May 28, 2004

Thanks!

I'd just like to post my appreciation to One Fine Jay for the marvellous work he did on this site's design. And isn't that rooster on the sidebar handsome? He comes from freefoto.com.

Credits will be sprinkled in appropriate permanent locations, as soon as I can figure out how to make the HTML do my bidding...

Posted by jeffreyb at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

Return of the Flu

Well, it looks like the avian flu has made another appearance in Texas. A supplier to Pilgrim's Pride had to destroy 24,000 chickens at the farm where the infection surfaced.

The reporter cites a 3.4% drop in the company's stock price, but surely there must something else tied to that -- perhaps fears that the infection will spread, or other news of adverse conditions. Twenty four thousand chickens down and a farm that's being fumigated doesn't amount to much on the broader market. From the USDA, here's a report on chicken production in Texas.

Note that the numbers are in thousand head. So in 2003, there were slightly over six hundred million chickens produced in Texas, and around 8 billion others in the rest of the USA.

Posted by jeffreyb at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2004

What kind of cicada am I?

Take the Cicada Test!

I'd rather have been the Teenage Mutant Ninja Cicadas instead.

If you are too lazy to take the test, just go to the all results page and enjoy!

Posted by jeffreyb at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

No Sex, We're German

I tend to look a bit suspiciously at any story that sounds too funny to be true.

Case in point, the German couple that didn't know how babies were made due to their religious upbringing. For example, see Ananova's version here.

I avoid forwarding stories that fail the "smell test" to my friends. I especially avoid using them as jumping off points to make public policy recommendations.

Xrlq and Snopes both do a good job debunking the story (although "unverified" is as far as Snopes is currently claiming).

I highly recommend Xrlq's link; in it he lays out the process by which he came to the determination that the Mirror is probably just demonstrating its usual fact-checking skills on this story.

Posted by jeffreyb at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

Cinco de Mayo

On the 5th of May, 1862, as civil war raged to their north, a Mexican army defeated a French army twice their size. This victory is celebrated today as Cinco de Mayo, and paved the way for the defeat of Maximilian I and the expulsion of French armies from Mexico.

This defeat heralded a new phase of French military history. While not always sufficient to win, France was the strongest nation in Europe -- they may have lost the Napoleonic Wars, but they put up a good fight against a more or less united coalition of everyone else. From then on, the French had the the short end of the stick, facing defeat in the Franco-Prussian wars, disastrous loss of life in WW I, occupation in WW II, collapse in French Indo-China, abandonment of Algeria, etc. etc.

Even a 'misanfrankist' like me can see the downside of this -- a France not able to balance German power in Europe was not a happy event during the first half of the twentieth century. So here's a link to Liberté j'écris ton nom, an organization dedicated to reforming France and putting it back on the right track. There's an interview in English here with Sabine Herold, its pro-American spokeswoman. I'm praying that she succeeds.

Posted by jeffreyb at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2004

Meme time

Via Michele Catalano, and through her, Tim Blair

GRAB THAT BOOK
Via half the Internet, it’s the latest crazy random words game:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

There's actually only one sentance on the page. In snazzy calligraphy:

"Moses enumerated the sons of Levi as he had been commanded by GOD."

This was from Don Knuth's "3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated". Knuth is computer scientist, best known for authoring "The Art of Computer Programming". When he started this task, he decided that there wasn't any typesetting program available that was good enough, so he put the project on hold and spent a few years writing TeX, his other famous creation.

In 3:16 he takes a unique approach to Bible study, picking out verse 3:16 from each book. The rest of you stat buffs will recognize this as "stratified sampling". Each verse is illustrated by a famous calligrapher, and Knuth spends three pages on an exegesis of the verse and book.

The verse quoted comes from Numbers, which I must confess is with Deuteronomy the book at which I'm weakest. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Corinthians I can read over and over, but Numbers and Deutoronomy are both great teachers of perseverance.

Posted by jeffreyb at 02:01 AM | Comments (0)