Strange Brouhaha

Friday, December 31, 2004


$350 million. With the death toll north of 130,000 now...they're gonna need it.

"no diet"

Ordinarily, I like the magazine "real simple." But then I saw the February issue, which promised its readers the "no-diet diet." In other words, the "let's-restrict-calories-and-call-it-not-dieting" diet. The arrogance of this camp, which is one of the Big Three (cut fat/cut calories/cut carbs), is mindboggling. "Just be *sensible*!" they write, in what one can only hear as a snotty tone of voice. "Weight control is *simple*! Just *eat moderate portions* and *exercize*! There's *nothing else to it*!" Right, which is why the nation is getting fatter each year.

It boggled my mind to read this article. "This is not a diet. Here's our food pyramid and our portion guide." If you're cutting your steak to make sure it's about the size of a deck of cards, I've got news for you: you're dieting. If you're thinking, "Have I eaten my six cup-your-hands-together portions of whole grains today?", you're dieting. Not dieting looks like this: you eat. What you want. When you want. In blissful ignorance of what portion size it is and what function it serves in rounding out your nutritional intake. Paying attention to your hunger signals, drinking water at meals, and keeping count of cookies, with the vague intention of not eating "too many" (which you determine largely by instinct), is allowed. But that's about it.

Is it simple? Well. Ask the women of Ireland and Italy, traditionally poor countries where traditionally people walked everywhere and worked hard, where the women traditionally were fat by middle age. Ask them how "simple" weight control is.

Non-overweight people who strut around talking about how "simple" it is to "eat sensibly" are like rich people: by and large, they are totally blind to the advantages they've had (like killer genes). So they look down on everyone else, assuming that, but for a little know-how and willpower, they too could be sleek and/or upscale (and funny how those two tend to go together). Grrrr.

How many towers is that?

Rob Cockerham at has prepared an infographic comparing tsunami deaths to WTC deaths.

I admit, I'm a little leery about using the WTC attacks like this...or really, for anything, even political grandstanding...but it does put things in perspective, I think. I hope George is enjoying his vacation.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Oh god no

If I knew how, I'd link you all to an article by John Nichols in the Nation online.

Remember how George Bush initially promised to send $14 million in disaster relief to Asia?

Remember how he was shamed into bumping it up to $35 million?

That is still less than he plans to spend on his own inaugural party ($40 million).

I was already deeply ashamed of his dismissive hey-I'm-on-vacation-here response to the greatest natural disaster in recorded history. It's bad enough that he didn't visit. It's worse that he has pledged a smaller dollar amount than many countries with smaller economies than ours. But this tops everything.

He's going to spend more on a *party*? For *himself*?

Why doesn't he just put a map of southeast Asia on the floor and have himself videotaped taking a piss on it? It would amount to the same thing. "Not only are you not worth a personal visit, you're not even as important to me as my party. So there."

I can't get over it. He's willing to spend forty million dollars to wine, dine and entertain people at his party but only thirty-five to help our fellow human beings in Asia? THIS IS HIS IDEA OF WHAT TO DO?

Wake me when it's over.

Damn Them For Making Me Feel Sorry for Jessica Simpson

The imdb has an item about Jessica Simpson and her father Joe. Apparently, when she was twelve, her father held a ceremony in which he made her promise to remain a virgin until marriage. In return, he gave her a ring and his pledge to "be the man" until she found her husband (apparently to tide her over during the years when she would otherwise be dating). He is quoted as saying, "What better gift to give her husband--never touched by another man?"

I will admit that when people would rip into "Pervy Joe" in TableTalk and so on, I figured it was just hyperbole. But this has changed my mind. For a dad to extract an explicit promise of virginity from his twelve-year-old daughter and then *give her a ring* and *proudly* promise to be Oedipal with her in every way but one until she gets married, and all for the benefit *of the future husband*....ew.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Welcome To The Blogosphere

As you'll note, Savannah is now an official contributor to Strange Brouhaha. Let us all give a cheer, because she's smarter than me and she's able to organize her thoughts better, too.

One Of Those Things

So okay. Oliver Stone. "Alexander" was one of those you-can-tell-he's-a-genius-by-how-bad-this-was things. It was straight out of Baudelaire that way. ("The successes of geniuses are greater than the successes of other men, and his failures are worse than the failures of other men.") This was a total disaster which, at the same time, had tremendous visual richness. It came from an artist. So, I thought, let's brush up on Oliver Stone. I went to the archives and found some article from several years ago.

The author of the article accused Stone of fatuous self-flattery because Stone's website at the time described him as "Writer, Director, Thinker." Um...but Oliver Stone *is* a writer, director, and thinker. If Paris *Hilton* had a website that said "Writer, Director, Thinker," we'd have a problem. Not here.

It's interesting the opprobrium that Stone gets. I wonder what it is that ticks people off so much. They accuse him of being unsubtle. What, exactly, about American culture *is* subtle? Did I miss something? Is this or is this not the nation that produced Metallica, the Dallas Cowboys and Adam Sandler?

Look At The Lost Souls...

Did you know that Alex Skolnick, formerly of Testament, is playing guitar with one of the touring companies of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra?

I wonder how Chuck Billy is doing, that tall-ass S.O.B. I know he had cancer, and had open-heart surgery or something to get rid of it, but other than that...

R.I.P. Jerry Orbach

So long, Jerry.

What a difference a few MHz makes...

I have an Aardvark DirectPro 24/96 audio card in my older Windows machine.* It's really great--very clean input, easy to use, and it has those great Neutrik combo jacks. It's also got a couple of MIDI ports on the back.

People can write (and have written) whole essays on the subject of MIDI latency. In a nutshell, latency is the time between the keypress on your keyboard (or other MIDI controller) and the sound actually playing. Lower is better: if you hit a key and it takes a half a second for the sound to play, that's BAD. Latency is affected by a lot of things--for example, I read somewhere that because of the architecture of Windows versions before Windows 2000, you can NEVER get acceptable response times with those systems. Now, I don't know if "never" is accurate, but I ran WinME with the Aardvark and a MIDI application and there was always a perceptible lag between keypress and sound, even after I disabled everything else that I could without jeopardizing the integrity of the system.

The conventional wisdom about audio interfaces, at least back when I was shopping for the DirectPro, was that you DON'T want to use USB if you can possibly avoid it. USB can cause interference and dropouts, or so they said--something to do with the fact that the computer would contantly poll the USB to see if a new device had been added. This was back in the era when a 500 MHz Pentium III was top dog, by the way.

Fast forward to today. I'm using a Digidesign Mbox USB interface with ProTools LE on my iBook, and it sounds great. No dropouts, no interference, just a good clean signal path, especially from this new MXL 990 microphone. How good is it? I swear it was picking up stuff through the walls when I tested it out. It's a very sensitive microphone, and what it picked up was exactly what I gave it, warts and all.

What really impressed me, though, was the MIDI performance of this MIDIsport UNO with my MIDI keyboard: no latency, at least no perceivable latency. Maybe 1-2ms, but that's pretty much instantaneous anyway. I fired up Reason (the incredible software audio tool), which had brought my 500MHz Pentium III to its knees, and just played with it for a while with no problems.

So what a difference a modern OS and processor can make, huh? I guess the next thing to do is to put the Aardvark into a newer machine, chain up a few MIDI apps with the keyboard and iBook and...gosh, who knows?

* I linked to here because it was one of the few places that still seemed to have product information for my card. It seems that Aardvark may not be in business anymore; their website certainly looks like they don't own it anymore. But I actually bought my 24/96 from

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

In Which I Agree With The Bush Administration

I think the argument should not be applied to taxes--thirty percent should be thirty percent (or whatever it is) there--but as far as foreign aid goes, I'm with this article about the U.S. response to the U.N. on the issue of percentage of aid versus GNP. I don't really care what some ass-end-of-nowhere country commits to foreign aid in terms of its GNP. We take care of a lot of stuff around the world, and in dollar amounts--not percentages of anything--we've got big, generous pockets.

