Sunday, December 23, 2007

43 questions

(Ed.: It's actually 44, but if you look at the answer to the last question, that's why I was in no condition for accuracy.)
I haven't done one of these pass-around things in ages, so here's one that I saw at Rae's Place.

1. Were you named after anyone?
St. Christopher and my dad. My mom isn't Catholic, but for some reason she always liked the St. Christopher story, so she named me after him. My middle name is my dad's name.

2. When was the last time you cried?
A few nights ago, listening to music.

3. Do you like your handwriting?
Yeah, I do, actually. It's sort of a rolling print. It's rather unique, I think.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?
Turkey.

5. Do you have kids?
Four: Girl 17, girl 15, boy 12, and girl 4 (Mommy and Daddy's Little Accident).

6. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
Maybe on the internet. (lol)

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
No, never.

8. Do you still have your tonsils?
Yes. My mom had her appendix out when she was a girl, and while she was in the hospital a little boy got his tonsils out and hemorrhaged and died. So even though I'm old enough to have been on the tail end of the time when childhood tonsillectomies were routine, my mom wouldn't even think of it.

9. Would you bungee jump?
Sure, if there's a bungee cord stout enough to hold me.

10. What is your favorite cereal?
Granola, I guess.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Depends on the shoes.

12. Do you think you are strong?
Not for my size. For other people's size, I'm pretty strong.

13. What is your favorite ice cream?
I like just about all flavors, except if they mix mint and chocolate. Blech.

14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Physical flaws. I forget them as I get to know people, but initially they're very striking to me.

15. Red or pink?
Red to look at, but pink to wear. Red's not my color.

16. What is the least favorite thing about yourself?
The way I look in red. But seriously folks, my least favorite thing about myself is that I procrastinate too much. I've been meaning to do something about it.

17. Who do you miss the most?
My friend who lives in Hong Kong.

18. Do you want everyone to send (link) this back to you?
Sure, if they want.

19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?
Green sweatpants, but I never wear shoes inside my house.

20. What was the last thing you ate?
My son made chocolate chip cookies for his Sunday School class, so he gave me a couple.

21. What are you listening to right now?
"Kicks" by Paul Revere and the Raiders is on my iTunes just now.

22. If you where a crayon, what color would you be?
Electric Blue? I don't know. Brown?

23. Favorite smells?
"Ozone." Not real ozone -- I don't know if that even has a smell -- but the smell that sometimes comes with a thunderstorm. It's so fresh and clean-smelling....
Women. I think it smells more like vanilla than tuna, actually.

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My sister. My mom just had a "mini stroke," so we were talking about me driving down there.

25. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
She didn't actually send it to me, and I don't really know her, but she seems quite nice.

26. Favorite sports to watch?
Women's beach volleyball. Just kidding (although I actually do like to watch volleyball). Football and basketball, I guess. I'll watch pretty much anything but golf, though. Like sex, golf is fun to do but boring to watch.

27. Hair color?
It used to be blond on top and light brown on the sides and in back. Now it's skin-colored on top and graying light brown on the sides and in back.

28. Eye color?
Greenish-bluish-grayish.

29. Do you wear contacts?
I used to, but I got tired of them. I wear glasses sometimes now.

30. Favorite food?
Fruitbread! Or ice cream.

31. Scary movies or happy endings?
I like movies where everybody dies.

32. Last movie you watched?
2001: A Space Odyssey.

33. What color shirt are you wearing?
Blue.

34. Summer or winter?
Summer.

35. Hugs or kisses?
Depends on the person, but kisses with the right person can't be beat. Not by hugs, anyway. ;)

36. Favorite dessert?
Ice cream.

37. What book are you reading now?
Water for Elephants.

38. What is on your mouse pad?
It's a plain red one. My other computer has a "Taz" mouse pad.

39. What did you watch on TV last night?
I didn't watch TV last night.

40. Favorite sound?
The ocean, maybe.

43. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Beatles, I guess. Not by much, though.

41. What is the farthest you have been from home?
I don't know -- which is farther, Asia or Europe?

42. Do you have a special talent?
I have a few talents, but none that I think are "special," no.

43. Where were you born?
Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

44. What time is it now?
12:52 a.m. PST.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fruitbread!

Fruitcake is a traditional Christmas gift that I just can't get enough of. But if there's anything I like better than fruitcake, it's fruitbread.

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Especially when its Christmasy red and green candied fruit is actually only one kind of fruit with different kinds of food coloring.

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And even more especially when it has double monoglycerides.

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But most of all, I love fruitbread when its symbol is a she-bear of dubious morals and intelligence.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

And Boobies too

Ornithology is a fascinating discipline. In what other science can you study Tits and Boobies? I'm no ornithologist, but I do consider myself something of a connoisseur of Tits and Boobies. It's a very worthwhile field.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I like Tits

They're my favorite kind of bird. I especially love Great Tits. I suppose they're everyone's favorite. Who doesn't enjoy getting a look at some Great Tits? Of course, Elegant Tits are always a fine sight to see as well. I enjoy some of the more exotic kinds of Tits too. For example, I once saw some very pretty Somali Tits. I'm also very fond of Japanese Tits. Even though they tend to be smaller than a lot of other Tits, they can be very perky. Dusky Tits and Southern Black Tits (but not Ashy Tits) can be lovely also.

On the other hand, Tit-Babblers can be pretty annoying. Sombre Tits are a little depressing, and Blue Tits just worry me. And Penduline Tits are actually kind of gross sometimes. But they're all still tits, and that's always a good thing. Although I do have to draw the line at Bearded Tits.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (12/11/2007)

Billboard's 25 best rock posters of all time.

Free holiday cards you can download and print from the Hubble space telescope site.

Progress report on Kevin Everett, who broke his neck playing football. (Bonus: one of the funniest TV news bloopers ever.)

Long article on Rudy Giuliani's rhetoric and record.

Monday sports report on my favorite teams (12/10/2007)

San Diego Chargers: Beat Tennessee 23-17 in overtime after trailing 17-3 in the 4th quarter (highlights). It was a rough, dirty game by all accounts. Shawne Merriman is out next week with a knee injury and Lorenzo Neal broke his leg. The game wasn't carried locally, so I only saw the end of the 4th quarter when the Oakland-Green Bay game ended, but damn, that was fun! Philip Rivers sucked through three and a half quarters and then led them to three quick scoring drives. He sucked at times last year too -- nowhere near as often as this year, though -- but he usually played well in the 4th quarter. That's been the real difference between this year and last. Oh, and Antonio Cromartie got another interception. He leads the league with nine. Remember that name: Antonio Cromartie.

University of Oregon Ducks football: They're just getting ready to play in the Sun Bowl. It's funny; expectations were so low, and then so high. For awhile. The Ducks came out of nowhere to have a legitimate shot at winning the national championship, and Dennis Dixon at the Heisman Trophy. Then Dixon went down. Then his two backups went down. And that was that. Nobody would have been disappointed back in August if you'd told them the Ducks would win eight games and go to the Sun Bowl, but it's a huge anti-climax now.

University of Oregon Duck basketball: Beat Utah 75-64. They're 7-1 and ranked 16th in both polls.

Los Angeles Lakers: They're 12-8. Kobe's still a Laker.

San Diego Padres: They signed pitcher Randy Wolf and lost out on Milton Bradley, who signed with Texas. They're trying to sign Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and his career .397 on-base percentage.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A little Christmas music

Here's a little Christmas music:
Jussi Bjoerling, "O Holy Night" (audio only)



Translation from the Swedish by evidux:

O holy night, O holy hour of the World,
When the man-god to earth ascended
To redeem the world's crimes and sins,
For us, he suffered death's pain.
And the beam of hope goes through the world,
And the light glimmers over land and sea.

