Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

These pictures were taken by my friends Stan and Sally Olsen. I met them in 2008 on a bicycle trip from the Lower 48 to Alaska. I have stayed in their house in Anchorage and they have stayed in mine in El Cerrito. I am proud to know them and call them my friends. They are some of the best people I have ever met.

[This is how one gets to ANWR. There are no roads]

[Pristine vastnesses]

[The ridgeline. The north face is scoured of snow by winds off the Arctic Ocean]

[The ridgeline seen from afar.]


[Sally - with lunch]

[Speaking of lunch.... Wolf tracks and caribou tracks. The caribou appears to be running. This does NOT look good for the caribou.]

[A glacial rooster comb. This is a peak of rock that protruded above the glacial ice and thus was not carved away. Evidence of recent glaciation is seen all over the north. Greenland and Antarctica are still under ice. The Ice Age is not over. It is still ending.]

[Have you noticed that there are no trees? Just as high mountains like the Sierra have a treeline above which winter weather is too severe for trees to survive, so too the whole planet has a treeline, north of which no tree grows. ANWR is well north of the planetary treeline.]

[No caribou were harmed in the making of this blog entry. Caribou shed their antlers annually. Notice that there is no skeleton near the antlers.]

[Stan and Sally in repose.]

[This is as indoors as it gets. There are NO buildings in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. None.]

[Stan and Sally and their friends kayaked down the Hula Hula River to the Arctic Ocean]

[Reaching the Arctic Ocean. Sally with sea ice.]

[End of the trail]

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, (called "ANWaR"), is your heritage as an American. It belongs to you. It is also is where the oil companies want to drill for oil and gas. Are you really willing to let them f__k it up even for oil and gas?

In 1967 when the Prudhoe Bay oil strike came in, the oil companies solemnly promised that they would carefully preserve the Arctic coast. They didn't. The Arctic coast of Alaska today is a nightmare of abandoned rusting equipment, decaying buildings, and endless oil rigs with no buffer between them and the environment. The environment the oil companies promised to protect. Contrary to the promise that it would be tightly localized, the oilfield development sprawls for hundreds of miles along the coast.

There have been repeated oil spills including a major one in 2006. The response of the oil company responsible, BP (British Petroleum). was not to spend money on cleaning it up nor to invest in preventing future spills. Instead they invested in litigating to avoid being held responsible.

BP is the leading advocate of opening ANWR to oil and gas extraction.

How much have Alaskans learned to be cautious and to treat oil company promises with circumspection?

At least one Alaskan, Sarah Palin. expressed her sense of restraint and the need for careful regulation and environmental protections with the motto, "Drill, Baby! Drill!" She is the darling of the Right and of the Tea Party Movement. And she is running for President. ANWR is only part of what is at stake.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Movie 1, Bard 0

I watched the British 1955 Laurence Olivier version of "Richard III" on Netflix last night.

Remarkably bad. Production values straight out of high school drama class. The Battle of Bosworth Field fought in a bitterly arid plain in Spain. (The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain, but not on this one) Painfully obviously not England. Armor made out of heating ducts. Costumes and props laughable. Olivier, as part of Richard III's deformity, had an appliance on his face which made his nose about a foot long and which was constantly distracting. Camera work amateurish. Sets a combination of Early Warehouse and Pier One Imports. Painted backdrops that looked like recycled panels from Prince Valiant comic strips.

Even with a cast of the greatest British Shakespeareans - Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Cecil Hardwicke, John Gielgud, others, it was never in the least convincing. Olivier muffed his "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!" line. He sounded like he was reciting Shakespeare rather than acting it. The Duke of Richmond with an Irish brogue. Simply ridiculous.

It may be that this was an early example of translating a play to a movie. In our modern sensibility and experience movies have such large budgets, high production values, and verisimilitude that we are shocked and dismissive at movies that do not have them.

In a playhouse one would not expect those things. In the Globe Theater there were not cavalry charges across Bosworth Field. In ancient Greek tragedy there was no convincingly detailed set of Troy. Nor any costumes or props at all except masks and the occasional sword or cup.

So it may be that two things went wrong. Olivier made a play into a movie without knowing much about how to make a movie. And I watched a movie without being willing or able to see it as a play.

Or it could be as simple as that it has not aged well.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Serious Mind F_ck

[Cosmology on television - closely related to cosmetology?]

