Sunday, August 31, 2008

"I was going to go back on the plane and back to New York and I got a phone call saying, 'It went really well, and David [Lynch] would like to meet you again tomorrow, but this time can you wear makeup?' And I was like, oh no, oh no... I'm too ugly. He wants a supermodel. I'm not sexy. All these things that I had heard before. 'Sorry, Naomi, didn't work out this time, you know, they're going to go for someone a little more sexy.' So I thought, it's going to happen again."

-- Naomi Watts

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"If the UEs have poor power control and are taking more power than is necessary then it will sap the network’s ability to deliver high speed data.

“This is one of the reasons why AT&T has been sending text messages to users to persuade them to upgrade to the 2.0.2 software. In a mixed environment where users are running 2.0, 2.0.1, and 2.0.2, the power control problems of 2.0 and 2.0.1 will affect the 2.0.2 users...

"That explains why some users saw no immediate impact after installing iPhone 2.0.2, and why tests of individual iPhone 3G models showed no significant difference between the 2.0 and 2.0.2 software: the problem was only evident when a critical mass of phones all acted in concert to run a given cell tower out of power."

-- Daniel Eran Dilger

Friday, August 29, 2008

A child, observing Bill Clinton on television: "Was he President before George Bush's dad?"

His mother: "Yes."

(Overheard in Dulles Airport.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"My dad used to have an expression. He'd say 'Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.'"

-- Joseph Biden

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"In 50 years of interviews, Jerry Siegel never once mentioned that his father died in a robbery... But think about it. Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world's greatest hero. I'm sorry, but there's a story there."

-- Brad Meltzer

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"These locals have long viewed the [Komodo] dragons as a reincarnation of fellow kinsfolk, to be treated with reverence. But now, the villagers say, the once-friendly dragons have turned into vicious man-eaters. And they blame policies drafted by American-funded environmentalists for this frightening turn of events."

-- Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, 8/25/2008.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"I don't think that there's a greater high... I challenge any high--heroin, marijuana, booze or anything--that if you know your stuff and you go into an exam knowing that you know it, there's no better high. There's no better high than sitting down and then opening the booklet and reading your first question and saying to yourself, 'Who made up this question? This person didn't-- You know, I'm ready to go.' There's no greater high than walking out after the exam and saying, 'How did you answer?' Or being the second or third person out of there."

-- Bill Cosby

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"It's a good job the scientist didn't think of looking at her under water."

-- Richard Bartle, The So Book of Spoons

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"An eccentric, fabulously wealthy scientist performs groundbreaking experiments on the nature of time in his stone castle and, after hosting a sumptuous feast for his colleagues and friends, forces his guests to participate in brain-wave experiments while hypnotized. Something out of H.G. Wells or Mary Shelley? No, a real scene from the life of Alfred Lee Loomis, the extraordinary American financier, scientist, and philanthropist who played a pivotal role in the development of radar and the creation of the Manhattan Project during World War II."

-- review by Richard Di Dio of Tuxedo Park

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Ranking countries by the number of golds instead of total medals is 'a stupid idea,' says Gennady Shvets, press attache for Russia's national Olympic committee. His argument, in fact, is in keeping with the U.S.-centric point of view. Mr. Shvets notes that the gold system means that a small country with a single champion who wins, say, seven gold medals would be ranked according to this system ahead of a big country like Russia that won, say, six golds, 20 silvers and 25 bronzes. 'And this big country would be below this one guy,' he complains."

-- Ian Johnson, Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"At least half a dozen people have been detained by the [Chinese] authorities after they responded to a government announcement late last month designating venues in three city parks as 'protest zones' during the Olympics. So far, no demonstrations have taken place.

"According to Xinhua, the state news agency, 77 people submitted protest applications, none of which were approved."

-- Andrew Jacobs, The New York Times, August 20, 2008.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"The best preserved lion skull was radiocarbon dated to between AD 1280 and 1385, making it the earliest Medieval big cat known in Britain. The period when it lived covers the reigns of Edward I, II and III, when the lion tower was built.

"The second lion skull was dated using the same method to AD 1420-1480. The leopard skull, which was badly damaged, dated to between 1440 and 1625, which covers the Plantagenet reign, the Tudors and Stuarts.

"Despite their royal status, the cats were not treated with ceremony when they died, instead being dumped - unskinned - in the Tower's moat."

-- BBC News

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Quick as the ship had sped westwards, the earth had rolled eastwards quicker still, and had dragged back Vashti and her companions towards the sun. Science could prolong the night, but only for a little, and those high hopes of neutralizing the earth"s diurnal revolution had passed, together with hopes that were possibly higher. To "keep pace with the sun," or even to outstrip it, had been the aim of the civilization preceding this. Racing aeroplanes had been built for the purpose, capable of enormous speed, and steered by the greatest intellects of the epoch. Round the globe they went, round and round, westward, westward, round and round, amidst humanity"s applause. In vain. The globe went eastward quicker still, horrible accidents occurred, and the Committee of the Machine, at the time rising into prominence, declared the pursuit illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness."

-- E. M. Forster, The Machine Stops, 1909.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"37 is one of the best prime numbers there is. It's the first irregular prime number."

-- Steve Wozniak to a drunken Peggy Fleming on Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"At one point, she said, her group intercepted postcards that Japanese troops were sending home, erasing the reassuring messages the soldiers had written and replacing them with complaints about the lack of food and ammunition. Notes to sweethearts were modified to say that the soldier had met a beautiful Burmese woman and would not be coming home."

