The first time I had it, I hadn't planned on dessert. By the waitress talked me into it. It was so good, I couldn't stop eating it. I was so full, I was almost in pain, but I still couldn't stop eating it.
Tonight was my fourth try with this dessert. It's still so good it almost makes me cry. My girlfriend helped too, but between the two of use, we still couldn't finish it.
My girlfriend did order her own dessert, but decided mine tasted better. Her's was the Bailey's Creme Brule. It's made with some creme brule mixed with pure Bailey's. You could almost get a buzz from the dessert a lone.
I walked right up to it and said, "Wow. Cool. It looks just like the ones I used to play in the bar when I was a little kid."
My girlfriend just looked at me with a horrified expression on her face as she contemplated everything that was wrong with that sentence.
The seventies were a different time, I suppose.
Sleep-deprived groups ranging from truck drivers to the military have experimented with modafinil, marketed for nearly a decade by Cephalon under what Plotz calls the "creepy, pharma-Orwellian" name Provigil.
Military officials have found it so effective that some now refer to it as a "super drug." But its off-label uses have created a rich debate on how far to push the limits of the human body.
For Plotz, the results were immediate.
"I am the picture of vivacity," he wrote on Slate.com.
Even with only five hours sleep, he could write twice as fast and felt alert.
"I have a desperate urge to write, to make reporting calls and to finish my expense account – activities I religiously avoid," he wrote. "I find myself talking loudly and quickly. A colleague says I am grinning like a 'feral chipmunk.'"
Until now, the military has used amphetamines or "go pills" for its pilots, but the side effects of amphetamines can cause problems. Investigators blamed those drugs for a 2002 incident in which American pilots inadvertently killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
In studies funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Cephalon, modafinil has proved to be a better drug.
Scientists treated 16 healthy subjects, depriving them of sleep for 28 hours and then expecting them to sleep from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for four days and stay awake through the night. Those on modafinil did far better on cognitive tests than those on a sugar pill. Some could stay awake for more than 90 hours, according to Moreno.
I've followed the developments on Mondafinil and Provogil for several years now. I think I first read about it when I was living in Boise in 1997.
It's an interesting concept for a drug. You don't get high. You don't get addicted. There don't appear to be long term consequences.
But you don't have to sleep. You can stay awake, alert and sharp for ridiculously long periods of time.
When I sleep on weekends or vacations, I can sleep for 10-14 hours straight with now problem. During the week, I can function well, on 5 hours a night. I can get by with the occasional alnighter and do okay on a couple of 3-4 hour nights.
And when I sleep for long periods of time, I do enjoy it.
The idea of having extra hours of high productivity appeals to me. It seems there's never enough time in the day for everything I need/want to do. To get everything done and have time for myself, something has to go. And usually that something is sleep.
A product like Provigil has the potential to change things. When I forgo sleep today, I do suffer a performance penalty. I'd really like to avoid that penalty.
Is it right to take medication to alter the normal function of the body for my convenience? Is it ethical?
I used to think it wasn't. I used to think to most important thing was to rely on sheer Biology. But I've been coming around on that. Why not take advantage of the wonders of modern chemistry?
People legitimately hack their bodies all the time with. And they do it not to heal an injury but to alter they way the body functions to make their lives easier or simpler.
We see new advances in vitamins and nutrition that are anything but natural. Caffeine intake is another way many people try to push pass the limits of the body. Are the complex exercise regimens people take on natural?
And is using something like Provigil to alter human sleep patterns all that different from using birth control pill to alter the human endocrine/reproductive system?
But I haven't done anything yet. Like LASER eye surgery, I still look at Provigil with some concern about the long term effects and the possibility of addiction.
But the more I learn, the more I like what I see.
Today, I flew from St. Louis to Orange county on flight559 leaving STL at 1:55 on American. The tail number of the plane was N552AA.
In Orange County, I caught Alaska Airlines flight 539. The tail number on that aircraft was N552AS.
I guess I'm playing the lotter tomorrow.
Apparantly, John Lovitz beat up Andy Dick because Andy Dick mocked Phil Hartman's death.
Excluding Phil Hartman's death, there are so many wonderful things about this story.
COMIC CLOBBERS COMIC IN L.A.
July 17, 2007 -- IT was fight night at an L.A. comedy club last week when Jon Lovitz roughed up Andy Dick over the murder of their "Saturday Night Live" colleague, Phil Hartman.
Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who witnessed the assault, said, "Jon picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose." Lovitz told Page Six, "All the comedians are glad I did it because this guy is a [bleep]hole."
So how do you get away from the airport in your shiny old damn-Taurus? You take the road back around, past the compressed natural gas filling station ("OPEN TO THE PUBLIC") back into the airport, through the throngs of shuttle busses, car, taxis, limos, and hotels vans picking poeple up and dropping people off. You pass through the cross walks as people drag their bags into the terminal, around a bend (take the wrong turn and you end up returning your rental car) and back past the rental car cut off roads before finally spilling out onto the local traffic.
