Rodeo explosions

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On Saturday evening, I arrived at the Bell Centre, ready for an evening at the rodeo.

I turned to my friend, and he asked me, “Why did we come here again?”

“I thought you wanted to come,” I told him.

“What? I thought you wanted to come.”

“We need to work on talking through decisions like this a bit better.”

I think I figured out the rodeo, though, in case you ever wondered: A man sits on a bull, which is eventually released from its pen. If you can sit on the bull long enough, stuff blows up. Oh, and if you’re one of the scantily-dressed girls dancing on a platform at the one end of the arena, stuff blows up for you, too.

While I was there, a couple things passed through my mind. The first was my TA-ship. This semester, I’m a TA for Contemporary Moral Issues. The first half of the semester, we were dealing with the issue of the comparative wealth and affluence of people in the West. Now, we’re working on “The Animal Question.” (The text is actually called that.) Namely, we’re talking about what is owed morally to animals.

I always had assumed that they did something terrible to the bulls to make them so jumpy for the purposes of bull-riding, like hitting them or burning them or something like that. Turns out it’s just that he doesn’t like having a guy sitting on him.

The next thing that went through my mind was my thesis. (Go figure.)

My thesis has to do with non-paternalistic justifications for protections in human research, but it is related theoretically to protections in many other fields as well. I noticed that the vast majority of the bull-riders did not wear helmets. They wore cowboy hats. That said, a rather smallish number of them did wear hockey-style helmets.

I wonder if it’s the case that most bull-riders, if you asked them privately, would say that they would prefer to wear helmets, but because of the culture and their public image and the showmanship of the whole thing, there’s pressure on them not to do so.

It might then be justifiable (and non-paternalistic) to make a rule requiring that all bull-riders wear helmets, since that is what they would actually prefer. It’s sort of analogous to how many justify a minimum wage.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1394,
    title = {Rodeo explosions},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-03-16,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Rodeo explosions" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Mar 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Mar 16). Rodeo explosions [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/16/rodeo-explosions/

I almost forgot!

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Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie

It’s pi day! And for dinner, I had a chicken pot pie. :)

 

I didn’t even plan for this to happen. It was a pi day miracle. It was ordained before the foundations of the earth.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1414,
    title = {I almost forgot!},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-03-14,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/14/i-almost-forgot/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "I almost forgot!" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 14 Mar 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/14/i-almost-forgot/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Mar 14). I almost forgot! [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/03/14/i-almost-forgot/

Why can’t one eat an egg with 油条?

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When I lived in China, I would sometimes have a 油条 (yóu tiáo) along with my bag of hot soy milk for breakfast. A 油条 is a long, oily fried bread that you eat with your hands. It’s really good.

Whenever I would buy it, the vendor would always tell me that I shouldn’t eat it with an egg, and then she would laugh. I thought this was some sort of joke, but I never actually did eat an egg together with the 油条. Then, I went to a completely different vendor on the other side of town, and I was told the exact same thing—don’t eat your 油条 with an egg.

I was tempted, but never actually did try combining the two forbidden breakfast foods. I have a couple questions for my Chinese readers, or for aficionados of Chinese culture:

  1. Have any of you had an egg with 油条? What happened?
  2. Do you know why it is that I’m not supposed to eat them together?
  3. Is it out of some legitimate concern for one’s health?
  4. Is it a cultural superstition or a convention of some kind?
  5. Is this not even a thing? I mean, I might have misunderstood, or it might have been a huge coincidence.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1254,
    title = {Why can’t one eat an egg with 油条?},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-16,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/16/why-cant-one-eat-an-egg-with-you-tiao/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Why can’t one eat an egg with 油条?" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 16 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/16/why-cant-one-eat-an-egg-with-you-tiao/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 16). Why can’t one eat an egg with 油条? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/16/why-cant-one-eat-an-egg-with-you-tiao/

An alternate ending to Inception

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General review of Inception

Warning: Don’t read this post if you haven’t watched Inception or Shutter Island and plan to, and don’t want the movie spoiled for you beforehand. There’s spoilers.

I saw the movie, Inception, this weekend past. I liked it. I don’t know if it’s one of those movies I’d watch again and again, but I’m glad I saw it.

First off, I thought that the special effects were very visually appealing, but not over-done, by which I mean that I didn’t feel like the film was driven by the special effects. The fight scene with Tommy from 3rd Rock from the Sun in zero-gravity was Matrix-esque, but for some reason, it didn’t look completely ridiculous like most of the reality-defying scenes in the Matrix. Not only that, but the zero-gravity scenes weren’t “gratuitous.” By this, I mean that often fancy special effects are added just because they look cool in the movie trailer, and not because they are needed to advance the plot. In this case, the zero-gravity scene, for example, was a part of the story.

The premiss of the film—people entering other people’s dreams—was interesting, although not entirely original, which is okay. I was engaged by it, and able to suspend disbelief throughout. I have to say, though, about halfway, I remarked that there would have to be some sort of unexpected dream-within-a-dream at some point. I felt really vindicated at the end.

I kind of think of this movie as a combination of a number of other ones. It’s 1/2 Paprika (2006) + 1/8 The Matrix  (1999) + 1/4 Shutter Island (2010) + 1/8 Ocean’s Eleven (2001). I was reminded of Ocean’s Eleven because of the way it started—the protagonist putting together this team of super-criminals so that he could pull of a really daring heist.

And of course I’m sure that I’m not the first to notice certain parallels to Shutter Island. Probably because it shared a few relevant details:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Looks really grungy the whole time
  • Goes crazy because he kills his wife
  • Wife, children haunt him from beyond the grave
  • Plot twist at the end

Alternate ending to Inception

So here is the alternate ending to the film that I propose: Just push the “stop” button about 30 seconds before the film actually ends. Et voilà. Totally new movie.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1258,
    title = {An alternate ending to Inception},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-14,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/14/an-alternate-ending-to-inception/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "An alternate ending to Inception" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 14 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/14/an-alternate-ending-to-inception/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 14). An alternate ending to Inception [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/14/an-alternate-ending-to-inception/

How to “castle” in chess

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Red pieces on a chess board

Red pieces on a chess board

Unlike the en passant capture, this is a move in chess that I’ve known since I was a child. However, like the en passant capture, it has also caused me grief while playing against my iPod. I will explain why this move can be frustrating below in the “pro-tip.”

This is how to castle in chess: It is a move for your king and your rook at the same time, and it is a great way to develop your rook conservatively. This is a move that should be done early in the game.

It can only be done if neither the king nor the rook have been moved yet in the game. There can be no pieces on the board on the files between the king and the rook, and you cannot castle out of check. If you are doing a kingside castle, your king moves two files toward the rook, and the rook jumps over to the space just on the opposite side of where the king has moved to. A queenside castle is done exactly the same way (king moves two files toward the rook, rook jumps over king to the file immediately past him), but in the queenside case, the rook moves further.

Thanks again to Wikipedia, the abbreviations for queenside and kingside castling are O-O-O and O-O, respectively.

Pro-tip: If you are trying to castle while playing against a video game, computer or iPod, do not move your rook first and then try to move your king. The iPod will think that you are moving your rook in the normal sort of way that rooks move, and it will not think that you are trying to castle. What you need to do is move your king first, and then the computer will automatically realise that because a king can’t normally move two files, you are attempting to castle, and then it will automatically move your rook for you. Just trust me on this one.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1229,
    title = {How to “castle” in chess},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-13,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/13/how-to-castle-in-chess/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "How to “castle” in chess" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 13 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/13/how-to-castle-in-chess/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 13). How to “castle” in chess [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/13/how-to-castle-in-chess/

How to do an “en passant” capture in chess

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Chess board

Chess board

Every once in a while, I play a game of chess against my computer or iPod. Sometimes I win—sometimes I lose, but the most frustrating thing that happens to me every once in a while is when the iPod does an en passant capture of one of my pawns.

This is frustrating, I think, because I never see it coming. That’s mostly because it’s an obscure move that I never took the time to learn how to do. I learned about it for the first time in elementary school, so I could always identify it when it happened, but I never knew what it was well enough to be able to pull it off myself or anticipate it. So, this week, I finally looked it up.

This is how it works: On its first move, a pawn can advance one rank or two. (Don’t worry—I already knew that.) If a pawn has been advanced two ranks in its first turn, an opposing pawn can capture it by moving diagonally into the space where the first pawn would have been, had it only moved ahead one rank.

