS Word alternative and be prepared to provide some kind of evidence.)

Anyway, a neat trick you can do with a .doc file, is change the extention to .zip and open it with your favorite compressed-file utility. The document will be there, broken down and laid out in its naked .xml glory for you to pick at, rescue text, or remove gargantuan figure files.

I replaced the .tif files with .jpg files that look (to me) every bit as good as the horribly oversized .tif files (same resolution, different compression). The new file is 9 Mb in size.

Journal editors who demand .tif files are going on my list.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Avoiding Eternal Damnation Has Its Costs

It's soon time for the Weasel Meme to be baptized.

Baptism cannot be done in just ordinary baby clothes (the kind that are worn 6-12 times before they're outgrown), but in a special expensive gown that they wear once.

Here's the one (I think) we're ordering. It's pretty.

Baptism is largely thought of in Christian circles (depending on denomination) as the means by which people gain entry into a church body and how new infants are "saved" from their inherent "fallen" state. The logic behind the second part is built on the concept of (the strong form of) "original sin", possibly the most offensive concept that I have ever encountered. It manages to bundle aspects of self-hatred, collective/hereditary guilt, creationism (in its anti-science form), and devaluation of life, knowledge, and personal responsibility into just two words. Some may argue that the concept provides a tempering effect on human hubris, a warning or a trick to encourage prudent behavior. I don't buy it. Other metaphysical arguments regarding admission to paradise are both unprovable and irrefutable (i.e. uninteresting).

My own thoughts is that baptism a nice way to stand up before your community and affirm your membership and support, and remind them that, at times, their support for your little one will be necessary. Overloading a community building ritual with broader dogmatic and theological issues (as I just did) tends to ruin things for the participants. Also, shelling out the cash for traditional vestments is a little off-putting but I'll probably forget about it as soon as I see how cute (I'm confident) she'll look in the thing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Called It... What!?!

With respect to the off-season Red Wings' roster shake-up, my recommendations have, so far, come to pass:

Hossa is now a Blackhawk
Kopecky is now a Blackhawk
Conklin is now a member of the team known as the Blues
McCarty and Downey will not be back

Something strange is at work in the universe. If the Wings sign Beauchemin, I will officially freak out. Regular followers to this blog know that, when it comes to hockey, I am always wrong.

Update: Also (as helpfully pointed out by Ish), Chelios will not be back.
Update: Samuelsson is now a Canuck.
Update: Leino resigned.
Update: Hudler files for arbitration.
Update: Hudler leaves the NHL for Russia to play for the Moscow Dynamo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Essential Sci-Fi

Recently, I was talking to another student who was a big fantasy fan, but had no actual experience reading science fiction. It just so happens that this has happened to me before, and I happen to have a list of essential science fiction lying around (who doesn't?) which, naturally, I was more than willing to share... cause my opinions are more valid than everyone else's. Then I thought, why not share the wonder of my judgment with my adoring throngs of blog readers (do 6 people constitute a throng?). The list is intended to serve as a starter set of novels that provides an orientation to the genre, introduce some of the legendary authors and works, show how varied the genre is, and includes additional related works (including fantasy works by the same author).

Criteria for inclusion:
1.) Novels only (or short story collections from a single author). No individual short stories, novellas, movies, manga, or plays (sorry, Flowers for Algernon).
2.) I need to have read it. Why are there no Neal Stephenson, Larry Niven, Lester Del Ray, or Phillip K. Dick? I haven't gotten to them yet (and won't until after graduation and tenure review... or later). Others may be intentional slights of may fall into this category.
3.) Quality (duh).
4.) Novelty helps.
5.) Winning an award helps.
6.) Character development is a big plus (sorry, Victor Vinge) but being a landmark/seminal will work just as well, usually (hurray, original Foundation trilogy).
7.) Should be science fiction, not humor with sci-fi trappings (sorry, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett)

The List:

Robert Heinlein
Essential: Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers
If you like these, also read: The Past Through Tomorrow, Time Enough for Love, Farnham's Freehold, Double Star, The Unpleasant Profession of Johanthon Hoag (a.k.a. 6xH), The Door into Summer, Podkyne of Mars, Tunnel in the Sky, The Star Beast, Job: A Comedy of Justice (fantasy), Glory Road (fantasy)

Issac Asimov
Essential: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation (The Foundation Trilogy - actually a series of 8 novellas organized into 3 volumes), The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Nightfall (novel version with Robert Silverberg)
If you like these, also read: Foundation's Edge, Foundation and Earth, Prelude to Foundation, Forward the Foundation, The Robots of Dawn, Robots and Empire, Nemesis, The Gods Themselves

Arthur C. Clarke

Essential: Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood's End, The Fountains of Paradise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two
If you like these, also read: Against the Fall of Night, 2061: Odyssey Three, 3001: The Final Odyssey, Rama II (with Gentry Lee), The Garden of Rama (with Gentry Lee), Rama Revealed (with Gentry Lee)

Ray Bradbury
Essential: Farenheit 451
If you like these, also read: The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine

