January 2008


This semester, I’m only taking classes I like. Well, that’s almost true. I still have to spend 10,800 seconds a week studying a certain foreign language, but stacked between philosophy and politics its much more bearable.

My mind is reinvigorated. I’m shedding pounds of flabby gray matter layered on by months of a steady diet of video games and broadband internet access. My new brain is tanned and toned…or at least it’s getting there.

The new job is helpful, even though it’s hardly intellectually stimulating. When I have less time, it has to be more structured. A busy schedule keeps me feeling motivated and productive. Of course, I’m still wary of the capitalist trap…

“I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful.”

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A guy at Cal Tech has posted findings from a brilliant research project. He gathered lists of the ten most popular books at each college on Facebook, and then compared it to the average SAT school at each college. The result: an average SAT score for each book.

Among the “dumbest” books are The Purpose Driven Life, Fahrenheit 451 (MA will be unsuprised), and The Holy Bible. The smartest books include Lolita, Catch-22, and Freakonomics.

Interestingly, six of the 12 “dumbest” books come from African American literature. Assuming that those books were most popular at traditionally black colleges, their position at the bottom of the table might reflect the SAT’s white bias.

I’m not a believer in the paranormal*, but something legitimately fishy is going in Stephenville, Texas. Dozens residents of the sleepy town of 17,000 reported seeing a UFO dancing through the sky on the same night, at the same time, two weeks ago.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh come on, SD. We all know this is a product of the overactive imaginations of a couple bored wackos.”

You’re probably right, but it’s worth nothing that the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Associated Press, and the Dallas Morning News have all found the story worth their time. Why? Because the US Military is skulking around like a guilty toddler caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Forty or so people reported they spotted a glowing object “bigger than a Wal-Mart” hovering 3,000 feet in the air for four to five minutes. Some, including a professional pilot and a police officer, said they saw two military fighter jets chase the object away. Officials at the nearby Air Force base originally scoffed at the report and insisted they had no aircraft anywhere near Stephenville at the time of the incident.

Yesterday, they changed their tune. It turns out that 10 F-16’s were flying a training mission over Stephenville during the five minute period the UFO was sighted. The Air Force blamed an “internal communications error” for its original denial–not an implausible explanation from the same organization that accidentally flew nuclear weapons over Arkansas.

The obvious question is whether the presence of 10 fighter jets in the sky resolves the mystery or deepens it. Witnesses say the object they saw was too large, too bright, too fast, and too quiet to be a squadron of F-16’s. The Air Force, citing mission security, has declined to say whether the planes training mission might have included any actions or formations resembling those described in the UFO reports.

Party-pooping astrophysicists have offered a reasonable explanation involving physics and sciency stuff, but it’s not nearly as exciting as aliens.

*Full Disclosure: I did vote for Dennis Kucinich in 2004

I haven’t posted in quite a while. It’s not that I’m so lazy I can’t even focus long enough to talk about myself (I swear!). It’s that I’m legitimately busy for the first time in ages. Not debating this semester inspired me to find gainful employment, so I’m working about 20 hours a week in the claims department of a large insurance company. The money is great, or at least it will be when i get my first real paycheck, but it’s also a huge time suck. I can’t really do anything useful (i.e. homework) while I’m on the job, plus commuting adds about an hour and a half to my work day.

The result is an ever-dwindling amount of free time. All in all, I think that’s probably healthy.

A couple years ago I saw a preview for that movie where Robin Williams gets elected President by being goofy. At the time I remembered rolling my eyes but thinking, “you know, that could actually turn out to be decent.”

Tonight, I learned to trust my instinct. Man of the Year is absolute garbage. The movie manages to take what could be a slightly original idea and choke it until there’s nothing left cliche. It’s wildly absurd, stars Robin Williams and Christopher Walken, and still fails to be remotely funny. The plot is as thick as, say, a very thin peice of paper. Or Kate Moss. It’s bad, is what I’m going for here. Really bad. Especially when it tries to be suspenseful, and ESPECIALLY when it tries to be uplifting.

Grade: F