Yo-Yo Champion

 Posted by on 23 August 2010 at 1:00 pm  Cool, Fun
Aug 232010

Jensen Kimmitt is the winner of the 2010 World Yo-Yo Contest. Here’s why:

I’m just glad he’s using his powers for good, rather than for evil!

Silly Questions with Silly Answers

 Posted by on 13 August 2010 at 1:00 pm  FormSpring, Fun
Aug 132010

Some very silly FormSpring Questions and Answers:

Being an Objectivist who is able to apply the law of causality to just about everything in the world, and therefore very wise, do you sometimes feel like you’re from the future, or 1000 years old?

Yes, I am a god! I’m nearly omniscient! Have I mentioned that I can levitate sheep too?

(Seriously: I’m not wise, let alone “very wise.”)

GLOCK 21 or M1911?

I like my 1911, but I love my Glocks.

9mm or 45 ACP?

Ah, what an absurd question! 9 mm is for little girls in pink dresses.

What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?

Undoubtedly, a good steak. Lamb chops will also do. Chicken is overrated.


Because existence exists.

Why should one be moral in a world or immorality?

Please try again, preferably grammatically.

You notice how every pop star tries to cross over and become a movie star? Don’t you hate that?


what does is 4+5=

A dumb question.

How did Columbus manage to fit two of every species of animal aboard the Mayflower?

By magic, of course!

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

I’m quite certain that if I were a tree, (1) I wouldn’t be me and (2) I wouldn’t be able to choose what kind of tree I was.

Would you rather be Satan’s slave or a Cheese-slave?

I’d prefer to be Satan’s slave. Satan doesn’t exist, so being Satan’s slave means being no one’s slave. Cheese exists, so I would be a slave to something if I were a slave to cheese.

If you had to give up one or the other, which would it be: your housekeeper, or meat? :)

The housekeeper, definitely. Paul’s pretty good at vacuuming, but I don’t think he’d be very tasty.

Which are cuter: Puppies, kittens, or human babies? by SupaTrey

I’ll have go with kittens because they’re so very scampery and naughty… but with purring!

Doth the lady protest too much?


Questions on Atlas Shrugged

 Posted by on 14 July 2010 at 12:00 pm  Food, FormSpring, Fun, Objectivism
Jul 142010

Some FormSpring Questions and Answers on Atlas Shrugged pertaining to food:

If you could meet one Atlas Shrugged character in real life, who would it be?

Midas Mulligan, so that I could lecture him about wheat not being suitable for human consumption! (He’s the wheat farmer in the valley.)

Hank Rearden has always been my favorite character in “Atlas Shrugged,” but I refuse to imagine him blond. Despite what Ayn Rand says, he has brown hair! I’m also quite fond of Ellis Wyatt.

If the world became akin to Atlas Shrugged and a group of Objectivists retreated to Shea’s hidden valley, would you accept the role of swine farmer to supply the town with delicious capitalist bacon?

Totally. I’d put all the other pig farmers out of business in a jiffy, then I’d expand to lambs and steer.

My horse Tara wouldn’t be happy though, as she’s not too keen on pigs!

And since you’ll be queen of delicious capitalist bacon, you’ll sell pig pancreas as a side business for insulin, yes? by rationaljenn

Oh yes — and desiccated porcine thyroid too! I’ll be running “Bertha’s Pharmacy” on the side.

(Bertha was the name of a pig we had growing up. She got big… and then she got eaten!)


Leonard Peikoff recently gave a fascinating interview with professional magician Steve Cohen.

Among the many topics they discussed were magic, knowledge, belief, deception, art, and entertainment.

Here’s an excerpt:

SC: We often hear the axiom “seeing is believing.” However on p. 319 of Atlas Shrugged, there is a quote from Dr. Ferris’ book “Why Do You Think You Think” that states: “Only the crassest ignoramus can still hold to the old-fashioned notion that seeing is believing. That which you can see is the first thing to disbelieve.”

My question is: what can we trust if not our eyes? What is the nature of belief, and how can someone like me (who is forever trying to convince people of something that is not necessarily true) create conviction in others?

LP: I say that, absolutely, seeing is believing. You can trust your eyes, and all your senses. In fact, they are necessarily valid because the only way to establish any truth is by reference to the sensory data. That’s the basis on which we form concepts and conclusions. If your senses aren’t valid, you can’t even have such a word as valid.

Now people get confused on this, because they don’t distinguish what the senses tell us from the interpretation that we place on that data. If I see a man in a red suit and a white beard and a big stomach, and I say, “I see Santa Claus,” my senses do not deceive me, but my interpretation does.

That’s true of all alleged cases where you perceive something, and then blame the senses.

So for any issue, you must distinguish: what do you see? And what do you make of it? Now a lot of people will see something that they can’t explain, and then come up with mystical interpretations. Whether that’s the occurrence of the seasons, or the tides, the attraction of magnets, or whatever it happens to be. They will resort to inner spirits, God, and so on. Their senses — what they see — is valid. However, their interpretation, their mysticism, is not relevant.