Directions from Google Maps
Beware the Magical IPhone
06.27.07 2:00 AM
There's been a lot of media attention directed at the iPhone recently. Some of it has been positive, some negative, but none have come forth to acknowledge the obvious, sinister context of Apple's latest toy. This device, portrayed as a harmless product of science, is obviously designed to introduce our children to witchcraft and sorcery.
The central pentagram in Apple's vile altar of temptation takes the form of "gestures," hand movements used to control the device. Wiggle your fingers at the iPhone and it does your bidding. Does that not sound familiar? Is that not one of the main ingredients in the blasphemous bisque of sorcery?
For example, this instant soup is like a high-end Cup O' Noodles. But it taste much better.
And it even comes with a tiny plastic fork that's folded in half. You unpack it and snap it to it's full length. This silly little fork is almost worth the $1 soup purchase price itself.
Of course, if you wonder what exactly is in the little envelopes, they are clearly labelled.
Matthew Battles, author of "Library: An Unquiet History" interviews András Riedlmayer, a Hungarian librarian and historian at Harvard about the war in the former Yugoslavia.
Over coffee one afternoon in the summer of 2001, András reminded me of another way to burn books, explained to him by a colleague who survived the siege of Sarajevo. In the winter, the scholar and his wife ran out of firewood, and so began to burn their books for heat and cooking. “This forces one to think critically,” András remembered his friend saying. “One must prioritize. First, you burn old college text books, which you haven’t read in thirty years. Then there are the duplicates. But eventually you’re forced to make tougher choices. Who burns today: Dostoevsky or Proust?” I asked András if his friend had any books left when the war was over. “Oh, yes,” he replied, his face lit by a flickering smile. “He still had many books. Sometimes, he told me, you look at the books and just choose to go hungry.”
If you understand how the scholar feels, you may be interested in “Library: An Unquiet History.” If you don’t quite get it, then this book is probably not for you.
I finished “Library: An Unquiet History” by Matthew Battles four months ago. Normally, I can turn around a review more quickly, but this one is a bit challenging. I couldn't decide if I liked it or not.
While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. The book jacket describes it as a history of libraries from ancient times to present. In reality, though, it’s more of a collection of historical stories about libraries.
Battles frames the stories around the historical tension between two camps. The Universalists believe the library should include all books. Its value is in having a complete collections. The Great Books group, on the other hand, sees the library as the pinnacle of culture. It should have only the books we want people to read. The role of the library is to ensure people don’t waste time on books they shouldn’t read. Battles himself seems to come down on the side of the universalists.
Reading the library, we quickly come to an obvious conclusion: most books are bad, very bad in fact. Worst of all, they’re normal: the fail to rise above the contradictions and confusions of their times (in this respect, I’m sure this book will be no exception). It’s understandable, then, that we spend so much energy ferreting out the exceptional books, the ones that shatter paradigms. But we shouldn’t forget that the unremarkable books have much to teach us about cultural history – ultimately more, perhaps, than our cherished Great Books.
Battles doesn’t claim to tell the whole history:
I am looking for the library where it lives. Of course, a complete history of the library – a documentary account of libraries wherever they have existed, in whatever form they take – would run to many volumes. What I’m looking for are points of transformation, those moments where readers, authors, and librarians question the meaning of the library itself.
While Battle does find many of these points, he doesn’t quite tie them together into a single story. The stories themselves are fascinating. I learned a great deal about libraries. And the book itself moves smoothly from one section to the next. But somehow it feels like a shallow river. There’s a lot of stuff happening and swirling all around you, and you know it’s going someplace, but you can’t quite dive in and go along for the ride.
Battles writes long paragraphs and sentences. In the selections I cite below, he averages more than 20 words per sentence. I’m sure that’s from his experience as an academic. He crams so many facts into each paragraph that the information gets lost. This paragraph is great example:
Despite his distaste for the vulgar curiosities that seemed to pass for modern thinking, Swift found cause for hope in the early numbers of the Mercury. His mentor [Sir William] Temple was among those who offered questions for the learned members of the Athenian Society to ponder. Evidently, he encouraged swift to take the paper’s use of the Athenian moniker seriously, and to expect that the “Society” would offer sober and learned guidance to England’s burgeoning reading public. Swift’s first published poem, in fact, is his “Ode to the Athenian Society,” in which he extolled the “the great Unknown, and far-exalted Men” whose wisdom filled both sides of the Mercury’s sheet twice weekly. Later Swift learned that this “Society” was actually composed of just three Grub Street hacks. Its publisher and guiding spirit, a bookseller by the name of John Dunton, was a product of the dissenting academies who flourished in the book trade of London’s coffeehouse demimonde. He had even travelled to New England, where he met with Cotton Mather, visited a lecture given to Christianized Indians at Natick, and sold books at Harvard (some of which may have ended up in the library). Dunton championed precisely the new kind of book that, in Swift’s estimation, was cluttering the Royal Library. Indeed, he seems never to have had an experience in life that he didn’t deem fit to publish in book form. He memorialized his New England trip in an autobiography he called The Life and Errors of John Dunton, which he brought out, doggedly in some thirty editions. When his second wife’s promised generous dowry failed to materialize, he initiated a pamphlet campaign against his mother-in-law.
