not worth archiving.
Me: Frank Lynch
These are my mundane daily ramblings.
What does this mean, "At least we tried."? Last night Amazon sent out an email to those who had signed up for information on the release date of The In-Laws on DVD. Already it's number 7 in their sales ranking. A lot of people must have been waiting!
Considered learning CPR? It saves lives. (This link will probably be obsolete by March 7 2003.)
Charles Krauthammer doesn't see the source of the ridiculousness. In a column in today's Washington Post, Krauthammer thinks it's a ridiculous charade that the US has to appeal to countries like "Guinea, Cameroon and Angola in search of the nine Security Council votes necessary to pass our new resolution on Iraq." Then, he says, we'll be able to ignore countries like France and Russia. It sounds as if Krauthammer thinks it's good to ignore countries like France and Russia. While Krauthammer is calling the whole process ridiculous, he doesn't seem to care that the US is making it so. Our arguments have failed to persuade, and we seem more interested in fracturing the UN than in gaining consensus. (The current strategy is to get the nine votes, and then force those who disagree with us that they jeopardize the ongoing role of the UN if they veto.) As long as we all know what ridiculous is...
So another record apparently won't be broken. Earlier in the week they were projecting 2-3 inches of snow for us today, which, if it materialized, would have made this the snowiest February in New York City history. But it looks like it's not going to happen: Roker.com is now saying we're only going to get flurries. (You can look at the non-storm on this weather map, courtesy of weather.com
Bush tries hard to find people who agree with him, but some tasks are insurmountable. No this isn't about the war. But economist Glenn Hubbard, whose resignation from the White House was announced a couple days ago, had said in one of his textbooks that cutting taxes doesn't make the economy grow so much as to replace the tax revenues. And in the White House he had to say the opposite. Now it seems as if his replacement, N. Gregory Mankiw, will face a similar quandary. How long will it take the President and his staff to admit that their ideas are unsupportable?
Ah, the excitement... I found my name in another book.
This time I was thanked by Vincent Flanders, of Web Pages
that Suck. I'm listed in the "Thank Yous" of his book Son of Web Pages That Suck.
Presumably it's for all the horrible web sites and commentary
I've called to his attention over the years, as well as
additional bits here and there. (The other two books where I'm
thanked or acknowledged are this and this.)
Not with a bang, but with a whimper... Tonight was Rob Lowe's final episode on "The West Wing." (If you're reading this in some television market such as the UK, where the episodes lag, sorry if I'm being a spoiler.) But this is how he leaves? We don't even hear any election results? I mean, we know the results in advance, but Sam Seaborn and Toby do this big hug in a bar, and that's it? Whadda they think this is, Mary Tyler Moore?
And the winner is: Libeskind! Studio Daniel Libeskind has won the competition for the design of the redeveloped World Trade Center sight. I, for one, couldn't be happier. The design has these gardens up top, which reminded me of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon: one of the seven wonders of the world. And you know how we New Yorkers feel about being wonders of the world.
Now, for something completely different, check out their web site — but remember, this is a design firm, so expect a lot of wild stuff. (You've been warned.)
Denials and then it happens. In January I reported that there was news, denied, that White House economist Glenn Hubbard was resigning. Seems now he's done it.
Another year bites the dust. Turned 46 yesterday,
fairly calmly. My wife gave me a jar opener, largely as a gag
gift. There have been a couple occasions recently where opening
something like a new bottle of cranberry juice was ridiculously
difficult. I could so it, but the experiences made me empathize
with those elder citizens who face this challenge all too often.
I really wondered if manufacturers were testing their packages
adequately. Anyway, we're now prepared, my wife says.
So how biased is the American media? And in which direction? Right now my reading of choice is Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? He's chosen a difficult task — he admits up front that truth is subjective, and since truth is subjective, so is bias... But then he does this incredible wizardry where he takes the unproven conservative proposition that the US media has a liberal bias, and dissects it tendon, muscle, organ, bone, and vein at a time. So far, the conservative patient doesn't live. Check it out!
So we're supposed to trust the Bushies as we march off to war? Look, I can support war when it's proven necessary just as much as the next guy. But when the Bushies lie, lie, lie about the impact their tax plan will have, about something as comparatively insignificant as our deficit, well, then, it calls everything else into question. Excuse me, but I would not send my kid gently into that night.
Courtesy, of course, of the party that was going to restore honor and integrity to the White House. GMAFB.
Update (July 13, 2003): The link to the Newsday article is obsolete, but you can read more at Spinsanity.
Explaining Grammy 'failure' to the Kid Unit. The Kid
Unit's favorite, Avril Lavigne, failed to collect a single
Grammy, much to the dismay of the Kid Unit, aged 9. This could
be the first year the Kid Unit really cared about the Grammys,
mostly thanks to Miss Lavigne. Of course we pointed out those
who have never won Grammys who we like a lot in this house (the
Rundgren), and those who seem only to have been honored
retrospectively (Bob Dylan). As well as those who have won who
no one cares abut these days (uh, Christopher Cross, Toto... No
offense to you guys, my hat's off to you for your winning, those
albums were good flares, but you are the other side of the
equation). It was also another opportunity to get into that
parental "sometimes life isn't fair" discussion. It's just
Almost through the school holiday. The week off from school is usually tough, because the other kids in the Kid Unit's school usually go away for the week. But because of job calendars or economics or what have you, we just don't usually go away. It's a challenge for the Kid Unit, requiring more independent play, but you know? As an only child, the challenge would still be there even if we went away. Even if we took the time off now and went to amusement parks or fishing or such, the Kid Unit would not be with other familiar kids. But the Kid Unit is getting to a more appropriate age for origami, and so that's happening, along with puzzles, etc. If museums were acceptable, believe you me we'd be doing that kind of thing. (Don't get me wrong, some friends are around, and there have been some playdates.)
This is probably why I spent so much on arcane books dealing with Samuel Johnson. Today I was able to sit down and do some actual writing on the book, rather than dealing with the structural issues which have weighed so heavily on my mind for the past few weeks. With regard to those structural issues, I guess I decided to take a test-taking strategy: if one question bogs you down, move to another and come back to it later. Were I multiple people, this would be called parallel processing... But anyway, today I decided to write, and in the course of writing drew on a number of reference materials here in my little room:
Johnson warned me that I'd turn over half a library to write a single book: this was just for two pages.
No, the Internet is not free. Tom Tomorrow, the
cartoonist who draws "This Modern World," featured in Salon and
elsewhere, got the shock of his lifetime. His web log suddenly
became very popular, and got so much traffic that it went
off his web server's pricing plan chart. To the tune of $3800
for one month!! If you visit his site
with any frequency, you might want to chip in.
It ain't the snow, it's the drifts. NYC has certainly seen more snow in a snowstorm than we had yesterday, but the problem was compounded by the wind, creating huge drifts. Tom Tomorrow has a fine example of what they look like. (I have some too, but I don't want to burden this page with too many pictures. If you don't want to click to his page, basically our streets look kind of like a curbside alpine ridge, only with cars under the mountains.)
Update: Tom Tomorrow had a picture up, and I'd linked to it, but he's taken a lot of his pictures down because he just got hit with a huge bill for exceeding his bandwidth allocation. The web costs money!
We know you know what your "Desert Island Discs" are... But have you thought about what music you want played when you step into the batter's box? An article at Slate suggested that Major League Baseball players frequently get to tell their home stadium public address department what music they want played. So, I think that it's incumbent upon us all to think about these hard decisions (you never know when you'll get the call). Keep in mind, they're not going to play the whole song, perhaps only four seconds. And, this is not meant to represent your opinion of the five best snippets in all of music: you're going up to bat. So, presuming I have five at-bats, here are my five choices (in no particular order):
I don't think there's any requirement that the music be instantly recognized by the fans. But it should have a rallying feel to it, don't you think? (No Strauss waltzes, if'n you get my drift.)
