Strange Brouhaha

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Holiday in Cambodia

Look, it's the waterboard setup used by Pol Pot's torturers in Cambodia.

Pol Pot.


Cambodia. You know. "The Killing Fields." A quarter of a nation's population killed for, among other things, wearing glasses.

Senator Mary voted for this shit.

What's your reaction, there, Senator Ken Salazar? "It's tough kid, but it's life?"

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Friday Fiver

The questions on today's Friday Fiver looked interesting, so I thought I'd take a stab at them.

1. What's the last thing you broke?

2. What's the most expensive thing you've broken?

3. Do you consider yourself clumsy or graceful?

4. How much money do you have in your wallet right now?

5. Someone asks for change while you're walking down the street -- what do you do?

1. I dropped a picture frame in my office on Tuesday and the glass broke. The pictures are okay, fortunately.

2. Accidentally or on purpose? And does it matter when it was expensive? Because I've deliberately taken apart things that at one time had been expensive, but were old and useless by the time I got them. I guess the most expensive thing I've ever broken that I can remember is a new computer; I was putting random pieces of RAM into a machine and at one point the motherboard went zzzzt and started smoking. Fortunately, it was a work computer and it was easy to fix...with a new motherboard. At that point, that computer had probably cost a couple of thousand dollars. I'm sure I broke something worth even more expensive, but if I did I no longer remember it.

3. Graceful, I guess. I try not to be a clumsy oaf. Maybe I succeed. I dunno.

4. None. As I've said before, I don't carry cash unless I absolutely have to, and right now I don't have to.

5. I was in Chicago once and this guy came up to me and asked me for money. I happened to have some cash on me and I was about to hand him some of it when a cop car rolled to a stop next to us and the cop looked at me and said "Don't do it." I smiled at him and extended the money to the guy. The cop said, "Hey, I'm serious. Don't." I'm a little thick, but I got the message. Usually, though, I just ignore people begging for change. I could try to rationalize it, I guess, but I'm not going to. I just don't do it.

(No) Sympathy For The Stupid

The Rolling Stones are playing Missoula, Montana.

The show sold out pretty quickly. Who knew there were so many Stones fans in Montana?

Oops. Turns out there aren't.

I really don't have the strength to mock these people. I'd take a poke at the "aspiring actor" who got laid off and dropped two grand on tickets for a band he doesn't even like, but really, he's a mockery already and doesn't need my help.

For them, the answer was "Yes"

Yesterday, I alluded to a couple of questions most ably posed by the Rude Pundit: "Do you trust George Bush to decide what torture is?" and "Do you want George Bush to be able to imprison anyone he wants for as long as he wants?"

We already knew that the Republicans would goose-step past The Decider's reviewing stand, arms swinging in triumphal salute to His Glory. (Lincoln Chaffee was the only one who didn't.)

What shocked me was that twelve--twelve!--Democrats also bowed before Him. Here they are, above, Senators Carper, Johnson, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Bill Nelson, Ben Nelson, Menendez, Pryor, Salazar and Stabenow. Most of them don't even mention their votes on their official Senate websites, almost as if they were trying to distance themselves from the shame they should be feeling. (Some do mention it, like Nebraska's Ben Nelson, with pride.)

Senators, shame on you. All of you. Not just these twelve, but every single one of you who voted to eliminate the most important legal protection this country has. Shame on all of the Representatives who let this pass the House. There are not words to describe the evil that you have done in all of our names.

Let me single out two Senators here, one on each side of the aisle.

Senator Lieberman: how could you? Yes, you're a hypocritical, lying toady for the Imperial Administration, but your own FAMILY suffered under the rule of a man who thought the way The Decider does. It boggles the mind that you could even consider allowing George W. Bush to arbitrarily put people into prison camps. What would your wife's parents think about that? Would they just look down at the tattoos on their arms and then look back up at you in silence?

Senator McCain: Don't you think what was done to you in Vietnam was bad? Yeah, I guess we can be all macho and say "It's what happens in war," but aren't we as a nation supposed to rise above barbarism? Aren't we supposed to be better? You never broke under the assault back then, but you've proven yourself to be nothing but gutless ever since. Yeah, I said it.

I say that every single legislator who approved of the Monkey King's legislation should be subjected to some of the "tough interrogation techniques" that He wants to be able to use. Start with The Decider himself. Do it until they beg for it to stop, then do it some more, saying "This is what you want us to do."

