Wednesday, September 20, 2017

William Morris Harris, Jr. (1934-2017)

My sister called on Sunday and said that my Dad died.

We left the rink on Sunday in separate cars on the way back from Detroit, and I stopped in Lansing for a quick bite. That's when I saw that my sister had left a message (unusual), so I called her back and we talked. I tried to make sure she was okay (Dad left when she was 6, I think, while I was still in the 0.8 range).

Then I had an hour to think about things on the way home.

I didn't know what to feel. It's strange, hearing about the death of someone who should be so important in your life, but who was only defined by their absence. I remembered, though, that whatever feeling you have about death is okay.

So I stopped at Smashburger for a shake on the way home. I like those shakes, and I always find them comforting.

My Dad was a disappointed, bitter man. Disappointed about some of his choices, and bitter about everything else. Or not, because he was also a very skilled liar, so it has hard to know what part of the truth you were getting.

He was also a racist, and a real bastard. And selfish. Did I mention he was an alcoholic?

I thought today if I could remember any personal moment we ever had together when he made me feel good, or happy.

I can't.

We fished together a few times, which I enjoyed (he was a big fisherman), but even then, our conversations were awkward and strange. He always seemed annoyed, but then, he always seemed annoyed with everyone.

He might have been genuinely trying when we were together, or he might have just been checking a few boxes. There was no way to know.

So I feel like I should have some sense of loss, but I've already carried that loss. Still, though, it's strange.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

We Hit Peak Hockey Trip Weirdness

Well, we've been on 100+ hockey trips over the years, and I think we hit peak weirdness last weekend.

1. At the rink, there was a cat show. Sorry I didn't get a picture, but here's a description: lots of pissed-off looking cats and owners who looked far less exotic than the cats.

I watched one lady load her cats into an SUV after the show, and she was a machine: folding metal card to load all her gear, cat carriers with shades, Tupperware litter boxes, and a baffling assortment of gear.

She was totally on point, and would have made a good hockey mom.

2. At the hotel, there was this:

Sorry that's so dark, but it says "GROW & GROW RICH ACADEMY". That's right, it's a pot-growers convention. 

3. Also, when we got to the hotel, here's the corridor where our room was located (and my cellphone makes this image look much brighter than it was to the human eye):

I thought I was in an Inception sequel.

4 This doesn't qualify as weird, just a shitty piece of design, but have a look at this:

Yes, the image is vertical. It's the rare time when it was warranted.

That shower, which was clearly part of a Raddison redesign, is a non-sliding door. That little cut-out is so you can turn on the water without getting wet, which wouldn't be necessary if the door could move. 

Also, water sprays out of that cut-out while you shower. Nice. 

Water also sprays out the back half of the shower onto the floor, and since there's no ventilation in the bathroom, every surface in the bathroom is wet by the time you leave the shower. 

It's a stunningly terrible piece of design, and I guess they save money this way, but only up-front, because they're going to have to replace the flooring and wallpaper on a regular basis. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

I've Been Gaming Since the Mid-1970s, and This is the Dumbest Thing I've Ever Heard a Developer Say

Take a bow, Chris Roberts!
Most of our stuff is related to the ships you have, and dollar to the actual in-game cost, the money cost is significantly less than the in-game cost. Some of these ships, like the Idris, are massive capital ships. As an individual, maybe Bill Gates could afford a carrier. Nations buy those things, not individuals. That's part of the appeal - ships in Star Citizen are so fully-realised. I would love to be Roman Abramovich hanging out in the south of France but I don't have that much cash...There's a very small number of people in the world who have that. But in Star Citizen maybe you've got yourself a billionaire's yacht. It's a big-ass ship and you can have all your friends over to hang out.

The Idris, in case you're wondering, costs $1000-1250.

Tantalizing Doughnuts, You Say?

I'm intrigued, Mrs. Freshley's. Tell me more.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Links!

If you want to see a busker destroy a subway, it's your day: Subway performer stuns crowd with Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide"- Chicago, Il- Blue Line, Washington S.

From Lummox JR, and this was a long time coming: Voynich manuscript: the solution [Note: except now this interpretation is also being disputed. Here you go: Has a Mysterious Medieval Code Really Been Solved?]

From Brett Harper, and this is an absolutely amazing story: The last surviving sea silk mistress.

From Steven Davis, and this is utterly fascinating: The Curious History of the Magic Lantern—and the Man Who Collected Hundreds of Them. Incredibly whimsical: The Renaissance Artist Whose Fruit-Faced Portraits Inspired the Surrealists.

From Brian Witte, and here we go again: A Simple Design Flaw Makes It Astoundingly Easy To Hack Siri And Alexa. Next, and these are so spectacular, it's Bird Photographer of the Year 2017.

