Today was day 1 of my New York City tour; Shellock and I went to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Some comments:
The Intrepid: A very cool museum built in an Essex-class aircraft carrier that was active in WWII and Vietnam. I’m not much of a military buff but I can definitely appreciate the feats of engineering involved in the design of an aircraft carrier, or of the various planes on display. One highlight was a mock-up of a submarine built in 1774 (!) and used against a British ship in the Revolutionary War; it is basically a barrel with a couple propellers and a pump (all hand-operated).
MoMA: Spectacular. I like the SF MoMA but it doesn’t even compare to New York’s collection. Lots of famous pieces by all the great modern artists, I especially enjoyed Hopper, Van Gogh, Matisse, Magritte, and a bunch of others I’m leaving out. However, the blank white canvas in San Francisco is better than the one in New York. Also, the museum cafe is quite good (but pricey).
New York Public Library: Closed Mondays, apparently. I may try again tomorrow if I’m in the vicinity.
Weather: Hot and humid but not as bad as it could be. Still, air conditioning and cold drinks were both in demand. Hence:
Random Chocolate Shop: I forget the name but it was near a bunch of Italian restaurants on the west side (something like 44th and 9th). We indulged in some “iced drinking chocolate” there which was quite good.
Overhearing: I kept an ear out for something worthy of submission to Overheard but haven’t heard anything yet. However, I had the experience of saying something and realizing a second later that what I had just said would be a prime candidate for Overheard. I’m not sure whether it would be cool or disturbing to see it actually turn up there.
Tomorrow: I’m not sure yet, but I’m thinking about Ellis Island.
I meant to post some filler-type stuff before I left, but lab priorities took over that time. Anyway, my flight to New York was uneventful and I can post the filler now that I’m here. A Friday Random 10, and below the fold, the key to that post from last week with the first lines of favorite books.
- Fischerspooner, “Invisible”
- Feist, “Inside And Out”
- Belle & Sebastian, “I Love My Car”
- Björk, “I Miss You”
- Jawbreaker, “Sluttering (May 4th)”
- Franz Ferdinand, “Come On Home”
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “Restless Sinner”
- Nirvana, “Lithium”
- Ratatat, “Breaking Away”
- Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”
This one might have made for an interesting divination. Anyway, the books from last week:
I’m off to the East Coast on Friday! Currently I’m planning to spend Saturday and Sunday in Connecticut, and Monday and Tuesday in New York City doing touristy stuff. Even though I lived pretty close to NYC for five years I never really hit many of the major tourist spots.
Anyway, the tourist attractions are mostly pretty obvious, but what else should I do when I’m in New York? I know some of you are familiar with the city—where should I go to eat, drink, shop, hang out, overhear?
Politics is everything with the Bush Administration, and in the latest effort to bring the government in line with the new political correctness, we have:
Earth dropped from NASA mission statement
NASA has reportedly eliminated the promise “to understand and protect our home planet” from its mission statement.
That statement was repeatedly cited last winter by NASA climate scientist James Hansen, who said he was being threatened by political appointees for speaking about the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions.
But NASA officials told The New York Times the elimination of the phrase that was used by Hansen was “pure coincidence.” The statement now proclaims the agency’s mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”
I suspect the change is not directly related to Hansen, but rather, as the article mentions,
One observer noted results from NASA’s increasing involvement in monitoring the Earth’s environment have sparked political disputes concerning the Bush administration’s environmental policies.
In other words, it’s part of the “ignore it and maybe it’ll go away” approach to global warming. (Via Warren Ellis.)
Both Justin and Iskander directed me to this amusing compilation of RPG motivational posters (such as the one Zifnab linked in the recent quotes thread). Somewhat reminiscent of the much-missed Gamer Jargon site.
Of course I have to post this one:
Relatively few scientists are Republicans, but there are days when I wonder why there are any at all. Here’s a quote from the reliably asinine Rick Santorum:
“[M]ost scientists unfortunately, those that certainly are advocating for this [embryonic stem cell research], and many others feel very little moral compulsion. It’s a utilitarian, materialistic view of doing whatever they can do to pursue their desired goals.”
I’m used to hearing that atheists are amoral, but hearing this said about scientists is new to me. Well, maybe Santorum doesn’t think there’s much of a difference. However, it’s a pretty sure bet that scientists have a higher approval rating than he does at the moment.
(Via Rob Knop via Mixed States.)
Scott Aaronson has a great anecdote from a philosophy talk. The speaker makes up for the sheer implausibility of his claim with the cleverness of his response to an obvious counterargument.
I posted a handful of photos over at Flickr from Saturday’s festivities. The occasion was
Pi Approximation Day Jonathan and Frances getting married, so many of my friends from my Caltech days were in town, including some I hadn’t seen in years. The wedding was held in Menlo Park, at the height of what passes for a heat wave in the Bay Area. (Attention Catholic Church: please use some of your enormous wealth to air-condition your buildings.) For some reason this blog was a frequent topic of conversation at the reception.
Following the reception a general consensus emerged that salsa dancing was called for. We initially looked for a suitable club in San Francisco, but having a party member under 21 limited our options. Luckily, it turns out that Lemming’s parents (being dance instructors) have a dance floor at their house in a converted two-car garage. This was commandeered for our use as an exclusive, invite-only salsa club, and after a brief lesson for the uninitiated we proceeded to dance the night away.
Only a small number of pictures from Saturday were any good; here’s one from the salsa after-party.
Discussion topic for the comments: suggest an appropriately nightclubish name for our private dance hall. Also, here’s Lemming’s take on the day’s events.
I found this meme over at LiveJournal: pick 10 favorite books and list the first lines of each. Here’s my list, in alphabetical order by author’s family name.
- The gale tore at him and he felt its bite deep within and he knew that if they did not make landfall in three days they would all be dead.
- When I was about eleven or twelve I set up a lab in my house.
- A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy.
- It was love at first sight.
- The call from dispatch is such a provocation it causes him to jerk the cruiser off the street and into a parking lot, slam the transmission into PARK, and just sit there, working up a major case of the red ass.
- Veldt to scrub to fields to farms to these first tumbling houses that rise from the earth.
- Two hours before dawn I sat in the peeling kitchen and smoked one of Sarah’s cigarettes, listening to the maelstrom and waiting.
- When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.
- The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory.
- The Creator sat upon the throne, thinking.
Guess the sources in the comments. Many of these will be easy for this audience. #9 is definitely the easiest; the hardest may be #4 since the line itself is pretty generic. Googling is obviously cheating but checking your own bookshelf probably not.
I said I didn’t get any pictures of Omen when he came by on Sunday, but one of my attempts actually sort of turned out, albeit a bit unfocused. I haven’t seen Omen since, mainly due to not being at home myself. Next week is equally busy, and then I go to New York, so it may be a while until the next Friday Catblogging. Meanwhile: here is Omen doing the please give me treats look.