People, fall down
and joyfully greet your freedom
O holy night, you gave us salvation
O holy night, you gave us salvation

For the savior has crushed our heavy shackles
Our world is free, heaven is now open
In your slave, you see a beloved brother
And see, your enemy shall become so dear to you
From heaven, the savior brought us peace
For us, he stepped down in his still grave

People, fall down
and joyfully greet your freedom
O holy night, you gave us salvation
O holy night, you gave us salvation

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mitt Romney hates atheists

Not really (I assume), but I needed a catchy title, and everyone else is already using a variant of "You're no Jack Kennedy."

As John F. Kennedy faced questions regarding his Catholic religion while running for president in 1960, so Mitt Romney faces questions regarding his Mormon religion today. Kennedy dispelled those questions for reasonable people with his "Catholic speech." Yesterday, Mitt Romney gave his own long-ballyhooed "Mormon speech." Two things stand out: Romney's pandering to the religious right and his marginalization of nonbelievers.

First, compare this bit from John F. Kennedy's speech:

...So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.
I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.
...And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test — even by indirection — for it.

with this from Romney's:

There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the savior of mankind.


Kennedy's view -- essentially that "My personal religious beliefs are none of your business" -- will no longer hold up in an American election. Because there is a basic "religious test" that the religious right wants to impose on presidential candidates: "Are you (our kind of) Christian?" That's the real question Romney is answering, and by answering, legitimizing "by indirection."

This is what Kennedy said about separation of church and state:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, ...where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference....
I believe in an America... where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials....

Romney doesn't agree:

We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
...
We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from "the God who gave us liberty."

So separation of church and state is no longer "absolute." I guess what Romney is saying is that church and state should be separate, except when it shouldn't be. Makes perfect sense. At least, it does to the religious-right voters he panders to. Because it's actually pretty easy to tell the difference between the "should" and "shouldn't" cases in their minds: promotes (evangelical Protestant) Christianity = "should"; promotes some other religion = "shouldn't." You won't find them protesting or hiring lawyers to bring, say, paganism or Islam into public life. Quite the reverse.

Now, what about the atheist part? Well, listen to what Romney says:

There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation's founders....
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. ...Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
...
It's important to recognize that while differences in theology exist between the churches in America, we share a common creed of moral convictions. And where the affairs of our nation are concerned, it's usually a sound rule to focus on the latter, on the great moral principles that urge us all on a common course. Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

I think you can see where this is going:

Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: Does he share these American values — the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another and a steadfast commitment to liberty?

That's only a question for a "person of faith"? Why not for a person of no faith, or for a doubter, a questioner, a seeker?

They are not unique to any one denomination. They belong to the great moral inheritance we hold in common. They're the firm ground on which Americans of different faiths meet and stand as a nation, united.

They're not unique to religious people either. Obviously. They're the common inheritance of all Americans.

We believe that every single human being is a child of God — we're all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are "thrown into the world all equal and alike."

Take out the "child of God" part, and again, this is something pretty much every American believes. Romney is marginalizing nonbelievers, implicitly separating "we, the moral believers" from "they, the immoral unbelievers." Again, the contrast with Kennedy's words is striking:

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; ...where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is not Romney's vision. If it were, he would not be pandering to the evangelical bloc, nor would he speak of nonbelievers with disdain, nor would he be dividing them from believers. His speech is indicative of a sad degradation of our public discourse.

Dave Letterman almost makes Paris Hilton cry

Question 1: Do you spend a lot of time in New York?
Question 2: Which do you prefer, New York or Los Angeles?
Question 3: New York's exciting, isn't it?
Question 4: So, how'd you like being in jail?
The complete lack of a segue is brilliant, and Letterman just pours it on after that. An increasingly upset Hilton -- and for all her evident shallowness, she is at least intelligent enough to know when she's being mocked -- tries to "move on" to other subjects, but Letterman is relentless. It's almost enough to make me feel sorry for Paris Hilton. Almost.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (12/4/2007)

Malcolm Gladwell explains why America's healthcare system is so messed up.

"Internet security guru" Bruce Shneier answers reader questions at Freakonomics Blog.

Philip E. Agre answers the questions "What is conservatism, and what is wrong with it?"

Some quirky maps of Europe (distribution of blonds, legal status of cannabis, various GDP measures, etc.) are here (via Strange Maps).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

lolcat jew

I didn't want to do two of these in a row, so I was saving this for next week, but I have a job to finish up today, and then I'll have to spend all day Thursday setting up and networking my new computer, and then all day Friday waiting around for the the guy I'll have to hire to set up and network my new computer for me after I waste all day Thursday cursing in frustration at my inability to properly set up and network my new computer, so I probably won't be blogging for a couple of days, and I already did the picture, so I thought I'd go ahead and post it. So here it is.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Obligatory Holiday Greeting

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans and resident aliens! Happy Thursday, everyone else!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I can love others...

...if I get them really drunk first.


Sometimes I feel a little unclear about what exactly they're trying to teach my daughter in Sunday School.

Good reads/random cool sites (11/20/2007)

It's a fat world, after all.... The "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland is getting refurbished. This is mainly due to overall shabbiness after 40-plus years of use, but another "big" reason is that Americans are so fat that we sink the boats. According to Mice Age, the remodeled ride will have a deeper flume and more buoyant boats. (Via TMQ)

Cracked.com has compiled the 25 most baffling toys from around the world. I'm not just baffled, I'm flabbergasted. (Not really; I just like that word. "Flabbergasted." Heh.)

Jake E. Lee shreds! Ozzy claps! (via QC)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday sports report on my favorite teams (11/19/2007)

San Diego Chargers: Lost to Jacksonville 24 - 17. I officially give up on this season. (Yeah, right. I wish I could quit them.) They might somehow back into the playoffs, just because their division is so lousy, but there's no hope of them winning a playoff game. (Not that they have since 1994, anyway.) Last year they would have beat the crap out of a team like this. Philip Rivers remains awful. He actually seemed OK on passes up to about 20 yards, but on long passes he looked like he was just heaving the ball and hoping the receiver could make a play. I guess that's progress from last week, when he couldn't even hit guys on short routes.

General manager A. J. Smith destroyed this team by handing it over to Norv Effing Turner. Note to A. J.: past performance is a predictor of future results. Turner has never been a good head coach; he never will be. And the new defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell, is even worse. His schemes are so lackluster that the Chargers will be lucky to get half as many sacks as last year, when they led the league. All that's left now is playing out the season and then trying to hire Bill Cowher.

University of Oregon Ducks football: Lost to Arizona 34 - 24, ending their national title hopes. Dennis Dixon tore his ACL two weeks ago, then tried to play against Arizona anyway. That didn't work too well, but I respect his courage in trying. He's replaced by Brady Leaf, who stank up the place against Arizona, but actually isn't a bad QB. He would start for a whole lot of schools, and by all accounts he's nothing like his brother Ryan, i.e., he's a hard worker and a good guy. (But he looks so much like his brother that every time I see his face I get these horrible flashbacks. I'm not kidding.) Anyway, I doubt the Ducks are even a Top 10 team without Dixon, but if they win their last two games against UCLA and Oregon State and USC beats Arizona State, they'll go to the Rose Bowl.

University of Oregon Ducks basketball: They're 4 - 0 and ranked 11th and 12th in the polls. And they look like they're really that good. Of course, UCLA and Washington State are ranked 1st and 9th, respectively, so the Ducks've got their work cut out for them.

