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Meditations - ta eis heauton

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Monday, April 18, 2005

Google fascinates once again

This post on the Washington Monthly blog got me clicking all kinds of interesting links. It is amazing to discover the uses people are able to come up with for large databases of information. The google maps satellite photo database has spurred all kinds of interesting uses and made looking at a map much more interesting. Looking at the Washington Monument and the White House on a regular map can be interesting, but looking at a photo of it from a birds eye view is fascinating. Check out the interesting Wired Magazine article that discusses some of the fascinating things that have been caught in satellite photos. Then look at the Google Sightseeing blog and check out some of their amazing links.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Title Insurance

My Future Sister in law sent me an email joke today about a lawyer attempting to get a home loan for his clients:

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply

(Actual letter):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows (actual letter):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella.

The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God,it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana.

God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back, to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn loan?"

The loan was approved.

I just thought this begged for a follow-up. Assuming that you remove the last line from the joke, I think this would have been a nice reply letter:

"Dear Sir:

We appreciate your further explanation as to the title history of the property, however, after reviewing the title history on record with the state it appears there is an alternate claim to the property.

According to the counter claim the property was taken from the claimants unlawfully, without contract or title transfer, by the Spanish and French. Turns out there are numerous records for their claim.

These claimants state that they had held the land continuously for over 2,000 years prior to the arrival of Captain Columbus. According to their claim they had been a nomadic tribe for some time and decided to settle down. The chief and medicine man consulted the Spirits. They were directed by the Spirits to the described property and told that they were to care for the land until the end of time.

As there claim appears to have an equal basis to yours, title passage by Right of Supernatural Delegation, and a much longer history. They appear to have the stronger claim. Therefore, in order to verify your claim we need a sworn statement from God that he gave it to the Pope and not to the Indians. We await your reply.


Joseph AngryBear
FHA Loan Director"

Update: Columbus was not a "Spanish sea Captain", he was an Italian sea Captain sailing under the Spanish flag. See comments for context. Other minor grammatical errors also fixed since I was messing around anyhow.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Dance Monkey Dance

This is really funny. At the same time I think it actually make a good philosophical point.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

2D:4D finger length ratio

I read a couple of different news articles over the last year or so about the interesting correlations between the ratio of your index finger(2D, second digit) to your ring finger(4D, fourth digit) and various primarily male traits. Researchers don't know exactly what causes the ring finger to be longer than the index finger (as measured from the basal crease, the crease at the bottom of the finger where it attaches to the palm). It is theorized that it has to due with pre-natal testosterone levels in the womb. Men have a lower ratio than women across all populations and the ratio is not believed to change over your lifetime. Additionally research has shown that the ratio is a better predictor when using the right hand instead of the left (although I am curious if they adjust for hand dominance).

Anyway it turns out that a bunch of interesting studies have been done on this and all kinds of fascinating results have been found. In all cases I will try to describe the results based on the perspective of having a lower ratio(ie. significantly longer ring finger than the index finger), which is considered generally to be associated with more masculine traits. Here is a taste of what the research suggests:

Men with a lower ratio correlates with more Physical Aggression

Better asymmetrical hand performance in Jamaican children

Across ethnic groups Afro-Caribbean blacks have the lowest ratios, with Oriental Hans having the highest

Low ratios correlates to larger families for men, whereas high ratios correlate to larger families for women

Lower ratios correlate with a lower likely hood of homosexuality.

A lower ratio correlates to better performance in skiing

It also correlates with a better ability to play soccer (football outside the US).

Increased likely hood to be a "butch" lesbian versus a "femme" lesbian among self-described lesbians

Lower ratios suggest a higher likelihood to have Autism and possibly Asperger syndrome

There are lots of interesting available abstracts on the National Library of Medicine . Just search their PubMed website for "2D:4D ratio" there were 47 abstracts when I did it today.

Bonus: An interview with the scientist that did the study on soccer players