Friday, 4 April 2008

John Cole: Degenerating into a parody of a really bad Kos diarist

Surely this and its ilk are a really bad put-on. Or John took the same bad acid trip that Sully took a couple of years earlier after Bush broke his heart over gay marriage; it’s not exactly easy to see the difference.

Then again, I’m sure he makes more in a week from BlogAds than I’ve seen in five years from Google Ads, so who am I to argue with success?

Term of the day

Choropleth map. Amazing that I got through 32 years of my life without knowing what to call a geographic map that you use to illustrate quantitative data (like this one from the Midwest paper or this one from a few years ago). And, since nobody outside cartography knows what “choropleth” means, I’ll probably never use the term again either.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

On the potential of becoming a public figure

One of the more appealing aspects of the new job is that it’s an opportunity to make an impact at an institution that serves a community that historically has not been served well by higher education. The community in turn seems more enthusiastic than most about the university, in spite of a rather marked “town-gown” gap in terms of the demographics of the university faculty versus the student body and wider community.

The downside of this arrangement for those not comfortable in the limelight—a category I firmly count myself within—is that nary a happening at TAMIU fails to make the newspaper. Case in point: a goodly share of my future department is quoted in a single article in yesterday’s Laredo Morning Times, a fate I am likely to share in the future.

The potential silver lining: I doubt I’ll ever become as ubiquitous as Frequent Commenter Scott. Being a sharp-dressed, vaguely handsome tall guy trumps everything I can bring to the table with the media.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Gotta love Network Solutions

The reason you can’t read this (yet): Network Solutions won’t let me renew my domain name until I prove to their satisfaction that I am who I say I am, and I can’t transfer my domain to any of the registrars who believe I am who I say I am because I need to prove I’m me to NSI first.

Thursday, 28 February 2008


The only thing to do today while the car gets fixed and I’m stuck at home: grade my American politics exams. There’s no point in dealing with job stuff until after Friday afternoon, by which point the wave function will collapse and I’ll either have options or not. So I’ll grade my exams quietly and wait for Pep Boys to call.

Update: This would have been a better theory had I not left the exams in my office yesterday night, even though I could have sworn I put them in my bag.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Adventures in UPS package shipping

Just in case it isn’t clear, this package is supposed to be coming to my house. Which, when I checked this morning, was not in Mississippi.

February 15, 2008       04:35:00 AM     JACKSON MS US   Departure Scan
February 15, 2008       01:09:00 AM     JACKSON MS US   Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       09:53:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       07:59:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       06:48:00 PM     NEW ORLEANS LA US       Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       10:14:00 AM     MESQUITE TX US  Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       08:23:00 AM     MESQUITE TX US  Arrival Scan
February 14, 2008       03:41:00 AM     OKLAHOMA CITY OK US     Departure Scan
February 14, 2008       12:27:00 AM     OKLAHOMA CITY OK US     Arrival Scan
February 13, 2008       08:55:00 PM     TULSA OK US     Departure Scan
February 13, 2008       08:38:00 PM     TULSA OK US     Shipment picked up from seller's facility

I guess I won’t be reading The Last Colony on my trip to [interview location redacted] after all.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Excitement of a sort

I managed to get through all of The Ghost Brigades while working the polls Saturday; we averaged a measly 7.4 voters per hour, mostly Democrats enthralled with Obamamania.

In other news, I have a job interview next week; it’ll make for a very busy week, since I have to go to San Jose for TLC just after getting back from the interview, but I’m looking forward to it and the people there seem very excited to have me come visit.

Last, but not least, this isn’t the news you want to read the first day you use the streetcar (and a ¾-mile walk) to get to work.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Replacing the FUBAR CD/tape deck

I finally had it with the messed up factory tape deck in the car and ordered the Sony MEX-BT2500 to replace it. In the end, for the money I decided that the built-in Bluetooth connectivity would be more useful than competing units with either HD Radio (which is going nowhere fast and only seems to be available built into a half-dozen head units) or iPod control (which is apparently clunky on most units, and which probably isn’t any safer to use while driving than just fiddling with the click-wheel), and there wasn’t any point to migrating to an integrated XM or Sirius receiver from my still-serviceable SkyFi2. I may, however, pick up one of these dealios to get my iPod to integrate wirelessly with the Bluetooth stuff in the receiver. Allegedly even a technical incompetent like me can install it myself; I guess if I can build PCs from components putting a radio in a car shouldn’t be too hard.

