Throttle Open Wide

MidasMulligan: “(We didn't know what had happened after the first one, but after the second I knew immediately is not accidental - you know that distinct noise jet engines make when they open the throttle? That motherfucker actually opened it wide - in essence, floored it - in the last couple of seconds before it hit. Sorry about my language - still hard to even think about this).”

Just a quote that I remembered about, earlier today, upon finishing William Langewiesche's part 1 on the collapse of the WTC towers in The Atlantic Monthly's July/August issue. Apparently all three parts (excerpt of part two) will be made into a book, and if the two remaining parts are even half as good as the first, Langewiesche deserves a Pulitzer.

Quote that made me remember the above link, from the Langewiesche piece (part one): “[The plane that struck the South Tower] was minimally loaded that morning for the Boston-To-Los Angeles run, with only sixty-five people aboard and about half of the maximum fuel, and as it approached the building it weighed about 137 tons. It was flying at about 586 mph, which was 150 mph above the airplane's designed limit at low altitude. In the cockpit the overspeed warning must have been warbling loudly.”

Not that the pilots were paying much attention.

Langewiesche has written a lot about airplane accidents, and his piece on the ValuJet crash is especially good, and argues that “"in complex systems some accidents may be 'normal' -- and trying to prevent them all could even make operations more dangerous”.

Maybe it's about time I start a "Favourite Authors List", complete with pronunciation guide for the hard-to-pronounce ones, like Langewiesche.

25 Questions Men Want to Ask Women

25 questions men want to ask women by Ted Kluck

Why no link? Stupid piece of crap, the URL changes every half hour or something. Well, the questions can be found here.

Every question here is on our minds. No, seriously.

I'd be more than satisfied if just #25 alone were answered.

[I thank Felix for the link]

Amis Swings at Hitchens

Martin Amis swings at Stalin and hits his own best friend instead by Anne Applebaum

Christopher Hitchens is one of my favourite authors. Apparently his friend Martin Amis' book about Stalin is crap, which is the point of the above-linked article. Despite what Applebaum writes about Hitchens (and the disagreement I have with much of Hitchens' politics), it doesn't dissuade me from liking Hitchens' rhetorical flair and passionate nonconformity.

Blah, all I wanted to do was brag that I've read three of Hitchens' novella-length books (seen here; too lazy to link each book) and all his recent Vanity Fair and Atlantic Monthly articles and can't get enough of him--er, his writings I mean.



The hooligans over at The Daily Nonsense present a subsite of photos of pseudo-shops (possibly infringing on trademarks of Mr. Pseudo himself, Paul of pseudodictionary and pseudofamous, er, fame), which are eateries that, in the words of Puffy, "fuckin' bite" on established brands. My favourite (with only two entries) are the Mac's pseudo-shops. Just because Mac's is the quintessentially Canadian convenience store brand (even though it's really just a knockoff of 7-Eleven).

Oh, and check out the hottie eating the chocolate donut. Mmm, chocolate.

Off-Duty Bush Home on the Range

Guardian Unlimited: Off-Duty Bush Home on the Range

“''I'm able to clear my mind and it helps me put it all in perspective,'' Bush said as his pickup bumped across a field, country music playing on the radio. 'Problems don't go away when we're here, but you can see them in a different light.'”

That's pretty funny, you gotta admit. Like, what a redneck! Actually, I was looking to find President Bush's physical routine and diet. This is a guy who has the most stressful job in the world, but who also runs a 7-minute mile. Middle-age Men Try To Keep Up with President Bush's Fitness Routine

In a moment of indiscretion, talking about his fitness initiative, he said: Bush said the following: "I expect you to -- I think you're -- I know, I don't think, I know you're a better worker if you exercise on a daily basis." He knows he doesn't think?

From his physical examination in 2001:

“Exercise: The President currently runs (on average) 3.0 miles, 4 times weekly. He also routinely cross-trains with swimming, free weights and elliptical trainer.”
“Resting heart rate (seated): 43 bpm”
“The President is in the top 2% of men his age in cardiovascular fitness. This fitness level would place him in the Excellent category for men 40-44 and Superior range for men 45 and older.”

Remarkable Conflict of Interest

George F. Will: <q cite=""">Unlike the NFL and the NBA, both of which adopted their basic economic arrangements after (and because of) the advent of television, baseball's economic model predates radio. And flight. And the internal combustion engine. Today, as when the National League was founded in 1879, locally generated revenues stay with the local owner.

