Bagged my first Messier

Two nights ago I went out with the telescope to look at the Moon and the planets. Right now the moon is so bright and lately the air has been so hazy that even though I would like to start looking for other kinds of objects, it’s got to wait for some time that I can get up into the hills and away from the City. But I ended out there until after the Moon had not properly set but was at least behind some trees, and decided to begin my hunt for the Messier objects.

Most traders ignore this vital truth about altcurrencies

RonPaulCoin wallet

I’ve been wanting RonPaulCoin(RPC) for some time. I’m not bullish on the currency, in fact, I think it’s a bad idea. Naming a currency after a personality, especially a living one (Teslacoin could be kind of cool) is a terrible idea. But especially because Ron Paul is such an anti-fiat-currency goldbug, I thought it would be funny to have one RonPaulCoin.

Das Keyboard: feel the noise

Das Keyboard close-up

It seems a little strange to refer to Das Keyboard as «the Das Keyboard» because of course «das» means «the». It’s something like asking for the «hot salsa picante sauce», except that «keyboard» is not German for «keyboard», placing Das Keyboard firmly in the realm of branding. Das Keyboard isn’t even made by a German company—the keyboards are manufactured in Taiwan and they are designed and sold by a company in Austin Texas.1


Condition or fitness. Can be thought of as an analogue to mettle, but regarding functional rather than material qualities. Fettle is how something is made in contrast with mettle being what something is made from.

Found in the 25 January 2014 edition of The Economist.

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley

I vaguely recall reading Brave New World in my late teens or early twenties. I was a bit disappointed by it at the time and I suspect I may merely have skimmed the book. It didn’t leave a big impression the first time.

Image of What Is God?
What Is God?
Jacob Needleman

Many years ago in the midst of the results of some very poor choices, a friend exposed me to the Tao Te Ching. I read it in an evening, pondered over parts of it, and purchased my own copy the next afternoon. I purchased the Gia-fu Feng/Jane English translation at a store on Polk Street in San Francisco called Rooks and Becords, which sadly does not exist any longer. I recommend the coffeetable edition of this particular translation for its gorgeous photography, but the one I picked up that afternoon was a much smaller paperback.

Complete and utter

Complete. Or utter.

I came across this in the first paragraph of an old post and cringed. First, «complete and utter» seems redundant. Perhaps it isn’t always; the two words have somewhat different definitions if very similar usage. It’s possible that one would want to specify both that something is not only totally whatever attribute is being ascribed, but that attribute in the most extreme manner.

Economists value life more than you do


Bryan Caplan’s 20 January post at EconLog presents an interesting question of the sort that is often overheard at parties and coffeehouses as an example of a question that ought not be asked. How do you put a value on a human life?

The question comes up after some judge or jury awards damages in a wrongful death suit, or some news item in nature both lurid and legalistic.

Image of Spring Snow: The Sea of Fertility, 1
Spring Snow
Yukio Mishima

The first book of Yukio Mishima’s epic Sea of Fertility tetralogy is a gorgeous, lush exploration of the complexity of a darkly conflicted character.


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