Sunday, September 25, 2005

Goodbye, little guy

Every tail wag was a gift. Goodbye, Driver...we loved you so very much.

"Dear friend, always remember, we don't come here to stay. We come here to go." (Shanghai Diary) As do our faithful four-legged companions.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Doleful Ghost's Guide to...

This is one of the funniest things I've read recently...and it's probably absolutely hilarious if you know your English ballads.
(Hat tip The Resplendent Mango)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Political Philosophy--An Approximation with Axes

You are a
Social Moderate
(41% permissive)
and an...
Economic Conservative
(73% permissive)
You are best described as a:

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Weelllll...I don't know if that's entirely accurate, but you can't make questions out of broadly-worded statements better suited to essays or short answers (or long papers), not include an "it depends" option, and expect finely-tuned results :)

Personally, I'd probably be inclined towards "Sowellian."

(Thanks to The Tiger in Exile)

On a completely unrelated note, I really think that the Ravel orchestration of Mussorskgy's Pictures at an Exhibition may in fact surpass the original piece. Not that it's not a good piano piece to begin with, but the orchestration is simply brilliant.

At least the name is catchy

The "Warrior Diet"... but they seem to have neglected the prey-chasing strenuous exercise bit in order for the stylish cavewoman (or caveman) to stay fit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pulling the Plug?

When I hear bandied about such breathless accolades as "a bold, courageous voice for reform" or "staunch advocate for reform" or sundry other descriptions, one of the names who leaps to mind (we can all tally our long lists and squabble over them later) is Claudia Rosett. Her most recent Opinion Journal piece "U.N.-Plugged?" focuses on the Sisyphean task of UN reform without a tangible, meaningful re-formation of the institution in its entirety. As she makes clear, such a labor cannot be successful without radical changes in its structure, its accountability, and its internal logic.

Power has since been restored. But Monday's blackout was about as close as anything's come to Ambassador John Bolton's much-quoted line that the U.N. could lose its top 10 stories and nothing would be different. The General Assembly session, continued without interruption in another part of the U.N. complex. The global economy ticked along. The world turned on its axis. On schedule, the sun set. All of which led to a taboo line of thought: What if we simply left the U.N. unplugged?

[...]But in the fleeting twilight moment this past Monday of contemplating a U.N. without power, I did wonder what a new world council would look like, if instead of restitching the creation animated by our forefathers in 1945, we created an institution tailored to our own era--not the 20th century, but the 21st.

The upside of an entirely new U.N. could go well beyond better electrical circuits at headquarters, or more agile computer backup (for a while, the U.N. Web site went out along with the lights). The current U.N. dates back to a time when the frontier of information technology was the vacuum tube, the ascendant philosophy in the developing world was communist central planning, and the kind of war the U.N.'s founders sought to prevent was chiefly the domain of uniformed armies clashing under the flags of sovereign states.

The U.N. founders wrote a charter at the end of World War II filled with wonderful words about reaffirming faith in "human rights" and "the dignity of human beings." They then contradicted themselves in practice from day one by respecting thug regimes enough to provide Stalin's Soviet Union a permanent seat on the Security Council and two extra seats in the General Assembly. They set up a U.N. system that not only failed to prevent a long series of wars but today fails to curb terrorism, or even adequately define it. In other words, to create an inclusive gathering of nations in 1945, our forefathers made some big practical compromises with their lofty ideals. In making those tradeoffs, their priorities did not reflect a world in which Osama bin Laden could surf the Internet.

How is it the notion persists that we're against Progress? Extreme Makeover: UN Edition sounds pretty darn Progressive to me. (Incidentally, having walked through the Taj Mahal in AC, the Home Edition crew will be doing the remodeling, not Donald.) I'm not up on all the details of my news, so correct me if I'm behind the times, but why the resounding silence from the evolving constitution folks? A couple more shenanigans from the UN and we might just own this issue--meaning you'd lose not only a consensus-building opportunity, but a chance to, well, play with some nonjudicial directed evolution.

Notice has been served...On to the progressing part! Or rather, to the drawing board...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spectacular, spectacular

I'm clearly not procrastinating, since this is utterly biological...Those of us who don't get the National Geographic Channel won't have to wait much longer: their In the Womb program will be available on DVD shortly! I don't know if I could be more ecstatic: I've been longing to see this since finding out about it last year, and heard it get rave reviews the other day from a grad student in a neighboring lab who's seen it at least five times.

Hmmm, apparently tonight's theme is development...

Monday, September 19, 2005

When in doubt, look it up...

