In the end, all but three songs from my mix tape post were explicitly identified in comments on one site or another, though two or three were identified only indirectly ("That song by barenaked ladies..."), and one only by extensive Google searching. Not too shabby.
Here are the answers. You might be saying "Isn't this just a cheap way to squeeze another blog post out of this same tape?" You might be right.
- 1) "Some are mathematicians, some are carpenters' wives." Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up in Blue." A rich source of lines for this sort of thing, but an easy one to get.
- 2) "I remember Christmas in the blistering cold, in a church on the Upper West Side." Ryan Adams, "New York, New York." I first heard this song on September 14, 2001, while driving down the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston for Mike Steeves's wedding. That tends to make it stick in the mind.
- 3) "See the oil fields at first light." U2, "Beautiful Day." U2 at their soaringly vague best.
- 4) "With fingernails that shine like justice, and a voice that is dark like tinted glass." Cake, "Short Skirt/ Long Jacket." I think we all want a girl like that.
- 5) "Your grandsons, they won't understand." The Strokes, "Last Nite." I have a hard time with this band, and, really, any band that are too jaded to have fun being rock stars.
- 6) "She left me roses by the stairs, surprises let me know she cares." Blink-182, "All the Small Things." These guys put at least one song on each album that's nothing but dick jokes, just to keep their fans from noticing that they're actually very talented as pop songwriters.
- 7) "We asked for Mojo Nixon, they said 'He don't work here.'" The Dead Milkmen, "Punk Rock Girl." If you don't have Mojo Nixon, then your store could use some fixin'.
- 8) "There will be no flowers flowing in the light that passes through me." Guided by Voices, "Glad Girls." In the alternate universe where I know how to play guitar, and am in a band, we do a mean cover of this.
- 9) "It's just the way that you talk, like it ain't no thing." Smash Mouth, "Then the Morning Comes." If these guys haven't been on the soundtrack of an "Austin Powers" movie, it's a travesty.
- 10) "Let's bulldoze our way to a brand new peace accord." The Halo Benders, "Your Asterisk." The guy from Built to Spill in a band with another guy who has a really deep voice. The only online lyrics I was able to find for this have this line as "... brand new piece of pork," which is just not right.
- 11) "I wish the ape a lot of success, I'm sorry my apartment's a mess." Warren Zevon, "Gorilla, You're a Desperado." Most of all, I'm sorry if I made you blue, but I'm betting the gorilla will, too.
- 12) "Most of all, my God, how does she make her eyes do that?" Blues Traveler, "Girl Inside My Head." Nobody got this one, though it was released as a single. I like it because it features remarkably little harmonica noodling.
- 13) "I never know the perfect time to hit the bedroom light." John Wesley Harding, "I'm Wrong About Everything." Off The Confessions of St. Ace, whose liner notes are a hoot.
- 14) "And I may seem all right and smile when you leave, but my smiles are just a front." Macy Gray, "I Try." Somebody guessed Smokey Robinson for this one, and it does remind me of his stuff. Which is, of course, why I like it.
- 15) "I need something strong to distract my mind. I'm gonna look at you 'til my eyes go blind." Bob Dylan, "Mississippi." The Sheryl Crow version is just too chirpy to be taken seriously, but when Bob croaks out the lyrics, you believe he's painted himself into a pretty tight corner.
- 16) "Patchouli oil, and motor oil, and you knew all the words." John Hiatt, "My Old Friend." Kate doesn't like this transition, but I think it's one of the best on the tape. And, hey, he mentions a Dylan song in the first verse.
- 17) "The way that you sleep is the image I'll keep always on the edge of my mind." The Old 97's, "Bird in a Cage." Somebody got that this was an Old 97's tune, but didn't name it. One of the highlights off Satellite Rides.
- 18) "Sam Cooke didn't know what I know." The Wallflowers, "Sleepwalker." There's a point where Jakob Dylan sings "I'm in your movie, and everyone looks sad," in a really nasal voice, and you say, "Yep. Bob's kid, all right."
- 19) "Lost his mind from the TV, now he's playing God." Pete Yorn, "Murray." An album track off Musicforthemorningafter, so I'm not really surprised that nobody got it.
- 20) "We're loyal, like brothers, just us versus all the others." The Get Up Kids, "Red Letter Day." Nobody got this one, though I'm pretty sure at least one regular reader has this album. A great song to sing along to while driving.