Sure, we could probably do more--witness my snarky comment of the other day---but come on, here. The U.N. can suck it.

Monday, December 27, 2004

That's some power...

The earthquakes that caused the tidal waves that did so much damage in the Indian Ocean over the weekend? Strong enough, apparently, to disrupt Earth's rotation. I think it's amazing that something like that can happen without everyone in the world feeling it. I mean, it made the PLANET wobble.

It even erased the Maldives from the planet, at least for a few moments--not surprising, considering that its highest point is 2.4m above sea level (and no, that's not a typo).

We humans think we're such badasses. We got nothing on geology, weather, or the laws of physics. (What we do have that those things don't have, of course, is the ability to willfully USE what relatively-little power we have at our fingertips.)

(Snarky note: I wonder how far the hundreds of billions of dollars we're spending as a nation to prop up George W. Bush's ego would go for the relief effort?)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

It's A Meme, pt. II

Continuing from part one, here's the list on my iBook. I've got every album we own digitized here, and it's the library that'll be transferred over to the iPod as soon as all of the software updates are done.

I have to say, I feel a little better about this list.

  • Heigh-Ho, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dave Digs Disney

  • Gimme What You Got, Keb' Mo, The Door

  • The Boy Next Door, Bill Evans, Explorations

  • Friends In Low Places, Garth Brooks, Double Live

  • Synaesthetic, Blue Man Group, Audio

  • 'Opae E, Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau, Live at Hank's Place

  • Rainbow High, Evita (Original Broadway Cast)

  • Just A Little Overcome, Saint Etienne, Sound Of Water

  • Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Anthrax, I'm The Man

  • 2112, Rush, 2112

And the next two are good, too, "Jelly Jelly" by the Allman Brothers and "Long Way Back From Hell" by Danzig.

It's A Meme!

At least, that's what David said to me when I allowed as to how I was going to copycat this entry at noise-to-signal. David got the idea from Andrew, who in turn got it from Ed Bott.

The idea is to randomize the playlist on whatever digital media program or device you use and shout out the next ten songs. I mean "shout out" metaphorically, of course; read the great-grandparent (that would be Ed) for more precise rules. I think this is fun, and since I have so many different listening libraries depending on where I am, I get to do this one a few times.

First up, the Windows machines at home. Not a lot in the Windows libraries, and most of it is stuff that Savannah listens to, since she's the one who uses the home computers most often. Here's what I got...warts and all.

  • Red Barchetta, Dream Theater

  • "Muir Races To Work," Harry Gregson-Williams, Spy Game soundtrack

  • red, black & green, Pharoah Sanders, Thembi

  • Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns n' Roses, Appetite For Destruction

  • Wanted Dead Or Alive, Bon Jovi, Slippery When Wet

  • When You Ask A Working Man, Paul McCartney, Liverpool Oratorio

  • Silvie, Sweet Honey In The Rock, All For Freedom

  • Stop, Wait, Hold On, Paul McCartney, Liverpool Oratorio

  • The Air Raid Siren, Paul McCartney, Liverpool Oratorio

  • Tuwe Tuwe, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Still The Same Me

Randomness is a mystery to me. There are about 800 songs in this particular library, and yet three of the ones on this list are from McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio. Two are by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Still to come...the work playlist, and the iPod playlist.

R.I.P. Minister Of Defense

Reggie White died today. As a human being, he was reprehensibly gay-hating. As a football player, he was easily one of the best ever. I'll choose to remember his on-field accomplishments, thanks.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

As I said to some other people, it's Christmas to me, so you get Merry Christmas--but of course what I mean is "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and happy whatever else it is that you do or don't celebrate."

It was good here, and I hope every one of you had a good time doing whatever it was you did. We had a hyperactive six-year-old bouncing off of everything and trying to play with every single one of her Christmas presents (along with everyone else's) at once. Fresh waffles and sausage for breakfast, leftover lasagna for late lunch. Heaven.

Wanna know what I consider my most interesting Christmas present? I got an e-mail from someone in Germany wanting to know what had happened to my LaTeX stage play macros that were hosted on the old Strange Brouhaha. As I told him, I didn't think anyone had ever even known they were there!