Note that this can only be done in the turn immediately following the two-rank move of the first pawn.

According to Wikipedia, this “prevents a pawn from using the two-square move to pass another pawn without the risk of being captured”

This time, I’ll be ready for you, iPod!

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1228,
    title = {How to do an “en passant” capture in chess},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-12,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/12/how-to-do-an-en-passant-capture-in-chess/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "How to do an “en passant” capture in chess" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 12 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/12/how-to-do-an-en-passant-capture-in-chess/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 12). How to do an “en passant” capture in chess [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/12/how-to-do-an-en-passant-capture-in-chess/

Other stuff I saw in Québec City

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A church in downtown Québec

A church in downtown Québec

While I mainly went to see the Carnaval, I also went for a walk around the Old Québec a bit while I was in town. It’s a very beautiful city.

There are all sorts of wonderful old buildings, churches and historical-type things going on.

Not only that, but they have excellent lighting at night, so it makes for some good photos!

You just have to be willing to wait for an opportune moment, when there isn’t a car going past, who will leave streaks of light all through your exposure. Thank goodness for digital cameras.

Celtic cross at night

Celtic cross at night

I think I must have spent about fifteen minutes trying to get this photo of the celtic-looking cross. I’ve got a whole bunch of photos of it with streaks across it, thanks to cars.

After three or four tries, I was almost prepared to set the self-timer and go stand in the middle of the road, just out of the frame of the camera, so that I would prevent any cars from passing through it. I only wanted a twenty-second exposure, and there was only one car every minute or so.

Oh well.

I like the details on the cross, and I think it was worth the wait.

An angel with a globe

An angel with a globe

Next is an angel with a globe. I’m not sure what his deal is. I guess he’s like a busker, except that he doesn’t really perform a musical instrument.

Not a bad job, I guess.

Unless you don’t like the cold. It wasn’t too bad while I was there, anyway. It was consistently around -1ºC or -2ºC, and in the sunlight, during the day, that’s not too bad.

He seems happy, anyway.

I have also posted a video of a crazy dance rave at an ice castle in front of the Québec parliament, and a videoscreen waterfall at night in the Old Québec.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1200,
    title = {Other stuff I saw in Québec City},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-9,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/09/other-stuff-i-saw-in-quebec-city/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Other stuff I saw in Québec City" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 09 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/09/other-stuff-i-saw-in-quebec-city/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 09). Other stuff I saw in Québec City [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/09/other-stuff-i-saw-in-quebec-city/

Important people I saw at Québec City

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Bonhomme de Neige

Bonhomme de Neige

While I was in Québec City, my path crossed two important people. The first and most important was of course Bonhomme de Neige himself. I nearly missed him, but I happened to arrive just as he was leaving, so that I could snap about a dozen shots of him, paparazzi-style.

Later that day, while I was walking along a road between the Plains of Abraham and the Carnaval, I saw a big SUV drive past me, and I noticed that it had a blue flag with a royal symbol on it.

I remarked that I thought that it was a royal standard on the car that passed, but my friend told me that we would have heard if the Queen was coming. After the first car came a couple other RCMP cars.

The Governor General of Canada, David Johnston

The Governor General of Canada, David Johnston

When the car stopped, out jumped David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada. Apparently he had come to visit Québec City. And he passed within two metres of me!

So, I ran up and took a half dozen photos of him, paparazzi-style, since that seemed to be the thing to do that day.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1174,
    title = {Important people I saw at Québec City},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-8,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/08/important-people-i-saw-at-quebec-city/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Important people I saw at Québec City" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 08 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/08/important-people-i-saw-at-quebec-city/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 08). Important people I saw at Québec City [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/08/important-people-i-saw-at-quebec-city/

Carnaval d’Hiver!

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Rainbow ice carousel

Rainbow ice carousel

This weekend, I went to Québec City to see the Carnaval d’Hiver, starring Bonhomme. I have a lot of photos and things to talk about, so I’m spacing it out over the next few days. To start off with, I’m going to post a bunch of photos of sculptures and things I saw.