Orson Scott Card
Essential: Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Maps in a Mirror (the collected short fiction of Orson Scott Card)
If you like these, also read: Xenocide, Children of the Mind, The Homecoming Sage (5 sci-fi novels retelling the Book of Mormon, so I'm told), The Tales of the Alvin Maker (7 fantasy novels set in an alternate mid-1800s America, in progress)

Joe Haldeman
Essential: The Forever War
If you like these, also read: The Forever Peace (not a sequal, actually)

Kim Stanley Robinson
Essential: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars
If you like these, also read: The Martians, The Years of Rice and Salt

Frank Herbert
Essential: Dune, Destination Void
If you like these, also read: The Jesus Incident (with Bill Ransom), The Lazerus Effect (with Bill Ransom), The Ascention Factor (with Bill Ransom)

Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Essential: A Canticle for Leibowitz

Connie Willis
Essential: To Say nothing of the Dog, The Doomsday Book

Stephen R. Donaldson
Essential: The Real Story, Forbidden Knowledge, A Dark and Hungry God Arises, Chaos and Order, This Day All Gods Die (The Gap Saga)
If you like these, also read: Lord Foul's Bane, The Illearth War, The Power that Preserves (fantasy: The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenent), The Wounded Land, The One Tree, White Gold Wielder (fantasy: The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenent), The Runes of the Earth, Fatal Revenent (fantasy: The Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenent, in progress), The Mirror of Her Dreams, A Man Rides Through (fantasy: Mordent's Need "Series")

David Brin
Essential: Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War (Uplift Novels)

Dan Simmons
Essential: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, The Rise of Endymion
If you like these, also read: Illium, Olympos

Ted Chaing
Essential: The Stories of Your Life and Others

You additions, insults, and quibbling should go in the comments.

Ish has suggested the inclusion of some cyberpunk works. This is not my particular favorite sub-genre, but it is an important component of the overall genre and I wholeheartedly agree that it should be included. His suggestions are below (not all of which are cyberpunk, none of which I have read yet):

William Gibson
Essential: Neuromancer (book 1 of the The Sprawl Trilogy), The Difference Engine (with Bruce Sterling)
If you like these also read: Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive (books 2 and 3 of the The Sprawl Trilogy)

Neal Stephenson
Essential: Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon (not Cyberpunk)
If you like these also read: Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, not Cyberpunk)

He also suggests Phillip K. Dick, but with no specific suggestions, I won't add him. I could guess based on which ones have been made into movies or won awards, but having had someone actually read them would be far preferable. Now if I can only get some steampunk on the list. Is there any example of steampunk in novel form that is not just the novelization of some other work?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coffee from People Who Hate You

As a grad student, I have a minor coffee habit. There are about 8 area coffee stands I frequent, I have customer loyalty cards (buy 10, get one free) from 4 of them. One thing they all share is the paper cup/plastic lid coffee disbursement system that features the built in dribble effect. You probably know what I mean. The system works fin unless you align the hole in the lid that you drink from with the seam of the paper cup (or it is within +/- pi/4 rad. of the hole). If you have it so unfortunately aligned, coffee invariably dribbles down your shirt/pants/naked chest (don't ask) as you sip. Often, the cups are handed to you with the lids already in place leading careless people (me) to begin drinking before checking their alignment.

I have developed a theory about why cups are handed to you in dribble mode. It's a simple theory that, I think, accounts for at least 98% of unfortunately aligned drinking apparatti.
1.) The person handing you your coffee has just started and doesn't know about the evils of hole on seam alignment.
2.) The person handing you your coffee hates you, deeply and personally.

My theory is supported by loads on undocumented anecdotal evidence. That may not sound impressive, but several people I've heard of used the same standard to decide not to have their children vaccinated because they'll catch the autism.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Crackdown Begins

“I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again. All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them. I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic. I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…” - an Iranian blogger, with more courage than most of us will ever know.

Posted on The Daily Dish (obviously).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time to Reload

There are a lot of problems with the NHL and the direction it is heading (toward NBA-style terribleness), too many to list and explain without devoting a good 2-3 of hours that I don't have to writing, editing, and research. As Ish said though, it is still the most exciting and entertaining spectator sport entertainment option available today.

Instead of fixing the NHL, let's take a look at what the Wings have to do (roster wise) to get ready for next year and prepare for the incredibly difficult task of making a third appearance in the Finals round in a row.

No discussion of their needs should take place without taking the cap into account. Fortunately for Wings fans there is some online help with that (fanatical Red Wings fans with some time on their hands and some Java experience are pretty helpful):

A quick look at the chart shows that the Wings have the following players with contracts that are expiring (RFA indicates players who will only be restricted free agents when their contracts expire preventing them from actively negotiating with other teams and necessitating that any team that tries to sign them owes the Wings some draft picks if they succeed):

Hudler (RFA)
Leino (RFA)

Any signings they do make need to fit into the roughly $9.4 M they will have available under the projected salary cap for next year. Looking at this list, I would resign Leino and cut the rest free. Hossa was great during the regular season and an underwhelming distraction during the post-season. I think they can get better value for the roughly $7M he may command on the market. Samuelsson is just too streaky for his price tag. Hudler is a good player, I like him, but he spent the entire playoffs being pushed off the puck. Kopecky made some bad decisions about who and when to fight and could be upgraded by playing Helm more regularly. Chelios should probably retire now. Conklin is OK, but if Howard is ever going to be the goalie of the future, it might be time to let him have the backup job. Downey is fine for his role, but an enforcer type that can be trusted to play playoff games would be a much better choice. McCarty: ditto, retirement looms.

