Friday, September 28, 2007

Serial rapist outraged by prevalence of sexual harassment in workplace

This isn't from the onion or especially witty or anything but it's what I hear when Bob Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad endlessly lecture the US and UK on human rights abuses. I mean they're kinda right... but it's still fucking ridiculous.

Bizarre

I was just asked, by someone I barely know (a friend of Tracy's), if I had a tent that she could borrow. That's not the strange bit; I did, in my car, 15 meters away.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This is very important

The cricket rocked. It'd be difficult to overstate how much better this tournament was than the actual World Cup. But that doesn't mean that billions of people were watching yesterday. Yes, I'm aware that India and Pakistan like cricket and yes there are many people in India and Pakistan, but the game was still not watched by billions.

I'll also confess doubts Dhoni will be one of the top earning sportsmen in the world in a year's time. In fact, I have my doubts that he'll be in the top 100 earning sportsmen. 200? 300? I'm not convinced. Top 20 highest earning cricketers in the world??

I apologise for the change away from pink as the theme for this blog; I'm sure you'll adjust. Has anybody noticed the tag line for this blog? Does it make any sense to you?

Why do the springboks want to look like ninja turtles?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ratatouille is awesome!

At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot I think it's deeper than most movies shown at the Nouveau. To make the claim more plausible here are some articles on its depth, the first one is the New York Times review.

    

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Seriously?

Yesterday I was channel surfing listening out for the cricket and at about Radio 2000 frequency I picked up a very solemn biography of a great Muslim. I don't know how much I missed and I didn't pick up his name (till the end), but I was interested because it was so detailed. It was unashamedly hagiographic so I was sceptical of the claims, but it was nice to hear all this from a different perspective. The dude sounded pretty good, very tolerant and kind. He respected all women and honoured his wife, he almost never got angry and even then it was only for religious reasons (implication that this was good). His righteous religious anger was in clearest display in his persistent demand that Salman Rushdie be killed. Hmm...



Added: Umm... I was typing this in a rush. Ayatollah Khomeini was the person being described.

I also just watched bits of the current Iranian president's speech/Q&A session. The question about Iran's treatment of gays was great; the guy is obviously very smart etc but it was funny how awkward he seemed. I also thought the laughter when he said "we don't have homosexuals like you guys do" was pretty genuine and spontaneous. Laughter from students is brilliant because it illustrates how ridiculous his response was.

I don't know much about Iran and from what I do know this guy has limited real power so maybe the treatment of gays isn't directly his fault. I also don't know exactly how difficult it is to live a discreet gay lifestyle; I don't know. But as long as he symbolises this kind of stuff he's a symbol of something worth taking a stand against.



Friday, September 21, 2007

Other sport stuff

I do try to avoid sport not related in some way to Federer but three stories really caught my eye today.

  • Jose Mourinio has quit (or was forced out).
  • Floyd Landis has finally been stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title. It's been over a year since his B-sample tested positive.
  • I was not aware that South Africa was in real danger of not going through in the 20-20 cricket. I was also not aware that we were playing India yesterday.

the onion

Andy Roddick To New Friend Phil Mickelson: Were Just Like Roger Federer And Tiger Woods

The Onion

Andy Roddick To New Friend Phil Mickelson: 'We're Just Like Roger Federer And Tiger Woods'

LOS ANGELES—Despite having a combined 56 fewer career victories, professional tennis player Andy Roddick informed professional golfer Phil...

Mickelson, who vehemently agreed, saying "Yeah, we're totally just like them… The only difference is that they wish they were as cool as us." Woods and Federer were unavailable for comment, as both athletes were reportedly engaged in pleasurable mutual contemplation of the fact that all other people are their physical and mental inferiors, a fact as simple and undeniable as it is immutable,

Friday, September 14, 2007

Animals

People like to make fun of utilitarianism. It's so easy to come up with hilarious examples showing how stupid it is. Serious people prefer something a little more Kantian, virtue ethics is unfashionable and pragmatism is just, well, embarrassing (I assume you'll make allowances for the fact that I actually have no real idea what I'm talking about).

So why do serious pundits on the blogosphere think that the old, "But they're so yummy!" argument is sufficient to explain why it's ok to eat animals? I'd guess it's because they think the topic isn't especially important. This begs the question though; it assumes that your current position is the correct one.



I just came across this post that makes a similar point
Same goes for meat eating. I should give it up rather than eat animals who lived miserable lives in factory farms. But if I can’t? Well, meat eating runs deep in a evolutionary, cultural and personal sense. Better to say “I should but I’m not going to” than come up with flimsy counterarguments.
Although of course I'm complaining about the exact opposite.

Added: This is the best essay on animal ethics I've read. It doesn't focus much on the ethics of eating happy animals though. Also, the title and opening paragraph or so are not exactly well judged to draw skeptics in. Trust me though, it's a good essay.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

As it is in heaven

I’m a bit of a sucker for overly sweet, sentimental movies, so I enjoyed it. I think most of it works well, it makes familiar themes feel fresh and sincere rather than canned and manipulative, but it was still all very familiar.

