30 December 2004


I've been wanting to organize a small poker tournament for a long time now. In fact, what I really want to do is get a regular home game started so I can rationalize buying personalized poker chips. But that aside, who can I get involved for a one time deal? Here's my list so far:

  • me

  • MRhé

  • Jimmy

  • TheDan

  • Warner

  • Paul?

I need more peeps, though. So ask your friends. And tell me who they are.

Lopez, Tunes!

I need some recommendations for contemporary tunes. My problem is that many of my favorite musical artists are no longer recording new music because they're old or dead. And I've never been one to really follow "pop" or even good music made by people who are still alive. Anyway, my point is that I'd like to experience the excitement I imagine people have when their favorite musicians release new stuff. And I got some Christmas $$$ on my iTunes Music Store account. And I want to spend it on new stuff. So: start suggesting!

28 December 2004


I usually abhor these things, but Mander asked me nicely, so:

Three names you go by:

Three screennames you have:

Three things you like about yourself:
i'm clever
i'm perceptive
my nasty slider

Three things you hate/dislike about yourself:
i'm argumentative
i'm getting fat
i'm lazy

Parts of your heritage:
County Roscommon & County Dublin

Three things that scare you:
being in foreign countries
angry dogs
a fourth diamond on the river when I'm holding a set

Three of your everyday essentials:
hair putty

Three things you are wearing right now:
halloween socks
a black t-shirt

Three of your favorite songs (at the moment):
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Don't Stop (Believing)
Queen of Hearts

Three Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
move to England
not being a jackass

Three things you want in a relationship:

Two truths and a lie:
I have a man-crush on Lopez
I voted for David Ortiz in the 2004 Presidential Election
Hotfoot is grim

Three physical aspects you find attractive:
a nice smile

Three things you just can't do:
read anything by Dave Eggers
belch on command
bear to watch the Dr. Phil show

Three of your favorite hobbies:

Three careers you're considering:
Mark's lackey
professional rube

Three places you want to go on vacation:
The Palatinat

Three kids' names:

Three things you want to do before you die:
finish this goddamned rig
get married
make a contribution to society

Three people who I'd like to take this quiz:

The New Left

David Brooks' op-ed in the today's Times is a list of links to some of his favorite political essays of 2004. The only one which sounded interesting enough for me to read was by Peter Beinhart, editor of The New Republic. In the piece he discusses the challenge confronting the American left in trying to redefine liberalism:

The recognition that liberals face an
external enemy more grave, and more illiberal, than George W. Bush
should be the litmus test of a decent left.

A lot of what he has to say aligns precisely with my frustrations with what the Democratic Party has become lately.

18 December 2004

Double Life

A few years back one of my Dad's childhood friends started organizing an annual "Rossmore Road" reunion. This year's reunion is today and its impending arrival motivated Dad to start talking on the way to work Friday about some of the guys he grew up with. The conversation began with the innocuous observation that a lot of guys stayed local and joined the police force. Then he mentioned somebody who couldn't make it as a cop, so he stuck up a bank with a toy gun. This led to the list of other life-achievements by his boyhood pals:

  • Two guys got involved with the Boyos (the Boston Irish mob) and were shot, chopped up, and stashed in a bunch of suitcases.

  • The brother of the aforementioned bankrobber owns and manages the Foxy Lady in Brockton. I commented that at least one of them had succeeded and established himself as a businessman, to which Dad replied that he thought robbing a bank was more honorable.

  • Another guy robbed a bank and tried to escape on a motorscooter with money flying off the back of the getaway vehicle. He ran into a bar where he bumped into one of the neighborhood guys who had become a cop and who promptly arrested him.

17 December 2004

<i>The Metro</i>

A snippet in today's Metro shines light on why the trains were running so intermittently during yesterday's commute home:

False alarms caused two MBTA stations to be evacuated yesterday after suspicious packages were found.

The first evacuation occurred in the morning at Ashmont Station. A comuter informed T police that a styrofoam cooler with the words "biological research"  had been left behind on one of the buses, said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

The container was sent to the State Police Lab, where authorities determined that inside was only a trash bag tied in a knot, said Pesaturo. The station was closed for three hours, and during that time commuters were bused from Fields Corner, said Pesaturo.

Later in the afternoon, a T employee found an unattended paper bag on the platform of Alewife Station prompting another evacuation. Tests done at the scene by a hazardous materials unit discovered that the bag contained a cold pack, said Pesaturo.

Regular service resumed after three hours of interruption.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, public transport in the era of orange-level alerts: 6 hours of delays for a trash bag tied in a knot and a cold pack. If I write "Nuclear Bomb" on a suitcase and leave it in South Station, will they shut down the whole city?

15 December 2004


I thought the following set of photographs was pretty amusing:

The original set (forwarded in an email) had a final image of the green truck falling in as it tried to extract the orange truck. Close inspection revealed it to be a fake, as it showed the red car from the background of the first shot instead of the bigger group of cars in the later frames.

06 December 2004

deplane, v

Scottoway claims that "deplane" is not a verb meaning to get off a plane. I don't know what dictionary he's using but both the American Heritage and the venerable Oxford English dictionaries say that it is. The latter lists as the second definition of deplane:

a. intr. To leave an aeroplane (after arrival at one's destination).    b. trans. To remove from an aeroplane.

This isn't a newfangled interwang usage either; the O.E.D. cites references in 1923, 1933, 1948 and 1967, the earliest of which was in a time when planes were a rather new invention.

As to some of his other etymological musings, note that "refrigerate" comes from the Latin refrigare, to make cold. This derives obviously from frigidus, cold and the original meaning of re- which is not "again" but rather "back" (recede, reduce, refer). Thus refrigerate does not mean to cool again, but to cool back—a somewhat awkward construction in English, but one which makes sense if you look over the varied shades of the prefix as it was applied to Latin stems.

We must use care in attributing the creation of words which were inherited via the French from Latin to English speakers. While "to frigerate" is not a common English verb (O.E.D. cites usages in the 17th century) it is not to say that "refrigerate" has no meaningful root form. That root form existed in another language, Latin, in which the borrowed English formation also existed.

If you're going to be a pedant, at least get your facts straight.

We Need a New Apollo

Tom Friedman has a wonderful op-ed in the Times today. This is the kind of idea we need more of in America today. Why is it that our political leaders find it so hard to ever push a truly shocking agenda? I want to be surprised and challenged and spurred to action.

01 December 2004

Ken Jennings

I've been meaning to watch Jeopardy! ever since I heard this summer that Ken Jennings finally lost in an episode scheduled to air this autumn. Until tonight I had never actually sat through an episode (largely because Law & Order is on at the same time). I flipped over to it tonight and watched Jennings blow two (admittedly obscure) Double Jeopardy questions which cost him nearly $10K. By the time Final Jeopardy came around he had a $14400 to $10000 lead (the third dude was below zero at the end of the second round so FJ was heads up).

The question was actually kind of interesting, something like: "This company's 70,000 seasonal white collar employees work only 4 months a year." I guessed correctly along with Ken's competition that the answer is H&R Block. The woman (I forget her name) wagered $4401, so if Ken was wrong she won automatically.

As "Fed Ex" flashed up on Ken's monitor the audience audibly gasped. It was pretty amazing. They got up and gave him a standing ovation. Funny how that rule change created this random celebrity.