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I just watched "To the Last Man", the episode of Torchwood that aired last week in the UK.

It made me cry.

That's rather more intensity than I expect of Torchwood. Which is not a bad thing: it's a fantastic episode. Probably not a good first episode if you don't know the show; it's very character driven, focusing on one of the ensemble, and I think not knowing her backstory would diminish the experience. But it did leave me a little shell-shocked.
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I tivo The Daily Show, but probably only get around to watching one episode in three (and, to be honest, lean a lot on the fast forward button when I do watch it). Today I skimmed through a handful of episodes for the first time in a couple of weeks, and saw this little gem:

Juliet Eilperin has twelve years experience as a reporter in Washington, six of those as the House of Representatives reporter for the Washington Post. Her new book, Fight Club Politics, is among other things about how the two major parties have conspired to make nearly every congressional seat "safe". (Did you know that 98% of incumbents who ran were re-elected in 2004?.[1]) As Jon Stewart was wrapping up the interview....

JE: ... basically they're only willing to get together when it's protecting their own re-election.

JS: And you, covering this for twelve years — corrosive to the soul?

JE: Yes. And in fact I became so depressed doing it I focused more in the environment....

JS: So you choose to focus on the raping and pillaging of the environment rather than cover politics, because

JE: I find it less depressing.




[1] Of 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, 402 incumbents ran in 2004. Only 7 of them lost.
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When it's good, television can floor you

Voice of narrator, as stills from the 20s of the AEolian Hall fill the screen: first an exterior, then interior... a full house....

The historic concert took place on February 12, 1924 at the AEolian Hall in New York. In the audience was a formidable array of social and artistic figures. Among them: Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Rachmaninoff, Leopold Stokowski, Stravinsky.

Here the picture of the crowded hall starts to crossfade with a newspaper ad, as the camera pans down it....

Called "An Experiment in Modern Music", the program was to present Jazz in all its various facets.

The ad gives way to the program, and the camera pans down it as the narrator resumes....

As the long program progressed, there were signs of restlessness — even boredom. After twenty-three numbers, almost at the end of the program, Gershwin strolled up to the piano, and sat down.

With the first opening wail of the clarinet solo, the audience sat up.....

Cue the scene of Paul Whiteman conducting Rhapsody in Blue from the 1945 Warner movie of the same name.... And.... I'm there. My spine straightens.... My breath catches... And I'm hearing that ... longing ... clarinet for the first time. Ever.


American Masters: George Gershwin Remembered. Coming soon to a PBS station near you. Watch it.

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It turns out one of my favorite newer West Wing characters, Elsie Snuffin, who I think of as "Will's smarter sister", is a math geek in real life, with a published proof to her credit. She even has a math section on her official fan site, where she answers fan's questions with discursive, tutorial-style answers.

Q: I think you are great on "The West Wing"! Here’s my current problem, it’s in advanced finite math (I’m a high school senior): At the height of the Beatles’ popularity, it was estimated that every popular music station played their music 40% of the time. If you tuned through 10 such stations at any given moment, what is the probability that at least *one* of the stations would be playing a Beatles song? Thanks!

Danica Answers: A probability question! Okay, lets call "x" the probability that "at least one of the 10 stations would be playing a Beatles song at that moment." Thats what were asked to find. Then lets call "y" the probability that "none of those 10 stations would be playing a Beatles song at that moment." Notice that x+y = 1.... Okay, so well now determine the value of "y" which is much easier than going through all the necessary calculations required to determine "x" directly. This is a common strategy in probability....

I am so amused.

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