On the Holiday Window Displays

Since I was in Manhattan recently, with time to kill, I took the opportunity to stroll up Fifth Avenue and check out the big holiday displays – Lord & Taylor, Saks, Tiffany, Bergdorf Goodman.

L&T had their usual fantasy scenes. I couldn’t get close enough to Saks to see what was in their windows, but they did have their big light and sound show on the facade.

Pro Tip: The best way to see the Rockefeller Center tree? Come at it from Sixth Ave, or one of the side streets. It is practically impossible to approach it from Fifth Avenue, because that’s where the mob of humanity is forced into tight passageways. Approach the tree from another direction, and you can get right up to it!

TIffany featured some nice winter scenes with silver and diamonds. Bergdorf Goodman saluted NYC cultural attractions in their windows.

While I have no problems with any of the displays, I do have some ideas for things I’d like to see…

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Dear Senator Gillibrand

Congratulations!

You have successfully rid the Senate of that notorious serial groper and sexual deviant Al Franken!

No longer will the women (and men too, presumably) of those august halls live in abject fear of running into someone who stood accused of being a little too “hands on” during photo ops over seven years ago! Even though his current staff and former co-workers have no ill to speak of him, being a former “dirty old man” makes one obviously unsuitable for even the smallest role in the Federal Government!

You can take pride in knowing that you have done your country a great service. Even though Mr. Franken was one of the sharpest interrogators in Senate hearings and a bastion of feminist and Democratic principles, one has to draw a line!

While you may be tempted to consider this a job well done and look forward to a relaxing holiday season, I urge that you do not put your weapons away just yet.

Infamous (accused, to be fair) child molester and general creep Roy Moore just might be sent by the people of Alabama to represent them in the same Senate that you have just finished purging. Be ready to lead the charge against him should it prove necessary!

And then, keep your Sword of Righteousness at hand! Consider these bouts as training for the biggest target: the self-confessed “Pussygrabber-in-Chief” Donald Trump. Surely, if Franken had to go, Trump should be shown the door, too?

Yours,

A Constituent

p.s. I hope you’ll remember to help with the campaign next year. A safe Senate seat for Democrats through 2020 is now up for grabs next year!

A Christmas Mix for You – Vol 4

Well, it’s that time again.

I’ve kind of fallen into the common trap with these collections. You gather all your favorites, and find you have too many for one collection. So you pick a few to go in Volume 1, and then add a few that didn’t quite make the cut to the batch for next year. And then the next year, you find you’ve got only a few “favorites”, so you do your best to pad out the collection to make something worth putting together and sharing. Then, you realize you somehow forgot a few, but four or five songs do not really make a “mix tape”, so you pad it out with general stuff that you hope people like…

Well, there it is. I’ve got a few more (three or four) that I could toss out next year. Kind of like stocking stuffers when compared to the big gifts. Or I could just repost the first Mix from 2014. We’ll see what I feel like next November, when I start thinking about this.

Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/lcdt2075r2ln0ka/Chirstmas%20Mix%204%20-%202017.zip?dl=0

And here’s the list of songs:

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SNOWFLAKES HAVE SIX SIDES

So we put up the office Christmas decorations this week, and there were a couple that really got me peeved.

I suppose they were intended to represent snowflakes, but they were like no snowflake that ever existed on this planet. Instead of the natural hexagonal symmetry (six sides), they had octagonal symmetry (eight sides) – eight branches coming off the center in a squarish pattern.

Here’s a photo of an honest to goodness real snowflake:

A real snowflake! The way nature intends them to be!

See that? SIX SIDES! Here are more photos of the types of actual snowflakes, in all their amazing variety:

http://www.thoughtco.com/snowflake-crystal-shapes-609172

The one thing they have in common? SIX SIDES.

Here’s a photo of the sort of thing that got put up around the office:

NOT SNOWFLAKES

I suppose the reason these abominations exist is because people are too lazy to bother learning the trick to making the necessary hexagonal fold.

But come on, it’s not that hard. And there are plenty of “How To” websites, like this one:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-6-Pointed-Paper-Snowflakes/

If you prefer watching a video:

I actually use that method for the hexagonal fold, but I’ve never ironed them. Instead, I pause when I’ve made that dart shape and before I begin cutting. I unfold the paper, smooth out all the creases, and then fold it back up.

Pro Tips: The thinner the paper, the easier it is to fold and cut. Use sharp scissors! Also, always make straight line cuts. No curves! Real snowflakes do NOT have curves!

If you make a mistake cutting them, or they don’t look good, don’t worry. It’s just paper! Toss the defective ones in the Recycling Bin (White Paper Only), and make another.

So do it right and make your own individual unique snowflakes, OK?

