It’s been a big week for fiction this week at Asparagus Pee – after racing through Life of Pi so The Lady Janet (fka Mrs. Asparagus Pee) could return it to the library on time, I’ve just finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and I recommend them both highly.

Truth be told, there’s a little nonfiction hiding in them as well. In The Curious Incident, for instance, he has a detailed description of what is known as “The Monty Hall Problem.”

The set-up is, you are offered a choice of three doors. One door contains a prize, and the other two doors contain livestock. After you’ve chosen, Monty Hall opens one of the two doors that you didn’t pick to show that it contains a goat, and offers you a chance to pick the other door. The question is, are you better off to switch to the other door or keep your original choice, and the answer is very counterintuitive: you double your chance of getting the prize by switching every time. The intuitive answer, of course, is that it doesn’t matter because having one wrong door revealed makes it a 50/50 chance.

I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this, and I still have a hard time convincing myself, but I do believe you have a 1/3 chance if you stick, and 2/3 if you switch, which is the answer. There’s lots of good sites, some with simulation applets: Monty Hall Listings on Google.

Here’s a philosphical joke site: Profession Jokes – Philosophers, and here’s a sample:

“Descartes is sitting in a bar, having a drink. The bartender asks him if he would like another. ‘I think not,’ he says and vanishes in a puff of logic.”

Survivor FeverI was heartbroken last night when the tribe turned on Rupert. I really, really wanted it to come down to Rupert and Jonny Fairplay – the vote would have been a no-brainer and the best man would have won. But it’s a game – so be it.

I’ve since learned that the ‘All Star’ Survivor is in the works and there’s a good chance that Rupert will be a contestant, so I feel better now. Here’s more info: Survivor Fever – Survivor 8.

Read about me on Amazon.Let’s start today off with a quote from the introduction to Life of Pi:

“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”

I’m only on page XII, but I’m thinking, hey, maybe this guy can write.

So my new favorite song, or earworm, or whatever, is this song Suga Suga (Windows Media) by Baby Bash. You never know, you know?

I continue to be intrigued by the subject lines of many of my spam messages – here’s a couple I got today:

:*^The na_tiona”l i:nfr’ast^ructu’re i;s f;al’li`ng… rgpkydqvlwtob
5squawroot annette bicep toothpick 8 qcymsvt

Al Franken’s acting belligerent again: Al Wants to Fight (via s*T*a*R*e).

It seems that Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull made some disparaging comments recently about American flag-waving that he’s since come to regret. There’s an interesting article on his website. Stars, Stripes, and Union Jacks – The Official Jethro Tull Website:

“Patriotism is the good guy: fraternal, supportive, the paying of respects particularly in the face of adversity. Space shuttle disasters. 9/11. Commemorative anniversaries. Flags are great.

Nationalism is the bad guy: protectionist, isolationist, triumphalist, buccaneering. Flags seen in this context are, I maintain, likely to be resented. “

Naked@The Beatles.comWell, this caught my eye in Sunday’s Target ad – The Beatles are releasing a new version of Let It Be without the overproduced schlock that Phil Specter added. Interesting.

I heard Don’t Let Me Down on the radio this morning on the way in to work, and it sounded great.

There’s lots more good stuff to play with at, including brief samples of all the songs.

Guinness for Strength!

Ah, it just keeps getting better. I’ve been a big fan of Guinness Extra Stout Ale for a long time, and now it’s official – Guinness really is good for you!

Cool Signature, huh?I followed a link today to something called The Best Album Covers that Never Were, or something like that, and it was mildly interesting, but I got excited to see that my favorite fiction author, Kurt Vonnegut, had submitted an entry for Phish. He also has limited edition prints of some of his other art for sale on his website.

I think I may be done surfing blogs. I may just spend the rest of my time mining the archives over at Reality Carnival. This guy is just amazing – if you haven’t already done so, please go over there and play with things like this: In the beginning…

The New York Times has published a list of the 25 ‘most provocative’ questions facing science, and as a public service, I’m going to try to answer them:

(1) Does Science Matter?

For lack of a more elegant alternative, yes. I actually prefer to use common sense and intuition whenever I can get away with it, but they’re notoriously unreliable. Different jobs require different tools, and you can’t really press a sledgehammer into service when what you need is a logic probe.

(2) Is War Our Biological Destiny?

No. War is our biological legacy, not our destiny.

