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Ron Obvious

Profile Information

Name: Ron
Gender: Male
Home country: Middle Earth
Current location: Seattle
Member since: Tue Dec 13, 2011, 11:37 PM
Number of posts: 3,813

About Me

I got the nickname Ron Obvious because -- in addition to being a huge Python fan -- my name really is Ron and I used to start sentences with \"Obviously\" a lot. Obviously, that\'s no longer a problem.

Journal Archives

Grandpa was always proud to show his large erections to anyone.

Like this one, for example:

That's the water tower in the town of Eibergen in the Netherlands, right on the border with Germany. During the early 1930's, my grandfather was an itinerant bricklayer who left his family and travelled the continent on his motorcycle looking for work. This water tower was one of his jobs, and I just passed it today. It seems to be in excellent condition, which is more than you can say for my grandfather who's been dead for decades.

It was nice to see and touch a link with the past like that.

So the doc prescribed these fancy 'suppository' pills...

So the doc gave me these fancy 'suppository pills' for my complaint. I don't know what 'suppository' means, but they tasted terrible and for all the good they did me I might as well have shoved them up my arse.

Modern medicine, pfffft!

Memories of Napster...

While backing up some files from an old hard drive recently, I came across some mp3 files I had downloaded off Napster back in the day. Since they were all timestamped, it was amusing to look at them in chronological order.

I embarked on my life of crime by downloading music I already owned on 45's or LP's, and which I couldn't find on CD anywhere. I justified these act of profound villainy to my then unhardened conscience by reminding it that I had already paid for the rights to listen to that music, and weren't the record companies telling us it was all about rights and not physical property?

I still recall the thrill of finding these, often poorly transcoded, songs through my 56Kb dial-up connection to the internet. It's almost as much fun to see these filenames and timestamps now as finding them itself was back then. It's like looking at diary entries.

On August 6, 2000, I must have risen early because at 6:20 AM, I downloaded the Sparks' "This Town Aint Big Enough for the Both of US":

Later that day, I picked up "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Chicken Shack.

And then Slade's "Look wot you dun":

At the end of the day (10:37 PM), by now thoroughly steeped in sin and bound for perdition, I finally picked up Queen's "Killer Queen", which I easily could have bought legitimately, but I told myself that I already owned it on a scratchy LP after all, so why did I have to? Ah, the road to Hell and all that:

All music from the early seventies, which must have been where my head was that day in August, 2000. Those were good times -- both of them.

Why computers and AI will probably never be able to fully understand human communications

I have a friend who is a bit of a Yoga Berra in that he says things in an odd way sometimes, but you usually know exactly what he means.

Yesterday he told me: "I'm really upset with my girlfriend because she deceived me. Last week she told me she'd cheated on me. <pause> Now I find out that that wasn't true".

OK, you know what he means, right? But how would a computer parse that sentence? What's he upset about exactly? Understanding human communications requires up-to-date cultural knowledge, and not just an understanding of grammar and vocabulary because it's so ambiguous.

Compare these two sentences:

Yesterday I saw a movie with my neighbour Fred.
Yesterday I saw a movie with Bruce Willis.

Grammatically, these sentences are the same but they probably mean different things, right? Now, it is just possible that Bruce Willis is a pal of mine I go to the pictures with, and it is also just possible that my neighbour Fred is a movie star. If I were a celeb myself, you might consider either of those statements as likely, but as I'm Joe Ordinary, they're highly unlikely.

Think of how much a computer or robot would have to know to parse those two ordinary sentences correctly. Now what if I'd said:

Yesterday I saw a movie with Marilyn Monroe. This time there's only one way to parse that sentence because Marilyn Monroe is dead. But what if the statement had been made in 1960? Or in 1944 before she was famous? Each such factor that influences the interpretation of the sentence is easy for humans to interpret, but very difficult for computers who don't even know what questions to ask.

For some reason this was something I was thinking about while I lay awake last night.

Free Speech...

I'm posting this here because I'm really not in the mood for a lengthy argument in GD, but man, I'm getting mightily depressed by the number of people (including here on DU) who don't seem to understand what free speech is or why it's important to defend unpopulair speech in particular. I'm referring, of course, to the anti-Islam movie and the fallout in Libya and Egypt.

