My life in a nutshell

Even vaguely resembles my desk:

Osborne Executive

The computer on display is the Osborne Executive, intended as the follow-on product to the Osborne 1, two of which I used to own: only a handful of these — and you had to have big hands, because they were large and unwieldy — managed to slink out of the factory before the company went bankrupt.

And given the retro technology that pervades Equestria, I’ve got to believe that if ponies have computers, they’re running CP/M.

(Unsourced picture from Derpibooru.)

Comments (1)

That’s all she rote

You want the young’uns to learn the basic stuff? Drill, baby, drill:

We all used to learn one standard way to multiply two-digit numbers, now there are a variety of strategies. Sometimes more strategies is better, but sometimes it’s just confusing and unnecessary. As one math prof says,

“The lack of structure in the curriculum really interferes with the students’ ability to become procedurally competent enough, so when they’re challenged with higher level math, their working memory overloads, and they’re completely confused and can’t cope. But it’s not because the children are stupid or unable [to do it]. It’s just that the structure of the learning experience has been too casual.”

That one method that was drilled in our heads was — and is — very effective. And now that we’re seeing that this new way that offers numerous strategies and requires written explanations to prove understand — “Why does 7 x 6 equal 42?” — isn’t working as well as we hoped, and the numbers are starting to look bad for us, hopefully we’ll switch back.

Nor is this premise limited to arithmetic:

The same thing happened when I was a kid, and we learned a 44-letter alphabet to teach us how to read better. Luckily, my mom taught me to read at home already, but I still can’t spell worth beans. When that failed across the board, we went back to regular phonetic learning for an interim until some guru discovered the “whole language” method — which was also a disaster. We’re currently back to sounding out words again because it’s worked for a really, really long time.

Education, no less than other segments of the culture, has its own periodic fads, which eventually pass. At least, you hope they pass.

Comments (2)

Sea shells? See shore

Modest aspirations, these, or maybe not:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I want to create a website for creating websites. like people can create website directly using that website?

Oh, he could probably do it, but I’d hate to see the documentation, which would inevitably read something like this:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (3)

The order of stone-casting

A Shreveport Councilman gets his world rocked, so to speak:

A City Council member in Shreveport, La., has abandoned his effort to repeal an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, following outcry from the public, including a transgender woman who dared him to stone her to death.

The council passed the ordinance in December by a vote of 6-1, following a successful campaign by a pro-LGBT coaltion known as Be Fair Shreveport. The ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing and employment within city limits on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, received its lone “no” vote from Councilman Ron Webb. During the council’s debate last December, Webb voiced his opposition, saying, “The Bible tells you homosexuals are an abomination,” adding that he does not socialize with LGBT people, according to TV station KSLA.

At least, he thinks he doesn’t.

Still, he wasn’t about to give up:

Ten days after the council approved the ordinance, Webb drafted a proposal designed to repeal the nondiscrimination policy. On Tuesday, dozens of people registered to testify at the City Council meeting, ready to speak out against Webb’s measure, report Lone Star Q.

But none were quite as bold as Pamela Raintree, a transgender woman. Raintree called out the Bible-quoting councilman, daring him to stone her to death.

“Leviticus 20:13 states, ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they shall surely put him to death,'” Raintree began. “I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

By the end of the meeting, Webb had withdrawn his motion to repeal.

Comments off

Background check

Over at Pergelator, we find a screenshot of, well, an earlier Pergelator article:

Screenshot from Pergelator

Now what was perturbing at first, of course, was that little circle just above the beginning of the second line of text, which was eventually blamed on Chrome, because it’s a Google product and when in doubt, you might as well blame Google, especially since the article was posted via Blogger, which is a Google product.

But what’s more interesting is the second complaint:

You know what else is weird? The background in the screenshot is a different color than the background here, even though they should be identical. I mean, it’s a screenshot, right?

It is. And so is this:

Screenshot from Pergelator

I took that via Firefox 26. Obviously I’m not using the same typeface or size. More important, I didn’t save this as a JPEG; I saved mine as a PNG, which works better on text and charts and graphs than JPEG, which is better suited to actual pictures of stuff.

There’s still the question of why my copy of his background is darker than my background, but that’s also pretty easily answered: his text-area background color is just a hair darker than mine. (I use flat #FFFFFF in this theme; he uses #F5F5F5 in his.) And actually, the slightly off-white is probably a bit easier on readers’ eyes.

This is not to say that I’m any kind of graphics whiz or anything, only that I’ve been at it long enough to manipulate the rudiments reasonably well.