Amazon, may its days in the cyberhaze be long and prosperous, informs me that help is on the way. The relevant exam is next Monday, but this should come in handy later as well: since the final is inclusive, the spectre of kinetics shall haunt us until December. A far more pleasing event is also scheduled for next Monday--Chromatin and Chromosomes in Development. Now that is hot.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Uh oh...

You know you're in trouble when (as if you weren't already before)...the reaction kinetics schematic for the general model of "enzyme reactions with interaction between a substrate and a (metal) modifier" is three-dimensional.

Woe! Alack! *sob*

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Classic Dame?

Carole Lombard
You scored 14% grit, 14% wit, 47% flair, and 35% class!
You're a little bit of a fruitcake, but you always act out in style. You have a good sense of humor, are game for almost anything, but you like to have nice things about you and are attracted to the high life. You're stylish and modern, but you've got a few rough edges that keep you from attaining true sophistication. Your leading men include William Powell, Fredric March, and Clark Gable. Watch out for small planes.

Complemented by The Classic Leading Man Test

(hat tip Expat Yank)

Monday, September 12, 2005


I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my little brother the Econ major--who is therefore an Excel Grand Poobah-in-training--for helping me with a graph so I can finish my problem set and go to bed. We don't know where in the family this Econ interest came from, but it apparently comes in handy! I was most concerned that the problem set would be tricky, but it does not appear to be overly difficult. Of course, I could have it utterly and completely wrong, which is not unheard of. Nevertheless, if you might have or know of a job opening for an Econ major (in his senior year at a very well-regarded school)...let us know, eh?

I would also like to document his statement that when he has a Flat-coat of his own, he will consider naming it "Stata." :-D Personally, I thought it would be adorable to have a pair: say, "Adenine" and "Thymine"...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Memoriam...

...for the innocents and the heroes this tragic day, only four years ago.

It is up to us, the living, to
remember and to stand firm, so that they shall not have died in vain.

"If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, so that my children may have peace." --Thomas Paine.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

On the Inside

Megan Cox Gurdon, one of my favorite columnists, has her customary Friday NRO column up--she focuses not on politics or blame and responsibility, but rather on the most fundamental question: searching for the truth of who we are as a people. This is no easy question...I urge everyone to read it. An excerpt:
I can remember, only four years ago, how wonderfully secure it was possible to feel as an American. We seemed to be loved and feared by foreigners in roughly desirable proportions. At home, we were a bean supper kind of populace; a covered-dish-delivering people who smiled at our neighbors. We were, it is true, no longer a nation that bowled together, and it’s not like children in most towns and cities could safely play on the street after school any more, and there were sharks in the ocean and Congressional interns going missing, but still —

Sitting on the sofa, blinking and sniffling, I realize that what I have been feeling, beneath the jolly toy-gathering, cheque-writing do-goodery, and the Dr. John-playing, and the tender preparations for a new baby, is cold fear.

September 11th ripped away any shreds of childlike belief that our government —
our Government — made us safe from foreign baddies. Worse, for me, is what this
last week has shown: That Americans really are not different from other peoples;
that we are not protected from the Hobbesian beast within; that in the worst
circumstances, we would, many of us, be spoon-stealers.

Of course, as with September 11th, Hurricane Katrina has produced countless acts of goodness and generosity, but I have been scarcely able to hear them. For me they have been crowded out by the horrible stories of child rape in the Superdome, of savage murders, slit throats, shots fired at helicopters, of looters shooting rescuers out of their boats. In wartime accounts, one reads of parents hiding their daughters, but surely not here — yet if barbarism can erupt in one American city, can it erupt in others?

Any manifestation of barbarism is serious. Nor will "desperation" suffice as an answer or an excuse: those are not acts of survival or defense or anything like. Mrs. Gurdon's "barbarism" is far more appropriate: those are deliberate acts of aggressors against civilization--cruel, vicious, destructive. Harsh words are for harsh acts. And yet--civil order did not fail everywhere, Biloxi being a notable example, and the nasty and brutish have not won, not just yet.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Adventures in Cooking

My family and some of my friends probably know that my attitude toward cooking has changed drastically in the past two years: despite my mother's attempts, I steadfastly refused to learn to cook during my early years (well, I could boil water). She wisely decided not to press the point and, knowing that I like food too much to starve, declared that "you'll learn when you have to." And so it was. But unfortunately, all good things must come to a close, and the day came when I not only could no longer frequent the beloved Tower Club, but also had to move halfway across the continent. Hence the summer of 2003 involved grudgingly learning a few basics and having to touch and slice raw meat. (All right, the latter I'll never enjoy.)

