Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another from the "made me laugh" file.

It happened during World War II, when Aptheker, a white Jewish Communist from New York, commanded a group of black solders stationed at an Army base near Pollock, La., a town with a nasty sundown sign [a sign saying something like "Nigger, Don't Let the Sun Set on You"].

As part of their training, the soldiers were required to complete a 25-mile march. Aptheker and a black sergeant decided to march through Pollock -- at midnight.

"It was all arranged by the men," Aptheker recalled. "As we approached Pollock around midnight . . . we all began singing 'John Brown's Body' at the top of our voices -- a hundred black men with rifles and one crazy white man in front with a pistol."

From the article found here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

This video is funny. That is all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

This (from the article here about Philip K. Dick) made me laugh out loud:
Also that year, the scholarly journal Science-Fiction Studies published a special issue devoted to his work; full of New Left and neo-Marxist analyses of Dick's Laingian, existentialist, and anti-capitalist themes, it provoked even more unwelcome visits from French intellectuals-whom he drove away by blasting Linda Ronstadt at top volume, and whose words of praise he invariably reported to the authorities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Human intuition is a very bad at reasoning about certain problems. For example, consider the classic "Monty Hall" problem: there is a game where there are three doors. One of the doors has a prize behind it, and the other do not. You pick one door, but don't open it. The host of the show then opens another door that 1.) is not the one you picked and 2.) is not the winning door. So now you've picked one door, and another door is now revealed as not the winning door. There are now two unopened doors, the one you picked and another one. The host offers you the chance to switch your choice to the other unopened door. Does it make a difference to your chances of winning if you do so? The surprising answer is yes. You go from having a 1/3 chance of winning to having 2/3 chance of winning.

Now consider a slight variation on that. You've made your initial choice of door, when an earthquake hits and happens to open a door that 1.) is not the one that you picked and 2.) is not the winning door. The host then offers you the choice: do you want continue to bet on the door you initially picked, or switch to the other unopened door. Does it make a difference to you chances of winning? Perhaps even more surprisingly, no. Your odds are 50/50 either way!

Anyway, it took me a long time to see why the first is the case, although I was able to finally convince myself by argument why it was the case, instead of by brute mechanical force. However, to figure out the answer to the earthquake scenario, I actually plotted out on a piece of paper all the possible outcomes. Only after doing that was I able to reason out why it was the case, working backwards (I ended up also plotting out the possible outcomes of the first case (the "classic" Monthy Hall problem, too, in order to compare them.)

Oh well, I just wasted like an hour and a half just thinking about the second problem. (And about as long thinking about the first one, but that was about a year ago).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

There are 50 movies I've seen for the first time this past year (April 2007-April 2008) thanks to Netflix. I also rented a few TV shows (mainly The Wire, which was the reason I started subscribing to Netflix in the first place--it was expensive to rent all the DVDs from Blockbuster one at a time), and a few movies I'd seen before. I put a star (*) next to those that I rated five stars. Some movies would doubtlessly get bumped up to five stars, or bumped down from five if I were to rewatch them.

Scenes from a Marriage*
Solaris (Tarkovsky version)
I Fidanzati
The Firemen's Ball
The Godfather*
The Marriage of Maria Braun
The Godfather, Part II
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
The Joke
La Jetee / Sans Soleil* (I'd seen La Jetee before, but not Sans Soleil)
Fat Girl
The Great Dictator
La Guerre Est Finie
Bringing Up Baby
Les Bonnes Femmes
Cries and Whispers
His Girl Friday
Early Summer*
Tokyo Story*
Late Spring*
Masculin Feminin
Sansho the Bailiff
Elevator to the Gallows*
Double Indemnity*
Dial M for Murder*
The Blood of a Poet
Equinox Flower
Blood Simple
Black Girl
A Story of Floating Weeds
The Conversation
Mean Streets
The Cow
Early Spring
Goodbye, Lenin
The Big Sleep*
Andrei Rublev*
Woman in the Dunes
Murmur of the Heart
I am Curious (Yellow)
The Pornographers
The Decameron

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kemialliset Ystävät/Sublime Frequencies videos

Here are some even better, longer Sublime Frequencies trailers, but don't allow embedding:

Niger: Magic and Ecstasy in the Sahel
Musical Brotherhoods From The Trans-Saharan Highway
Isan: Folk and Pop Music of Northeast Thailand
Folk Music of the Sahara: Among the Tuareg of Libya

Sublime Frequencies

Dead People's Things

1. Abruptum "Ex Inferno Inferiori"
2. Nadja "Breakpoint"
3. Lau Nau "Kivi Murenee Jolla Kävelee"
4. Lovely Midget "Red Hut"
5. Edward Artemyev & Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov "Untitled {from the soundtrack to Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky}"
6. oval "Untitled {track nine from the album ovalprocess}"
7. Ben Frost "Theory of Machines"
8. Scott Walker "Jolson and Jones"
9. Deathprod "Dead People's Things"


Download here
98.66 zip file