Category Archives: Random

Proof you’re a parent

For some reason I decided to take a look at the top 50 most played songs on my iPod. Here they are, listed from 5 to 1.

Rank Title               Artist             Number of Times Played
5.   Many the Miles      Sara Bareilles     66
4.   Fireflies           Owl City           67
3.   The Wider Sun       Jon Hopkins        81
2.   Baby Monkey         Parry Gripp        322
1.   Oatmeal             Parry Gripp        393

One guess as to which two songs are Alex’s favorites?

Fashion victims finally hit bottom

I’ve noticed (probably about two years later than the rest of the world, of course) that the latest in men’s fashion are printed designer t-shirts. Actually, I kind of like some of them, as fashion goes. Or did, rather, until I found out that people are paying $70 for a silk screened t-shirt. You know, the genre of clothing favored by little league t-ball teams all across the country? Apparently when you replace “Bob’s Rib Shack Temecula Valley Bluejays” with a skull and crossbones, the price goes up considerably. I can only imagine this is the result of a very cynical wager made over beers wine spritzers by two designers after work one day regarding who could get people to pay more for a t-shirt.

And that’s how we got this. The worst elements of the success of this trend is the fact that (a) about half the male population of the country is falling for this “designer t-shirt” scam and (b) they are legally allowed to vote in federal elections. I know some people will fault me for not understanding fashion, and in general I don’t, but I think it’s a self-evident truth that if somebody gets you to pay $70 for something that costs $4 to produce, you need to rethink your priorities. Especially if that thing can be had for $10 with equivalent function elsewhere. But god bless the fashion victims, because lord knows where our economy would be without them loading up their credit cards with four-color printed underwear at a 1200% markup.

A letter from legal has arrived for you, Alex

Greenblatt & Goober, Attorneys
September 14, 2009

Dear Baby Alexander,

We are writing on behalf of our client, your father, Jonathan Birge. This is in followup to, and clarification of, the ad hoc verbal contract entered into by you and Dr. Birge during negotiations of the bedtime taking place on the evening of September 12th, 2009. To wit:

You (heretofore LITTLE BABY) agree to make a goodfaith effort to “hush,” including, but not limited to, not saying a word. In return, your father (henceforth ‘DADDY’) has authorized us to release into your possession one (1) live mockingbird.

In the unlikely event said mockingbird should fail to sing, as determined by a third-party arbitration panel, DADDY will purchase, for you, a diamond ring of commensurate retail value.

Should the diamond ring be found of fraudulent origin, limited to composition by brass alloy, a looking glass will be provided. Herein, “looking glass” is understood to be a term of art, not to imply construction of any particular material. Specifically, molded polymer magnifying optics of any kind will be acceptable under the terms of this contract.

If the looking glass should become “broke” due to faulty materials or workmanship, excluding acts of god and/or negligence on your part, you agree to accept from DADDY one (1) billy goat as full payment in-kind.

If the billy goat fails to perform under previously agreed upon provisions terms in the  standard goat labor contract, (see “Pulling” in the attached rider), DADDY agrees to provide you with a cart and bull of equal or greater value, as determined by commodity prices published in the prior day’s Wall Street Journal.

No guarantee is provided as to the cart and/or bull’s suitability for any implied or express purpose. Only in the event that the cart and bull should, as a unit, “turn over” (as per the accepted legal definition of a rotation of no less than 90 degrees around the cart-bull axis) will the warrantee terms of this agreement be in effect, and renumeration provided in the form of a dog, to referred to as “Rover” by both parties for the duration of the contract.

In the event the dog named “Rover” is unable, or refuses, to bark audibly, both parties agree to final compensation in the form of a horse and cart, under identical liability terms to the previously mentioned cart and bull. Should the cart and horse fail to maintain appropriate orientation, as defined in the adjoining diagram, the “FALL DOWN” clause of the horse and cart contract will be in effect: DADDY agrees to stipulate for the record that you are “the best baby in town,” with both parties enjoined from further comment on the matter for a period of thirty (30) days.

