January 31, 2005

We're Just Different From Europe, OK?

Scotland's first minister has told a group of high school pupils that it is okay to get drunk "once in a while". No word on his views regarding hot teen sex.

The Administration's Motto

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Just Say No to Hot Teen Sex

Startlingly, teenagers really want to have sex, and when you tell them not to, they actually do it more.

Not be a reality-based I-told-you-so, but jeez, hot teen sex is practically a constitutional right...

Thank You for Joining the Earth Club for Global Warming. Your first payment: $180 Million.

Shishmaref is starting to erode, badly, fast. The Army Corps of Engineers puts the cost of moving the village, one of over 200, at $180 million.

And Stevens is all tapped out.

Call Out the Youth Brigades

"One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today."

Compare and contrast with 18th-century Edinburgh, where they felt that it was worth putting up with Hume's thinly-disguised atheism because free speech was seen to be necessary for a healthy and vibrant society.

January 30, 2005

Introducing the Schadenfreudenator New for 2005

1. Stock (of personal despair)
2. Plasmatics Housing
3. Manaheim Steamroller
3a. Sociopathic Glee Dispenser
4. Forward Spring
5. Fallback
6. Gastric Expansion Chamber
7. Master/Slave Cylinder Dungeon
8a. Flexible Protective Cylindrical Housing
Extra Ribbing for Her Pleasure
9. Dominatrix Coil
10. Futility of Moral Action Flange
11. Emotional Disengagement Safety
12. Marquis De Sad
13. Fear Pin
14. Confidence Coroder
15. Unrecognized Inevitability of Death Adjustment Screw
16. Chump Bracket

A Precious Olbermann Moment

"If we’re going to calculate and reward who’s bigger, sir, you’re going to lose."

Our Audit Detects a Slight Discrepancy...

Now where did we put that $9 billion?

By the way, that sum would pay for 7-10 years of elite private high school education for 100,000 students, or 18 million cows, whichever you thought was more important.

Chapter 3

"Visitors from England were crushed by the gloom of the Edinburgh Sunday. Sir Richard Steele, founder of The Tatler, who visited Edinburgh in 1717, nicknamed the Reverend Andrew Hart 'the hangman of the Gospel' because he seemed to take such pleasure in preaching 'the terrors of the Lord'. As late as 1775, Captain Edward Topham, an English traveller, said that during Sunday service it was as if 'some epidemic disorder had depopulated the whole city.' " Weekdays were only a little less sombre...


"Yet as the years passed, the Kirk came to be confronted with the challenge to all religious revolutions that legislate for eternity but subsist in time: the rising generation ceases to care about the blood of the martyrs. 'The witty lown-warm Air of Edinburgh' had its effect, as Patrick Walker reported, and men found 'the Tables better-covered, the Chambers warmer, and the Beds Softer than the cold Hills and Glens of Carrick, and Galloway.'

Someone Finally Asks the Question

Inspired by this article, economist Arnold Kling notes that colleges and universities must be the most overcapitalized institutions in the country. Education is important - in my world view it's more important than almost anything else - but I don't think much of this money is going for education. It's going for edifice-building and real estate adventures. (I don't notice English professors suddenly tooling around in Porsches.)

I've heard the Harvard endowment is so ridiculously large that they don't actually need to charge tuition - they could easily run the school off the income from the portfolio.

This company
does about the same thing as an average college, for considerably less. And people are just being nervous nellies about the Federal investigations in the sector...

January 29, 2005

RSS Reader Recommendations?

After 30 seconds of thought I am using Bloglines which seems nice. I have added a little Bloglines bug at the bottom of our template because I thought it was very tasteful.

What else is good?

288 CPUs of Goodness

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Step-by-Step instructions here.

Photoshop of the Year (after one month)

From a routine Fark contest on Tasers:

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The Pencil of Death

If you haven't shot an arrow into the air recently, do so.

I joined the UW archery club yesterday, set up gamely in an aerobics studio in the enormo-jock palace on campus, and was handed a 25# recurve traditional bow to start with. This is a very light beginer's bow. (The # refers to the pounds of tension when the string is drawn to 28" inches).

Picking it up felt natural - as if all my male ancestors until about 200 years ago knew how to use these things to lethal effect.

It was an easy set up- the target about 25 yards back, and being an open shoot the room was full of first timers. With a little practice, my shots began to group loosely.

The relaxed, slightly goofy atmosphere made it very enjoyable; the twang, flight and strike of an arrow is quiet but impressive. The instructor called out "Along the line! Fire at Will!" which was almost a little too evocative of defeating the French Cavalry at Agincourt, but lead occassionally to about twenty shots in near sequence, which sounds just as good as it looks even in an aerobics gym.

A woman next to me brought her traditional english longbow, made locally of hickory and yew, a very balanced and beautiful object. She was fairly short, so had the pull down to 27 lbs. (They can also be made to come apart in two sections, which makes them very easy to transport.) The club also had some very high tech recurve bows for Olympic shooting, with a sight and large counterbalance arms, as one young wag said included a 100 gig hard drive, GPS guidance and blackberry. The point is well taken. That particular lily is digi-gilded. A traditional bow, without even an arrow rest (the arrow crosses the knuckle) is the real beauty and might be the deeper challenge; my week's art lectures on perspective, presence and intuitive attention had everything to do with this. It's like drawing with a 90 mph pencil of death.


Most traditional bows are recurves with arrow notches - the easiest to start with. In this photo, the recurves are on the left, traditional longbows on the right. Theoretically the recurve should be more powerful, giving the arrow an extra twang, but in practice, not necessarily. I'm more interested in traditional longbows. Besides the english longbow, there is of course a whole native american tradition, bows which are usually a little shorter and flatter. There is also a japanese style, often made of bamboo, which requires a slightly different method of shooting.

It's very easy to start - points to remember are to let the string, not your fingers, hold the arrow nock, hold elbows high and draw the string to your cheek using your back muscles.

In terms of buying a bow, 55# draw for a man would be on the upper limit of reasonability, although there are maniacs that pull 150# bows and more, which is great if you happen to be Ulysses. 45 or 50 is a strong pull, suitable for hunting. The benefit of more power in terms of actual performance is limited; control is more important than raw power. Cracks and "stacking" (an unsmooth draw as you pull it back) are bad.

Other notes- this is somehow more satisfying to me than target practice with a rifle or even my recent "Schaedenfreudinator." I'm not thinking "another $2" even time I squeeze off a round. My ears aren't ringing. I am very unlikely to accidently kill anyone, and if I do, it will be dramatic. The inner balance, arm power, poise and necessary zen is engaging. And like a baseball pitch on TV, you can watch the twist and arc of the arrow as it flies. If our Sanfranciscogeisters have an outdoor range at Golden Gate, I think I can at least recommend renting equipment and trying it yourself.

January 28, 2005

The Only Show That Really Matters

Sentenced to driving a car for a crime I did not commit, I have turned to the radio for solace. There's not much soloce out there. But I have re-discovered one show, on KALW every day, which is unbelievably good. It's "This American Life" (I know, I'm always the last to know, but better late than never), and while Terry Gross is slapping Kevin Bacon's ass and commiserating with some rock star about his rehab, these folks are doing real radio features about things that matter.

Their Iraq stuff is better than anyone else's. One show interviews a Boston cop training Iraqi police officers. One show is a debate between James Fallows and Richard Pearle. In others they interview soldiers about the fight in Fallujah, talk to crazy civilian contractors (is there any other kind?), a comedian just back from an entertainment tour of duty. It kind of reminds you of what they used to call radio news...what was that? Oh yes, journalism.

They're very sly, and unlike all other American media, they're as interested in failure and compassion as in success and hero-worship.

They've done hundreds of shows - I'm going through the archive one-by-one.

Chapter 2 is Worth at Least $12.50

Just two brief excerpts to titillate you:

"The battle, according to one Jacobite officer, lasted a full three minutes. At 3 a.m. the Highlanders were guided over the morass and drawn up in a line. They fired once, then threw down their muskets and charged with their broadswords at the government forces. As Gardiner had feared, the Dragoons fled the field, leaving the foot to be crushed up against the park walls of Preston House."

[The British lost 600 dead and 1200 prisoners, the Highlanders lost 36. Not until the Bears-Patriots Super Bowl...but I digress...]

- and -

"In contemplating the events of September 1745 for their models of universal history, the Edinburgh philosophers concluded that men were so weakened by their commercial existence that they no longer knew how to fight, or to die. Even the most good-natured of them, David Hume, saw 'men fallen into a more civilized life, entirely unfit for the Use of Arms.' "

[By the way, what starter guns do you all recommend for the boys? I was thinking some light Berettas, but should we be compromising on stopping powereven at this early stage? Isn't that like giving them skim milk? It's a conundrum...]

We Distort; You Decide

I must have missed this when I was in Hawaii.

A couple of disgruntled reporters for Fox News in Tampa, Florida, are contesting the renewal of the station's broadcast license on the grounds that "the licensee is not operating in the public interest and lacks the good character to do so."

Okay, why are they disgruntled? Well, they said they were pressured to distort their stories about the use of BGH on dairy cows in Flordia and around the nation. They say Fox didn't want to upset advertisers or invite a lawsuit from Monsanto, the maker of the hormone, and so they were fired.

The reporters filed and won a $425,000 settlement under the Whistleblower Act and later won the Goldman Environmental Prize for sticking to their guns.

So why are they going after Fox's license? Because the appellate court accepted Fox's defense that since it is not against any law, rule or regulation for a broadcaster to distort the news, the journalists were never entitled to employee protections as whistleblowers in the first place. Oh, yeah, and now the station is suing the reporters for legal expenses.

A related Amicus Curiae brief argued "If upheld by this court, the decision would convert personnel actions arising from disagreements over editorial policy into litigation battles in which state courts would interpret and apply federal policies that raise significant and delicate constitutional and statutory issues."

This is good news for us, right?


After all the GOP has done for our great Nation, old people are mad because they might lose their social security benefits. There's no pleasing some people.

Toward a More Modern English

The Laird suggests:

Pronouncing all of the es in "dis-cover-ed"
Using "rustic" exclusively as a noun
Enforcing four syllables in "vegetable"

To which I propose replacing all instances of the word "laser" with the phrase "space-age ray gun."

The ABL project system, based in Washington State.

Another $12 Billion Lack of Threat to Incoming Missiles

Picking up on an earlier thread, the new gazillion dollar 747 with a huge chemical oxygen laser has made some recent strides toward not being a complete waste of time and money.

The idea is: put a giagantic laser on a 747, fly it around North Korea until they launch a missile, and then shoot it down with the giant laser beam. You can almost hear the engineers going: VRROOOMM - zeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEP - KABOOOOOOOM!!! in the early stages of development. The idea began most likely with a pale, shy boy in a sandlot in suburban Michigan in 1967.

Next up: kimchee-seeking sharks with fricking lasers on their heads.

January 27, 2005

Another Unfair Tax on Rich, Ugly Women

Washington state, under its new Democratic Legislature and Democratic governor (yes, thank YOU fellow Eisengeisters), is considering Jersey's plan for a vanity tax on cosmetic surgery, in the incredibly outrageous form of removing the exemption from sales tax, all just to pay for basic health care for children.

Hmmm....basic health care for children, or very slightly more expensive plastic surgery for rich people.

I can't figure this out! What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?

Downside- I suppose there would be slightly more slightly less attractive people. Sure, you can make reasonable points about problems with dedicated taxes, or the underlying problem with health lying elsewhere and other such high minded formal fluff, but that was some other America where Johnny Carson was host.


$10 Well-Spent

You can read this while chewin' yer haggis. I have read Chapter 1, and it alone was worth $10.

I really think the Laird should develop a role-playing game based on this time period.

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No Pundit Left Behind

A scoop from Salon: The Bush administration bribed another columnist (this make three so far) to promote an administration policy. This kicker on this one is the guy wrote a column on ethics. And sold out cheap.

I'm working on a FOIA request to find out how much Ann Coulter has been getting. Maybe should ask about that Malkin chick, too.

Slow News Day

I know that my score on the Savvymeter is much lower than most of my fellow Eisengeistonians but perhaps you will still find this amusing.

RealDownLoad is the Devil

About 400 hundred years ago I foolishly installed RealDownLoad on my computer. I don't recall having a choice. I think I wanted to install Acrobat and RealDownLoad wormed itself into the process.

Anyhoo, I wized up and have taken many steps to get rid of it and it just won't go. Today I sat down to do a little Mozilla maintenance (I need to install some plug ins) and I thought would try again.

I got this error message: "So, you thought you could get rid of me, huh?" I am not making this up.

Fortunately, this error message is listed on the RealFuckingDownFuckingLoad customer support page. The solution requires manually deleting a few dozen files in a few dozen folders and then editing the Registry. (Too late! Why didn't I install Google desktop search first?)

Here are Real's instructions for editing the registry:

The Registry Editor should still be open. If it is not, open it again using steps one and two above.
1. Click on Edit, then Find.
2. Type in RealDownload. It must be typed exactly as specified.
3. Click Find. Be patient while computer searches.

How dare they tell ME TO BE PATIENT!!!

4. With each value found, click on it, then press the delete key on the keyboard. Press the F3 key to continue searching. For every instance found, delete it from the registry....etc...

Okay, guess what. It STILL isn't gone. Now, when I try to read a .pdf file I am told I have a broken copy of REAL and would I like to remove it. If I choose "yes" my browser freezes.

I'm not asking for help; I own my own hammer and I will prevail. Just chuckle quietly at this fool who ever agreed to dance with the DEVIL!

January 26, 2005

If I Had to Choose

These kids today, their music is just noise...but there is this one guy whose stuff works for me, a Mister Adam F of Liverpool. Hard to categorize - there's some rapping, there's some club/dance/trance elements (I guess the relevant subgenre is Drum & Bass, but other people say he's all hip hop now...I can't keep up...). Anyway, some of it is very musical. I like his site, too (try "Stand Clear").

Feith No More, or...My Work Here is Done

Mr. Feith's office was responsible for creating the short-lived Office of Strategic Influence, which proposed providing news items, possibly ['possibly' means 'especially' in the New York Times] even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of an effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers. Mr. Rumsfeld closed the office after its plans were publicized and created a furor on Capitol Hill.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out...

And a World Without Dissent Even Better, I Suppose

"A world without tyranny is an ideal world," the president said in opening remarks at a White House press conference.

January 25, 2005

Out of the Way, Boys

Mr. Gates sees your $10,000 and raises you $749,990,000.

Bill Gates and his wife Melinda cuddle two babies during a visit to Mozambique in 2003

Happy Burns Night Everyone!

Enjoy your Haggis and poetry.

Dear Johnny, This Letter Comes a Little Late.

I beg to differ; this is the best eulogy to Carson I've read so far.

"You were host to writers, children, intellectuals and nitwits and served them all well, and served the audience by your curiosity and tolerance. You gave each guest the benefit of the doubt, and in this way you exemplified an American ideal: you're nuts but you're welcome here."

Steve Martin has grown up very nicely.

The Laird Seconds Dr. X's Recommendation of: Will and the World

Mad, mad props to Dr. X for recommending and lending me Will and the World. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. After I finish (only half-way through, now) I'm going straight to my Riverside for and read it again for the first time.

Just in case you were wondering: this is not just a book for Shakespear-o-philes (many of whom, at least from the reader reviews on Amazon, seem to hate it because it's not fawning enough). Even if it weren't about Shakespeare, I would read it simply as fascinating study of the social history of the period. (Which I have, by the way, become obsessed with over the last couple of months.)

Seer, Sage, Soothsayer...

One more piece on Carson (this is really the best) by Tom "He hates everything!" Shales:

'Tonight' And Forever (washingtonpost.com)

January 24, 2005

GOP Fiscal Policy

1) Start an enormously expensive internationally unpopular war financed through massive borrowing from foreigners.
2) ???
3) Profit!

I can only assume that the entire White House has had its money in Swiss Francs the past four years. I damn well should have.

Barbara Boxer, I Love You

Transcript of remarks between Boxer and Rice

Wolcott's Eulogy to Carson

...is worth reading:
James Wolcott: Johnny Carson

How Funny WAS He?

He was sooo funny, Red Skelton, Groucho Marx, and Jack Benny worked on his first show for free...
As it happened, Mr. Skelton was home that day, watching Mr. Carson in action and thoroughly enjoying what he saw. The next week he showed up unannounced and demanded to be seen and heard. Soon, Groucho Marx and Jack Benny turned up to participate in a show they thought was funny even though it did not have the budget to pay them a fee.

January 23, 2005

Sept. 11th + X = Shut the Fuck Up!

...where x = whatever we say

That, and many other interesting observations from Jon Stewart, here.

But Stephen Colbert gets the topper: "If you have to blame someone, why aren't you blaming Saddam Hussein? He's the one who didn't have the weapons."


You can make your own Windows error messages, even if you're not the Sum of All Monkeys:

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Power to the people.

[My favorite:


January 22, 2005

Sure, That'll Work

Introducing our new robot soldier for Iraq. To be followed by the V-1 and V-2...?

The Ghost of Banquo

Well, twice today I have read articles about the state of our nation where his name comes up. The guy who changed everything. You know, the man who served with distinction in the nation's armed services, married religion with politics in the deep south and ushered in the Reagan Revolution. I refer, of course, to Jimmy Carter.

In the first article, BU professor Andrew Bacevich argues in The Wilson Quarterly (sorry, the article's not online) that World War IV, the American decision to secure access to foreign oil through its military strength, has been underway since 1980. We have handled it poorly, he says. He notes that Carter was the last president to attempt to address America's dependence on foreign oil. Carter's clear vision led to conservation and the hated synfuels program, one of many nails in his coffin in 1980. This response to the program from Bill Bradley was typical. Diversify foreign oil sources Bill? How? OPEC's share of world production goes up every year from now 'til the end of time. (Idiot).

We took the easy way out, Bacevich says, using our immense military strength to secure the oil supply and creating a chain of unintended consequences that strings on to this day. In his view the Bush administration is the first to admit we are fighting this war, and the attack on Iraq is a logical move in their campaign (despite being an extremely illogical move in the War on Terrorism).

And the ghost of Jimmy haunts NewDonkey.com as well, as he ruminates about the Democrats' chances of coming back in the South.

Despite his loss to Reagan, Carter remains the only American president in my lifetime to have accomplished a permanent step toward peace in the mid-east, his brokering the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. The Carter Library quietly notes the 25th anniversary of this accord.

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Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter .44 Magnum - Where Kittens Dare

Through the gunsmoke, seawater, sweat and diesel, I worked my way forward in Unterseeboot-143 , picking off sea-Krauts with the old Swiss Guard crossbow, pulling the arrows out of the bodies and shooting again, while Dardenella in the mink bikini continued to distract the Japanese military delegation with a hula dance in the 10 by 6 foot wardroom. Normally, the mere sight of Dardenella, a woman so beautiful she'd had to take out restraining orders against several woodland creatures, in a mink bikini would have induced men to buy her a car. When she started singing "Stardust," two of these clowns had a coronary.

The gamble of lighting a giant swastika on fire on the volcanic island had paid off, attracting the submarine to us like a bedbound grandfather to a cherry-flavored menengitis lozenge.

Down the long gray corridor lined with bananas, the door to Captain Jerry Von Bosch's tiny steel cabin appeared. I kicked it in with democractic enthusiasm, and rifled through the Nazi Commander's linens. Judging by its contents, he seemed to have a girl in every port, or I was begining to hope to that he did. Where was the log? Where was the codebook? Where was the extra secret secrety thingy that the engineered gurgled out of his throat after I winged him with a razor bolt? I took a second to deliberately drop cigar ash on El Kapitan's paisley bunk cushions. I tried to think. The magic 3-d picture of Hitler than turned into Errol Flynn from a different angle began to get on my nerves, and I took a sip from the first bottle I could find, which unfortunately turned out to be stale milk kept I think deliberately in a whiskey bottle for just such a contingency.

"AH HA! Halt! You Amerikanzer Pig!" Surprised, I spit the turned milk on Hitler. Or Errol Flynn, from his side of the room, which was no more than three feet away.

El Kapitan, short, blond and so pink he could play a baby rat in the school play, was back, with an ugly looking burp gun that could shoot 30 ballerinas a second and a trigger finger so itchy he actually carried a bottle of Calamine lotion in a holster. His eyes were so steely you could sharpen scissors with them, and with that fascist gaze on me with my hand in his linen drawer, I could see that this was no time to try to sell him an insurance policy.

"I will show you how weak your pathetic Amerikan wool suit is!"

He squeezed: the blast of bullets flew - 10, 20, 30, 50 rounds. In that tiny room it was louder than than stepping on a cat who'd swallowed an air raid siren. Then he reloaded.

"Next time, I shall be considerably more careful with my aim! And you will learn the futility of resistance and worsted wool sportsjackets with a mere three buttons."

I'd heard of fashion Nazis before.

"Prepare to die a quick and unstylish death with no trace of panache!"

It was a fair bet that I wasn't going to survive yet another 50 round clip blast of 9mm in a 24 square foot metal space. I had less time to think than Marie Antoinette after her head hit the basket.

Which is exactly the last thought Klaus Oppressenheimer had as the pirate snipped off his head with a cutlass as neatly as girl deals with a prom-night nose pimple. Pirate?!

"Arr! That'll barnacle-blasted bilge-bat's polished his last jack-boot!"

My mouth was filled with the tangy taste of profound surprise as well as sour milk.

"I need a drink, Mack. Got any rum?"

"The name's Captain Jules Rougier. What kind of two-eyed pegless lubber d'ye take me for?" He tossed me a tot in a leather jug, yet I had clearly rattled his beard beads.

"Thanks, no offense. Nice work on taking out Herr Dusseldorf there, but we need to get to the control room." I showed my appreciation with a nice crossbow shot to a marauding squarehead's wrench-wielding hand.

"Arrghhh, your tea, sir," he said, dropping the china and soaking the cucumber sandwiches. I may have been rash.

Running forward over a headless Nazi in a U-Boat with an 18th century pirate with a bloody dripping cutlass back to a girl in furry underwear mesmerizing a clutch of Japanese diplomats made me wish I was back at Mel's trying to get Crumples to front me another Sloe Gin Howitzer so I could think this over. But it was Crumples and his crumply chloral hydrate betrayal that got me here in the first place. When I got back, I'd show that bum what America stands for by smashing his dentures in.

Wait - Pirate, cutlass, headless bodies, Losie the bookie, rumors of some kind of German time changing device that some egghead named Hiesenberg may or may not have been working on. Hard to process it while cranking the crossbow. Maybe I should have picked up the machine gun. It occured to me that someone had gone back in time to place and win bets with Losie - but Einstein had proved that was impossible. There was something, there was something....and that's when I bumped into Dardenella smack in the fuzzy gazongas.

"Arr!" said Captain Jules.

A Sad Day

After 772 episodes, VOH is over (but we're on delay in the States, so we'll keep getting it for another year or so...). I was a bit worried that Nancy Sit (below) would have a down period in her career following her incredible run, but she seems to have bounced back pretty quick, co-starring in a movie with William Hung...

There's no American equivalent to Nancy Sit. I guess if you imagine a less-annoying Bea Arthur, who writes and sings the theme song to the series and has the charm and quickness of wit to host a live variety show, you've about got her. Next time you're in Chinatown watch for her posters endorsing calcium supplements.

Cock is Tasty

Anybody know why we get so many referrals from the the site of the clever folks who put this together?

[Ah, beat me to the link...I think I linked to Che Britney Spears once. Behold the power of Britney...]

January 21, 2005

Let Cock Ring

The Rude Pundit has fun doing a global substitute of the word "cock" for the word "freedom" in Bush's inauguration address:

"And then the end becomes a real rouser: 'We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of cock . . .We have confidence because cock is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages, when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty, when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner Cock. . . we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of cock.'"

Surprises Many, But Not Me...

Yahoo! News - Motorcycle Boomer Deaths Raise Concerns

Eisengeiste Pie

There is nothing like a set of graphically presented statistics to give the imprimatur of professionalism and legitimacy to our little kvetch pad.

Virtually none of the superficial conclusions one might make from looking at these is correct. This is alone is fascinating:

For example: Microsoft IE is doomed.

Europe leads Alaska 3-1 in eisenginterest.

Our site is going exponentially popular, at least today.

Now we know who's doing the work around here.

The Netherlands is 4 times as interested as the US Government. What'd we ever do to them?

January 20, 2005

Before Halle Berry...

...there was Anna May Wong, who in the 1920's broke down barriers in Hollywood for incredibly hot women, and who is the subject of a recent biography by Graham Russel Gao Hodges of Cornell University. The New York Review of Books has published a review of Hodges' book in their latest print edition, and they conclude that the significance of her career was multifaceted, and note, purely as a matter of academic interest, that she was very hot:

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Just so you know I am staying on topic here, and not bringing this up because of her considerable hotness, you sould know that in 1924 she did a film called The Alaskan, in which she played Keok the Eskimo. The following photograph is not from that movie:

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In addition to English, she spoke German and French, and could have a bash at Italian and Yiddish as well. She could act, too. Word is she turned in a bravura performance in D. Fairbanks's "Thief of Bagdad". (We'll see about that, Amazon has been notified.) In any event, she really did cross over to some degree, getting treated like a real star despite her ethnicity:

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She was a third-generation American, so the interviewer for this article met her at her dad's laundry and was slightly surprised to discover she spoke flapper as well as any white girl.

I think it's all quite interesting. The flappers were not just party girls (well, ok, some of them were), they were spunky, they were engaged with life, they gave as good as they got. They weren't arm candy, and they weren't posers. As stunning as the modern version can be, there is often a dissatisfying shallowness to the performance. Take Bernice Liu, a former Miss Hong Kong and a member of the cast of The Virtues of Harmony, and whom I am citing here purely to make an academic point:

She acknowledges and even apologizes for her wooden performances early in the series. I would say sheis making good progress in learning her craft (I follow her career closely, out of paternal interest). She is beautiful, a fine dancer, has decent stage presence, but she's not an "it" girl.

It's hard to find an "it" girl nowadays, either here or in Hong Kong. No shortage of wannabes, but it's not just about being pretty. It's about being hot, and there's a world of difference between them.

Free Porn is Not the Solution

I refuse to give in the temptation to pump up our readership by using the phrase "free porn", which demonstrably improves hit rates. I just want to caution all of you: this is not a free porn site. We do not offer free porn, and we have no interest in offering free porn. This includes, but is not limited to, hot sexy teen cheerleader babes. The world around us may be descending into a lowest-common-denominator quagmire where free porn is viewed as a birthright, but we are not going there. We will maintain our intellectual standards and stay focused on what matters, which is not free porn. Readers looking for free porn should look elsewhere. There is no free porn here, and never will be.

What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?

Every year, the science web site Edge asks science types to answer a question. The question for 2004 was "what do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

A sampling:

Steven Pinker: "I believe that the [human] mind is organized into cognitive systems specialized for reasoning about object, space, numbers, living things, and other minds...

Charles Simonyi:
"I believe that we are writing software the wrong way."

Allison Gopnik: "I believe, but cannot prove, that babies and young children are actually more conscious, more vividly aware of their external world and internal life, than adults are.

Freeman Dyson
: "
It never happens that the reverse of a power of two is a power of five."

Robert Sapolsky: "That the wheel, agriculture, and the Macarena were all actually invented by yetis." (Not really, but I love what he wrote.)

Leonard Susskind:
"if I were to flip a coin a million times I'd be damn sure I wasn't going to get all heads. I'm not a betting man but I'd be so sure that I'd bet my life or my soul. I'd even go the whole way and bet a year's salary. I'm absolutely certain the laws of large numbers—probability theory—will work and protect me. "

Bruce Sterling: "We're in for climactic mayhem."

Donald Williamson: "
I believe I can explain the Cambrian explosion."

Kevin Kelly: "I believe, but cannot prove, that the DNA in your body (and all bodies) varies from part to part. "

Randolph Nesse: "I can't prove it, but I am pretty sure that people gain a selective advantage from believing in things they can't prove."

W. Daniel Hillis:
"I believe in moral progress."

Paul Bloom: "...
I believe (though I cannot prove it) that the development of moral reasoning is the same sort of process as the development of mathematical reasoning."

Dennis Dutton: "...the creations of the greatest artists are as much permanent achievements as the discoveries of the greatest scientists."

Daniel Dennett: "I believe, but cannot yet prove, that acquiring a human language (an oral or sign language) is a necessary precondition for consciousness..."

George Dyson: "Interspecies coevolution of languages on the Northwest Coast."

Nassim Talib
"The difference between a cab driver and a history professor is only cosmetic as the latter can express himself in a better way."

Seth Lloyd:
I cannot prove that electrons exist, but I believe fervently in their existence. And if you don't believe in them, I have a high voltage cattle prod I'm willing to apply as an argument on their behalf. Electrons speak for themselves.

David Buss: "True love."

What do you believe but cannot prove?

Federal Emergency Management Agency...

... or Department of Atrociously Feeble Taste (a.k.a. DAFT)

You be the judge.

Another Independent Medical Organization

In case you had missed that everyone and everything is for sale, I went to the American Dietetic Association website and clinked the link for the "Start Healthy" brochure. What do you know, it's got the Gerber logo on it. I didn't bother reading, but my guess is that the American Dietetic Association recommends kids eat Gerber baby food until they're at least 14, just to be on the safe side.

The American Dietetic Association also recommends you eat lots of potatoes, and provide this brochure from the United States Potato Board to make sure you get the message.

Then the whores have the gall to ask for a donation.

Stay Out of the Bushes

In his daily column today that noted communist, Andrew Tobias, points out some of Jeb Bush's soak-the-poor strategems.

January 19, 2005

Poll: Nation Split on Whether Bush is a Uniter or Divider

Amazingly, it's not from the Onion, either.

I Thought I Couldn't Be Surprised by Crazy Security Requirements

I was wrong.

Hurry Up and Die, Grandma

Your selfish needs are ruining the nation's finances.

Remember back in '01, when Bush said the surplus belonged to the people, not the government? Where does that leave us now?

Soon to Be Overheard at the Inaugural Balls

- Hey! I'm an old friend of George's too! Where's the cocaine?

-I haven't seen this many fascist gasbags since the '37 Stuggart Blimp Exposition.

-What's for snacks? Koala Kebob?

