Saturday, June 28, 2008

Trust us, we're from the government

The New York Times keeps reporting that there may be an itty-bitty chance that when the Large Hadron Collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), located just outside Geneva, Switzerland, gets switched on late in August, the world will come to an end. But probably there is no such chance, even an itty-bitty one.

On June 27, Overbye reported, again inside the Times A section, that the United States was seeking to dismiss a lawsuit by two worried citizens aimed at preventing anyone from throwing the big switch at the Large Hadron Collider. The government's principal response, I'm sorry to report, wasn't that there's no chance that switching on the Large Hadron Collider will bring about the end of the world, but rather that a six-year statute of limitations has already passed.
--Timothy Noah, Slate, on how the world could end on a legal technicality

Buy one, get one free

A genuine advertisement from a San Diego real estate developer:

Baby mama

"Mom and Dad" and "Mr. and Mrs." are so passé. Call them Big Anne, P-Money, and G-Dog. Their kids do. So do their kids' friends.

Among some teenagers and twentysomethings, "Mom and Dad" are giving way to slangy, quirky nicknames.
--Ellen Freeman Roth, Boston Globe, on hip hop parental monikers

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lay off the speculators!

What about those who argue that speculative excess is the only way to explain the speed with which oil prices have risen? Well, I have two words for them: iron ore.

You see, iron ore isn’t traded on a global exchange; its price is set in direct deals between producers and consumers. So there’s no easy way to speculate on ore prices. Yet the price of iron ore, like that of oil, has surged over the past year. In particular, the price Chinese steel makers pay to Australian mines has just jumped 96 percent. This suggests that growing demand from emerging economies, not speculation, is the real story behind rising prices of raw materials, oil included.
--Paul Krugman, NYT, on why you should stop blaming the speculators for oil price increases

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mash-up upon mash-up

Trailer of the upcoming Korean Western, The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Koreans + Westerns + martial arts... my head is spinning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tiger yawn

[Even] as Tiger Woods was in the process of winning the U.S. Open on a bum knee, a certain minority of people seemed eager to believe that Tiger might somehow be faking the whole thing.

Of course, we now know this to be an absurd notion. Tiger is going to miss the remainder of the 2008 season because of his injuries, a broken leg and a torn knee ligament, and all those people -- including, apparently, fellow PGA Tour player Retief Goosen -- who believed Tiger was engaged in some elaborately choreographed play of grimaces and fist pumps are especially disappointed.

And yet I have to admit I felt a little hollow, as well. Because if Tiger Woods had somehow faked his injury, it would have been the most interesting thing he's ever done that isn't directly related to the swing of a golf club.
--Michael Weinreb,, on the bland persona of Tiger Woods

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cookie Monster is just a monster now

"Me have crazy times in the 70s and 80s. Me like the Robert Downey Jr. of cookies."

The Beijing consensus

Syrian Finance Minister: "What can we do to increase Chinese investment?"

Chinese Finance Minister: "Well, before we invest in Syria you must open your markets, cut your subsidies, and reduce regulation."
--As reported by Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution

Monday, June 23, 2008

Grammatical passion

When the Times of London reported in 1837 on two University of Paris law profs dueling with swords, the dispute wasn't over the fine points of the Napoleonic Code. It was over the point-virgule: the semicolon. "The one who contended that the passage in question ought to be concluded by a semicolon was wounded in the arm," noted the Times. "His adversary maintained that it should be a colon."
--Paul Collins, Slate, on a high regard for punctuation

Friday, June 20, 2008

Close Encounters in the 'Hood

It always happens in rural areas, where no ethnic people live. The day I see somebody from South Central Los Angeles say, "Man, I got abducted yesterday," then I'll believe it.
--Xzibit on why he doesn't believe in aliens

Hunger cafes

The world is filled with eating houses of every kind, from hamburger joints to three-star restaurants. There are places you drive through and places where you sit down. But the world may be unfamiliar with a Mumbai variation on the theme: the hunger cafe.

They are not soup kitchens, for denizens of this city have little time to serve other people food. In a city that never stops selling stocks and shooting movies, they prefer drive-by benevolence.

The hunger cafes have stood for decades on a stretch of road in the Mahim neighborhood. Mumbai’s broken, drifting men squat in neat rows in front of each establishment, waiting patiently. Vats full of food simmer behind the doors. What separates them from the food is the 25-cent-per-plate cost — a gulf harder to bridge than one might assume. But every so often, a car pulls up and makes a donation, and the men dine.

The restaurant owners describe their mission as charity, but their establishments are profit making, if only meagerly so. Only in India, perhaps, where no business niche long goes unexploited, would a group of restaurateurs rely for their livelihoods on the starving.
--Anand Giridharadas, NYT, on how the hungry are fed in Mumbai

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to make tennis better

Allow cheering, booing, hooting, chanting—anything short of hooliganism—during matches. If you want to keep one "quiet" major, fine, take Wimbledon. For every other tournament, fans should be allowed to act like—hold on, novel concept approaching—fans. If A-Rod can hit a 101 mph fastball at Fenway with fans yelling about his sexual preference, Venus and Roger can handle a second serve amid some background noise.
--Bill Simmons,, on the ridiculousness of requiring quiet crowds at tennis matches

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What do you want, a cookie?

Don’t get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation. You're supposed to graduate from eighth grade.
--Barack Obama echoing Chris Rock

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not helping with my recurrent tornado nightmares since childhood

AP caption: A huge tornado funnel cloud touches down in Orchard, Iowa, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:04 p.m. The Globe Gazette and Mitchell County Press News reported that Lori Mehmen of Orchard, took the photo from outside her front door. Mehmen said the funnel cloud came near the ground and then went back up into the clouds. Besides tree and crop damage, no human injuries were reported.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The hazards of cycling

AP caption: A car collides with cyclists participating in a race in Mexico's northern border city of Matamoros, Sunday June 1, 2008. At least one person was killed and 14 injured when a driver slammed into a bicycle race.

Land shrimp

We're facing worldwide environmental, obesity, and food crises. Bugs are the answer. ...

Compared to beef or pork, bugs deliver more minerals and healthier fats.

Bugs are also more energy-efficient. Crickets deliver twice as much edible tissue as pigs and almost six times as much as steers based on the same food input. ...

You say bugs are gross? Why? Is it the exoskeleton? The appendages? The weird eyes? Guess what: You already eat animals with these characteristics. They're called crustaceans. ...

A company called Sunrise Land Shrimp is bringing the movement to the United States. "Mmm," says the company's cricket logo. "That's good Land Shrimp!"
--William Saletan, Slate, on the case for eating insects