MIT Institute of Technology

I’m glad that Anil finally blogged this joke: What does M.I.T. stand for? M.I.T. Institute of Technology. I found this so entertaining I’ve been telling all of my geeky friends ever since. I was surprised to find that very few of them actually got it. Even those who are M.I.T. students and have a few GPL’s under their belt. Maybe it’s a joke only meant for the 3l33t3 circles of geekdom. Or maybe I was just in a silly drunken stupor.

Germany and England in cahoots?

Who are you rooting for in tomorrow’s World Cup finals match? The BBC suggests that English fans should back Germany, offering five supporting reasons. I’d like to draw your attention to two of their points:

  • 3. ‘Kraut-bashing’ is so passé
  • 4. Ethnically speaking

Note the reference to Hitler as an “outdated stereotype,” and the reference to English ethnic similarity to the arian race.. er.. I mean Germans. I just had to point it out, as it seems so blatant. Am I missing something? (link, not analysis, thanks to Nick)

Please register for my weblog

Registration is becoming a bit of an epidemic in the mass online news industry. The Online Journalism Review provides an in-depth review of the current state of this disease. It aptly notes my concern:

Registration inevitably has consequences for weblogs, collaborative news sites and newsletters that point to news articles. Says my peeved friend: “If I have to register at every site just follow a stinking link, it slows down the exchange of information. Imagine a network where every news and information site has its own registration process.”

Amen. So who’s ready to register for my weblog?

OED on Blog

In their current newsletter the North American Editorial Unit (NAEU) of the Oxford English Dictionary considers adding the term ‘blog’:

The NAEU is also working closely with the new words group in Oxford, carefully reviewing the high-profile new words that are so often of American origin, and drafting new entries for words that have come to our attention. Some of the words we have drafted in recent months include tipping point, gentleman’s C, weaponize, collateral damage, blog, skeevy, and perp walk.

(link thanks to jim’s log)

Homeopathic insanity

Somehow I’ve come down with a cold in the middle of the summer. Is that possible? Maybe by definition is has to be the flu, or at least it goes by another name (perhaps “a balmy” or “the humid”). Anyway, in this sort of heat, the standard homeopathic remedies aren’t very appealing: chicken soup, hot toddies and the like. While tossing and turning feverishly in bed last night, I remember something that my high school German teacher (Rolf Scheel) had mentioned.

Rolf was a former Baltimore Oriole’s pitcher, coach of the UCSB baseball team, and at the time I knew him, part-time German teacher and part-time marathon runner. I think he still holds some marathon records in the over 65 age group. Anyway, Rolf had some pretty rare comments about health throughout my time in his class, the best of which was a tried and tested cure for the common cold (which he claimed was based on science, you make the call). He claimed that every time he had felt a cold coming on in the past twenty years of his life, this method cured him without ever contracting the full symptoms, or spending a day in bed. At one point he cured a cold epidemic in the entire UCSB baseball team right before a game that they tirelessly won in the bottom of the 10th inning. So without further adieu, the Rolf Scheel cure for the common cold:

  1. At the first feeling of cold/flu symptoms, act immediately
  2. Eat one large red onion, raw
  3. Eat one head of garlic, peeled
  4. Eat one orange, peeled
  5. Drink 1 pint (470 ml) blackberry schnapps
  6. Run 10 miles
  7. Upon return, jump into the shower immediately
  8. Shower with hot water only for 5 minutes
  9. Shower with cold water only for 5 minutes
  10. Lie down, feet above your head for 30 minutes

He claimed that no one had ever used this method and not been immediately cured. Apparently one sits up at the end feeling completely rejuvenated and ready to conquer the day. I’ve always been a bit skeptical, but given my current state, I might just have to try it. Of course, given that I’m only half as crazy as Rolf (and half as fit), I think I might halve the recipe. Assuming I’m still alive, I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the world cup, ugly is good

Number one reason why Korea should have won the world cup game today… survey says… they’re the only team left not on the ugly list, with leading contingents from expected finalists Germany and Brazil. Oh well. My favorite munger, Ronald Gomez:


Many experts’ pre-tournament pick for the World Cup Golden Booted-In-Face, Ronald really is a powerhouse of an ugly. Looking like he’s had a bit of an allergic reaction to something, or perhaps everything, Ron’s face alone weighs upwards of 80 pounds. Proud representative of a strong squad of startlers

Well, at least I can start getting some sleep now now that every single team I rooted for has been ousted. Remind me in four years that it’s not worth the anguish.

Amazon does community

I stumbled on the section titled “friends & favorites,” at Amazon today (note, I’m not a big Amazon user), and was surprised at the multiplicity of approaches to leveraging established communities.

Bootstrapping from their prior knowledge of a person based on wishlists and favorites, they are hoping to persuade people to input their social networks (or friends, as some of you may call them) into their database. They define different types of friendship based on levels of trust. I’m not sure how long this feature has been around (although I think it appeared shortly after they closed in 2000).

I’d be interested to know if they have something up their sleeve. As is, the tool allows people to harness existing communities as “purchase circles,” or groups of purchasers, and as a way to find new people. I’d love it if they made this a more important part of their interface. Now I must go add all of my friends, lest my social network be underpopulated!

Renaissance man 2k2

After toiling for four hours last night, I finally finished a flyer for our weekly electronic gig in Cambridge (front and back). The image featured on the front is a (no joke) water-powered organ, circa 1647, built by the inimitable Athanasius Kircher.

The more one reads about this man, the more amazing he becomes. Supplied by his network of travelling Jesuits, Kircher collected eccentricities from around the world in his very own museum in Florence. His academic achievements included the first book devoted to acoustics, the first steps toward decyphering heiroglypics, and some of the first mechanical computers. There are quite a few short biographies available online, but I’m yearning for more, perhaps one of the recent comprehensive biographies. As an aspiring 21st century renaissance man, it might be worthwhile to look back at the greats. Did I say I was an aspiring renaissance man? That was a joke.