Random Personal Archives

July 17, 2010

Book Review: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

Good book, with serious caveats. It was probably a bit overpraised when it was first released over a decade ago. But no one had done it before, or as well, at least in English.

Continue reading "Book Review: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 09:23 PM | Comments (1)

June 27, 2010

Statements Never Uttered By Any Female, Ever

My instrumentation and research have identified 5 statements never ever ever uttered -- at least sincerely -- by any human female since the emergence of our species. Young, old, good, bad, radical, traditional, gay, straight, drunk, sober, right-wing or left wing, Palin or Steinem, hijab-bedecked or pole-dancing, none have ever said these and meant it.

Continue reading "Statements Never Uttered By Any Female, Ever"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 12:34 PM | Comments (3)

April 15, 2010

Unrelaxing Auto-Blood Pressure Machine Incident

So I go to one of those in-pharmacy automated blood pressure machines. It will auto-grip my arm, and then squeeze it and tell me my blood pressure and pulse.

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2010

(Not quite) Gout Diary: THIS HURTS!

{Turns out it's an osteoarthritis of sorts, but close enough} DAY 1 – OMFG this HURTS! Toe humongous. Surrounding joints tender.

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2010

Coolest political party names

Were these two rival parties the coolest political party names ever ? (Well we did have the Whigs, and the British had the Roundheads).

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2010

Luckiest or Unluckiest Guy Ever?

Mr. Tsutomu Yamaguchi dies at 93.

Yamaguchi, then an engineer . . . was in Hiroshima on a business trip on 6 August 1945 when an American B-29 bomber. . . dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing 80,000 people instantly. . . The badly burned Yamaguchi . . . spent the night in an air raid shelter before returning home to Nagasaki, 180 miles away, two days later. He was in Nagasaki on 9 August when a nuclear bomb devastated [that] city, killing an estimated 70,000 people.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2009

You See Me Cryin' Alright: Aerosmith's Betrayal

O you *$(#ks! You evil b*&^%*s! Yes, you DID INDEED play this song live on this year’s tour! The only time, or almost the only time ever in the like 500 decades since it appeared on, and signed-off, your best studio album. An underrated and underperformed ballad, with Mr. T singing his vocal chords out, it is of similar quality with the mega-hit “Dream On”. Especially with the orchestra on studio. And now that you’re all hissy-fittin’, bone-breaking, catty-snipin’, solo-touring, it may never happen again, you D$%$S. {More ranting below}

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

Deep Linguistics Philosophy Question

If an unheard tree falling in the forest really doesn’t make a sound, is the absence of a word for that an illustration of onomatopoeia? Just asking.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2009

Religionphobic? Take the Quiz

You know who you are, and that you have it. Let’s name this condition with a more clinically pretentious sounding term: fideophobia (via Latin, fides, faith). Fideophobia is the hysterical fear of, or hostility towards, religious faith or those who observe one. I am not talking here about healthy skepticism, or even that Marxian ol’ time anti-religion that’s good enough for Mao. Nor do I mean hostility to specific faiths, which is something rival faith-holders can have for each other. For fideophobes I mean those who, after encountering just about any outward expression of religiosity, have a near-epileptic seizure.

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:54 PM | Comments (8)

November 14, 2009

Book Review II: Like A Rolling Stone -- The Strange Life of A Tribute Band

Another in a series of scribblings about books I've read over the past months.....

Like A Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of A Tribute Band, by Steven Kurutz.

Most pleasurable book I’ve read in a long time. Well-written, amusing and sad, the author takes us on tour with various tribute bands – bands that mimic the appearance and music of more famous rock bands -- a phenomenon that took off with the imitation-Beatles Broadway show, Beatlemania. (He particularly takes us along with Sticky Fingers, a Rolling Stones tribute band). We learn often of might-have-beens, sincere musicians seeking greatness in their own right who, unable to do so, settled for the second-best option: the adulation of looking and sounding like a rock music legend. The author spends less time with, though hints at, many well-adjusted successful tribute bands who are simply in it for the fun and money, and apparently quite happy about where they are, like the all-female tribute band Lez Zeppelin. Despite some emphasis on the more interesting dark side, he happily doesn’t dwell on Deeper Cultural Meanings too much, nor trash the phenomenon. Ultimately the answer given to why these bands exist is provided by their members: it’s a lot of fun and beats just holding a regular job someplace for a few dollars an hour. The book’s a journey, not a destination, and well worth the ride.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2009

Book Review: A History of Pi

One in a series of scribblings about books I've read over the past months.....