I just watched a lecture given at UC Berkeley appropriately enough on April 1, 2010. It is titled "Particle Physics in the 21st Century". Professor Sivas Dimonopoulos is the inventor of super-symmetry which is now part of the Standard Model. Which means that he is a serious physicist. one of those who has defined, and is defining, the mainstream. He is also a charming lecturer.

I had long thought that the concept of multiple universes was just empty speculation and a way to sell glossy magazines like Scientific American, Astronomy, and Hustler. But in this lecture, Dimonopoulos alludes to, albeit obliquely, some reasons why it is not necessarily a crock.

I had heard (on CD) a lengthy bioography of Einstein (eighteen CD's) that the mathematics of general relativity requires not three and not four, but TEN coordinates to specify location. Just as one needs three co-ordinates, usually x, y, and z, to specify a position in 3 dimensional space, and t to specify the position of an event in space-time, so it takes no fewer than ten coordinates to specify how general relativity works. No one knows for sure what the physical significance of the extra six coordinates are, or if there is any physical significance to them.

The question starts out as, "Is the correlation between mathematics and physical reality a coincidence?" Or "Is there a physical significance to mathematical formalisms?". Einstein found in the course of his life that the answers were "no" and "yes". He pissed away most of his later years fighting the significance of these conclusions.

The basis of quantum mechanics is that there is no comprehensible reality distinct from the mathematics describing it. Some would say there is no reality at all, only our perceptions of it. Curiously physics, when pursued to the point of driving it to ground, hunting it like a desperate wild beast, becomes philosophy.

Einstein, the insolent radical when a young outsider, became the conservative coot when middle-aged and established. The generation of quantum mechanics, led by Niels Bohr, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Born, DeBroglie, Pauli, and others, passed him by. The debate came down to the skeptical empiricist philosophy of David Hume versus the positivist philosophy of Kant, Leibniz, and Comte. For the past 90 years Hume has been kicking Leibniz' ass.

So too, the question of multiple universes. The philosophical question, according to Professor Dimonopoulos, comes down to philosophical minimalism versus philosophical plenitude. The formulator of minimalism was William of Ockham (1288-1347), inventor of Ockham's Razor. His dictum is that the simpler a proposition is, the better. A chain of reasoning with fewer steps is more likely to be right than one with more steps. There is no way to prove that Ockham is right, it is just intuitively true.

It is the minimalist passion that leads to theories of unification, of trying to show that the four fundamental forces of nature, strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravity, are really only one force. Which is why Maxwell's equations were such a triumph of 19th century physics. Maxwell showed that light, electricity, and magnetism were all the same thing. He simplified. He minimaliized. Ockham ruled.

On the other hand, there are philosophers like Kant and Liebniz who argue that every possibility is realized, that the universe is complex and multifarious. If there can be one world, there can be many like it. Variation and replication are the favored rules of nature.

Reasoning by analogy from the progression from the belief in only one planetary globe like this one, to belief in several, and from the belief in only one solar system to belief in vast numbers of them, Dimonopoulos argues that there are many universes.

He argues that just as multiple parallel two-dimensional universes can exist in a three dimensional space, similarly, many three dimensional universes can exist in a space with four, five, or ten dimensions. While it is hard to visualize, it is also hard to disagree.

Some of the arguments for other dimensions and other universes comes from the mathematics of string theory and some of it is expected to come from the Large Hadron Collider (the LHC) in Geneva.

Dimonopoulous as an aside answers the question about the possibility that the LHC could create a mini-black hole which could devour the earth in an instant. The theoretical physics of such a black hole is that, if such a thing could form, it would instantly evaporate in a tiny puff of (Stephen) Hawking radiation.

The practical physics of it is that the earth has been undergoing bombardment by cosmic ray particles at much higher energies than the LHC can generate, for the past five billion years. If such high energy particle collisions can indeed generate proton-sized black holes and if such black holes could devour the planet, it would have long since have been devoured. Good to know.

It turns out that one argument and philosophical position is not just as good as another, and we are not entitled to take our pick according to our preference. They aren't and we aren't.