I'm disgusted with the whole damn lot of 'em, from Bush on down. Democrats and Republicans. Republicans for doing it, Democrats for letting 'em. The government has let us all down. Everything from here on out is our fault. All of us have allowed this to happen. I only hope that one day we'll come to our senses as a nation and begin to atone for the evil that we've done.

Yeah, I know. Keep dreamin'.

Update: Sorry, I forgot my attributions. All of the images in the collage were taken from the Senators' websites and cropped. Most of them are official images, but at least three of them are snapshots from the Senators' photo galleries.

Update 2: How appropriate is it that this is my 666th post?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rights? Who needs 'em!

The wife sent me this link to Molly Ivins' piece on the death of habeas corpus. It ties in nicely with today's post from The Rude Pundit, who asks the musical questions "Do you trust George Bush to decide what torture is?" and "Do you want George Bush to be able to imprison anyone he wants for as long as he wants?"

Frankly, the first five words of the first question are more than enough.

How is it possible that these things are even under consideration?

Thursday musings

I'm trying to limber up for this year's National Novel Writing Month, which isn't that far off now. So I'm going to try to step up the posting activity. Here's the current 3x Thursday from Hair Metal Queen.

1. What's your favorite 'chill' (mellow, relaxing, etc) activity? Why?

2. When you go out, where do you like to go? What do you like to do?

3. What's your favorite comfort food? Why? Do you keep some on hand for emergencies?

Bonus Question for Comments: How's life? Is it treating you well right now?

1. My favorite thing to do to relax is read. I'll read anything, as I believe I've mentioned before. Right now, I'm working on "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis, a book on design, and a couple of books on model building and figure drawing. I like reading because it is calm and quiet, and can be utterly silent, which is nice after a cacophonous day of audio and video editing.

2. Big surprise...the bookstore. Barnes and Noble is just down the street. Not that I go out much any more. I like to wander around, look at magazines and books, try to find inspiration or just something to read. The bookstore is actually tied with the library, because the library has all of the benefits of the bookstore with none of the costs. (It still amazes me that I can somehow pass up a book in the library. I mean, what does it cost to pull ten random books off the shelves and read them? Nothin'!)

3. Manapua. I don't really know why. I used to get a manapua and an RC Cola after school a lot, and I have fond memories of that--even though the manapua from the manapua wagon was stuffed with meat of dubious origin. There's just something about a bite of "the salubrious bun and meat" that sums up everything that's right with the world. Toss in a couple of pork hash and it's heaven. You used to be able to get Char Siu Bao at a place down the street from us, but that was fifteen years ago and it's long no, I don't keep any on hand. You can get them from Zippy's online (which my sister did last year), but it's prohibitively expensive and thus not something a person can do regularly. I usually make my parents bring some when they visit. (And yes, I'm well aware that Wimpy was not referring to manapua as "the salubrious bun and meat.")

Bonus: You know, I'm a litle bit superstitious and thus a little nervious about actually saying this out loud, but...things are going really well. Around this time last year, I was still unemployed and without a clue as to whether I'd ever be employed. Pretty much everything now is going right, and so I guess I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop.

Metal Videos

I was rummaging through YouTube today, looking at videos, when I spotted a Nuclear Assault video (for Critical Mass, which would go well with Metallica's "Blackened"). That led me to idly wonder what else was out there. I ended up watching South of Heaven and a neat live performance of It's Love, among other things.

Naturally, I finally came around to looking at Scatterbrain videos. There are two worth looking at, although the quality on both of them is extremely poor: the seminal "Don't Call Me Dude" and a surprise (for me), "Down With The Ship (Slight Return)". I remember billing that tune as "the lost number from 'The Little Mermaid'" or some damn thing like that.

Really, I'm only mentioning Scatterbrain because I wanted to mention the time that Josh and I met Tommy Christ (of Scatterbrain) and John Connelly (of Nuclear Assault--he was selling Scatterbrain t-shirts and didn't want to talk about Nuclear!) at a show once. It was a triple bill, a funk-metal band called Monster Zero, Mindfunk (featuring a couple of guys from M.O.D.) and Scatterbrain. It was really cool. I mean...we just walked right up to Tommy and Josh said hey.

Apparently, there's a Scatterbrain/Ludichrist reunion show early next year in New York. Hmm...are we old enough for reunion shows? (Answer: of course we are; we went to the Last Crack reunion.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Monday Music Mambo

Here's the Monday Music Mambo from Blogdrive Insanity.

1. Name one new band/artist (with a debut album released within the last three years) who you enjoy a lot.

2. How do you discover new music?

3. Name a band or artist who you'd love to experience for the first time back when they first made a name for themselves. In other words, what band would you time-travel to see perform?

