execrable

by cloudier

I was taking a plane from LA to NJ to see my family and I found this note inside of the menu pamphlet. I was hoping we could help this guy out in hopes that he’s a redditor. Feels fitting for the holiday season.

Here’s the text and pic of the napkin with the note on it.

[1] http://imgur.com/8WpD9

“I wonder what I’m going to tell you once I get off this plane. It might be something along the lines of about the last time I was home. And about how you said you were a mess and how you cried yourself to sleep everynight. And how I spent a whole night on your kitchen floor with you trying to make you smile. And when you did smile, I found myself saying I could spend the rest of my life finding all the ways I can make you smile until forever and ever. It might be something along the lines of how I don’t care if you don’t believe me when I say you are the most beautiful woman in the world, but believe me when I say, “to me, you are.” Believe me when I say, “I love you.” Because if there is ever a time to be selfish, this is it. I don’t think I could live the rest of my life knowing I never let you know how I feel. But I wonder what I’m going to tell you when you’ll look back at me and say, “but you’re leaving soon.” With my return ticket booked and my life in L.A. starting, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

10. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

Did they hit him with the kaleidoscope?

Brenda Sue Fulton, the head of the organization Knights Out and West Point class of ‘80, had this to say when asked to comment:

In our society, and in our military, you have a right to worship as you choose, but not to force your religion on others, particularly not through command influence. Just as gays and lesbians have a right to live their own lives. This is unfortunately a common fallacy that is used by bigots everywhere, and can be translated, “You mean you have a right to live your own life? What about my right to hate/persecute/discriminate against you??”

I was a Christian officer, and company commander – but I honored my oath to the Constitution, treating all my soldiers respectfully regardless of race, religion, creed, gender, or other factors irrelevant to my military mission.
It’s clear that this officer favors Christians (and probably evangelical Christians) above all others. He should be disciplined for inappropriate use of his rank and position to discriminate against troops based on their religious beliefs.

Two women in Pittsburgh, PA have gotten together to offer custom dresses for all the ladies of the world. The project, called WearTheShift, allows you to select the style, size, and color of your shift dress and have it hand-made by artisans in the good old US of A. The service currently has a Kickstarter page and they are offering half-off beta dresses for those who are interested.

He seems to be arguing that the fact that scientists are mostly Democrats is the reason that Republicans refuse to accept the scientific consensus on, say, climate change. In fact, these horrible liberal scientists have only themselves to blame for the fact that Republicans are hostile to their research:

Or could it be that disagreements over climate change are essentially political — and that science is just carried along for the ride? For 20 years, evidence about global warming has been directly and explicitly linked to a set of policy responses demanding international governance regimes, large-scale social engineering, and the redistribution of wealth. These are the sort of things that most Democrats welcome, and most Republicans hate. No wonder the Republicans are suspicious of the science.

Think about it: The results of climate science, delivered by scientists who are overwhelmingly Democratic, are used over a period of decades to advance a political agenda that happens to align precisely with the ideological preferences of Democrats. Coincidence —  or causation? Now this would be a good case for Mythbusters.

Ugh, if only scientists would stop demanding that anyone do anything about climate change, then maybe Republicans would take climate change a little more seriously! In other words, I think the answer he seeks is “causation,” but also I think Sarewitz has the direction of the causation completely backward. (Also this would make a bad episode of “Mythbusters” because it doesn’t involve a provable hypothesis and nothing would blow up.)

Sadly, folks, the most mind-blowing thing I saw at AU cannot be adequately conveyed through words or video (though I get paid to try). A company called Infinite Z was demonstrating their Z-Space display platform, a 24-inch monitor laid nearly flat on a table. You put on a special pair of glasses–no bulky headset, they’re like a super-light pair of spectacles–and the display turns into a freaking holodeck.

3D objects appear to be perched on top of the screen. Using a light pen, you can grab objects, pick them up, flip them over with millimeter precision–it’s like you have the object skewered on a long laser beam, and as quick as your hand turns over, the object turns over at the same speed. You can’t see any rendering happening, it’s like you’re holding the real thing.