From D.F. Prosser, and this is certainly flawed, it's thought-provoking:: THE QUESTION OF CULTURAL APPROPRIATION.

From Wally, and these are outstanding: Truth in Advertising: The Funniest Car Names. This seems appropriate, given current trends: ‘Bring pencils’ and 49 other things hurricane pros know. A long and excellent read: What’s it like going from Jurassic Park to directing TV? If you ever want to see nature in concert, here you go: Hey!

From C. Lee, and this is wonderfully cool: Origami-inspired clothing range that grows with your child wins Dyson award. This is useful: Writers unblocked? Happy music boosts imaginative thinking, say researchers. A remarkable story: How one girl's illness changed what a nation eats. A fascinating read: The mystery of the lost Roman herb. This is quite interesting: The Secret to a Good Robot Teacher. A terrific read: To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now.

From Eric Lundquist, and this is a handbook to bad decisions: Woman trapped in window trying to retrieve poo after Tinder date. Also, and this is absolutely stunning, it's 30 Days Timelapse at Sea | 4K | Through Thunderstorms, Torrential Rain & Busy Traffic.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Most Excellent East German Amusement Park

I wrote about Kiddie Acres once before.

It was an "amusement park" about two miles from our home, and it was so decrepit and stark that I called it something like "Most Excellent East German Amusement Park". It was a dumpster fire masquerading as an amusement park.

Of course, we all went there.

By decrepit, I mean that there was baling wire holding various pieces of rides together. The Ferris Wheel I renamed "Fatality Wheel", because every trip looked like it should end in death.

And rust. Lots and lots of rust.

On the plus side, though, there was a pony. We all really liked the little pony.

Incredibly, Kiddie Acres stayed open for 38 years. Almost four decades of endangering the life of every child that went there. It was awful, but wonderful, too.

A friend of mind sent me this article yesterday: Austin man buys Kiddie Acres carousel, brings it home. I have no idea why anyone would buy the bones of Kiddie Acres, but this man wanted the carousel so much that he paid over $13,000 for it. $13,000!

Think he might refurbish it and sell it for a profit? Nope. He just wants to put it in a big, vacant lot next door to his house and let his grandchildren ride on it.

Just like Kiddie Acres, it's a ludicrous and wonderful idea.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sports and School

UCLA Quarterback Josh Rosen said in an interview recently that going to college and playing football are not compatible:
Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs... No one in their right mind should have a football player's schedule and go to school.

Rosen is an Economics major, and he's right. Here's the kicker, though: in high school, it's even worse.

Eli 16.1 goes to school from 7:40-3:00, five days a week. Taking out the hour for lunch, that's about 36 hours a week for school. Nearly a full-time job, by itself.

Wait, add 2 hours a night for homework (four AP classes out of six). That makes it 46 hours a week.

Now, the hockey schedule:
Monday: Practice 6:20-7:20 + 1 hour driving time
Tuesday: 1 hour off-ice workout at rink + 1 hour driving time

Wednesday: Film 5:40, Practice 6:30-7:50, Off-ice workout 8-8:40 + 1 hour driving time
Thursday: Practice 8:30-9:50 + 1 hour driving time

The rink is 30 minutes away, and Eli has to be at the rink 30 minutes before practice, plus it takes him 15 minutes to get out of his gear after practice. Add all of that time together, and it's roughly 12 hours a week. 

We're just getting started, though. 

This weekend (and it's not atypical), we're going to a showcase in Detroit, and his team will play four games in three days.

It's 5 hours round trip to/from Detroit. For each game, here's the time involved:
--roughly 15 minute drive to rink (30 minutes total)
--arrive at rink 90 minutes before game
--game lasts roughly 2 hours 
--in locker room for 30 minutes after game

So for a single game, that's 4.5 hours. Add all that together for 4 games plus to/from, and it's 23 hours total. 

That's 35 hours a week on hockey. 

Combined, it's 81 hours. 80+ hours a week, and that doesn't include vision training or stretching. Like Rosen said, it's two full-time jobs.

That's what elite high school athletes have to do. 

Incredible, isn't it? And for college, I'm sure it's worse. 

Eli is very, very disciplined about all this, and I know he can handle it, but man, it's tough. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Poor Decisions

"Hey, how was practice?" I asked Eli 16.1 when he came home. He drives to practice on his own at least once a week now.

"Good," he said. "Coach bet us that the Vikings would win tonight, because he's from Minnesota. We took the Saints. We have to bag skate next Monday if we lose."

"You did WHAT?" I asked.

"We bet the Coach that the Saints would win--"

"You bet on the Saints? Have I taught you NOTHING?" I said.