-- LA Times

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"And even my own agency that I'm supposed to be the head of and the boss of I found out is slowing things down. Now, this gets very complicated, I tell you. For example, our Department of Fish and Game is slowing approval of a solar facility in Victorville. It's because of an endangered squirrel, an endangered squirrel which has never been seen on that land where they're supposed to build the solar plants. But if such a squirrel were around, this is the kind of area that it would like, they say.

"Now, the department wants the power company to buy three acres of land to protect these little creatures for every acre of solar land that is being used so that the squirrel could be saved if it exists. So a squirrel that may not exist is holding up environmental progress on a larger and more pressing fight against global warming. What they have here is a case of environmental regulations holding up environmental progress. I don't know whether this is ironic or absurd. But, I mean, if we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it."

-- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yale Climate Change Conference keynote address

Friday, August 15, 2008

"The trouble with people is that they too often work only for money, some work so hard to get it they become rascals, and the penitentiaries are filled with them."

-- David Eccles

Thursday, August 14, 2008

“Well, you know what they say about Corot, don’t you? He did 500 pictures and there’s 2,000 of them in the United States.”

-- James Wynne, FBI agent specializing in art theft

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star! How I wonder where on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram you are..."

-- Tiffany Ard

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"If you want to live like a billionaire, buy a $12,000 bed."

-- Ibid.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Conspicuous consumption, this research suggests, is not an unambiguous signal of personal affluence. It’s a sign of belonging to a relatively poor group. Visible luxury thus serves less to establish the owner’s positive status as affluent than to fend off the negative perception that the owner is poor. The richer a society or peer group, the less important visible spending becomes."

-- Virginia Postrel, "Inconspicuous Consumption," The Atlantic, July/August 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"I continually made the point that bubbles should be avoided, using Japan as an example of what happens in their aftermath.

Folks were often quick to respond: Yeah, but that's Japan. We do things differently here.

It's true, we do do things differently here. But what we do differently is we don't save money, as the Japanese do, and we don't run a trade surplus, as they also do. Other than that, it's pretty much the same here as it was there in the 1980s, as far as a preference for obfuscation versus transparency."

-- Bill Fleckenstein

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"The spirit of globalization fuels the gusto with which this Hindu-Muslim city celebrates Christmas--another British legacy--with colored lights festooning the streets, decorations on sale everywhere, and life-size Santa Clauses sculpted of mud and straw in the same workshops that produce the myriad Hindu gods. On Christmas Eve, thousands of Calcuttans of different religions converge on St. Paul's, the British-built 19th-century Gothic cathedral, infusing the holiday with a cosmopolitan ambience."

-- Robert D. Kaplan, "Oh! Kolkata!" The Atlantic, April 2008.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Fencing. Not a sport where you look for a lot of Americans to do well... It's not a sport that's played at as high a level here. There are a lot of fencers, and they perform in clubs, you know. But for them to come to the top is a hard thing to do.

It's tough in sports where there's not a lot of money to be made. The great athletes in this country tend to go to sports where they can get college scholarships and have a hope of a professional career. Now there are some fencing scholarships out there, not too many, but the great athletes tend not to go there, because that's not where you can get a scholarship or a pro career.

One stat that I saw was that the American fencing team is probably the brightest team, that they're all Rhodes scholars and graduate students and the rest of it, which tells you all you need to know about the quality of the competition."

-- Ron Rappaport on KPCC AirTalk, August 8, 2008.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"I compared [the rating system for bonds] to a trial where the defendant picks and pays the judge. But I realize now that I overlooked an important element in the equation. It’s actually a trial where the defendant gets to ask a number of prospective judges what verdict they’d reach before choosing one. Issuers can describe a proposed issue to multiple agencies, hear back as to what rating they’re likely to assign, and then hire the one they want."

-- Howard Marks

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

“If I had better foresight, maybe I could have improved things a little bit. But frankly, if I had perfect foresight, I would never have taken this job in the first place.”

-- Richard Syron, CEO of Freddie Mac

[Since taking the job in December 2003, Mr. Syron has received compensation of over $38 million.]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"I have run out of energy completely. I have ideas that I will probably never write now. You know, I have written quite a lot, so it is not really enough to weep over."

-- Doris Lessing

Monday, August 4, 2008

"The organizers of Hitler's Olympics spared no expense on pageantry, and two of the most enduring symbols of the Games-- the torch relay and the rings-- were popularized by the Nazis. One of the chief architects of the Berlin Games, Carl Diem, dreamt up the torch relay from Greece to Berlin as a way to connect the Nazis to the ancient Greeks, whom Hitler claimed as ancient Aryan ancestors."

-- Ethan Trex, "The 15 Greatest Moments in Olympics History," Mental Floss, volume 7, issue 4, July-August 2008.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"How could a mass murderer [Radovan Karadzic] support himself for 13 years without drawing on his past? No problem. He practiced alternative medicine, which requires little more than a lack of scruples. He was fully qualified."

-- Bob Park

Saturday, August 2, 2008

"He quietly thrives
In a world he contrives.
Technodrone insects in cubicle hives
Lead rich fantasy lives."

-- "Rich Fantasy Lives" by Tom Smith and Rob Balder

Friday, August 1, 2008

chomsky, adj. Said of a theory that draws extravagant metaphysical implications from scientifically established facts. "Essentially, Hume's criticism of the Argument from Design is that it leads in all its forms to blatantly chomsky conclusions." "The conclusions drawn from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle are not only on average chomskier than those drawn from Godel's theorem; most of them are downright merleau-ponty."

-- Daniel Dennett