I didn't exactly understand why it mattered, but the question of whether there were more likely to be many universes or only one depends on the energy of a vacuum. I admit I have only a vague understanding of vacuum energy (the sum of the virtual mass-energies of the virtual particles that are forever coming into existence then going out of existence before they can violate the Heisenberg uncertainty principle limits) but it is apparently somehow measurable. If it is low, then there is likely only one universe. If it is high, there are likely many.

In the 1990's they measured it. It was high.

So not only does the universe not exist in any comprehensible way, but there are probably lots of others just as diaphanously almost real as this one.

Now Leibniz has his foot in Ockham's ass.

Here is a link to Professor Dimonopoulos' lecture: (Click on the clackboard icon with the blue arrow at upper left)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

District 9

[Boy versus Bug]

New toy time. After a long period of decline, my computer died in a pflash, possibly brought on by a current surge. Dead dead dead.

Since I am a thorough-unto-neurotic shopper, it took a while to decide on a replacement. Finally I did. A seeming bargain from Costco, but a major example of laptop overkill, I got the second-snazziest model of the Hewlett-Packard line. It is an 18.4 inch screen monster with a lovely keyboard. I especially like its model number. It is more wonderful than the smaller screen DV-6 and DV-7 models. It is the DV-8.

I will post my musings on the analogy between shopping for laptops and shopping for clothes shortly but right now I am impressed with the device as a way to watch Netflix movies. It has 1080p lines of resolution, the same as an HD television, nice sound, and yada yada yada.

This afternoon (don't even bother to tell me that watching movies in the afternoon is a symptom of wasting one's life, I know it all too well) I watched 'District 9' on the shiny new box. It was great as a move experience and the movie itself was terrific for the first hour. Unfortunately the movie was two hours long.

I had greatly feared that the thing would be a pious screed about apartheid and race relations. Especially because it is set in South Africa. At least at first, it seemed not to be. Or to be, depending on how one took it.

But in the end it seemed perhaps like it was more about the Jews and less about the blacks and whites. The aliens are an ancient and advanced people brutalized into primitiveness by being forced into an oppressive and degrading ghetto. The underlying quest of the aliens and the human who comes to share their views, is to return to their distant homeland. The blacks and whites are able to function as peers because of their solidarity in the face of alien outsiders. Much as the bourgeoisie and proletariat reconciled in the face of the alien Jew.

Until it becomes a shoot-em-up adventure movie at the end, it was an outstanding movie that I found surprisingly compelling. Even as an adventure shoot-em-up toward the latter part of the movie it was well above average for that brainless genre.

This thing was nominated for a 'Best Picture' Academy Award nomination last year and I can see why. It is a fine piece of film - compelling story, good acting, thoughtful writing, fine art direction, reasonably good animations, and so on.

Even though I have been able for months now to get Netflix movies on my television and Roku box, there is something astonishing about getting movies directly off the internet onto my laptop. I could do that before, but they are far more impressive and persuasive on the new box than on the old IBM Thinkpad. Today at least I prefer movies on the laptop to movies on the television. It is a surfeit of toys. I may be semi-broke but I am still wallowing in lovely consumer goods.

Yet Another Use for Fine Cutlery

[Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot]


Saturday, July 24, 2010



I was in the kitchen cooking some chicken dish, chopping veggies and slicing tomatoes, when I got to thinking about gifts. About how most gifts are nice and you use them up or wear them out or don't ever use them at all, putting them in a drawer and forgetting about them. Most "things" are not designed to last long and don't. But a few years ago, when you were flush with money, (probably the Irish lads' deposit) you came up here for my birthday and spent far too much on a high end set of knives. I have to tell you I love those knives, especially the 8" chefs knife, I use them every day, and I have a fleeting thought of you whenever I use one. They will outlast me, they'll outlast Lisa. Someday Mia or Lucy will probably have them. (I bought Nate and Berni a nice set of their own.)

The perfect gift. Thanks again.


PS I have cut myself several times using them, but it was always my fault, not the knifes. And always a nice, clean cut.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Real Life Off the Horn of Africa

This movie is seven minutes long and some of it is slow. But the endings justify the meanwhiles.

Somali pirates seized a Russian oil tanker and took its crew hostage. Russian commandos have retaken the ship and captured the pirates. This film is shot by the commandos aboard the retaken ship. At the end the Russians have transferred the pirates from the tanker back to their pirate ship.

Except for a brief exchange in English, the dialogue is in Russian.

