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Him many lemon, give air ember gum. [Apr. 29th, 2008|03:26 am]
"Snail bet mule, 'let our limbs pose, sir!'
Illumine synthesis leaves."
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Two Synthetic Limericks [Oct. 23rd, 2007|01:41 am]
I worked these up a couple of weeks ago. They aren't too terribly witty, but they rhyme alright, and as Swift sarcastically said, "if it rings well upon the knuckle, be sure there is no flaw in it."

A Chemist, gone mad with distraction
Hurled into the sea his reaction.
To atone for this loss
He was made by his boss
To recover it via extraction.


There once was a fellow from Stowles
Who bred cockroaches, rabbits, and voles
Asked how he could keep track
Of this prolific pack
He replied "I just count them in moles."


Oh! I have a new website. Right now it's only filler and fluff-- stylesheets, scripts, odds and broken ends; the domain name is a charmer, though. It's six characters, and I got the dot com too!
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Post post. [Jun. 7th, 2007|12:22 am]
For a while now in the lab I've been working with a compound called diformylferrocene. I need it for the chemistry I do, it can't be bought, and it takes two days and maybe eight (inefficient) man hours for me to make it. This makes it a commodity of great value in the Diaconescu microcosm, and as such it is the object of perhaps more introspection than it deserves.

It is an interesting compound in its own right. Born from a mixture of opaque orange goop, it blooms into a deep, artificial red. It forms rocky, brittle, crystals that are almost black. It isn't toxic (I hope), but it is an "aromatic" compound-- which means one thing in the arcane world of Chemistry, but in real life means that it probably smells weird. It does, too! At first whiff I got the impression of mint, Play-Doh, and boing. I gathered the group to try for a scientific consensus. Colin thought it smelled like chocolate. Erin thought it smelled funny but couldn't say what it brought to mind. Nate just wrinkled his nose.

After a few minutes of monkey talk, the novelty of categorizing this strange new fruit wore off and we went back to work. I would still stick my nose over the vial before taking some out, would hold it up to the light and shake it a little, but no longer gave it any serious thought. After I while though, something started to happen. Y'see diformylferrocene is, like I said, a deep artificial red-- like cherry candy. And I found, after a few weeks of working with it regularly, that it had started to smell like cherry. Every time I caught the smell, the cherry was more distinct, more dominant. After a while it stopped smelling like mint or Play-Doh or any other weird thing-- it became cherry. It always *was* cherry. Diformylferrocene smells like cherry!

What's going on here? How can a thing that has nothing to do with actual cherries, and didn't smell like them at first, get that association in my brain? It's a testament to the flexability of the human brain, and actually it happens all the time without anyone noticing. Have you ever eaten Mexican watermelon candy? It doesn't taste anything like watermelon, does it? But then again, neither does a watermelon Jolly Rancher, if you think about it. Side by side, a real watermelon and a watermelon Jolly Rancher are about as similar as a miniature pony and a firetruck.

But! Every candy in the United States that says "watermelon" on it tastes like every other candy that says "watermelon" on it. And it's pink! Watermelons are also pink. The fact that watermelon candy tastes like nothing so much as Watermelon Candy makes little difference to your bendy, bendy, brain. Without thinking about it, your brain suspends its sensory disbelief. After all-- it no make monkey sick, it taste sweet. Why complain?

Well, it's like Democritus said-- "By convention sweet, by convention bitter, by convention hot, by convention cold, by convention color: but in reality atoms and void." It's an innocuous statement when the atoms are out of man's grasp. Sensations are caused by atoms-- but if you don't know anything about the atoms, who's to care? A pear is a pear is a pear. 'convention' assigns roughly one sensation to one object, and the sensations are produced mostly by the natural world. Here intuition works well.

The litany of progress, however, has delivered to us in the modern world a new kind of control. We can now manipulate the tastes and smells of every thing. This isn't bad, it's merely more complex. To get a good picture of this new world we need some new ideas, or rather, we have to be more conscious of our old ones. If 'watermelon' doesn't always mean a big green fruit with juicy pink pulp, then when we say 'watermelon' there is a little hint of ambiguity. The word is muddied, and slowly the idea will be too.

Of course this is natural-- a language is a big festering pool of words-- we always have to muck around to make ourselves clear. We can say "watermelon candy" is one flavor, and "watermelon" is another-- no harm done, you might say. Imagine, though, if watermelons were to disappear all of a sudden. 'Watermelon candy' could then just be called 'watermelon,' with no apparent ambiguity. The words are in competition, then.

In a hundred years we might call the green fleshy thing 'watermelon fruit' and leave the unmodified noun to the pink candy. An object, a taste, a unique sensation, would then have been eradicated. Worse than eradicated! Replaced-- not even remembered as an absence. This is all very paranoid and silly, but it bears remembering. I doubt man would, even if removed from nature entirely, ever forget completely the taste of "real" food, but stranger things have happened, and it would be a shame to lose the variety.
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LAUGHTER-CALM [Jan. 4th, 2007|01:15 am]
For 7 1/8ths of a second, in a cave, screams of very wild laughter come from the rear (then front) of a split pole, while calm ("a frozen numbness") comes from the front (then rear), giving a sensation of total disagreement.

"The trick is to conceive of both at the same time."

(From supplementary material regarding The Fishman Affidavit.)
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Beep Boop Breakdown [Nov. 3rd, 2006|07:12 pm]
Richter and many other scientists hope a shift in Congress will allow
moderate Republicans -- of which there are few in the House -- to
"stop being party robots."
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2.50 Chinese Food [Mar. 27th, 2006|03:18 pm]
I'm driving around on my lunch break, scouting the greater Sylmar area for takeout Chinese food and cheap coffee. I see something. Oops! Miss it. I turn, but too late. I'm in an uncharted parking lot. I see a sign. It says "Takeout Chinese food." I go in. I see a menu in front of the counter. It says "2.50." I wonder if it means the food. It does. A Chinese man standing behind the counter takes my order (there's nobody but him, me, and the cooks). I order the Mandarin Chicken. I'm told to wait 5 minutes. I go outside. I see another sign. It says "Coffee and Cream". I go in. I see a menu behind the counter. One line says "World Famous Mud Coffee." I have never heard of Mud Coffee. I think it sounds good. I ask for some Mud Coffee. The woman behind the counter says they don't serve it anymore, because it wasn't popular. I think that's too bad, but I order some regular old coffee anyway. It's 1.50 (plus another 1.50 to use the ATM-- but that's ok, because I don't think the "Takeout Chinese Food" people are going to take my credit card, so I need cash.) I go back to Takeout Chinese Food and wait for my Mandarin Chicken. I try to read the magazines, but they're all in Chinese. I look for Roman characters. The only thing I can find is "H A Y A O M I Y A Z A K I." I guess that makes sense. China and Japan use different alphabets. I put down the magazine. I get my Mandarin Chicken. I pay 2.50(!) I go back to the lab and open up my takeout container.


It's like normal takeout chinese food, but with much less meat. It turns out you don't *need* the meat. Most places just put it in there because you expect a lot of meat with your meal. These guys just weren't worried about that. I ate all of it. I was satisfied-- full, even.

Continued later. Time to close up the lab.
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Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. [Dec. 23rd, 2005|04:35 pm]
I don't know. I try to make a contribution to this internet thing. I try real hard sometimes. I think it's important. But it doesn't matter. I can't even make a dent. The internet belongs to the collective, and sometimes it's obvious. These things just spring up like mushrooms. It's damn magical.

Big Mouth Billy Bass. A controversial man, but well liked. Popular, even. Why?

