This and That

Apparently, if you ask Siri on your iPhone to divide 0 by 0, she has a very snarky answer.

Jerry Pournelle's daughter has written a book set in Jerry's Mote universe called Outies. If you liked The Mote in God's Eye, you might enjoy this one as well.

A friend writes: Clickhole is a funny site. Very po-mo--didn't know whether to slap my forehead or my thigh with this chestnut about towels.

Several items via Daniel Dern:

And a few from Dan Grobstein

Kent Peterman passed along this link: Chattanooga Shooting: American Violence Never Ends

I made the HumorLab list again--almost number one!
And the Number Two Ant-Man Pet Peeve.. I'm ignored by clerks at the DMV. Oh wait...

This and That

My recent contributions to HumorLabs:
And the Number One Way Life Would Be Different If Everyday Was 4/20...
Everyone in Congress would sit around all day doing nothing. Oh wait...

The Number Seven reward for contributing to the Catch a Predator kickstarter:
$100: A show credit for "Lambada services provided by."

The Number Six sign that "You aren't You"
The face in the mirror doesn't terrify you.

The Number Seven Thing Overheard During the Signing of Indiana's Religious Freedom Act...
"That felt good. Let's turn the clocks back literally as well, and restore standard time."

* * *
My former ensemble, the Contra Costa Wind Symphony, has a concert May 17 at the Lesher Theater in Walnut Creek. After 35 years at the helm, Dr. Duane Carroll is hanging up his baton. I played with the band 13 years myself.

Two infographics from friends:
Kent Peterman passes along:
25 maps that explain the English language

From Jerry Pournelle:
The disposable income of people in every country of the world in one fantastic infographic

This and That

A real Humor Labs coup! I scored #9 (#1 included for comparison)
 The Top 12 Surprises from the 2015 Oscar Nominations
9> Alejandro González Iñárritu and David Oyelowo were both snubbed in the "Most Difficult Name to Pronounce" category.
1> As a tribute to "Boyhood," the Academy Awards ceremony will feel like it's 12 years long. [Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA]

Plus, two on the runner's up list:
Once again, no Oscar for "Best Lambada by a supporting actress."

The Orcs showed up pretty fast on a picket line after the best picture snub of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."

Are you left brained or right brained?

After I wrote about my style of writing, Kevin Sullivan noted:

Your comments on writing spurred me to recommend this recent work. Scott 'the other' Adams, recently published a quite readable, and delightfully counter-intuitive, guide, "How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big'. He comes down strongly against 'goal-setting' and 'following your passion' and strongly for (in my words) 'setting the table' to let luck happen.

Seven years ago, Craig Reynolds ran a technobrief about an online alarm clock. Someone with a robot was out crawling Content Rot and found the link; he suggests instead.

Stephen Coquet suggests

This and That

The Sony Hack and the Yellow Press: Aaron Sorkin: The Press Shouldn’t Help the Sony Hackers. I think Sorkin is exactly right. He quoted Princess Bride, but I will quote Douglas Adams: This must be some interesting new definition of newsworthy with which I wasn't previously familiar.
Which didn't stop me making fun of the situation. I made the HumorLabs list:
The Top 11 Surprises Found in the Hacked Sony Emails
 9> "'After Earth' is in the red, because we had to pay theaters to show it."

Humor Labs: Two on one list!
11> "The Merry Wives of Windsor" was originally called "Ye Old
    Real Housewives of Windsor."

 8> The famous buffoon wasn't named John Falstaff. His original
    name was Donald Trump.
India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, aims to rebrand and promote yoga in India
Two from Daniel Dern
Goodbye Dr. Dobbs (which was briefly the parent of just after I edited the site), in turn linking to
the editor's farewell.

Also Hobbit trailer parodies. The Hobbit Games. (lots of other hits in this category, no surprise.)  Plus this, suggested by a friend:
middle-earth-the-office parody from SNL.
I joined Pottermore and got sorted into Ravenclaw
The ubiquitous Ken Jennings is running a news quiz at

MIT Whitewash, Why the Doonesbury Reruns, Dan Grobstein File

Unsurprisingly, MIT has declared its innocence in the death of Aaron Swartz. MIT is wrong:

July 30, 2013
M.I.T. Releases Report on Its Role in the Case of Aaron Swartz
A long-awaited report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that it made mistakes but engaged in no wrongdoing in the case of Aaron Swartz, a renowned programmer and charismatic technology activist who committed suicide in January while facing a federal trial on charges of hacking into the institute’s computer network.