A History of Pi, by Petr Beckmann

Couldn’t quite get through all of it but it is a mostly pleasant tour for the nerdy among us, which takes us through the history of mathematics' and mankind’s quest for that famous irrational number which defines and describes the ins and outs of the circle, via the relationships among radius/diameter and circumference and area. The author’s unapologetic politics sprinkle the text with intermittent sermons against the science-retardant aspects of Communism and Christianity. It gets a bit Ayn Randishly over the top stupid at times, but the anti-totalitarian and anti-imperial ("What have the Romans ever done for math?") perspectives give the book a unifying theme that adds readability. Surprise eureka extra factoid: Archimedes WAS the military-industrial complex of his day.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2009

US Health Care Political Debate: The Core (ReDux)

Just narrowing down the feeling that my thoughts from a prior post are indeed confirmed, just by watching the tenor of things in this country. Here I summarize the political conflict more succinctly.

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 09:02 AM | Comments (3)

July 23, 2009

Cool Site: Make/Edit Audiobooks

Record an audiobook and fix others' recordings. Nice concept and site.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2009

Gender Differences, part 657

Just noticed over the course of a lifetime, though perhaps just in my narrow experience or my still narrower imagination, a subtle difference in how the shock-driven harrumph is expressed:

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:16 PM | Comments (3)

May 13, 2009

Lawrence Olivier - Lawrence Olivier = William Shatner

So went an old actor algebra snipe I read somewhere. Which while humorous, I do disagree. But this person here says what I want to say:

The insufferably cerebral and moralistic elements of Star Trek have been bad enough to make even devoted fans wince many, many times, and if the acting often seemed weak it might have been because so few actors can credibly recite some of the drivel generations of actors have been forced to say over the decades.

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2009

Probing Fears and Medical Tests

Three things I fear about the standard prostate exam:

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Posted by Matthew Hogan at 07:06 AM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2009

Irish-American Contributions to America:

My annual, if increasingly outdated, not-so-reverent St. Patrick's Day look at my tribe's contributions to America. The part on the Irish (Gaelic) language is for us language nerds only but Irish-American contributions to municipal corruption, public vomiting, and terrorist fundraising are not overlooked.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)

February 28, 2009

The Future in All Its Facebook Horror

Shamelessly poached via Jim Henley, comes this vision of the future.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2008

Gender Observation & Hair Care

I've come to the realization that no matter how destitute, bankrupt, broke, foreclosed-upon, forlorn, bereft, or empty-handed a woman may be, she always has enough to buy hair color. I picture in some post-feminist future a lost all-woman astronaut exploration trip to the Martian poles. They are found months later deceased in a horrible scene of scattered oxygen canisters, shredded food pouches, and nightmarish evidence of desperate cannibalism. But next to them, piled high in neatly stacked boxes and measured out on smudged plastic instruments, lie carefully mixed shades of Lady Clairol.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 08:59 PM | Comments (2)

September 28, 2008

Paul Newman, RIP

Not a great fan, but always found him likeable. (For the MENA-oriented, he might be especially loved or reviled given his role as The Man Who Made Israel Sexy, leaving the gals sighin' for Zion.) And funny, he didn't look Slovak. Legends have come and gone recently. I am glad though that Newman will probably get the tribute he well deserves, and not the unjust passing mentions another recently-passed legendary influence on modern culture received.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2008

Astronomers detect God (or could it be Satan?)

Sonya: “But if there is no God, then life has no meaning. Why go on living? Why not just commit suicide?”

Boris: “Well, let’s not get hysterical. I could be wrong. I’d hate to blow my brains out and then read in the papers they found something {gesturing skyward} .”

-- Love and Death (Woody Allen)

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2008

Norman Whitfield, RIP

Entirely too brief attention to the loss of someone who belongs up there with Lennon-McCartney; Brian Wilson; Rodgers and Hammerstein; Jagger-Richards as a creator/producer of songs that seemed timeless and classic when they were fresh and new. I Heard It Through the Grapevine; War (what is it good for?); Smilin' Faces; Just My Imagination (Runnin' Away with Me); Ain't Too Proud to Beg; even Car Wash. To name but a few. Sad. Very sad. Hard to beat something like this; I do believe that's the man himself being portrayed behind the studio glass at the start of the video.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 01:15 AM | Comments (2)

September 10, 2008

September 11, 2001 and me

Abusing my journal privileges, I add below a story I sent off in a rambling hurry to a now-defunct internet news service right after the 9/11/2001 events happened. I add new stuff in { }'s to clarify and clean up some text and background. Some good guesses, some less so. People got mad that I warned against calling the attackers cowards, something I still regard as a no-brainer. But it's easier for me, as I don't assume all courage, or even non-cowardice, is intrinsically admirable.

