« November 28, 2006 | Main | November 30, 2006 »

November 29, 2006

CIA Personality Test


Take it here.

November 29, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Moon In My Room


Hey, it's their name, not mine — get outa my face.

From the website:

    Moon In My Room

    • Authentic moon detail

    • Light-up moon with 12 lunar phases

    • Easily mounts to wall with 3 different hanging options

    • Built-in light sensor illuminates moon when it gets dark

    • Automatic or manual function shows 12 phases of the moon

    • 15 minute audio CD provides a guided tour to the moon

    • Moon In My Room requires 3 AA batteries

    • Remote control requires 2 AAA batteries

    • Auto-shut-off to preserve battery life

    • Infrared remote control

    • 10"Diameter


$39 (batteries not included).

November 29, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why calling you 'booboo' proves I care


Alfred University philosophy professor Emrys Westacott, in Dinitia Smith's November 25, 2006 New York Times story, was quoted as saying that calling someone a meathead could be a "way that we establish, affirm and strengthen bonds of friendship and intimacy."

Hey — he said it, not me.

Here's the Times story.

    Go Ahead, Call Your Friend ‘Meathead’

    Sometimes, it’s perfectly all right to be rude.

    So says Emrys Westacott, a professor at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y., in an article published in the fall in The Journal of Applied Philosophy. In fact, he says, sometimes rudeness can even be a good thing.

    No need to thank him.

    Actually, Professor Westacott says he is partly kidding in his essay, but only partly. “I’m not trying to positively increase the amount of rudeness in society,” he said in an interview. “I’m just saying there can be hidden virtues in our so-called vices.”

    What has struck Professor Westacott as particularly remarkable, he said, is that while some opinion polls show Americans think people are getting ruder by the day — he referred to a 2002 poll for the Pew Charitable Trusts that found 8 out of 10 Americans believe rudeness to be a serious problem, and 6 out of 10 think it’s getting worse — we may actually be living in a society that is getting increasingly, well, civil.

    “Whichever age you look at, you’ll find rudeness on the rise,” he said. “They were complaining about it in Athens and Rome. People never say we live in such a polite age as compared to the past.” In Aristophanes’ comedy “The Clouds,” he noted, Socrates was blamed for inspiring an extreme lack of respect on the part of the young toward their parents.

    But sometimes, Professor Westacott said, rudeness gets a bum rap.

    Ever called a friend “Meathead”? That, he said, might strike some as a bit rude.

    But calling someone a meathead could be a “way that we establish, affirm and strengthen bonds of friendship and intimacy,” Professor Westacott writes in an essay that is sprinkled with phrases like “meta-conventions” and references to Wittgenstein and Heraclitus, and that comes with a diagram on “Classifying and Appraising Rudeness.” In addition, he writes, “teasing is one important way in which asymmetries and pecking orders are established, sustained and challenged.”

    Ever tell someone he is, say, not fit to be flushed down the toilet?

    Well, such rudeness can be good “in certain pedagogical contexts,” the professor argues — a useful tool, for example, when a sergeant major is trying to turn a raw recruit into a combat-ready soldier. That is a “case of intentional rudeness being justified by its long-term benefits,” he writes.

    Nor is this Professor Westacott’s first foray into the dark side of social intercourse. In 2002, he wrote a paper for the same journal in defense of gossip — part of a series of essays he has undertaken on the ethics of everyday living.

    Professor Westacott distinguishes between civility and normal codes of etiquette or manners. Etiquette, he says, is when you hold your fork in the wrong hand, a custom that may differ from country to country. But violating the custom of a country is not necessarily rude.

    He attributes the current anxiety about rudeness to the fact that “we live in a time when the culture is changing quite rapidly.” “People get anxious,” he said, “because they’re not sure about the conventions.”

    There is no question, he said, that our culture is becoming more informal. Fifty years ago, most people wore ties to weddings. Nowadays, conventions are in flux, and some will go without. “People will go ‘tut-tut’ and call that rude,” he said, “But some might say he was actually dressing cool.”

    One proof that society is getting less rude, he said, lies in the way we have become more cautious about how we address one another. “African-Americans, gays, women, can no longer be openly abused and insulted in the way they used to be,” he pointed out, a consequence of the social revolution of the ’60s and ’70s. Professor Westacott’s surmise that society is getting less rude seems backed up by at least one survey. Last July, Reader’s Digest published a study that found New York, of all places, to be the most polite city in the world.

    The magazine sent reporters under cover to 36 cities in 35 countries to find out if, for instance, strangers held doors open for them or picked up objects they had dropped. New York scored at the top. At the bottom? Mumbai.

    Oddly enough, Professor Westacott said, the fact that Simon Cowell, the sharp-tongued “American Idol” judge who regularly calls contestants ghastly, boring and awful, is on one of the most popular shows on television may be proof that we are becoming a more civil society.

    “We are rather reticent about being honest,” he said, “and we kind of relish the crossing of boundaries of convention.” For the same reason, he said, “I suspect that audiences are rejoicing in Sacha Baron Cohen’s rudeness in ‘Borat.’ ” For further proof that people are becoming less rude, just look at the behavior of theater audiences, Professor Westacott said. In the 19th century, when an audience didn’t like a performance, “they’d hiss and boo and throw things. Now it’s like we’re in church.”

    John F. Kasson, the author of “Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth Century Urban America,” and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is another scholar who is skeptical of the notion that people are becoming more rude.

    “People say there are timeless notions of what good manners are,” Professor Kasson said. “But they are anything but timeless. There are trans-historical standards to some degree, but in practice they change so enormously in particular situations.”

    As for Professor Westacott’s contention that rudeness is sometimes justified, it seems necessary to consult Judith Martin, who writes the syndicated “Miss Manners” column on the subject.

    Ms. Martin said she had not read Professor Westacott’s paper, but did agree that teasing is sometimes O.K., “as long as the level of understanding is mutual and the people are fond of each other.”

    But in general, Ms. Martin said, it’s always better to be polite. “Manners are enormously complex and contextually dependent,” she said. “Use a little common sense.”

November 29, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Global Warming Mug


"Have you wondered what the world would look like after the polar ice caps melt? Now see it over a cup of coffee."

Long story short: "When you pour in a hot drink, the oceans begin to rise and land mass disappears before your very eyes."


November 29, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Geek Philosophers


What's this?

It's a brand-spanking-new website which began less than 24 hours ago (at 12:55 p.m. yesterday, if you must know).

Its credo: "The goal of this blog is to have a one-stop for the wisdom of the top minds on the web — the geniuses, the gurus, the off-beat artists and true thinkers."


But they're off to a rocky start.

I mean, consider that somehow, among the great and the good in the founding "Geek Pantheon" in the sidebar (pictured up top) I somehow slipped in.

I feel like Zelig.

But hey, if they're okay with it I'm not gonna say anything.


Wait a minute....

November 29, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ohsawa Nama Shoyu Named Best Soy Sauce by Cook's Illustrated


The only objective food magazine in America tested a dozen soy sauces the way only it can: without fear or favor to advertisers — since they have none.

The winner, by a wide margin, was Ohsama Nama Shoyu.

    From the January/February 2007 issue of the magazine:

    Ohsawa Nama Shoyu (shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce; nama shoyu means it's unpasteurized) is made in the Japanese moutain village of Kamiizumi-mura, using the spring water from the mountain. The soy sauce is hand-stirred and fermented in sixty 150-year-old cedar kegs, in a wooden post-and-beam factory surrounded by organic gardens. The flavor of Ohsawa Nama Shoyu develops over an unusually long period of time because it is double-fermented, according to Jean Richardson, president of its importer, San Diego-based Goldmine Natural Foods. After fermenting the sauce in the cedar vats for at least two summers, the makers add more soybeans and wheat and age it another two summers. "This makes a complex bouquet of aroma and flavor," Richardson said. "You don't really get that bit of salt. The aging makes it mellower."

    Long-aging and importing costs explain why Ohsawa is the most expensive brand we tasted — $6.49 for 10 ounces. But spending a few extra dollars for a traditional, slow-brewed soy sauce is worth the investment, especially for use as a dipping sauce.


As noted above, $6.49 for a 10 ounce bottle.

November 29, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A note on the apparently pleonastic style used by me in noting dates


It occurred to me the other day that someone casually stopping by and reading something like "coming next month (December, 2006) or "in today's (November 29, 2006) New York Times" in a post might well wonder what's wrong with me, that I feel the need to explicitly note the day, date, month, year or what-have-you.

I do this so that when a person reads an old post, they have no doubt about what the day referred to is.

For example, reading "coming next month" forces the reader to look around, perhaps even scroll up or down, to find out what "this" month is so as to be able to identify "next month."

I frequently find myself flummoxed when I read things online that don't have a clear temporal identifier, so I decided to do my part not to add to the confusion.

In a similar vein, I am always amazed at how difficult it is to determine the date of an entry in a medical record: more often than not progress notes state the date and month but not the year, and the page often has only the patient's medical record card imprint in the upper right hand corner, without a date.

Even more important sometimes is the precise time of day of a medical record entry, something I always put in but most doctors omit.

All of which, in summary, is to say that the apparent pleonasm of "today + the day/date" is actually a time stamp and therefore falls under my definition of safe harbor/appropriate use.

And that's all I have to say about that.

November 29, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Supernatural Chair — by Ross Lovegrove


The current (December, 2006) issue of Wired magazine features this chair, giving it nearly a full page.

The review reads, "Ross Lovegrove built this lightweight seat using a new process in molded plastics. Liquid polypropylene is injected into a 7-ton steel mold, then gas is pumped in, forcing the material against the mold and creating a cavity between the reinforced walls. Result: a hollow chair that weighs no more than a gallon of milk and can be stacked four high. The sturdy double-polyprop fares as well outdoors as in."

I want one.

$180 here in Black, White or Yellow.


Light Blue is $176.

November 29, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

« November 28, 2006 | Main | November 30, 2006 »