Concerned Citizen, a Russian speaker, writes:
The communications one can overhear on the Russian commando video are all of a routine nature. there are at least two teams of commandos (perhaps the boarding party divided the target between the pilot house and the crew compartment. The two teams can be heard using tactical call-signs describing their positions in the pirate vessel. One of the commandos can also be heard communicating in VHF with the commander of the Russian Destroyer.

The commando team is passing weapon type and count information back to the Russian surface vessel. The commandos appear casually interested in the large number of automatic weapons being secured. While searching for weapons, the commandos are very concerned that they secure any RPGs. One interesting and important phrase: the one of the commandos reports to the Russian vessel that the automatic weapons, while all of Soviet design, are not of Russian manufacture and this leaves the question of provenance open. The next section of video concerns securing the prisoners. They are ordered to take off their outer shirts. There is a count of injured and non-injured prisoners passed on to the surface vessel.

I do not believe the pirates were placed back on their own vessel. It appears that charges were set by the commandos and the vessel was destroyed. There is a great deal of self-congratulating going on as the pirate vessel burns as well as a discussion of how long the vessel will burn. One commando remarks that it depends on the amount of fuel in the vessel. Again, aside from the remarks concerning the non-Russian manufacture of the weapons, the communication appears routine. I would add that there is a great deal more chatter going on than I would expect from an equivalent U.S. unit.


Leviticus defines in detail what constitutes incest. There are three reasons that I can think of for prohibiting it. One is that it produces inbred children who are often genetically inferior in a variety of ways to normal children. A second is that it must produce all sorts of emotional wringers and family distortions and dysfunctions. . And a third is that it is tacky.

My guess is that since Israel was a pastoral country with herds of goats, sheep, and cattle, they were probably well aware of the biological undesirability of inbreeding. It was common knowledge. The writer of Leviticus was certain to have been well aware of it.

The one good thing that can be said for it is that it keeps family property from being dispersed and shared outside the family. Royal families and the extraordinarily wealthy skirt as close to the prohibitions of Leviticus as they can. One thinks of the Hapsburgs and of the Rothschilds. Where land was the basis of livelihood and arranged marriages the norm, avoiding dispersing the family landholdings would have been of great importance.

So there were good reasons to do it, and good reasons not to do it.

There are all the prohibitions one would expect, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, siblings, aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews, and so on.

But a few are less clear. It is prohibited for a man to fool around with his stepmother, his father's second wife. Even though she is no kin of her stepson. Similarly it is forbidden to get too chummy with one's mother-in-law. Again the relationship is by marriage, not by blood.

The incest prohibitions in Leviticus are distinct from the adultery prohibitions elsewhere. So presumably these cases would arise after the death or divorce of the intervening party. For example, the stepmother presumably would only become an issue after the death of the father or her divorce from him. Similarly the mother-in-law would become an issue only after the death or divorce of her daughter.

So what is the reasoning behind this abatement of biblical cougars? Why NOT sleep with a sexy stepmother or a hot mother-in-law?

One reason was examined in the 1962 black and white movie "Phaedra". There a young Anthony Perkins becomes involved with his stepmother, played by Melina Mercouri. The movie was an adaptation of Euripides' play of the same name. In the Greek myth and tragedy and in the movie, Phaedra's husband Theseus is not only alive but also armed and homicidal. In every version of the story the son, Hippolytus, ends up dead.

Similarly Reuben is stripped of his primogeniture rights by his father Jacob when he is caught with Jacob's concubine Bilhah. This is also an example of Jewish mildness and civilization compared to Greek brutality and savagery.

So the problem is that often the intervening party is NOT dead or divorced. And the Torah comes down on exactly the opposite side when the intervening party actually is dead. The example is levirate marriage. When a man died, his brother was required to marry the widow, his sister-in-law.

All of these rules are subject to the Arkansas Exception.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Brevity is ...

A male giraffe and a bull elephant are having mixed drinks in a bar. The waiter brings the check and the giraffe grabs it, saying, "The highballs are on me."


Why is the sky dark at night?

Olbers' Paradox
If the universe were infinite and stars were uniformly distributed throughout it there would be an infinite number of stars. If the universe had always existed, the light from every one of those stars would have had time to reach us.

That means that no matter where we looked, our line of sight would end in a star. There would be no space between them. The sky should be a solid white sheet of the faces of stars.