Adding by Subtracting:
Stuart has three years left on his contract. He is a physical "defenseman", likes to jump into the play, and makes incredibly costly defensive mistakes at the worst possible moments. Given how much money/attention other "defensemen" of this type have received lately (Campbell, Phaneuf, and Green come to mind) I have to believe that someone will be willing to trade a last round draft pick (Red Wings gold) and the obligatory bag of pucks to get him (clearing his $3.8M cap hit from the Wings' books and freeing Detroit from the turnover machine). If not, demote him to GR.

Promote from Within:
Howard (replaces Conklin)
Ericsson (replaces Stuart)
Helm (replaces Kopecky)
Leino (replaces Hudler)
Abdelkador (replaces Samuelsson)

The Wings' needs are pretty slim, really. This is what I think they need; I have no idea what of this is available.
1.) More depth at defense. They lost Quincy to waivers last year, which hurt. A tough, defensively sound guy or two would really help. A legit top four defenseman would be even better. They should have the cap space to get one.
2.) A legit enforcer. One who scares people but can also play in important games. Pay a lot to get one, if necessary (probably necessary, they are rare and coveted).
3.) A veteran guy near retirement trying to win his first cup seems to be a necessity.

Questions Going Forward:
1.) Will the famous Red Wings loyalty to former players hurt them this year encouraging them to bring back Hudler, Samuelsson, or Chelios for another year when it is really time to go?
2.) Is Holmstrom still capable of being effective?
3.) Will Lilja's brain ever stop bleeding?
4.) Are the remaining goal tending prospects ready for 3rd string duty?

Brad McCrimmon's first year as the defensive specialty assistant coach was not particularly special. Was it so bad as to deny him a second try? Maybe. See penalty kill, goals-against, team defense, Stanley Cup Finals round play.

Ken Holland, of course, will do something entirely different than I think he should do. Largely, he will be right and I will be wrong. That's why his job is to evaluate talent and manage the roster while my job is to do research, teach classes, and write papers not relating to hockey.

Update (06/19/2009):
The Playoffs beard-themed marketing slogans:
"The beard is back"
"Shave the best for last"
Totally lame. Do better next year. I'm not sure anything will top the brilliant marketing move of unilaterally declaring Detroit to be "Hockeytown" leaving fans in other cities sputtering for years that they deserve to be called that as though it were some award or title that can be won.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NRO wants US to Openly Support Iranian Opposition

Specifically, Peter Wehner thinks so.

This is an important, and potentially a decisive, moment in Iran; it is hard to know what will eventually emerge from the popular uprising we are witnessing. The situation is quite fluid, and may be for some time to come. How President Obama deals with this matter — whether he takes actions that show tangible support for the forces of liberation or whether he sits passively by as events unfold, nervous to offend cruel regimes — will tell us a lot about him and his core commitments.

Is he retarded?

The best way to help crush an opposition movement in Iran is to give credence to the inevitable charges that the reformers are agents of Teh Great Satan.

Anything we do should be done quietly, very freaking quietly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hitchens on Iran

Hitchens gets straight to the point in a typical (to him) piece that's brilliant, difficult to read, and likely to turn off anyone who doesn't already agree with him.

He does manage to get in the best quote, thus far, though not directly attributable to him:

For a flavor of the political atmosphere in Tehran, Iran, last week, I quote from a young Iranian comrade who furnishes me with regular updates:

I went to the last major Ahmadinejad rally and got the whiff of what I imagine fascism to have been all about. Lots of splotchy boys who can't get a date are given guns and told they're special.

This appears to be be the sum total of original Slate content on the revolution (or smackdown of potential revolutionaries) that is currently happening in Iran. It comes up in their summaries of other publications, but no analysis. I suppose that American Health Care and Japanese "Grass Eating Men" are more important anyway.

I'm sure they can fit it into the Kinsley template (delayed effects man!):
Human civilization is threatened by [insert headline issue here]. This is a problem exclusively caused by the Bush administration because they are stupid and evil. Using that as an assumption, I will now prove to you that the Bush administration is stupid, evil, and to blame for [insert headline issue here].

What Fascism Looks Like

Most Americans are pretty sheltered (S.W. incl.). They don't particularly know what fascism looks like so they say, "Republicans are fascists," "Democrats are fascists."

Images escaping Iran show what fascism looks like. Please don't make that mistake again. The regime has shut down cellular phones, opposition newspapers, facebook, and a myriad of other possible communication sources so, out of necessity, this revolution is happening in 140 character chunks via Twitter. I may not make fun of it (Twitter) again.