1. I'm blanking on pretty much anything recent, let alone a debut album within the last three years. I like the first Los Lonely Boys album, which I think is from sometime in the last few years. I'm not sure I'd say I "enjoy it a lot" though.

2. The only new music I hear is between shows on Disney Channel, when they play a video for whatever they're pimping. Well, that's not precisely true; I've gotten some good stuff on the recommendation of friends, and occasionally I'll be flipping past the MTV or the VH1 and they'll be playing a new video that's good. I should rectify that, I suppose, but there's so much backfilling to do...

3. Super easy. The Miles Davis Quintet with Red Garland, Philly Joe Jones, Paul Chambers and John Coltrane. It's not that Miles made a name for himself with this group, but that Coltrane did. They made some great music. Second choice, Coltrane's quartet with McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. Third choice: Eric Dolphy when he was playing with Charles Mingus. Fourth choice: Rush. Fifth choice: Bill Evans' trio with Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro. Sixth choice: The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Gene Wright. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on.


...I don't get this. Because Uwe Boll can beat up his critics, does that somehow mean that his movies don't suck?

I don't see the logic. Can someone explain this to me? If George Lucas kicks my ass, does that mean that "Attack of the Clones" is well-written? If Michael Mann punches me in the nuts, does that mean that "Miami Vice" is a good film, instead of second-only-to-"Barb Wire" in the Worst Movie Ever category?

I mean, if it was that easy, then The Decider would send an Army guy to everyone's house and suddenly he'd be the best President ever. Not that I want to give Him ideas.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Multi-point touchscreen interface

Teh Chunk sent this along. It must be seen to be believed. This is a video from February's TED, showing Jeff Han giving a demo of a multi-point touchscreen. It's especially cool to hear the audience reacting with awe as Han goes through exactly what you can do with this.

My favorite? The impromptu animation.

Sketch Swap

This is a really cool idea. You draw something in the space provided. When you click on the "Submit Drawing" button, your drawing is sent off and someone else's drawing is sketched in. As the slogan under the logo says, "Draw 1 to get 1". It's called Sketch Swap.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saddam Hussein is a grave threat to our national security!

Except when he's not.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Even as I was writing the now-deleted post, I thought "Man, this all sounds so familiar."

Yeah, I posted "White and Nerdy" twice, with almost the same text. Sigh.

As a palliative, I offer "Grayson".

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Fun

I suppose that pretty soon I'll have to stop letting other people come up with topics for me to write about, but until that day comes, here's today's Friday Fun from Multifaceted Mama.

1. When you are having a slow morning, is there a particular song that gets you going?
2. What is your favorite kind of music?
3. What is the last song you heard?
4. Do you and your significant other have A Song? What is it and why?
5. Do certain songs bring back memories for you? Give us an example!!

1. Hmmm. You know, I'd have to say that there really isn't. Anything mid- to up-tempo.

2. Right now, I'm listening to a lot of metal at work because I have a lot to get done and it helps me work faster without sacrificing quality. Overall, my favorite music is probably still Hawaiian music.

3. "White And Nerdy" by "Weird Al" Yankovic. I am quite willing to cop to most of the nerdy things in this song, from D&D to Stephen Hawking to memorizing pi. (Not to a thousand digits, though--just a hundred.)

4. No, but I suppose you could say "I Remember You" by Skid Row is Our Song, but only because we shared a good laugh over hearing it so many times on the radio.

5. I wrote a couple of songs specifically to bring back memories. But I suppose they mean a song that more than a few people have actually heard. There's the aforementioned "I Remember You." DeBarge's "Rhythm Of The Night" evokes memories of practicing the color guard audition routine on the Lower School playground when I was in high school. "Bui Doi" from the "Miss Saigon" score reminds me of driving around with Scott Kim, listening to that song.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Today's Booking Through Thursday

I've answered a Booking Through Thursday before. Here's another.

But, enough about books. . . what else do you read?? Magazines? Newspapers? Professional journals? Cereal boxes? Phone books? Purchase invoices? Homework?
(Please be specific. There may be a test later.)

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: I'm an inveterate reader. I prefer it to pretty much anything else. I read all of the things mentioned above. Even purchase invoices. Heck, I read soda bottles when there's nothing else around. For print magazines, I regularly read Smithsonian and Premiere, and irregularly read Jazz Improv, Computer Music, 3D World, mental_floss, White Dwarf, and a raft of others. Newspapers, the Sunday NYT, the Web versions of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Wisconsin State Journal. Professional journalls, Sys Admin, Dr. Dobbs Journal, I used to read Java Developer's Journal. I'll read a cereal box if it's there. I did in fact read the phone book tonight (actually, I helped what's-her-name learn how to use it).