Bobbi Fox found this on the Doonesbury Slate news page:

Trudeaus Alpha House, a streaming video program (like a TV show except not on TV but available through the online Amazon Prime streaming service) was picked by viewers from 14 series pilots for development into a full series. The show, starring John Goodman as one of four Republican congressmen sharing a house in Washington, D.C., is expected to be out in November.

    Dan Grobstein File

Herb Kaplow, Voice of ABC and NBC News, Dies at 86


Mr. Kaplow'    s resonant voice and craggy face were familiar to generations of viewers of the nightly news broadcast.

  • Op-Ed Contributor
    Open Season on History
    Archaeologists do not hunt objects. We hunt lost worlds. Sadly, those worlds are slipping away under the relic-hunter?s shovel, all for the sake of a few bucks.

Dan Grobstein File

  Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt)
WOW--20 of the 25 jobs with the largest projected growth don't require a college degree (& are generally low-wage)…

Max Greenberg (@MaxTGreenberg)
Reuters #Climate Change Coverage Declined Significantly After "Skeptic" Editor Joined

  Brett Brownell (@BrettBrownell)
Alaskan cat Mayor finally responds to climate change:…

Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch)
500 Al Qaeda heavies in prison break; US arms Syria war; & the news noise is all Weiner&Royals: baby-penis-baby-penis-baby-penis-baby-penis

Mother Jones (@MotherJones)
The End of Lobster Rolls?

Urbanphoto (@urbanphoto_blog)
How many public transit projects are under construction right now in the US? Interactive map shows you info on all

Helen Thomas, Scot Free, Lorem Ipsum, Death of Journalism, Trouble in Paradise, Dan Grobstein File

Helen Thomas died this weekend. She worked for UPI for more than half a century, most of it as a White House correspondent. My time at UPI (1975-76) coincided with her middle period. We were not buddies; I worked in Boston, she worked in Washington. We talked on the phone now and then, I rewrote her copy when she coverted Ford's visit to Boston in April 1975 (it was no secret that she was a better reporter than writer). She gave me a tour of the White House on a Sunday in the summer of 1976, and got me a ticket to the Ford-Carter debate in SF in the fall of 1976 (the one with the failed microphone and the Poland gaffe). Helen  was a perfectly lovely woman, a pioneer, and a special kind of journalist. We will not see her like again. My college roomie, Norm Sandler, worked side by side with her for almost a decade. I'd love to hear what he'd have to say, but he's been gone for six years now.

Turns out I misspelled scot free last week, according to my friend Kevin Sullivan:

So, I seem to have unwittingly developed a hobby of checking the etymology of colorful phrases. The term  'Scott Free' caught my eye., and I was curious about its origin. It turns out it is really 'Scot Free', and refers to taxes (i.e. scots), and not paying the them. :-)

It has been 14 years since I needed to prepare a dummy web layout with dummy text. For decades, the standard for this layout method in print was something called Lorem Ipsum, which is Latin. Nowadays there are generators for pork-based filler, filler based on Samuel L. Jackson dialog from Pulp Fiction, and hipster Lorem. In fact, courtesy of my former boss David Strom, here are 13 Funny and Useful Lorem  Generators. The only problem I can see is that a  couple of them generate readable text, which some reviewers of the design will find distracting. That's the magic of Lorem; it looks like real text (in terms of word length, spacing and punctuation), but can't possibly be read.

My friend and colleague Richard Dalton found two things this week that contain clues to the death of print journalism: a defense of partisan reporting from Jack Shafer, a long-time media critic, and this from Australia (equally true here; I remember the advantage I had in finding an apartment because I worked at the newspaper and saw the ads an hour before the public) from’s Eric Beecher:
The incongruity in that business model – profits from ads for jobs, houses and cars bankrolling the journalism that is vital to a functioning democracy – took several decades to play out. The “newspaper business model”, as it’s now derisively known, has imploded. People no longer line the streets outside newspaper presses at night to be the first to see the ads. The internet has poached most of Australia’s newspaper classified advertising. The money that financed quality journalism for a century is disappearing, with no likely replacement.

