Monthly Archives: September 2007


Every time I watch The Simpsons, I think: “This stuff is brilliant!” And yet I don’t watch the show religiously. I figure I’ll see every episode eventually. Why rush things? The writing is fantastically good. It captures so much of the America of the 90s and 00s it’s uncanny. But the voices—unforgettable. So what a […]

Posted in Random | Tagged , , | 1 Response


A website I don’t visit often enough is Подслушано в России [Overheard in Russia]. A number of such “Overheard in …” sites exist, actually. They remind me of the Metropolitan Diary in the New York Times, where readers share conversations, exclamations, exhortations, or other utterances they happened to experience by chance in New York City […]

Posted in Russia | Tagged , | Leave a comment


How could I not take note of the fact that the smiley turned 25 today? [Carnegie Mellon professor Scott E.] Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant […]

Posted in Random | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


We have a low retaining wall made from railroad ties in our front yard that is deteriorating and needs replacing. We’re thinking of stonework this time, and I’m thinking we’ll want to find some Incas to do it for us. I mean, look at the work they do: Photo by Alexander Fiebrandt at Wikipedia They […]

Posted in Random | Tagged , , | 2 Responses


The Iraq war protest on Saturday was much smaller than in January, and there were more counterprotesters lining a section of the route to engage in colloquy (ahem) with the antiwar folk. The most common preprinted prowar signs said “PEACE THRU STRENGTH” and “BETTER THERE THAN HERE.” But one hand-drawn sign said it all, really, […]

Posted in Agora | Tagged , , , , | 5 Responses


Yes, a moment of truth. (Sheesh. What some people will do for a shot at a free iPod. And I don’t even like iPods. I’m perfectly happy with my crummy old Zen Xtra, “with Its Large, Blue Backlit LCD Screen.” Really, I am.)

Posted in Random | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


The association where I work has just published a book for those who wish to be “mentors” in science education. That’s all well and good. The problem is that the persons at the receiving end of this guidance are called “mentees.” This is so grating to my eyes and ears that I came here to […]

Posted in Agora | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


Well, we made it through the doldrums of August. In an apparent attempt to inject some drama into this perennially languid month, a Russian journalist, Roman Trunov, tried to paint August in Russia as fraught with history-altering events. Four of his five examples occurred in the 1990s—admittedly a tumultuous time in that country. Two of […]

Posted in Russia | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
  • Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.
    Gravity’s Rainbow

    ‘Is it about a bicycle?’ he asked.
    The Third Policeman