Heck, I'm so bad I try to anagram almost everything I see, read it backwards to see if it says anything (ylsuoires), see how many words I can make out of it, even try and expand words as if they were acronyms (for example, "word"="wear one red dress" and "wipe out rabid dictators").

Great License Plate

Seen on the way home today:


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Next 10 Songs

I've done this before, but I couldn't think of anything new, so I'm going back a few memes to tell you what the next 10 songs are on my random iTunes playlist. I just hit the shuffle button, so let's see.

  1. "Only My Everything", Casanatra, Wood and Glass

  2. "The Forgotten (Part 1)", Joe Satriani, Flying in a Blue Dream

  3. "Falling In Love With Love", Marian McPartland and Oscar Peterson, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with Oscar Peterson

  4. "Kauai Nani La", Robi Kahakalau, Sistah Robi

  5. "Something For Nothing", Rush, All the World's a Stage

  6. "Petiatl Cx Htdui", Aphex Twin, Drukqs

  7. "Devil's Metal", Death Angel, Frolic Through The Park

  8. "Conversation", Marian McPartland and Mercer Ellington, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with Mercer Ellington

  9. "Ives Symphony Nr. 2, fourth movement (Lento maestoso)", Leonard Bernstein conducting (most likely) the New York Philharmonic, Ives: Symphonies 2 and 3

  10. "Walkin' Blues", Eric Clapton, Unplugged

Random notes...interesting that Casanatra came up first, since I just namechecked Josh yesterday; interesting that Flying In A Blue Dream came up, since my iPod is named "Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing" (which for the uninitiated is a track on the same album); yeah, that's really the name of the Aphex Twin track.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Music Memoirs' Take Me Back Tuesday

Here's this week's Take Me Back Tuesday from Music Memoirs. It's all about the radio.

Do you like listening to the radio? why or why not?

How many songs can you remember that are about the radio or mention radio in the lyrics or title?

Do you have any memories associated with the radio?

Have you ever called in a request to your favorite station?


If you could request a song right now what song would you pick

1. I like listening to the radio occasionally. By the time I left my job at the music store, I was burned out on music in general; in fact, I had mostly stopped listening to and creating music of any kind. For a long time, if the radio was on, it was tuned to the local sports talk station rather than any music. I'm a lot more radio-friendly now. The presets on the car radio are for NPR, Air America, the oldies station, a rock station and a free-format station.

2. Off the top of my head..."The Spirit Of Radio" by Rush, "Mexican Radio" by Wall Of Voodoo, "Fun Fun Fun" by The Beach Boys ("with the radio blasting, goes cruisin' just as fast as she can now"), "Raised on Radio" which is a Journey album but that album may very well have a title track. Hmm, does "listenin' to a rock and roll station" from John Cougar Mellencamp's Pink Houses count? Probably not.

3. It seems that KCCN AM, which was the only Hawaiian music station on the radio when I was a kid, was in the background of an awful lot of my childhood. I also remember that I was determined at one point to "fit in" at school, so I locked myself in my room and put on KQMQ until I forced myself to like what it was playing. The first song that I clearly remember hearing that wasn't Hawaiian was "Apache" by Sugarhill Gang. Oh...and how could I fail to mention hearing "I Remember You" by Skid Row on EVERY Des Moines radio station EVERY hour? We listened to nothing but that song, just to see if we could. AND how could I fail to mention how awesome it was to run the boards with Josh at KDIC, 88.7 FM, Grinnell, Iowa?

4. Yes.

5. Would they play it? I wouldn't mind hearing "South of Heaven," right now, although I have it on CD. It's a click away. Something I don't have...I guess I'd request Madness' "Our House" or "We Live So Fast" by Heaven 17 or "Perfect Way" by Scritti Politti.

I don't think "thank you!" is the appropriate response

(Caveat: obviously, my part of this story is made up; I have no idea how and how often these two people interacted.)


Say you're a stripper.

You're dancing on stage, letting it all hang out. It's a full-nudity club, so "all" means "all". After your set, you cruise the club, trolling for lap dances.

A young man catches your eye and beckons you over. He's a regular, a nice enough guy in that sweaty, nervous strip-club-guy kind of way. He always gives you thirty bucks instead of the going-rate twenty.

When you're done, he smiles nervously at you.

