Friday, June 13
Stu Greene Muscle Car Fund Candidate #3
I got a complaint that the Javelin was "too hatchbacky", so by way of illustrating that I like a very wide range of muscle car styles, I offer this ad for a 1966 Plymouth Satellite. I'm not sure what the difference is between a Satellite and a Plymouth GTX; they both seem to have the same body and judging from the ads they both had a 440ci V8 available. And yet the Satellites are definitely cheaper - $14k will maybe get you a hardtop GTX in similar condition. Incidentally, the current fund total of one dollar will not get me any muscle car at all, so please donate via the Amazon honor system link on the right. Rest assured that if I got this car the first thing I'd do (after pulling a lawn-job in that perfectly manicured yard) is replace the pimp-daddy wheels.
Questions? Check the NBAQ.
Thursday, June 12
I just got a copy of John Derbyshire's new book, Prime Obsession. Since I've thinking about prime numbers, and since I had a few minutes this afternoon, I wrote a quick little subroutine to find the first 65,535 primes (since that's how many I can fit in an Excel column). I was very proud of myself for realizing that you only have to check each number to see if it's divisible by other primes less than its square root. This saves a lot of processing time. Nevertheless, my work computer is pretty crappy, so I had to start it running right before I left work, and I'm not at all sure it won't crash before it gets to the end. Exciting stuff! So this is what it feels like to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Wednesday, June 11
At this moment, there is a big-ass benzene fire at one of the many chemical plants on the Houston ship channel. Yawn! It must be Wednesday. It must be Pasa-Get-Down-Dena, Texas. The Port Delivers the Goods, again.
Last weekend my folks were in town so The Boss and I took Friday off and took them to see the St. Peter and the Vatican exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This was probably the best museum exhibit I've ever seen. The first part centered around the tomb of St. Peter and the construction and adornment of the two basilicas directly over it. The second part consisted of a vast array of papal artifacts (including lots of vestments and several papal rings) and liturgical trappings.
Catholic tradition holds that St. Peter was crucified (upside down at his own request) in a circus outside Rome, and that his body was buried on the nearby Vatican Hill. The Emperor Constantine later built the first basilica such that the altar was placed directly over the tomb. That basilica stood for something like 1200 years (I didn't have time to record many dates, my time being taken up with gawking slack-jawed at all the finery) before it was replaced with the current one. I thought the best parts of this exhibit were the mockup which placed you up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as if you were Michelangelo, and the original and reproduction sculptures from St. Peter's square. I think Heidi's Protestant sensibilities took a bit of a hit from the skull fragments and fingerbones contained in the ancient reliquaries. Unfortunately, the construction exhibits relied pretty heavily on contemporary architectural sketches, at which I could only look so long before my eyes started glazing over.
On to the "papal life" section which started with a good explanation of the convocation and election process and all its varying traditions. Next was a series of vestments, slippers, miters, staves, gloves, and so on. The mind boggles at the thought of actually wearing all that stuff at once. One room contained liturgical devices such as chalices, monstrances (which are used to display the eucharist), and missals (liturgical books). My favorite parts of this section were the tiara presented to Pope Pius VII [second article] by Napoleon, covered with jewels previously looted from the Vatican and deliberately sized too small for him, a miter from 1929 in the art deco style, and surprisingly, a crystal goblet and tin plate forming a makeshift chalice and paten and used by Catholic priests at Auschwitz, later presented to and used by the Pope. With the exception of that last example, absolutely everything was decorated with the utmost skill and detail. In fact, nearly everything was overdecorated to the point of absurdity. But if you're an artist or tailor commisioned to create something for the Vatican, there's no way you're going to hold back. You can't pawn off B material on the Pope.
Again, in addition to being a once-in-a-lifetime tour, this is probably the best museum exhibit I've ever seen. It will be in Houston through July, then it travels to Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati, and San Diego. I highly recommend trying to see it if at all possible, especially if you are Catholic.
Tuesday, June 10
Stu just sent me this link from Snopes.com about Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis. That got me thinking about another great Pittsburgh athlete John "Frenchy" Fuqua with his amazing fashion sense and his own cheering section, "Frenchy's Foreign Legion."
While I am writing about sports, let me just mention how happy I am that the Mighty Ducks lost. I can't help but root strongly against any sports team that (1) has an affiliation with Disney and/or (2) has a name that ghastly!
Monday, June 9
I was sorry to read this article about the success of Apple's iTunes venture. I'm actually rooting against the music industry's wising up and embracing alternative economic models. The sooner the whole corrupt, anti-talent mess collapses, the sooner we can get back to an honest system of patronage, and the sooner I can commission my own personal progressive-rock opera.
According to Sitemeter, someone located and accessed this site by searching for "CFS and laughing" on Google. I suspect they were looking for something about laughter as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. What they got was a chicken fried steak review. I shall leave it to the reader to decide if this was a superior topic.
HINT: of course it was.