Sorry for this, but CNN and the like can't be bothered:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Incumbant Coup in Iran

We are either witnessing the end of the Islamic-Republic in Iran or the crushing of another generation or reformists. The ruling party was caught so off guard with how badly their election (rigged as it was) was going for them they've shut down communications throughout the country and announced the saddest, most transparently fraudulent election results ever put forward by a tinpot dictatorial regime. They are so at odds with reality, it makes me wonder if the idea is to claim power and provoke riots by to opposition (working) in order to generate an excuse to arrest, beat, ad kill them.

Andrew Sullivan has devoted his blog to covering this story which is helpful because the mainstream media in this country appears to still be unaware that there is a story to cover here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wings Equal Toast II

They couldn't close them out in game 6. They will not be able to do it on the mulligan try. Gary's whiny little golden boy will lift the cup apparently vindicating the guy who thought the Dallas and Phoenix were better Hockey locales than Minneapolis and Winnipeg.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freedom to Look Good

I like freedom. I like it a lot. I don't like to listen to crappy songs that blather about it in the abstract, or watch overwrought movies which breathlessly laud it without ever defining/examining it, but properly contextualized and coupled with responsibility, I'm a fan.

I'm not such a fan when a court invents a "freedom" for one man in order to find a reason to throw another man in jail for an, admittedly juvenile, act of political expression.

Story from Taiwan (it's short).

Seems like a very Orwellian use of the word to me.

One Thing Mickey Does Know is Cars

And he knows why the GM and Chrysler restructuring plans as currently envisioned will not work. Hint: he cites the reason why I will not buy GM or Chrysler.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wings Equal Toast

I watched the Wings completely fall apart in the 2nd period of Game 4.

I don't really know what's wrong with them. The Pen(i)s aren't that dominant. Injured? Don't really care? They're slow and lackadaisical.

This series will be tied tonight, but it's really over.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ambi-Post of the Day

Rather ambiguous post on Will Wilkinson's blog. The take home message, depending on your point of view is either: 1) don't get too excited for the prospects of a more liberal foreign policy under Obama, he's not really in charge and the world will not be made a better place, or 2) don't get too excited about the prospects of a more liberal foreign policy under Obama, he's not really in charge and the world will not go to hell in a hand-basket. It's hard to read an endorsement of either point of view here, I'm ambiguous myself... meh (see).

I'm posting this comment about it though just as an excuse to provide you with the closing quote which made me giggle:
The message, I take it, is that the damn hippy kids can appoint bisexual robot Latinas to the Supreme Court and tell GM to make cars that run on fairy kisses as long as they know the Serious People will continue to control the power that matters. All signs point to Obama going along, which, as Nixon knew, is what you can expect from self-impressed Ivy League assholes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Justice Works Again

The Sarcastic Weasel has me'd (weaseled) out of jury duty!


Actually, since it was district court, they had all of two cases that had the potential to go to a jury trial this month. Both settled this morning, so weaseling out for everybody!

The American system of justice is the greatest in the world.


Suck it, Sweden!

Peace and Quiet At Last

Blogging from the office. Just wanted to mention how very peaceful it is here.

As I've mentioned before, The Sarcastic Weasel works in what is, truth told, a hole. Actually, a basement with frequent flooding problems. As a result, I cannot leave my computer tower on the floor. Granted, for fan, heat, and dust related reasons, you're not supposed to do so anyway, but who ever does what they're supposed to do?

Instead of being out of sight, out of mind, and out of earshot on the floor, my PC tower lives on top of some metal shelving nearly at ear level. The problem I have with this is that the processor is loud... freaking loud and annoying. Furthermore, it runs all the damn time... ALL THE DAMN TIME! It's always processing something... some damn system idle process.

First, I killed the distributed computing task (goodbye SETI at home... the BOINC is silly Berkeley nonsense anyway).

Next, I went on a total spybot killing rampage followed by an obsolete programs, files, and registry entry holy war (none survived).

Finally, I went into the process tab of the task manager and noted which processes were running and how much of the CPU they were claiming: nothing terrible, just 2-4%... all of the goddamn time.

Turns out the culprits were all related to Microsoft's indexing services. Indexing services are these neat software things included in Windows that run while you system is (theoretically) idle (and that hold a death-grip on your resources for quite some time after you try to use you system again) in order to make and store fancy lists of all of your files. The idea is that you can trade reduced system performance 100% of the time that you are trying to do crap, for a faster Windows file search those one or two times a month that you need to do a search. Also if you processor buzzes right in your ear, it makes sure that never shuts up.

To kill or not to kill? Not much of a decision, really.

For those that would like to kill the damn things on their own machine, follow this advice (Tweak #2 on the linked page):

It's totally worth it... My God, is it worth it. I can just sit here and bask in the silence... ahh... wait, is that the wind tunnel I hear?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Red Wings: Final Round, Final DOOM!

Well, it's my last chance this season to predict doom for my beloved Red Wings. Last round, it was pretty facetious... come on, Chicago? Brian Campbell as a real-life defenseman? Please. But it was Patrick Sharp that provided them their only win.

But this round is different. The Wings are real beaten up now. The Pen(i)s have grown up a little. Most importantly, that whiny rat of a coach they had last season got s***-canned, which is a massive improvement.

Predictions? Well, I'm great at those. Datsyuk and Lidstrom play at 90% or better, Wings win, 3 to 2 odds. Otherwise, Pen(i)s win, 11 to 9 odds.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


It's almost time for Round 3 to begin. I nearly forgot to predict doom and gloom for my beloved Red Wings.

Patrick Sharp!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jury Duty

The Sarcastic Weasel is set to do his patriotic duty as a citizen of this great democracy by making himself available for selection as a member of a jury pool in his local district court.

I wonder if I have time to get this made into a shirt...

Important Disclaimer: All comments made by the Sarcastic Weasel on this blog are for (his) entertainment purposes only; truth is always a secondary concern. In no way does the Sarcastic Weasel condone the wanton shirking of legal responsibilities nor his own persecution... that is, prosecution for contempt of court.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NHL Cruelty

It sucks to be a Sharks fan this time of year.

It sucks more to be young and dumb enough to video blog about being a sharks fan this time of year (which, during the playoffs, apparently involves copious, uncontrollable weeping on your webcam).

It sucks even more to have a dad who knows you shouldn't be doing this sort of thing on the internets, but doesn't quite understand how his role in the video simply causes the ridicule to be bigger, faster, and more meme-ish... meme-esque... meme-tastic... whatever.

Also related: Play Him Off Keyboard Cat, Explained; Make your own.

Friday, May 8, 2009

NHL-Musical Theater Quote of the Day

"Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on Versus is like watching a community theater production of "Les Miserables." The source material's emotional potency and the magnetic qualities of its aesthetics make it, at a minimum, eminently enjoyable.

Then some local dentist comes on stage, sings "Master of the House" like Wilfred Brimley with a bran muffin stuffed in his mouth, and you suddenly remember you're not exactly on Broadway."

Puck Daddy on Yahoo sports blogs.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I have recently described my new baby as such:

"The new baby is (to me anyway) a very unique, non-stationary, non-linear, real-time stochastic control problem. I am scouring the literature on this topic, but most of the studies I find report highly anecdotal results with little to no proofs or optimizations. I understand that it is a problem that one works on for a number of years before receiving much in the way of recognition or funding."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lions Drafting Adventures

I'm lazy, so I'll link to the Reverend0 and his comments regarding the Lions draft this year.

My thoughts are simply that I am actually out of snarky comments about how stupid the Lions are. With so much sarcasm in my heart to give, I wanted to believe I could keep it up forever, but after so many consecutive years of utter incompetence on their part, I'm spent... drained... I've blown my I-hate-the-Lions wad.

I think that this will require me to reexamine my life and possibly become a Buddhist.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Suddenly The Rulebook Applies?

I understand that, when it comes to interpretation of the rules and calls from the officials, here isn't a single (or married) coach out there who isn't, at least officially, a massive hypocrite. By Anaheim's Randy Carlyle gets some serious hypocrite points for his comments after his team's OT loss last night:

Form the AP recap article:
While Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf and coach Randy Carlyle vociferously complained Hiller’s pad had been nudged, video review confirmed the officials’ call while the Sharks already were in their dressing room.

“The reason the puck went in the net was their player pushed our goalie’s pad,” Carlyle said. “The puck was loose, their player pushed, and as he pushed, the goalie’s pad—the back of his foot, which is attached to the pad, the back of his skate, knocked the puck in the net. … I think there needs to be some clarification, because in my view, they are not allowed to push the goaltender and the puck into the net.”

What an interesting perspective, Randy! Please, do tell us more about how "goals" in which the goaltender has the puck stopped but some punk player pushes the goaltender into the net should not count as legit goals. I'd be very interested to hear your (new) perspective on this topic. More public comments please!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Admin Post

It appears that the comments section of yesterday's post has been disabled. I think though, if everyone stays real positive and hopes real hard, maybe I'll get around to enabling it to give the optimists their say. Keep a stiff upper lip!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wings Win First Round

The Wings have won their first round in the 2009 playoffs (a.k.a. the 'cock fight: Hitchcock v. Babcock) and I would just like to be the first to congratulate me for correctly predicting (2nd comment) the first-round sweep.

Sadly, the future looks grim. It is increasingly likely that the Wings will face a re-energized Ducks in the next round and meet certain doom. "Elbows" Pronger and the hot goaltender du jour will end the series in six. Like the Wings, the Ducks found their "on switch" at the right time and are currently demonstrating why you should never pick San Jose as your cup favorite. Unlike the Wings, the Ducks don't seem to have the magic "off switch", an Osgood who may or may not be hurt, a Brad Stuart who put in three really great games before becoming Brad Stuart again, nor the mindset that, in the face of tenacious and effective forechecking, simply clearing the damn defensive zone and not getting scored on in not nearly as cool as making a fancy pass with an 80% chance of getting picked off on the wrong side of the blue line. It's sad, but demonstrably true.

I suppose if there is some pollyanna-ISH, overly optimistic fool wishes to argue otherwise or provide other forms of fact checking, there is always a comments section following my posts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Northwest Airlines -> Delta Airlines = Suck

I have to say that I've been seeing signs the slow transition of Northwest to Delta post merger, and I don't really care for it: Delta planes with their crap seating configuration servicing Northwest routes, Delta logos replacing Northwest logos, and so forth.

In general Northwest employees are a bit apathetic, disgruntled at management, but otherwise nice people. Today is the first day I've flown when the Detroit Metro staff are wearing the Delta jackets and magically, with the costume change, they've gone from being a little slow and lackadaisical, to being actively and aggressively rude. I actually told one of them to "f**k herself" when, at the end of berating me, trying (unsuccessfully) to make me feel guilty and stupid for checking in at the wrong computer (despite the utter lack of indication that it was in fact the wrong computer) she finished by sweetly telling me to enjoy my flight. Granted I'm a little sleep deprived, but I'm not really in to being abused by airline attendants. I see with the Delta jacket comes the Delta attitude.

Southwest's scary and inexplicable corporate sunniness is suddenly significantly less off putting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NHL Playoffs to Commence

It's hard for me to get worked up about the playoffs this year. Being frigging exhausted following the arrival of the Weasel Meme probably doesn't help.

The Wings' play this season doesn't particularly help either. Goals and shots against have been terrible. Two blowout losses against Central Division opponents (giving up 8 goals) and Ozzy tanking this year are sickening. It appears that we miss Todd McLellan (former defensive coach, now head coach for the Sharks) more than I ever thought we would.

This AP article about how the Sharks have their sights set on the Wings as their main target just has me wondering if the Wings have a chance to even get to the Conference Finals to (potentially) meet them. Also, the Sharks have a history of playoff under-performance themselves that they need to address. At least the new baby has not dulled my pessimism. You want cheerful thoughts? Well, we resigned Zetterberg and Franzen. Lilja's brain may stop bleeding any day now.

Annual humiliation playoff picks coming soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Creme Eggs

For anyone who obsesses as much about Cadbury Creme eggs as much as I do at this time of year:

Remember whne we all thought we'd have the kind of time to devote to important matters like building something like this? Now, I don't really have time to watch it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Weasel Meme Photos

Hot out of the womb:

Her with some guy:

Now some girl:

Cute, cute, cute...

Cleaned up:

Well, I'm Amused

Maybe you too can audition to be a victim of the apocalyptic pink storm.

It's helpful in a movement like this to try to dredge up some actual victims of the purported "crisis". When it comes to traditional "victimless crimes" (e.g. prostitution, drug use, pornography) if you look around, you will find someone who has been injured by them in some (reasonably direct) manner. It may not be the norm for said activities; it may be entirely preventable of even partially the result of governmental prohibition, but there is at least some demonstrable harm. Gay marriage victims? We get actors.

It's time to privatize marriage.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Weasel Meme is Here

Born: 04:03:2009:03:21

Go here for a picture and some measurements. You should try to remember the date above and the mother's name.

Labor was hard (baby face up for a long time) and the hospital stay a little longer than I expected (about 27 hours before birth and 59 after). The baby was a little jaundiced requiring her to sleep on a fiber optic UV blanket for a few days. They let go home just before the snow struck and took out our power. Since UV blankets require power, we went to a hotel for the night.

All is well now. Super tired.

Real post to follow with better pics than are available in the link.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stephen Strikes Again

NASA must now ponder whether it is more dedicated to democratic principles or to stodgy, boring, loftyish names for its new toys as Stephen Colbert handily won the online contest to name the new module of the International Space Station (ISS):

He got his viewers (and their bots) to vote en mass to name a bridge in Hungary after him, did they think he would miss a NASA project?

Maybe this will lead to an image update for NASA. No more 1950's inspiry names like Discovery, Serenity (sorry Joss), Lethargy, ... The future will be littered with pop culture references: the Simon Cowell Magnetic Field Array (SCMFA) or the Grey's Anatomy Orbital Mind Control Laser (GAOMCL). Maybe there could be commercial tie ins: the Aquifina Lunar Water Detection Probe (ALWDP) or the Viacom Astrometric Gammaburst Inventory & Naming Array (VAGI... um, hmm, this one turned out badly).


Monday, March 9, 2009

Too Much Travel

I'm back home for a week and a half now. Haven't done much updating in the meantime. Something about trying to get a job and two day long interviews. Stupid academics.

Bu there is something very important to pass on to all of you that will enrich your lives. Turn up the volume...

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Science Works Today

Please find for your consideration an article by Steve Quake describing how science works today in the modern university system. Unfortunately, it's factually accurate.

The guy has some interesting research accomplishments, so he must be a good scientist. It's funny though, as soon as he enters the political realm in his discussion, his scientific method goes out the window. He actually trots out the expression "the exception that proves the rule," which is possibly the most deeply stupid idiom in any language. Why does that dumb expression even exist? A true exception disproves a rule. Period. Stupidity.

Challenge 1: Disprove my rule regarding true exceptions disproving rules by finding an exception.

Challenge 2: Become a snake and eat your own tail.

Heading Home

I really do know better than to blog while intoxicated... well, I'll pretend I do anyway.

Finished testing in Taiwan. Turns out that adaptive structural control on wireless systems is really hard. I cam here with two approaches I thought would be slam dunks, but only one worked. Also did some wireless market based control. That worked great. Kind of pisses me off though since I spent a week from start to finish developing the market-based control while the adaptive control that didn't work was the product of a month of my effort. Stupid research... Got enough for a paper though.

I celebrated my going home by drinking alone at an outdoor bar near my hotel. They have Hoegarden on tap... here in Taiwan. Go figure. Don't worry, I only had one... one 1000 cc glass of beer. 1000 cc's of beer is really the only sensible size glass of beer to drink... provided your stomach is 4x the size of mine. Oooo. 20 hour plane trip tomorrow. 4:30 AM wake-up time. Should be fun.

I worked pretty much every waking moment this week. It helped me not think about how much I miss the official wife of the sarcastic weasel and how guilty I feel being gone for two weeks in the winter with her 8 months pregnant. It also helped me avoid the television. There are about 9 English language channels out of the 100 or so that I get in my room. Three are sports, 2 are news, 3 are educational, which leaves movie channels as the "entertainment". The movie channel choices are bizarre. Cinemax Taiwan treated my to Final Destination 3. That has to be the most deeply stupid movie I've ever seen... and I've seen stuff with Julia Roberts in it. Cripe.

If you find yourself in Taiwan. be sure to visit Ding Tai Fong for dumplings. Holy cow, I thought I'd had good Hong Kong style dumplings before... nothing compared to these. Paper thin wanton wrappers around soup filling. Great stuff. Those of you with access to Los Angeles, you have the U.S.'s only branch of the restaurant. You need to go. It will rock your nads... provided you have nads... if you have other stuff, it will rock that too.

OK. Time for sleep... broken up by about 20 trips to the bathroom, I can tell already.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Don't touch my dream with your dirty hands

Some real blogging to come later. In the mean time, here are some Pavel Datsyuk interviews. He's actually hilarious.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 2 is must-read. "Don't touch my dream with your dirty hands."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yogurt Craziness

I thought I was beyond surprise.

I thought wrong.

My yogurt I bought for lunch, was chock full of extra firm, flavorless, gelatin cubes.

Just plain crazy, I say. Crazy.

(That's all I can say. It made no other impression on me either bad nor good. I would not seek it out again, but I didn't dislike it either. I believe this is what the term "meh" was invented for... but it's crazy meh.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breakfast of Weaklings

I always lose weight on these trips to Taiwan. It's not that I dislike the food, but my stomach always feels off, so I never want to eat very much at a time.

Breakfast is the hardest for me. I can eat chinese food for lunch and dinner every day, but my western stomach is conditioned for a certain set of foods for first thing in the morning, and that set does not include chow mein or fermented tofu, bean... things. You might read this and accuse the Weasel of being soft and provincial, but I am a victim of my decadent western upbringing. I AM A VICTIM! So having my stomach be off at breakfast then screws me over for the rest of the day.

I believe now though, that my problem up till now, has been that I have not been getting breakfast at 7-11. No wonder they're replacing their shrines with 7-11s here; their freaking awesome. This morning I had an egg and ham sandwich (with mayo too, but whatever), some actual milk from a damn cow (not from a soybean), and real orange juice.

Now the orange juice part may not seem particularly miraculous to you being that Taiwan enjoys a very warm climate, but my experience has been, even at the better hotel restaurants, the orange juice here is about 90% water, 7% sugar, and 3% juice. I found, hidden in a separate cooler on the other side fo the store from the crappy juices, 100% juice juices. OMFG! 100% juice juices.


I'm back in Taipei again.

It's been about 6 months and generally, everything is where I left it.

The little street-side Taoist shrine I used to pass on my way from my lodgings to my work has been replaced by a 7-11. I shallower man than I would try to make something of that fact.

It took about 2 hours of my 20 hour plane trip to realize I was coming down with a cold; coughing, slightly sore throat, sinus pain, and body aches are the symptoms. Though the body aches may be the result of 20 hours in the torture device Northwest Airlines has the effrontery to call a coach "seat". Apparently, the changeover to Delta includes repainting the outside of the planes, but the "seats" are as crappy as ever. I guess since waterboarding is no longer on the table as an enhanced interrogation technique, might I humbly propose a minor substitution: two or three pacific crossings on that miserable plane ought to be about equivalent and, you no one can accuse you of violating Geneva because hell, some idiots (me) actually pay for the experience.