A Prolific, Poetic Plagiarist

I read an absolutely mind-blowing article in The Guardian just now, and it's about plagiarism in poetry, which I had no idea was even a thing.

It's a thing. A big thing.

The article is about a plagiarism sleuth, and focuses on his investigation of Pierre DesRuisseaux, the fourth parliamentary poet laureate of Canada. DesRuisseaux, in an astonishing number of poems, basically just stole an English-language poem and translated it into French, from sources as wide-ranging as Maya Angelou and Tupac.

That's right. Tupac.

It's shocking, really, and DesRuisseaux isn't the only plagiarist. The entire article is a great rabbit-hole read: 'Plagiarists never do it once': meet the sleuth tracking down the poetry cheats.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Appropriate Usage

"We saw a license plate today that said 'Game Changer'," Gloria said.

"You did not," I said.

'We did," Eli 16.1 said.

"G-M-C-H-N-G-R," Gloria said.

"Was it in on a 1995 Mazda?" I asked. "Because there's no un-ironic use of that license plate that's appropriate."

"No, it was a nice car," Gloria said.

"I want to get Granny one of those license plates," I said. "Picture this: you pull up next to an 87-year-old woman driving a 1984 Corolla with a 'Gamechanger' license plate."

"I want to see that," Eli said.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Friday Links!

From C. Lee, and this is amazing: The Secret Lives of Cannibal Stars Revealed, Thanks to 15th Century Korean Astronomers. Incredibly courageous: Robert E. Lee descendant — and denouncer — quits N.C. pastor post over ‘hurtful’ reaction to VMAs speech. This is tremendously ingenious and useful: Use This Simple Trick To Never Tangle Your USB Cords Again. So, so disturbing: The United States — A Model for the Nazis.

Even more from C. Lee, broken up for readability. I can't say this even surprises me: The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows. This is lengthy and fascinating: 40 maps that explain North Korea. Yeah, this is happening way too easily now: Dr Con Man: the rise and fall of a celebrity scientist who fooled almost everyone. Fascinating: ‘Edvard Munch: Color in Context’ examines the meanings behind the artist’s bold choices.

From Wally, and this is a fascinating read about Lindbergh and WWII: They Can’t Realize the Change Aviation Has Made. Hey, we tried to warn you: Photos of Cameras and Lenses That Got Destroyed by the Solar Eclipse.

From Steven, and this is very, very cool: Why This 30-Year-Old Keith Haring Mural Was Never Meant to Last. This is very grim, but important: At the Brooklyn Museum, Tracing the History of Lynching in America.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2018

From my longtime friend Gary Gorski, for whom I have much respect:
Wolverine Studios is proud to announce that Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2018 is now available exclusively from Wolverine Studios.

Brooks Piggott and his team have worked tirelessly to bring you the most exciting pro football simulation available today for Windows-PC.

Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2018 puts you in control of your favorite pro football franchise. You make the calls as you build your dynasty – build your roster through trades, the draft, and free agency while you help your players improve with custom training options. Watch the action unfold in dramatic 2D fashion where you can take control of the play calling and make the choices that lead your team to victory. Play by yourself against a challenging AI or join an online multiplayer league and see if you have what it takes to outmanage your fellow gamers.

Full game details including screenshots, the game trailer and a free fully playable demo are available from our official DDS: Pro Football 2018 homepage at Pro Football 2018.

Facial Hair Rabbit Hole

From DQ VB.NET Advisor Garret Rempel:
The US has different regulations on this matter - but a prime source of facial hair fancy in Canada is among the armed forces. I recall my uncle mentioning something about it being a sign of rank - there is a disparity among folic fetishization fairly focused [editor's note: Alliteration Achievement awarded] on file. I don't know how much truth there is to that - but moustaches are quite common.

From Facial hair in the military:
The Canadian Forces permits moustaches, provided they be neatly trimmed, a maximum of 2 centimetres in bulk, and that the unshaven part does not pass beyond the corners of the mouth. Otherwise, the moustache must be styled horizontally and cannot go beyond the face. Generally speaking, beards are not permitted to CF personnel with the following exceptions:

Members of the navy are allowed full beards
Members of an infantry pioneer platoon (tradition)
Members who must maintain a beard due to religious requirements (Muslims, Sikhs or orthodox Jews, for example)
Members with a medical condition which precludes shaving
These exceptions notwithstanding, in no case is a beard permitted without a moustache, and only full beards may be worn (not goatees, van dykes, etc.).

Personnel with beards may still be required to modify or shave off the beard, as environmental or tactical circumstances dictate (e.g., to facilitate the wearing of a gas mask).

Beards are also allowed to be worn by personnel conducting OPFOR duties.

