Category Archives: Items of Interest

In which, Rep. Rice plays to my vanity

I know it is boring, but it is my policy to publicly post any correspondence I receive from one of my elected representatives, especially the form letters. This one is from Representative Tom Rice, who represents those of us living in South Carolina’s House District 7, on the topic of NSA domestic spying.

In addition to voting the way I wanted him to on HR4870 to stop funding for certain NSA surveillance programs, Representative Rice called me “Dr. Witten”. No one ever calls me “Dr. Witten”, including most of my students. Continue reading

Martin the Warrior

Martin the Warrior by Stormbringer (All Rights Reserved - Used With Permission)

Martin the Warrior by Stormbringer (All Rights Reserved – Used With Permission)

This one is for my brother, Ben, who was a huge fan of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series of books. Martin the Warrior is instrumental in the founding of Redwall Abbey, for which the series is named.

The books are classics and I cannot wait to share them with my daughters. The Frogger is already a fan of David Peterson’s Mouse Guard graphic novels. So, the talking animals of Redwall won’t be a big leap, but I hope she won’t judge the Redwall books for not being as gritty as she her usual fare.

Predictably, one of Ben’s favorite aspects of the Redwall books was Jacques’ lush descriptions of the food:

Every one of Jacques’s books contains a feast prepared by the anthropomorphic woodland creature of Redwall Abbey. The spread alway seems to contain a delectable mix of real and imaginative dishes that leave the mouth watering. Among my personal favorites: Shrimp and Hotroot Soup, Deeper ‘n Ever Tater ‘n’ Turnip ‘n’ Beetroot Pie, Meadow Cream on fruit and pastries, Damson Cordial, and the cellarhog’s famous October Ale.

My favorite characters were the hares of the Hare Border Rangers and the otters*, who are apparently fond of Shrimp & Hotroot Soup, as one should be.

*They are good guys in the Redwall series, which is a bit unusual for an apex predator.

HT: The Brothers Brick

Rosetta Rendezvous, commemorated in LEGOs

by Stefan Schindler (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

“Rosetta – arrival at the comet” by Stefan Schindler (All Rights Reserved; Used with Permission)

After a ten-year odyssey, the ESA Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in early August. In honor of this momentous series of events, we wanted to share this delightful LEGO model* from Stefan Schindler (Stefan has been featured here before). Continue reading

Letter from Senator Lyndsey Graham on Net Neutrality

If Senator Tim Scott’s form letter on Net Neutrality didn’t say much, Senator Lyndsey Graham’s says even less. Unlike Senator Scott’s, only the first paragraph is subject specific. The final three are his form letter boilerplate. Senator Graham isn’t staking out a position. He is simply defending Congress’ power relative to the FCC, something he is usually loathe to do when it comes to the executive branch. Congress can act to declare internet service providers as common carriers; but will they?

I’d like to add a brief moment to address Senator Graham’s office on the matter of etiquette. Senator Graham and I are not on a first name basisContinue reading

Letter from Senator Tim Scott on Net Neutrality

As is my habit, I publish the form letters I receive from my elected representatives. On that front, Net Neutrality is the gift that keeps on giving – if you enjoy letters that don’t say anything – such as this missive from Senator Tim Scott. My general interpretation of this is that while Senator Scott is generally in favor of Net Neutrality, he is not going to spend any political capital flexing his muscles on behalf of the FCC’s reach or to push Congress to define internet service providers as common carriers. Thanks to rules about local internet service providers, the diversity of competition, which is key to Senator Scott’s hope for the future, has been decreasing, especially for those of us living in small towns in South Carolina. Continue reading