But somewhere amid the dreariness of 1L year (perhaps when I became convinced my professors were trying to wring out of me any creativity Princeton had tried to cultivate), there came an awakening: cooking was fun! It was creative! Most of all, cooking was liberating! Although I may not yet be earning the money to feed myself, I am in a small way providing for myself. (I'm not trying to be facetious or disrespectful, just pointing out that this is an area in which others had taken good care of me; now it's my turn to take over that area.) Plus, despite the fact that the vast majority of my cooking is highly experimental, it's pretty hard to fail entirely :) ...Baking from scratch is a different story, I suppose: there it is possible to fall flat...

The creation of which I continue to be most proud is last year's Chipotle and White Chocolate Liqueur Chocolate Sauce--equally good on white meat and brownies. Tonight's entry, though was inspired by a) procrastination (can't say I'm not honest) and b) a simple but tasty lemon pepper mango veggie 'n noodle dish. Briefly stir fry pieces of carrots and sugar snap peas, seasoning with a bit of olive oil, dash of lemon pepper seasoning, and mango dressing. Combine with whole wheat or other healthy-ish noodles & peas; reseason if necessary; and sprinkle a variety of cheese if you wish--tomato basil feta worked surprisingly well. Would also work well with chicken, if you remember to defrost it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Things One Discovers When Channel Surfing While Cleaning One's Apartment

For instance, VH1 now* has a reality show called "Hogan Knows Best." I initially met it with great skepticism, suspecting it was just more bad "reality" TV. However, after watching for a few minutes, it might not actually be that bad: at first glance, the family doesn't seem overly disfunctional (one never knows, however). For instance, in this particular episode, his wife and two kids are concerned that he is bored with retirement and has nothing to do, so they dedicate themselves to occupying him by challenging him to golf, then tennis, then Pilates...the final scene is him taking an old wrestling buddy to Pilates :P So, there you go. Kind of sweet, really!

*Since this is the first I've seen of VH1 in months and months, it might not actually be new, I dunno. As you can see, pop culture and I aren't very well acquainted.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Goodbye, Mr. Chief Justice

Chief Justice Rhenquist passed away tonight.

Rest in peace.

Processing Hindsight/Aftermath

A pretty sensible WaPo editorial regarding planning for evacuating those for whom escapting an impending natural disaster is difficult, prohibitively expensive, or simply not possible to do on their own is up today. As the editorial points out, this includes a variety of people: "[those who] for reasons of poverty, infirmity, distrust of officialdom, lack of transportation or lack of information -- cannot be counted on to leave their homes after an evacuation order."

[Personally, I'm now glad that the Folks were able to reason me into a car. I realize that's on a purely personal and somewhat selfish note, but there you have it. If something did happen up here and I a) knew about it, b) took it seriously, and c) were able to get to the car, not only would I be helping out in general by getting the heck out but I could also take other people with me if they needed it.]

Zacht Ei reports that the Dutch have dispatched a ship without being asked and their water management expertise has been requested. I know we have our differences, but to our friends in the Netherlands--Thank You!

The Quizzie Habit Returns

What? You thought I'd given up and gone cold-turkey? No such luck.

You Are Likely a First Born

At your darkest moments, you feel guilty.
At work and school, you do best when you're researching.
When you love someone, you tend to agree with them often.

In friendship, you are considerate and compromising.
Your ideal careers are: business, research, counseling, promotion, and speaking.
You will leave your mark on the world with discoveries, new information, and teaching people to dream.

Hmm...every so often, a quizzie predicts correctly on the first try.

Tentative Steps...

...along a path both new and old. The Armchair Nomad is back to the Middle from her summer in DC (wonderful in so many ways) and end-of-summer travels home and to California for a beloved friend's incredibly fantastic wedding. Both the beautiful bride and dashing groom are fellow '03s!

Despite my concerns that everything would be filled, I have been able to find a lab in which to do the first rotation, and will be coordinating with at least one other lab for one of the later rotations. (PhD students do 3 rotations, MS students have the option of doing 2 or 3--since I'm working on dredging up the memories of all the biology that was theoretically crammed in my gray cells once upon a time and am relearning most lab things from the ground up, I think it's probably best to do 3 rotations.) Anyway, the first rotation will be through a fly lab that works on, among other things, Proteoglycans' roles in development and morphogen gradient formation.

Ideally at the end of all these rotations, I shall finally be able to do dilutions correctly...