But it isn't. Which means that at least one of those three assumptions (infinite universe, uniform distribution of stars, universe always existed) must be wrong. So far the one which appears not to be true is that the universe has not always existed.

The best estimate is that the Big Bang was 13.7 billion years ago. In that time light can have traveled only 13.7 billion light-years. So the furthest away thing we can see is 13.7 billion light-years away. (It was that far away when it gave off the light we would eventually see. It is further away now because the universe has been expanding rapidly the whole time the light was en route to us.) So though the stars are indeed infinite in number, the stars we can see, even in theory, are not.

Thus our lines of sight in the sky are not infinitely long. They reach out no further than 13.7 billion light-years and thus generally do not end on the surface of a star. Which is why the sky is dark at night.

Which means that cosmology and the Big Bang and the origin of the universe and all that woo-woo stuff that it seems like only astrophysicists understand, is not far away and abstruse and hocus-pocus and remote from your life. You can look up and see it tonight.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What a Man Sees

[Coco Chanel - a role model]

One more difference between straight men and gay men:

Straight men undress women with their eyes.

Gay men do too, but then they re-dress them in chic clothes and provide fabulous accessories.

--original joke I just made up

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why Old Ladies Love Me

[Which Igor is more famous - Stravinsky or Peter Lorre? Do I even have to ask?]


Why I Love Old Ladies


Faithful after 49er's had fumbled the opening kickoff of opening game which opponents ran in for touchdown: Just wait 'til next year!

[What we are not seeing, even as we speak]

I have already looked at the November 13, 2012 eclipse on the NASA site. Totality passes directly over Cairns in Queensland. Cairns is a city of 150,000 people and is accessible by road, rail, and air. There will be none of this cartelization of access bullshit as in Easter Island. I WILL be able to get there.

November in Australia is the equivalent of May here. Cairns has the same latitude as Acapulco. It should be hot dry and clear. The sun will be easy to see and so will the eclipse.

I plan to leave shortly after the election, possibly directly from Florida where I will likely have gone as a campaign volunteer. The reason Florida has been such a big deal politically is that it is the largest of the states which is a swing state. California and New York are always blue, Texas always red.

I did a spreadsheet of the electoral vote changes between the 2004 and 2008 elections. Obama carried exactly the same states Kerry did, plus eight more. Fiddling with the spreadsheet showed that Obama could have lost seven of those eight and still have won the election so long as he carried Florida.

Which means that Florida has decided all three of the last three presidential elections. The difference between Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and Obama in 2008 is fundamentally just Florida. Which means that that is the place to volunteer. So I have decided to go there in October 2012. The weather will be turning pleasant by then.

Curiously, I have not decided which party to campaign for. Actually, I have not decided which party to campaign against. I never support anybody -- they are all liars and assholes. The question is always which collection of them is more dangerous to the future of the Republic and the world than the other. Generally a close question.

After the Senate Republicans this week voted unanimously not to extend unemployment benefits and thus defeated the bill, even though unemployment is hovering around 10%, it is hard not to regard them as currently the more despicable of the two parties.

It remains to be seen how Democratic perfidy can top that, but given two years to work on it, I am confident that our boys in blue will find a way.

I feel now that I was naive in working for Obama in Colorado on the basis of his campaign pledges, the central ones of which he jettisoned immediately, some, like repealing the 2003 tax breaks for the rich, even before the inauguration.

Now that I think back on it, I learned everything I needed to know about American politics from Robert F. Kennedy. During his brother's administration he had been one of the architects of the Vietnam War. Five years later, seeing the electoral and polls success of Eugene McCarthy, he converted to running against his own policies. And got away with it. He had just won the California primary the day he was shot.

The peace campaign of Eugene Mcarthy and those of us who had been "clean for Gene" were brushed aside. Principle and commitment were as chaff in the wind compared to money, name recognition, and the party machines.

I was one of those horrified, but not especially sorry, when he was assassinated.

I cannot think why I thought for a moment that Obama would be less of a cynical prick than RFK.