Tighter writing and a more deliberate structure would make this a more compelling book, and more accessible for those looking for something more than historical anecdotes.
Library is like a stroll through a library. You can walk down the stacks picking up random books as you go. You can open it to random page and read some. Then you go on down the stack and pick up the next one. Such a stroll is relaxing and educational. And you can relish an afternoon surrounded by aging pages, smiling slightly in the comforting warmth. It’s all very pleasant, but there is no sense of transformation or completion at the end of the stroll.
Some things I learned:
- The library at Alexandria wasn’t destroyed in a cataclysmic fire
- The library at Alexandria acquired many of its books by seizing them from visitors to the city
- Libraries have been a strategic asset and target in war
- Thomas Dewey trained women to be librarians not out of any egalitarian notion, but to make the position of librarian more subservient
- When the Nazis banned books, they didn’t tell people what books were banned.
- Many libraries used to organize their collections by size
Some key passages:
Endowed by the grieving mother of Harry Elkins Widner, a Harvard graduate and bibliophile who went down with the Titanic, Widener is the Great Unsinkable Library. Its ten levels contain fifty-seven miles of shelves, enough to hold some 4.6 million bound volumes, giver or take a few. The shelves are great armatures of forged iron that carry the weight of the building; the library quite literally is supported by its books.
Like other natural philosophers of the Latin Middle Ages, Roger Bacon held that three classes of substance were capable of magic: the herbal, the mineral, and the verbal. With their leaves of fiber, their inks of copperas and soot, and their words, books are an amalgam of the three. The notion that words, like plants and stones have existences independent of our uttering them – that they have power and do things in the world – is a commonplace in many traditions. Brought together in multitudes, heaped up and pared down, read and forgotten, library books take on lives and histories of their own, not as texts but as physical objects in the world.
Still more Mesopotamian libraries must lie buried in the great tells, or mounds of ruined cities, that dot the landscape of the Assyrian homeland; precision bombs may now be destroying libraries we don’t even know exist.
In an effort to stop the growth of the libraries at Rhodes and Pergamum, both of which threatened Alexandria’s preeminence, the city’s rulers banned the export of papyrus. The move backfired, however, spurring the Pergamenes to invent parchment (charta pergamenum), which for its strength and reusability would prove to be the preferred writing medium in Europe for more than a thousand years.
The centralization and consolidation of libraries serves the convenience of scholars and princes alike. But great libraries are problematic in times of war, disaster, or decay, for their fate becomes the fate of the literatures they contain. Much of what comes down to us from the antiquity survived because it was held in small private libraries tucked away in obscure backwaters of the ancient world, where it was more likely to escape the notice of zealots as well as princes.
When the future emperor Liu Ji’s father was kidnapped by a rival who threatened to boil him alive, the leader showed his coarse mettle by requesting a bowl of soup made from the resulting stock.
But even if the last few charred characters offer up nothing new, once thing is certain: the most complete ancient library accessible to us today survived because it burned.
[Francis Bacon’s} parsing of all human knowledge into three categories – memory, wisdom, and imagination – became an organizing principle of empirical thought. In his system, Bacon eschewed the division of sacred and secular, harking back to the classical epistemologies that emphasized relations among disciplines of the mind. His taxonomy enjoyed a lasting influence: Diderot adopted the scheme in Volume I of his 1751 Encyclopedie, and it has been the forerunner of modern library classifications.
In the same issue, William Frederick Poole (who ran the Chicago Public Library) also draws a parallel between the smoking and reading habbits. To Poole, however, the tobacco reference was not entirely negative. “I smoked tobacco and read Milton at the same time,” he declares, “and for the same motive: to find out what was the recondite charm in them that gave my father so much pleasure.” But too many people, Poole admits, are dissuaded by that first unpleasant impression of tobacco from any further consideration of its charms.