" Big Mouth Billy Bass is a very funny piece of comedy. It has the outer appearance of a well taxidermied fish, but is in actuality, a robotic singing fish. You just put Billy on a wall, table, bookshelf, endshelf, mantle or any other place at all, and when someone walks by, he starts singing a song and wiggling around. It is really funny because people don't expect it, because its a fish, and it looks dead, but it is actually not dead, it is robotic, and it can sing. You could really surprise a person in your office, or a child, or an older person with this. I'm certain that especially older peoples will fall for this gag, because often, the elderlies are not aware of technology.

A child might also like this, and it could possibly be used to teach songs to children in a group learning environment with a microphone and a speaker rig. Or perhaps a funny principal could have it in his office, and sometimes it would sing."

I don't know where this one really comes from. The guy who did the review hasn't reviewed anything else. Is this capitalism gone awry? He has that foreign mystique about him though, doesn't he? A sincerity that can only come from being utterly in over your head.

Some of these reviews are obviously satirical and some are by small children, but they aren't the real interest. There are some self proclaimed adults here.

"Steve", a reviewer of no little renown, says:

"This is a cute little device that will amuse people who have never seen it before. It's also useful to hear Billy Bass sing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" when you're a little depressed."

First an enigmatic traveler (do I detect the scent of cumin?) and now a man whose soul was lost long ago. I can almost feel the drudgery of an industrial workday fading into dull white light, pulsing to the rhythm-- "Take me to the river... Put me in the water..."

And then, just as we begin to fade into opiate induced coma...


And we are snapped to attention. This one I cannot explain. Small children do not have this kind of spelling-- and look, he used the ampersand. That's advanced.

He reminds me of a certain Fallen Idol.

Of course, not all of the reviewers are of the lower class:

"buy this cheesy fish for your friends. It's guaranteed to be the hit at a party. The fish is great for a party room."

This enigmatic globetrotter has found the perfect icebreaker. Ah! The marvels of the modern age!

And then a prophet of disturbing prescience, signed "The maw of hell, opened". After describing Big Mouth Billy Bass's shortcomings, he says:

"Dear God, please don't let them come up with a sequel. At least not before Christmas. The thought of a singing mounted deer head (or God forbid, moose) makes me shudder."

Of course, both these exist; the former in a sharper image catalogue, the latter at Six Flags Magic Mountain (its image I carry with me to this day, the only memory of The Most Depressing Restaurant In History too traumatic even to suppress.

But after this wisdom, another icepick to the skull:

"Great "ice breaker"
Think about "Billy" as an investment in someone's smile. What a great way to start up conversations with someone. No one can listen to the singing fish and not make SOME kind of comment! Even after the "new" wears off, it's funny to occasionally push the button when no one is suspecting and give 'em a little chuckle. Beware tho, the songs can get "stuck" in your head! Hey, life's short, be a little silly sometimes!"

Chilling. Life is short, O' gentle reader, and Big Mouth Billy Bass may be your last trainstop between this realm and the bleak halls of the underworld.

And then...

"Well if you like this sort of thing, then it is definately a knee slaper! But if you don't have a good sense of humor then you will find if a waste. I will say that it went over very well in my ENTIRE family, but, we tend to have a dry sense of humor. If you don't, then don't bother! If you do, well plan to laugh!"

Yes, a dry sense of humor.

I can't do anymore. It's just too much for me. Some people understand what's going on. Some of those reviewers have things straight. But those guys are there by mistake. They just wandered in. They wandered into a cultural party they just weren't ready for.

I mean, there's more. Protestations, disbelief, anger, apocalyptic dismay. Unadulterated joy, mirth, laughter, amusement, annoyance. Human emotion, in all flavors and degrees of sincerity. "Write a review". Dear God.
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Corn - News - Sex [Dec. 9th, 2005|04:01 am]
They've got almost everything on the Internets now.
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(no subject) [Oct. 12th, 2005|10:50 am]
I don't know how you people get around with so few dimensions.

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(no subject) [Jul. 12th, 2005|05:04 am]
Zeusiness. Alternatively titled: Azimbony of Zhound: A BRIEF P*Collapse )
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