Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Popularity of Bankers, Now and in the Past

In Alex this Monday, the first since a couple of weeks before Christmas. Follw the rest of this story line at the Alex website

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bush and Really Good Friend

In reaction to the image above and story about how the Saudis want to US to save Hamas from themselves a commenter brought the Treehouse Horror episode where both Dole and Clinton are replaced by aliens.

Uh, Mr. President, Sir. People are becoming a bit... confused by the way your and your opponent are, well, constantly holding hands.

We are merely exchanging long protein strings. If you can think of a simpler way, I'd like to hear it.

-- "Treehouse of Horror VII"

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Group of Psychopaths

"Israel bombed more than 40 security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits."

Israel kills 208 in air assault on Gaza Strip.
Montreal Gazette December 26, 2008

The above are NOT civilian causalities. These legitimate military targets on a military base. In Hamas occupied Gaza and in the rest Arab world they are complaining that some of heroes of Hamas never got a chance to kill Jewish children.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The High Holidays

...and let not mankind bogart love.

Willie Nelson song "The Little Dealer Boy"
in a Colbert Christmas Special
For the definition of "bogart".

Update 12/25/08
to add youtube video.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don't Make Santa Angry

And I say again.
Don't make Santa Angry!
This short animation, Santa's Last Stop, is a warning to all who anger Santa.

Class Struggle in Forbes Magazine

A Forbes writer discussing the NY senate seat that Caroline Kennedy wants to inherit, "Good-Bye, Gentry", does something unusual for a business magazine. He half admits that the US has a class structure. I say half admits because although he writer, Joel Kotkin, describes in great detail how the US Democratic Party is run by and for the benefit of a segment of the wealthy population he doesn't continue with an analysis of the US Republican party as by and for a segment of the wealthy population. The difference in the two parties is the vote banks they maintain, cultivate and ultimately ignore. The Democrats have minorities and Republicans have southern whites and like populations.

Orson Welles Almost did Batman

According to a 5 year old article at Comic Book Resources, Orson Welles and Bat-Man, Orson Welles wanted to make a movie adaptation of Batman. At the time the character was about a decade old. He wanted to cast himself, the studio wanted Gregory Peck. An actor who who is and can play best characters that are decent human beings, see all of Pecks most heralded roleslike Atticus Finch, as opposed to the monsters that Welles played so convincingly. Similarly I saw an old interview with Ray Bradbury. Bradbury was hired by John Huston to adapt Moby Dick. Bradbury suggests that Huston would have better played Ahab than Peck. Huston being more of the monster.

The idea of a Wellesian Batman has excited the related groups of cinepliles, comic book fans and fans of comic book movies. Here are some three trailers of a possible Welles Batman movie. This story has also excited the interest of Magniac on AH.com, he suggest a scenario that ASBs or Alien Space Bats, would think this idea so cool that they would bend reality to make it happen. In alternative history ASB is personification of the principle of deus ex machina.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Barney Never Became an Astronaut

This is a reference to [1F13] Deep Space Homer where Barney and Homer compete for a spot on the space shuttle.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wile E Coyote Sues Acme

An oldie from By Ian Frazier that appeared in The New Yorker Magazine, 26 February 1990


Tempe, Arizona

Judge Joan Kujava, Presiding

Plaintiff §
v. § CIVIL ACTION NO. B19294
Defendant §



By Mr. Schoff:

My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous states, does hearby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company, manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise, incorporated in Delaware and doing business in every state, district, and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries, loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result of the actions and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15 of the United States Code Chapter 47, section 2072, subsection (a), relating to product liability.

Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions, he has purchased of the Acme Company (hereinafter, 'Defendant'), through that company's mail order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labeling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are at present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in the profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workmen's Compensation.

Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th, he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled, Mr. Coyote removed it from its wooden shipping crate and sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifteen feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote's body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment, the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver but was unable to, due to poor design and engineering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or non-existent steering system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled led it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.

Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exhibit B), prepared by Dr. Ernst Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures, contusions, and tissue damage suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this collision. Repair of the injuries required a full bandage around the head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial casts on all four legs. Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to support himself. With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket Skates. When he attempted to use this product, however, he became involved in an accident remarkably similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant sold over the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful jet engines (in this case, two) to inadequate vehicles, with little or no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered by his heavy casts, Mr. Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them on, and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his full silhouette.

Mr. Coyote states that on occasions too numerous to list in this document he has suffered mishaps with explosives purchased of Defendant: the Acme 'Little Giant' Firecracker, the Acme Self-Guided Aerial Bomb, etc. (For a full listing see the Acme Mail Order Explosives Catalogue and attached deposition, entered in evidence as Exhibit C.) Indeed, it is safe to say that not once has an explosive purchased of Defendant by Mr. Coyote performed in an expected manner. To cite just one example: At the expense of much time and personal effort, Mr. Coyote constructed around the outer rim of a butte a wooden trough beginning at the top of the butte and spiraling downward around it to some few feet above a black X painted on the desert floor. The trough was designed in such a way that a spherical explosive of the type sold by Defendant would roll easily and swiftly down to the point of detonation indicated by the X. Mr. Coyote placed a generous pile of birdseed directly on the X, and then, carrying the spherical Acme Bomb (Catalogue #78) climbed to the top of the butte. Mr. Coyote's prey, seeing the birdseed, approached, and Mr. Coyote proceeded to light the fuse. In an instant, the fuse burned down to the stem, causing the bomb to detonate.

In addition to reducing all Mr. Coyote's careful preparations to naught, the premature detonation of Defendant's product resulted in the following disfigurements to Mr. Coyote:

1. Severe singeing of the hair on the head, neck, and muzzle.

2. Sooty discoloration.

3. Fracture of the left ear at the stem, causing the ear to dangle in the aftershock with a creaking noise.

4. Full or partial combustion of whiskers, producing kinking, frazzling, and ashy disintegration.

5. Radical widening of the eyes, due to brow and lid charring.

We come now to the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes. The remains of a pair of these purchased by Mr. Coyote on June 23rd are Plaintiff's Exhibit D. Selected fragments have been shipped to the metallurgical laboratories of the University of California at Santa Barbara for analysis, but to date, no explanation has been found for this product's sudden and extreme malfunction. As advertised by Defendant, this product is simplicity itself: two wood-and-metal sandals, each attached to milled-steel springs of high tensile strength and compressed in a tightly coiled position by a cocking device with a lanyard release. Mr. Coyote believed that this product would enable him to pounce upon his prey in the initial moments of the chase, when swift reflexes are at a premium.

To increase the shoes' thrusting power still further, Mr. Coyote affixed them by their bottoms to the side of a large boulder. Adjacent to the boulder was a path which Mr. Coyote's prey was known to frequent. Mr. Coyote put his hind feet in the wood-and-metal sandals and crouched in readiness, his right forepaw holding firmly to the lanyard release. Within a short time, Mr. Coyote's prey did indeed appear on the path coming toward him. Unsuspecting, the prey stopped near Mr. Coyote, well within range of the springs at full extension. Mr. Coyote gauged the distance with care and proceeded to pull the lanyard release. At this point, Defendant's product should have thrust Mr. Coyote forward and away from the boulder. Instead, for reasons yet unknown, the Acme Spring-Powered Shoes thrust the boulder away from Mr. Coyote. As the intended prey looked on unharmed, Mr. Coyote hung suspended in the air. Then the twin springs recoiled, bringing Mr. Coyote to a violent feet-first collision with the boulder, the full weight of his head and forequarters falling upon his lower extremities. The force of this impact then caused the springs to rebound, where upon Mr. Coyote was thrust skyward. A second recoil and collision followed. The boulder, meanwhile, which was roughly ovoid in shape, had begun to bounce down a hillside, the coiling and recoiling of the springs adding to its velocity. At each bounce, Mr. Coyote came into contact with the boulder, or the boulder came into contact with Mr. Coyote, or both came into contact with the ground. As the grade was a long one, this process continued for some time. The sequence of collisions resulted in systemic physical damage to Mr. Coyote, viz., flattening of the cranium, sideways displacement of the tongue, reduction of length of legs and upper body, and compression of vertebrae from base of tail to head. Repetition of blows along a vertical axis produced a series of regular horizontal folds in Mr. Coyote's body tissues, a rare and painful condition which caused Mr. Coyote to expand upward and contract downward alternately as he walked, and to emit an off-key, accordion-like wheezing with every step. The distracting and embarrassing nature of this symptom has been a major impediment to Mr. Coyote's pursuit of a normal social life.