- 21) "And if I ever get another chance, I'd still ask her to dance." Blink-182, "The Rock Show." Pure. Pop. Gold.
- 22) "Left my baby and it feels so bad, I guess my race is run." The Clash, "I Fought the Law." Yeah, it's a Bobby Fuller song, but this is the version everybody knows.
- 23) "I was riding hard to meet her, when a shot rang out behind." Warren Zevon, "Jeannie Needs a Shooter." Just for you, Mike Kozlowski.
- 24) "I could hide out under there." Barenaked Ladies, "Pinch Me." A triple bill with these guys, Fountains of Wayne, and They Might Be Giants would be a veritable Lollapalooza of geek rock.
- 25) "Why do tomorrow, what you could never do?" Fountains of Wayne, "Troubled Times." A nice little song off Utopia Parkway.
- 26) "Someone's blasting me with hate and bass, sending dirty vibes my way." Ben Folds, "Rockin' the Suburbs." This made the tape only because of his dead-on Zack de la Rocha impression.
- 27) "Flags, rags, ferry boats, scimitars and scarves, every precious dream and vision underneath the stars." The Waterboys, "The Whole of the Moon." I was pretty much out of ideas, at this point, and I'd been listening to this album a lot, so what the hell?
"I Just Assumed He Was Dead!"
Via a post (now vanished) by somebody on Kate's LiveJournal friends list: Anton Chekov signs books in Union Square:
The man pictured above was one of a handfull of folks who noticed the first sentence on the back cover of the play which read, "The Cherry Orchard was first produced on Chekov's last birthday in January 29, 1904. This meant exactly 100 years and one month had passed since his "last birthday". I informed anyone who brought up this point that it was in fact a "very embarassing typo" made by Dover Publications.
Some people have way too much free time... And that's a good thing.
It's Turtles All the Way Down
Sean Carroll posted a list of popular misconceptions, mostly having to do with cosmology. It's worth taking a look at, to give you an idea of the kind of things physicists have to deal with when trying to talk about our work in public (above and beyond "I hated physics in high school.").
In addition to Sean's cosmic-scale list, I'd add a few misconceptions that are just as large, but operate on a smaller length scale:
- Particles are really waves or Waves are really particles. This is a slightly subtle one, but important all the same. The reality is that both light and matter are made up of a third class of objects-- one textbook I have calls the "quantons," which is just too cutesy to be taken seriously, so I tend to go with "quantum particles"-- with some characteristics that are wave-like (interference, diffraction) and others that are particle-like (discreteness, countability). There's no point to asking "Which is it really?" because it's not an either-or question.
- Quantum Mechanics means anything is possible. This is a tough one, because there's a sense in which it's true. Everything not forbidden is mandatory, it's true, but people encountering the idea tend to greatly exaggerate the probability of improbable events. This misconception is most prominent in a certain class of "hard" SF, which is why I don't read many of those books.
- The Uncertainty Principle means we can't really know anything. Another "Yes, but..." problem. It's true that the uncertainty principle does place a fundamental limit on what kinds of things we can know about the Universe, but it's an awfully tight limit. I've worked on experiments where quantum uncertainty was a major factor, and I can tell you that it's not a trivial matter to arrange. Planck's Constant (the "h" in the equations over on the left) is a really small number. This is another popular one in SF, and also in a certain irritating species of bloviating about philosophy and literature.
- Zero-point energy is useful. This is a favorite of con men, and really irritates me to no end. "Zero-point energy," for those not up on the lingo, is the energy that a quantum system must always contain, even in its lowest state. It's a consequence of uncertainty (in a fairly loose manner of speaking, and I fully expect Aaron Bergman to gripe about that manner of speaking in the comments...), and it can not be extracted. It definitely can not be extracted in order to run your perpetual motion machine. Anyone offering you something powered by "Zero-point energy" (or "vacuum energy") is a liar and a cheat, and should be beaten with sticks.