LA Lakers: They're 6 - 3, which is actually pretty good for them. They've been playing well. And Kobe's still a Laker.

San Diego Padres: Jake Peavy was unanimously voted the National League Cy Young Award as the league's best pitcher. The question now is, will the Padres offer him money near enough market value to get him to sign a long-term contract?

A love song

To get the ladies in the mood...

by Jonathan Coulton

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Earworm

I have this song stuck in my head:

Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free

It's "The Weight" by the Band. Sometimes it's just those two lines. Sometimes the next line comes in too:
Take a load off Fanny

And once in awhile it goes as far as the next line:
And-and-and you put the load-you put the load right on me

Here, put them all together:
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And-and-and you put the load-you put the load right on me

And check out this scene from Easy Rider:


They say the only way to get rid of an earworm is to give it to someone else. Sure hope it worked.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (optical illusions edition, 10/30/2007)

Here's another optical illusion. Stare at white spot in the center until the video ends. The closer you get and the more of your field of vision you fill with it, the cooler the result. (No scary monsters pop up or anything, don't worry.) When it ends, look around.


This is camouflage rather than an optical illusion per se, but a Japanese designer has come up disguises for hiding from criminals in urban areas. Pictures here and article here. (Via News of the Weird Daily)

Remember the spinning dancer from a couple of weeks ago? It's been discussed pretty widely on teh interwebs, with perhaps the most interesting phenomenon being those people who insist that the image is programmed to reverse direction. (They're probably the same guys who insist everything is Photoshopped.) They come across as some lonely and angry dudes, since all you have to do to disprove that is watch it with another person. But Matthew Lewis proves they're wrong here anyway. And here's an intelligent discussion of how our brains pick a direction to see her spinning in, with a debunking of the bogus left-brain/right-brain claims of the original article.

Monday, October 29, 2007

One Sentence Movie Reviews: "Submission: Part 1," "Knocked Up"


Knocked Up (2007)
7/10
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A funny and life-, love-, and responsibility-affirming but forgettable comedy.

Submission: Part 1 (2004)
7/10
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Since the director was killed for making this, I really want to say that it's a great film, one that will change people's hearts, but unfortunately I found it simplistic and rather amateurish. (Watch it here and decide for yourself. It's 10 minutes long, in English after the opening Arabic prayer.)

Monday sports report on my favorite teams (10/29/2007)

University of Oregon Ducks football: Disposed of the USC Trojans, 24 - 17 (Ha-ha, Oakley!). The defense played especially well, holding SC to 3 points after two turnovers. The Ducks are no. 5 BCS and no. 4 AP and USA Today, and Heisman buzz is building for Dennis Dixon. Saturday is an even bigger showdown, with no. 4 BCS Arizona State.

San Diego Chargers: Beat up the Houston Texans 35 - 10. It was never close; the Chargers scored four touchdowns by the time they ran 11 offensive plays. Andre Cromartie -- who might just be the fastest player in the league -- had a breakout game with two interceptions, one that he returned for 70 yards and a touchdown, and a recovery of bad snap in the end zone for another touchdown. And Chris Chambers may be a huge addition for the offense. He's a Pro Bowl caliber receiver, and that's been the Chargers weak link for years.

Los Angeles Lakers: No news is good news: Kobe's still on the team.

San Diego Padres: They released Marcus Giles, their second baseman last season who had an awful year.

I'm a Gumby, dammit

So, for my church Halloween party, I decided to be a Monty Python character, namely, a Gumby:

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I thought this would be really fun. Maybe I'd even stay in character for the whole party. I might walk up the bishop and say, "ARE... YOU... THE... BISHOP? MY... SPIRIT... HURTS," or something like that. There was only one problem: nobody at the party knew what the hell a Gumby was.

Typical conversation (repeated several times):
"What are you?"
"I'm a Gumby."
[Blank stare]
"It's a Monty Python character."
"Oh. Which movie was he in?"
"They were actually in the TV show."
"Oh. Monty Python had a TV show?"

I've learned a valuable lesson: Don't wear a costume so cool that nobody at the party knows what the hell you are. Either that, or start going to cooler parties.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The wildest play in the history of college football

Last play of the game, Trinity needs a touchdown to beat Milsap. There were 15 laterals on this play if I counted right. The last one bounced.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (07.10.19)

Have I mentioned my new blog?
This Day in History. It's like a regular "this day in history" blog, but it's funny (if I do say so myself. And I do. Say it's funny, that is.)
(Via kuri)

Conservatives are awful people, again (OK, OK, some conservatives)
Apparently, there are people who invest so much of their self-image in the idea that America is the greatest country in the world that they just can't bring themselves to say something like, "America's a great country, but it's also done some terrible things." Instead, they say things like, "America's a great country, and slavery wasn't actually all that bad." Um, actually yes, it was all that bad. FFS.
(Via Media Putz)

"I KNITTED U A NONEUCLIDEAN SWEATR - OMG IM SORRY IT EATED U"
LOLTHULHU (self-explanatory)
(Via I forgot where I found it. Sorry if it was you.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (07.10.16)

Conservatives are awful people, continued
OK again, not all of them, but what kind of person reads a story like this about a veteran seriously messed up by post-traumatic stress syndrome (and maybe a brain injury) and immediately thinks, "Sounds like a lazy faker to me"? Goodness gracious sakes alive. (Via Sadly, No!)

Sorry, I'm still a little pissed off about that one. What a piece of work. Anyway...

Watching Pingu always cheers me up
Pingu the penguin goes ice fishing. He's having a good time, until his friend Robby the seal decides to play a trick on him...


Back to a more serious subject,
The mayor and aldermen in Dover, NJ, are working hard to keep our gumballs safe from terrorists
From the Star Ledger (via News of the Weird, of course):
Three Dover officials say they've found a serious homeland security threat to chew on: gumballs.
They worry the colorful round treats could be poisoned by an enterprising terrorist who sees them as bait for unsuspecting targets -- young kids.
...the three aldermen are in the middle of a nine-month inspection of Dover's coin-operated gumball and candy machines. Thus far, they have surveyed 103 local businesses about their machines.
Already they say they've discovered more than 100 unlicensed coin-operated machines in town -- many filled with gumballs, jawbreakers and other candies they call perfect for potential terrorists.
The security threat should be "looked at seriously in light of what has happened so far," said Poolas. "Someone who wanted to do harm really could."

Um-hum. Ain't democracy grand? Anybody, and I do mean anybody, can be in the government.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday sports report on my favorite teams (10/15/2007)

• San Diego Chargers: 28-14 over Oakland. It was a good win. LT2 ran for 198 yards and four touchdowns. The defense came up with 6 sacks, 2.5 by Merriman, so that was good. But basically all this means so far is that they've finally achieved mediocrity. They've got a long way to go.

• University of Oregon Ducks football: 40-0, 390 yards of total offense... and that was at halftime. Their 53-7 win over Washington State was not as close as the score indicates. Very nice win, although Wazoo sucks, so it doesn't mean that much. But they had two bad injuries: tailback 1B Jeremiah Johnson and WR Cameron Colvin are gone for the season. They still have a great tailback in Johnathon Stewart, but Colvin's the second flanker to go down this season. They're down to a white guy at wide receiver! Things don't look good for the home team. (Shut up, it's just a joke.)
Anyway, they moved up to no. 7 AP and no. 6 USA Today, and most importantly to no. 10 BCS. They'll have to win out to get a BCS bowl. It'll be tough -- they still have Washington, USC, ASU, Arizona, UCLA, and their rivalry game with Oregon State -- but not impossible. They're better than all those teams but USC, and USC is looking pretty discombobulated right now. The Ducks just need to take care of business against the other guys and get a little luck against SC.

