Saturday, October 17, 2009

Isn't there an easier way

I read this with considerable curiority this morning:

Scientists create sexual tsunami

Even leaving aside the weird metaphor the headline writer chose, this is an odd article. To summarize, scientists bred a fruit fly that lacked the gene to produce a characteristic pheromone, and to their surprise found that it actually made the flies sexually irresistible to other fruit flies, including ones of the same gender. Even flies of other species were interested.

"Lacking these chemical signals eliminated barriers to mating," Prof Levine said.

This seems like a lot of trouble to get fruit flies all worked up. In the human world, we just get a couple of kegs of beer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Empire is Spells Back

Apparently even Imperial Stormtroopers have spelling homework.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Philadelphia

I think it is fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with Philadelphia. I came here five years ago, sort of by accident, intending to stay only about a year. Ever since, the whole family has been on near continuous alert that we might be leaving.

Fair to say that this makes it a bit difficult to settle in.

Well, now we have our actual ticket to ride - the high Rockies of Colorado. Clean air, space, mountains (snow). We love that part of the world, and have family out there, so we're excited. My wife is set to move out there in November; the boys and I will join her in a few months.

But I think I had expected to be more joyful on leaving. Certainly a couple of years ago I would have been celebrating wildly. Now, I am more equivocal. We've met a lot of good people here in Philadelphia. In fact, I would say everyone we have met has been friendly. God knows Philadelphians can be gruff (and incredibly rude behind the wheel), but by and large, this city turns out to consist of genuine, friendly people who are honestly delighted that you want to live here with them. That's refreshing, and not something I have ever experienced before in all the places I have lived.

And its a city that knows how to relax in a way I like - a hearty meal and a really good beer. This is, arguably, the best beer drinking city in the country. Even cities that might have an equal claim to the beer crown concede that Philly is one of the best. Sure, all the good times add an inch or two to the collective waistline (I cop to this myself), but I think it's good for the city's soul. I am going to miss being able to walk to a bar or restaurant and be reasonably sure of having a really nice experience.

Strangest of all, I have become a Phillies fan. I grew up in Washington, so Redskins run in my veins, but the Washington Senators left town when I was just five. I never had the chance to develop an emotional attachment to them, or any major league team (and don't give me the Orioles - they belong to Baltimore, not Washington. Asking a DC fan to embrace them is like watching a bunch of Phillies fans suddenly have to worship the Yankees. Not gonna happen). Because of my 'Skins background, I will probably never be able to fully embrace the Eagles (though I am more sympathetic now than I used to be), but it's been a really rewarding experience to come to know the Phillies and watch them. I feel like I am moving away from a new friend. It makes me sad.

There is a lot I won't miss - the crime, the corruption and incompetence, the taxes, the driving, the trash on the sidewalk, all those things Philadelphians learn to live with. But I am going to look back on my five years here with some affection.

Thanks Philly. Come see me in the mountains sometime.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fourty, Forty

Brother Geode rightly points out that I misspelled the word for 40 on my previous post. And I think this needs to be addressed.

I like "Fourty." Spelling it "Forty" just strikes me as weirdly sterile. It may be right, but I don't like it. "Fourty" is big and round an satisfying, like spelling the color "Grey" rather than "Gray." I certainly never condone, say, "Threety" for 30, or "Fivety" for 50, but I sure do hope that "Fourty" becomes a standard, acceptable spelling.

So I am not changing it, no matter what. Know why? This is my blog and I can spell things however the Hell I want. I can even say bad words on it if I want. But that would be tacky.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fourty things I have learned living in Philadelphia

1. Hoagies are a cuisine, perhaps an entire food group, unto themselves.

2. It is in fact possible to run an entire city on a volatile combination of inertia and corruption.

3. All mafia jokes aside, when you're in trouble, it's good to have friends among the South Philly Italians.

4. Mafia? There's no mafia. I don't know anything about that.

5. You know that cliché, "Streets so clean you could eat off them”? Whoever first said it was not in Philadelphia at the time.

6. Real Philadelphians never leave Philadelphia.

7. There is absolutely nothing to do at The Shore.

8. Nobody in Philadelphia vacations anywhere but The Shore.

9. No matter how hard they try, the Eagles will never be good enough for their fans.

10. New Jersey is an all together nicer state than anyone gives it credit for. The reverse is true of Delaware.

11. The stuff you get from the tap is pronounced "wudder."

12. You got a problem with that?

13. It may be spelled "Schuylkill," but it's pronounced "skoo-kul."

14. C-Y-N-W-Y-D is a perfectly acceptable way to spell "Kenwood."

15. Even in a town that is home to some of the best beer in the country, many people still drink Coors Light.

16. Even in a town that is home to some of the best beer in the country, many people think that Yuengling is the good stuff.

17. What do you get when you take Philadelphia and Pittsburgh out of Pennsylvania? Mississippi.*

18. Pennsylvania proves that there is at least one state in the Union that has a worse government structure than California.

19. New Jersey proves that there are at least two.

20. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

21. There is no point in using perfectly good road names like "Roosevelt Boulevard," and "I-476" when you can use Mapquest-defying colloquialisms like "The Boulevard," and "The Blue Route."

22. Mapquest often does not work well in Philadelphia.

23. Asking directions often does not work well in Philadelphia.

24. Even Philadelphians are confused by their crazy, poorly marked road system.

25. You got a problem with that?

26. Watch out, there's dog poop right in front of you on the sidewalk.

27. And there also. Sorry.

28. With a few exceptions, everything Billy Joel has ever written is hopeless crap.

29. With a few exceptions, everything that Bon Jovi sings is crap. But it's fun crap.

30. There are still radio stations that play the crap written by Bruce Hornsby.

31. The recycling collectors get to decide what they will take from the curb and what they will arbitrarily leave behind in a big messy heap.

32. The Liberty Bell has pretty much nothing to do with the American Revolution, or anything much to do with Liberty for that matter.

33. Oh, and the crack is actually kind of fake too.

34. The Park Service security around the Liberty Bell is tighter than TSA security at the Philadelphia Airport.

35. There are few airports in the country that suck more than the Philadelphia Airport.

36. Remember your luggage? Kiss it goodbye.

37. Buying alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania is an Orwellian nightmare.

38. Owning a business in Philadelphia is a privilege. **

39. Philadelphians complain incessantly about their city. But you better say only nice things.

40. You got a problem with that?

* I say this, of course, merely for Ironic Effect and I mean no disrespect to my friends in Mississippi, which is obviously somewhat more sophisticated than the non-urban part of Pennsylvania, which even its residents refer to as "Pennsyltucky."

** If, of course, one believes the city government, which levies the unbelievably onerous "Business Privilege Tax," making Philadelphia the only city that taxes both gross revenue and net profit.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Just to put it in perspective

To give put some context on my previous post, consider this.

THAT guy somehow managed to convince THIS girl to go out with him:

Despite the fact that not only did he look like a giant hairball, he was driving THIS car:

The mind boggles.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Old times

Damn, I looked GOOD. No wonder girls were too intimidated to pay any attention to me back in 1986: