Taiwan’s junior league baseball team from Taipei remained undefeated, beating Texas to claim the title!  More here.  Here’s hoping that the little league team can pull it off as well.

Addendum: Congratulations to the Taiwan little league team in placing third.  Tough loss to Japan in the international finals.



“Yet here is Gingrich attempting to out-Palin Palin on Fox News: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.” There is no more demagogic analogy than that.

Have any of the screaming critics noticed that there already are two mosques in the same neighborhood — one four blocks away and one 12 blocks away.

Should they be dismantled? And what about the louche liquor stores and strip clubs in the periphery of the sacred ground?”

Outright wrong:

“No. The overriding principle in free speech law is that any restriction on, say, putting up a sign should be viewpoint-neutral. In other words, the government can’t silence a speaker based on the content of his message without a really, really good reason. (There are a handful of exceptions, like obscenity and defamation, but none of them apply here.) If a well-funded group of anti-Semites wanted to set up a reading room where young Nazis could gather to contemplate Mein Kampf and sip ice-cold Fanta, Uncle Sam couldn’t stop them, even if their plot were located two blocks from the Holocaust museum.”


“This view leads Christian Reconstructionists to take extreme positions, which in turn makes finding people willing to speak about the influence of Christian Reconstructionism on their views rare indeed. “Most people don’t admit to it, because there’s a lot of things in Christian Reconstruction that they’d rather not get associated with,” explained Sarah Posner, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches and expert on the Christian right. “For example, the death penalty for homosexuality. Or they think that certain types of slavery were permitted by the Bible.”

As Christian Reconstructionists’ views got absorbed into the home-schooling movement and entered American politics more broadly, their dark roots have been largely forgotten. By now, politicians who parrot the ideology might have no idea from whence it originated, Posner points out. But over the years, it’s had a strong influence on mainstream evangelicals. And lately, it is dovetailing with the ideology of the Tea Party in a whole new way.”


“Alaskans tend to live with their contradictions in these recessionary times. No place benefits more from federal largess than this state, where the Republican governor decries “intrusive” federal policies, officials sue to overturn the health care legislation and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, voted against the stimulus bill.

Although its unemployment rate sits at just 7.9 percent, about two percentage points below the national rate, Alaska has received $3,145 per capita in federal stimulus dollars, the most in the nation, according to figures compiled by Pro Publica, an investigative Web site. Nevada, by contrast, has an unemployment rate north of 14 percent and has received $1,034 per capita in recovery aid. Florida’s jobless rate is 11.4 percent, and the state has obtained $914 per capita.”

A lovely segment of society…

Get Fuzzy

There’s been a great series of comic strips on soccer, from Get Fuzzy, starting with this strip – http://comics.com/get_fuzzy/2010-07-05/.  It really gets going with a novel re-defining of penalty kicks and an idea to incorporate some MMA.

The strip also managed to hit another one of my interests with this defense of Stephen King.

Things to think about the next time you hear a Chinese-government apologist saying we shouldn’t “imperially impose our Western culture on China”:
  • Sage Advice – “Beijing wants the world to admire a “rising China” not only for its phenomenal economic accomplishments and growing military prowess but also for the quality of its civilisation. Yet, no matter how many Confucius Institutes the government establishes abroad to teach Chinese language and culture, the People’s Republic will not win international respect for its political and social progress until it ceases locking up political dissidents and treats those currently detained in a more humane manner.”
  • Chinese suppliers to Microsoft cited for labor violations – “Global companies often require audits of their Chinese suppliers, but many are flawed or compromised, experts say. In a report last week, the Pittsburgh-based National Labor Committee said the KYE factories often recruited 16- and 17-year-old “work study students” to toil 15 hours a day, six or seven days a week, for between 65 cents and $1 an hour. The report released photographs it said were smuggled out of the factory, showing dorm rooms cramped with 14 workers and employees slumped over their work stations, apparently in exhaustion. The report said many workers were forced to work 15-hour shifts producing computer mice and a Microsoft Web cam.”
  • Chinese accused of vast trade in organs – “China’s hidden policy of executing prisoners of the forbidden quasi-Buddhist group Falun Gong and harvesting their organs for worldwide sale has been expanded to include Tibetans, “house church” Christians and Muslim Uighurs, human rights activists said Monday. In a news conference on Capitol Hill, several speakers, including attorney David Matas of B’nai Brith Canada and Ethan Gutmann of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said their investigations have unearthed a grisly trade in which an estimated 9,000 members of Falun Gong have been executed for their corneas, lungs, livers, kidneys and skins.”
I’ve seen a lot of poorly written, poorly researched articles on health and exercise, for instance, suggesting that exercise is pointless in reducing weight, or that reducing weight itself is pointless.  Fortunately, I just saw an excellent article that doesn’t gloss over the subtleties, and presents a good look at how exercise and diet play a role in staying fit.  That’s the first article below; the other two are also useful in understanding the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle in maintaining both physical and mental fitness.
  • Weighing the evidence on exercise – “But a growing body of science suggests that exercise does have an important role in weight loss. That role, however, is different from what many people expect and probably wish. The newest science suggests that exercise alone will not make you thin, but it may determine whether you stay thin, if you can achieve that state. Until recently, the bodily mechanisms involved were mysterious. But scientists are slowly teasing out exercise’s impact on metabolism, appetite and body composition, though the consequences of exercise can vary. Women’s bodies, for instance, seem to react differently than men’s bodies to the metabolic effects of exercise. None of which is a reason to abandon exercise as a weight-loss tool. You just have to understand what exercise can and cannot do.”
  • Brain damage – “Being fat is bad for your brain. That, at least, is the gloomy conclusion of several recent studies. For example, one long-term study of more than 6,500 people in northern California found that those who were fat around the middle at age 40 were more likely to succumb to dementia in their 70s. A long-term study in Sweden found that, compared to thinner people, those who were overweight in their 40s experienced a more rapid, and more pronounced, decline in brain function over the next several decades.”
  • The claim – Lack of sleep increases weights – “Scientists have known for years that skimping on sleep is associated with weight gain. A good example was a study published in 2005, which looked at 8,000 adults over several years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night corresponded with a greater risk of weight gain and obesity, and the risk increased for every hour of lost sleep.”

Ever wonder what Bach meant by The Well-Tempered Clavier?  Well, the wikipedia page actually does a pretty good job of describing it, and there are more details on the wikipedia page for musical temperament.

For a more mathematical look at why the issue of musical temperament arises, this is a good reference – Circle of fifths and roots of two.

For an interesting look at this issue from a historical perspective, along with audio clips of pieces played in different tuning systems, check out – The centuries-old struggle to play in tune.

whoa, I was looking around at books on my Amazon wish list, and I happened to see that the Kindle version of Joe Hill‘s 20th Century Ghosts was listed as being only $0.99.  I thought maybe this was just an abridged version or something, so I was a little hesitant, but in the end I bought it.  Amazingly enough, it seems to be the full book (or rather collection of short stories), so I thought I’d spread the news while this price is still available.