Poor computer programming slows an emergency response.
Mayor Bloomberg knows how poor design can slow down processes
needlessly, but apparently that word hasn't filtered through the
city government yet. There was a tragic boating accident last
month, where four teenagers got lost in the icy waters of Long
Island Sound. One of them used a cellphone to call 911, but the
dispatcher didn't have much to go on, and when she input "Long
Island Sound" into the computer system, it was rejected. She
called her supervisor, but that supervisor could do no better.
Apparently there was a memo in September mandating that you're
supposed to input the department with the appropriate
jurisdiction into the system, not the body of water. And the
supervisor is being reprimanded for failure to adhere to
the memo. But what about the project manager who launched this
software? Shouldn't it have been designed to make the job for
the dispatcher as easy as possible? Shouldn't it have had an
internal routine built in which would re-interpret "Long Island
Sound" to then force the appropriate authority? If Google and
Amazon can correct you, why can't emergency services?
A problem of epidemic proportions. All across the northeast, from Washington DC into New England, bloggers are filling their pages with winter shots taken from today's storm. Pictures like the one on the left, that basically do nothing more than to tell you that they know how to do a little desktop publishing, and oh, by the way, this is what snow looks like. And to boldly display their neighborhood, perhaps.
But as nice as it was to get a serious snowstorm today, I don't think it was as scenic as what we had back on December 5. Today was a brighter day, and the snow was powdery. The consistency of the snow, coupled with strong winds, meant that few trees had snow on their branches. That alone will really change the look of the winter. When it all looks like icing, it's somehow more, well, idyllic. December 5's storm was much more like that, although the snow was not so deep. I ventured into Prospect Park both today and that day, and although it was physically more painful to go out on December 5 (I think it was colder, but I'm not sure), it was just so much more beautiful than it was today. A grey tinge over the entire park; today, it was just... white.
Totals aren't in yet, but I'm guessing we got around 20 inches here. And yes, that's a shot of our building.
Square eyes for the Kid Unit today. My wife and the Kid Unit got to ski on Saturday, so the little one feels sated with respect to snow today, and did not venture out. Animal Planet has been running some kind of Jeff Corwin Experience marathon, and the Kid Unit has been glued to the set. But school is out all this week, and I won't let this continue further into the week.
Regrettably, I didn't participate in any of the marches or
demonstrations this past Saturday. I think I had a
reasonable excuse — I needed to work with a book that I
have on loan for less than three weeks, and see how much I could
get accomplished with it in a day. I think I was successful, in
that I know I have to limit my focus and not try to plumb it for
all it has, and I couldn't have learned that without some serious
effort. But part of me still thinks I should have gone, even
though here in NYC you basically had to arrive the day before in
order to get near the speakers' platform. (If you haven't heard,
the organizers were denied a marching permit in NYC, and the best
that could be done was a stationary rally on First Avenue. But
turnout was so high, it stretched from 49th Street up to 72nd
Street, with spillover crowds all the way over to Lexington
Avenue. No way I could have gotten anywhere close enough to have
any impact or to have heard anything.)
The joys of an inter-library loan. Last fall I became aware of "Samuel Johnson in the British Press: 1749-1784," by Helen McGuffie (Garland, 1976). It's basically a listing of all the occasions when Johnson, or something about him, was mentioned in the newspapers and monthly magazines of London and Edinburgh. It's invaluable if you want to get a sense of Johnson's fame while he lived, long before Boswell's books came out. Problem was, the book is out of print, and unavailable through all the used bookstore aggregators on the web. And it's not in many libraries, either: a friend ran a search and found it in only eleven libraries across the U.S. So I applied for an interlibrary loan through the Brooklyn Public Library, and it arrived this week.