"I...I have something to give you," he says, so softly that you have to strain to hear him over the pounding beat of the club PA. He's reaching into his bag. Normally, that sets off all kinds of internal alarms, and indeed, you can see the bouncers zeroing in. You wave them off--he's harmless. "Here," he says, handing you a jar.

In the jar is a human hand floating in formaldehyde.

What do you say?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Madness

Here's today's Monday Madness:

1. How do you eat an oreo cookie?
2. How long does it take you to eat lunch?
3. Caffeine or decaf?
4. Chicken or beef?
5. Pen or pencil?
6. Autumn or spring?
7. Baseball or basketball?
8. 'Survivor' or 'The Amazing Race?'
9. Come up with one question I can ask our Monday Madness participants in the weeks to come.

1. We don't have these very often, but...I pop the whole thing in my mouth along with a big slug of milk. Kind of like dunking, but less messy in the glass.

2. Ten minutes or so. Depends on what I have, though.

3. Decaf, but I don't drink coffee. So, in my case, it's "caffeine-free soda".

4. Both! Beef first, if I have to pick.

5. Pencil. Mechanical, .5mm lead.

6. Autumn. It's colder.

7. Baseball, definitely. Basketball doesn't look like much of anything to me. I can appreciate a good dunk as much as the next guy, but the claim that basketball players "run plays" doesn't bear out with what I see when I see a basketball game.

8. Neither. I confine my reality TV to "Project Runway," although "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" was unexpectedly entertaining.

9. Hmmm. Monday Madness definitely tends to stay away from the more emo-type and political questions and more towards fun stuff. How about "If you had to live in a video game, which one would it be?" My answer is...probably "Shenmue" because nothing ever happens. You go about your life and it's dull and that's about it. Much better than living in "Grand Theft Auto" or "Madden NFL".

Patrick's Sunday Seven

The Sunday Seven from Patrick's Weekender:

Take a walk through your kitchen. Come up with at least seven appliances or electric gadgets that you'd hate to be without when you have kitchen duty for any reasonable length of time.

I'm glad that "appliances" is in there, because otherwise there's no way I have seven things in my kitchen that I couldn't do without. Heck, I may not even make it to seven.

1. Oven
2. Stove
3. Refrigerator
4. Dishwasher
5. Kitchen Scale (indispensable for baking!)
6. Quick-read thermometer (very helpful for baking)
7. Timer

I don't use a lot of gadgets when I cook. A good knife and a heat source, and I'm pretty much set. I don't really make things that require gadgets, though, and when I do I use someone else's.

Oh, and I'm serious about the kitchen scale, too--my baking improved a LOT when I started weighing the dry ingredients rather than relying on measuring cups.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It wasn't all that fun the first time

Like most people, I had to do the frog dissection thing in biology. It sucked, hard. Not because I had any qualms about actually cutting into the frog or anything, but mostly because I wasn't that interested in doing it. What's it meant to teach, anyway?

Courtesy of Cool Hunting comes the news that there's a store in New York selling a frog dissection kit, complete with frog. This is a high-end boutique-type place, too. It's some sort of retro irony thing.

It's also just gross. Yuck.

The reliable Saturday Six

Patrick's Saturday Six for this week.

1. You find out that you've just gotten a new job in a different state. Besides your spouse, who is the first person you tell?

2. With the money in your pocket, wallet or purse right now, could you make change for a $20 bill? Could you make change for a $1 bill?

3. Is this ability (or lack of ability) to make change a typical reflection of how much cash and coins you regularly carry?

4. Take the quiz: What mythological character are you?

5. Are you typically the "heart breaker" or the "broken-hearted" in your relationship history?

6. Considering your answer to #5, would you rather be the opposite?

1. Assuming that "spouse" includes "children" as well, I'd tell my parents. If "spouse" doesn't include "children," then obviously she'd be next.

2. No to both.

3. Yes. I don't carry cash at all unless I absolutely have to. I used to have a problem with cash--if I had it, I'd spend it--so I just stopped carrying it. Now it's a habit.

4. These things are weird. I rarely get an answer that I'm comfortable with.

You Are a Centaur

In general, you are a very cautious and reserved person.
However, you are also warm hearted, and you enjoy helping others in practical ways.
You are a great teacher, and you are really good at helping people get their lives in order.
You are very intuitive, and you go with your gut. You make good decisions easily.

5. Broken-hearted, probably.

6. No.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Dear Mr. Lucas

George Lucas
Skywalker Ranch

Dear Mr. Lucas,

I recently purchased DVDs of "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." Thank you for releasing the correct versions on DVD. I am returning the defective "Special" versions to you, as I won't be requiring them.




