:: Saturday, March 31 2007 ::
It seems dressing like a pirate is enough to get you suspended from school these days, at least at North Buncombe High (home of the blackhawks, and, apparently, ninjas), where a pastafarian was ejected for his eye patch and (inflatable) sabre. Naturally, it's being called persecution in some circles, though according to the citizen-times, not around the dinner table, as mom says "I think Bryan should be able to voice his opinion, but he kind of got carried away." (via Wil Wheaton)
:: David (13:42 in Michigan, 19:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, March 30 2007 ::
This 'jetlag' thing is a killer! About 4pm today I started thinking how nice it would be to go home and go to bed. Usually I just ignore that voice, but usually I am not at work the day after getting back from Europe. Or maybe I'm just getting old.... Regardless, I'm now fully back, and gearing up for the big event this weekend, which is much bigger in the local population's mind than I would have guessed. Apparently, according to one local paper, even the weekend road construction has been rescheduled to allow everyone easy access to the stadium where the big event will be held.
I also read that, in addition to the main event this Sunday, there are several other related opportunities to hobnob with the stars, such as a celebrity bowling event (I do not joke), a Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and the premiere of a film (which, reading the description, sounds nothing like a film which starred another muscle-bound individual).
:: David (23:07 in Michigan, 5:07 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
What a cruel way to start our time back in the USA. We made it back last night, drolled on ourselves until it was late enough to go to bed, woke up this morning, and made coffee. Except the coffee machine sprung a leak in our absence, and thus poured 12 cups of water on the floor. At least the kitchen has been mopped.
A special shout out to Masked Owl, who was good enough to come pick us up despite the fact we forgot to ask her before we left, so the only request she got was a message on her cell phone left from Orléans the day before yesterday saying "Oh, gosh - we know this is late notice, but could you pick us up tomorrow?"
:: David (8:07 in Michigan, 14:07 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, March 24 2007 ::
Lots and lots of people seeing since we arrived. It's been really wonderful, in fact, but somewhat busy. Partially, this is my own fault, because when I wasn't seeing people I was trucking all over Paris to see some random thing or another from when we lived here. But sometimes busy is a good thing, and I definitely wouldn't have missed any of this. This is our last full day in the city, and tomorrow morning it's all about driving south. Five hours each way, so we'll have quite a long day tomorrow, too.
:: David (4:06 in Michigan, 10:06 in Paris) - Comment
Because the gods of the time change hate us, we get to Spring forward again this Sunday. Yes, the European time change happens this weekend, right before we leave for Limoges. So we lose another hour (at least this one we'll get back when we return to the states, rather than having to wait for Autumn).
:: David (4:03 in Michigan, 10:03 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 21 2007 ::
We made it to Paris. Tomorrow lots of seeing people, and a few random adventures if all goes as planned. We missed some folks, due to our tight schedule, but hopefully we'll catch them the next time through. It's tough to believe it's been so long since we were last here - on the one hand, it seems like yesterday. On the other hand, I've forgotten a lot of the little things, like metro and bus lines, and how neighbourhoods intersect. But we're having a great time thus far, and tomorrow should be a great day.
:: David (17:38 in Michigan, 23:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
A lazy morning in Germany, and soon we'll be off to France. We went to a theme park of old-time Germany yesterday, all timber-framed buildings and farm animals. We'll be setting ourselves up in France this evening, then seeing lots of people through the weekend, before picking up our rental car Sunday morning. It'll be quite busy.
:: David (6:31 in Michigan, 12:31 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, March 20 2007 ::
With any fortune, we'll be headed to an 'old-time Germany' park this afternoon. Some laundry is also in the offing, as tomorrow we fly off to Paris. Then it's a whirlwind few days visiting people, before heading south to Limoges. We got snowed on Yesterday, and it looks like there's no warmth due this week, but hopefully heading south will bring us some warmer weather.