Comments off

Strange search-engine queries (416)

Warning to Consumers: If you visited a search engine any time between the 12th of January and today, there exists a chance that your search thread may have been captured by the system logs and then revealed to the general public. If this happens to you — well, dumb luck, I guess.

what kind of transmission is in a MX6 V6 stick shift:  Just off the top of my head, I’d say a manual.

when did franklin d roosevelt provide bibles for troops thru american bible soc:  Just off the top of my head, I’d say World War II.

real big and outside nudiarist:  He’s big, but not that big. And yes, he’s probably outside, unless it’s cold out.

leawood boundaries redrawn to exclude Jewish neighborhood:  So far as I can tell, this search did not emanate from Hamas.

keem-o-sabe lyrics the electric indian:  About the same number of words as Neal Hefti’s Batman theme.

SPEEDOMETER, GEARSHIFTDISPLAY, TRANSMISSIONMALFUNCTION:  First, STOP YELLING! Then go get your car fixed, because there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Pony tales pentahouse letters:  The inspiration for about 15 percent of MLP:FiM fanfic.

is a 2001 maxda 626 ford built:  Not technically, although Ford owned half the plant at the time.

stallman has a girlfriend:  Preceded, no doubt, by “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.” See Connie Francis’ “Lipstick on Your Collar” for an example.

will a speed sensor out of a 03 escape transmission fir in a 97 mazda 626:  It might. Doesn’t mean it will work, though.

I haven’t actual credit card to berify i’m beyond age of 18 and actually 44, what now Naughty AND  Two words: “access denied.”

Comments off

And also of cabbages

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s Sacramento Kings, it’s this: cheaper equals better. Isaiah Thomas, arguably the league’s best-buy point guard — averaging 19 points a game and earning under $900k a year — knocked down a torrid 27 points in the first half tonight and finished with a career-high 38. Comparatively pricey forward Rudy Gay, unnerved by being held to six points, was T’d up for protesting a call, got louder, and was propelled from the premises. By this time, though, the Thunder, who trailed the Kings 30-28 after the first quarter, had run out to a double-digit lead, and Sacramento’s failure to score for more than four minutes at the beginning of the fourth quarter basically sealed their doom. They did whittle a 24-point deficit down to 13, trying everything including Hack-a-Perk. (They fouled Kendrick Perkins thrice, and Perk made three of the four six throws.) Still, the Thunder prevailed, 108-93.

Four of the five Thunder starters collected double figures, led by Kevin Durant (of course) with 30; Perk, the odd man out, still made seven. Two of the reserves — Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison — rolled up ten points. And this was Serge Ibaka’s third game in a row over 20.

DeMarcus Cousins, surly as ever, got one of two Sacramento double-doubles, with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Jason Thompson (11 points, 10 boards) got the other. But Thomas was just incredible to behold and for the most part impossible to defend. And welcome back, newly-recovered Carl Landry, who scored six points in nine minutes.

There are still some lingering Thunder issues: Steven Adams fouled out for the third game in a row, though he made it through 17 minutes this time instead of 10 or 11, and Reggie Jackson is still having occasional flashes of “What do I do now?” How this will work out against the likes of the Trail Blazers, we’ll know on Tuesday.

Comments off

Of people and pronouns

Shorter version: if “people” = “yes” than “it” = “not appropriate.” If it gets complicated after that, well, so do people.

Comments (1)

The Russians are spamming

Well, actually we don’t know that they’re Russians, though they cited as a URL a post on, and they went back and forth among three two-line offerings, all apparently pitching movie rentals.

Actual text:

Новинки кино!
Смотрите фильмы онлайн

Лучшие фильмы!
Смотрите популярные фильмы

Лидеры проката!
Смотрите фильмы лидеры проката

Okay, I’m a little fuzzy on the last one, and by “I” I mean Google Translate.

Note: If this doesn’t look Russian to you, change your character encoding to Unicode.

Comments (3)

It’s not a pig in this particular poke

“You can’t judge a book,” sang Bo Diddley — Willie Dixon wrote it, but it’s now thought of as Bo’s song — “by looking at the cover.” A Santa Cruz bookstore apparently decided to test this premise:

The paper covers do list the genre, but not much else.

Comments (1)

She shoots

The right to defend yourself? India says a tentative Yes:

India has launched a new handgun for women, named after a student who was gang-raped in Delhi in December 2012 and later died of her injuries. Officials say it will help women defend themselves, but critics say it’s an insult to the victim’s memory.

In the wacky U. S. of A., this premise would be utterly inverted: Washington doesn’t think anyone should have guns except government employees, Mexican drug-runners, any of several varieties of Muslims, and Hollywood bodyguards.

About the gun itself:

In his large office on Kanpur’s Kalpi Road, Abdul Hameed, the general manager of the state-run Indian Ordnance Factory, shows me Nirbheek, the factory’s tiniest gun.

“It’s small, it’s lightweight, it weighs only 500g [1.1lb], and it can easily fit into a lady’s purse.”