(Okay, the iPod was awesome too! Digitizing hundreds of CDs is a slow process...thank $DEITY for CDDB. I would kill myself if I had to type in thousands of song titles by hand, which I already did when I ripped some of our older CDs.)

(Well...the Packers' last-second [literally!] victory over the Vikings to clinch the NFC North title was awesome as well. Sorry, Josh. I thought the end of the first half was pretty funny. Golly, Mike Tice was angry! What were some of those words he was using?)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Waste of Money

I am not a cat person.

In fact, I am not even really a pet person.

Therefore, it seems like a huge, gigantic waste of money to spend $50,000 cloning your cat.

Tell me, pet owners, does your pet really matter THAT much to you? Seriously, fifty grand is a lot of money. For fifty grand, if you love cats that much, you can get two new ones and keep them fed and healthy for their entire lives. And probably have enough money left over to do it again when those two die.

Again, I come at this from the perspective of someone whose pets have all been fish, and desultorily-cared-for fish at that. Yes, I know people love their pets and can come to think of them as children, but isn't there a built-in expectation that you're going to live longer than your pet, an expectation which you don't have with kids?

Strange Reaction

I used to work for the Madison School District. It was a very stressful time; we were chronically understaffed and constantly behind, dealing with people who knew nothing about our field (par for the course in the computer biz) and who wanted everything done RIGHT THIS SECOND. When it was my turn to work the phone support line, it was a vision of hell--four straight hours of ringing telephones and voicemail messages. It made my phone phobia worse.

It was also cool, at least for a little while, because at one point we had a solid core of guys who knew their stuff. We knew each other's capabilities, strengths as well as weaknesses, and we were able to Get Things Done. That kind of teamwork was a major reason that I stayed as long as I did. It didn't last, of course. We had some of the best people in IT, but you can't keep them with stress levels the way they were; the great benefits package doesn't compensate for being overworked all the time. It didn't for me. I left for a lower-paying job, at least in terms of salary plus benefits. (And despite all the stress of the last few's still less stressful here.)

Anyway, all that background is there so I can talk about the reaction that writing about those days causes. On Slashdot the other day, there was a topic created by a Madison School District Micro Tech (one of the positions I held) who was asking how to go about getting grants for new equipment--it seems that what they have is sad and out of date. (I wonder if they're still using those Toshiba 486s that we got when they were new. Haha.) I made a couple of responses, and then noticed immediately that I was breathing shallowly, getting flushed, feeling very strange. The stress was bleeding through my skin. Even now, typing this, I feel horrible. It's like the stress doesn't leave. It's distracting.

It's like PTSD or something, I swear it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Good books?

I was talking with someone tonight and the topic turned to books.

I read all the time. It's rare for me to not be into two or three books at the same time. I love to read. The problem is, the question was "What was the last good book you read?" Good, you see, is a terrible problem.

I'm plowing my way through "The Wheel of Time" again, slowly. I mean, a new book has to be coming out sometime, right? I'm moving through book 2 now, and, you know, I wouldn't say it's a good book. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it and I recommend it if you like fantasy literature, but as a "good book," it doesn't measure up.

A lot of the--I hate this term--graphic novels I've been reading recently have been okay, but wouldn't really qualify as "good."

That leaves the tech manuals. Ugh. They come close, I suppose, since they're generally helpful as long as they're from O'Reilly.

So I was in the awkward position of saying that I couldn't remember the last good book I read, even though I read all the time.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Illusions Shattered!

I already don't like those snarky shows on VH1 where they get class-F "celebrities" and "comedians" to say mean things about, say, music, or 1986, or what have you. But I was under the illusion that at least these people had some passing familiarity with what they were talking about. Or rather, that the writers of the shows did.

No longer.

I was flipping past some show--I don't even know what it was!--and they were talking about "Luke and Laura" on whatever soap opera that was. General Hospital, maybe. This woman is saying "We just wanted to see two pure hearts get together," or something like that. I don't think she was speaking ironically. She didn't sound like it. She was followed by more people who obviously, obviously didn't know what they were talking about. The Wikipedia entry for Luke and Laura may shed some light if you don't already know what I'm talking about. Great love story, my fat, hairy ass.

