an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.


error log

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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under
a Creative Commons License.

Union Label

Direct Action
Gets the Goods!


some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
Safety Neal
January Girl
mimi jingcha
Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


some philosoblogs

Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen


some labor blogs

Confined Space
Working Life
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
Eric Lee


some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Matthew Yglesias
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Tuesday, August 30, 2005



[Middle English 'ramifien', to branch out, from Old French 'ramifier', from Medieval Latin 'ramificare' from 'ramus', branch]

v. intr.
1. To have complicating consequences or outgrowths.
2. To send out branches or subordinate branchlike parts.

v. tr.
To divide into or cause to extend in branches or subordinate branchlike parts.

Monday, August 29, 2005


When the only tool you've got is an intercontinental ballistic missile, everything begins to look like an implacable enemy plotting world domination

From the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory Hurricane FAQ.
The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required. A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20x1013 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 1013 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane.

If we think about mechanical energy, the energy at humanity's disposal is closer to the storm's, but the task of focusing even half of the energy on a spot in the middle of a remote ocean would still be formidable. Brute force interference with hurricanes doesn't seem promising.

In addition, an explosive, even a nuclear explosive, produces a shock wave, or pulse of high pressure, that propagates away from the site of the explosion somewhat faster than the speed of sound. Such an event doesn't raise the barometric pressure after the shock has passed because barometric pressure in the atmosphere reflects the weight of the air above the ground. For normal atmospheric pressure, there are about ten metric tons (1000 kilograms per ton) of air bearing down on each square meter of surface. In the strongest hurricanes there are nine. To change a Category 5 hurricane into a Category 2 hurricane you would have to add about a half ton of air for each square meter inside the eye, or a total of a bit more than half a billion (500,000,000) tons for a 20 km radius eye. It's difficult to envision a practical way of moving that much air around. |link|

For a related discussion see this post.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Is this scare-mongering...

...or are things really looking that bad for New Orleans? I sure hope my friends Jeff and Emily -- and all of their friends -- cleared out.
Ninety percent of the structures in the city are likely to be destroyed by the combination of water and wind accompanying a Category 5 storm, said Robert Eichorn, former director of the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness. The LSU Hurricane Center surveyed numerous large public buildings in Jefferson Parish in hopes of identifying those that might withstand such catastrophic winds. They found none.

Amid this maelstrom, the estimated 200,000 or more people left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city. Others will end up in last-minute emergency refuges that will offer minimal safety. But many will simply be on their own, in homes or looking for high ground.

Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising water. Others will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days. |link|



[French, from Old French 'longor', a protracted discussion, from 'long', long, from Latin 'longus']

A tedious passage in a work of literature or performing art.


I know it's irrational...

...but it really bothers me that the hurricane bearing down on New Orleans has the same name as my eldest niece.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


An excerpt from Korsgaard

I've posted an excerpt from section 3.5.4 of Christine Korsgaard's Locke Lectures after the jump.

In Kantian moral psychology, the starting point for action is what Kant calls an incentive (Triebfeder). An incentive is a motivationally loaded representation of an object. I am using the term “object” broadly here to include not only substances but also states of affairs and activities. The object may be actually perceived, or conceived as a possible item in the environment, a way that things might be. You are subject to an incentive when you are aware of the features of some object that make the object attractive or appealing to you. Perhaps the object satisfies one of your needs; or perhaps because of the nature of your species or your own particular nature the object is one you are capable of enjoying. It interests you, it arouses the exercise of your faculties, it excites your natural curiosity, or it provides some sort of emotional comfort or satisfaction. It doesn’t matter what – something about you makes you conceive this object as appealing or welcome in a particular way. The object answers to something in you or to the condition you are in. Incentives can also be negative. You may represent an object to yourself as painful or threatening or disgusting, or in some other way unwelcome.