Hameed speaks enthusiastically about the .32-calibre revolver, praising the “special titanium alloy body, the pleasing-to-the-eye wooden handle”.

“The six-shot gun is easy to handle and it can hit its target accurately up to 15m [50ft],” he explains, pointing out the word “Nirbheek” engraved on the barrel.

And about that name:

Nirbheek is a synonym of Nirbhaya — the nickname given by the Indian press to the Delhi rape victim, who could not be named under Indian laws. Both words mean “fearless” in Hindi.

The price is steep: ₹122,360 ($1990). Said one of the critics:

“In India, the annual income of most people is less than the cost of the gun. So to suggest that this gun will make women safer is bizarre.”

You have to wonder what she’d say if it were only two hundred bucks instead of two thousand.

Comments (1)

Let’s hope they sell it by today

“Spicy” tuna roll? More like “pricey” tuna roll:

Tuna roll at Whole Foods Market

Now back when I went to school, seven ounces at $27.40 a pound worked out to $11.99, though in those days I would have been distracted by the question of how in blazes something in a grocery store could possibly sell for $27.40 a pound. Today I see the beef tenderloins in the butcher’s case marked at $27.99 a pound, and I don’t even flinch.

It appears, though, that this package’s claimed item count is forty-one, and at $11.99 each, this indeed comes to $491.59. Next question: who on God’s green earth buys 41 tuna rolls at a time? Grumpy Cat?

Comments off

Almost nothing to it

Shoebunny is back, albeit with a different focus: all shoes, no celebrities. This might be just as well, given the sad state of some of the celebrity feet previously exhibited: high heels can exact a price far beyond the sticker on the box.

I’ve spoken before of my fondness for insubstantial-looking shoes, and this one borders on wispy:

B Brian Atwood Kelston block-heel ankle-wrap sandal

You’re looking at “Kelston” from B Brian Atwood. The extra B stands for — well, no, actually it doesn’t. This is a diffusion line, made by a high-priced brand to be sold at high-priced stores at prices not quite so high. (This particular example: Neiman-Marcus/$275.) The heel, at 2½ inches, is perhaps bearable. Of course, if you’ve been wearing heels since you were 12, you won’t think anything about this one; you probably won’t even consider how, um, revealing this shoe might prove to be, but perhaps you should. (Warning: slideshow; also some possibly upsetting pictures, though these are a lot less horrible than what I’ve seen in some other galleries on the same subject.)

Comments off

Bush administration

American Apparel’s new mannequins are about as un-Brazilian as they come:

This week the American Apparel on East Houston Street [NYC] put up a new window display, featuring a more natural looking mannequin. We called the shop up this morning and the employee who answered told us that the mannequins just went up last night, and he had never seen them before … “not in this configuration” (a.k.a. full 1970s porn bush showing through a high-waisted white panty). While leaving nothing to the imagination, at least this mannequin looks like she’s of a more … legal age, than say, the models used to sell the clothes online.

This isn’t going to spread to other stores in the chain, though:

American Apparel’s Ryan Holiday tells us, “The display was created for that store specifically.”

Note: Every possible “merkin” joke has already been used.

Comments off

Future sexagenarian

As I may have mentioned somewhere along the way, Christie Brinkley is about to turn 60. (The actual date: 2/2.)

Lots of good red-carpet pictures out there, but I opted for this out-of-the-limo shot from earlier this week:

Christie Brinkley exiting limo at LAX

I have my reservations about the shoes, but it’s not like anyone needs to heed my wardrobe recommendations.

Comments (6)

Beyond triplicate

A good threesome is hard to beat. Think Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Dewey, Cheetham and Howe; Manny, Moe and Jack. It was a shock to the system to discover that there was originally a fourth Pep Boy. But that’s nothing compared to this:

You’re familiar with the elves, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Their onomatopoetic names match the very cereal they’ve repped since the ’30s — Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. In the years after that, the trio has withstood the influx of cartoon competitors like the Trix Rabbit, Lucky the Leprechaun, the Cookie Crisp thieves, Cap’n Crunch and many more. Lost in the shuffle, however, was a fourth Rice Krispies elf named Pow! His short life is a time-capsule of an era when everyone was dreaming big.

Say, kids, what era was that?

From 1948 through the mid ’50s, the brothers sponsored the popular children’s program The Howdy Doody Show. But in early 1950, Kellogg’s marketers snuck in a fourth friend, Pow. The company said in an email to, “[Pow] appeared in two TV commercials. The spaceman character was meant to exude the ‘power of whole grain rice.’ He was never considered an official character.”

And why don’t you hear about that fourth Pep Boy? Perhaps because he cashed out of the company early — or maybe because his name was also Moe.

(Thanks, M. A. Larson!)

Comments off