Ahh, the joys this book contains. It truly is a treasure. McGuffie has done an enormous task here, listing within the year and the month, the publication, the title where Johnson is mentioned or included, a small synopsis of why it's relevant to Johnson, and sometimes a little actual verbiage.
One little gem I noticed had to do with the controversy over Johnson's acceptance of his pension. You may know that it was controversial because Johnson was critical of those who were on the pension list when he wrote his Dictionary (1755), considering them "traitors to their country." Naturally, then, for Johnson to accept a pension in 1763 caused a bit of a furor, even though Johnson had been assured that the pension was for past work, not future work. Well, John Wilkes was among Johnson's harshest critics over this. One of McGuffie's entries is about a letter to the editor wherein it is speculated that Wilkes might have been so harsh because Wilkes' father was a distiller, and Wilkes might have been offended by Johnson's definition of "distiller." (Johnson's definition was "one who makes and sells pernicious and inflammatory spirits.")
As great as the volume is — and I admire the effort that went into it — there is room to complain that there are no summary statistics, such as histograms, which might quickly give someone a sense of when Johnson's fame peaked. None at all, which is unfortunate, because McGuffie has been very inclusive, and it would be nice to be able to separate out the spontaneous mentions (such as letters and reviews) from the announcements of publications from the publishers etc. McGuffie provides the information to construct such histograms, but I only have this for three weeks. And that's not a great use of my time right now.
Focus. We need more focus. It's time to weed away the
petty distractions. So I've taken gawker.com out
of my bookmarks. After looking at it fairly frequently over the
past few weeks, I've realized that it's really only a page of
gossip. That's fine for some people, but if I didn't have time
for gossip in the newspapers, on the television, or in People
magazine, I don't have time for it now. Even if it is
just a click away and cleverly written. I just don't have the
time. (I also don't watch "The West Wing" any longer.)
Organized crime is more and more a part of our lives. Not sure what we can do about it, though. Some time ago dairy truck tires were being slashed in order to keep New Jersey milk out of New York state. And a poster in the newsgroup nyc.food reported receiving threats after getting a lawsuit against a restaurant onto a court docket. (The message is viewable in newsreaders under the thread "Considering Suing the Restaurant.... & Why", but not in google groups.)
Now we have actor Steven Seagal testifying about efforts to infiltrate the film industry. You know, even if those antidrug ads about all the fallout from drug purchases aren't true, why would you want to risk them being true?
The City of New York wants you to join the ACLU. Clearly. As part of a bold drive to increase membership in the American Civil Liberties Union, the city stalled on approving a parade permit for an antiwar protest slated for February 15. Flat out stalled. And then, to support the city, the New York Sun wrote this horrendous editorial suggesting that paraders will give comfort to the enemy, and are therefore treasonous, and the city should not allow such a parade. With me so far? Well, yesterday a court upheld the City's failure to provide a permit on "safety" grounds. "It is incomprehensible that the finest police department in the world cannot accommodate a traditional peaceful protest," said an expert in today's Times article
Are our memories so short that no one recognizes the "safety" argument as the same one tried 40 years ago in the South, to avoid granting civil rights?
We don't need no stinking rules. One of my daily visits (or more frequently if I'm particularly bored) is Coudal Partners, because the company seems to have a sense of humor and imagination both as they approach design and as they find daily links. But just yesterday they started listing what they call The Ten Commandments for Bloggers. Not to suggest that what they list doesn't make sense (it does), but I thought the point of blogging was to be self-expressive? Blogs don't have to be focused on (inter)national issues, or focused on anything, if the blogger doesn't want. It may be difficult to obtain readership and then maintain it if it's inconsistent, but WHO CARES?
Surprisingly absent from their list, last I looked, was that
new entries are generally posted at the top.
A gentle snow so far, no real accumulation to speak of. That's as of 1:22 PM (-5 GMT) anyway. Should be much less than what we had on Friday, by a couple inches anyway.