As the court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of manufacture and the sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote's work. It is our contention that Defendant has used its market advantage to the detriment of the consumer of such specialized products as itching powder, giant kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred-foot-long rubber bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant's products, Mr. Coyote has no other domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only wonder what our trading partners in Western Europe and Japan would make of such a situation, where a giant company is allowed to victimize the consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over again. Mr. Coyote respectfully requests that the Court regard these larger economic implications and assess punitive damages in the amount of seventeen million dollars. In addition, Mr. Coyote seeks actual damages (missed meals, medical expenses, days lost from professional occupation) of one million dollars; general damages (mental suffering, injury to reputation) of twenty million dollars; and attorney's fees of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. By awarding Mr. Coyote the full amount, this Court will censure Defendant, its directors, officers, shareholders, successors, and assigns, in the only language they understand, and reaffirm the right of the individual predator to equal protection under the law.

by Ian Frazier, The New Yorker Magazine, 26 February 1990

On Alternative History.com Doragon provides this defense of the ACME corporation

Your honor, I am Doragon speaking on behalf of ACME Inc.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury. On behalf of ACME, I would like to offer out most sincere condolences for Mr. Coyote. No one should have to go through the level of pain and suffering. But I would care to ask, how do you come about our product? Did you order it online? Who gave you a credit card? Did you pick it up from our warehouse? How did you get in? We don’t allow animals into our building. How did you pay for the items? Do you have a job?

Members of the Jury, I would like to present evidence to show you that not only are our products safe and reliable, but that Mr. Coyote hasn’t been properly using our products. There is plenty of reasonable doubt in this case. There is no way Mr. Coyote could have purchased our products, not legally anyway. And if he did procure our inventions, he did not follow the instructions.

I give you exhibit A. The is actually footage of Mr. Coyote assembling some rocket shoes, presumably to help him catch and kill a defenseless creature. In this footage, you can see Mr. Coyote not even LOOK at the directions. Instead, he simply places the shoes on, and lights a match. IF he had read the directions, he would have known that you must first adjust the settings on the rockets so that they are optimal for your weight.

Your honor, as you could see, Mr. Coyote didn’t read the directions. Furthermore, he was using the devices in over 80 cases of attempted murder. Not only is ACME Inc. not liable, but we are intending to counter-sue Mr. Coyote for slander. He has single handedly caused our stocks to drop each time he used our products. Every time he went off a cliff wearing something with “ACME” written on it, we had lay-off hard working men and women. We are seeking 45 million dollars for damages and fees.

Black Box Debt Instruments and Particle Physics

In a thread on slashdot about teething problems are the LHC, Photos of the Damage To the Large Hadron Collider, see here for photos, there is also comment at the recent failure of American physics. There was a plan in the late 20th century by the Americans to build the SSC, an even bigger particle accellerator than the LHC, however when the cost was going to exceed $12 billion, a third the cost of the B-2 bombers, it was cancelled. This has led to a lost generation of american physicists, or worse the use of physicists to design complicated financial structures on Wall Street.

On the posters in this thread, idontgno, provides a cautionary tale.

And by another odd coincidence, other particle physicists took a detour into Wall Street, where they applied their advanced mathematical knowledge to creating exotic derivatives like Credit Default Swaps

That's the scariest correlation I've heard in a long time.

(credit bank VP) : "'Morning, Erwin, how's the CDO hedge working out? Makin' the firm some megabux?"
(ex-physicist) : "Maybe we did, maybe we didn't."

In the end, the VP opened Erwin Schrödinger's books, collapsed the quantum superposition of mortgage debt obligations, and found that the economy was dead.