Archive for October, 2003

The Medium is the Message


Classic album covers recreated in Lego blocks. Most of these are past my
time, but some I recognize.

Yet more evidence that some bloggers have more time on their hands than is good
for them.

via Boing Boing

The Crying Game Show


LONDON – A television station said Friday it had shelved a reality show that
set up six male contestants with what appeared to be a gorgeous woman but
was actually a transsexual.

The program, "Find Me A Man," challenged the contestants to woo a leggy
South American brunette called Miriam. Only at the end of the show did the men
learn that Miriam was a preoperative transsexual.

"As Miriam is a transsexual, I would never refer to her as male or female.
She is a gorgeous creature," the spokesman told the magazine.

from Yahoo News

Happy Birthday, Harvard Stadium


Venerable Harvard Stadium, architecturally renowned as the first building
in the world to utilize the then-revolutionary but now ubiquitous
construction technique known as "reinforced concrete", is celebrating
its centennial this year. It is also famous as the site of a momentous
moment in football history – the invention of the forward pass.

Back in the day (1905) football was a lot more violent than in is today.  Hard
to believe, huh? Well, that year alone there were 18 FATALITIES and dozens
of disabling injuries on the college gridiron, and there were only a
handful of teams in those days.  Of course, they had no protective
gear to speak of, and no conditioning, steroids or supplements to steel
their vulnerable student bodies.

So in the face of growing calls to outlaw the beastly sport, the Intercollegiate
Football Association voted in 19 new rules,
like no tackling out of bounds, "striking the
ball carrier in the face," or tackling below the knee. Another new
rule would have widened the field, but Harvard, stuck with their new
concrete stadium built to the old field size, could not comply.  Instead,
Harvard convinced the Association to institute the controversial Forward
Pass.  The
rest is history.

The Dowbrigade’s memories of the Stadium are a bit foggy, as the only
occasions he was actually inside occurred back in the dim mists of his
undergraduate days. His best friend from high school, Joey Weiss, ended
up at Yale, and every year for the hoary Harvard-Yale game they would
get together for their own arcane and twisted ritual.

Each year, for four successive years, they would
inhale, approximately 45 minutes prior to kickoff, 500 milligrams (1/2
gram) of mescaline in one nostril, and 500 milligrams of cocaine in the
other.  This was as part of an ongoing experiment (Dowbrigade majored
in Psychology and Social Relations) in hemispheric brain differentiation.  As
everyone know, the right nostril is connected to the left hemisphere,
and the left nostril to the right.

The experiment required extensive prep work (mostly materials acquisition)
and careful budgeting. We would reverse the input configuration from
year to year, to create a "double blind" effect.  Cross
referencing shows that copious notes were taken on the objective and
subjective results, perhaps in hopes
of future publication, but the Dowbrigade seems to have misplaced them
somewhere over the years.

The most noticeable immediate effect was that one half of your brain
froze, while the other half melted. The differentiation extended
to ocular input, creating kaleidoscopic effects and and an interesting
new parallax between left and right eye signals which introduced a sort
of "fourth-dimensionality" into vision. Watching the crowd, undulating
like a spastic snake and emitting crackles of tense,
into the autumn air, was much more interesting than the game on the field.

Dr. Weiss is now a cancer researcher in California.  The Dowbrigade
has left his days of outlaw psychology far behind. Happy, 100th Harvard

from the Harvard Gazette



New Piercing Fad Thwarts Metal Detectors


Garry ‘Stretch’ Turner was hoping to clip more than 153 pegs to his face at the
launch of the 2004 Guinness Book of Records in Manchester. But his effort
at the city’s Arndale Centre failed when he managed to clip on only 150
pegs, says the Manchester Evening News .

Quote of the Day


“John Silber is the Fidel Castro of American Higher Education”

The Dowbrigade

Not Sensei, Just Dowbrigade-san


An interesting article from the New York Times about the tendency in
Japan to use or not to use honorific titles. This goes to the point
of one of my areas of special interest – the relationship between language
and culture, in this case business culture.