And then I read this, in a US embassy press release:

"We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others" (Source: http://egypt.usembassy.gov/pr091112.html)

Christ on a bike, have we learned nothing in all these years since the bill of rights was written?

I wish this Christopher Hitchens video were mandatory viewing in civics class in this country. Fat chance, I know.

My Favourite Newspaper Correction of all time.

"In one edition of today's Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeño peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley's Southwestern Chicken Salad recipe. The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeño peppers."

As quoted in Richard Lederer's 'More Anguished English', one of the funniest books of all time. I once gave the books to a friend dying in hospice care. He laughed so hard, he tore the stitches from his most recent operation.

What we used to think of as Hard Rock...

Submitted for your approval, some young lads from Wolverhampton who called themselves 'Slade'.

This used to be thought of as hard rock, causing our mothers to clutch their pearls, and our fathers to predict the apocalypse, shaking their fists at our degeneracy. By today's standards, it's practically easy listening, isn't it? Don't you just want to pat these lovely blokes on their head for their sweet and good-natured music?

So Weird: I had a dream within a dream last night

I thought this sort of thing only happened on TV or in the movies.

I was experiencing a terrifying, intense nightmare. I won't satisfy the now salivating Freudians by describing it, but Steven King could have written the script.

Then I woke up, startled, and relieved to find it was just a dream. I looked at the alarm clock. It was 2:30. I sighed and said to my wife: "I was having a nightmare". "I know", she replied, "I heard you screaming." There was a strange woman wearing a bathrobe in the corner of the room, but that fact didn't strike me as odd at the time. Suddenly, I smelled cigarette smoke. "There's someone in this room", I said, and then the same horrors from my nightmare starting happening for real.

Then I woke up, startled, and relieved to find it was just a dream. I looked at the alarm clock. It was 3:40. I sighed and said to my wife: "I was having a nightmare". "I know", she replied, "I heard you screaming."

As far as I know I'm operating in the outer layer of reality still.

I can't begin to describe how absolutely weird that was. All the details of our bedroom and furniture were absolutely correct in the middle dream.

Anyone ever experience anything similar?

Here's the companion picture...

Firefighter saves cat. Compare and contrast:

EC 2012 predictions: Group D

This sport makes idiots of all prognosticators, but encouraged by the exactly-equal-to-chance nature of my earlier predictions, I'm going to add group D for completeness sake. I was also working with outdated squad information from uefa's website and therefore missed that Puyol was going to be missing for Spain and that Czeszny was Poland's number 1 keeper. As before, all corrections, etc, etc...

Group D contains the other host nation, Ukraine as well as Sweden, and will start off with the always interesting England - France.


Sweden finished second to Holland in their qualifying campaign and managed a creditable victory over them. It should probably be mentioned that that match was a dead rubber for the Dutch at that stage. As best 2nd-place finisher (I really hate these mathematically ugly and - above all - unfair inter-group comparisons, btw), they qualified without having to play a play-off match. Managed by Erik Hamrén, Sweden are usually competent but rarely threaten to reach to final stages of the tournament. Of course, at the Euro's anything could happen. Keeper Andreas Isaksson has had an indifferent season at his club PSV, who threatened to replace him with Polish penalty-stopping hero Tyton, and he could be a weak spot. Up front, loveable nut and Karate-kicking psychopath Ibrahimovich is their one true world-class player. He's also a bit of a flat-track bully who tends to disappear in big matches, so you never quite know what to expect of him. Isaksson's PSV team mate, Toivonen is also a competent goal scorer.