I really did have to think about buying these sets. On the one hand, it's the real movies, the DVDs generated from the LaserDisc masters. On the other hand...I just gave Lucasfilm money for the shoddy "new" movies.

I can't believe that people are complaining about these discs. I really can't. "It's not anamorphic widescreen," they whine, and "The video quality is poor!" For the first point, who cares? And for the second, no it's not. The DVDs are mastered from an analog source, yes, but the films look no worse than any other film from nearly thirty years ago. (If you have the LaserDiscs, you don't need these.) Complaining about having these discs is like ordering a steak and then complaining that it's made of cow.

These are the DVDs we're looking for, matte lines and bad landspeeder effects and all. And as a bonus: it really is Star Wars! The opening crawl contains no "Episode IV: A New Hope," which pleases me to no end. I'm going to watch these movies and enjoy them and just ignore the fact that Lucas hacked out three prequels.

(And a hack he is. Here's Obi-Wan, giving Luke a lightsaber: "Your father wanted you to have this, when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like your father did." Tell me, what idealistic crusade did Anakin follow Obi-Wan on?)

Oh, and by the way:




Mandatory HPV Vaccination

We've talked a little bit already about the opposition of some conservative groups to the idea of an HPV vaccine, but I wanted to bring it up again because we saw something on the news last night considering whether to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for 11-year-old girls.

I don't think mandatory vaccination is a big deal; kids already have to have their shots up to date when they register for school. There's really no possible way to object to the fact of a mandatory vaccination (which doesn't mean that there won't be objections); you can't say that the DPT and MMR shots aren't a good thing. The news story went on to say that if a mandatory HPV vaccination was to become a reality, exceptions would be allowed on religious grounds.

I say that there should be exceptions allowed for anyone who wants one. But there would be a requirement: any parent opting not to vaccinate their daughter against HPV should have to--in the presence of a doctor--look the child in the eye and say "HPV can lead to warts, respiratory problems, and even cervical cancer, but I do not care whether you get any of these things. HPV can even be fatal if left undetected and untreated. Even though this vaccine has proven to be 100% effective in clinical trials, I am choosing not to vaccinate you against HPV."

This is what people who would object to an HPV vaccine are, in effect, saying. The "it will lead to promiscuity" line is a dodge. It means "I think my daughter is a whore and I don't care if she dies". They should be required to say it out loud, to their kids' faces. I think an 11-year-old would get the message loud and clear.

(Yeah, I know...I'm being just as cruel. I just think there should be a way to make these people own up to what they really think. Maybe they should have to say it to an assembled group of doctors and nurses. After all, the primary goal here is to shame the grownup, not wreck the kid.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Unnamed passenger, I feel your pain

There have been many times when I, too, have wanted to open the airplane door while the plane is in the air. Especially in the last hour or so of a 9-hour flight. Something in your brain just starts screaming "LET ME OUT!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Next Man Up

I just finished reading "Next Man Up" by John Feinstein. It's the story of the Baltimore Ravens' 2004 NFL season. The Ravens, coming off of a 2003 season that saw them win their division but lose in the first round of the playoffs, gave Feinstein an unprecedented amount of access to meetings, practices and personnel--the NFL is normally extremely secretive, but the Ravens have always (sort of) bucked that trend.

The book is a great behind-the-scenes look at the running of a football team. It's not so much a book about playing football--you're not going to learn what a nose tackle does, or the theory behind a 4-3 defense, or why a team might want to run plays out of the shotgun formation--as it is about how a coaching staff tries to get its team through a season in more or less one piece. They face tough decisions about who to cut and when, morale issues, personality conflicts and, surprisingly (at least to me), they even have to deal with religious battles in the locker room. You learn a lot about what it's like to try to manage "fifty-three rich young men".

The writing is typical Feinstein. He's a great sportswriter, which means that the prose tends to be a bit purple sometimes. If you've read any of his superlative golf books, you know what I mean and you know that, at least the way Feinstein does it, it's extremely gripping. Feinstein, for me, has two unique gifts: first, he can make the boring seem exciting; and second, he just has a way of making you say "Man, I want to do that!"

The Ravens' 2004 season was a disappointment in a lot of ways. They finished 8-8, a record which would have gotten them to the playoffs in the NFC, but was no good for the AFC, and were plagued by injuries and shoddy play. The game recaps are mercifully brief, but Feinstein manages to bring them to life--in a few spots, I was saying "Hoooooly crap" just like I do for a great play when I see it on the television.