Now watch my car completely self-destruct the day after I install it.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Chinese food logic

Why would you open a new Chinese restaurant about six blocks from another Chinese restaurant when there isn’t a single Chinese restaurant for two (driving) miles around my apartment? Would it kill someone in this city to open a Chinese place near Whole Foods?

Get in touch with your inner preclear

Via Matthew Stinson on Twitter, Jerry O’Connell channels Tom Cruise:

Now we just need a Katie Holmes/GMA parody to complete the set.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Bleep this

Just for the record, Mass Effect is not Luke Skywalker meets Debbie Does Dallas. Besides which, after playing ME for over a day (including seven hours wandering aimlessly in the Mako and three hours riding up and down elevators) to get to the minute of dirty bits, you deserve to be rewarded with something for your perseverance… but there’s nothing there you didn’t see on NYPD Blue in 1995, at least in the sexual realm.

In other words, being a kickass space marine is pretty darn cool, but you’re not exactly getting Hot Coffee (warning: Wikipedia article with possibly NSFW image) at the end.

Edited to slightly rephrase my thoughts on the matter.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Delurkez-vous, maintenant

Amber points out that it is “National Delurking Week,” although I can’t find any official website designating this week as such.

Nonetheless, if you do read Signifying Nothing (if only for the comments), it’s time for you to post in the comments and come out of the closet or other badly-lit room where you read this fine blog.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas

I realize this is a little late for readers on the East Coast, but Merry Christmas nonetheless!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Mungowitz Shorn

An event three years in the making: Mike Munger donates his hair to a worthy cause. As someone who has mocked my ex-boss’s coiffure in the past (I believe I referred to it as being the result of excessive use of hair product, but cannot locate the post in question), I have to say I’m impressed with his putting his, er, hair where his mouth is.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Latest sign of the apocalypse

Hulk Hogan will be the king of the Bacchus Mardi Gras krewe next February. Hopefully this won’t interfere with his important duties as co-host of the American Gladiators revival.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Adios CompUSA

As Jeff Licquia notes, CompUSA is getting out of the retail business. Granted, there isn’t a lot of stuff there you can’t find elsewhere, and compared to Newegg it’s not exactly a cheap place to get computer bits, but where else in the New Orleans area can I get a four-pin Y cable for my computer’s internal power supply or an SATA-to-IDE converter?

Not to mention that with Circuit City hemorrhaging money like there’s no tomorrow, sooner rather than later we’ll basically be down to Best Buy and the electronics section of Wal-Mart for those computer parts you just can’t live without for the 2–3 days it takes Newegg to get them here.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Observation of the day

Is it just me, or is it increasingly the case that Crooked Timber is simply a collection of daily rants, often unsupported by any meaningful evidence except links to Wikipedia articles, against libertarian bloggers (some of which‡ mysteriously disappear later into the ether) by whiny European leftists? You’d think that a bunch of left-leaning academics could come up with something better to offer their readers than content that could have been written by second-tier Daily Kos diarists.

Case in point: this John Quiggin screed that takes a shotgun approach to going after apostate libertarians who never much cared for the Libertarian Party and champions The Presidential Candidate Who Shall Not Be Named as some sort of paragon of libertarianism (well, except for the whole anti-free trade, anti-open borders, anti-gay marriage thing… basically he’s Pat Buchanan with an M.D. and more support from hot chicks). Quiggin also thinks Nixon destroyed an electoral movement that had its day in the sun twenty years before 1968,† but that’s neither here nor there.

Then again, what the hell do I know; I’m the only person in my precinct* who voted for the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate last month, so clearly I’m some sort of idiot to begin with.

Update: Quiggin’s screed also mischaracterizes Cato’s position on the War in Iraq. I’m beside myself with surprise as to how such a blunder could have made it into his post.

Observant readers will note that this is a post of the essential type that it complains about, absent the gratuitous Wikipedia links. Whether this is by accident or design is left to the reader to determine.