Incentives operate on animals causally but they do not directly cause the animal’s movements. If an incentive directly caused the animal’s movement, it would be something within the animal, not the animal as a whole, that determined the movement, and then as we have seen it would not be a case of action. A desire for food, after all, can cause you to salivate. If it also could cause you to go to the refrigerator, then salivating and going to the refrigerator would equally be actions. If we are to count a movement as an action, the movement must be caused by the animal itself, not by its representations or perceptions. Instead, an incentive works on an animal by making some movement or response seem appropriate to it, by presenting it as a thing to do. According to Kant, incentives work in conjunction with principles, which determine (or perhaps I should say describe) the agent’s responses to those incentives, responses which are guided by the agent’s conception of the world. The principle represents what Aristotle calls the agent’s “contribution” to the action, the thing needed to make it voluntary. Every action must involve both an incentive and a principle: that is, something is presented to the animal’s consciousness, on which it then acts.

In the human case, in the case of a person, it is easy to say what makes action different from mere response, for human beings act on reasons. A person’s principles determine what the person counts as a reason. To the extent that the person determines himself to intentional movement, he takes his desire for food to provide him with a reason for going to the refrigerator; and that is not the same as its directly causing him to go to the refrigerator. We may represent this fact – his own causality or self-determination – by saying that it is his principle to get something to eat when he feels hungry, at least absent some reason why not.



[from Latin 'pre' + 'Laepsus', fall]

Of or relating to the period before the fall of Adam and Eve.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Friday first six

No, I'm not going to become a Friday random tenner, but here are the first six tracks I listened to on my brand spanking refurbished iPod:
  1. I am the Walrus -- Gray Matter
  2. Swing Down Chariot -- The Golden Gate Quartet
  3. I've Never Been There -- The Country Gentlemen
  4. Hangman -- Tangle Eye
  5. Glory of the Sun -- Split Lip Rayfield
  6. Higher Ground -- Stevie Wonder


A query about carrots

Like many Americans, I eat a lot of baby carrots these days. I've noticed that sometimes the carrots are kind of slimy when I take them from the bag. Is this a reason not to eat them?

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Nero himself was a better than country fair fiddler

I'm not sure why Patrick Smith named his blog Tiberius and Gaius Speaking... but I can only assume that the references are to the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus and his successor Gaius Julius Casaer Germanicus. Gaius, of course, is more commonly known by the name Caligula.

Anyway, I bring it up because the most shocking passages in Seutonius are his descriptions of Tiberius Caesar's villa on the island of Capri, and this seems like a pretty good excuse to post an excerpt.

Stop reading now if you're squeamish.
On retiring to Capri he devised a pleasance for his secret orgies: teams of wantons of both sexes, selected as experts in deviant intercourse and dubbed analists, copulated before him in triple unions to excite his flagging passions. Its bedrooms were furnished with the most salacious paintings and sculptures, as well as with an erotic library, in case a performer should need an illustration of what was required. Then in Capri's woods and groves he arranged a number of nooks of venery where boys and girls got up as Pans and nymphs solicited outside bowers and grottoes: people openly called this "the old goat's garden," punning on the island's name.

He acquired a reputation for still grosser depravities that one can hardly bear to tell or be told, let alone believe. For example, he trained little boys (whom he termed tiddlers) to crawl between his thighs when he went swimming and tease him with their licks and nibbles; and unweaned babies he would put to his organ as though to the breast, being by both nature and age rather fond of this form of satisfaction. Left a painting of Parrhasius's depicting Atalanta pleasuring Meleager with her lips on condition that if the theme displeased him he was to have a million sesterces instead, he chose to keep it and actually hung it in his bedroom. The story is also told that once at a sacrifice, attracted by the acolyte's beauty, he lost control of himself and, hardly waiting for the ceremony to end, rushed him off and debauched him and his brother, the flute-player, too; and subsequently, when they complained of the assault, he had their legs broken.


Take that, egg man!

I'm not sure if it was Dru or The Bellman who gave me Gray Matter's I am the Walrus while I was down in Texas (probably Dru), but I've come to the conclusion that Gray Matter's cover is a more successful rendition of the work than The Beatles were capable of producing.


Geeks as distributed processing power

Check out the DC Animated Universe wiki. Me, I don't know much about the DC Animated Universe, but if you know something then you're free add, modify, or delete an entry. And what better way to spend a Friday night, or even an entire weekend?

On a related note, should everything be in wikipedia? I ask both because DCAUW looks like a wikipedia entry and because last week The Squire linked to the wikipedia entry for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism and the discussion page for that entry is all about whether pastafarianism is a proper subject matter.

Me? I think that pastafarianism and the DC Animated Universe and everything else ought to be part of wikipedia, and that somebody should build a portable wikipedia player. I'd make it about the size of a paperback book, with a rugged cover.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Still not philosoblogging

One of my professors sent me a link to this old thing, Nathaniel Daw's Quentin Tarantino's Republic Dogs. I've posted an excerpt from the opening vignette after the jump.
[Thrasymachus is tied up in a chair. Socrates is brandishing a gun in his face]

Thrasymachus: Don't kill me, man!

Socrates: Are you finished, fucker?

Thrasymachus: Look, look, man, you can have my ten yoke of oxen. My virgin daughters? My pomegranite orchard?

Socrates: You like pomegranites? Shit, motherfucker, I hear they've got a fuckin' all-you-can-eat special going on on pomegranites where you're headed.

Thrasymachus: Don't do it, Socrates. Be fair.

Socrates: [Suddenly contemplative] Fair?

Thrasymachus: [Sees an opportunity for survival] Yeah, fair... think about my wife and children --

Socrates: Would you say that to be fair is the same thing as to be just?

Thrasymachus: What?

Socrates: Well, I'm just a dull, wandering street philosopher, so I don't understand quite where you're headed with this particular line of reasoning. Perhaps [motions with gun] you could further elucidate your theory of justice.

Thrasymachus: My theory? Of justice?

Socrates: Yes. You do... have a theory of justice, don't you?

Thrasymachus: Uh...

Socrates: Or perhaps you'd like to hear my theory.

Thrasymachus: Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course, your theory. You have a theory?

Socrates: Well, yes, I have been thinking a little about justice -- not of course, so deeply as could a wise sage like yourself. But I've had a little idea, an insignificant but troubling little idea, and it's been bothering me a little, and I thought that maybe someone as smart as yourself could help convince me that it was wrong.

Thrasymachus: Of course, I'll do anything I can to help.

Socrates: So you'd like to hear my theory?

Thrasymachus: I'd be honored.

Socrates: My humble little idea goes something like this. [He is suddenly extremely loud and violent. Roars:] Justice is only the will of the stronger. What do you think about that, asshole? [Slaps Thrasymachus across the face with his gun]

Thrasymachus: Uh, uh, uh ...

Socrates: Come on ... come on, you wanna try and disprove my theory, you weak little shit? Yeah? Yeah? Shit, I think I feel a proof coming on. [Shoots him.] Why, thank you Thrasymachus, you've certainly opened my eyes.


Drunk again, this time with google power

I posted the other day about googling the term liberalism = moral anarchy. Care to guess what the top result is now?



[from Greek 'stenos', narrow + 'graphein', to write]

1. The art or process of writing in shorthand.
2. Material transcribed in shorthand.



[Greek from 'stélé', block or slab + 'graphein', to write]

1. The art or practice of writing or inscribing characters on pillars or upright slabs.
2. An incription on a pillar or upright slab.



[assumed Greek, from 'stegano', covered + 'graphein', to write]

1. The art of writing in cipher, or in characters which are not intelligible except to persons who have the key; cryptography.
2. In computer programming, the discipline of hiding information in files.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


The blogosphere is vast and contains multitudes

While working on my most recent labor blogging roundup over at The Bellman, I came across Tobias Higbie's Bughouse Square blog. If I'm not mistaken, Tobias (Toby?) was a central figure in the grad unionization movement at Illinois in the years before I arrived. I think I've met him a few times, though I'm not entirely sure. In any case, it should all be cleared up soon since he has taken a job at the University of Illinois.

In other blogospheric news, it appears that one of the first year grads in my program has a blog. He doesn't look anything like the picture.

During my soujourn in Texas this summer some of the Champaign/Urbana bloggers got together for a meet-up, which I mention mostly so that I can link to the local NPR station's coverage (real player). For my part, I was busy meeting Austin bloggers, including Dru Blood, who has been all but ignored by the mainstream media even though she makes a mean pot of soup.


Dumb joke blogging, choo choo edition

Q: Why didn't the locomotive like to sit down?

A: Because he had a tender behind.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


The return of philosoblogging?!

No, not quite yet, but fair warning. Once I get myself fully organized for the coming semester my writing here is likely to take a turn for toward the pedantic. In the meantime, to prepare the waters, here's a passage from one of the texts I'll be teaching this semester, Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit.
When we characterize talk as hot air, we mean that what comes out of the speaker's mouth is only that. It is mere vapor. His speech is empty, without substance or content. His use of language, accordingly, does not contribute to the purpose it purports to serve. No more information is communicated than if the speaker had merely exhaled. There are similarities between hot air and excrement, incidentally, which make hot air seem an especially suitable equivalent for bullshit. Just as hot air is speech that has been emptied of all informative content, so excrement is matter from which everything nutritive has been removed. Excrement may be regarded as the corpse of nourishment, what remains when the vital elements in food have been exhausted. In this respect, excrement is a representation of death that we ourselves produce and that, indeed, we cannot help producing in the very process of maintaining our lives. Perhaps it is for making death so intimate that we find excrement so repulsive. In any event, it cannot serve the purposes of sustenance, any more that hot air can serve those of communication.

Friday, August 19, 2005


A quick note about writing

I read something that rang true on the comments thread to this post over at Echidne of the Snakes, so I'm posting it here. It was written by Nax, who has a blog.
There was a time when I was writing fiction by night and technical manuals by day. In the technical stuff, I strove for minimalism - for every word, sentence, or fact, I asked "Who cares? Does this really help?" and if I didn't have a good answer, I cut it. I wrote excellent manuals. But I couldn't turn it off at night, and when I applied the same standard to my fiction, there was nothing left at all.

Now, I don't write fiction myself and I sort of suspect that some writers are able to write in a variety of styles, but still, there's something there, right?

Thursday, August 18, 2005



I didn't get credit or anything like that, but I did take this photograph. It was published yesterday in the Memorial/Spring Branch Sun. I think you'll agree that the composition could appropriately be described by several adjectives.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Dumb joke blogging, audience participation edition

Does it smell like updog in here?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


What I learned at my welcome back to Illinois celebration

Even if it doesn't break the skin, the bite of a human being can produce a very nasty bruise.


Belated thanks...

...to Tony, the most prolific guest blogger in the history of blogdom. Thanks Tony!

Hey readers, do you have a favorite Tony post (they're the ones that say, 'this post brought to you by Tony' at the top)? Mine is, The complicated calculus of Colonel Mustard.

Monday, August 15, 2005



[From Latin 'formica', ant]

To creep or crawl like ants; swarm with, or as with, ants.

Resembling or pertaining to an ant or ants.



liberalism = moral anarchy

The Squire wants to know if chalking his URL on the quad would draw visitors to his site. Hard to say. I do know that somebody chalked "liberalism = moral anarchy" on the quad today and I googled it.

Here's a quote from the top hit:
In thus explaining and championing religious pluralism on affirmative theological grounds rather than on negative or concessionary ones, liberal Protestants could make one of the more important of their distinctive contributions to the moral coherence ‘and consensus that our sprawling society needs but has found it difficult to maintain. Much else -- in the realms, for example, of piety, of doctrine and of social zeal -- can be seen as vital to the revivification of a distinctive liberal witness. But surely the theistic rationale for pluralism, in distinctive Protestant forms, deserves central attention. A liberal Protestant pluralism unconscious of its own grounding in the radical otherness of God and in an uncompromising respect for persons will continue to be vulnerable to charges of timidity -- of not knowing what we are about, or at least of being too skittish about asserting the spiritual and theological grounds of what we are about.

That's from a 1986 paper by William R. Hutchinson called "Past Imperfect: History and the Prospect for Liberalism." It's pretty interesting, but I think the chalkers were probably aiming for something more like this, from the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families:
In summary, modern liberalism is the intellectual heir to three bankrupt, irrational, and socially dangerous philosophies. In following the romantics in jettisoning objective morality, modern liberal thought opens a Pandora’s box of deviant and socially destructive behavior without any way to control it. In following the existentialists in jettisoning objective truth, modern liberalism is unable to make crucial distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, and true and false. Furthermore, it is simply unavoidable that those who do not believe in truth are more likely not to tell it (i.e. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”). Finally, in embracing the philosophy of postmodernism, modern liberalism has sought to redefine and restructure reality through a hijacking of language and overt censorship. In short, modern liberalism has become as bankrupt as the philosophical theories that support it. Modern liberalism was born out of irrational systems of thought and continues to perpetuate irrational thought by means of professors, politicians, and pop culture icons that are in the grip of its powerful delusions. Modern liberalism is perhaps the greatest social threat next to fundamentalist Islamic terrorists yet more dangerous in that its appeal is more subtle, more deceptive, and much more closer to home.

The lesson here is that if you chalk your URL on the quad then people will visit your blog. On the other hand, they're likely to be google addled freaks.


On 'alright'

Dictionary.com provides the following usage note:
Despite the appearance of the form alright in works of such well-known writers as Langston Hughes and James Joyce, the single word spelling has never been accepted as standard. This is peculiar, since similar fusions such as already and altogether have never raised any objections. The difference may lie in the fact that already and altogether became single words back in the Middle Ages, whereas alright has only been around for a little more than a century and was called out by language critics as a misspelling. Consequently, one who uses alright, especially in formal writing, runs the risk that readers may view it as an error or as the willful breaking of convention. [link]

Friday, August 12, 2005


Track list, part two

  1. Wildwood Flower - - The Carter Family
  2. Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow - - The Carter Family
  3. Wabash Cannonball - - The Carter Family
  4. Worried Man Blues - - The Carter Family
  5. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes - - The Carter Family
  6. Cascade - - Chet Atkins
  7. One Man Boogie - - Chet Atkins
  8. Boo Boo Stick Beat - - Chet Atkins
  9. Tiger Rag - - Chet Atkins
  10. On My Way to Canaan's Land - - Chet Atkins
  11. Twitchy - - Chet Atkins & Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed
  12. Jerry's Breakdown - - Chet Atkins & Chet Atkins with Jerry Reed
  13. Dream Dust - - Les Paul
  14. Hawaiian Paradise - - Les Paul
  15. Steel Guitar Rag - - Les Paul
  16. Guitar Boogie - - Les Paul
  17. Caravan - - Les Paul
  18. Whiskey and Gin Blues - - Memphis Slim
  19. Maybe I'll Loan You a Dime - - Memphis Slim
  20. Whiskey Store Blues - - Memphis Slim
  21. I Believe I'll Settle Down - - Memphis Slim
  22. Beer Drinkin' Woman - - Memphis Slim
  23. Hallelujah I'm a Bum - - Bob Bovee
  24. Ain't Done Nothing If You Ain't Been Called a Red - - Faith Petric & Mark Ross
  25. Put It on the Ground - - Marion Wade