I cannot think why I have gone on this endless political ramble either. Perhaps because the eclipse is happening at this very moment and I am frustrated not to be there to see it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Why Jews Don't Want to Live Under Arab Rule

[The Shi'ite Karbala Mosque before it was bombed in 2007]

from today's New York Times:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber attacked a crowd of Iraqi Shi'ite pilgrims en route to a shrine on Wednesday, killing at least 25 and wounding 62 despite heavy security during a religious festival, a police source said.

The suicide bombing took place just short of a bridge where 1,000 Shi'ite pilgrims died in a stampede during the same rite in 2005 after hearing rumors of a bomb.

The attacker was wearing a belt full of explosives, the police source said. Suicide bombings are often a hallmark of Sunni Islamist groups like al Qaeda, which regard Shi'ite Muslims as apostates.

This is how they treat their fellow Muslims.

Where is Condoleeza Rice when we need her?

[Demonstration against construction of mosque at 9/11 Ground Zero]

from today's Arutz Sheva:
U.S. President Barack Obama has climbed down from the limb on which he changed a long-standing American policy that accepts Israel’s “ambiguity” on whether it has nuclear capability.

Several weeks ago, President Obama ignored Israeli warnings and backed a United Nations resolution for a nuclear-free Middle East that singled out Israel but did not mention Iran.

He clearly stated a retreat from his position on Tuesday, telling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the United States will not encourage a Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference unless all countries "feel confident that they can attend” and on condition that Israel is not singled out.
As I recall the beef with Bush was that he was a moron. If Obama can't figure out what is in the interest of the United States and its allies and stick with that policy, then he is an incompetent. How is that better?


Change We Can Believe In

[Jews praying at the Western Wall of a 6th Century BCE Jewish "settlement"]

from today's Arutz Sheva:
Since President Obama's presidential campaign in 2008, when he had told Jewish leaders that Jerusalem is Israel’s undivided capital, he has labeled as “settlements” the Jewish neighborhoods in areas where the PA claims sovereignty. After his campaign statement on the “undivided” capital, he retreated from his position, saying that he meant that the city is not separated by the barbed wire that was present when Jordan occupied the city from 1949 until 1967.
Which would include the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

Why do I keep getting the feeling that this guy is the worst lying sack of shit since Nixon?


Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

Chile is not going to happen. I was willing, reluctant but still willing, to go when they made flights from the mainland to Easter Island available at $2000 instead of their usual $500. But I balked when I discovered it was $2000 each way. And another $1000 to get to and from Santiago. Not only is that more than I want to spend with the stock market going down the crapper again, but I really really don't like being taken advantage of like that.

The alternative, El Calafate in southern Argentina, fell through on the weather forecast. Not only would the eclipse only be visible for a few seconds there and right on the horizon, but the forecast is for overcast and rain on the 11th so I wouldn't have seen even that.

No worries though. There will be another eclipse in mid-November 2012 in northern Australia. There is no way the bastards can cartelize the whole continent. Totality will pass directly over Cairns, in Queensland. Cairns has a population of 150,000 and is accessible by road, air, and rail. I can get there.
The Great Barrier Reef is directly off-shore there so there is plenty to do. The weather will be clear and in the mid to high eighties.

Unlike Easter Island, Cairns is not redolent of disaster. When one learns its history, Easter Island is perhaps the most depressing place on earth. By contrast, Cairns and Queensland are part of the Happy Land, as the Aussies call their country.

For now I will turn my attention to local matters and to North America.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Modern Times

In the end we all die. Which is a big defeat.

So it is important to win small victories along the way. Yesterday's small victory for me was that Kragen had the headlight bulbs for my car, and had them in stock. Today's small victory was that I was able to install them. And they work.

As usual it was not as simple as I had assumed. In the old days a headlight lamp was a clear glass bulb with two parallel filaments in it. Regular beam was when one of the filaments was lit. High beam was when both were lit.

No longer. Nowadays, by which I mean 1995 when the car was made, the low beams and the high beams are two separate lamps on each side, making a total of four. Nor are they simple, easily visualizable bulbs either. They are sophisticated and electronic-looking instead. As one might expect, the two kinds of electronic-looking lamps are confusingly similar but not interchangeable.

It is tacitly assumed that one knows this and will not spend an undue amount of time trying to put a triangular peg in an almost triangular hole. I spent only a due amount of time attempting this, largely because I started with a lucky guess.

Assuming one can find the right ones to replace, they are wonderfully simple to install. They require no tools to snap into place.

Life is grand.