The Kid Unit is home sick today. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, a high fever arrived yesterday morning, and was still here last night, so no school today. As much as I would like to focus on other things and not the Kid Unit, something in me refuses to let the television remain on all day... Although I am learning more about daytime TV program schedules as a result. For instance, TBS carries "Little House." (You were dying to know that, weren't you?)
Is some demon sucking up my PCs memory without my
knowledge? Three times today I tried saving an html page in
txt format, using the same strokes I always do in
WordPerfect, but WordPerfect didn't register my strokes, and
saved them in its own format. This introduces hassles for me
— I have to save the file again as a txt format with a txt
extension, close the file, and then use Windows explorer to
delete the badly-formatted file and rename the txt file with an
html extension. I have no idea why it's such a frequent problem
today. I will have to run AdAware again, and see if something is
sucking up my resources.
Rearranged Sunday. My wife and the Kid Unit were supposed to go skiing today (the Kid Unit's first time: much excitement), but the Kid Unit woke up with a high fever, and we had to bow out.
We had no Children's Motrin, thanks to our neighbor. I'm blessed with one of those neighbors that borrow items and rarely return them. For instance, once they had our plunger so long they began to believe it was theirs. They also had a cake carrier so long, I had to replace it on an occasion they were out (I couldn't knock on their door, for instance, and ask for it back.) The worst part is they know they have our stuff, and joke about how they have to return it. Yes, they do.
Well, last weekend (a week ago) one of their kids was running a high fever, and they needed to borrow some Children's Motrin from us. We had an unopened bottle, and I lent it to them even though I have all these misgivings, because you just can't turn someone down when their kid is running a fever. They said they would replace the bottle for me.
(Their child, it should be noted, is old enough that they could have left him alone while they went around the corner to buy some; and it being about 2 PM, stores were open. But as we all know, it's more convenient to borrow from a neighbor. I don't mind that they borrowed from us.)
Well, last night a friend was over, and we were joking about the neighbor's abysmal borrowing habits. My wife thinks I'm being petty here, and reassured me that the wife next door promised she would replace it, so I should be satisfied. But here we were this morning, a week later, our Kid Unit had a 102-degree temperature, it's 7 AM, and there's no answer next door.
Basically, they have now put me in an untenable position: we had no medicine for our child because we gave ours to them. And when they make requests in the future, I will feel a little like I am sacrificing my child for theirs. Again, I don't mind that they knocked on our door and borrowed from us. I'm glad I could help. What I do mind, obviously, is that after a week they hadn't replaced what they borrowed. And medicine is not a cup of sugar or an egg.
Not at all The Beverly Hillbillies. The other day in
the Strand I picked up an old copy of Karel Capek's "Letters From
England." His descriptions of what he saw in his 1924 visit to
England are often hilarious, and sometimes sound like they came
from Mark Twain. He describes neighborhoods seemingly under a
curse, because they all hue to the same fashion; he describes the
congestion of London traffic, and his amazement that bus drivers
know where to take a turn. It goes on and on... But even though
so much of this holds true today, and sounds like a country
bumpkin, it's not that at all. Capek is frequently expressing
disdain for 20th century trends in Britain. Check it out, if you
can, it's very well done.
So was this Van Gogh painting designed by Fleetwood Mac or what? I'm serious. Fleetwood Mac always used to squeeze a penguin onto their album covers somewhere, even if they were sometimes obscure (Tusk had a picture of LA Dodgers' first baseman Ron Cey, whose nickname was "The Penguin").
We bought a print of this painting in 1997 when we visited the Netherlands (one of our former au pairs is Dutch, and we were visiting her and another that summer), and it's even more obvious in the large print I have on the wall here in the office. Now look, and tell me if I'm wrong. Ain't that a penguin there on the shore? And this is clearly not Antarctica. And none of the other women seem to care. This leads me to believe that penguins are actually pretty common in France. (The name of the painting, by the way, is "The Langlois Bridge with Women Washing," and the image is taken from a web site devoted to marketing prints and postcards from artists.)