(3) Will Humans Ever Visit Mars?

Yes. It’s inordinately expensive, extremely foolhardy, and completely unnecessary, but we won’t let that stop us!

(4) How Does the Brain Work?

In my case, not very well. Seriously, though, the brain is a terabit wetware multi-tasking multi-threading parallel processing supercomputer that maps heuristically a transform from our sensory inputs to a 4-D model of the universe that it stores holographically in a revisionist refresh process that attempts to minimize power usage and maintain internal consistency. (Duh.)

(5) What Is Gravity, Really?

I don’t know, but it still sucks.

(6) Will We Ever Find Atlantis?

No. She’s long since dropped the two t’s from her name and founded a hugely successful music career on songs like Ironic.

(7) How Much of the Body is Replaceable?

All of it, as long as you do it a little bit at a time. As a matter of fact, human beings replace every molecule in their body about every 7 years, on average.

(8) What Should We Eat?

Things that taste good and aren’t too hard to chew.

(9) When Will the Next Ice Age Begin?

When it gets cold enough.

(10) What Happened Before the Big Bang?

Nothing. Everything. (OK, that’s a bit facetious, but basically, this question is really asking if the 4-dimensional object of our universe, where everything is always happening everywhere all at once all the time has a boundary, and if so, what lies outside that boundary, so I stand by my first answer.)

(11) Could We Live Forever?

Yes, but I’m only 41 and I’m already getting bored.

(12) Are Men Necessary? …

At least this one.

… Are Women Necessary?

Survey says… Yup. Uh huh. You betcha.

(13) What Is the Next Plague?

Hard to say, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with spoiled white mama’s boys doing bad rap. I actually like the Eminem song they’ve been playing to death, but I don’t care how much he slurs his words, “cold water” and “Cole Porter” do not rhyme.

(14) Can Robots Become Conscious?

Probably, but the jury is still out on whether people can.

(15) Why Do We Sleep?

Because bed would get pretty boring if you just laid there in the dark for 8 hours. Actually, sleeps serves two main purposes, to conserve energy while there’s not enough light to do anything productive, and to give the brain-computer time to revise its holographic world-model so it works better the next day than it did today.

Another interesting question is how much sleep is really necessary and if there are better alternatives like Polyphasic sleeping.

(16) Are Animals Smarter Than We Think?

No. We tend to anthropomorphize animals excessively and give them way more mental credit than they’re due. Including us.

(17) Can Science Prove the Existence of God?

No. God is similar to the ether – if you believe, then it’s perfectly obvious that divinity permeates everything, if not, it’s nowhere to be found.

(18) Is Evolution Truly Random?

No. Evolution has to work with what’s already around, which severely limits the range of possibilities both for starting points and viable results.

(19) How Did Life Begin?


(20) Can Drugs Make Us Happier? Smarter?


(21) Should We Improve Our Genome?


(22) How Much Nature Is Enough?

All of it. Within a very narrow range of tolerance, the environment as it exists is both necessary and sufficient to support life as we know it.

(23) What Is the Most Important Problem in Math Today?

I don’t know enough to know. My personal most important problem is that I’d really love to understand why e^(pi*i)=-1. That seems really important.

(24) Where Are Those Aliens?

I believe there could actually be life elsewhere, though I doubt it (too much magic) but I sure don’t think they come here routinely to perform anal probes and build pyramids.

(25) Do Paranormal Phenomena Exist?

No, though like everyone else, I often wish they did.

Elliott Smith – I’m not worthy.

Although I was taken with the song that played during the closing credits of Good Will Hunting, I really first became aware of Elliott Smith when I heard his tribute to the Beatles with his performance of Because in the closing credits of American Beauty.

So I’m drinkin’ some beers last Saturday, and I think to myself, ‘Hey, I could do the same thing and pay tribute to Elliott by doing my own version of I Didn’t Understand,’ and let me just say that trying to imitate Elliott Smith is a humbling experience of ‘damaged bad at best.’

Anyway, here’s a couple of hours’ honest effort:

Chris Benson sings I Didn’t Understand.

Retrocrush - Yvonne Craig I’ve just been astonished to learn that Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the original TV series, also played the infamous green woman on Star Trek.
Update: OK, now it makes sense. I thought she was this other green woman from the pilot The Cage played by Susan Oliver, but she was in a different episode called Whom Gods Destroy.

I always think The Cage was black and white.