So it was very close to what I expected in the end, which means I think the hype is mysterious. But I am probably misunderstanding why people like the movie so much.

The audience clapped after the credits! Amazing! I wonder where this clapping thing started, because, it was very, very clear that people only clapped because they had heard that other people had clapped. A trickle of clapping lasting 5 seconds is not a spontaneous eruption of approval.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I very much enjoyed this blog post from the prospect blog

Ever wondered how fast a page updates on wikipedia nowadays? It took all of three minutes after Roger Federer's victory in the US Open for this to appear on his biography there:

In the 2007 US Open, Federer beat 3rd seed Novak Djokovic in the final in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!.

And within the time it took me to copy and paste that extract, the offending exclamation had been removed. Clearly, there's no such thing as too many editors.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Federer

In some ways this has been the least exciting of his wins, but it is still cool. If he can avoid losing every match he plays for the rest of the year he'll have polished off what I think is important in the whole, "greatest of all time" thing; four solid years at the highest level.

There are problems with simple career totals (Alan Border is a better batsman than Don Bradman?), and other problems with just looking to averages (overly harsh on players who glide gently into retirement). A rough compromise would be to look at the best 4, 5 , 6 etc years of a players career. Four is a little on the short side but it's not far from "enough".

Each of Federer's four previous calendar years could be included in a debate for "best year ever".

Depending on how you look at it, it will be a very long time before die hard Laver fans will be compelled to give him up. Probably the same for Borg fans; the Sampras challenge is the only one that Fed will be able comprehensively demolish (though there will be those who witter away about how the competition Sampras face was so much tougher.)

At the end of the day though, there is probably no higher power in this discussion than the vague muttering of idiot pundits.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Pixies : Ed Is Dead (1988)

This may not be the best demonstration, but she's doing it.

Evil Giraffe Kim Deal

I watched a a recording of a Pixies concert last night. It was pretty cool, but sometimes performers don't really know what to do with themselves. Kim Deal spent to whole concert trying impersonate an evil giraffe.

Well, come on

Here I sit, all vulnerable, my wallet bursting with crisp R10 notes and so far nobody has tried to take advantage of this...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The economist blog...

... wants the government to regulate the creation of negative mental externalities. The example in the post is the desecration of a Koran. Somebody threw his own Koran in a toilet.

I guess a post like this appearing in the Economist blog should make me more sympathetic to arguments in favour of restrictions on free speech. Fortunately I am far too brainwashed. Instead I wonder what this guy was thinking and how it is that he ended up at the Economist.

Julian Baggini...

...is still pretty cool I guess. Here he moans about the typical English lefty. This person buys newspapers howling about capitalism and tenderly longing for material equality, but can afford houses near good government schools and knows how to game the system to get more government services than the poor. Oh and they bend over backwards to avoid paying taxes. Recently, the Guardian was embarrassed to discover that readers of the Telegraph and the times lived far greener lifestyles than their own readers.

I personally don't think that kind of lifestyle is especially immoral, but it does make their posturing irritating. Baggini suggests some justifications for their behaviour which might possibly work, but it's still nice to see a lefty noticing this (OB is even harsher on this breed of lefties in the comments).

question for reader/s

What should the goal of school education be?

Seriously.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Federer

Federer often comes across worse in print than he does in real life. He says arrogant things, but he doesn't sound that arrogant when he says them. But this sounds just about right.

If I don't beat Sampras's record people might almost consider me a failure because I've had so much success over the last few years. But the tough times will come for me and you know what, I'm not worried - I'm having the time of my life.


Added: Yes, I was wrong.

After reading all the write ups of the match available on the web I feel that I should point out that the following chain of reasoning is not valid.

The first two sets were very close. Thus Roddick could have won both sets and hence the match. Federer appeared to be at, or near his best. Thus their head-to-head record and the differences between how each players career turned out have come from small differences in ability or BMT or whatever.

The argument could have been used after the Australian Open to show that Roddick is actually really really useless and should consider himself lucky to be in the top 100.

One match doesn't tell us much.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rationality

I've decided to cede my rationality a little early this year. Federer may not have lost to John Isner, but he will definitely lose to Andy Roddick. The odds are actually not that different from the odds on the Isner match. There's money to be made!

Local edition

I just overheard a girl saying something like, "and that's why economic liberalism is fundamentally opposed to social liberalism"

What the hell does "liberal" even mean in this sentence?

I was also recently invited to join a group on Facebook where part of the first wall post goes like this:

A hybrid between Roosevelt's New Deals and Stalin collectivisation policy could be used to alleviate the plight of the poor while free-market prevails for those living more comfortable lives. As the situation improves, the former poor will be allowed to gradually enter the free-market system.

Whatever you think of collectivisation I really thought we were past the point where we had to argue that Stalin is not a great role model for the fight against poverty. Poor people lack patriotism; we should look to Hitler for inspiration.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Gun Run


My run didn't go all that well. My worst time ever, including the time where I got drunk the night before.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oh God...

As per prediction, Isner is one set to love up against Federer.

Update: Panic over. Whew!