Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The Wednesday Mind Hump from a couple of weeks ago had to do with geniuses. We are asked to name geniuses in a few categories.

Movie director: I think Errol Morris is a genius. I've only seen a few of his movies, but they're impressive for the way that they convey their message. In contrast to documentarians like Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock, Morris' own physical voice is absent but he speaks through his medium nonetheless. (Honorable mention: whoever got that incredible performance out of David Schwimmer in "Band of Brothers." I mean, come on...David Schwimmer?)

Author: Eleanor Taylor Bland. Whenever I read one of her books, I am struck by how real the characters are. Not "realistic"--real. I have never gotten that impression from any other author. I don't know how she does it, but I hope she keeps on doing it. (Honorable mention: Robert Heinlein. Yes, even the later stuff.)

Musician: There are so many, but when a person says "Musical Genius" I say "Prince." It's like when the doctor hits your knee with that little mallet. (Honorable mention: My favorite saxophonist, Eric Dolphy. He played so far out that it was in again.)

Historical figure: Guh. Well, that's kind of broad, don't you think? After all, history goes back a ways. The first person that came to mind was Thomas Jefferson, so let's go with that. He was the architect of the very principles this country was built on, the same principles that Monkey W. Asshole ignores today. He crystallized most of the important ideas of the Revolution; this nation was born due in large part to his writing and thinking. Sounds pretty genius to me. (Honorable mention: Benjamin Franklin.)

Museums, huh?

Getting better every day, I suppose, although the last few days have been pretty painful. I guess that's how it goes. At least I'm no longer shotgunning the Tylenol and ibuprofen. I continue to not recommend the whole compression fracture deal.

The Saturday Six has to do with museums this week, and even though it's Tuesday I thought I'd answer it.

1. What is your favorite kind of museum?

2. How long has it been since you walked through a museum?

3. When you enter an art museum, what type of art do you generally visit first?

4. Take the quiz: What Famous Work of Art Are You?

5. Judging your own personality, how well do you think the quiz's result matches you?

6. If you could own any famous piece of artwork for your own, which one would you choose?

1. My favorite kind of museum is a technology museum, like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. However, I also like cultural museums (like the Bishop Museum in Honolulu) and natural history museums (like the Field Museum in Chicago).

2. We went to the Field Museum in December, nearly four months ago at this point.

3. Whatever The Wife wants to visit, because to be honest I'm not all that into art museums. The Art Institute has a miniatures room, so I like to look at that. In general, if it's a place that just has paintings and/or sculpture (like the Elvehjem here in town--or whatever they call it now that some rich guy bought the naming rights) I'll let someone else take the lead.

4. This is another dumb one. I hate the single-question quizzes. Although I do like the Mondrian.
You Are Best Described By...

Composition with Red, Blue, Yellow
By Piet Mondrian

5. I admit to a failure of imagination here. I can see why "focused" would yield this result, but does my personality in general match this painting? No clue at all how to even begin to answer that.

6. Hm, if we define "famous" and "work of art" very broadly, then I'd pick The Gorre and Daphetid by John Allen. It no longer exists, having burned down shortly after Allen's death. The Enterprise-A model that they auctioned at Christie's would be nice, too. If I were to answer the question the way it was intended, I guess I'd pick something like American Gothic or the Arnolfini Wedding or anything by Michelangelo or Leonardo (not the turtles).

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I guess they really do create their own reality

I mean, how else would you explain it? The Monkey King's Torture Czar says that he wasn't involved in the firings of the eight U.S. Attorneys. When it becomes evident that he was, his spokesman says that there's no contradiction there.

What were those Ingsoc slogans again?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bush to U.S.: "Screw You"

Maybe The Drooling Idiot isn't afraid of anything after all. Maybe he just hates America.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If you have nothing to hide...

What are you afraid of, you stupid, smirking chimpanzee? If you're confident that Your Chief Torturer "acted appropriately," then why not Decide to have your lickspittles speak on the record?

The Vigilant Bartenders

Here's a cool story, courtesy of The Wife, about a pair of bartenders who stopped a potential date rape. I guess you have to call it potential because the scumbag wasn't actually convicted of attempted rape. If you ever meet him, give him a kick in the nuts.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What the heck, it's Sunday

So here's the Sunday Seven. This week, Patrick asks "Name the last seven specific items that you purchased at the grocery store."

1. Cone sushi. (Okay, okay, "Inari." Same diff.)
2. A salad from the salad bar.
3. Apples.
4. A loaf of bread.
5. A Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza.
6. A small thing of lowfat chocolate milk.
7. A second small thing of lowfat chocolate milk.

I actually went to the store, too. Sometimes, I wonder what people think when they see me moving so slowly. Heck, I feel like I'm moving at the speed of dark, shuffling along as I do. Sigh. I really wish my back would hurry the hell up.

(But I must resolutely ignore The He-Man's insistence on pushing the limit of Our mobility. As the spine specialist said when I asked if I still had to limit my activities: "Well, you have a broken bone in your spine. If your arm was broken, would you push that? No? Same thing.")

Hi There

Healing is progressing; things hurt a little bit less every day. I've been able to work all week, in the office actually for most of it. It's still really sore, and the spine specialist says that I should continue to limit my mobility, but it's definitely getting better.

This is apparently the second compression fracture that I've had, which is, according to the doctors, unusual.

I'll try to get back to the blogging soon. It's not terribly convenient right now. Here's the Saturday Six.

1. What was your favorite animated cartoon series when you were little?

2. What was your favorite "live action" children's series when you were little?

3. Who is your favorite muppet character?

4. Take the quiz: What is your Sesame Street personality?

5. Have you ever appeared on a locally-produced children's show, or would you have ever wanted to?

6. Cartoons like "The Flintstones," though animated, were really intended for adults. What's your favorite adult (non-porn) cartoon?

1. It went back and forth between a few, but I'd have to say that I never wanted to miss "The Flintstones" if I could help it. I was a "GI Joe" fan, too, but not nearly as much. "GI Joe" was mostly about the toys--especially the dude with the laser rifle.

2. "Land of the Lost".

3. Fozzie Bear. If we're talking "Sesame Street"-only, Cookie Monster. Or those Martians that go "yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh-huh uh-huh."

4. I'm oddly pleased with this one.
You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

5. Never was, although I will confess that I always wanted to go on Checkers and Pogo to play the game where you had to cram your mouth full of crackers and then try to whistle. I practiced the heck out of that; I would've been really good."

6. "The Simpsons," I guess, would be the default answer, but I think I like "Futurama" better.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Saturday Six

I'm doing better today. I actually put in a full day's work from home; it was good to be able to get up and do something else to rest my ass and back, but I sat in my home office chair pretty comfortably for most of the day. The one-two Ibuprofen-Tylenol punch is keeping the pain somewhat in check.

Anyway, here's the Saturday Six from Patrick's.

1. What's the craziest thing you can imagine yourself actually doing?

2. What sport or pastime do you think someone would almost have to be crazy to attempt?

3. How likely would you be to do that?

4. Take the quiz: How insane are you?

5. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stupid, how stupid would you rate that quiz?

6. What do you really use your computer for?

1. Depends on how you define "crazy". I guess "buying a motorcycle," which isn't really that crazy.

2. Bungee jumping.

3. Not just no, but HELL no.

4. 20%, which according to the quiz is "completely normal." With the quality of those questions, you'd think it would be hard not to be completely normal.

5. "This one goes to eleven."

6. To be honest, not much. By the time I get home from work, I'm kind of too burned out to actually want to use the computer. Then again, I think we need to define terms; I consider my PC "the computer" and my iBook, uh, well, something else. I'm barely on my PC. Today's work was probably the longest I've actually sat at my home PC since I left Star Wars Galaxies. So that's what I was thinking of when I answered this question. The iBook, though, I use for this blog, and checking email, and checking various gadget and news sites, and writing, and recordkeeping, and iTunes, and eBay, and...damn, a lot of stuff. Programming. Killing flies.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Long-time readers will remember my three part series about my back trauma in April 2005.

This morning, I went to pick up a car from the shop. I was brushing snow off the car, not bothering to look where I was going when my feet went out from under me and my ass hit the ground.


I was screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs. Fortunately, The Family was there, waiting for me to make sure that the car was okay. They rushed over. One of the mechanics came running out--"We called an ambulance, just stay there!" On the classic ten-scale of pain that they always ask about, I was redlining that ten. It's probably a good thing that I was on the ice; I bet it helped my back.

They brought out something for me to put my head on and assured me that the ambulance was on its way. The He-Man muttered "I don't need a damn ambulance" but I told him to shut the hell up because after all, I was flat on my back and not exactly rushing to stand. When you cannot move, that is a sign that There Is A Problem.

The ambulance arrived shortly, and the two EMTs, Mark and Ryan, helped me sit up. Sitting up hurt a lot. Once sitting, though, I was able to brace myself on the gurney they rolled over. Once bracing, I was able to stand. "Great," says the He-Man. "Let's go to work. Tell the ambulance guys goodbye."

Yeah, I'm stupid. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. I was able to mollify the He-Man by walking to the ambulance under my own power. Very. Slowly. Once there, I lay down on the gurney because brother, there was NO WAY I was going to sit for the whole trip. The Youngster rode up front with Ryan, and it sounded like they were having a nice conversation. (Herself, by the way, was really upset by the whole situation but conducted herself admirably and commendably. I was very proud.)

This was my first-ever ride in an ambulance. It was pleasant enough.

Once at the hospital, I asked if I could get up and walk in. The guys didn't think that was a good idea, and I suppose it's a testament to the amount of pain I was in that I just said "Okay." Really, that's not so much a He-Man thing as it is a "I'm really fat and I want to spare people the trouble of having to move me" thing.

Two nurses, three doctors, a hit of (blessed) Percocet, x-rays and a CT scan later, we get told that I have a compression fracture in my back. Not the biggest deal in the world, fortunately. No lifting, twisting or bending for me for a while. The Percocet is helping this time.

Everyone involved was really nice, from the people at the shop, to the ambulance crew, to the doctors and nurses and radiologists and everyone. I'm also really glad that The Family was there, even though I know it was an inconvenience. It was good to have them around.

An exciting day, certainly. I hope I can get back to work soon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What would you do with it?

If I lived closer to the Illinois border, I'd have bought my Mega Millions ticket already. The jackpot is up to a record-breaking $370 million on odds of 170 million to one. The cash payout--which financial advisors recommend you take--is $133 million, give or take.

CNN ran an article today on what people would do with the money. Some absolutely infuriating responses there, especially the person or two who worried about the money lasting them for the rest of their lives. Even after taxes, you'll have more than enough to set yourself up for life and make a lot of people happy.

Here's what I'd do: make sure that my family was set for life, with the appropriate debt payoffs and college funds as necessary. Buy a new house (still in our neighborhood; I like it here). Take a long vacation. Sock away ten million bucks. Start up a scholarship fund and give the rest of it away helping people get an education.

Correction: The cash payout is in the neighborhood of $220 million. I guess the $133 million figure was a post-tax estimate or something.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Tranquilize THIS!"

Now, the moose had to pay the ultimate price, but dammit, he took out the helicopter first.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Even a caveman would know this is a stupid idea

Terry sent along an article that portends the end of the universe. You know those Geico "caveman" ads that were funny one time but grow more and more contemptibly dull with each iteration?

It's being developed for TV.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The best story I've seen in a long while

Equipment for 170 soldiers: $340,000
Training for 170 solders: $17,000,000
Accidentally invading a defenseless nation: PRICELESS

Thursday, March 01, 2007


A website that I designed for my father-in-law got hacked. Oops. It's now blacklisted by Google until it goes through a review process at (To clarify: the site that you are reading now is not the hacked site!)

It would appear that it was vulnerable to an exploit in cPanel, as detailed in this report at Heise. The host for the site is not HostGator, but the problem is the same.

The attack was actually pretty nasty; here's the CIAC bulletin that details what was going on. It installs a rootkit. Ick.

Among other things, this points out the necessity of keeping your browser and OS up-to-date with security patches. This particular attack exploits a vulnerability in Windows and the Microsoft Data Access Components, and I've got another CIAC bulletin on MDAC hole.

Again: keep that OS patched, folks! Go to Windows Update and make sure you're up-to-date.

The injected code was obfuscated Javascript. If you ever see obfuscated or escaped Javascript, you can go to scriptasylum to decode it.

Update: The original version of this post was incomplete. Here's more...

What I ended up doing was strengthening the password on the account and turning off the cgi-bin directory--it was never used anyway. Not much else I can do, other than get the web host to update the version of cPanel that we get.

I'm torn about this.

On the one hand, I'm glad for the warning that I got from Google. I would have caught the problem eventually, but "eventually" means "a few months from now."

On the other hand, the website is now blacklisted until the folks at stopbadware get around to processing my request for review. That means that anyone who searches for that particular website on Google will get a warning. It would have been nice to have had a 24-hour grace period.

I have an easy answer to this one

CNN has an article asking "how long is too long for a movie?"

That's easy. A movie is too long when you notice your ass hurting from sitting in a movie theater seat. For some movies--"Miami Vice" comes to mind--that's about half an hour into it. For others, it never happens. They pretty much allude to this in the article; if the story is tight and holds your interest, you just don't notice if the movie is entering its third hour.

The story is as long as it is--great is great, regardless of length. Bad is bad, regardless of length.

Someone who knows eBay, please explain

Why do people list things over and over and over again when they don't sell? Especially when the starting price plus shipping is more than the item would cost at a store, or it's something that nobody wants?

Largo, Florida's new nickname

Much like Paris is "The City of Lights" and New York is "The City That Never Sleeps" and Chicago is "The Windy City," Largo, Florida can proudly call itself "A Bunch Of Stupid Assholes."

They're going to fire their longtime City Manager because he's a transsexual and he's going to have The Surgery. This is a someone who has, according to the article, been kicking ass and taking names for 14 years. Suddenly, it's "sorry, GTFO." Nothing about his ability to do his job is going to change.

If I was Steve Stanton, I'd let them fire me and then sue. At-will employment contract or no, this is just wrong.