Friday, October 15, 2010

Remember "shovel-ready"?

That was a popular criterion used to allocate "stimulus" money last year - is the project shovel-ready? Will it put a few unionized construction guys to work now? Gee, it turns out that "shovel-ready" means that projects requiring planning, design and bidding, like road construction and repair, often didn't have a chance to get funded under the deadlines in the "stimulus" bill.
Hopefully it worked better elsewhere, but in this area (Whittier), here is where the stimulus went: beautification projects. Instead of fixing the cracked and broken streets, we got new flower beds down the median. When asked, city officials said the time frame on the stimulus money was such that they weren’t able to do the process (identify needs, make plans, get bids) for getting the streets fixed and meet the stimulus package deadlines, so they did what they could. Beautification projects take much less time to plan and implement. So, instead of repairing infrastructure, we got something else that needs to be maintained and uses more water in this drought stricken area, but the city can say they got their share of the stimulus money.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A list of fallacious arguments

It's really quite comprehensive.

Dason de Viger: 1629-1747

A death notice in The Scots Magazine of 1747:
Jan. 13, 1747. At Lourdes, in the diocese of Tarbes, in France, aged 118, Sieur Dason de Viger, who had been a Captain in the guards under M. d'Albret. He married after he was 100 years old.
The same, from volume 14 of De Navorscher, which seems to have been a Dutch gentleman's magazine (which phrase back then didn't have its modern pornographic connotation):
Dason De Viger, gewezen kapitein der guardes van den maarschalk D'Albret, + 13 febr 1747 te Lourdes, in 't stift van Farbes, oud 118 j. Met zijn 100ate jaar was hij nog hertrouwd, en 14 dagen vóór zijn dood nog op de jagt geweest.
Google translates this from the Dutch as:
The Dason Viger, former captain of guardes of Marshal D'Albret, + 13 Feb. 1747 in Lourdes, in 't pin Farbes, aged 118 j[aar, years]. In his 100th year he was still married, and 14 days before his death was still on the hunt.
Marshal D'Albret, under whom our aged hero served, is probably César Phoebus d'Albret, Count of Miossens. The Abbé d'Aumont, who had taken a box at the Comédie that the Marshal commanded for his own, was heard to remark, "A fine Marshal! He has never stormed anything except my box!"

Dr Hamilton's travels

Dr Alexander Hamilton of Maryland embarked on a tour of the colonies in the summer of 1744 and wrote entertainingly of his travels. On the evening of May 31, 1744, he stopped at Tradaway's (or Treadway's) inn, ten miles north of Joppa, Maryland:
Just as I dismounted at Tradaway's, I found a drunken Club dismissing. Most of them had got upon their horses, and were seated in an oblique situation, deviating much from a perpendicular to the horizontal plane, a posture quite necessary for keeping the center of gravity within its proper base, for the support of the superstructure; hence we deduce the true physical reason why our heads overloaded with liquor become too ponderous for our heels. Their discourse was as oblique as their position: the only thing intelligible in it was oaths and Goddamnes; the rest was an inarticulate sound like Rabelais' frozen words a-thawing, interlaced with hickupings and belchings. I was uneasy till they were gone, and my landlord, seeing me stare, made that trite apology, "That indeed he did not care to have such disorderly fellows come about his house; he was always noted far and near for keeping a quiet house and entertaining only gentlemen or such like; but these were country people, his neighbours, and it was not prudent to disoblige them upon slight occasions. "Alas, sir!" added he, "we that entertain travellers must strive to oblige everybody, for it is our daily bread." While he spoke thus our Bacchanalians finding no more rum in play, rid off helter-skelter, as if the devil had possessed them, every man sitting his horse in a seesaw manner like a bunch of rags tied upon the saddle. I found nothing particular or worth notice in my landlord's character or conversation, only as to his bodily make. He was a fat pursy man, and had large bubbies like a woman. I supped upon fried chickens and bacon, and after supper the conversation turned upon politicks, news, and the dreaded French war; but it was so very lumpish and heavy that it disposed me mightily to sleep. This learned company consisted of the landlord, his overseer and miller, and another greasy-thumbed fellow, who, as I understood, professed physick, and particularly surgery in the drawing of teeth.

He practised upon the housemaid, a dirty piece of lumber, who made such screaming and squawling as made me imagine there was murder going forwards in the house. However, the artist got the tooth out at last, with a great clumsy pair of blacksmith's forceps; and indeed it seemed to require such an instrument, for when he showed it to us it resembled a horsenail more than a tooth.

The miller I found professed musick, and would have tuned his crowd to us, but unfortunately the two middle strings betwixt the bass and treble were broke. This man told us that he could play by the book.

After having had my fill of this elegant company, I went to bed at ten o'clock.