Track list, part one

  1. The Lord Is My Shepard - - Kings Of Harmony
  2. Let It Shine on Me - - Kings Of Harmony
  3. Precious Lord Take My Hand - - Kings Of Harmony
  4. Search Me Lord - - Kings Of Harmony
  5. In the Morning - - Golden Gates Quartet
  6. Sending Up My Timber - - The Ever-Ready Gospel Singers
  7. I Can See My Savior - - The Ever-Ready Gospel Singers
  8. In the Wilderness - - Echoes Of Zion
  9. Look for Me in Heaven - - Echoes Of Zion
  10. The Lord's Alphabet - - The Dixiares
  11. Jesus Give Me Water - - The Dixiaires
  12. The Greatest Creator of Them All - - The Dixiaires
  13. Just a Closer Walk With Thee - - The Dixiaires
  14. Let Nothing Separate Me from His Love - - The Blind boys
  15. Was the Blood - - The Blind Boys
  16. Sweet Jesus, the Lily of the Valley - - The Atlanta Pilgrim Travelers
  17. Prayin' Time - - The Atlanta Pilgrim Travelers
  18. Bedside of a Neighbor - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  19. Ezekiel Saw the Wheel - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  20. Going On - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  21. Jesus Children of America - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  22. Let's Go Out to the Programs (Single) - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  23. Loves Me Like a Rock - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  24. Nobody Knows the Trouble I See - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  25. Thank You for One More Day - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  26. The Final Edition - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  27. Two Little Fishes (And Five Loaves of Bread) - - The Dixie Hummingbirds
  28. You Don't Have Nothing - - The Dixie Hummingbirds

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Travlin agin

My long journey Illinoiswards will get going in an hour or two. There will be a longish layover in Austin, but I don't know whether I'll have time for blog related activities. In the meantime, my unreliable friend Tony will once again take on guest blogging duties.

Heeeeeerrrreee's Tony!


Rosalind Elsie Franklin

It was in Randall's lab that she crossed paths with Maurice Wilkins. She and Wilkins led separate research groups and had separate projects, although both were concerned with DNA. When Randall gave Franklin responsibility for her DNA project, no one had worked on it for months. Wilkins was away at the time, and when he returned he misunderstood her role, behaving as though she were a technical assistant. Both scientists were actually peers. His mistake, acknowledged but never overcome, was not surprising given the climate for women at the university then. Only males were allowed in the university dining rooms, and after hours Franklin's colleagues went to men-only pubs.

But Franklin persisted on the DNA project. J. D. Bernal called her X-ray photographs of DNA, "the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken." Between 1951 and 1953 Rosalind Franklin came very close to solving the DNA structure. She was beaten to publication by Crick and Watson in part because of the friction between Wilkins and herself. At one point, Wilkins showed Watson one of Franklin's crystallographic portraits of DNA. When he saw the picture, the solution became apparent to him, and the results went into an article in Nature almost immediately. Franklin's work did appear as a supporting article in the same issue of the journal.

A debate about the amount of credit due to Franklin continues. What is clear is that she did have a meaningful role in learning the structure of DNA and that she was a scientist of the first rank. Franklin moved to J. D. Bernal's lab at Birkbeck College, where she did very fruitful work on the tobacco mosaic virus. She also began work on the polio virus. In the summer of 1956, Rosalind Franklin became ill with cancer. She died less than two years later.




[Latin 'arbiter', one who goes to see]

1. One who has the power to judge or ordain at will.
2. One chosen or appointed to decide a disputed issue.


Arbitration is not a game

One of the Astros' TV announcers was complaining about the Kenny Rogers reinstatement during tonight's game. He griped, "who are these arbitrators anyway, do they even know anything about baseball?"

I rolled my eyes. It seemed obvious to me that baseball would do what any other industry would do, namely, put in a call to the American Arbitration Association and let AAA pick a name out of a hat.