So, to repeat, is what you see below a penguin, or what? Are there penguins in France?
The decisions have been made on how to proceed with the new World Trade Center. Kind of sort of, any way: they have two designs in mind, and there will need to be some meeting of the minds.
Personally, I really liked the Libeskind design because of the gardens at the top. When we looked at all the designs in early January, I was struck by what wasn't said: the gardens up top reminded me of the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the original seven wonders of the world, and I couldn't think of a better way to return in that "We Are New York And We Are Still Here" kind of way.
We didn't pull out all the stops, but she was happy. I think. Yesterday was my wife's birthday, 36 in base 12, we say when we want to reduce our ages. She insisted on nothing, so the Kid Unit and I went out to buy gifts under extremely tight budgets and with maximum practicality in mind. I think we succeeded.
Dinner was her favorite dish, a salmon filet marinated in
sugars, salt, and white pepper, and then finally cooked in the
stove top smoker. Plus a rice mix she loves, and a salad with
goat cheese. Not enough time to make her her favorite pie,
though (apple cranberry raisin, since you asked — the
recipe is in Fanny Farmer) and so I picked up a chocolate cake
from Cousin John's.
In the midst of tragedy, the value of science is apparent in little ways. I haven't bothered to say anything about the NASA tragedy because I don't think I can add anything to what you're already thinking. Of course I'm filled with grief for the families and everyone in the program, and my mind is filled with the daily stress that filled the families in the movie "The Right Stuff."
But I just read something on the NY Times site, in an article on the tragedy, which, in a weekend of lost breath, took my breath away. And it said so much about why people dedicate themselves to science. NASA spokesperson Ron Dittemore was talking about the number of calls and emails they had received regarding debris: 600 calls, and a couple hundred emails, and over half of the emails included images of the debris.
When most people think about the Information Age, it's generally spoken of in terms of information dissemination: you know, people getting health information on a web site or something like that. In this case it's more of a bottom-up information flow, with people using either digital cameras or one-hour photo development stores and scanning, then feeding the e-files up to NASA. We're seeing here not just the impact of digital image creation, but the transmission.
Is this important? Think about the Rodney King beating, captured on amateur video, and imagine that scenario now.
Oatmeal like you've never had it before. The latest Cook's Illustrated has a recipe for oatmeal that results in a fluffy dish, with each grain distinct, and not mushy. However, their method seems to result in considerable waste, so I present you with my version.
In Cook's Illustrated, they have you start with the steamer in the water, and have you lift the steamer out of the boiling water after the two minutes are up. But I've found that once you pour the oats into the boiling water, many of them will sneak out of the steamer and into the boiling water. So you have a lot left behind in the boiling water anyway. And since it's not that easy to lift a steamer basket out of boiling water, I think it makes sense to dispense with the steamer in the early step.
Capsizes and turnovers. The police have recovered a small skiff off Hart Island, and believe it may have been used by four teenagers, presumed dead. In an ironic linguistic twist, under the boat they found a cellophane wrapper from an apple turnover, which makes them feel more confident that this boat had been used by the four youths. The New York Times only calls the clue "odd," but doesn't mention the irony of capsizes and turnovers.
The subway fare increases could be pretty onerous, if
you ask me. According to notices posted by the MTA, they're asking for
fare increases of up to a third on most fares (bringing a single
ride up to $2.00 from $1.50). Some of this is due to the
success, I guess, of multi-ride MetroCards. According to the
posters, the average fare is effectively $1.06 due to purchase of
weeklies, monthlies, etc. One fare could go up by 75%:
the single day pass, which now costs $4, could go up to $7.
Where three rides made a day pass make sense, it could require
four rides before it makes sense for a user to go to the
day pass. I know this will have an impact on my usage,
and I'm sure it will hurt the tourists (think of those
families...). Look for heavier use of cabs this summer, as a