Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"It's a story from long, long ago," continued the old man. "Once upon a time, there was a wise and able king who eagerly sought out capable people. He ordered that his minister find the smartest person in the entire realm, so as to appoint him the teacher of the prince. One day he could assist the prince when he ruled.

"The minister himself was extremely intelligent. He scoured the land, leaving no stone unturned, until he found the three smartest people. The minister thought of every way he could to test the three. But unexpectedly, he was unable to determine which one was smartest. The minister was embarrassed because the king had instructed him to find the single smartest person in the realm. He had to do something to find out who it was.

"After giving the matter much thought, he came up with a solution. He assembled the three people and asked them to look at five jade disks on a table. Then he said, 'Three of these jade disks are blue and two are green. I am going to blindfold you, after which I will place one disk on top of your head. Then I will remove the blindfolds. You will be able to see the disks on top of the others' heads but not the one on top of your own. You cannot speak nor gesture to one another, and anyone who breaks the rules will be put to death on the spot. The first one to guess the color of the disk on his own head will be deemed the smartest person in the land, and will become the prince's teacher. But if you guess incorrectly, you will be executed at once.'

"So saying, he blindfolded the three smart people and placed one jade disk on top of each one's head. Then he removed the blindfolds. The three people looked at one another for some time, but no one said a word. Finally, one of them got it, guessed the color of the disk on top of his head, and became the prince's teacher. Later he himself became minister and enjoyed wealth and a high position his entire life.

"So what color were the disks on top of the people's heads?"
--The City Trilogy, by Chang Hsi-kuo.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh, very well, here's something: the HMS Beagle Project.
In 2009, the bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth we will launch a sailing replica of HMS Beagle. An icon of scientific progress, she will circumnavigate the globe in Darwin's wake, crewed by aspiring scientists and researchers. They will carry out original research both at sea and on land, updating Darwin's observations, breaking new scientific ground and relating the adventure of science to enthuse a new generation of young students.
The Project's blog is worth a glance as well, and shall presumably wax ever more interesting.

The aforementioned blog informs us that David Attenborough's next project shall be about Charles Darwin.

Finally and best, (indeed, worthy of near immortalization as the O&P Current Pick) is the Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary blog, daily entries from both Darwin's and Fitzroy's journals, plus illustrations!

Well, I again have a number-sorceror on retainer, but I still don't have much of interest, except some really great pictures of sharks. Some fantastic video of these breaching attacks may be found here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sorry for the silence, readers, but our computer is currently dead, possibly very dead indeed. In any case, I have little to report, save that the phrase "unseasonably cold temperatures" is highly irritating to hear on the radio in January.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The following manually type-written letter was on my desk this morning, with a note from my boss:
Please see me about this.

All was sic.
The 90th Birthday made L- the Queen of Queens, and I was happy to share this appreciative Wonder of the World so that it was doubly fun to make for the Employees some Barbecue Pork Ribs (nice Jewish goodies) my annual thank you.

As M- would tell you, I'm looking for a copy of recipe, the one which was name 'L-'s Recipe' which called for a certain type of Stewed Tomatoes from (so they said was in Washington State)raised. And having been a study of qualities of foods in my initial Wholesale Grocery, I called to ask "What particular area in Washington is it?" THEY WOULDN'T TELL ME until I sort of tempted them to be a special so that I didn't complain and guess what, It is going to be given to me to keep out of trouble, and I believe the [Grovery Store] is going to be honored so you all will become famous if M- finds the Soup*which your group called 'L-'s Soup'. *recipe.



Thursday, January 03, 2008

Megan McArdle provides the definitive food quote of the month (yes, I'm aware it's only the 3rd):
I abhor fake meat. If you really want anonymous grade-z vegetable matter pulverized into tiny pieces, assaulted with various chemicals, and then processed into something that at least superficially resembles a chicken muscle, I suggest you have the processing done by a chicken.
Indeed. And, mildly apropos, we are eagerly anticipating the impending delivery of our half a pig, from just a few miles down the valley. And to flaunt again without shame the agrarianism of our environs, Mrs. Peculiar recently noticed the following (paraphrased) on the wall of our bank:
Dear ________ Bank,

Thank you for buying my 4-H pig _______. She is very nice and smart. I hope she tastes good.
I'm sure she did, darling, no doubt she did. And no doubt ours too will attain such glory.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

And the first of 2008: The canyons of far western Colorado, yesterday morning, with Utah's La Sal Mountains behind.

Be sure to enlarge the first two. Even large, Blogger compresses the detail.