I didn't watch the whole segment, as I was busy immediately yelling to Savannah to listen to this load of crap.

For my money, the best "Luke and Laura" moment was when Tony Geary and Genie Francis did a cameo on "Roseanne" as Luke and Laura. I totally don't remember a single bit of it, but it was hilarious. I promise.

Wherein I Actually Do Not Complain About George W. Bush

I read this story on CNN about the latest pardons the President granted and it made me wonder how you get a pardon from the President in the first place. It doesn't particularly matter to me that Bush has granted so few. I just want to know how any President decides what pardons to give. It seems to me that offenses that happened over 20 years ago, for which the offenders received probation and fines, wouldn't even be worth noticing, let alone worth noticing by the President of the United States. Why do Presidents give pardons in the first place?

Yet Another Disaster

No, not for me, for Jack Whittaker, who hit the largest single lottery jackpot a couple of years ago. He's been in trouble with law a bunch of times and someone died in his house. Now, his granddaughter has been found dead.

I wonder if he got the winning lottery numbers from a monkey's paw.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I'm Speechless. Here's Why.

Apparently, there are people in this country who have learned nothing, although I guess that shouldn't surprise me because, after all, people in general are stupid and suck. (What's that line from Men In Black? "A person is smart. People are stupid.") I guess maybe if those same 44% would have said the same thing about white people after Oklahoma City, it would be okay.

We're heading for another Internment. I guess at least Michelle Malkin will be happy.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Favorite Words

Perhaps I've mentioned before that one of my favorite words of all time is defenestration. I think it's incredibly neat that we have a word for throwing something out of a window. How cool is that?

I had the opportunity, at our meeting today, to think about one of my other favorite words, Schadenfreude. Not, you understand, that I was experiencing Schadenfreude. It just kind of popped into my head. Hot on the heels of schadenfreude came another German word, Weltanschauung, which I've loved ever since I heard it in Dr. Mexia's philosophy class in high school. I couldn't even tell you why I like that one; the English "worldview" is just as good, unlike just about any English explication of Schadenfreude that doesn't use at least seven words. It just sounds cool.

So, what are some of your favorite words? They don't have to be in English. They can be long, short, or in between. They can be egghead words, or hoi polloi words. Doesn't matter to me.

Okay, one last one from me...qat, which is a word that has gotten me out of trouble in Scrabble far too many times to count.

Another Thing To Like About Blogger

Blogger automagically validates your HTML before you post. If your tags are malformed, it stops and lets you correct them. I really really like that.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Today's Lesson Learned

There's an old saying that you hear when people complain that Unix is not as user-friendly as Windows or MacOS. It goes something like, "Unix IS user-friendly. It's just picky about its friends."

When you're running commands on the command line, you can't just go on autopilot; that way lies disaster. Unix doesn't really have a concept of "undo." You can usually recover from an error, but recovery requires that you have prepared for the error in advance. It can be very unforgiving.

For the past few days, I've been heavily involved in writing some tests for some of the features of our fax server product. I've been writing and rewriting code, changing, optimizing, creating. It's not been particularly difficult, just time-consuming--when I code, I usually follow the "get it working, then get it working right" school of thought. That is to say, I throw down the first thing I think of, make it work, and then figure out how it's wrong and how to fix it. That way, if there's a time crunch, we at least have working tests.

I'm also fundamentally lazy, so I try to have the tests do as many things as possible with as few commands as possible. I want to get all the work done at the beginning of the process, so that when crunch time comes, the tests can run and we can be sure that the core systems are working.

I've been taking notes, writing code, taking more notes, commenting my code, ripping pieces out and adding them back in. As I go along, I'm also finding a few bugs to write up, so it's been very fruitful. This is really what I enjoy about my job; I'd gladly put in 12-hour days doing this--it's like fighting the product to make it work, and I dig it.