2 centimeters, people. Don't make me come over there with scissors.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017


This is just a damn fraud:

What's next? Sunny Nut Curios? Deities?

This is Rafael Nadal against a slow server:

That's within five feet of the wall. Any further back and he'd be buying a ticket. 

Now, something all of America can agree on:

Here's something I saw in a toy store:

Last known product sale: 1957.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

I Mustache You A Question

Some of you guys won't be old enough to answer this. Well, lots of you won't be old enough, probably. Somehow, I've blown past the median.

In the 1970s, what percentage of Chevy Camaro/Pontiac Firebird owners had Burt Reynolds mustaches? Eighty percent? Ninety?

That particular mustache is called the Chevron, by the way.

A mustache is a funny bit of facial hair, at least in America, because it's only locally widespread, tied to something very specific. In the late 1970s (thanks to "Smoky and the Bandit'), it was cars. In the 1980s, it was Tom Selleck (Magnum. P.I., and I loved that show).

After that faded, I don't know. Firemen, maybe?

Now we have Movember, where men grow mustaches for the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues.

I never jumped on the mustache bandwagon. That's something else--in America, you're either a mustache guy or a beard guy (or a neither guy). I was always a beard guy, at least for about ten years.

Here are a couple of rabbit hole articles for you:
American Facial Hair Throughout History
A Hairy History

Monday, September 04, 2017

Walter Becker, R.I.P.

I saw today that Walter Becker had passed away. 

Along with Donald Fagen, he created unique and ageless music as Steely Dan. Even after 40+ years, the music of Steely Dan is almost as fresh as the day it was recorded. 

If you want to know how unique Steely Dan was (and is), just look at their closest "relations" on Music Map: Rush, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and Boston. Music Map is usually excellent at parsing similar sounds, but none of those bands sound even remotely like Steely Dan, and on the map, they're not even located that closely. 

Nothing sounds like Steely Dan, except Steely Dan. 

Donald Fagen always received most of the attention, but Becker was a terrific musician, as well as being a fine composer and producer. If you want to hear how Becker sounded solo, I highly recommend 11 Tracks of Whack, which is an excellent album. 

One of Steely Dan's best qualities, at least for me, is how carefully every song they recorded is constructed. They are disciplined and complex, and a Steely Dan song is very tightly wound, full of little wonders if you carefully pull it apart. 

You don't have to, though. Another unique quality is that you can float along the surface of a Steely Dan song and have a great, pleasant time. They are a versatile listen. No matter how you listen, no matter what you want to find, it's inside a Steely Dan song. 

Here's their discography, and it's absolutely remarkable:
1972 Can't Buy a Thrill
1973 Countdown to Ecstasy
1974 Pretzel Logic
1975 Katy Lied
1976 The Royal Scam
1977 Aja
1980 Gaucho
2000 Two Against Nature
2003 Everything Must Go

Only two of those albums (Countdown to Ecstasy, which went gold, and Everything Must Go) didn't go platinum in the U.S. Maybe The Royal Scam is slightly weaker, and Everything Must Go (even though it's still compulsively listenable) is the weakest, by far, but that is an absolutely incredible series of albums.

Okay, I have a little treat for you here at the end. This is absolutely the most 70s music video ever, and it's Steely Dan performing "Reelin' in the Years" on the Midnight Special in 1973. You will revel in the outfits and the haircuts (and Michael Fagen's hilarious head toss), but you will absolutely stay for the music:
Reelin' in the Years.

You Know You've Gone Down A Rabbit Hole When You're Reading This

Acromegaly and gigantism in the medical literature. Case descriptions in the era before and the early years after the initial publication of Pierre Marie (1886)

Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday Links!

From Glen Haag, and this is just incredible: The Babylonians discovered a strange form of trigonometry

From Les Bowman, and the lack of accountability here is downright terrifying: Investigation: Navy shipyard wasted $21 million building off-the-books police force.

From Steven Davis, and this is a fascinating story: The “Most Dangerous Architect in America” Built a House—Then It Vanished. This is quite the wonderful article: The Illustrators behind Your Favorite Children’s Books. This is an excellent read: 7 Things You Didn’t Know about Hokusai, Creator of The Great Wave.

From C. Lee, and this is both fascinating and thought-provoking: A Family-Friendly Policy That's Friendliest to Male Professors. This is a tangled and very ugly story: Medical Journals Have a Fake News Problem. This is a fascinating idea: How Mushrooms Could Repair Our Crumbling Infrastructure.

From Wally, and this is spectacular: The International Space Station just pulled off the photobomb of a lifetime. These are incredibly fun to watch: Totally Epic Demolitions. These are stunning: Daegu festival: South Korea's body art show.

Site Meter