:: David (4:15 in Michigan, 10:15 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, March 19 2007 ::
We thought we were headed for nice warm spring weather, but it seems we cannot escape the snow. On the upside, Frankfurt is lovely, and we're adjusting nicely to the time zone, etc. Today looks to be a zoo and the place where Sasha's brother works, and whatever else strikes our fancy. Should be fun.
:: David (3:55 in Michigan, 9:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, March 18 2007 ::
We safely made it to Germany, and after a good long sleep we are now more or less in tip-top shape. It looks like the cat has had a change of diet since we left, as the cat dish now says 'champagne and caviar'.
:: David (9:55 in Michigan, 15:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, March 16 2007 ::
I woke up extra early today, as the server needed some love and affection of the upgrade variety. I think I got in a little before six in the morning. I'm going to be quite the friendly person to be around this evening. On the upside, maybe I'll be tired enough to sleep on the flight to Paris. Blogging will probably be light-ish for a while, although I do hope to have an internet connection most of the time.
:: David (12:24 in Michigan, 13:24 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, March 15 2007 ::
Rebecca Blood has a post which links to a couple of microlender reviews. I love microlending, in theory, and I'll be interested to see how they're doing in practice.
:: David (14:38 in Michigan, 15:38 in Paris) - Comment
Looks like we aren't the only ones with a cat named Mina.
:: David (12:38 in Michigan, 13:38 in Paris) - Comment
RFI played an amazing audio clip this morning from Lucie Aubrac, the French resistance hero who passed away recently. The BBC has a story on her. The recordings were incredible because, even at age 93 (when they were made) she was inspiring. Le Monde gives an excellent idea of her continued fight for justice:
Devenue militante d'Amnesty international, prenant cause pour les sans papiers, elle résumait son credo d'une phrase : "Le mot résister doit toujours se conjuguer au présent.""The word 'resist' should always be conjugated in the present tense."
:: David (10:04 in Michigan, 11:04 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 14 2007 ::
If you would like to help check up on our kitten while we are away, you can visit the Mina food bowl webcam.
:: David (15:48 in Michigan, 16:48 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Once again, the sky is falling for investors. Here's a free tip for investors - if this is the first time you've heard about the problems with sub-prime lending, you should sell now. Everything. Not because anything in the economy is a cause for panic, but because you are too uninformed to hold stocks.
:: David (12:50 in Michigan, 13:50 in Paris) - Comment
There's an excellent article in the New York Review of Books titled Scandals of Higher Education, which covers several books and a laundry list of what's wrong with higher ed, from the wealth divide to the admissions process:
Today's system of personal essays, interviews, and recommendations, meant to ensure a diversity of temperaments and interests as well as racial and ethnic origins among admitted students, was invented early in the twentieth century for precisely the opposite reason: to detect and limit applicants with undesirable traits, notably Jewishness.It's a lengthy article, but well worth the effort, as it raises some interesting questions.
:: David (8:10 in Michigan, 9:10 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, March 12 2007 ::
The clocks changed in the United States this weekend (well, in most places), and so naturally there was some discussion as to whether or not the changes implemented this year (the clocks were changed three weeks earlier than in previous years) would actually save the electricity which was the ostensible reason for the shift. Now a post on Auto Blog Green addresses the issue, and raises some very interesting issues with the plan: it seems when Americans have sunlight, they like to get in their car and go shopping.
Retail stores love daylight saving. Because when we have an hour of sunlight after work, Americans tend to go shopping. The first and most persistent lobby for daylight saving in this country was the Chamber of Commerce, because they understood that if their department stores were lit up, people would be tempted by them. In 1986, Congress gave us an extra month of daylight saving time. That's when we went from six to seven months, which is the period we've been living with recently. In that Congressional hearing, [the] golf industry alone, these are industry estimates, told Congress one additional month of daylight saving was worth 200 million dollars in sales of golf clubs and greens fees. The BBQ industry said it was worth 100 million dollars in additional sales of grills and charcoal briquettes.
So much for saving energy. Now, are any Kiwis reading this? Because I see New Zealand is thinking of following suit.