Anyway, good thing for me is that, like Coca-Cola and McNuggets, Robitussin exists anywhere that a meager profit might be had. I got 15 doses for the equivalent of about $4. That's not too bad. But I also wanted some more acetaminophen to augment what was in the 'tussin, and I finally found a product that had just that (it's not called Tylenol). Apparently an Australian subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline sells a nice little box of what are, essentially, six extra-strength Tylenol, for the same $4 equivalent. They must still be laughing uproariously in Australia over that one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Neil Gaiman Pimps Coraline

Those who know me should know I'm stoked. I almost wet myself when I first saw the Corpse Bride trailer (sadly, the trailer was better than the actual movie).

Though, I'm less stoked that I'll probably have to wait a while to see it since I'm going away for a while on Saturday.

UPDATE: The title of this post, "Neil Gaiman Pimps Coraline", is meant to imply that Neil Gaiman is pimping Coraline, the movie (for profit), not Coraline, the fictional little girl (for profit). So don't even start... jerks.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Silent Lucidity

Thanks to the recently reactivated Princess Blogonoke for a really easy filler post that was very nearly fun.

Check out numbers 2, 4, 13, 16, and 20.

Set your music library to shuffle on whatever player you use and write the name of the songs one after the other for each question. Leave it to chance, you'll be amazed!

Wonderwall (Paul Anka Swing Version)

Let's Misbehave (Elvis Costello - Delovely Soundtrack)

Lonesome Valley (The Fairfield Four - O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack)

Old Man (Neil Young)

In The Car (BNL)

Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (They Might Be Giants)

Blue (Yoko Kanno - Cowboy Bebop)

I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow (Instrumental) (John Hartford - O Brother, Where Art Thou)

9.) WHAT IS 2+2?
Why Can't This Be Love? (Van Halen)

Take It Easy (The Eagles)

Told You So (BNL)

That Old Black Magic (James Darren)

Fantasies Come True (Avenue Q Soundtrack)

And We Danced (The Hooters) We don't dance.... that is, I don't dance

In The Name of Love (U2)

Lucky Ball and Chain (They Might Be Giants) Hilarious... too late now though

Gypsy's Kolo (Borat - Stereophonic Musical Listenings That Have Been Origin In Moving Film (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture))

Broken Wings (Mr. Mister) I'm apparently a sicko... with bad musical tastes

I Turn To You (Melanie C) Who the f**k is Melanie C? What is this crap doing on my Ipod?

Goth Girls (MC Frontalot) Surprisingly accurate.

Silent Lucidity (Queensryche)

Here's a version with my Ipod set to repeat instead of shuffle:
Set your music library to shuffle on whatever player you use and write the name of the songs one after the other for each question. Leave it to chance, you'll be amazed!

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

9.) WHAT IS 2+2?
F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

F**k The Pain Away (Peaches)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is Why I Stick to Inland Lakes

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crosby Complains About... More Things

It occurs to me today that the much ballyhooed Sidney Crosby (a.k.a. Cindy Crysby) of the Pittsburgh Penguins is The Great Gatsby of the hockey world.

I say that as both the hockey player and the book are much lauded as paragons of greatness by their respective establishments. And both the hockey player and the book seem to continually indulge in copious and petulant whining.

There is some justice in the world though:
1.) F. Scott Fitzgerald is dead.
2.) If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Penguins would be golfing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

National Boundries and Labor

Will Wilkinson finally returned from vacationing in Thailand, being denied entry to Burma, and getting engaged, so that he might freeze his ass off in Iowa and blog for my amusement again.

See him beat the premise for Nationalistic Labor Protectionism with a rusty, blood-spattered, spiky cudgel and leave it for dead.

Ignore the fact that what I'm doing barely counts as blogging.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Playoff Beards Invade the NFL

I was wondering why Andy Reid was beginning to look a bit like Michael Moore.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Challenge: Nerd Reference of the Arbitrary (Multi-rate) Time Period

What is this a reference to:

Anyone who knows what it is without Googling it gets the coveted Sarcastic Weasel Big-Ol' Nerd Award.

A successful Google search answer deserves a Sarcastic Weasel Minor Nerd Prop (given the fact that the search term has a quotation mark in it).

A person successfully describing the above reference and guessing how it came to my attention (and who has an email address that I know) will win an actual, honest to God prize (not like all of the metaphorical prizes I've (not) given out in the past.

Disclaimer: The Sarcastic Weasel's judgments are arbitrary and life is unfair.

Monday, January 5, 2009

More Self-tuning Control, No Blogging

I am currently banging my head on some self-tuning control algorithms.

A popular approach is using recursive, multivariable least-squares (generally ARARX or ARMAX) to update the system parameters then there are a great many different techniques for updating the control feedback gains depending on your computational power and time horizon.

My problem is the recursive, multivariable least-squares algorithm. It's flipping complicated. In the adaptive control references, it tends to presented in pretty much the same manner as "Step 2" in the following (rather ubiquitous) cartoon:

I'll figure it out... (I hope)...

Messages of pity or of disdain are welcome in the comments section.