Book Review: Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times

Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times
by H.W. Brands
Doubleday
(c) 2005 by the author

The current president likes to compare himself to Andrew Jackson, choosing Jackson’s portrait to hang in the Oval Office. Jackson is going to be removed from the $20 bill, to be replaced by Harriet Tubman. All the hubbub over Jackson has many people in a lather about him; essentially he’s seen as the Anti-Christ for his slave ownership and the “Trail of Tears”.

I thought it might be a good idea, then, to read a biography of our seventh President, and learn something of what all the fuss is about.

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The Hall of Fame and the Keltner List

It’s that time of year again – the Baseball Hall of Fame has released their annual ballot. Let the arguments begin!

The arguments typically involve analyzing a player’s statistics (which is NOT to be confused with statistical analysis!) and deciding who is better on some arcane and arbitrary scale.

There’s “Wins Above Replacement”, which exists in two versions. At Baseball Reference, you can look up Bill James’ “Black Ink”, “Gray Ink”, and “Hall of Fame Monitor”, which all assign points to various career accomplishments and compare them to players already in the Hall. Jay Jaffe has come up with his “JAWS” score, which is an attempt to combine everything into a single number by which one can easily judge a player’s Hall-worthiness.

(Note that JAWS and WAR are pretty much calculations in a multidimensional space – but more on that in a future post….)

These are all attempts to take something that is purely subjective – a player’s greatness – and treat it in an objective manner. But they still wind up being subjective in the way they assign weights and importance to their individual components. And what the heck is meant by a “half a win” above replacement, anyway?

I figure we should drop all the pretense of objectivity, and go with the Keltner List.

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The Outrage Factor

These past few weeks have seen a lot of creepy guys getting called out on the carpet for their crappy treatment of women. Harvey Weinstein got what he deserved, Kevin Spacey was outed, an accused child molester is running for the Senate in Alabama, even Sen. Al Franken got caught with his hands where they should not have been. El Presidente still has a reputation for grabbing women, and former president Bill Clinton is being raked over the coals again by some for his past personal affairs.

It’s getting so common that you can’t tell what to be outraged about anymore.

As it happens, I think I’ve come up with a formula that can help you decide what to be outraged over, and how much outrage to give it.

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BOOK REVIEW: Time Travel

Time Travel
James Gleick
Pantheon Books
Copyright 2016 by the author

If you were looking for someone who could explain all the ins and outs and forwards and sideways of time travel, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better writer than James Gleick. He’s previously tackled topics like chaos theory and the life and work of Richard Feynman. So a history of the idea of time travel seems like a natural subject for him to present to the average intelligent reader.

Gleick starts by taking us back in time to when H.G. Wells was penning “The Time Machine”. He discusses early drafts of the novel, and mentions some of the problems that reviewers noted – what happens if solid objects are in the space the Traveler is passing through, for one, and how do you account for the fact that the earth is both rotating and moving through space (the latter is one that time travelers always seem to forget).

From there, he moves forward in time through physicists treating time mathematically as a dimension, philosophers grappling with the concept of time, and even lexicographers trying to simply come up with a definition of the term that doesn’t wind up spinning in circles: “Time is what clocks measure”; “A clock is a device for measuring the passage of time.”[1]

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Investigations, Indictments, and Impeachment

There was a brief bit of excitement as the first round of indictments came out of Robert Muller’s investigation a few days ago. Some on The Left started doing a happy dance, hoping that this was just the beginning, and the dragnet would very shortly close in around the president and force the start of the impeachment process.

Well, it’s not that simple. There’s still a lot more to do and uncover, and even then it might not be enough for an impeachment. Sure, Trump’s sympathies (such as they are) are pro-Russia. But that, in and of itself, isn’t a crime. One would need direct evidence that he conspired with Russia. Or that members of his campaign team did, and he knew about it and did nothing.

Given his recent panic over the investigation, it seems as if things are hitting close to home. Perhaps he really does have something to worry about, or he’s so insecure that he cannot handle any challenge to his authority. Either way, there are two things we need to watch out for.

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On the 2017 World Series

Wow.

What a World Series! What can I say? It was an unbelievable set of games, between two amazing teams. All the games were very close and hard-fought. Even the ones that look like blowouts from the final score weren’t. Game 4, that ended with the Dodgers winning 6-2? It was tied at 1 going to the ninth inning. And even Game 7 was tighter than you’d think.

Sure, the Astros scored their five runs early. Yu Darvish is probably already getting blamed for it, but watch the replays. Springer’s leadoff double was fair by inches, and if Cody Bellinger has simply put the ball in his pocket instead of throwing it to El Monte…. Meanwhile, Astros’ starter Lance McCullers must have thought he was playing dodgeball instead of baseball against the Dodgers – he hit four of the thirteen batters he faced. But the Dodgers offense left the population of Burbank on the basepaths, dooming whatever chances they were handed.

Even so, knowing the state of the Astros’ bullpen and the overall strength of the Dodgers’ offense, there was always the hope / worry that Los Angeles would put something together and pull out a win. They didn’t really look dead until the bottom of the ninth.

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