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24 Feb 2008

Asian Markets Fall Like Cherry Blossoms In Gentle Spring Rain

Filed under: Blogosphere gems — paulcook @ 6:03 pm

Blending poetry and, uh, economics, we have The Onion’s Asian Markets Fall Like Cherry Blossoms In Gentle Spring Rain.

In other news, I’m trying to write a thesis. Currently, however, I’m trying to finish the paper that will form a large chunk of the thesis — and we keep hitting problems.

And no, I don’t know what I’ll be doing after the thesis yet. There are … options.

7 Nov 2006

Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

Filed under: Noteworthy news,Stuff — paulcook @ 6:58 pm

A line from an article about US election irregularities:

In Kentucky, a poll worker was arrested for trying to throttle a voter.

What?!? Throttling a voter?? Sounds like there might very well be a very, very interesting story behind this one. Any suggestions on the last thing this particular voter might have said, just before being throttled?

Here’s one to start things off: “So I just pushed this thing here, and now I’ve got this blue screen saying something about an illegal operation…”

7 Sep 2006

Caltech Physicists Successfully Split The Bill | The Onion

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 1:23 pm

Caltech Physicists Successfully Split The Bill | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Yes, Caltech physics has made it into the spoof newspaper The Onion, in an article about a group of physicists trying to split a dinner bill. The terminology and even the disciplines of the fictional physicists are all pretty believable. Someone at The Onion knows what they’re talking about! The restaurant referred to also exists.

24 Aug 2006

Seen in a Caltech corridor

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 3:08 pm

Appearing in a Caltech corridor today: a transcript of Pluto’s concession speech. My favourite line: Dick Cheney was quoted as saying, “Today is a victory for the terra-ists”.

Beats the UFO News, a newsletter which occasionally mysteriously appears in random theoretical physicists’ mailboxes on campus. It’s a circa 1960’s, 30-odd page collection of articles including scientific explanations [sic] of devices such as power sources for UFOs that run off the fifth fundamental force.

29 May 2006

Quote of the day

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 7:27 pm

Overheard from person in front of me at Subway, when asked whether he’d like oil and vinegar:

“I don’t know. Is it good? I don’t know. What is vinegar? Hey Jim [fictional name of friend], is oil and vinegar good? Whatever. Just … whatever.”

Yes, that’s right, “What is vinegar?” He was speaking in a normal American-English-as-a-first-language accent, and looked about college age.


EDIT: See second comment below. Ah, culture shock…

3 Mar 2006

Take that, Oz!

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 2:05 pm

Australia humiliated by rampant Proteas — yep, the South African cricket team just annihilated the Australian team, the current so-called “world champions”.

Chasing 290, Australias was all out for 93. Ntini finished with 6 wickets for only 22 runs from 9.3 overs. I mean, that’s just ridiculously good.

Wow, I wish I had been watching the match. Sounds like a good (if short) one!

17 Feb 2006

An unexpected thing on Del Mar Blvd

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 2:55 pm

I was driving along Del Mar a day or two ago, just past Lake Ave near Caltech. It was dusk, and car headlights were just coming on. As I pulled up to the light, a huge bakkie (pickup truck) with raised suspension and huge tires pulled up right behind me, with its headlights on. I don’t think the brights were on, but the height of the truck put its headlights at exactly the right height to shine directly into my eyes, via every rear-view mirror I had.

Naturally, this was annoying. For a while I leant forward, till my neck got tired. Then I sat back, but with my hand raised between me and the rear-view mirror on the windscreen, thinking idle nasty thoughts about people who feel the need to turn perfectly normal cars into monstrosities.

But after a few seconds the strangest thing happened: the truck turned off its headlights. Since it was dusk, the only possible explanation was that the driver had seen my hand, worked out the problem, and turned off his/her lights. And in that instant my idle annoyance became a lot more complicated.

By being so obvious about the thing, I had turned a minor annoyance of mine into something so significant that the other driver decided to turn off the headlights. Was I really justified in doing so? Sure, it was the design of the truck that had created the problem in the first place, but what if the driver was only borrowing it? Or had realised only after buying it the implications for everyone else on the road? Since the driver was clearly aware of the effect it had on others, was he/she driving it out of necessity only? Ironically enough, getting what I most wanted had suddenly left me unsure that it was fair to be wanting it in the first place.

And what will the other driver do now? Since I was in a normal car, she/he will now be aware of the discomfit caused every time his/her truck is behind a car. Driving without headlights is clearly not possible, so will the driver be cringing each time a light turns red with some cars in front of him/her?

Such a simple act, so many questions!

2 Feb 2006

Musical genius

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 5:47 pm

In the spirit of blogwaffe’s Musical Genius post, I am starting a post to keep track of songs I think are great.

In contrast to blogwaffe’s approach, these will all be songs I actually like. Well, which I like at the time that I add them to the post — not necessarily later. It’s like impulse buying, without the buying. Though it may include buying, but that’s between me and iTunes.

To get it going:
The Bravery – Unconditional

29 Nov 2005

Movie short – Alive in Joburg

Filed under: Blogosphere gems — paulcook @ 9:21 pm

This is quite possibly the most bizarre thing I have ever seen. I’m still deciding whether it’s great or just really, really weird.

Anyway, it’s a movie short set in Johannesburg in 1990, in the midst of Apartheid repression. Only thing is … the repression is against aliens, as in UFO aliens.

It captures the grittiness of the Apartheid struggle pretty well, and looks very authentic (though there are a few giveaways that it was filmed in the last three or so years). But I can’t decide whether throwing in UFO aliens is interesting artistic license, or disrespectful to those that suffered.

Anyway, the movie is here, linked to from MilkandCookies

17 Oct 2005

American Airlines figures me out

Filed under: Stuff — paulcook @ 11:39 am

A quote from the first paragraph of an American Airlines promotional email I just received:

Dear Paul Cook,

At American Airlines, we know why you fly® – to experience the sweet life of Belgium. Sample the chocolates, stroll the cobbled square and learn the charming customs of Brussels. We’ve even introduced an exclusive fare sale for AAirmailSM and Net SAAver® subscribers in your area so you can get there for less than you think.

Amazing! How do they know that?!? It is indeed true that the sole reason I fly is so that I can experience the sweet life of Belgium. Without the sweet life of Belgium, airplanes would be dead to me. Dead, I tell you.

Methinks someone has been trying a little too hard to work their registered trademark phrases into their emails…