Saturday, September 08, 2007

Jokes, how do they arrive?

I suspect that like crop circles, jokes are generated by the collective mind, arriving spontaneously without any human help.

Professional comedians and writers say that none of them writes any of all those jokes that circulate, and none of them ever met anybody who does.

On the first day of college, the Dean was addressing the students, pointing out some of the rules:

"The female dormitory will be out-of-bounds for all male students, and the male dormitory to the female students. Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first time."

He continued, "Anybody caught breaking this rule the second time will be fined $60. Being caught a third time will cost you a fine of $180. Are there any questions?"

From the back of the room, a male student raised his hand and inquired, "How much for a season pass?"

A Tribute to the Late Harry Browne

A Tribute to the Late Harry Browne by Ron Paul. Thanks again to TTL for the link.

And in that vein, he also said:
Just imagine: There's a willing seller and a willing buyer. What if they could just - gulp! - do the deal! Just the two of them. Without having to report to anyone. Without having to pay any 3rd party. Without having to prove anyone your not part of a cartel, or privy to "inside information". Without having to become "licensed", fill forms, be over "minimum wage", properly "insured" and following zoning laws.

Last week I contacted a bank I use for savings, and said I wanted a different account, because it gives a higher interest. No problem, except it turns out that per British law every time I make a new account I have to prove my identity and address all over again, despite me having done it before and having had an account with the bank for years. I have to mail them physical evidence of who I am and where I live, despite the fact that all I asked them to do is make a different account and transfer the money to that one. It's friggin' ridic.

I just found out that the account I already have is advertised on their site as having the interest I want, instead of the interest I'm currently getting. (Interest rates have gone up during 2007.) So I have decided I'll call them and say they should raise the interest on the account, otherwise I'll go to the competition. It should be possible, since the same bank did that very thing a couple weeks back, only for my business account.

But all that spying and regulating is evil.

Anyway, talking about Harry Browne, I have added a couple of book recommendations and a paragraph near the bottom of my Money Article.

New Sony camera

The exciting new semi-pro DSLR cameras keep coming in. The new one is the Sony Alpha 700.
The interesting thing is that unlike Nikon D300 and Canon 40D, this one does have in-body stabilizer (allowing much slower shutter times without blurry images). And allegedly a much more effective one than any earlier in-body systems. Very kewl.

"I'm also quite aware of Canon's and Nikon's arguments that lens IS is more effective than sensor IS at long focal lengths. It may be, but that's not what I use IS for. I like it as a "virtual tripod" for low-light shooting with normal to medium-wide focal lengths. In combination with high-ISO settings on DSLRs it's a one-two punch that has really opened up new creative possibilities for me." - Mike Johnston

Related: an early review of Canon 40D.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What is a price

From the book The Alpha Strategy by John A. Pugsley.

The Price-Value Link
When we trade, we are demonstrating conclusively that we value what we want more than we value whatever we are offering to trade. If I pay the baker fifty cents for a loaf of bread, it is not because the bread has an intrinsic, measurable value of fifty cents. It is because I have fifty cents and I value the bread more at that moment than I value the fifty cents. On the other side, the baker values the fifty cents more than he values the loaf of bread. Once I have the loaf of bread, I may not want another at the same price. The second loaf may have less value for me. It follows then, that value is relative to the quantity of a thing I already possess as well as to the point in time at which a judgment is being made.

Our wants are endless and each time one is satisfied it disappears and another pops up to take its place. We each have a scale of values and everything in our individual worlds arranges itself in an order of priority on that scale. Whenever we notice something we don't have is higher on our scale than something we do have and we find someone who has the reverse situation, we make an exchange. Things are constantly rearranging themselves on our scales. Thus, values fluctuate for us as our situations change. One moment we are willing to pay one price for something, the next moment perhaps more or less. In the marketplace, the prices of goods merely reflect the average values individuals place on the goods and services produced. Looked at in this way, it should be obvious that there can be no such thing as a fair or an unfair price. Price is a result of values and values are individual judgments.


Mokume-gane is an interesting phenomenon I had not heard of. Two different soft metals are heated and folded together, but not quite melted, so they form a marbling effect. Very pretty.
Wiki article. Pictures.

Every thought system

"What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are."
- A Course In Miracles

TTL said:
I gotta say, I don't understand what this quote is trying to say no matter how many times I read it through. Maybe some more context is needed, or Eo needs to explain it to us.
Does 'share' mean agree or communicate?
What does 'weakening' mean here? Weakening the thought system's popularity, validity/truthfulness, or applicability?
Why would every thought system center on what I believe I am? Buddhism? Political ideologies? The system of beliefs associated with being a good mother? F. C. Inter Milan offensive play strategies?
As you can see, I really don't understand this.

Fair enough. ACIM is a very f***ing abstract philosophy. Really. It takes a lot of time, study, and context to get, if at all. (I've been studying it for a year, and I feel I'm still a beginner.) So it might be dumb to even quote it.

But, "share" here is surely meant as in "agree with", not communicate.

"Weakening": understanding it depends on knowing that the course sees the world as being built from a belief system.

I think it's talking about more basic thought systems than football strategies.
If you believe you are a meat machine in competition with the rest of the world, your thought system and the way you deal with the world will be very different than if you believe you are an Energy Being, which will be different from if you believe you are a complete non-physical immortal spirit. And so on.

It was that last thought that struck me the most. You can't have a belief system without at the center of it having a concept of What You Are, and this fuels how the rest of it works.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Steve Jobs keynote

A few comments on Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday.

32% of music released in the US in 2006 was online only! Wow.

People pay $2.50 for a ringtone? Are people nuts? What is it with people and their phones?

Two of Job's own ringtones: "American Idiot" and "Give Peace a Chance". :)

Finally some iPod colors I can get behind! The old ones sucked @$.

All those new iPods are wonderful. So hard to choose, maybe I'll have to buy one of each.

I really think there should be a hard disk version of the iPod Touch. It is the one you'd most like to watch video on, after all. A lot more storage would be nice. Even so, the 16 gig version is definetely the must-have model.

I was surprised they did not include a 16 GB iPhone for a hunnert bucks more. Perhaps space is a problem, although that does not seem likely.

Funny coincidences happen to me more and more. Just yesterday I looked up Like A Rolling Stone because I saw the famous Rolling Stones version of it (the video with Patricia Arquette) on Mad TV. And I found the Dylan version. (Very famous, but I was just a wee bairn in the sixties, so not so familiar to me.) And now Steve uses just this song in demoing iTunes today. Fun.

I was impressed by KT Tunstall. She recorded her own backing sounds right on stage in 30 seconds! Like Jobs said, she is hot. Although that could be understood two ways, both correct.

Have you noticed how, recently, Love Songs have become Hate Songs? So many girl singers have big hits with songs about how a guy won't have a chance with her. What fun. :)

I am very confused: Jobs says that 4 and 8 GB is twice the memory for the iPod Nano. But the old version also had 4 and 8 GB... Can anybody explain this?



mystic said...
Regarding the memory sizes of the iPod Nano, I believe he was referring to the amount of memory you get for the price. There were 3 models previously, for $150 you got 2Gb, for $200 you got 4Gb and for $250 you got 8GB. Now there are two models, for $150 you get 4Gb and for $200 you get 8Gb. This is double the memory you previously got. There is no $250 model this time.

Aha! Thank you.
I was not aware of the 2GB model. (And I did not notice the price change because I buy them in Pounds Sterling.)

My pal David comments on the early and dramatice price drop on the iPhone.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rule Britannia

You've never heard as irreverent a version of Rule Britannia as this one by Russ Conway.

That man could play the pinanner.
I was not aware of him until today, in the way of full disclosure. It would be easy to goggle around for five minutes and then sort of make it sound like I knew of him for decades. But I'm trying out this "honesty" thing people talk about, it may be something.

His wikipedia page uses this wonderful term: "annus mirabilis". It's a useful term, and also a funny one. 1666 was called a "wonderful year" despite great calamities like the great London fire. Very English thing.

Almost world-wide web

Biggest spider web ever?

Poland problems

A friend of mine is a Polish expatriate, living in USA. Her father died a few months ago in Poland, and she is trying to sell the apartment there. She had counted on that money to help her get out of a job which she is not enjoying.

The problem is that apparently Poland now is worse than Russia was ever. There is no law or order, and the authorities keep making problems for her and dismissing documents proving who she is so she can sell the apartment. And every failed step costs more money. It's frankly deeply ridiculous.

So this is a call for help, if you know somebody who has experience dealing with Polish authorities and can help, I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This Is My Life

One of the ole Danish favorites from the seventies is the song This Is My Life by Gasolin'.

I recently tracked down another version of it, by the lead singer Kim Larsen with another band (Yankee Drengene). This version may require iTunes to play. I remembered this version fondly, mostly for the wonderful female vocal solo near the end, by a "Miss Q". I like it just as much now, thirty years later, which is nice to discover.
Actually the correspondent solo in the first version is great too.
Tell me what you think.

... And to put the icing on the cake, it turns out the most prominent Kim Larsen entry on YouTube is the same song! Only Kim is also maybe thirty years older. A third excellent woman singer is featured here.

Remember how I talked about Elton John, and how David Bowie would say 'no thanks' to a knighthood? I just found out that Kim Larsen last year was offered the Danish Knighthood (ridderkorset), and he said no, he did not think it was fitting for a street urchin and pop singer to decorate himself like that. Much respect, Kim, well done.

Funny enough, I am sure many people were upset by this, and thought Kim was snubbing respect given him by his betters, and being very rude. But that's the whole point: Kim is democratic and a man of the people down to his marrow. He does not think anybody is anybody's "better", and if they were, it would not be due to medals and knighthoods. He has no time for authority, but a lot of time for people.

I also respect him for his stance against excessive advertising in rock music, against musicians being practically owned by big companies. Like the Danish big free concerts being sponsored by the big beer labels.

Beating a dead horse

[Thanks to Ian]
Dakota Native American tribal wisdom, passed on from generation to generation, says:
"When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount and get a different horse."

However, in government, more modern strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that the dead horse can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as 'living impaired'.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and / or training to increase dead horse's performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position!


[From a comment by Pascal]
Children love to pretend they're in unfamiliar territory, just for the pleasure of getting lost.

Indeed. Even today, I am very interested in "lost spaces" that nobody looks at, for instance spaces under industrial stairs or bridges near highways and so on.

I've fantasized about building a house with lots of odd nooks and crannies and odd corridors and stairs and bridges and roooms and split levels and whatnot.
Admittedly I'll probably never build it, since it would be very expensive, the space would be poorly used, and I suspect the novelty would wear off.

Once, I had a kitten that got lost under my bed. I must confess, it was a real jungle of boxes down there. Had to dive in and rescue the poor thing. Took me a good 10 minutes and a lot of sneezes. My brothers were in stitches.

My sister once had a kitten and a double bed elevated 8 inches over polished hardwood floor. The kitten would get on his back on the floor and reach up to the bottom of the mattress, and pull himself over the floor, criss-crossing about under the bed, very fast. If you lay on the bed with your head hanging down, looking at it upside-down, it looked like the kitten was speed-walking on tippie-toes, it was the funniest thing ever. Talk about being in stitches, I tell you.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Money articles

Extreme budgeting.
Money can't buy happiness, but dept can spend it.
A good savings account.
Trimming inheritance tax.
Some of these things are particular to UK.

And here is an old one of mine, in case you missed it.

Covert love

Love is a many-splendored thing.