17 February 2006

Careful, it's kind of like crack


Interesting thinking about thinking

Dammit, Fenster, close those blinds -- I'm trying to make a decision in here: Today brings fresh evidence that it's not wise to trust too much to your conscious mind (see " You think you know what you think? Think again"). A Dutch study on the decision-making process found that while the conscious mind, with its limited bandwidth, is find for making little choices like which cereal to buy, it tends to fumble anything much bigger. Much better choices in complex matters, the researchers found, come by "deliberating without attention," or in technical terms, "sleeping on it," letting the unconscious, with its non-linear processing system, do the heavy crunching.

D'oh! or is it Duh!

From Instapundit:

GUN REGISTRATION: Such a bad idea that even the Canadians are scrapping it. "One former Mountie called the registry 'totally useless' because criminals don't register their guns." Too bad they didn't figure that out a few billion dollars ago, but at least it's an object lesson for the United States.

Who'd 'a' thought?

14 February 2006

Soccer highlights

Some incredible soccer highlights in this google video.

If you're into soccer at all you'll probably enjoy this.

Katrina report

I look forward to seeing a summary of this
"Our investigation revealed that Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare," the report said. "At every level -- individual, corporate, philanthropic and governmental -- we failed to meet the challenge that was Katrina. In this cautionary tale, all the little pigs built houses of straw."

It sounds a little bombastic. I still think that first response has to be the job of the people on the ground and that most of the failure in Katrina rests with the Mayor and Governor. Yeah, the FEMA director probably was "clueless", and cetainly that reflects somewhat on his boss, but I can't see it as really being the President's responsibility except in a buck-stops-here sort of way.
I wonder if the report has anything to say about the media's horrible job of reporting on conditions in the Superdome?

13 February 2006

Blizzard of '93

Glenn's mention of the Blizzard of '93 brought back some memories.

We lived in Knoxville - it was the spring before we moved to the great white north. I was waiting tables at Calhoun's on the River. She was a nurse at St. Mary's and pregnant with our second child. When the city shut down after we got - I think it was - 18 inches of snow, our son was at his babysitter's house, and we decided we had to go get him. Somehow we got the Civic out of the driveway and eventually got to within a couple of blocks of the sitter's house before the driver (the one who grew up in Wisconsin) went in the ditch.

We didn't want to be stuck at the sitter's house, so we walked and hitchhiked back home. There was no getting the Integra out of the driveway - well I did actually get it just out of the driveway,but then it was stuck and it was all I could do to get out of the road.

We ended up begging our neighbor - a teenager with a 4WD toyota pickup - to take us to pick up the kid. So we got into his truck which reeked of smoke (not tobacco smoke either) and took off. As we got into the sitter's neighborhood, the drifts got a good bit higher and our driver chickened out. He was afraid of getting stuck or running out of gas - 'cause most of the gas stations were closed. So he ended up dropping us off on the wrong side of our stuck car and we walked in to get the boy.
Our sitter was not too sure about the whole situation. Our boy was three at the time and our plan - such as it was - was to walk out to the main road (Chapman Highway) and get a ride towards home.

Well it was a long walk out to Chapman, but we were young and it was an adventure so I guess that made it okay. Matt was fine with it, I think. He walked most of the way. Eventually we got out to Chapman and it didn't take too long for someone in an RV to stop. They were hippies hot on the trail of 'white gas' (propane) and did we know of anywhere that was open and selling it. We didn't but they offered us a ride in the back of their vehicle with their dog. The dog, naturally, turned out to be a pit bull who - at least to my parental eyes - seemed to be sizing up the boy as a possible snack. I spent the entire trip keeping myself between the dog and the child.

They dropped us off and we walked the rest of the way home - me, my 6 month pregnant wife, and our three-year-old son. We were very happy to get home to our cold, dark home.

The hospital ended up sending a van to pick Gerri up since there was no way our cars were going anywhere. They were also opening the hospital to employee's families, but I said we'd be fine in the house without heat or lights or pretty much anything but a lot of snow outside. We did have a gas grill to cook on, and at night I used it to heat water that I poured in gallon milk jugs and took to bed with us. It was cold and I remember I didn't sleep well, because I kept waking up to check on Matt.

06 February 2006

The Great Zucch

Lileks recommended this piece about a children's entertainer in the Washington DC area. I second his praise. The writing is wonderful and the story as well. I was struck by the way the Great Zucchini's dysfunctions seemed wrapped up so intimately with his genius. He's a gambling addict and a kid's magician. Gambling is like another magic trick - predicting the winner of a game, throwing a particular combination of dice. At the craps table he's as popular with adults (while he's winning) as he is with the kids at one of his gigs.
Now if he'd just bump his rates by $100 and hire an assistant to manage his life he'd be golden.

02 February 2006

Frey tempest

I'm not a big fan of Oprah, anyway, and I didn't see the show where she lambasted James Frey.

I did read the book - A Million Little Pieces - though. I thought it was excellent - powerful, raw, compelling. It matters less than a whit to me if some of the details were not strictly factual. I don't see how it compromises the message of the book in any way. If it were entirely fictional it would be no less powerful.

I think it's a shame that Oprah couldn't say the same.