A proper attitude would be, if you can’t explain something that you do perceive, you just say the truth: “I do perceive it, and I can’t explain it.” Half of the things that were not explicable in the past, later became so. And many of the things that are not explicable yet, will be in due course. That would be a rational attitude…

…No rational person would ever think that what a magician performs is more than a trick. You have to go by facts and the conclusions of logic and science. Over the centuries, a tremendous number of incredulous, unthinking people who go by matters of desire rather than fact… Hundreds of thousands who quote seeing “miracles,” and it’s all nonsense. It’s all motivated by emotion. And I wouldn’t even say that these people have a conviction. They just have the mood of the moment.

You have to ask, is that the kind of audience you want?

Being a magician, you are a rare commodity as a mystery-monger. But if you’re claiming supernatural powers, you have to put yourself up against Buddha and Moses and all the rest of them. To me, that would be a desecration for you, with your talent.

SC: Then why would people search out a magic show?

LP: To me, it’s the same category as watching a great hockey player or baseball player, or a pianist, for that matter. When you see a skill that someone has mastered, and are able to experience complete enjoyment of that skill, it’s a pleasure to anyone who values human life and human achievement. I mean, how many people in any field acquire that kind of skill?

I don’t have any metaphysical need to come see a magic show. If I thought that you were going to take me into a supernatural world, I would not enjoy it at all. First of all, I would feel fear. If this guy can suspend the laws of nature, then they are not reliable. They’re not absolute. Who knows what’s coming next? I could fall through the floor, or disappear, maybe disintegrate. Plus, I would lose any admiration of you, the magician. Because if you are a vehicle of the supernatural, why should we give you any credit? Why would we admire you?

There is an absolute, legitimate state called the “suspension of disbelief.” This is not at all the same as wanting to be deceived. If you watch a movie, and you see one person stalk another, you won’t call the police. You know it’s not really happening. On the other hand, it has a reality to you. It’s not just shadows on the screen. You’re pulled into it. You feel fear, apprehension. It’s a state in which you know what you believe, but you are suspending that within limits. That’s exactly what you do when you watch a magician. You know that he is not turning a rabbit into a hippopotamus. But you suspend your disbelief by saying, I watched it happen, isn’t that fantastic. While not considering that somewhere there’s an explanation. As soon as you reach the end of the performance, the audience’s disbelief is no longer suspended. It’s a way of enjoying one aspect of a total. But there is no element of escaping from reality.

(Read the full interview.)

For a nice example of close-up magic with a jaw-dropping finale, take a look at this performance. (Although the dialogue is in Chinese, you don’t need to understand the language to follow the action.):

Silly Questions on Food

 Posted by on 8 May 2010 at 1:00 pm  Food, Fun
May 082010

Some silly FormSpring Questions and Answers on food:

Are tomatoes vegetables or fruit?

Both, from what I understand. Technically, they’re a fruit. Yet in ordinary, cooking-oriented parlance, they’re a vegetable.

Doesn’t EVERYTHING taste like chicken?

No, thank goodness! Chicken is boring! Down with chicken!

Will there be cake?

Perhaps, but if so, only flourless chocolate cake.

Bad Romance

 Posted by on 7 May 2010 at 1:00 pm  Fun, Music
May 072010

Here’s another fun cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”:

For some reason, the fact that their setting and dress is so informal makes it even more awesome. Oh, and the whole thing probably won’t make sense unless you’ve seen Lady Gaga’s video for “Bad Romance”.

X-Ray Answer

 Posted by on 20 April 2010 at 7:00 am  Fun, Health Care
Apr 202010

As mentioned yesterday, this chest x-ray is from a 67-year old woman with chest pain:

Did you notice the broken right clavicle (aka “collarbone”)?

The lesson: Look at the corners and edges of the films. In fact, look at them first before you look at the stuff in the middle. The eye is naturally drawn towards the structures in the middle of the image, so good radiologists cultivate the habit of looking at those structures last.

Otherwise, it’s too easy to get “tunnel vision” concentrating on various abnormalities in the middle of the image, then forget to go back and look at items in the image periphery.

More broadly, it’s important to develop a standard “search pattern” for each type of radiology study. For a chest x-ray, I look at the bones (shoulders, ribs), the upper abdomen, the mediastinum (the white cluster in the middle with the heart, the aorta, the airway, etc.), then finally the lungs.

For other kinds of scans (CT scan of the abdomen, MRI of the knee, etc.), I have a different but standardized visual search pattern. As in much of life, 90% of success in radiology (and medicine in general) comes from cultivating good habits!

Today’s X-Ray: Chest Pain

 Posted by on 19 April 2010 at 7:00 am  Fun, Health Care
Apr 192010

Today’s x-ray is meant to illustrate a standard teaching point from radiology training.

This is a chest x-ray on a 67-year old woman with chest pain. What’s wrong with this picture? (Answer tomorrow.)

(You can click on the image for a larger version.)

Ask Me Anything

 Posted by on 3 March 2010 at 3:00 pm  FormSpring, Fun, Personal
Mar 032010

I’ve been having too much fun on Twitter with this little widget, so I thought I should post it here too:

Beware: It’s fun! So even if you ask me a serious question, you might get a very silly reply in return.

Also, I wonder… will this be the next Twitter?

Update: The list of questions that I’ve answered can be found here.

Opera in the Market

 Posted by on 3 February 2010 at 3:00 pm  Fun, Music
Feb 032010

Unfortunately, the sound quality of this video is sub-par, but I love these kinds of unexpected-but-staged events:

Plus, although I’m not much of a fan of La Traviata, I love the Brindisi.

Oh, and here’s the backstory.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha