Posting Break

No posts yesterday. We got up early to drive down to the southwest part of the island, to a little fishing village called Parguera. There’s a wall a few miles offshore that constitutes probably some of the best diving on the island itself (the very best diving is actually off shore, at the islands of Desecheo, Mona, Culebra, and Vieques, of naval bombardment/protest fame). Puerto Rico has been heavily populated for too long to have good reefs–the outflow from the mountain rivers and waste have probably decimated them, relative to their pre-Columbian (if not prehuman) condition. Thus, Puerto Rico is a good base to operate from for diving at other islands (the Virgins, Saba, Bonaire, etc.) but not for diving itself.

We went with Paradise Divers (based in Parguera) who I heartily recommend. They have just the right degree of safety consciousness (unlike most operators, they’ll actually hang a safety line from the boat with regs at forty feet) while allowing you autonomy to go explore on your own (unlike some of the German “dive nazis” over in the Dominican Republic).

Anyway, though the sea was a little choppy (2-4 foot swells), which made entry a little problematic, the conditions were good (84-degree water–no wet suit required, at least for someone who, like me, learned to dive in cool California waters), about seventy feet of visibility. Saw a lot of fish (large schools of black durgeon) and a few angels (gray, french, and rock beauties), but nothing big, other than a barracuda (though some divers on the second dive claimed to see a white-tipped shark).

On the way back, we stopped in another little seaside town named Guanica, found a little shack that had a sign saying “Pescadero.” There were some guys hanging out in the yard (fishermen?). We bought a couple langosto, supposedly right off the boat, at six bucks a pound. We didn’t know the Spanish word for “fresh,” and were unsure how to ascertain their quality. Finally, brilliantly, Patricia asked “Hoy?” (today?). The proprietress nodded eagerly and said, “Si, hoy!” Of course, she might not have been referring to the provenance of the crustaceans in question, but just agreeing with the idiot Yanquis that it was indeed today, and not yesterday or tomorrow, in that part of the island…

It should be pointed out that it’s not as good a deal as it sounds, since probably over half the weight is shell and body, but still, it’s fresh lobster dinner for two for twenty bucks. We got home, butchered and threw them on the grill, nuked a potato and made a salad (Caesar, with Spanish olive oil). A delightful post-dive repast, with a bottle of Chardonnay from South Africa. Viva globalizacion!

Now back to your regularly-scheduled posts…

Writer’s Cramp Department

At her weblog Allison Alvarez enthuses that:

Hooray! A new Mersenne prime has been discovered and it’s the largest one yet. The new number, expressed as 213,466,917-1, contains 4,053,946 digits and would take the best part of three weeks to write out longhand. Sweet!

I’m curious to see the derivation of this time estimate. How many weeks would it take to write it out longhand without making a mistake?

Writer’s Cramp Department

At her weblog Allison Alvarez enthuses that:

Hooray! A new Mersenne prime has been discovered and it’s the largest one yet. The new number, expressed as 213,466,917-1, contains 4,053,946 digits and would take the best part of three weeks to write out longhand. Sweet!

I’m curious to see the derivation of this time estimate. How many weeks would it take to write it out longhand without making a mistake?

Writer’s Cramp Department

At her weblog Allison Alvarez enthuses that:

Hooray! A new Mersenne prime has been discovered and it’s the largest one yet. The new number, expressed as 213,466,917-1, contains 4,053,946 digits and would take the best part of three weeks to write out longhand. Sweet!

I’m curious to see the derivation of this time estimate. How many weeks would it take to write it out longhand without making a mistake?

Irritating Ad Kvetch

Is it just me?

There are lots of reasons that I would never buy a Dell computer, but their ad campaign is just one more. I just don’t get the deal with this “Stephen.” Is it really effective?

I mean, maybe they figure that younger people don’t see the similarity (though I would have thought with Nick at Nite that even many Gen X and Yers would also). But to the degree that some of their market is boomers, why in the world do they think that anyone would buy a computer being promoted by Eddie Haskell?

And if people will buy a computer being hawked by Eddie Haskell, does this explain Bill Clinton’s success?

[Update]

Reader Stephen Karlson asks:

Only now have you recognized that this kid is the second coming of Eddie Haskell? That’s been common knowledge on words-l@uga.edu for a long time.

Yup. Guess I’m just “out of it” (whatever the heck “it” is…)

Will it sell computers? I don’t know. Is it any less goofy than the talking cow Gateway are using?