While dropping honorifics is not going to solve the systemic problems
in the Japanese economy, breaking linguistic patterns can be a useful
tool in breaking cognitive habits which are
deemed counterproductive.

Yukio Sakamoto, the president and chief executive f Elpida Memory, a
semiconductor maker in Tokyo, believes that using titles like "department chief" impedes decision-making
and innovation.

"To call someone ‘president’ is to deify him," said Mr. Sakamoto,
who was influenced by the 28 years he worked at Texas Instruments. "It’s
part of Japan’s hierarchical society. Now that has no meaning. If you
have ability, you can rise to the top and show your ability."

the New York Times

Dolphin Slaughter Creates Red Sea in Japan


Fishermen work on a boat filled with freshly caught dolphins while a
diver prepares to submerge in the blood-filled water near the fishing
town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecutre in this photo taken Friday, Oct.
6, 2003 by American anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
Fishermen in this western Japanese town regularly conduct dolphin hunts
during the October to April season. They’ve caught more than 60 striped
dolphins so far this year under the government quota system which allows
22,275 to be caught. The meat is usually canned and sold in supermarkets.(AP

the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Rupert Murdoch Threatens to Sue Own Show


The Simpsons
creator Matt Groening says Fox News threatened legal action after an
episode of the cartoon poked fun at the channel.

The episode, on Fox Entertainment, featured a "Fox News Crawl" at
the bottom of the screen, which parodied items featured by the news channel.

The cartoon ticker read: "Pointless news crawls up 37 per cent …
Do Democrats cause cancer? Find out at … Rupert Murdoch:
Terrific dancer … Dow down 5000 points … Study: 92 per cent of Democrats
are gay … JFK posthumously joins Republican Party … Oil slicks found
to keep seals young, supple …"

from Ananova

Digital Info Explosion Doesn’t Save Trees



NEW YORK (Reuters) – All those e-mails — junk or otherwise — are
adding up.
In 2002, people around the globe created enough new information to fill
500,000 U.S. Libraries of Congress, according to a study by faculty and
students at the University of California at Berkeley.

The 5 billion gigabytes of new data works out to about 800 megabytes
per person — the equivalent of a stack of books 30 feet high — the
study by the university’s School of Information Management and Systems

Although film-based photographs have dropped 9 percent since1999, paper
documents, including books, journals, and others, have grown by as much
as 43 percent. Lyman said that much of the content is accessed on computers,
but users print it out.

from Reuters

Feds Grant DMCA Exceptions


The Library of Congress created on Tuesday four narrow exemptions to a controversial digital-piracy statute but faces criticism from free-speech activists, who had hoped for more exceptions.

As part of a regular process of reviewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, regulators created four new instances in which it is legal to crack digital copyright protections. Such protections can now be broken to access:

Thoughts on a Rainy Day


on my back on a starry night, counting the uncountable, it seems
as though mankind’s noble aspiration to migrate out of the gravity well
is bound to succeed, allowing us to assume our rightful place among the
pantheon of intelligent species surely scattered throughout the galaxies.

On a rainy day like today, however, the Dowbrigade feels like a member
of a measly malevolent species in the terminal phases of plundering
our planet, that any really intelligent life in the universe would
avoid like a guest shot on Survivor: The Leper Colony.

Solar Flare Update


Unlike yesterday’s educational diagram, this is an actual photo, from NASA, of the solar flare which is scheduled to reach earth any minute now. While it only takes about 6 minutes for light to get to Earth from the sun, this electromagnetic radiations seems to take a couple of days, which is how long they’ve been warning us about it.

”This is the real thing,” said John Kohl, a solar astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge. ”It’s headed straight for us, like a freight train.”

Boston Globe Story (foto from NASA)
Solar Flare Update: (noon) We just lost power in one of our classroom buildings here at BU and it looks like a whole segment of Commowealth Avenue is out. Solar-related? We are investigating, but as of now no classes have been cancelled….