During my demo I was presented with a complicated piece of machinery, and using the light pen I was able to pull different parts off of it, flip them around and examine them from all angles. The detail was insane. For small or convoluted parts that don’t lend themselves well to manipulation, they have a solution too: You use the light pen to pick up a tiny camera, the size of a Matchbox car, and you can then manipulate the free-floating camera inside, around or under your object. A screen pops up and shows you what the camera is seeing.

But there is more to the effects of a geographic language, for the sense of orientation has to extend further in time than the immediate present. If you speak a Guugu Yimithirr-style language, your memories of anything that you might ever want to report will have to be stored with cardinal directions as part of the picture. One Guugu Yimithirr speaker was filmed telling his friends the story of how in his youth, he capsized in shark-infested waters. He and an older person were caught in a storm, and their boat tipped over. They both jumped into the water and managed to swim nearly three miles to the shore, only to discover that the missionary for whom they worked was far more concerned at the loss of the boat than relieved at their miraculous escape. Apart from the dramatic content, the remarkable thing about the story was that it was remembered throughout in cardinal directions: the speaker jumped into the water on the western side of the boat, his companion to the east of the boat, they saw a giant shark swimming north and so on. Perhaps the cardinal directions were just made up for the occasion? Well, quite by chance, the same person was filmed some years later telling the same story. The cardinal directions matched exactly in the two tellings. Even more remarkable were the spontaneous hand gestures that accompanied the story. For instance, the direction in which the boat rolled over was gestured in the correct geographic orientation, regardless of the direction the speaker was facing in the two films.

The tobacco mosaic virus is a destructive beast infecting over a hundred different species of plants, including tomatoes. But it may have a weird eco benefit: Incorporated into lithium batteries, it can increase storage capacity ten times.

On the other end, you have the March of Dimes, an organization created with a specific goal — to help find a cure for polio. Unlike most not-for-profits, it succeeded … in 1955. What a huge, awesome, world-changing accomplishment! But today it suffers from mission creep, having broadened its agenda to “improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.” I like babies. I’m all for neonatal health. (I had a premature, low-birth-weight baby six years ago.) But I think the organization should have quit while it was ahead. Today, Charity Navigator gives it only one out of four stars for efficiency. I wonder if morphing from one cause to another has been part of the problem. And I think it’s fair to ask, Would it have been better to celebrate the early victory and shut down?

A few years ago, Alison went back to the case of the teacher who was murdered on the roof of her building in the Bronx. He wanted to know why, if the F.B.I.’s approach to criminal profiling was based on such simplistic psychology, it continues to have such a sterling reputation. The answer, he suspected, lay in the way the profiles were written, and, sure enough, when he broke down the rooftop-killer analysis, sentence by sentence, he found that it was so full of unverifiable and contradictory and ambiguous language that it could support virtually any interpretation.

Astrologers and psychics have known these tricks for years. The magician Ian Rowland, in his classic “The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading,” itemizes them one by one, in what could easily serve as a manual for the beginner profiler. First is the Rainbow Ruse—the “statement which credits the client with both a personality trait and its opposite.” (“I would say that on the whole you can be rather a quiet, self effacing type, but when the circumstances are right, you can be quite the life and soul of the party if the mood strikes you.”) The Jacques Statement, named for the character in “As You Like It” who gives the Seven Ages of Man speech, tailors the prediction to the age of the subject. To someone in his late thirties or early forties, for example, the psychic says, “If you are honest about it, you often get to wondering what happened to all those dreams you had when you were younger.” There is the Barnum Statement, the assertion so general that anyone would agree, and the Fuzzy Fact, the seemingly factual statement couched in a way that “leaves plenty of scope to be developed into something more specific.” (“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”) And that’s only the start: there is the Greener Grass technique, the Diverted Question, the Russian Doll, Sugar Lumps, not to mention Forking and the Good Chance Guess—all of which, when put together in skillful combination, can convince even the most skeptical observer that he or she is in the presence of real insight.

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