‡ The articles, not the libertarian bloggers.
† George Wallace was from Dixie, and was a Democrat, but that doesn’t make him a “Dixiecrat,” and contra Kevin Phillips—and Quiggin—Nixon didn’t win in 1968 by coopting segregationists, who by and large supported Wallace. Phillips’ “southern strategy” was, in point of fact, a failure when the GOP attempted to use it in 1970. Read and understand.
* Unless someone else voted absentee or during early voting for Horne too; all the stats available show is that nobody voted for Horne on election day (it’s a direct transcript of the voting machine tape), but all the early and absentee votes are aggregated separately.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Troester gets all the cool search queries

Nick’s blog is asked how one should go about fixing heteroskedasticity. By contrast, my Google hits fall into roughly two categories: people who Google on Friday or Saturday asking for “fun things to do on Saturday,” and people who want to know who the jackass applying for a job at their university is. I’m pretty sure I have a better—or at least less disappointing—answer to Nick’s question than either of those.

New and exciting ways to injure myself

This morning I lost a conflict with the sidewalk on St. Charles Avenue. Thankfully all that was damaged besides my right palm and left knee was my ego (which was probably due for some deflation anyway).

Chris 0, St Charles Ave sidewalk 1.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

I really, desperately need a life

In a recent phone interview, I pretended to be interested in golf and fishing just to be able to act like I cared about recreational opportunities. Next time I think I’ll ask about jogging trails and bungee-jumping. And wind-boarding. Or base-boarding. Or free-basing.

I’m pretty sure none of those are real outdoor activities, but somehow I think people believing I have a serious coke habit would make me a more interesting job candidate than the truth, which is that I’m just plain boring. The most exciting things I’ve done in the past month outside of work, in rough descending order of excitement:

  • I spent about 14 hours in my car to visit Memphis and see Ole Miss lose to Florida one weekend.
  • I visited a friend who’s just starting out in a job in Baton Rouge.
  • I watched a lot of TV.
  • I sent out a paper for review.
  • I got my laptop back from CompUSA in Metarie.
  • I did laundry a few times.

Why I can’t just be a normal person and admit my non-work interests mostly revolve around watching Pardon The Interruption and The Office and being generally socially awkward are beyond me.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Interesting things I've seen but am too lazy to blog about...

… can now be seen to the right on the front page, or via this link.

What I quasi-accomplished today

What I did today:

  • I spent most of the morning reading Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Recruiting by Bruce Feldman, which is Feldman’s behind-the-scenes account of spending a year on the recruiting trail with The Orgeron and his staff. You can almost read it as a sequel to Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which featured the other side of the process—Ole Miss’ recruitment of genetic freak Michael Oher. Definitely a good read, although it’s the second time I’ve seen or heard the term “grayshirt” without a definition.
  • I went into the office to finish working on the second batch of job applications for next fall; I am now caught up except for one job I can apply for without a post office visit. The Spreadsheet of Death™ is now up to 53 entries. I still need to email my contacts at a few places to let them know applications are on the way. Maybe, after four years, having cultivated a social network in the discipline will finally pay off—although I’m not holding my breath.
  • I went to the post office to mail all of those applications. The USPS is now $30 richer. I suppose it (and killing off most of an “off” day) beats making Interfolio $130 richer, though.
  • I took my 7-month-old refurbished MacBook in for a warranty repair at CompUSA. Until yesterday, I didn’t even know there was a CompUSA around New Orleans. I also picked up one of those snazzy new Mac keyboards.
  • I watched last night’s Patriots/Bengals game at between 20× and 60× on my TiVo. I don’t think I missed much.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The contents of my APSA nametag barcode

Using the SWIPE Toolkit, I found out what Big Brother knew about me in Chicago due to the barcode on my name tag:


Nothing you couldn’t have figured out with Google, I suppose.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Quiz of the day

Via Megan McArdle: are you smarter than a freshman at Harvard?

Thursday, 6 September 2007

New toys

It was a busy week in gadgets around the homestead:

Cell phone: I replaced my aging and bulky Samsung A940 with an LG Musiq LX570. I was originally tempted by the fancier RAZR2, but couldn’t justify spending the extra $150 for stuff I’d never use.

Motherboard and CPU in my office computer: I ditched the mysteriously-crashing (and also aging) AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1.15 GHz) and Soyo motherboard in favor of an Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 (2 cores at 2 GHz), Intel DG965RY motherboard (I went with integrated graphics, since I have no plans to do anything fancier with 3D stuff than run Compiz Fusion), and 2 gigs of memory. I still need to figure out how to get Windows to boot again, but that’s not all that critical since the computer spends 99% of its life in Linux anyway.