As with "A Good Walk Spoiled" and "Open" and the other golf books, where he made an essentially impossible job sound appealing and effortless, I kept thinking as I was reading "Next Man Up" that playing in the NFL must be the best job ever. Yes, even when Musa Smith gets his leg Theismanned. (Smith is still playing; the injury didn't end his career the way it did for Joe.)

This is another great Feinstein page-turner. I always recommend Feinstein's books to people regardless of whether they like sports. This book is no exception. Even if you don't really like football all that much, "Next Man Up" is a dramatic, old-school page-turner.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Easy Question to Answer

This week's Time magazine apparently asks the musical question "Does God Want You To Be Rich?", and, well, we all know that these Evangelicals and televangelists and such are out-and-out hypocrites. Apparently, they're all for "strict" interpretations of the Bible when it comes to homosexuals and women and such...but when confronted with an extremely unambiguous Matthew 19 (which also, by the way, prohibits divorce), it's "eh."

This week's Saturday Six

Here's Patrick's latest Saturday Six (which really is the Saturday Six, even though it's labeled Sunday Seven).

1. How do you feel about a National ID card to replace individual state driver's licenses?

2. Where's the most embarrassing place you've ever fallen asleep?

3. How long does it take you, when looking at someone for the first time, to determine whether or not you are really attracted to the person?

4. Take the quiz: What kind of drunk are you?

5. When is the last time you were really drunk?

6. What caused the condition: Alcohol or something else?

1. On the one hand, we already have a national identification system. Even though your Social Security number isn't supposed to be used as identification, in practice it is. On the other hand, it seems to me that it would be a short hop from "Here's your national ID card" to "Papers, please." I'm against it: who needs yet another layer of bureaucracy?

2. The most embarassing place I fell asleep was probably in Professor Kaiser's Russian History class in college. He was mad. He was also terribly, terribly boring.

3. As with so many things, the answer to this depends on the person. It can be anywhere from ten seconds to an entire lifetime. What does "really attracted" mean, anyway? Does it mean "LET'S BANG!" or does it mean "Let's spend the rest of our lives together" or is it somewhere in between? I mean, I'm "attracted" to Rosario Dawson, but I don't think I'd have anything to say to her.

4. Um, okay. I have no idea what criteria this quiz uses.

You're A Passed Out Drunk

Drinking gives you that warm fuzzy feeling, until you're thrown in the back of a police car...

5. I don't think I've ever been "really drunk." I won an improptu drinking contest in college by drinking a six-pack of beer, but I only won because it was a big party and we ran out of ammunition. Otherwise, the other guy would have won because I really don't like alcoholic beverages all that much. I have a beer or some wine every now and then, and it's okay in small doses, but I don't really like it enough to get drunk. Mostly I just get sweaty, and I do enough of that that I don't need help to get that way.

6. Alcohol. Budweiser, if I remember correctly.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy 40th Anniversary

It's Star Trek's 40th Anniversary.

I've said this before, and, as a fan, I'll say it again: Paramount, let it be. Don't make the new movie. Celebrate the 40th Anniversary, and the 45th Anniversary. Get rid of Berman. Get rid of everyone who's currently associated with Trek, in fact. Just let the whole property be still for the next six or seven years.

In 2013, start work on a new movie that will serve as the pilot for a new series. On the 50th Anniversary in 2016, roll the film out into theaters.

I guarantee that it will be a license to print money. That decade will do the same thing that the (less than a) decade between the cancellation of Star Trek and the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture did for the franchise.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Warning: This Is Gross

Filed also under "People Different From Us," with apologies to whoever I stole that from. Chuck Sheperd and News Of The Weird, I think.

Seriously, if you're reading this over your morning coffee or midnight snack, just walk away now.

Sir F. Crisp told me about this on the drive home today. Apparently, three guys in Cassville, Wisconsin decided to go dig up a corpse and have sex with it. There's another article that contains pictures of the three guys. Yikes. Any bets on how long they last in prison?

(Note that I am too classy here to quote Indestroy's "Dead Girls," but you know I want to.)

I wonder what made them think this was a good idea. Banging them when they're freshly dead is bad enough, but this girl had been in the ground a week.

I think these guys should be turned over to the dead girl's family for justice. I'm sure her father would be able to come up with something.

Here's why I love CNN

Check out the headline on this article about a woman's death due to complications from unlicensed cosmetic surgery. It says "High price for back-door beauty."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


There's been some attention given to Google's Image Labeler recently. It's a "game" where you and an anonymous partner somewhere in the world are each shown an image and you need to come up with possible tags for the image. If you match, you get points and move on to the next image. Each "game" lasts for a minute and a half.

