The sacrifices these kids make

Filed under: music,neat! @ 18:51

I got an email today from one of my students. The subject: “PLAYBOY MANSION”. I thought at first he had a virus, but no – read on. Quoting from personal correspondence in a public arena is a heinous offense punishable by duodenal excision, but I’m making an exception this time. And I’m sure the original sender won’t mind in the slightest.

Dear all powerful and sympathetic TA,

Do you like jazz? I know you like playboy bunnies. The playboy jazz festival is coming up and they’re having opening festivities this Wednesday. I also got a call from a friend who’s looking for a drummer to play Wednesday afternoon AT THE FLIPPING PLAYBOY MANSION (I put that in caps because I’m excited and I’m a drummer too!). Please, I beg you, let me escape the bubble we float around in each day that we call Caltech. Let me break free from time constants and propagation of errors so I can jam out and hopefully get tangent to some (HOT) curves (you know what I’m talking about). In fact, you can come along too if you want! Please, my good man, if you have any sympathy for a poor, hard-working, stressed student, you won’t make me pass up a trip to the playboy mansion for physics lab!

John “I’ll take pictures!” Doe

Sweet merciful crap.

Good GOD man, by all means go forth and multiply.

Enjoy (and take your camera),

Say what you will about Caltech (I know I will), but this never happened at Rochester.


Just what I needed

Filed under: rants @ 14:50

So I’ve been freaking out these past few days due to the imminent doom that is giving group meeting after having done asymptotically little work so far. Not so bad as the trials before others, certainly, but not fun, anyway. Andrew’s been really helpful, though. He’s got some really good ideas.

Anyway, in the midst of working on some QFT homework, I looked up at Google News only to find that the debates about homosexuality in the Anglican Communion are getting more and more intense as time goes on. Most recently, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have been asked to voluntarily and temporarily (three years) step aside from one of the main steering committees of the global Anglican Communion. Us Americans are in the dog house for consecrating an openly gay bishop currently living with his (male) partner. The Canadians got into trouble after one of their dioceses developed a liturgy for the blessing of same sex unions, and then used it.

This is exactly the sort of thing that pisses me off most. A church is guilty of refusing priveleges based on demographics: discrimination at its finest. These are people who believe in your God, love eachother, want to get married and happen to be gay. I don’t believe the Bible ever defines marriage, but I could be wrong – I’m no biblical scholar.

But, it doesn’t even matter. Gay marriage isn’t the heart of the issue; it’s homosexuality itself. The most vitriolic opponent, Primate Akinola of Nigeria says

I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. It is so unnatural, so unscriptural. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don’t hear of such things.

First off, has this guy ever even seen a dog? Secondly, as for homosexuality being “unscriptual” or “outside the biblical boundaries” or a “Satanic attack” (as he also states in the article) ever read Deuteronomy? That’s in the bible, and it says some creepy-ass shit about marriage and sexual relations. Plus there’s all that stuff sprinkled throughout scripture about genocide, abusing women and slavery. But I guess we can ignore that slight difficulty in interpreting scripture as long as we send a few sodomites to hell.

I have one question to ask each of the Anglican Primates out there: “Do you consume, or have you ever consumed shrimp?” If your answer was “yes”, we need to talk. In particular, you need to listen.


A gift from beyond the seas — 17:36

xaosseed is too kind. Support your local female geek.


Carolus Magnus

Filed under: a group of folks,neat! @ 22:32

Haskell and Joanna introduced me this summer to a fantastic board game called Carolus Magnus. I’ve looked for it off and on since then, and finally found it at Game Zone on Colorado. By the way, that’s a pretty cool store. The proprietor really knows his stuff, and it’s pretty well stocked. Plus, there’s a ten percent discount for Caltech students. Props to Dixie of the reference.

Anyway, Carolus Magnus is the best three person game I’ve ever played (and it’s supposed to be awesome for four as well). I’ve never seen a game with similar game play. For starters, there is one and only one moving game piece: Charlemagne. And all players have split control over where Charlemagne moves.