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics forbids the creation of order. This is a popular one over in PZ Myers's neck of the woods-- creationist whack jobs are always quick to trot this one out, and they're always wrong. (I talked about the Second Law here a couple of years ago.) The problem is almost always the omission of one of the key qualifiers-- they get the "Entropy always increases" part, but leave out the "In a closed system." The Earth is not a closed system. Neither is the Solar System or the Milky Way, and the jury is still out on whether the Universe as a whole is really a closed system (depending on which flavor of string theory is ascendant at the moment). Bits of those things can be considered as closed systems, for a time, provided you're very careful about drawing the boundaries. Care with boundaries, alas, is not a skill held in high esteem by those inclined toward creationism.
I could come up with a few more, but I'm already late for work, so this will have to do for now.
Kathryn Cramer has an update to the quantum mechanics story I blogged about recently. She got a note from Shahriar Afshar, explaining that publication of the results described in the original post is forthcoming, along with a Web site, pop science article, and a possible seminar on the "Bohr-Einstein debate," though it's not entirely clear what that would mean (that's probably a reference to the EPR paradox and related issues, but who knows).
Kathryn posted a link in the comments thread on my original post, but it's slipped so far down the front page that I'm not sure anyone's still looking at it, so I figured I should give the update more prominent publication.
Three Hour Theology
I'm going to be extremely busy for the next couple of weeks-- we're hitting a busy part of the term, and I've got a conference coming up at the end of the month-- so blogging will be fairly light. In more ways than one, because what little I do post will mostly be fluff.
I almost feel bad posting lightweight pop culture items these days, given the seriousness of what's going on in the news. I'm going to anyway, though, because I really don't have anything to add to the discussion in terms of content, and more posts expressing shock and horror over Abu Ghraib aren't really going to help. And anyway, were it not for the actual news, I'd be in a really good mood right about now, having just gotten a very positive report on my third-year reappointment review (the first step in the tenure process). So, since everybody else is talking about depressing things, here's some useless fluff.
This is a mix tape I made a couple of years ago, now, around the time Kate and I got married. The title refers to a mandatory discussion of Catholic doctrine that we had to go to in order to get married in a church. I made the tape, and then left it in the tape deck of my parents' minivan, which we had borrowed for one or another of the post-wedding moves. My dad really liked the tape, so I let him keep it, and until now, I haven't gotten around to making a copy.
Because I'm bored, and because most of these songs are reasonably comprehensible, I'll do this LiveJournal style, and post lyrics rather than song titles, and anyone who care can try to guess the titles and artists. I don't expect this will have much success, given that some of the songs are a little obscure, but I'm easily amused, and this is all about me.
- 1) "Some are mathematicians, some are carpenters' wives."
- 2) "I remember Christmas in the blistering cold, in a church on the Upper West Side."
- 3) "See the oil fields at first light."
- 4) "With fingernails that shine like justice, and a voice that is dark like tinted glass."
- 5) "Your grandsons, they won't understand."
- 6) "She left me roses by the stairs, surprises let me know she cares."
- 7) "We asked for Mojo Nixon, they said 'He don't work here.'"
- 8) "There will be no flowers flowing in the light that passes through me."
- 9) "It's just the way that you talk, like it ain't no thing."
- 10) "Let's bulldoze our way to a brand new peace accord."
- 11) "I wish the ape a lot of success, I'm sorry my apartment's a mess."
- 12) "Most of all, my God, how does she make her eyes do that?"
- 13) "I never know the perfect time to hit the bedroom light."
- 14) "And I may seem all right and smile when you leave, but my smiles are just a front."
- 15) "I need something strong to distract my mind. I'm gonna look at you 'til my eyes go blind."
- 16) "Patchouli oil, and motor oil, and you knew all the words."
- 17) "The way that you sleep is the image I'll keep always on the edge of my mind."
- 18) "Sam Cooke didn't know what I know."
- 19) "Lost his mind from the TV, now he's playing God."
- 20) "We're loyal, like brothers, just us versus all the others."
- 21) "And if I ever get another chance, I'd still ask her to dance."
- 22) "Left my baby and it feels so bad, I guess my race is run."
- 23) "I was riding hard to meet her, when a shot rang out behind."
- 24) "I could hide out under there."
- 25) "Why do tomorrow, what you could never do?"
- 26) "Someone's blasting me with hate and bass, sending dirty vibes my way."
- 27) "Flags, rags, ferry boats, scimitars and scarves, every precious dream and vision underneath the stars."
(Most of these are from memory, with a few things checked by Googling. I can't claim 100% accuracy for any of them.)