Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?

Jokes scientists tell:

A group of wealthy investors wanted to be able to predict the outcome of a horse race. So they hired a group of biologists, a group of statisticians, and a group of physicists. Each group was given a year to research the issue. After one year, the groups all reported to the investors. The biologists said that they could genetically engineer an unbeatable racehorse, but it would take 200 years and $100bn. The statisticians reported next. They said that they could predict the outcome of any race, at a cost of $100m per race, and they would only be right 10% of the time. Finally, the physicists reported that they could also predict the outcome of any race, and that their process was cheap and simple. The investors listened eagerly to this proposal. The head physicist reported, “We have made several simplifying assumptions: first, let each horse be a perfect rolling sphere… “

(Via Classical Values.)

Update: How science is actually done, according to #overlyhonestmethods.

we didn’t read half of the papers we cite because they are behind a paywall

Our sampling locations happen to match tropical resort towns because field work doesn’t have to be mud and agony.

incubation lasted three days because this is how long the undergrad forgot the experiment in the fridge

See also lol my thesis.

It is difficult to own things that don’t exist.

Avoiding people has its mental health benefits. ((I have verified this experimentally.))

Mammoths stopped eating things after they went extinct.

Democracy would work a whole lot better if we weren’t so, you know, human.

Checking in

Use the force ...

Life is busier than usual right now, and it will be a week or two before I have time for a proper post. Until then, here are a few odds and ends.

• The true and proper words to the traditional Christmas carol:

Boston Charlie

• Some more silly stuff I’ve come across recently:

Flute season

Great ...

• If Kyousougiga ends well as well as it began, it likely will be the second-best show of 2013 (I don’t expect any current series to top the second half of Shin Sekai Yori). Here’s a tune from the OST that illustrates one aspect of the show. If Carl Stalling wrote anime music, it might sound something like this:

Kill la Kill is currently in the middle of a tournament arc. Once that’s resolved, I expect that the show will shift gears, and then we’ll see just how good it really is.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel, when it isn’t annoyingly silly, has been a surprisingly good series. Ubu has more to say about it. See Jusuchin for episode-by-episode discussions, with plentiful spoilers.

• Despite my better judgement, I’m still watching I couldn’t, so, etc. The creators can’t decide whether it’s a comedy, a fanservice vehicle, an action story or a romance; too often, it’s none of the above. Still, it’s just interesting enough that I want to see what happens. I wish Fino were in a better show with better writers.

• Today’s quote:

History is satire, and histories that are simply serious are simply false.

Continue reading “Checking in”

Racism, sexism, colonialism, and even feudalism

Nintendo games are hopelessly sexist and racist. Fortunately, the Diversity Chronicle is here to call them out:

Invariably in virtually all of these Mario games Mario rescues the princess. In other words the old sexist staple tale plays out. The weak, docile, insecure woman is captured and kidnapped. Unable to defend herself or rescue herself, she invariably waits for a man, in this case Mario. This is nothing but sexist gender-stereotyping for children.

My life-partner is a very resourceful woman. I would like to think that if she were ever kidnapped she could even rescue herself. She wouldn’t have to wait around for some man to do it! That’s not her style, she’s a strong, intelligent and independent woman! I would never try to demean the woman I love by attempting to rescue her. Nor would I dishonour her by asking violent racially-profiling reactionaries like the police to go out and try to find her!

The Zelda games are no better:

Zelda and Link are depicted as Nordic Aryans, albeit with dwarf like ears, reminiscent of something out of old Nordic Viking mythology. If Richard Wagner, that old Anti-Semitic Nordic supremacist had been alive today he would probably be creating video games like Zelda. In fact the latest Zelda game features music recorded from an actual orchestra. How many people of colour do you think there are in a typical orchestra? The conductors are invariably old white men, it never fails! Haven’t we had enough of this tired old white man music? Why can’t Nintendo adopt vibrant African or Rastafarian music? Maybe some Bob Marley?

The horror, the horror

Who is more terrifyingly cheerful? Pinkie Pie?

(Via Borepatch.)

Or Fuura Kafuka?

The Sultan of Schmaltz, and the essence of jazz

Pat Metheny on the Emperor of Elevator Music. (Via the professor.)


Probably apocryphal, but worth reading anyway: Yogi Berra explains jazz.

Interviewer: “What do expect is in store for the future of jazz guitar?”
Yogi: “I’m thinkin’ there’ll be a group of guys who’ve never met talkin’ about it all the time..”
Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?
Yogi: I can’t, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, it’s right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it’s wrong.
Interviewer: I don’t understand.
Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can’t understand it. It’s too complicated. That’s what’s so simple about it.
Interviewer: Do you understand it?
Yogi: No. That’s why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn’t know anything about it.
Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?
Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.
Interviewer: What is syncopation?
Yogi: That’s when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don’t hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they’re the same as something different from those other kinds.
Interviewer: Now I really don’t understand.
Yogi: I haven’t taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

Menaces, pink and otherwise

Update: If an image of a pink pony playing a trombone might “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to you, do not click here:



I note with alarm that a corner of the otakusphere has been invaded by aliens more frightening than zombies or sparkly vampires. These creatures look superficially equine, but their fur and manes typically are colors that do not naturally occur on mammals. Their behaviors sometimes suggest intelligible sentience, but just as often reflect either hypertrophied reflexes or psychoses. Thus far these creatures have been primarily an occidental phenomenon, but they recently have been observed in Japan. Here is some video footage of these entities. (Caution: sit at least 0.6096 meter from the computer monitor while watching this documentary. If you find yourself repeatedly viewing any of the videos posted or linked here, seek professional help immediately.)

I would recommend summoning superheroes to deal with this menace, but I fear that they have already been compromised. I suspect that our only hope is a new corps of mahou shoujo.

Post script: What exactly is Pinkie Pie?


Kansas weather is sometimes a little too interesting for my taste. (The heat didn’t make it into the house, but the wind did wake me.)


Animation of a different sort: time-lapse photography of the beginning of the recent Grimsvötn eruption in Iceland:

(These are large files and might take a while to load.)

Although this might have been a larger eruption than Eyjafjallajokull’s last year, because of the prevailing winds and the composition of the ash, it was far less disruptive. Grimsvötn, incidentally, has a long and busy history, including the Lakagigar eruption of 1783, which was perhaps more consequential than Krakatau’s a century later.

Myriad menaces

Goodbye Kitty
Goodbye Kitty

(Via Dustbury.)


Why I don't have ads on my sites
Why I don't have ads on my sites


I'm with Eineus
I'm with Eineus


Old-fashioned nightmare fuel.


The OED fails.


Fortunately, I’m not a Linux user.


And now for something perhaps a little less frightening: a friend of my brother has released a new tune. If you like loud music, give it a listen. It has more cowbell.

I have measured out my life in login codes

The .doc File of J. Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a laptop, put in sleep mode on a table
Let us go through certain half-deserted streets
The blinking-light retreats
Of restless nights in free-wifi cafes
And public libraries with internet
Streets that follow like messageboard argument
of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming blog post
Oh, do not ask, “What, yaoi?”
Let us go and post an entry.


I grow old… I grow old…
I shall add some links to my blog roll.

(Via First Thoughts.)

Addendum: Not fond of 20th-century poetry? Here’s a bit of apocryphal Chaucer for you.

Make chimpanzee noises and hide the otter

I recently discovered that John Stump, the composer of “Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz,” wrote other pieces of music, including the “String Quartet in A Minor (Motoring Accident).” A tribute to Stump, with scans of his scores, can be found here.

More remarkable scores can be seen here, here and here. Some of them have been performed.