It's weird that Lying in Ponds gave Will a 100% partisan score (on the side of the Democrats, no less) for mentioning that he was part of the same committee which featured George Mitchell. Interesting: George F. Will advises both the Baltimore Orioles and the San Diego Padres, which, in the opinion of one, due to his (Will's) serving on the committee he mentions in the article, constitutes a “remarkable conflict of interest”.

The Sanctity of Elements

Meg Hourihan: “Nielsen speaks on behalf of the users' wants, and points a finger at us developers for using these elements in non-standard ways. But the blame does not lie solely with developers. Many developers do not choose to make bad design decisions; they are forced to because of circumstances.”

Whoa, attribution theory in full effect here.

A Beautiful Mind's John Nash

Chris Suellentrop: “A few things in the movie, of course, are just plain wrong—characters and scenes are compressed, events prettied up—but the fudges are mostly forgivable, given the difficulty of whittling a nearly 400-page book into a two-hour biopic.”

A Beautiful Mind was a really good movie, primarily because I identified with the social awkwardness of Nash (but not the genius nor the dementia), and was intrigued by his wife (or at least the movie's version). Roger Ebert said “is attracted to his genius, is touched by his loneliness, is able to accept his idea of courtship when he informs her, 'Ritual requires we proceed with a number of platonic activities before we have sex.'” Not that women like these are numerous by any means (and not that women would give a man who uses the type of come-ons that Nash used in the movie), but I buy the fact that this can be a reason for a woman to be attracted to a man like Nash.

The article fills in the important blanks of the movie in brief form, saving us from having to read the book on which the movie was based.

Recycling Subsidy

Robert Book: “Since wastepaper is a major input to the production of new paper, municipal sponsorship of recycling provides a significant implicit subsidy to the paper industry.”

It should come as no surprise that the author is an economist from the University of Chicago, which is notorious for it's neoconservative economists (Milton Friedman being the archetype).

Picking up the Pieces

Peter L. Bergen: “If the attackers [on Sept. 11] were not motivated by economic discontent, then, what drove them? Religion, of course -- although not everyone is ready to fully admit the role of Islam in September's attacks. In her essay in How Did This Happen?, for example, the religion scholar Karen Armstrong doth protest too much when she says that the Koran tells Muslims they "may never initiate hostilities ... and aggressive warfare is always forbidden." Her claim is simply false. Some verses in the Koran, it is true, seem only to allow purely defensive wars: "Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those attacked, because they have been wronged." But the Koran also exhorts the believers to aggression: "When the Sacred Months are past, then kill the idolaters wherever you find them." Turn the other cheek this is not. Bin Laden, in fact, quoted this very verse when he declared his war against the West in 1998.”

This very much parallels Alastair Johnston's argument that there is a myth of the Chinese preferring non-violent strategies in dealing with potential conflict.

Much to like in this review: like the counter-evidence that the United States is belligerent towards Islamic groups and countries; that the United States should do a better job of selling itself to Middle Eastern countries; that the United States media is too U.S.-centric. And ooh, in one of the books there's apparently an essay by Niall Ferguson, who has argued that Britain's entry into World War I was the worst mistake of the twentieth century. He's apparently, in his essay, argued that an American Empire would do the world some good (he's probably a believer of the hegemonic stability theory). Great, as if I didn't already have enough to read.

First Palestinian-Israeli War

The First Palestinian-Israeli War by Leon Wieseltier

A piece that is anti-Palestinian, pro-Israeli, but anti-Bush Administration (particularly Dick Cheney). A war is raging in Israel, and, as wars go, it doesn't matter who starts it, but who ends it. He seems to be differentiating between Middle Eastern Anti-Americanism and non-Middle Eastern (read European) Anti-Americanism, which is probably just that the Middle Eastern variant is violent whereas the European version is all talk.

8 glasses of Water Myth

Yahoo! News: No Need to Guzzle All That Water, Expert Says

"[Dr. Heinz Valtin] hopes people will be relieved of the guilt of not getting enough water, and of the expense of buying bottled water to drink throughout the day."

I'm relieved about the former, yes, and the latter doesn't really affect me. Tap water is of extremely high purity, when compared to the developing world, and is fine. My rule of thumb: drink when I'm thirsty. Now if I could only master the rule of thumb of eating only when I'm hungry...