• LA Lakers: It looks like Jerry Buss seriously intends to trade Kobe. Words cannot express how much this sucks. It'll be like the early 1990s all over again, when Vlade Divac was the best player on the team. Oh, God.

• San Diego Padres: Trevor Hoffman had minor elbow surgery. He slipped a lot this year. Seven blown saves was the most he's had since 2000, and two of them kept the Padres out of the playoffs. His strikeouts per nine innings pitched were his lowest ever, although his WHIP is still pretty good. The problem with guys like Hoffman who've been so good for so long and are good guys is that they always stick around too long. Even though Heath Bell is probably better than him now, you can't just cut or trade a guy like Hoffman, or even demote him to set-up guy, until he starts to really suck.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

One Sentence Movie Reviews: "Art School Confidential," "Ghost World," "Notorious"


Notorious (1946)
8/10
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Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are perfect in Hitchcock's tale of espionage, love, and jealousy.

Ghost World (2001)
8/10
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Although not a faithful adaptation of the very good graphic novel, it's still a wonderful portrait of a girl coming of age in a world that's too narrow for her.

Art School Confidential (2006)
7/10
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The art school scenes in the first half of the movie are brilliant, but the film gradually goes off track as it focuses more heavily on a lame serial-killer subplot.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Which way is she rotating?

Clockwise or counterclockwise? Can you reverse her spin?



The strange part of the illusion is that not only is the rotation reversible, when she rotates to the right it's her right leg that sticks out, and when she rotates to the left, it's her left leg. (If you can't make her reverse, cover up everything but her foot and try to make it change direction.)

Via Bad Science (in the sidebar)

Good reads/random cool sites (07.10.12)

Conservatives are awful people
OK, not all of them, and not all the time, but bloody hell. And they don't even know that they're awful.

And speaking of health care
The more things change...

But hey, it's almost Halloween
So let's take it out on some pumpkins.

Free the Fortune 500!
Getting people to wear shirts with company logos on it is good publicity for the companies -- unless the wearers get arrested. Somehow one never expects that a person wearing a Mayo Clinic shirt will end up in jail.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'll have two pounds worth of Radiohead, please

By now, I suppose most everyone who would be interested has heard about the new Radiohead album "In Rainbows." The unusual thing about this album, of course, is that you can pay whatever you want for it and then download it. You set the price: you can pay a hundred dollars for it if you want, or you can pay nothing and just download it. It's up to you. (Or you can order the fancy box set for £40.00.)

I paid £2.00 for it (plus a £0.45 credit fee). The way I figure it, a band typically gets about $4 per album, with record companies and distributors getting the rest. So paying Radiohead £2.00 gives them their $4, with the £0.45 fee bringing the total to just about $5. Seems fair.

Oh, and the album itself? I'm listening to it now, and so far, so very good. If you like Radiohead, you should like "In Rainbows."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Of human bondage

According to the Smoking Gun,

OCTOBER 8--An Alabama minister who died in June of "accidental mechanical asphyxia" was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report.

The autopsy report lists the following clothing and personal effects:

Clothing: The decedent was wearing two (2) wet suits, one scuba diving mask, one pair of gloves, one pair of rubber underwear, two (2) ties, five (5) belts, eleven (11) straps

Personal Effects: One yellow metal ring intact on left ring finger, one dildo

The dildo was found where you might expect.

It's sad when someone dies. It's sad to imagine a person perhaps struggling for many years with a fetish and the attendant guilt brought by his religion. It's sad to see everything a person accomplished in his life overwhelmed in the public mind by a sensational death.

On the other hand, though, it's funny as hell.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (07.10.09)

Right-wing pundit Fred Barnes blows the lid off the Unintentional Comedy Scale (Political Edition):
In October 2002, Barack Obama made what in retrospect was a remarkably clear-headed speech in opposition to war with Iraq. In Fred's Barnzarro Universe, however, being right about a vitally important national security issue when most people were wrong makes Obama weak on national security.
(Via Paul Krugman)

Conservapedia
Conservapedia is a "conservative" wiki. Reminiscent of past attempts to enforce concepts like "Communist science," it promotes an America-centric, evangelical Christian, right-wing worldview. It does "not allow liberal censorship of conservative facts." Its earnest stupidity makes many of its articles quite comical. The one on Atheism is one of my favorites. It includes these "reasonable explanations for atheism":
Rebellion
Moral depravity
Superficiality
Error
State churches
Poor relationship with father

NFL TV Distribution Maps
Wondering which NFL games will be shown in your area next Sunday? You can get maps for the morning and afternoon games here.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Little girl with a big pair

Of Asian pears, that is.
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We went to a local orchard on Saturday.

There was also a very sincere pumpkin patch.
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And, of course, I fit right in down on the farm, seeing as how I'm a typical farmer-lookin' dude.
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Monday sports report on my favorite teams (10/8/2007)

  • • San Diego Chargers (2-3): Beat Denver 41-3. Finally, finally, they played well. (Although they're still not generating much of a pass rush -- only one sack.) This season has been so frustrating. I'm kind of used to them sucking, but I'm not used to them sucking when they're supposed to be good. I don't have any confidence in them at all right now. But they're lucky that the rest of the division is so bad that 10-6 is likely to win it, so they don't have to be great to get into the playoffs. They will have to be great to beat Indianapolis and/or New England once if they get there though.
  • • University of Oregon football (4-1): They had a bye week, allowing them to cleverly move up a couple of spots in the polls (#9 AP, #8 USA Today) because so many other teams lost. Next up is Washington State (2-4), which hasn't beaten anyone good this year, although they made ASU beat them on a last-minute field goal on Saturday.
  • • Los Angeles Lakers: First exhibition game is Tuesday night.
  • • San Diego Padres: Brian Giles had microfracture knee surgery, also known as "career-ender knee surgery" BAS.*
*Before Amare Stoudamire

New blog

I've started another blog: This Day in History.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Watching "House"

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWatching "House" is a lot like watching an NBA game. The game is decided in the last 10 minutes; that's also when House finally gets the diagnosis right. There's some cool stuff along the way, but you haven't missed anything important if you only watch those final 10 minutes.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Today in History: September 29

September 29, 480 BCE: The Greek fleet under Themistocles defeated the Persian fleet under Xerxes I in the Battle of Salamis. The battle was very important historically because it was the last time in history that an army used a type of sausage as its primary weapon. After conquering much of the known world, the Persians discovered to their chagrin that salamis are no match for swords in battle.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jogo bonito

Marta takes a pass with her right foot, juggles it and flicks it off the outside of her left foot (behind both her and the defender's backs), spins to her right and leaves the defender behind, recovers the ball, fakes a second defender almost off her feet, and beats the keeper. Brazil thrashed my team, but it almost doesn't matter when it's as beautiful as this.

Good reads/random cool sites (07.09.28)

Latte Day Saints has funny and spot-on Mormon-themed cartoons.

Large over at sports blog No Mas reviews Floyd Mayweather and Helio Castroneves on "Dancing with the Stars."

"Telemarketers make use of a telescript - a guideline for a telephone conversation. This script creates an imbalance in the conversation between the marketer and the consumer. It is this imbalance, most of all, that makes telemarketing successful. The EGBG Counterscript attempts to redress that balance."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cat & mouse: interview edition

Juggling Cat's most recent cat & mouse "meme" is a good one.

1. give us the story behind the name of your blog.

My very first post was all about that. The shorter version is that I looked at this blog as an experiment, a way to fling some words at whoever passed by and to see if they'd catch some interest. I actually find the name kind of pretentious now, and I've thought about changing it, but inertia has always been a powerful force in my life.