Less goofy? No. But given an endorsement by a cow vs Eddie Haskell, I’ll have to go with the bovine recommendation. If it can talk, it’s worthy of the benefit of the doubt, but Eddie Haskell…well…

Raw Demagoguery

Clearly, the Democrats have decided that the American people will (in that bizarre Clintonian concept) “compartmentalize” their approval of the Commander-in-Chief and their supposed concern about his domestic agenda. It’s possible they’re right, but if the particular tactic they’ve chosen to employ works, I once again weep for the intelligence and economic perspicacity of the populace.

Apparently, they’re running the phrase “Bush recession” up the flagpole to see how many salute. And their apparent rationale (I can see no other, since it’s been their main gripe with his economic policy from day one, if not day negative six months–i.e., during the campaign, as a “risky tax scheme”) is his “gargantuan (i.e., on the order of a percent of the GDP over the period) tax cut”.

Now let’s tie one intellectual hand behind our back, and ignore the fact that the recession probably started within two months of Bush being sweared in, and that the economy was in fact already slowing in the summer before the election, and that economies don’t turn on a dime, so our current condition was largely due to decisions made more than a year ago (ignoring the spike from the September attacks–surely even they aren’t going to attempt to blame Bush for that?).

Can these Democrats cite a single historical precedent for a recession being caused by a tax cut?

For extra credit, can they put forth a plausible theoretical mechanism by which this might occur?

No, I didn’t think they could…

Oh, well, at least we can be thankful that we don’t have Al Gore around any more with his mindless and oxymoronic phrase, “blowing a hole in the deficit.”

What’s Right vs What’s Legal

A useful discussion over at Instapundit (not to imply that Professor Reynolds is in the habit of discussing unuseful stuff) about gun registration and whether Ashcroft is following the law and the Constitution in not going through gun purchase lists looking for terrorists. In a previous post, Glenn mentioned that some of his pro-gun friends consider him “wet” because he believes gun registration to be Constitutional (though under the federal statutes he cites and quotes here, not legal).

This is an issue that continually rankles me (not gun registration, but the inability to distinguish between good ideas, and Constitutional ideas). Almost always, when discussing court decisions, each debater uses, as a center of gravity of the discussion, not what is legal or Constitutional, but what they want the outcome to be. I suspect that this is simply another symptom of the abysmal state of our educational system. Roe v Wade is a classical example of this. Supporters of the decision support it not because there’s a clear basis in the Constitution for it (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg is skeptical on that score), but because they want abortion to be universally legal, and the Constitution be damned. I oppose the decision not because I want abortions made illegal (though I do in fact believe that it should be left up to the states), but because I consider it an abortion of a decision, and one that sets an ugly penumbra of an emanation of a precedent.

I think that gun registration is a very, very bad idea, for reasons that have been discussed in length at many times in many places, but I agree with Glenn–it isn’t per se unconstitutional. It’s unfortunate that we can’t somehow segregate these two discussions from each other, because when they get entangled, as they inevitably do, it makes the issues that much harder to resolve.

What’s Right vs What’s Legal

A useful discussion over at Instapundit (not to imply that Professor Reynolds is in the habit of discussing unuseful stuff) about gun registration and whether Ashcroft is following the law and the Constitution in not going through gun purchase lists looking for terrorists. In a previous post, Glenn mentioned that some of his pro-gun friends consider him “wet” because he believes gun registration to be Constitutional (though under the federal statutes he cites and quotes here, not legal).

This is an issue that continually rankles me (not gun registration, but the inability to distinguish between good ideas, and Constitutional ideas). Almost always, when discussing court decisions, each debater uses, as a center of gravity of the discussion, not what is legal or Constitutional, but what they want the outcome to be. I suspect that this is simply another symptom of the abysmal state of our educational system. Roe v Wade is a classical example of this. Supporters of the decision support it not because there’s a clear basis in the Constitution for it (even Ruth Bader Ginsburg is skeptical on that score), but because they want abortion to be universally legal, and the Constitution be damned. I oppose the decision not because I want abortions made illegal (though I do in fact believe that it should be left up to the states), but because I consider it an abortion of a decision, and one that sets an ugly penumbra of an emanation of a precedent.

I think that gun registration is a very, very bad idea, for reasons that have been discussed in length at many times in many places, but I agree with Glenn–it isn’t per se unconstitutional. It’s unfortunate that we can’t somehow segregate these two discussions from each other, because when they get entangled, as they inevitably do, it makes the issues that much harder to resolve.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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