res ipsa loquitur

a cool koan

Posted on: Tue, 07/28/2009 - 23:25 By: Tom Swiss

The Zen Master held up a bell. "What is this?", she challenged the students. "If you say it is a bell, I will hit you thirty times, and if you say it is not a bell, I will hit you thirty times!"

One stood up and took the bell from her hand. He rang it -- ding-a-ling-a-ling! Ding-a-ling-a-ling! And he said: "When I was a boy, the snowball truck -- you might call them snow cones -- came through the neighborhood on hot summer days. The driver rang his bell like this. We would cry out to him and he would stop to give us shaved ice and flavored syrup, providing sweet and cool succor to those suffering in the heat. Truly he was a Bodhisattva, and this bell the herald of his presence."

The master took back the bell and, lightly, smacked the student on top of his head. "You talk too much," she said.

Fox News nutcase: Americans "keep marrying other species and other ethnics"

Posted on: Sat, 07/11/2009 - 16:34 By: Tom Swiss

How crazy are the folks at Fox News? Very.

Recently on Fox News' morning show, "Fox and Friends", the hosts were discussing research done in Finland and Sweden that suggests that people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. I would suggest, off-hand, that this might be because people showing early signs of Alzheimer's are more likely to get a divorce or have one forced on them, but I haven't read the study.

Anyway, host Brian Kilmeade questioned the results, saying, "We are -- we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other... See, the problem is the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes .... Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society."

Transformers: ROTF review: "Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie"

Posted on: Fri, 07/03/2009 - 13:08 By: Tom Swiss

I have no interest in seeing the new Transformers movie, but this made me laugh out loud:

Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer's biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari's cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I'm still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me.

Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that's because people don't understand that this isn't a movie, in the conventional sense. It's an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.

top posting

Posted on: Wed, 06/10/2009 - 01:05 By: Tom Swiss

For many years, I've been railing against "top posting" -- creating e-mail (or similar) messages with quoted material from the previous messages (usually, the entire message, unabridged) in the thread at the bottom, and the added content at the top of the message. I just stumbled across this perfect little illustration of why it's a horrid practice:

A: Yes.
> Q: Are you sure?
>> A: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation
>>> Q: Why is top posting annoying in email?

Dan's Mail Format Site has more on the evils of top posting -- and, more importantly, how to do it right with interleaving and bottom-posting.

Electronic health records make it better -- until the power goes out

Posted on: Thu, 06/04/2009 - 13:04 By: Tom Swiss

On Tuesday, for about two hours Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital had to send incoming ambulances to other hospitals. Why? A power surge knocked out their computer system (bad design part 1), and patients' records had to be hand entered. They couldn't deal with the backlog (bad design part 2).

It looks more and more like electronic health records are going to work as well as electronic voting.

the Tilt-a-Whirl

Posted on: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 19:45 By: Tom Swiss

The things you learn on the Internet: there is a 1927 Tilt-A-Whirl still in operation today.

When we went to amusement parks, my dad wasn't much for the rides. My mom was up for them, except the roller coasters. (After seeing the movie Rollercoaster about a terrorist blowing them up, she never rode one.) So her, my brother, and I would hit the flat rides. The Tilt-A-Whirl was a favorite, a classic, and I salute it.

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