2. how have your views on god and religion changed from what you were taught as a child to what you believe as an adult?

Hmm. Well, my mom was really into New Age-y kind of stuff -- reincarnation, Edgar Cayce, astrology, parapsychology, and stuff like that -- when I was a kid, so I kind of went along with that. I wasn't really that into it, though, and by my mid-teens I decided that it was mostly nonsense.

Along the way, my mom sent me to a Baptist-run junior high school. (She wanted me to learn the Bible, which I did.) So I got "saved" and all when I was going-on-12. But it only took a couple of years for me to decide that all that born-again stuff was nonsense too. Seemed to me that there was no way that God could be so unfair as to let people be born where there wasn't even access to Christianity and then send them to hell forever for not accepting Christ. And the born-again Christians that I knew were no different from anyone else, anyway, except maybe some of them were more smug about their salvation than most people are. So I decided that maybe what was happening was that we all get reincarnated over and over until we're just about ready for enlightenment, and then Jesus takes us the rest of the way, and that's how he's our Savior.

Damn, this is getting long. Anyway, when I was 20 I became a Mormon. I've also blogged about that, in verse. I was a true believer for a long time. Now I think I'm kind of a Buddhist philosophically, an atheist intellectually, and a Mormon religiously. In other words, I'm not sure what the hell I believe anymore. lol

3. what was the single most important influence in each decade of your life?

60s: Parents, obviously.
70s: Still my parents, I guess.
80s: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It gave my life direction and structure. It led me towards marriage and children and indirectly towards a career.
90s: Wife and kids were number one, of course. Church was still a big, big influence. Also grad school taught me how to think systematically. I already did that instinctively to a large extent, but grad school really grounded me intellectually. And the internet eventually forced me to confront ideas that I'd sometimes hidden from.
00s: Still wife and kids. The internet for letting me work at home. In the last year or so, CrossFit.com for making me healthier than I've been for a long, long time.

4. what was your single most significant achievement in each decade of your life?

60s: I dunno -- I was 7 when the decade ended so I guess I didn't "accomplish" all that much?
70s: Getting through childhood/high school alive and sane. Nobody back then knew that childhood depression and Asperger syndrome (which I don't have, but I'm awfully close in several ways) even existed, so getting through my first 17 years without professional help and not killing myself was a good accomplishment for me.
80s: Marrying my wife. I got the girl that every guy wanted. As she said once, if I pursued my career as aggressively as I pursued her, I'd be a rich man. As I said to her, I'm already a rich man for having her.
90s: Fatherhood. Breaking the cycle of poor fathering in my and my wife's families.
00s: Still fatherhood. Seeing that my children are growing up to be reasonably decent and accomplished human beings.

5. you can take a 2 week, all expenses paid fantasy vacation. where are you going & who are you taking?

That's easy. I'd take the family on a safari in Africa.

The truest words I've read this week

May not be safe for work.

"Men think about sex more than they will ever let women, or each other, know. Teachers think about fucking their students, fathers think about fucking their daughter's[sic] friends, doctors think about fucking their patients. And right now, for every woman with even an iota of sex appeal, there's probably a man somewhere in the world who's touching himself and thinking about what it would be like to fuck her. She may not even know him: He may be that businessman who walked past her on the street or the college student who sat across from her on the subway. And any man who tells a woman otherwise is most likely doing so because he's trying to get in her pants, or the pants of some woman within earshot." -- Neil Strauss

The world capital with the most painful-sounding name...

...is Bangkok. Ouch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good reads/random cool sites (07.09.26)

Skull-A-Day puts up a new skull picture every day. You can get a free skull font there. (Found via murketing.)

Paul Krugman has started a blog. His first post is about the history of inequality in America.

Arthur Frommer, the Frommer's Travel Guides guy, answers travel questions at Freakonomics Blog.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In 1492, Columbus sailed off the edge of the ocean blue

Sherri Shepherd, the new host of "The View" on ABC, doesn't know if the world is round or flat. Seriously.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My kind of woman

Over at CrossFit, where I get my workouts, Spider Chick wrote about the big improvements she's made in her Army Physical Fitness Test scores (including 70 push ups in one minute) since she started doing CrossFit. She finished by saying:

Put that in your pipe & smoke it, you docile little, spandex wearing, hair-in-the-mirror checking, aromatherapeutically-chakra-aligning, breast implanting, liposuctioning, jeez-i-hope-some-man-comes-&-saves-me, swiss ball bouncing, aerobically enslaved, spinnning class, trimspa chomping, heart-rate monitoring, Gold's Gym twit bunnies!

I think I'm in love.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Celebrating 9/11

Lots of people are talking about how they commemorate 9/11. My family usually celebrates the day with cake and ice cream, or sometimes even a party.

Since it's my wife's birthday.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Today in History

On September 9, 1956, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Charles Laughton subbed for Sullivan, who was recovering from a car accident. Elvis performed a pair of two-song sets: "Don't be Cruel" and "Love Me Tender," followed by "Ready Teddy" and "Hound Dog." Here are the first songs from the two sets.




Friday, September 07, 2007

North Korean news item of the week

From Korean Central News Agency of DPRK:
Gift to Kim Jong Il from Vietnamese Delegation
Pyongyang, September 7 (KCNA) -- General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a gift by the visiting delegation of the Central Committee of the Fatherland Front of Vietnam led by its President Pham The Duyet.
The gift was handed to Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, by the head of the delegation today.

[That's the entire news release. Because now it's time to play Guess the Gift! Let's see... it's from Vietnam... it's small enough to be handed to someone... was it an áo dài? Noodles? Um... a Ho Chi Minh t-shirt? Argh! I give up! What was it?! C'mon, tell us, please. Pretty please?]

One-Sentence Movie Reviews: "The Lathe of Heaven," "Pulp Fiction," "Heat"


Heat (1995)
7/10
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Like every Michael Mann film, it's good -- OK, like every Michael Mann film except Ali -- it's good, but it didn't really make me care what happened to the characters.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
9/10
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An all-time classic.

The Lathe of Heaven (1980)
7/10
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The intelligence and acting in this old PBS adaptation of the Ursula K. Le Guin novel are more than enough to make up for the low budget and the poor-quality of the DVD transfer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cliffhanger

I came across this truck crash story at CNN.com. Seems that back on December 30, a guy went through a guardrail in his pickup --
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and somehow cartwheeled over a culvert and came to a stop facing the opposite direction he started from --
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on the edge of a cliff --
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a 200-foot cliff! Holy crap!
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And this has been confirmed by both CNN and Snopes as a true story.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

You are now free to move about the country (unless we think you look too slutty)

According to this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, one Kelly Ebbert, age 23, was escorted off a Southwest airlines flight from San Diego to Tucson by a customer service supervisor and asked to change her clothes. When she refused, she was finally allowed back on the plane. In a letter sent later, Southwest said it reserved the right to remove any passenger whose clothes are "lewd, obscene or patently offensive." Sounds reasonable enough. But according to Ebbert, this is what she was wearing:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket (Union-Tribune photo)

It's kind of a sexy outfit -- those legs will definitely draw attention -- but "lewd, obscene, or patently offensive"? Puh-lease. You can see women dressed like that on a warm day on just about any college campus in the country. And it's not very different from the way airlines used to make flight attendants dress back in the day.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Today in history

On September 3, 1189, Richard I (the Lion-Hearted) was crowned king of England. Richard was always my favorite king, because he was so cool in Robin Hood and Ivanhoe.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Gremlins and Hornets and Pacers, oh my!