Continue reading "September 11, 2001 and me"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:38 PM | Comments (4)

July 05, 2008

The Declaration of Independence, modern edition

My belated July 4th present is an idea I have had germinating several years: rendering the US Declaration of Independence, my all-time favorite historic document, into a more modern prose and lingo, to see how it sounds . Despite my normal wise-guyish tendencies, this is not satire or sacrilege (at least not intentionally), but an exercise that might hopefully make the old document more relevant, accessible, and comprehensible. I am somewhat arbitrary; I keep some of the older language -- "men" stays as "men", "creator" as "creator" -- though the "manly firmness" line (minds out of gutter, please) I adapt to "firm steadfast". I take some liberties with editing as well. It is a work-in-progress and it is clear from the changes that the slightly antiquated inflated prose of the original has its timeless unique beauty and appropriateness, and the original language can still hold up well. (But I still have trouble with the structure and meaning of the "denounce our Separation" phrase.) And a little irony is allowed: I do get to use "military contractor" in an ironic but accurate way.

Continue reading "The Declaration of Independence, modern edition"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

June 24, 2008

Wanted: A Cure for Envy Deficiency

People work and even pray to acquire virtues. But I need a vice. A certain particular one. Forget "vice", let's use an old-fashioned word - "sin", because it's one of the classic seven deadly ones. Now, I am not short of vices, but one I do lack feels like some kind of vitamin deficiency. So I beg divine favor to give me some of that four letter word which sounds like a two-letter word: envy.

Continue reading "Wanted: A Cure for Envy Deficiency"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 11:53 PM | Comments (6)

June 03, 2008

R.I.P. Harvey Korman

For those of us of a certain age in the USA, Harvey Korman was a funny performer on TV and in Blazing Saddles, among other things. (:"The Count de Monaaaay") But I especially liked this write up by a contemporary to myself in age who described us being raised, through Korman on the Carol Burnett show, “on a borscht-based diet of slapstick, ethnic exaggerations and groan-inducing puns." Holy cow! That's my range of humor exactly. Curse you, Harvey Korman. RIP, and now go do... that voodoo ... that you do ....so ....well. Looks like I'm not the only one to wish him that.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:10 PM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2008

Before the Bell Tulls - Best Classical Rock Performance

Before I die, God, please allow me to play all of Glenn Cornick's Bach bourree-bolstering bass guitar on this most excellent adaptation of a "classical" composition by a rock-era band (Jethro Tull). Yes, to play all the way from the traditional opening through the jazz and hard rock adaptation breakouts, and back again to the traditional. (But it's ok to skip the bizarre gas masks at the very end of the videoish thing from the pre-video hippie era.)

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2008

Your American English Accent Divined

For this side of the Atlantic people only, a test of American English regional accents. It came out correct for me, divining my Noo Yawk origins, although the results appear to be generically regional (N. East) in determining accent origin rather than very local. But for each of doze of y'all who may reckon to be fixin' to enjoy some soda pop (soda pap?) and do some regional American linguistics, pack yaw caah in the havid yad, and give it a try.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 02:11 PM | Comments (9)

January 13, 2008

Transcription Software q's: "Dragon Naturally Speaking"

Although I never met a dragon, and certainly not one which speaks naturally, there is software with a related name. If anyone has thoughts, suggestions, recommendations, advice, offers, counteroffers, estoppel, promises, considerations, puns, etc. on "Dragon Naturally Speaking" or any other software where one can drone on verbally and have it automatically typed out, please share. I mean, is it reasonably time-saving, or is it like state of the art OCR namely, generating gibberish sprinkled with occasional words, but doing so in this case for the vocal chords, rather than printed text?

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:41 PM | Comments (5)

December 09, 2007

More Brains Equals Less Happiness (with related Jumbled Thoughts on anti-Bush/anti-Jock sentiment)

Too little time to ramble appropriately. But here's a jumble of semi-related issues on nerd alienation, anti-Bushism and anti-jockism. First, the comments to this posted article on growing up brainy but inevitably unhappy are interesting, even touching (the comments are more interesting than the article). Though myself a fully formed non-jock last-picked-for-any-team somewhat "brainy" nerd, I nevertheless experienced less trauma than these folks did with "jocks" and other less eggheady types. Perhaps because the school environments I had were not too pro-jock, and were definitely pro-nerd. (That didn't stop all of the usual expected adolescent brutality and social ineptness coming my way, however). Then, I jump below to a bunch of slightly related half-formed theories here, going from the social exclusion of nerds to a distantly related political one: a working theory that alot of anti-Bush personal (not political) sentiment is fundamentally anti-jock resentment by nerds. To which discussion I append an appreciation of jocks.

