Google officially and belatedly commemorated Tom Lehrer’s 80th birthday. I think this may be the best tribute:


Dutch ‘stamp’ on Bhojpuri singer-India-The Times of India

VARANASI: Acknowledging his iconic status among Netherlands’ Bhojpuri-speakers, the Dutch government has issued a postal stamp on singer-actor Manoj Tiwari.

The Paris Berlinskis

April 3, 2008

Instapundit wondered aloud today whether David Berlinski might be related to Claire Berlinski.

I’m a huge David Berlinski junkie. A Tour of the Calculus has been serving for some time as the book I keep out for whenever I need an escape. I’ve probably read each chapter a dozen times or so. As a humanities geek masquerading as the other sort of geek, I find popular science writing tremendously appealing. Popular math writing? Well, that’s the greatest thing since motorcycle rides and drives with one’s wife through Western ghost towns which somehow lead to New York cabbies explaining imaginary numbers.

On the other hand, I had no recollection of ever having heard of Claire Looking at her site, I realize I’ve read quite a few of her articles over the last few years without paying any attention to the name. “Why I don’t have a real job and other frequently asked questions” is definitely the funniest thing I’ve read so far this month. I’m going to have to read her (and her brother’s) novels. And her forthcoming book is about Margaret Thatcher!

Although I’m tempted to assume they’re alter egos of the same person, the biographical details suggest she would most likely be his daughter, if they are related at all. Although, isn’t there some sort of modern day etiquette that if both you and your father are, um, “knowledge workers” (the sort of people who promote themselves with web sites) and you score the domain name for your fairly common last name, you have to turn it over to your father?

UPDATE: The DNA test results are in. And yes, David Berlinski’s Wikipedia page is rather misrepresentative on the ID issue. He’s included in Uncommon Dissent, and is a skeptic with regards to Darwinism, and so is a favorite thinker of ID people, but I don’t think he’s ever publicly aligned himself to the whole IDeology. I hope no one would be discouraged from reading him on calculus and algorithms thinking that everything he writes is about ID.

Rumor of violence spreads through schools —

Sometime in late November rumors began circulating in Bethlehem schools and on of a Columbine-style attack by members of the 229 Brigade and Pink Army P.A. On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in suburban Denver, two students murdered 12 others and a teacher before killing themselves.

Ellen Gerber of Easton said in an e-mail that her son Randy created the Pink Army P.A. site as harmless, artistic peace movement. Gerber said media should not fan the rumors.

”I have pink army men all over my house, attacking a snowman, sitting on my hutch and even being attacked by my cat,” Gerber said. ”I know what the actual meaning behind the whole ‘movement’ was because it happened in my house. What it turned into is another thing.”

Randy Gerber has not responded to phone calls or e-mails.

People who claim to be members of these organizations have contacted a reporter and said they are peace activists and there will be no violence. However, these members have declined to meet with the reporter. At least one apparent member, though, found time to protest outside The Morning Call offices Monday afternoon, handing out bright pink fliers decrying ”fear mongering.”

At this point it seems like this may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. As far as I know, neither of the original “groups” ever even mentioned violence, but if some other kid already had intentions of that sort, it seems almost certain that they might appropriate the day. What a mess.

Next: Innovation Tools & Trends Tapping Into TED – BusinessWeek

That afternoon, president of the Children’s Health Fund, Irwin Redlener, investigative journalist Steven Emerson, Philip Zimbardo, he of the controversial Stanford Prison Experiments of the 1960s, which cast average Joes as prison guards or prisoners, with terrible consequences, and human rights expert, Samantha Power, consider Will Evil Prevail?

OK, my title’s unfair. I don’t really know much about Power beyond the titles of her books and the fact that she advised Obama, and I know nothing of the Children’s Health Fund; so I can’t necessarily label them as “the good.” And I don’t think Emerson and Zimbardo are really evil, but they are strikingly similar characters: researchers who claim to be investigating evil who’ve long since undermined anything they could say through delusional self-importance, methodological and intellectual sloppiness, and borderline (or worse) fraud.

Seriously, though, what sort of productive conversation on the stated question could these four really have in the course of an hour or so? Many of the TED talks available online are incredible, but most of the panels for this year seem pathetically designed. And one would think a private conference on TED’s (price) scale would be able to put together a schedule at least as informative as that of your average academic conference. Although I suppose there would have to be actual substance for the program to summarize that substance. Whoever assembled the program did manage to describe Emerson as “a terrorist investigator.” So maybe I’m not the only one thinking along the lines of my title.

Public Domain Donor

February 27, 2008

Public Domain Donor

Funny idea, but it seems kind of harsh on the heirs if you’re not donating it in your lifetime.

via Makezine

I really wasn’t looking forward to Alice Cooper on Fresh Air today. I really can’t stand – never could – Alice Cooper musically. But right as I turned it on he was discussing Groucho Marx bringing Jack Benny and George Burns to come see him. It was pretty interesting.

Speaking of Rock and Roll, am I wrong or was Charlie wearing a Judge shirt on Lost last night. So here’s the new theory: he island is Manhattan, their encampment is LES, and Ben is leading the Wolfpack down from Boston, and next week they’re gonna meet at 7 and A? Maybe not.

Speaking of NPR, I can’t believe they’re giving traction to the absurdly un-fresh Fortune article about Microsoft’s patent claims. Roger Parloff says something to the effect of “The people who write free software don’t believe in patents.” Yes, there is a strong overlap between the effort to get rid of software patents and the free software movement, but an irresponsible statement like that makes it sound like the free software community is nothing but a bunch of pirates purposely seeking to infringe (which I’m afraid is an image many people may I already have – and which couldn’t be further from the truth.)

The patent part was pretty funny though. Lots of room to guess at what they’re implying: they make he patent system appear absurd, while letting the guy in charge of it announce the need for 1000 more examiners at salaries of $80k+.