Nope. Baseball has a dedicated arbiter, a fellow by the name of Shyam Das.

Here's an abstract from one of his non-baseball decisions:
C-22740, National Arbitrator Shyam Das, November 12, 2001: Award concerning the counting of casuals among the various crafts in determining compliance with the provisions of Article 7, Section 1.B.3 (national cap). The arbitrator retained jurisdiction and remanded the issue to the parties for further discussion consistent with the findings in the decision.

You can read the whole thing if you want, but it's a pdf.

If you're interested, Ross Runkel runs an arbitration blog.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005



[of unknown origin]

British slang
Nonsense; rubbish.


Ignoring the audience

Back in the old days I used to keep a hit counter on this blog. I decided to get rid of it on the grounds that having a counter made it hard not to be a navel gazing hit whore. All and all, it was a good move.

One drawback, though, is that when I get email notifications of comments, the notifications don't indicate which post the comment is attached to. Without a tracking mechanism I'm reduced to context clues.

Just today, susan left this comment:
I remembered another one.

This bear walks into a restaurant and sits at one of the tables. A waitress comes to take his order. "I'll have a tunafish sandwich," he says, "and.....a glass of milk." The waitress says, "Why the big paws?"

I was able to figure that one out. A comment I got last week from Bob Waters, though, has me stumped:
They send them to jail.

Actually, a famous satirical piece was once written which proposes, in ridicule, the moral equivalent of that which you endorse: solve the problem of overpopulation by killing the poor and making them into dogfood.

Any ideas?



[probably short for 'suspect']

tr. v.
1. To infer or discover; figure out.
2. To size up or study.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Capitalism at its finest

I'm stuck behind a firewall, so I can't access this, but word on the street is that the-blog-which-shall-not-be-named-at-Panera-Bread-due-to-a-phonetic-resemblence-to-an-act-frowned-upon-by-Panera's-corporate-masters is running a choose-the-creepiest-products poll. You should vote since I can't. In the meantime, here are a couple of creepy products that may or may not have made their list.

First, from the Black Panther Party, Burn, Baby, Burn Revolutionary Hot Sauce.

As you probably noticed, that's not a very good picture. While searching the internets for a better image, I found Hot Sauce Harry's Bomb Laden Hot Sauce.

Maybe those aren't exactly creepy.

The Bomb Laden Hot Sauce strikes me as vaguely (or maybe not so vaguely) racist, but what really bothers me about it is that it reeks of the same good 'ol boy machismo that gave us Abu Ghraib. Still, I suppose it could be worse.

The Black Panther's sauce has sparked a minor controversy. As near as I can tell the main complaint is that the sauce celebrates violence. Thinking that it does seems to me to require a pretty shallow understanding of the forces that sparked the race riots, but maybe so. At any rate, as far as I'm concerned the problem is that this kind of merchandising trivializes the Black Panther Party, reducing their legacy to nothing but another piece of '60s kitsch. Which would bother me less if I didn't sort of want to buy a bottle.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


Dumb joke blogging, post-apocalyptic angst edition

Q: What did the last man on Earth say when he walked into a bar?

A: Drink, I'd like another bartender.

Friday, August 05, 2005



The latest fad sweeping the blogosphere continues unabated. Saheli's music meme responses are up, and her considerable blogospheric influence has prompted responses from Reneebop, Robert Stribley and, through Robert, Chris.

As long as we're tracking the meme here, Dennis responded to Matt's tag. Dennis begat Katie and Eric. Eric begat Steph and Kat.

And that's all so far, so far as I know.