The sweetest car anyone in my family has ever owned was a 1966 Ford Mustang. It looked a lot like this one, although it was a sort of dark maroon, not red.
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My dad bought it new in 1966, when I was a little bitty kid. I loved that car. We all did. Or so I thought, until only about a year later when my dad traded it in for a station wagon. I don't remember if my sister and I actually cried when our father said he was trading in the Mustang, but I do remember that we kissed it good-bye before he drove it away.

"Ah," you may be thinking, "the family man sells his sporty car to buy a station wagon to suit his growing family. That's kind of admirable." But you'd be wrong. There's nothing to admire. Because A) there were only four of us. We fit into the Mustang just fine. And B) the station wagon he bought was an AMC Rambler. That's right. My father traded a 1966 Mustang, one of the most beautiful cars ever made, for a piece of junk that looked a lot like this:
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We lived in San Diego, California, at the time, and we were going to drive cross-country that year to visit my grandparents in Michigan. I guess somebody told my dad that he should get a station wagon for the trip. Since we were in a Rambler, though, we barely made it over the Arizona border before it broke down. We spent a couple of days in Prescott, Arizona, waiting around until it was fixed.

But that was really only the beginning of my family's long nightmare. You see, my father had been struck by a dreadful mental syndrome. From around the 1930s through the 1970s in America, a lot of men were car company guys. There were self-described "Ford guys," "Chevy guys," even "Dodge guys." A Ford guy would only buy Fords, a Chevy guy would only buy Chevys, and so on. To our great sorrow and dismay, however, my dad inexplicably became an "AMC guy."

From that point on, he only bought AMCs. And since he liked to get a new car every couple of years, and since Southern California culture pretty much required that he and my mom each have a car, from 1967 through 1976, he bought six of them. At one time or another, my family actually owned at least one of each of the models shown in this picture, from left to right, a Gremlin, a Pacer, and a Hornet.
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Today, people look at those cars with a certain amount of nostalgia. The very oddity of their looks gives them a quirky appeal. I can see that. I saw it when we owned them. But one thing I vividly remember about them is their absolutely atrocious quality. People today can't imagine how awful American cars, and especially, especially, AMCs were in the 1970s. They broke down all the time.

When I got my license, our Gremlin became sort of "my" car. I drove it all the time. And it was an adventure. I'd be driving along, and "HSSSSSS!" the radiator hose blows out. I'd step on the brake, and "Whoa!" the power assist to the brakes goes out. Off the top of my head, I can also remember the power steering, the alternator, the carburetor, and even the battery going bad. This was mostly within the first year or two, mind you, while the car was still under warranty.

My favorite breakage was something a little different though. As you can kind of see in this picture,
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the Gremlin was a hatchback, but it didn't have an actual "fifth door." Only the glass part opened. And it was a solid piece of glass in a thin metal frame with supports glued directly onto the glass. Not only that, the way the latch was designed, you couldn't close it gently. You had to give it a little slam in order to engage the latch.

"But wait," you say, "didn't that obviously increase the likelihood that -- " Yep. One day my mom came home from the store, took her groceries out of the back, and closed the hatch just like always. CRASH! The glass was in a thousand pieces in the back of the car. Simply craptastic.

That's not to say my memories of the Gremlin are all bad. Eventually, after we'd had a long succession of defective parts replaced, it became fairly reliable. And I had all the usual high school experiences in it. No, not that experience -- that would have been a remarkable feat in a Gremlin, especially since I was already over six feet tall when I got my license -- but all the rest of them. I can't hate the car I drove to my senior prom, for gosh sakes. But they just don't build 'em like that anymore. And we should all be very, very glad they don't.

Friday, August 31, 2007

YouTube favorites -- get up and skank special

Back around 1980, I was really into ska, more specifically what's called "second-wave" or "2 Tone."

I can't believe that was 27 years ago, long enough for somebody to be born and become a grown-assed man. I don't feel much older than I did then.

The first 2 Tone band I heard was Madness. In America, they're best remembered for "Our House," an enjoyable nostalgic pop song they put out after they pretty much quit doing new ska songs. But their two songs that grabbed me and got me into ska were "One Step Beyond" and "Night boat To Cairo." Most other bands were so serious -- either serious and crappy rock dinosaurs or serious and good punk bands -- and Madness's "nutty sound" was completely different. I wore out their cassette listening to it, and wore a hole in my carpet dancing to it.




Which isn't to say that ska was never serious. Just by being racially mixed, bands like the Specials were making a political statement. But the music was the thing. And bands that let the kids up on the stage to dance are teh kewl. Here's "Skinhead Moonstomp."


In 1981, the documentary Dance Craze came out. I never did see the movie, but I got the cassette and wore that one out too. Then I wore out my copy. Among the bands the film documented, the Bodysnatchers probably accomplished the least. They were only together for about two years and never even released a full-length album. But I love all-girl bands, and you don't have to be a great musician to make great music. Here's their cover of Desmond Dekker's "Shanty Town."


The Beat, or the English Beat as they were known in America, were another of my favorites. They were a tight band with more of a Jamaican sound. This is "Ranking Full Stop."


The Selecter featured the lovely Pauline Black. Here's "On the Radio."


Finally, here's Bad Manners, led by the inimitable Buster Bloodvessel. Somebody once called them a "musical carnival," and I think that described their live shows pretty well. This is "Lip Up Fatty."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why's everyone picking on poor Miss Teen South Carolina?

She's just a 17-year-old kid. Maybe a really dumb 17-year-old kid, but still just a kid. It's not like she's the President of the United States or something.


The more things change...

Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese poets wrote words in the Shi Jing that aptly describe the Bush Administration:

The angry terrors of Compassionate Heaven,
Extend through this lower world ;
[The king's] counsels and plans are crooked and bad ; –
When will he stop [in the course] ?
Counsels which are good he will not follow,
And those which are not good he employs,
When I look at his counsels and plans,
I am greatly pained.

In fact, they describe Republicans and Democrats in general.

Now they agree, and now they defame one another ; –
The case is greatly to be deplored.
If a counsel be good,
They all are found opposing it.
If a counsel be bad,
They all are found according with it.
When I look at such counsels and plans,
What will they come to ?

Our tortoises are wearied out,
And will not tell us anything about the plans.
The counsellors are very many,
But on that account nothing is accomplished.
The speakers fill the court,
But who dares to take any responsibility on himself ?
We are as if we consulted [about a journey] without taking a step in advance,
And therefore did not get on on the road.

Alas ! our formers of plans,
Do not take the ancients for their pattern,
And do not regulate them by great principles.
They only hearken to shallow words,
And quarrel about shallow words,
They are like one taking counsel with wayfarers about building a house.
Which will consequently never come to completion.

Although the kingdom be unsettled,
There are some who are wise, and others who are not.
Although the people may not be numerous,
Some have perspicacity, some have counsel,
Some have gravity, and some have orderliness.
But we are going on like the stream flowing from a spring,
And will sink together in a common ruin.

They dare not without weapons attack a tiger ;
They dare not without a boat cross the He.
They know one thing,
But they only know that one.
We should be apprehensive and careful,
As if we were on the brink of a deep gulf,
As if we were treading on thin ice.

(Translation by James Legge)

That's very rude

I guess Simon Cowell's UK version of American Idol has started up again. Here's the worst contestant they've ever had. Rachel Lester shows up in denim capris, high heels, and a sports bra, answers the question "What do you do for a living?" with "Nuffing, I'm lazy at the moment," brags all about how good she is ("I can sing be'er than Madonna"), chews gum, bugs out her crazy-looking eyes at the judges (Cowell, Ozzie Osbourne's Wife, Kylie Minogue's Little Sister, and Some Guy Named Louis), tries to take the overhead mic off the boom, sings poorly, says "That was very good, wasn't it?", and then curses out the judges after Simon tells her how bad she is.

