Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

FOUCAULT PENDULUM UPDATE....LA Times reporter Bob Pool goes the extra mile and does what I didn't: he picked up the phone and asked Edwin Krupp, the director of the Griffith Observatory, why the pegs were missing from their Foucault pendulum:

Krupp denied rumors that health or safety inspectors were responsible for initially banning observatory workers from the pendulum pit. Instead, observatory officials themselves decided to change the procedure after repeated pit entry began damaging the enclosure's decorative stone and glasswork, he said.

Well....OK. Pool also reports that the observatory folks are busily constructing a brand new peg setter upper: "It will be radio-controlled, using the same type of technology found in remote control toy cars. An arrow will also be used to show where over the pit floor the pendulum was previously swinging." I was hoping for a specially trained chimpanzee to swing down into the pit and reset the pegs in order to earn banana rewards, but I guess this will do instead.

Kevin Drum 11:11 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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This merits some recognition as the most unexpected blog post of the day.

Posted by: Boronx on June 4, 2007 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I was hoping for specially trained chimpanzee to swing down into the pit and reset the pegs in order to earn banana rewards, but I guess this will do instead.

Now there's a job egbert or Al could fill. But please give them a tiny American flag to wave as they leap in and out of the pit.

Posted by: fyreflye on June 4, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

I thought everyone new. If left to their own devices, docents generate new facts at a rate of one per every 20 hours worked.

Posted by: B on June 4, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

A robot monkey would be even better at setting up pins, and will work for silicon banana-treats.

Posted by: Dallas on June 4, 2007 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Where's Tom Cruise when you need him?

Posted by: jimBOB on June 4, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

My buddy Mr. Occam suggested pegs hinged at the bottom that would tip back on contact but could easily and quickly be reset from above with some sort of hooked pole jobby.

Posted by: Ken D. on June 4, 2007 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Ooh decorative stone work. Yeah I could get that. The pit for the pendulum at Gates in Denver when I was the pendulum wrangler looked like ass. Nothing decorative, just painted concrete with lots of streaks from shoe rubber.

People will still have to jump in the pit once in a while, they can't delude themselves into thinking otherwise. Kids and adults both toss garbage into the pit because they think it's a cool thing to do.

Posted by: Michael Ditto on June 4, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

A must read...Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco

The truth about religion, mysticism, fascism all revealed...

Posted by: A Hermit on June 4, 2007 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty juvenile, but I like to refer to the widget as a "Fuck y'all" pendulum.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 4, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I was hoping for specially trained chimpanzee

Sorry, the chimp's not available until 01/20/09.

Posted by: thersites on June 4, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I realize the pegs are a vitally important issue, but maybe our host could pay a little attention to some of the less important issues, like why the HikingTrails are closed despite the only people who might have a problem being those who take one HikingTrail which could be kept closed off.

Hey, maybe our host could look into their idea of spending millions to reseed the park, when - believe it don't! - there's already a natural process in place to take care of that. Do they think it's a lawn?

Bonus: our host could look into the attempt to squeeze every last dime out of the park and treat it as an AmusementPark. They've blocked off part of the road up to the observatory and most people take buses there for $; several times in the afternoons they might as well have not bothered.

There's a big story here about mismanagement and the clash between loony, racial demagogue/"liberal" urban politicians and nature, but I don't have the time and Drum doesn't have the skillz.

Posted by: TLB on June 4, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

As I said, before the remote peg setter upper would be a great science fair project, or competition between all the local colleges and high schools.

I would modify a roomba or lego mindstorms.

Posted by: jerry on June 4, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote:
does what I didn't: he picked up the phone

This explains why Kevin is a blogger, not a reporter (and thus, why we continue to need reporters).

Posted by: none on June 4, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

And yet again, the latest anecdote about big-government, nanny-state regulation gone berserk proves to be apocryphal.

Has *any* of these nanny-state anecdotes ever turned out to be true?

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on June 4, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

'Foucault's Pendulum' One of the best books I have read. I can't claim to have understood more than 50% of it, but I knew enough to make the finish fucking unreal.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 4, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

This explains why Kevin is a blogger, not a reporter (and thus, why we continue to need reporters).

Not counting that time when Kevin did some original reporting, shedding much-needed light on the... well, I can't remember now. I'm not gonna write his CV for him.

Posted by: Grumpy on June 4, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I was hoping for specially trained chimpanzee to swing down into the pit and reset the pegs in order to earn banana rewards

Go ahead, try to get that one past PETA.

Posted by: Peter on June 4, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, great.

Now I've got that dopey Roger Miller song stuck in my head.

Posted by: Tilli (Mojave Desert) on June 4, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'll also add that I took a "defensively permitted" BikeRide from the GreekTheatre up to the road from TravelTown, and I saw absolutely no fire damage along that road. The road is blocked to cars (except for when they're trying to squeeze even more money out of it by renting out to FilmCrews or building yet more WaterTanks), but people had previously been allowed to travel on it. However, it's since been roped off with big warning signs "for your protection". Once again: zero damage.

I also find it extremely offensive that our city leaders would use scare tactics as their rationale for closing off most of the park: the way they made it sound the place was swarming with rabid coyotes and rattlesnakes.

I realize this is just a local story, but it'd be nice if someone would look into it.

Posted by: TLB on June 4, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, any reporter or blogger worth his or her salt would pick up the phone and ask the observatory director or city councilman LaBonge why the buses are necessary. It was public knowledge that if the buses or some form of transportation were not mandated, the NEIGHBORHOOD association would shut down the observatory due to the huge number of cars coursing through the one or two streets that actually reach the observatory. Litigation from the neighbors would have kept the place closed and then ya'll who bitch about liberal whiny political correctness would have been whiny-ass titty babies about the whole issue anyway. It's lose-lose.

As far as i understand it, the city made the decision to institute the buses, and had no tax money to pay for the $16 million it would cost to run them. Hence, the users pay. Now, that "user pay" philosophy is one that whiny-ass titty babies on the right wing usually embrace as a "market rules" kind of thing. In reality, it is fairer, but still people find something to whine about.

If I, as a reader and sometimes user of LA services can find out this info and I don't live there, then those of ya'll who DO live there have no excuse for not also picking up the phone and asking a few questions before you go off on unhinged attacks.

As far as the park environment goes -- give it a chance. It's the only park you have and whining about "scare tactics" belies a "fuck you" attitude that I find astonishing.

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Posted by: Elliott on March 16, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
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