:: David (8:06 in Michigan, 9:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, March 11 2007 ::
Imagine this: you've come to the doctor for some non-routine medical issue. Surgery is required. So your insurance company sends you a plane ticket to Thailand, and off you go, to get your medical care in Bangkok.
Now, this is not at all a crazy idea - I've been following for some time the establishment of Thai hospitals that offer world class service. After September 11th, there was a lot of opportunity to offer medical care to rich individuals from the Middle East, who would ordinarily have gone to the US, but were no longer welcome. An article in the IHT back in 2005 discussed the topic.
But up until now, I've thought of medical tourism as a way to get around an inefficient health care system - many Brits, for example, often go to India to bypass the waitlist. So the idea that the medical systems might actually be joining up, as put forward in the economist, is new for me:
the Asian hospital operators are now courting American health insurers and employers desperate to rein in soaring costs. Bumrungrad's [a Thai hospital] marketing chief, Ruben Toral, who was in America this week for talks with insurers and big employers, says they were very keen. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina already offers Bumrungrad's cut-price treatments to members whose policies do not cover the surgery they need.
The Economist notes, quite rightly, that this could be viewed as outsourcing. But it also offers up some questions - how is it possible that a flight around the world, first world equipment, trained doctors, etc. can be shipped around the world, and the whole package still ends up costing less than local care? Something doesn't add up.
:: David (12:29 in Michigan, 13:29 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
There's a story in the NY Times today about the Brazilian Culture Minister, one Gilberto Gil. If you are not familiar, this paragraph gives you an idea of this eclectic individual:
On Wednesday the Brazilian minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, is scheduled to speak about intellectual property rights, digital media and related topics at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Tex. Two nights later the singer, songwriter and pop star Gilberto Gil begins a three-week North American concert tour.It's an interesting article, all about the musician/government minister and his relationship to intellectual property rights.
If you get the chance, you should check out one of his albums. I like his music quite a bit. And I generally like his policymaking too....
:: David (11:51 in Michigan, 12:51 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, March 9 2007 ::
Too awesome! It's roll your own Battlestar Galactica! They provide the music and FX clips, you provide the video and editing. (via Aerolito and BoingBoing)
:: David (9:53 in Michigan, 10:53 in Paris) - Comment
There are so many levels on which this is wrong: FEMA is getting rid of those trailers they had made for the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. They're selling them at knock-down prices - 40 cents on the dollar. But you can't buy them - they're only selling them in lots of five or more, to dealers, who will then, one presumes, mark them up. Read more at the consumerist.
:: David (9:01 in Michigan, 10:01 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, March 8 2007 ::
A shout out to Ryan Lewis, who was so excited he called my house to tell me that:
U.S. federal regulators suspended trading in 35 companies Thursday in a crackdown on spam e-mail sent by unknown market manipulators who profit from a rise in the share price of thinly traded companies.
No, he's not some kind of weird securities geek - he was excited by the name given to the operation: Operation Spamalot. It's not often this phrase has come out of my mouth, but I would like to shake the hand of the Fed who named that operation!
:: David (23:00 in Michigan, 0:00 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
While looking to see who else was talking about the French elections, I ran across this The French Elections for Dummies page.
:: David (9:46 in Michigan, 10:46 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
According to RFI today, a new poll has been taken in France, putting the candidates neck-and-neck. To be precise, the three candidates are tied - François Bayrou has caught up. The poll gave 26, 25, and 24 percent to Sarkozy, Royale, and Bayrou, respectively. It should be an interesting election.
:: David (9:42 in Michigan, 10:42 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, March 7 2007 ::
Heinlein would be proud. A brother and sister in Germany are trying to get the incest laws there overturned. Given that they apparently already have four children, I'd say the laws aren't working anyway.