Continue reading "More Brains Equals Less Happiness (with related Jumbled Thoughts on anti-Bush/anti-Jock sentiment)"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 11:53 AM | Comments (11)

December 01, 2007

Need Gadget-Geek Info: Vinyl to Silicon

I am hinting around for a Xmas present: a device that has a turntable, a CD thing, and the necessary software so that one can transfer the contents of the old vinyl record to a CD. I saw this device in a consumer-ish outlet (did not get product name); does anyone know of the worthwhileness/reasonable pricing (USA) of such products or particular models or alternatives.? I imagine there are also legal issues of reproduction, but that's for another day.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 01:12 PM | Comments (5)

November 26, 2007

The Ultimate Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I think I stumbled on the ultimate example of a self-fulfilling prophecy the other day. Go to a social event with your spouse and introduce him or her as "my future ex-[wife/husband]". No, I didn't do or have this done to me. Yet.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2007

Beowulf ynne thae fylmmen? Hwaet tha fukkke? Godes yrre baer.

That great hard-of-hearing epic, Beowulf, the one that actually begins with a shout of "WHAT!" (spelled Hwaet!), has made it onto the big silver mead-hall screen. A great line from one review says "as you may remember from Cliff's Notes. . . .", but your humble servant actually has read the thing in its original, um, English and always wondered how, aside from some good monsters, this drama-less one-dimensional Dark Age gangsta rap could possibly be made into a good story. I haven't seen the film yet, but I shouldn't have been surprised at Hollywood's ingenuity in that area: they made stuff up.

Continue reading "Beowulf ynne thae fylmmen? Hwaet tha fukkke? Godes yrre baer."

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 01:35 AM | Comments (4)

October 26, 2007

Petty thoughts: She's not worth it

An "oldie" of sorts, like me the listener, on the radio. Tom Petty's Listen To Her Heart. And the opening line that I hated then and now. So I just have to say this these many years later.

Continue reading "Petty thoughts: She's not worth it"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2007

Jiggle the Key: Things I Should Have Known before 30

This vanity entry is part of a series I hope to compile for future children of my own or others. These are things that most humans know or should know early but I never learned til age 30. This entry is "Jiggle the Key". You see, until about age 30, if I put a new key in a lock and it didn't turn, I'd give up and declare it didn't work. Or if a door wouldn't open, I wouldn't yank and shake until it did. First try, a failure, then that was it. Jiggle the key. Bang the thing. Refeed the dollar into the change machine a few times, the card into the ATM. Now most people learn this at 5, but I was instead asking others to help (like a girl! -- sorry for the sexism), moping about frustrated, waiting for another place or opportunity. (Next entry on this topic: look at the ball when you swing).

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 12:30 AM | Comments (9)

July 02, 2007

Ayn Rand Had Nothing to Do with it, OK?

I am a "classical liberal", a libertarian, or whatever it is. Brilliant, dumb, or neither, but just for the record: Ayn Rand had nothing to do with it, OK? Sentences like this just keep cropping up, though: "Ayn Rand, the Russian émigré novelist and philosopher who inspired more people toward a combined emotional/intellectual commitment to individual liberty than any other figure in the 20th century" or book titles like this: It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand. No, it didn't. Thank you. And "Objectivism" is stupid too.

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 04:34 AM | Comments (9)

June 10, 2007

Working on the Jane's Gang

First, there's Janes' All the World's Airships. Ok. Then, Jane's . . . . Fighting Ships. And Jane's Defence....Weekly. Now there's Jane's Defence Forecasts - Combat Vehicle Programmes, and Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.

I don't know who this Jane is but don't you get the impression she must be one helluva bitch?

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2007

Existence: A Parable

Written under the combined inspiration of some thoughts of our Site-mistress, a reading of the Book of Revelation, a cool old Twilight Zone episode, and indigestion. A pre-emptive astaghfir'llah to all.

Continue reading "Existence: A Parable"

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:03 AM | Comments (6)

April 03, 2007

The Windsor: What makes this knot different from all other knots?

OK, I needed a Passover pun. Apologies to all 12 tribes of Israel (plus the Levites, depending on the reckoning.) And Happy Passover too to all. My knot concern, brought on by a recent semi-formal appearance, is this: although a Confirmed Slob, I retain, nevertheless, an almost womanly passion about that clothing decoration called a tie. (Wipe that Freud off your face!) Yet, sadly I don't know how to make the classy cool Windsor Knot, as opposed to the standard wussy and uneven inverted trapezoid. I am the son of a master Windsor Knotter but he got Alzheimer's before imparting the Secret. The Wikipedia link is circular and this page is only deceptively user-friendly, hopeless to follow. Is there anyone out there to help?

Posted by Matthew Hogan at 10:04 PM | Comments (16)