Things to look at while I’m busy

I’m back in D. C. now, but still have a week of crashing on couches until I can move into my apartment. Work starts tomorrow. Updates will come as they come. In the meantime, here are a few things to keep you busy:

Speculation continues as to whom John Kerry will select as his Democratic running mate. McSweeney’s John Moe has done us all a favor and humorously analyzed the pros and cons of the top twenty candidates. Link thanks to Chad Wilcox.

Kevin O’Reilly has written a delightful post about rediscovering the simple joy of bouncing a ball against a wall and remembering childhood fantasy. Read and enjoy “Leather Memories.”

Radley Balko, scourge of the Nanny State, has a debate piece on obesity in this week’s issue of TIME. He’ll be at the magazine’s conference on obesity this week sending in regular dispatches. This is the same conference that inspired the USA LOWFAT Act, so expect it to be infuriating.

Tim Swanson is the first person I’ve met through Orkut, Google’s take on Internet social networking. He runs a libertarian weblog out of College Station, TX. Read it because it’s Doctor Recommended.

Happy birthday to blog

Well, here we are, exactly one year from when I started keeping this weblog. 149 entries, 378 comments, and 1 Mr. Blobby later I’m happy with the way it has turned out. Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, linking, and sending me stories. Thanks also to Adam for convincing me that MovableType was what this site needed and taking care of the technical side of things.

Updates have been sparse the last few weeks as I have been busy graduating, packing, moving, unpacking, repacking, moving again, working on my Fizbin drop, etc. I’ll be back in D. C. tonight and moved into the Clarendon apartment by early next week, so this site should pick up again soon.

Keep checking back, and I’ll keep updating in accordance with my three rules for good blogging:

Rule #1: Be meaningful.

Rule #2: If meaning is elusive, be amusing.

Rule #3: If meaning and amusement are both out of reach, be brief.

Cheers!

No animals were harmed…

After nearly cruelly dispatching my dog in my rejection letter from home, I should mention that he is safe and sound now that I am employed. To make it up to him I’ve posted a few pictures. These were taken by my sister last summer at our family place in the Michigan U. P.

Divot, a.k.a. Seamus McDivot of Muirfield, Div, D, and Digger, is a wire hair fox terrier. He enjoys long walks on the beach, chasing tennis balls and mink, and romantic kibble dinners. He is single and neutered.
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The Return of Taco Boy

Ah, Texas — a state where the tortillas are fresh, the margaritas are cold, and the queso flows like oil. In a place like this a superhero can start to lose his edge. For the past week my will to battle the forces of evil has been evaporating, vanishing into the air with the sizzle of the spicy fajitas that make life so satisfying. I begin to wonder if I should lay down my arms, abandon my Cantina of Solitude, and return to civilian life. After all, there is a new generation of fromagian heroes to watch over Earth: Captain Brie, Feta Girl, Monterey Jack. They are young and brash, but they learn quickly.

Tonight, as my salsa bowl finally ran dry and the mariachi band packed up their instruments, I felt just about ready to retire. Then a mysterious messenger approached, dropped a crispy shell into my lap, and faded into the shadows. It was a letter, a riddle wrapped in a mystery clothed in a taco.

I cracked open the shell, rummaged through the lettuce, and removed the paper. I could tell immediately who sent it. His grammar and spelling had improved, but his megalomaniacal bravado was as unabashed as ever. He had been silent for nearly a year. I should have known he had been plotting his return. Yes, the letter was from him. From Taco Boy.

Retirement will have to wait.
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Ender Wiggins they’re not

cicadahorror.jpgLast cicada post, I promise. Actually, I don’t promise, but we can hope. You see, I thought cicadas were cool before, but now I find out they do more than taste good — they scare the hell out of children and send them to the ER!

Julian Reif sends in this article that quotes Dr. Ray Baker of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital about numerous cicada related injuries. Dr Baker notices a spike in ER visits everytime the buggers emerge, due to kids running away in fear and into something far more painful (like a brick wall) or attempting to kill a cicada only to end up hurting themselves or a friend (such as by hitting a pal in the nose with a baseball bat).

My favorite: “‘We had a stab wound to the arm from a kid who was trying to kill a cicada on the arm of another child but unfortunately he was using a knife,’ Baker added.”

Lots more fun examples in the article.

[Instant update from Renee: Learn the ugly truth at Cicadaville.com!]

Cicada hives?

Cicada update: adventurous diner Erin says, “Just for the record–the act of putting fried cicada in your mouth is a bit disconcerting; however, the taste is not half bad.” Also, Justin sends in this warning on possible allergic reactions to the buggers.

Harley Maki

Only in Nashville (actually the nearby town of Lebanon, pronounced “Lebenin”) would you find a place like this: Krooners, the “world’s only biker sushi bar and leading parts supplier for Harley Davidson and custom bikes from over 200 suppliers.” Yep, really. How’s that for convenience? Their motto is ‘Ride American – Eat Japanese.” The restaurant part of the store, Sushi Dogs, features traditional sushi and some rolls with southern ingredients, like okra.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find out about Krooners till it was too late for me to give it a try. But if I had, I have a feeling it would have gotten a 6.5 on the Jake-wishes-he-was-a-samurai-biker-hog-food-critic scale.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail

Commencement was today; my time at Vanderbilt has reached its end. Tomorrow I return to Houston and, soon after, to writing, to magic, and to a new chapter in Washington, D. C.