The bad words are all beeped out, so you don't get the full effect, but trust me, I've seen a transcript and she's even fouler than you'd imagine. A security guard (I'm pretty sure I've seen his twin brother in a movie, BTW) finally has to escort her out. Along the way, she brags some more about how she's "done her own cassette," and Ozzie's Wife pwns her with "Nobody does cassettes anymore, it's called a CD." To which Rachel replies with stunning narcissism and a complete lack of irony, "That's very rude." Poor Kylie's Little Sister looks terrified. (Wish I'd been there to comfort her. She's a cutie.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Mommy, I'm the little boy who was kidnapped"

When I was about four years old, a little boy went missing in the city where I lived. Everyone thought he'd been kidnapped, and it was a very big deal in the local newspapers and on TV. If I recall correctly, he was missing for several days before it turned out that he hadn't been kidnapped at all but, equally tragically, had drowned in a murky neighborhood swimming pool, where his body was only found after a few days.

While the boy was still missing, my dad and I went in our car to pick up my mother at work. I had some of my favorite toy cars with me -- in my semi-autistic fashion, I could play contentedly with them for hours at a stretch even when I was four -- and played with them on the floor of the backseat of our ancient Ford. I vaguely recall really liking it there; maybe because the transmission hump running down the center of the car's interior made a nice hill for them to drive over.

We weren't there long before a cop came over and talked to my dad. I don't remember what they said -- I guess I just thought it was grownup talk, so I ignored them -- but after a couple of minutes the policeman left and my dad told me to stop playing on the floor and stay on the seat. He said I couldn't play on the floor anymore because he'd get in trouble. I wasn't very happy about that. I didn't see why all of a sudden I couldn't play in my favorite place in the car.

After we got home, my mom explained it to me. If somebody kidnapped a little boy, they might put him on the floor in the backseat of their car so he'd be harder to see. Some lady had seen me on the floor of our car and thought that I was a little boy who'd been kidnapped and called the police. That's why the policeman had come and talked to my dad. So I couldn't play on the car floor anymore.

That made enough sense to satisfy me, so I agreed to stop playing on the floor. There was one part I'd misunderstood though: I thought my mom meant that I'd been mistaken for a boy who'd been kidnapped, not the boy who'd been kidnapped. In fact, I noticed all the fuss in the newspapers and on TV about a kidnapped boy, and I thought it was actually about me. There wasn't really a missing boy; it was just a mistake because some lady saw me playing on the floor of our car.

So finally one night a special news bulletin came on the TV while I was trying to talk to my mom about something -- I guess it must have been when they found the poor kid's body -- and she shushed me. "Be quiet now, I want to hear about the little boy who was kidnapped."

In my most exasperated four-year-old, why-don't-the-grownups-get-it tone of voice I started to explain it to her. "No Mommy, I'm the little boy who was kidnapped." But she shushed me again before I could explain that it was all just a misunderstanding. It was only when she expressed her shock that the boy's body had been in the pool all along that I finally got that they'd actually been talking about some other boy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Real men raise their kids

David Neiwert writes about being a stay-at-home dad. I've done it too -- sort of, and sort of still am -- and I heartily endorse it.
(Found at Hullabaloo.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sympathy for a devil?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket I've never been much of a Michael Vick fan. That's actually a bit of an aberration for me, because normally I really enjoy players in most any sport who are immensely talented and spectacular in the way they play, and that certainly describes Vick. But in this case, team loyalty comes first, and in a roundabout way that led me to be his non-fan.

See, back in 2001, "my" San Diego Chargers had the first pick in the NFL draft. Vick was the consensus best available player, but this was only three years after the Chargers had wasted the second overall pick in the Ryan Leaf debacle, so they were leery of taking another quarterback with such a high draft choice. That led them to trade the number one pick to the Atlanta Falcons, who used it to select Vick, while the Chargers selected LaDainian Tomlinson with the pick they got from Atlanta. So, while I never exactly wished that Vick would fail, I always hoped that Tomlinson would be the more successful of the two (and he has been), and that kept me from ever really becoming a Michael Vick fan.

But I feel sorry for him now because of the mess he's made of his life, and as I read this contrarian column by Gregg Easterbrook about Vick's legal problems, as well as the comments that follow it (685 as of Saturday evening my time), I was struck by several thoughts.

The first thought is how unsympathetic so many Americans are. A large segment of our population apparently feels deep disgust at the idea of ever feeling sorry for anyone who has brought troubles on himself. Once upon a time, Shakespeare could write something like "...let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings," but that would never fly in America today. A lot of Americans would say, "Sad?! There's nothing sad about it! It's Richard II's own fault he got killed!" And then they would solemnly intone the words "personal responsibility" as purported proof that there is nothing sorrowful in the travails of a person who has done wrong.

The second thought is that there are an awful lot of sadists in America. Whenever someone is publicly accused of a heinous crime in America (although I'm not entirely sure that "heinous" fits in this case), these people -- apparently quite ordinary in most ways -- show up in internet comments and so on proposing the most vicious, vengeful punishments they can imagine. Since Vick is allegedly involved in dogfighting, most of these proposed punishments in his case seem to involve various ways of having him mauled by pitbulls. That and, of course, "burning in hell." Oh, and he should never be allowed to play football again, even if it's after he has completed a prison sentence. Apparently there's a significant percentage of the American population that thinks that anyone convicted of a felony should never be able to work again.

The third thought is that there are an awful lot of hypocrites in America too. With the exception of the PETA folks, who in my experience are often fanatics but rarely hypocrites, most of the people objecting so strenuously to Vick eat meat. And anyone who buys meat in an American supermarket is indisputably participating indirectly in terrible acts of cruelty to animals on an enormous scale. Not to mention that some of the same people who object to Vick's dogfighting themselves participate in bloodsports like hunting. And, of course, many more of them are fans of sports like football and boxing that are built around violence, that use up the bodies and often the minds of young men and then discard them when finished.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

237 reasons to have sex: reasons 151 - 200

Reasons 151 through 200
Read more about the project here.
Have you ever had sex because:

151. I wanted to achieve an orgasm. YES(duh!)
152. I wanted to brag to friends about my conquests. NO
153. I wanted to improve my sexual skills. YES
154. I wanted to get a job. NO
155. I wanted to get a raise. NO
156. I wanted to get a promotion. NO
157. I wanted to satisfy a compulsion. NO
158. I wanted to make money. NO
159. I wanted to keep my partner satisfied. YES
160. I wanted to change the topic of conversation. YES
161. I wanted to get out of doing something. YES
162. I wanted to test my compatibility with a new partner. NO
163. I wanted to get a partner to express love. YES
164. I wanted to put passion back into my relationship. YES
165. I wanted to prevent a breakup. YES
166. I wanted to become one with another person. YES
167. I wanted to get a favor from someone. NO
168. I wanted to breakup my relationship. NO
169. I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e.g., herpes, AIDS). NO (holy crap!)
170. I wanted to breakup another’s relationship. NO
171. I wanted to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. YES
172. I wanted to make myself feel better about myself. YES
173. I wanted to get rid of a headache. YES
174. I was afraid to say "no" due to the possibility of physical harm. NO
175. I wanted to keep my partner from straying. NO
176. I wanted to burn calories. NO
177. I wanted to even the score with a cheating partner. NO
178. I wanted to hurt an enemy. NO
179. I wanted to feel older. NO
180. It is my genetic imperative. YES
181. It was an initiation rite to a club or organization. NO (WTF?)
182. I wanted to become more focused on work - sexual thoughts are distracting. NO
183. I wanted to say "I’ve missed you." YES
184. I wanted to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or special occasion. YES
185. I wanted to say "I’m sorry." YES
186. I wanted to return a favor. YES
187. I wanted to say "Thank You." YES
188. I wanted to welcome someone home. YES
189. I wanted to say "goodbye." YES
190. I wanted to defy my parents. NO
191. I wanted to relieve menstrual cramps. NO
192. I wanted to relieve "blue balls." NO
193. I wanted to get the most out of life. YES
194. I wanted to feel feminine. NO (lolz)
195. I wanted to feel masculine. NO
196. I am a sex addict. NO
197. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. NO
198. I thought it would boost my social status. NO
199. The person had a lot of money. NO
200. The person’s physical appearance turned me on. YES

Gonna shoot me a heathen deer

A company called Christian Outdoorsman has an on-line catalog. Apparently, their best-selling product is a camouflage Bible.
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This is because deer are heathens, and regular Bibles scare them away.