The lights in the carousel tent changed all the time, so it was very difficult to get any good photos, but I’m reasonably happy with the way this one turned out. The whole tent was full of ice sculptures of different games—chess, monopoly, etc. I wonder if it’s harder to sculpt in snow or in ice. I imagine that it would be easier to make a silly mistake in the snow, but that ice is less forgiving.

By the way, carousels are creepy.

Creepy snow spider

Creepy snow spider

These are just a few of my favourite things that I saw at the Carnaval d’Hiver. There were lots of other really good ones, but these turned out to be the most photogenic.

The creepy spider is wonderful. I love the eyes on the front, and the way that the light comes from behind it.

I wonder where these people get their ideas for what they will make out of their chunk of snow, and by what means the chunk of snow is delivered there.

An apple with a mouth

An apple with a mouth

The apple with the mouth won the prize for everything, I think. Seriously. There were about a half dozen awards at that one.

It’s really quite well done. I wonder if it’s supposed to represent anything besides just an apple with a mouth. I have no idea how a person would sculpt the inside of the mouth like that. Maybe they did the top of the mouth first so that they could sit on what would become the tongue, and then later went back to fix it. The snow must be very well-packed for it to allow for this sort of thing.

Girl in hood with dragon

Girl in hood with dragon

I also liked the hooded girl with dragon. Good details on the dragon. Unfortunately, the very night that I took these photos, it snowed, and many of the finer details were covered up forever.

This sculpture in particular did not fare very well through the loss of all the fine details. Look at all the scales along the tail, the teeth and eyes. The little girl in a hood is delightful as well.

I overheard a bunch of French-speakers refer to the girl as “Little Red Riding Hood,” I thought, but I don’t remember a dragon in the English version of that story, at least.

Korean with fish

Korean with fish

Apparently, there were teams of snow-sculptors from all over the world who came to participate. I’ve attached the South Korean contribution. It’s a person with a fish.

I also have photos of the Koreans working on this one the whole previous night. They put a lot of effort into it.

There was also a team from Morocco. I didn’t care for their sculpture as much. But then, they probably don’t get too much snow there, so I guess we can cut them some slack.

Plan for snow sharks

Plan for snow sharks

Sharks hiding in snow

Sharks hiding in snow

Another favourite of mine is the sharks hiding in snow. I have both a photograph and a video of that one.

As best I can make out, these are actual living sharks that were imported and then covered in snow. They’re just waiting for the right moment before they start eating the unprepared visitors to the Carnaval d’Hiver.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1172,
    title = {Carnaval d’Hiver!},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-02-6,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/06/carnaval-dhiver/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Carnaval d’Hiver!" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 06 Feb 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/06/carnaval-dhiver/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Feb 06). Carnaval d’Hiver! [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/02/06/carnaval-dhiver/

Does “The Big Bang Theory” get better after the pilot?

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For months, I have had a television programme called The Big Bang Theory recommended to me a number of times by both family and friends. Earlier this week, I watched the pilot episode, and I was not very impressed. First of all, the whole premiss of the show wasn’t very interesting. How many TV shows do we really need about young adult friends living together in an apartment building?

Worse than that, the acting was bad. Even more damning for a sitcom, the comedic timing was lacking and I didn’t find the actual jokes to be funny.

My question for those of you out there who have watched more than the pilot: Does the show get better after the pilot? I’m thinking I might skip over this programme, like I did with Seinfeld.

BibTeX

@online{bgcarlisle2011-1105,
    title = {Does “The Big Bang Theory” get better after the pilot?},
    journaltitle = {The Grey Literature},
    author = {Benjamin Gregory Carlisle},
    address = {Montreal, Canada},
    date = 2011-01-6,
    url = {https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/06/does-the-big-bang-theory-get-better-after-the-pilot/}
}

MLA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. "Does “The Big Bang Theory” get better after the pilot?" Web blog post. The Grey Literature. 06 Jan 2011. Web. 22 Mar 2019. <https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/06/does-the-big-bang-theory-get-better-after-the-pilot/>

APA

Carlisle, Benjamin Gregory. (2011, Jan 06). Does “The Big Bang Theory” get better after the pilot? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.bgcarlisle.com/blog/2011/01/06/does-the-big-bang-theory-get-better-after-the-pilot/

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