By falling asleep, you give your full consent and agreement to this contract, and agree to waive all future legal action against your father as it pertains to this or any prior informal mockingbird for sleep agreements.

This Contract shall be interpreted under the laws of the State of Nevada.

This Constract is executed in the City of Cambridge, County of Middlesex, Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Steven Greenblatt, Esq.

How to really oversell a lecture on a laser cutter

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the pretention of a lot of modern art, and how most of the effort seems to go into technobabble rationalization of the art, and not the art itself. Well, somebody giving a lecture at the MIT School of Architecture has recently scaled new heights on the tower of babble:

Architecture reimagines how humans inhabit the earth — how they organize themselves spatially and shape their everyday lives. If architecture is viewed as the material alteration of the earth’s surface, it has astronomical consequences: it can alter the very shape of a planet. Come see one way designs develop, through a demonstration of laser cutting in our fablab.

That last sentence is a bit of a let down, isn’t it? I had no idea the rest of MIT was underachieving so much with their lasers! We really need to step things up. I know there’s folks at MIT using lasers to do mundane things like creating attosecond bursts of X-rays, quantum entangled photons for cryptography, and 3D high resolution medical imaging, but I don’t think any of us are really coming close to the astronomical-planet-surface-altering bar set by the folks in the architecture department. Maybe we should start using them to cut out parts for things like this:

Some of the world-altering work of the MIT architecture department.
Some of the “planet-altering” work of the MIT architecture department.

(For the record, this came from the front page of the MIT architecture department’s online portfolio, a collection of the recent work of which they are apparently most proud.)

Is it me, or has the level of BS in the humanities risen to a point that transcends the usual academic norm? I used to believe that every era has its valid place, and progress was always made, but I’m now starting to think that the intellectual charlatans sitting on faculties of art departments around the world may just be the present-day equivalent of the ancient Sophists. The more I listen to humanities academics, I’m increasingly convinced that future civilizations will look back on our times as a dark age for the arts.

Enough with the April Fool’s Day!

Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I hate April Fool’s Day. You have to put up with no end to stupid press releases from humorless company drones who think it’s the height of cleverness and wit to announce a fake product (oh, you got us again Google!), lame jokes from coworkers, fake news stories, etc. And here’s the worst part of all, the only true joke of April 1st: you know it’s all coming. Doesn’t anybody else see the inherent abject absurdity of a day of scheduled practical jokes? It’s like a suspense story told backwards. Except it lasts all day.

Let’s end this crap, ok? Let’s make next year’s April Fool’s joke be that nobody does anything that day, but secretly plans to really screw somebody in May.

Maybe there is something to astrology…

With the impending birth of my first child coming up in late May, I decided to see if there was anything to astrology. I did a survey of famous people of substance whom I respect: Richard Feynman, Obama, John Adams, Einstein, Ron Paul, Ayn Rand, Margaret Thatcher, etc. It turns out they all, every single one of them, had birthdays in the Fall or Winter, with a few in Spring. Not a single one in June or July.

Kookery about planetary alignment aside, might the environment of the child’s first experiences shape their thinking? I can’t imagine any baby whose first impressions of the world consist of pool parties and people in hot pants turning out to be a person of substance. But maybe my observations were just due to the fact that people simply have less babies in the Summer for some wierd social reason?

As a control I then did birthday checks of the worst human beings I could think of: Pamela Anderson, Jessica Simpson, Tom Cruise, Kanye West, Courtney Love, George Bush, and the worst person to walk the planet since Hitler: Linsday Lohan. Their birth months? June, June, July, June, June, July and July. Incidentally, George Bush is the only world leader I could find who was born in either June or July.

This isn’t scientific, but nor did I have to cherry pick. This shit is real. Gestate faster, Michele!

Update: I’m relieved to find out that a few good friends were born in June. So, astrology is rebunked. But July is still highly suspect…

Final Update: Alex just squeaked in before the buzzer, born May 28th, 2009. Good boy, Alex.

Thanks to for help with the research for this article.