It's good and bad. It can be mildly addictive; there's a certain attraction in coming up with as many words as possible to describe an image. The bad: either the infrastructure can't handle the load or people are just stupid, because I can't count the number of times that I've been typing away, thinking of every word I can...and the partner's word count stops at 3. It's as if there are people out there who are saying "You will match one of these three words, period. I can't be bothered."

Overall, it's frustrating even as it's addicting. Give it a try, but don't expect to remain calm.

The Big Question

Okay, Chimp. If the "alternative" interrogation methods were legal, then why have secret prisons? And why overseas?

(Answer: The Chimp is lying.)

We are operating secret torture camps in FORMER SOVIET STATES. Roll that around in your head for a while.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

From the "Not Paying Attention" department

Okay, CNN just had an ad for the tonight's Paula Zahn show: "The Death of Steve Irwin: Does Adventure T.V. Go Too Far?"

It's a legitimate question (especially if you've ever seen "Survivorman"), but it has very little to do with the way The Croc Hunter went out. He swam over a reef, surprised a ray and took a stinger through his chest, at least according to all the news reports and according to the show's producer. That's got very little to do with "Adventure T.V." Maybe if a croc had taken a bite out of his chest, or he got tagged by a black mamba while holding it, or if he got eaten by sharks while swimming, you could ask that question.

But "going too far" and "horrible accident" are polar opposites; there was no showing off involved. At least as far as I understand it.


CNN just flashed a big headline: RUMSFELD HOSPITALIZED.

But it's for elective surgery on his rotator cuff.

Maybe they'll give him a soul while they're at it.

Dear Little Emperor

Dear Little Emperor,

I am watching your disjointed rambling on CNN right now, and I have three observations.

First, what does Iraq's form of government have to do with its ability to defend itself?

Second, quit smirking. It makes you look like even more of an asshole than you already are. You fucking chimp.

Third, NEW KLEE YER. NEW KLEE YER. NEW KLEE YER. Learn how to speak.

Also, I hope your little implication that your critics are under the pay of "the terrists" doesn't go by unnoticed.

You suck. Fuck you.



Update: Keith Olbermann did not let me down, highlighting Bush's insinuations and slapping him for them on tonight's "Countdown."

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin

Wow...I mean, you knew it had to happen, what with the incredible chances he took, but it's still kind of a shock to hear that the man behind "The Crocodile Hunter" took a stingray barb to the chest and died instantly.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

And The Sunday Seven

While I'm at it, here's today's Sunday Seven: "Name up to seven Sunday cartoons from the comics section that you enjoy from time to time." (I'm limiting myself to currently-running new comics, so reruns of Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes don't count. Not that they would anyway.)

FoxTrot (still my favorite after over fifteen years), Get Fuzzy (hilarious), Pearls Before Swine, Funky Winkerbean, Garfield (it still makes me laugh once or twice a year), Real Life Adventures and Bizarro. The Wisconsin State Journal's comics section is really lame.

The Saturday Six

Yeah, it's this week's Saturday Six from Patrick's Weekender.

1. What was the last charity you donated something to? How long ago did you make your last donation?

2. Describe the worst weather event/national disaster that you experienced firsthand.

3. Did the experience you just described change you in any way, (or if you've never experienced such an event firsthand, do you think it would change you significantly)?

4. Take the quiz: What subjects should you have studied in school?

5. Did you actually study or major in any of the courses suggested by the quiz?

6. What's your current screen saver? How long have you had it, and what do you like best about it?

1. Is the Red Cross a charity? I donated blood. I'm supposed to make another appointment now, so that should tell you how long it's been. It should tell me, but I can never remember the minimum time between donations.

2. Hurricane Iwa, which was really a non-starter in our neck of the woods. I remember coming home on the bus, and traffic was streaming in the other direction. Nobody knew what was going on. But nothing really happened on our side of the island, as far as I can recall.

3. No. Well, actually, it's made me dismissive of weather emergencies. Probably a bad thing.

4. Okay...
Your Learning Style: Innovative and Independent

You are determined and driven. Confident in your abilities, no field is too difficult for you.

You Should Study:

Political Science

5. I took Physics and Political Science classes, but that's probably really not what was meant by this question.

6. I don't use a screen saver. Their original purpose (to prevent screen burn-in) is no longer the problem it was, so there's really no reason for me to have it on any computer I'm using. I've used no screen saver for nearly a decade, and my favorite thing about it is that it's one less hassle in my life to worry about.