One of the bugs I found has to do with an error that returns from a program that's supposed to delete one of the databases. It's not a real big deal; the databases are emptied out correctly, as far as I can tell--it's just that the program returns an error message, which means it's not running correctly. The solution for this is to delete the databases, all of which begin with the letters "pb," and recreate them. It's a simple process, involving the Unix "rm" command.

rm is the Unix remove command. It takes whatever file you give it and deletes it. That file is totally unretrievable. There is no undelete, there's no "Recycle Bin" or "Trash Can." The file is gone. It also takes the standard wild card characters, like "*" and "?" and so on. For example, to delete the six databases whose names all begin with "pb", you just type "rm pb*" and poof! They're gone.

The only problem comes when all the code you've written over the last three days also happens to be in files whose names begin with "pb," and you forget to change to the directory where the databases live. In that case, when you type "rm pb*," you delete three days worth of work.

I've done this before, and I should be a little bit more upset than I actually am. Three days of work is three days of work, after all, totally nuked. The lesson? Two, actually, always use source control (I like RCS because it's simple, but I'm going to look at perforce, and this is a good excuse), and always make sure you're in the right directory before you delete something.

Sure, you could use rm -i, which prompts you before deleting files, but where's the fun in that?


Here's another link, this time to an interview with the incredibly talented Jaime Hernandez, talking about Love and Rockets and the release of the new book "Locas," which collects all the Maggie and Hopey stories from L&R.

Beto and Jaime Hernandez are easily--EASILY!--comics' best storytellers. Period. Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Craig Thompson, Alex Robinson, they're all good, don't get me wrong. Beto and Jaime are better. Gilbert got his turn last year with the "Palomar" collection, which was incredible.

If you're at all interested in any kind of visual medium, and you're not familiar with Los Bros. Hernandez' work, you seriously owe it to yourself to go to the bookstore or library and look at every single L&R collection they have. It's that good. Jaime is hell on wheels with a pen. He's better than Frank Cho, and Frank Cho is a frickin' genius.

So...where does $150 billion go?

To the "military-industrial complex," I guess, because it's sure not going to the people who need it. Go read Arianna Huffington's column at Salon and then try and say, with a straight face, "George W. Bush is good for the military."

(It's a link, so you'll need to watch or ignore the little ad. I think the column is worth the extra few seconds.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

More Lost Bombs

Remember when the French lost a bag with explosives in it?

Not to be outdone, the TSA has done it too, although at least it wasn't a package of real explosives.

Turn Your Back On Bush

I read about Turn YOur Back On Bush at today. It's a neat idea, and a very good way to get around the crushing of dissent that will certainly take place at the inauguration.

I guess that the only problem with it is...what if only a hundred people show up, ready to go? A few isolated people turning their backs doesn't really make for an effective protest. Still, it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Neat Bridge

I'm about as far from Francophilic as you can get. I was disrespecting France before disrespecting France was the soup du jour, as they say. But the new bridge is pretty neat. Be sure to check out the image gallery for a few dramatic photos showing just how high the dang thing is.

I know a few people who would never, ever drive on it. But it's still neat.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Gmail invite...anyone?

Back on April 1, when Google announced Gmail, there was a lot of speculation (including speculation from me) that it was a hoax. Nobody, after all, would give away 1GB of disk space, would they?

Of course, we all know by now that it's not a hoax. It's in an extended beta period right now while they test things out. My friend Chunk gave me an invite, and I've had a Gmail account for a few weeks now. I don't actually use it, but I have it.

Now, you can too! I have a bunch of invites, five or so (I've already used one). If you want to be one of the millions of people with an exclusive Gmail account, let me know and I'll hook you up. Here's some more information if you're not sure whether you'd actually use Gmail.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

What do they think will happen?

I'm all for putting the screws to child molesters, but even if the prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case are able to prove their accusations, what do they think is going to happen? Michael Jackson is richer than God, he's not going to jail or anything. (That's faulty reasoning, of course; Martha Stewart went to jail and she's got more money than God, too.) I mean, I guess they could finally say, with proof, "Parents, keep your damn kids away from Michael Jackson," but I think the sad truth is that there are always going to be jackals who will pimp their kids out.