Winged tofu

By now you’ve probably heard about Brood X, the billions of cicadas who are soon to emerge from the ground and torment my outdoor graduation ceremony. I knew these buggers were big, loud, and annoying, but I didn’t know they were tasty, too, until Justin sent me this article. Celebrate spring with soft-shelled cicadas, El Chirper tacos, or cicada rhubarb pie. Yum!

Expert Michael Schauff says, “They are quite soft and take on the flavour of whatever you cook them in… They are not quite like a piece of meat, more like a small white potato that’s been cooked.”
cicada.jpeg
Mmmm, ripe for the picking. Photo by Gaye Williams, Maryland Dept. of Agriculture.

Soccer trivia

Soccer referee recertification exam, question #37: It’s the first half of the game. The ball is outside the penalty area. A violent dust devil hits the field. What is the proper restart?

A. Throw-in for the team who did not touch the ball last
B. Drop ball where the ball was located when the dust devil hit
C. Drop ball where the ball is located after the dust devil hits (i.e. somewhere in the Pacific Ocean)
D. Switch to indoor soccer

Hmm, that’s a tricky one. Watch this crazy video from a Japanese youth soccer game and you’ll see that it’s not an idle question. Link thanks to Yokels.

Click here for the science of dust devils, and here for why Martian dust devils could be even worse.

Eli Manning: Leet skillz

[Update: Oops, when I first posted this I had mislinked the image files. They're working now. I guess that'll teach me for mocking someone else's Web production abilities!]

Yesterday my buddy Zhubin linked to the webpage made by Eli Manning for his introductory computer science class. (For people as ignorant about football as I am,* Eli was this year’s number one draft pick and is the younger brother of Peyton Manning.) It was a fun site. As Zhubin noted, “I especially like how you apparently e-mail ESPN to ask for the NFL scores.” The random Mr. Spock picture was cool, too.

Unfortunately, the University of Mississippi took it down before I could write an entry about it. What gives? Are they not proud of the way they educate their athletes? Do they think they can hide this man’s accomplishment from an adoring world?

If they do, they’re wrong. Thanks to Google’s cache and Eli’s rather unoriginal selection of pictures (2 out of 3 are from the standard MS clipart library), it was easy to recreate this marvel of the Web in perfect detail. Voila! Now it can stand forever as a monument to America’s jock education. I wonder what his grade in the course was?

*That’s pretty darn ignorant. For example, I was in D. C. for at least a month before I realized that the Washington Redskins were based there and not in the state of Washington. I learned the truth when a coworker asked me if I was “going to watch the Skins game this weekend?” and I replied, “You mean the golf tournament?” That’s the kind of ignorance I’m talking about.

Final Philo

Tomorrow night, three and a half years of cafe-philo come to an end. For all of that time (4 years if you count our predecessor Phat Tuesday) this group has been meeting over coffee for conversation and repartee. Next week most of the group graduates, likely making this the last of the weekly meetings.

So if you’re a cafe-philo regular, if you’ve come once or twice, or if you’ve so much as thought about coming, be at J-J’s tomorrow night from 9:00 to 11:00. Celebratory drinks at Blackstone likely to follow.

Agitated! Hitted & Runned!

Wow, these two links (and a handful of others) are putting a nice spike in my referal logs. Also, Court notes that my Sexter idea is now up and running. If Friendster, Orkut, and Tribe aren’t giving you enough social networking opportunites, why not sign up for WhoBangedWho.com?

Don’t get too worried or excited, the site’s just a clever parody… for now.

Back to the District

At 3:00 I began my French final. At 5:00 I stepped out a free man, with zero work remaining in my college career. Today, my life is my own.

That’s not the only good news. Despite my general committment to gainful unemployment, yesterday I accepted a summer intern position. Come June I will be working with my friends at The Institute for Humane Studies! The IHS has done a lot for me these past couple of years and I’m looking forward to joining these very smart, very cool people. This also means that after much weighing of the options I’ve decided to come back to D. C.

A few hours after accepting I found out that this job was open. Oh well… Just kidding, I’ll be more than happy at IHS.

[Once again, link via Stone.]

The Post-Reductio Challenge

The Hemingway Star returns with this exclusive report on the growing nanny state, “Congress passes USA LOWFAT Act of 2004.” Satire? Of course. Made up? Not entirely.

Back in November of ’03 Radley Balko published an op-ed called “Post Reductio America.” He argued that we’re in a time where what would have been a reductio ad absurdum a few years ago is a commonplace today. For instance, back when the class action lawsuits against tobacco companies first got started, asking why we didn’t sue fast food companies for making us fat seemed like a good reductio argument. Now it’s really happening.

To see how much reductio creep we’ve suffered, I decided to try writing this fake article with as many real quotes as possible. Read it first, then come back here and continue reading to see what’s made up and what’s real. It’s not always easy to tell them apart.
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