Christian Outdoorsman also sells a pink camouflage Bible.
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I guess it's for outdoorsmen who are a little bit different. It would make a charming addition to this outdoorsman's ensemble, for example (link may be NSFW/F):
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(Found at News of the Weird Daily.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

The official PostSecret video

Everybody knows about PostSecret by now, right? PostSecret creator Frank Warren made a video. The music is "Breathe Me" by Sia.

One Sentence Movie Reviews: "Curse of the Golden Flower," "Lady Vengeance," "Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic"


Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005)
6/10
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Although I think Sarah Silverman is hot and I love how perverse and subversive her humor is, in the end she's funny but just not all that funny.

Lady Vengeance (2005)
8/10
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While it doesn't have the wild inventiveness of Oldboy or the energy of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, this final entry in director Park Chan-wook's marvelous "vengeance trilogy" is the most grounded and realistic of the three films, the most darkly humorous, and the deepest emotionally.

Curse of the Golden Flower (2006)
7/10
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Although it's absolutely gorgeous to look at, this melodramatic tale of court intrigue is otherwise unsatisfying.

237 reasons to have sex: reasons 101 - 150

Here are reasons 101 through 150
Read more about the project here.
Have you ever had sex because:

101. It's considered "taboo" by society. NO
102. I wanted to increase the number of sex partners I had experienced. NO
103. The person was too "hot" (sexy) to resist. YES
104. I thought it would relax me. YES
105. I thought it would make me feel healthy. YES
106. I wanted to experiment with new experiences. YES
107. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex with another person. YES (wait -- by "another person," do they mean "another person than my regular partner" or "another person besides myself"?)
108. I thought it would help me to fall asleep. YES (it works!)
109. I could brag to other people about my sexual experience. NO
110. It would allow me to "get sex out of my system" so that I could focus on other things. NO
111. I wanted to decrease my partner’s desire to have sex with someone else. NO
112. It would damage my reputation if I said "no." NO
113. The other person was too physically attractive to resist. YES
114. I wanted to celebrate something. YES
115. I was seduced. YES
116. I wanted to make the person feel better about herself/himself. YES
117. I wanted to increase the emotional bond by having sex. YES
118. I wanted to see whether sex with a different partner would feel different or better. NO
119. I was mad at my partner, so I had sex with someone else. NO
120. I wanted to fulfill a previous promise to my partner. NO
121. It was expected of me. YES
122. I wanted to keep my partner from straying. NO
123. I wanted the pure pleasure. YES
124. I wanted to dominate the other person. YES
125. I wanted to make a conquest. NO
126. I’m addicted to sex. NO
127. It was a favor to someone. NO
128. I wanted to be used or degraded. NO (holy crap!)
129. Someone offered me money to do it. NO
130. I was drunk. NO
131. It seemed like good exercise. NO (that's a myth, unfortunately)
132. I was pressured into doing it. NO
133. The person offered to give me drugs for doing it. NO
134. I was frustrated and needed relief. YES
135. It was a romantic setting. YES
136. I felt insecure. YES
137. My regular partner is boring, so I had sex with someone else. NO
138. I was on the "rebound" from another relationship. NO
139. I wanted to boost my self-esteem. YES
140. I wanted to get my partner to stay with me. YES
141. Because of a bet. NO
142. It was a special occasion. YES
143. It was the next step in the relationship. YES
144. I wanted to get a special favor from someone. NO
145. I wanted to get back at my partner for having cheated on me. NO
146. I wanted to enhance my reputation. NO
147. I wanted to keep warm. NO
148. I wanted to punish myself. NO (holy crap again!)
149. I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner. NO
150. I wanted to stop my partners’ nagging. YES

Friday, August 10, 2007

God's cosmic oven

A Japanese friend once explained to me how God created different races.

God decided to make people, so he used his cosmic oven to bake some.
The first batch came out dark brown. "Oops," said God, "overcooked 'em." Those were the first black people.
So God made a second batch. They came out hardly browned at all. "Oops," said God, "undercooked 'em." Those were the first white people.
So God made a third batch. They came out light brown. "Ah," said God, "just right." Those were the first Asian people.

Marriage to a Second Lifer in 20 words or less

"You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they'll be having sex with a cartoon."

(WSJ article here; found at murketing)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

237 reasons to have sex: reasons 51 - 100

Here are reasons 51 through 100
Read more about the project here.
Have you ever had sex because:

51. I wanted the adventure/excitement. YES
52. I wanted the experience. YES
53. I felt obligated to. YES
54. It’s fun. YES (duh)
55. I wanted to get even with someone (i.e., revenge). NO
56. I wanted to be popular. NO
57. It would get me gifts. NO
58. I wanted to act out a fantasy. YES
59. I hadn’t had sex for a while. YES
60. The person was "available." YES
61. I didn’t want to "lose" the person. YES
62. I thought it would help "trap" a new partner. NO
63. I wanted to capture someone else’s mate. NO
64. I felt sorry for the person. YES
65. I wanted to feel powerful. NO
66. I wanted to "possess" the person. YES
67. I wanted to release tension. YES
68. I wanted to feel good about myself. YES
69. I was slumming. NO
70. I felt rebellious. NO
71. I wanted to intensify my relationship. YES
72. It seemed like the natural next step in my relationship. YES
73. I wanted to be nice. YES
74. I wanted to feel connected to the person. YES
75. I wanted to feel young. NO
76. I wanted to manipulate him/her into doing something for me. NO
77. I wanted him/her to stop bugging me about sex. YES
78. I wanted to hurt/humiliate the person. NO
79. I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself. YES
80. I didn’t want to disappoint the person. YES
81. I was trying to "get over" an earlier person/relationship. NO
82. I wanted to reaffirm my sexual orientation. NO
83. I wanted to try out new sexual techniques or positions. YES
84. I felt guilty. YES
85. My hormones were out of control. YES
86. It was the only way my partner would spend time with me. NO
87. It became a habit. NO (I wish I knew how to quit you... lol)
88. I wanted to keep my partner happy. YES
89. I had no self-control. NO
90. I wanted to communicate at a "deeper" level. YES
91. I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn't have sex with him/her. NO
92. I was curious about my sexual abilities. YES
93. I wanted a "spiritual" experience. NO
94. It was just part of the relationship "routine." YES
95. I wanted to lose my inhibitions. YES
96. I got "carried away." YES
97. I needed another "notch on my belt." NO
98. The person demanded that I have sex with him/her. YES
99. The opportunity presented itself. YES
100. I wanted to see what it would be like to have sex while stoned (e.g., on marijuana or some other drug). NO