Read more…


Taco Tuesday

Filed under: news,useless @ 22:42

I once made the boast (read “threat”) that I could eat twenty tacos from Del Taco in one sitting. I still think I could do it, but it’d take some prep work.

I just got polished off nine and am pretty full. But how could I possibly resist three tacos for ninety-nine cents (plus tax)? $3.22 for a veritable feast… of cheap tacos… and hot sauce. Well, maybe not a feast, then, but good nonetheless.

What is the marketing strategy behind such a promotion? I mean, this happens once a week, and it’s the only time I go to Del Taco. I suppose by making it an “event”, they get people thinking about it. And even at thirty-three cents a taco, they probably still manage to skim off a profit. Plus, people will probably buy drinks (with which restaurants fleece their customers) and other menu items.

Hm. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty clever. And of course, they got me talking about it.

Damn you, Del Taco, and your cheap tacos.


Billy Strayhorn — 20:25

None of the people that actually read this site will care, but WordPress 1.5 “Strayhorn” is out. Booyah.


Filed under: a group of folks,news @ 01:45

Holly got me to join bebo.com. It’s… not evil. I was really impressed. A nice change from Friendster, which is truly awful (slow, ugly, bloated beast that it is). It’s an interesting idea, but, man, Friendster did not pull it off well. orkut is pretty nice, but, sadly, I never really put any effort into it and then, one day, everyone seemed to be using Friendster (Oh, Sarah, why?).

But back to bebo. Both Friendster and orkut are about connections. Bebo is much simpler; it’s an address book first and foremost with a journal and a photo archive as secondary features. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to send out mass emails when you update your contact information (and shouldn’t have to deal with mass emails when someone else does). Everybody’s info is stored centrally and, as long as people keep their own information updated, is always up to date. It’s a nice idea, and it’s implemented really cleanly. Their privacy policy even seems pretty good.

Pretty slick. You should check it out.


Finally in the Big League

Filed under: a group of folks,news @ 18:47

After six months of residence, Greg, Paul.za and I are finally listed on the apartment directory. And we’ve got an official label on our post box. Guess that means they finally think our money’s good enough for them.

On the whole, the SLR’s been good to us, or at least to me. The obvious benefit our place offers is the space, but beyond that, we’ve never had any big problems with the management, the rest of the residents are all pretty nice, and the voting station is directly across the street.

Sure, real bike racks would be nice, and it’d be awesome if we could have one more garage clicker. I suppose, while I’m at it, I might as well mention how rockin’ it’d be if all the bathrooms had showers.

Now if Greg would only stop smelling my sheets all the time. Come on, dude. Creepy.

This time I’m right — 02:18

Ok. Now I really am in the core. Check it out.


An unexpected perk of being a Caltech grad student

Filed under: academe,neat!,physics @ 18:54

Checking my campus mailbox this morning, I was delightfully surprised by an interesting missive: The January, 1987 edition of The UFO Report. I can only assume some local… is nutjob too strong a word? went through Bridge and put copies in random boxes.

Pretty awesome, though.

The first… article tells the tale of a man and his motorcycle – both driven to seek out extraterrestrials where any reasonable human would most expect to find them: in the woods ripping down the occassional tree and yelling a lot. After passing up the possibility to closely inspect one, nay, two clearly alien spacecraft, he heads to the nearest town for a drink and a chance to interview the locals who had taken advantage of a similar opportunity. Unfortunately, those locals had a dying aunt, or some such, and it wasn’t a good time to discuss the issue. Given, though, the nature of the periodical, you can safely assume he eventually found some aliens (…or did he???). It is particularly remarkable that, in the account, there are literally dozens of witnesses who, one supposes, could verify the presence of our hero near the sighting, yet at the time when he claims to have seen the beast(s?), the author was alone. Naturally, no details about the author are given.

A very entertaining read. Almost as good as the accompanying illustrations.

Read more…

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