Today in history

1391: Castilian sailors in Barcelona, Spain set fire to a Jewish ghetto, killing 100 people and setting off four days of violence against Jews. 1763 : Colonel Henry Bouquet decisively defeats the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run in Pennsylvania during Pontiac's rebellion. 1762: Russia, Prussia and Austria sign a treaty agreeing on the partition of Poland. 1815: A peace treaty with Tripoli--which follows treaties with Algeria and Tunis--brings an end to the Barbary Wars. 1850: Birth of Guy de Maupassant, short story writer and author of "The Necklace." 1858: The first transatlantic cable is completed. 1861: Congress adopts the nation's first income tax to finance the Civil War. 1864: The Union Navy captures Mobile Bay in Alabama. 1876: Birth of Mary Ritter Beard, American historian and writer. 1892: Harriet Tubman receives a pension from Congress for her work as a nurse, spy and scout during the Civil War. 1906: Birth of John Houston, film director of such movies as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Maltese Falcon. 1908: Birth of Miriam Rothschild, English scientist and writer. 1914: The British Expeditionary Force mobilizes for World War I. 1914: The first electric traffic signal lights are installed in Cleveland, Ohio. 1915: The Austro-German Army takes Warsaw, in present-day Poland, on the Eastern Front. 1916: The British navy defeats the Ottomans at the naval battle off Port Said, Egypt. 1921: Mustapha Kemal is appointed virtual ruler of the Ottoman Empire. 1923: Birth of Richard G. Kleindienst, one of the key officials who helped elect Richard Nixon to the presidency. 1930: Birth of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. 1941: The German army completes taking 410,000 Russian prisoners in Uman and Smolensk pockets in the Soviet Union. 1951: The United Nations Command suspends armistice talks with the North Koreans when armed troops are spotted in neutral areas. 1962: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies under mysterious circumstances. 1974: President Richard Nixon admits he ordered a cover-up for political as well as national security reasons.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Mayonaise or Glue?

No doubt you've heard that three astronomers are claiming to have discovered a tenth planet. This is big news and means that our generation will have a chance to author a brand new remember-the-names-of-the-planets mnemonic. Unfortunately, we can't get a running start on the project because certain jealous astronomers want to deny that the the object designated 2003 UB313 is really a planet at all. While the controversy rages the name proposed by the object's discoverers is being kept secret.


For what it's worth, here are some soon to be superseded mnemonics:
  • Mother Very Earnestly Made Jam Sandwiches Using No Peanuts.
  • Men Very Early Made Jars Stand Upright Nicely, Period.
  • My Very Empty Mouth Just Swallowed Up Ninety Peanuts.
  • My Very Easy Method: Just Set Up Nine Planets.
  • Men Very Easily Make Jugs Serve Useful Nocturnal Purposes.
  • My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.
  • Mary's Violet Eyes Make John Sit Up Nights Pondering.
  • My Very Elegant Mother Just Sat Upon Nine Porcupines.
  • My Very Erotic Mate Joyfully Satisfies Unusual Needs Passionately.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Thanks Thor! (you too, Boss Tom)

Lightning fried my pops' cable this evening, causing him to break out his old portable stereo for ballgame listening purposes. Later, determined to play a cd, I discovered that the cd player wasn't (as I had been told) broken. Instead, the tray had been filled well beyond capacity (i.e., it contained two cds rather than one), possibly by a certain nephew I could mention.

The upshot of which is that I'm now listening to The Real Kansas City of the '20s, '30s, and '40s rather than being taunted by the empty jewel case on my pops' shelf. It's about time I got to hear The Kansas City Rockets.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Hair blogging

  1. I'm getting decidedly shaggy. There's a piece of hair above my right ear, a cowlick I guess, that insists on sticking up. Also, I'm about a third of the way to a legitimate philosopher beard.
  2. The big news, though, is that I've confirmed the presence of gray hairs. Yay! That's not, by the way, one of those ironic "yay"s that you see so often around the blogosphere. I'm legitimately pleased.



[from Greek 'para', amiss, faulty, wrong + 'eidolon', diminutive of 'eidos' appearance, form]

A psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (usually an image) which is mistakenly perceived as something else, usually something commonly seen.