I think that if he is guilty he ought to be rolled up in a blanket and beaten with baseball bats. That's surely what Sage and I should have done to that one guy. It would have been a lot more satisfying than what ultimately happened.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


We received a pamphlet sometime this week. I don't know exactly when; it was probably sitting outside the door and made its way inside, to the floor. It's been sitting there a while. I picked it up today. Maybe it was from last week.

It's called "Homosexuality: The Truth--Questions and Answers About Homosexuality."

Yeah, it's one of those. It's from an organization called...well, you know, I'm actually not going to say. The organization is based here in Wisconsin, and now that I think about it, I saw a picture of these people waving their odious signs in last week's Isthmus newspaper, so they've been around.

I wish I had been home to receive this personally, because I would have given them an earful or two.

So let's look at this document, shall we? That there are grammatical errors is a given; take it as understood, and we'll move on.

Logical errors abound. The prime focus of the document seems to be the equating of homosexuality with child molestation, incest, serial killing and bestiality, a favored tool of these people. It calls for the criminalization of homosexuality, but claims that anti-gay laws wouldn't actually be enforced--huh? (They also get a dig in at doctors who perform abortions. Can't let the opportunity slip by.) It's written with a semi-scholarly tone, with footnotes and everything. The problem, of course, is that the footnotes are almost entirely references to documents by the same author, or by anti-gay groups with innocuous-sounding names.

The real stunner is the statement that essentially says that discrimination against gays should be codified and encouraged. "It is because of the no-special-rights approach," it says, "that we now have open homosexuals involved in many activities from which they should have been banned...." You know, like having jobs and places to live. I just don't understand these people. How can they believe that God would stand for some of these things they're saying?

It just boggles my mind that you get all this hate and vitriol on one 8.5x14 sheet of paper, and then they have the nerve to quote John 3:16.

What can you do? Sign 'em up for fake magazine subscriptions, submit their email addresses to spambots, DOS their web servers, get them on phoneblast lists, set up a wardialer to call them at all hours? None of those are real solutions, so don't do 'em, and besides, I'm not giving out any of that info. What can you do?

RIP Dimebag Darrell

I was never the biggest fan of Pantera; in fact, my favorite thing about Pantera was the time Dave Mustaine ripped them on MTV. Still, it sucks that Dimebag Darrell was murdered in a nightclub shooting in Ohio. Apparently the shooter specifically targeted Darrell.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rummy's "Town Hall Meeting"

I'm way too lazy--does anyone know offhand of a place that might have a transcript of Rumsfeld's press conference in Kuwait? We heard the soldier ask "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" on the radio. We heard the cheering, too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

TV Stuff

Just two things...

One, tonight's SVU is all Fin, all the time. Ice-T is awesome. And the writing is great. As I write this, the episode is about half over, and already there's been enough meat in it that they really could have just sat back and stretched out what they had. (They do that sometimes.) It sort of sucks--they can't give Ice-T more to do during the other shows, so they just kind of pack it in to one or two episodes.

Two, this new show NBC is pimping, "Medium?" It looks awesome--sort of what would happen if the kid from "The Sixth Sense" grew up to become a detective. Well, and a girl. And if the ads are misleading and that's not what it is, then they should make a TV show that IS exactly like that.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the best six-year-old in the whole entire world. We're all super proud!

Monday, December 06, 2004

It's not true...

...and as Virginia said when she sent this link along, "If only it were true...I'd move to Canada tomorrow."

Bush arrested in Canada for War Crimes

Quelle Stupide!

Or however you say "What a bunch of morons!" in French. (That's a link, watch the free ad if you want. In brief, the French test their bomb-sniffing dogs by hiding explosives in passenger luggage. Yes, it seems that they do this without notifying the passenger. One such bag has now been lost.)