As co-host, Ukraine did not have to qualify, and I find it difficult to assess their prospects. Home advantage will presumably help, but I don't even know how much the country will be behind them. Ukraine is really two countries: a Russian-speaking East and a Ukrainian-speaking west, who don't seem to particularly like each other. One likes to think a good cup run might help with that. Being a recently independent country, their international pedigree is understandably short, consisting only of a quarter final appearance at the 2006 WC, arrived at after a series of eyeball-bleedingly boring performances. As the team are managed again by the same man in charge then, Oleg Blokhin, this does not offer a lot of hope for scintillating football this time around. Oleg Blokhin stresses fitness and discipline over individual skill, which is odd, because it's completely opposite from his demeanor as a player. He was a tremendously gifted footballer from the great Dynamo Kiev sides of the 70's, who disguised his essential laziness by relying on his exceptional skills. Maybe it's the Lobonovsky influence. I know little about their current players, but I do have to wonder about their goal-scoring threat considering that Voronin and 78 year old Shevchenko are likely to feature up front.


England arrive at a major tournament with probably the lowest expectations ever. Frankly, that can only be a good thing. When expectations are high, a rabid tabloid press back home will do anything in their power to whip up frenzy at the slightest sign of weakness. Low Point: picture of Steve McLaren's children bearing the caption: 'These are the Children of a Loser'. It's no secret that the press corps wanted their mate Harry Redknapp to be the England manager and they are already restless after the appointment of Roy Hodgson. In fact, one can easily imagine the headlines if things come unstuck against France and Sweden: "Tewwible!", "Not Good Enough, Woy!", "Turnips vs Swedes... Again!", "Welease Woy! (from his contract)". Ahh, the joys of being an England manager, eh?

The squad is ravaged by injuries and suspensions. Lampard and Cahill are out with recent injuries, and Rooney is suspended for the first two matches (Stupid Boy!). Joe Hart is the undisputed number 1 keeper, which is refreshing after Capello's mishandling of the keeper position in South Africa, and John Terry is preferred in the back to Rio Ferdinand for 'purely footballing reasons'. Steven Gerrard, who has never quite replicated club form for country, is captain but the inclusion in midfield of his Liverpool team mate Stewart Downing is frankly puzzling. Up front, Andy Carroll is preferred to Peter Crouch, should a switch to 'hoof it to the big man' tactics be needed. Young Oxlade-Chamberlain might come off the bench, while it is hoped that Theo Walcott will up his usual '1 great game in 4' ratio.


Like Italy, France alternate between ignominious first round exits and threatening for the title. The rightly-disliked Domenech is gone, replaced by Laurent Blanc for the manager position. He's got a squad of big names at his disposal: Lloris in goal, Evra, Mexes, Debuchy in back, Perpetually-scowling Ribery, Nasri and Malouda in the middle and Benzema up front. With players like that, it seems France ought to be a shoe-in to win the group, but then you never do know with France, do you?


June 11

England - France 0-0. An oddly-subdued game which will leave neither side terribly disappointed. England fans singing the theme from 'The Great Escape' give it up as a bad job late in the game, and opt for jeering instead.
Ukraine - Sweden 1-1. A sea of yellow and blue in the stands, but which are the Swedes and which are the Ukrainians? Not too exciting, but hey, 2 goals.

June 15

Sweden - England 0-0. Oh, dear me. In the second half, England switch to 'hoof-it-to-the-big-man' tactics, but Swedes grew up watching English football, and have seen that one before. Hodgson is seen vigorously rubbing his face, and the sound of the English press corps sharpening their skewering knives can be heard shortly after kick-off.
Ukraine - France 1-1. Doesn't anybody want to win this group? Jungle noises can distinctly be heard among Ukrainian fans, but EUFA officials pretend not to notice.

June 19

Ukraine - England 1-3. Do or die time for England, but Rooney is back from his ban and, like an over-eager racehorse, he comes running out of the gate full of vim & vigour and farting sparks. He'll either be sent off or score a hattrick. Fortunately for Roy Hodgson and England, it's the latter and England finally break their scoring duck. While English journo's try to think of variations on the headline 'Roontastic!', Ukrainian fans decide a good riot might be fun.
France - Sweden 1-0. An 82d minute goal by Ribery breaks Swedish hearts and sends France through.


England 3 1 2 0 5 3-1
France 3 1 2 0 5 2-1
Sweden 3 0 2 1 2 1-2
Ukraine 3 0 2 1 2 1-3

England and France qualify
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