:: David (8:41 in Michigan, 9:41 in Paris) - Comment
Ernest Gallo, the winemaker, has passed away. He and his brother started their company, according to the BBC, in 1933, and grew it until it was the largest winemaking company in the world. According to the NY Times, the company now "sells one of every four bottles of wine that Americans drink".
I have fond memories of those ads the company did, purporting to have the Gallo brothers sitting on like the porch of their house trying to get you to buy their wine.
:: David (7:53 in Michigan, 8:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, March 5 2007 ::
I had jury duty today, a rather pointless exercise, which involved showing up, passing through a metal detector, sitting in a room, reading an old popular science 'cause I didn't bring any reading material, being told maybe I could serve on a 'assaulting a police officer' trial, then being told they'd settled, and I could go home. Or in my case, back to work.
:: David (15:20 in Michigan, 16:20 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, March 4 2007 ::
We ran across this story a few days ago, before the vote was taken, and I had a feeling this is what was going to happen: the Cherokee tribe has voted to eject descendants of slaves from their rolls. We read a longer story in the NY Times before the vote was taken, which gave more details on what, exactly, was planned:
Officially, the election will ask voters whether to amend the Cherokee Nation Constitution. Overriding the 1866 treaty, it would limit citizenship to those who can trace their heritage to "Cherokee by blood" rolls, part of a census known as the Dawes Rolls of 1906. The Freedmen [descendants of slaves] would automatically be denied citizenship because the Dawes Rolls, a census commissioned by Congress to distribute land to tribal members, put the Freedmen on a separate roll that made no mention of Indian blood.I assume we have much more fun in the courts to come, now that this decision has been made.
:: David (17:58 in Michigan, 18:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Apparently an international shipping company accidentally shipped human parts to a residential home here in Michigan, rather than the research lab that was their intended destination. Said the wife of the recipient, who actually got two packages, one containing a liver, the other a head, "He started the second one, but stopped as soon as we saw the ear".
:: David (1:27 in Michigan, 2:27 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, March 2 2007 ::
This is kind of interesting. It's a website that works with OpenID to establish reputation based on URL. So you can make an assertion, and then other people vote on that assertion, and if enough people care, they vote it up or down.
So now people can vote on this, and truth is established based on votes. Now, obviously this is imperfect, but it's an interesting start towards online reputation.
:: David (14:52 in Michigan, 15:52 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Hooray! Free BBC on YouTube! The BBC struck a deal with YouTube to put a whole host of video content up on the site. At the moment it looks like about 60 or so videos, a large percent of them clips of Attenborough talking about birds of various species, which might not be the most auspicious start, but the news clips look quite good.
:: David (7:36 in Michigan, 8:36 in Paris) - Comment
I don't know how I missed this! Apparently Daniel Radcliffe, the actor best known for playing Harry Potter in the films, has made his stage debut, playing the disturbed stableboy in equus. For those of you not familiar with the play, there is a scene which has caused a bit of a stir, as it involves our
dear Mr. Potter getting naked. Rumour has it that Warner Bros. is not amused, although they have issued a statement denying this.
:: David (7:22 in Michigan, 8:22 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Thursday, March 1 2007 ::
Two totally random stories on food caught my eye in today's New York Times. The first is about a man in Tennessee who has successfully grown Périgord truffles. I'm sure the story is chock full of his ingenuity, bravery, etc., but the important thing is that we might be able to get truffles more easily. Mmmmm. Truffles.
The second food story was a restaurant review of a steakhouse. Apparently, if you believe the writer, the steaks are top-notch. But what makes it required reading is the location of the restaurant, which is in the Penthouse Executive Club. That's 'Penthouse' as in Penthouse magazine, a girlie magazine. The author's response to his surroundings was wonderful.
We were strangers to such pulchritudinous territory, less susceptible to the scenery than other men might be, more aroused by the side dishes than the sideshow: underdressed, overexposed young women in the vestibule, by the coat check, at the top of the red-carpeted stairs up to the restaurant, on the stage that many of the restaurant’s tables overlook.
:: David (8:12 in Michigan, 9:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments