Well, after the last couple of days at work, I may have to get a t-shirt from these guys after all. If the exchange rate evens out before Christmas, that is. It began late Tuesday afternoon, with spectacular proto-thunderstorm clouds on the west side of the mountain, which yielded to a film noir backdrop of a low, lumpy pre-tornado layer on the southeast side by a couple of hours before sunset. Then, by the time it got dark, the large mass of clouds had faded to a lei po`o during the night that allowed stargazing for us and observing at the summit, but with fog in between. On Wednesday morning, beautiful cirrus clouds curved in many directions, translucent and tentacular. And finally, by Wednesday afternoon, some not-quite-realized lenticulars high up to the south. All in all, the solid clouds that prevented observing for most of Wednesday night weren’t as unwelcome as if they had come without the earlier stuff. It also reminded me that cloud types are about as welldefined as are planets.

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Just found out that Sirius Satellite Radio has a MetOpera channel. Cool.

Also, a brilliant article on Slate: Was Brahms a Wiseass? Yeah, that Brahms. Great stuff.

For the trivially-minded?

2 October 2006

This old column on The Atlantic’s website has several good items including:

Which UN nation’s diplomats get the most parking tickets, and what policies and cultures those infractions correlate with.

Whether the political and economic success of former colonies have a relationship to how straight (colonially imposed) or squiggly (topographically or culturally derived) the borders of that country borders are.

I tried reading an anthology of essays on the phenomenon of Cargo Cults a while ago. It didn’t go that well, for a couple of reasons. One was that I think several of the articles in the book were written by the kind of people targeted by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. Secondly, several of the authors and the editor of the anthology, seemed to believe that they, the researchers (and by extension we, the readers) are not far enough ‘outside’ the culture under scrutiny to really be able to analyze it. While I’m not sure where that leaves us in terms of sounding the for the bottom on the ocean of relativity, I agree that the kinds of things usually described as ‘cargo cultish,’ occur in enough cultures to render attempts to label them nearly impossible.

All of which is to say that I think the above-mentioned two studies approach the same kind of unintentional introspection. Rather than the avowed topics, we’re studying what we think about ourselves. Deep, huh?

Nowhere near Christmas

9 August 2006

In case anyone wants to know what ridiculous luxury item I would put on my list, here it is. It’d be a kitchen knife, I guess, but talk about one you’re afraid to use. Still, I bet it cuts dang well. I think the cheese knives look cooler, but are less useful. (?)