Alleging that Belgian civilians had committed such atrocities as ambushing rearguard troops and gouging out the eyes of wounded soldiers in the field, the German government justified the burning of the Louvain on the grounds of military necessity. “The barbarous attitude of the Belgian population in all parts occupied by our troops has not only justified our severest measures,” the Germans declared, “but forced them on us for the sake of self-preservation.” The West, of course, saw it differently. “It is treason to civilization,” wrote the London Daily Chronicle on August 29. “War on non-combatants is bad enough, but this is war on posterity to the remotest generations.” Eight days after the Germans razed the town, a witness wrote that “even into the country, leaves of manuscripts and books fluttered about, half burned, at the mercy of the wind.” One manuscript was saved, though: a professor had withdrawn it for consultation and carried it with him when he fled the city before the German occupation. Trudging along in a refugee column, he stopped in a garden near Ghent and buried the book, “ enclosed in a little iron safe.” There is no record of this single manuscript’s return to the library or of its rediscovery. Perhaps the last book of Louvain’s great prewar library still rests in its iron casket, a hidden library of one.
The Germans had other reasons to revile the Louvain’s library. Not only had a new library building risen risen from the city’s ashes, but a new collection as well – and after World War I, Belgian libraries had refilled their stacks with books confiscated from the defeated Germans. The library at Louvain once again held a rich collection, including incunabula and medieval manuscripts; many of these had been taken from the stacks of Germany’s own libraries.
The new libraries of the earlier twentieth century, however, hid away the books. Rendering them accessible only staff employing the latest technology: telephones, conveyor belts, elevator. The cover of the May 27, 1911, issue of Scientific American showed a cutaway view of the stacks of the New York Public Library, then newly opened. The view shows the all-male staff bustling among the shelves below floor level, sending volumes to the delivery room via a complex network of shafts and booklifts. Beyond the delivery room windows sit the blissfully browsing readers, unaware of the machinery employed to bring them their reading material.
When the space shuttle lands in CA, NASA flys it back to Florida on the back of a 747.
Attaching one vehicle to another is a complex process. They have to consider aerodynamics, wind resistance, weight, fuel consumption, maximum safe speed and a variety of other factors.
How do the engineers ensure this goes well? Simple. They follow the instructions.
I did have to take off the brass nozzle at the tip of the wand. I needed to pour water into my planters rather than use a high pressure spray.
I also found the winding doesn't work easily. It's a slow, manual process. I usually have to take it off the faucet before I wind it up because I don't want to put stress on the faucet where it connects to the sink.
After several months, it is now starting to leak slightly where the wand connects to the hose. It's a few drops, so it's not a major problem, but it is mildly annoying.
If I don't plan to use the sink for a few days, I'll just leave it attached. Otherwise I'm constantly disconnecting and reconnecting it.
It does what it needs to do fairly well, and despite the annoyances, it is a worthwhile product.
It would be better if it had some sort of quick release mechanism so I could easily attach or remove it. It would also be great if there was someway to use it with a Brita or other water filter.
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.
Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert.
Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout loudly and excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."
The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
I walked down to Seattle's new sculpture park to see the fireworks for the 4th.
Like most major fireworks displays, this one it set to music. Of course the only way to hear the music is to listen to the radio while watching a the fireworks. So most of the thousands of people in the park watched the fireworks to only the din of the crowd.
The fireworks started about 10 minutes late (perhaps to give the radio station more commercial time). And when the explosives finally launched into the sky and burst over the water, the crowd ooh'ed and ahh'ed. For five minutes. Then they got bored.
Fireworks are pretty, but without the music, there is no narrative to the show.
People started looking around sheepishly to see what everyone else was doing. They turned from the sky to peek at their neighbors, and their eyes darted over thousands of people still feigning interest in the sky. It was as if they felt guilty for not being completely captivated by the scenes playing out above.
After ten minutes, children became restless. Younger kids and dogs became distressed over the ever present booms. After 12 minutes people started leaving early to beat the traffic.
I stayed through to the end. It was a highly entertaining show. And the fireworks were cool, too.
But I have to question the news coming out of Britain. I already ranted about the Fake Liquid Bomb scare from last summer. This week I am also dubious.
Right now, I have 80% confidence that those two car bombs in London were part of a terrorist plot. But I think there's a 20% chance they were staged by some political, governmental, or other intelligence agency.
Bush's poll numbers are at an all time low. The US population is increasingly opposed to the war in Iraq. It looks like the Congress might try to restore some of our constitutional rights.
At the same time, the Congress is pushing ahead with measures to reign in an Executive Branch that has a Vice President who seems convinced he is part of some mythical fourth branch of US Government.
Britain just brought in a new Prime Minister who needs to demonstrate how tough he will be on terrorists.
And there is nothing like an imminent threat to make general populace give the executive whatever he wants to keep them safe.
So now we have two car bombs show up in London. The heroic British police deactivate them and save hundreds of lives.
No one got hurt. The police are heroes. The executives reinforce the need for strong security measures. And hopefully, the populace goes along with it all.
You wouldn't need many people involved in the plot to fake it, so it's possible.
Odds are, it was a real plot by terrorists. But I am not convinced.