He also discovered a fascinating British screed about the Google Buses in SF.

Dan Grobstein File

Henry Blodget (@hblodget)
QUIZ: Is This A Gerrymandered Congressional District… Or A Rorschach Ink Blot? [Brilliant by @WaltHickey]…

Mother Jones (@MotherJones)
"I just heard Roosevelt ask Congress to declare war on Japan." PHOTOS: What it was like to be a reporter back then:

Dan Grobstein File

  Mother Jones (@MotherJones)
If pro-choice activists want to stop Texas from regulating clinics maybe they should call them "fertilizer plants."

James Ball (@jamesrbuk)
Scathing NY Times cartoon on US journalism. Yeowch. (HT @PostBaron)

Margaret O'Mara (@margaretomara)
Yes, please, Barry Diller, open up Newsweek's archives. I'm with you, @jonathanalter.… via @TheWrap

NYT Media (@nytmedia)
WWOR-TV in New Jersey Replaces Nightly News

Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor)
Pakistani report on Bin Laden and US operation is riveting… from @AlJazeera

Eric Wolfson (@ericwolfson)
Um, this is awesome. That is all.
RT @KennettDems: Absolutely awesome TX guns & abortion poster. View & RT!

Urbanphoto (@urbanphoto_blog)
Deep inside a 1930s Times Square hotel is what remains of what was a very well hidden bus terminal

John Aravosis (@aravosis)
Chicago newscaster gets even with people waving to get on camera (video)

Shannyn Moore (@shannynmoore)
The last year @SarahPalinUSA got a PFD check was 2010. What? Yep! Didn't want to answer residency questions. #Alaska

Dan Froomkin (@froomkin)
It's fun reading journalists you can tell are having fun writing. Here, NYT's Timothy Egan mocks @DarrellIssa…

Ezra Klein (@ezraklein)
When space weather attacks

West Wing Reports (@WestWingReport)
@ritholtz Points out reason 4,216 why the U.S. government (and many municipalities around the nation) are dumb:…

  Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor)
Why you should encrypt your phone, or reset it to factory settings, before traveling to the UK…

Things have changed, Dan Grobstein File

Racism is no longer as blatant as it once was, but with all the voter-ID laws that were swept into legislatures down in the Confederacy after the Roberts gang gutted the Voter Rights Act, who can honestly say racism isn't just running under a new name? I mean after all, they were just literacy tests. And poll taxes. And intimidation. And no polling places in minority neighborhoods.

Dan Grobstein File
Quote of the day: How your bank
screws you: 
Be sure to read Felix salmon (of financial times) story linked within.

Virginia outsourced their refund system and now taxpayers are
getting screwed over #icymi

The Guardian (@guardian)
Shitstorm arrives in German dictionary via @GuardianBooks

The New York Times (@nytimes)
As Competition Wanes, Amazon
Cuts Back Its Discounts

  Guardian news (@guardiannews)
Global food supply under threat
as water wells dry up, analyst warns

Op-Ed Columnist

E Pluribus Unum


America's ever-changing and

enduring identity is worthy of a special holiday salute.


Warren Mosler, a Deficit Lover With a Following


From his home in the Virgin Islands, Mr. Mosler is waging a well-financed academic battle against economists who want to cut government spending.


Health and fitness blog, Jewish Buddhism, Poking holes in Internet Ranking, Dalton notes Hi-Res Screen coverage

The friend of a friend has started a health and fitness blog that looks promising. Give it a glance!

My friend Kent Peterman sent along some thoughts on Jewish Buddhism. They are all over the net, so I'll just point you to them here and offer a sample: If there is no self, whose arthritis is this? Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

The critical analysis of the stupid Verizon propoganda the New York Times obligingly ran is improving and growing in quantity: Comcast, Verizon Editorials Distort True Picture of U.S. Internet Service, Experts Say

Long-time colleague Richard Dalton checks in with this article on High-Resolution Displays by my former boss, Mike Elgan, and adds:
I am interested as I agree with his premise that after you’ve seen very high res, it’s hard to go back to lower.  I have an iPad 3, the first iPad with a “retina” display.  I watch Netflix on it and it is so crystal clear, the image looks chiseled.  Street value for this iPad is about $350, which makes it an incredible bargain.