I don't actually have a problem with their technique, although it does seem that there are better ways to go about it. I mean, this means (or meant, anyway) that if you fly through DeGaulle, the French police might have opened your bags and put stuff in it without your knowledge, and that's not a good thing. But I understand why they don't just pack a dummy bag and send it through the system--how do you guarantee that the dog won't single out the bag because he's smelling the scent of one of his trainers?

No, what's stupid about this whole thing is that they apparently didn't SCAN THE AIRLINE TAG ON THE LUGGAGE. If I were designing a system to test dogs with random explosive placement--not that I would, mind you!--I'd want the officers to make a note of which bags they put the freaking explosives in! Especially nowadays, when everything is barcoded; how hard can it be to use a portable scanner? That way, if you lose the bag, you can at least find the passenger! What happens when the poor sap runs into security problems in Hamburg or Moscow or Washington? "Uh, sir, what is this package of explosives doing in your luggage?"

Now, of course, they'll HAVE to figure out an alternate system. Idiots.

Casinos and Compulsion

It's become a sort of mini-tradition, when my parents are visiting, for them and me to take a little trip over to Ho-Chunk Casino in the greater Wisconsin Dells-Baraboo metropolitan area. It's a short drive assuming good weather (more of which anon), and it's a good time whether you win or lose. Sure it's smoky and you come home smelling of cigarettes, loose change, and desperation, but it's a fun way to spend an evening. Especially if, you know, your father is footing the bill. Hehe.

I tend to play pretty conservatively--after all, if you walk in with some money in your pocket, the easiest way to walk out with money in your pocket is not to take it out at all. There's really no such thing as slot machine strategy, books to the contrary notwithstanding, and your money disappears even faster at blackjack than it does in a slot machine, so I mostly just wander around with one of my parents and watch them. There are a lot of different machines, but they all boil down to "hit a button and let the computer tell you whether you've won."

It's fun, but as I was complaining (a little bit) to my mom, I like games of skill and knowledge. I'd rather put money down on, say, my ability to answer trivia questions or shoot things or stop a timer. When you can blow twenty dollars in literally two minutes, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails!

So there I was, down to my last twenty dollars, having made some bad decisions (like not cashing out after doubling my money), and I decided to play some machine or other. Of course, casinos being designed the way they are, I fought my way back to even money. Then up a little, then way down again. By dinner time, I had almost $200 in my pocket.

At dinner, I had caffeine. I want to blame the caffeine. I can't blame the caffeine for my idiocy.

A few minutes after dinner, I was way, way down again. You'd think I would stop. I didn't stop. I was at $200 AGAIN when I said "Okay, that's it," and put it all in my wallet. You know, where it was safe.


I think you know how this story ends. Hint: after I returned the original stake, my wallet is empty.

Still, a lot of fun. And the buffet was good! If you can, find someone who has John Pinette's "Show Me The Buffet" for some good buffet-related humor.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Ghost Auction

I love stories about crazy, kooky eBay auctions. The Dybbuk Box comes to mind here, of course, but I also recall a funny one where this guy was selling his ex-wife's wedding dress and found himself without a model, so he put it on himself. I seem to recall a marching band auctioning off a live performance as well.

Anyway, here's another one, this time about a woman auctioning off her father's ghost.

Discovery Toys

My old friend from Back In The Day, Michelle Takemoto, is selling Discovery Toys. If you've got kids to buy presents for--you know, Christmahanukwanzaakah is coming up (sorry, Comedy Central)--you might want to check out her website and see what's up.

I like the Zip Track flexible speedway!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Tog on Bugs

Tog, Bruce Tognazzini, was Apple Computer's Human Interface guy back in the day. It's always worth checking out any updates on to see what he has to say.

The latest entry, on persistent, ingrained design flaws, is good reading. I find it comforting that the "list of 10" only has 7 entries. It's also thought-provoking; it made me think about reconsidering things that I do in certain ways, professionally and personally, just because "that's the way it's always been done."

If I were to add just one thing to the list, it would be computer clocks not keeping the right time. I hate it that the clock on a $2000 computer can't keep time as well as a $10 wristwatch. And while it's neat, I hate it that it's become de rigeur to rely on external time servers to keep updated time. I guess I don't know what the solution is, though.