-When I got here, I was a Democrat. Now I'm a communist.

-I used to think Republican women were just stupid, ugly cows. But I hadn't considered milk yield.

- It was nice of Ann Coulter to shave for the occassion.

-I just pray to God he's doesn't announce we're invading Poland.

-Sure, liberty in the sense of freedom of capital goes without saying.

- Just imagine the party if he'd actually won.

-That'll show Mr. Tsunami!

-Hey Jesus! Little help?

- All nations will cower before our wrath and our will shall burn alive the unholy who resist. Whoa, sorry, just that tossing one out there.

- I had no idea blood-sucking vampires got any heart attacks at all, let alone four.

- That guy makes your average skinhead look like Senator Lieberman.

More interesting tid-bits about the upcoming Sin City movie

Interesting bit of trivia on the upcoming movie.

I particularly liked the section on how Rodriguez got Frank Miller to give him the rights.

Still not sure if it'll suck or not as they are taking a lot of risks (shot on HD video with entirely CG sets)

January 18, 2005

Timbo in Limbo in Limbo?

Anyone know what happened to Tim's blog?

I Will Not Be Ignored

Easterbook ignored my letter regarding the Seahawks, so I reprint it in full here:


You declaim: "rather than the Blue Man Group, henceforth the 'Hawks will be known to this column as the Dropped Passes Group."

This is an error in your usually stellar judgment. Your other team nicknames are lighthearted, and do not draw attention to teams' competitive embarrassments. We do not see the Chicago Lost Fumbles (though they led the league in fumbles lost), nor the Miami Throw the Other Team the Ball Boys (though they led the league in interceptions).

This crosses the line from playful needling to unkindness, and is unworthy of your talents.

Sign me,
Dr. X

Euro Rant of the Day

Full marks for this bit of abuse from Easterbrook:

"Meanwhile the European Space Agency announced plans to land a manned spacecraft on the Moon by the year 2033. (Today many astronauts are women, but there's just no linguistic alternative to 'manned' spacecraft.) Until recently the ESA's goal was to send a manned ship to Mars by 2030. Now the plan is for a 300,000-mile, three-day trip rather than a 50 million-mile, year-long expedition. In 1961, at a time when prototype rockets were exploding on launch pads, John Kennedy committed the United States to putting people on the Moon, and eight years later it happened. Now in 2005, when there's a large international space station in orbit and hundreds of people have been to space and back, the European Space Agency adopts the bold, visionary plan of taking 28 years to do what the United States did in eight years. Shouldn't Old Europe save its money for building pastry factories? "

January 17, 2005

More Reality to Be Created Shortly

Bush Administration hard at work on Iran attack plans. In a savagely convincing rebuttal, White House spokesman says: "I don't believe that some of the conclusions he's drawing are based on fact."

January 16, 2005

Triumph of the Vick

In the neverending war between jocks and nerds, football remains the stronghold. In baseball, Bill James and his army of sabermetricians have made immense gains in using statistics to understand the game. He has gone from writing obscure journals to a key position in the front office of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. It's over: the Nerds own baseball.

But not football. Statistical understanding of football is, like, 17th-century medicine. We think we have a clue, but the possibility we'll be proven wrong is significant. If you look at Football Outsiders' 2004 Efficiency Ratings, it all makes sense: #1 New England, #2 Steelers, #3 Indianapolis, #4 Philadelphia...check, check, check, and check... Now let's see, where's Atlanta? Ah. #19 - see? Right there next to Seattle.

No one can figure out how to analyze Michael Vick. In November they mocked him. On their proprietary system, he ranks as marginally less effective than Eli Manning. On Dr. X's usually infallible Interception-Adjusted Yards-per-Attempt metric, he sucks. And yet there he is, the sprinting, juking, scoring Goedel's Theorem to our Principia Mathematica, one game away from the Super Bowl. The scientists at the Einstein Insitute for Applied Football Analysis can't make sense of it. It defies reason.

Well, not entirely. He's not playing the modern quarterback position. He's running the old single wing. His running opens up running opportunities for his backs, and the next thing the Rams know, they've given up 327 yards rushing (8.2 yards per attempt). And he does complete some passes - 56% in 2004.

I hope he wins next week. He is the ultimate throwback, the Avatar of Jock-dom, the elemental athletic force. I can't wait to see how Belichick - that grim little rationalist lich of negation - defenses him. And if comes to that, I'll forget my Nerd loyalties for a week and root for Vick.

Still a Few Bugs in the System

My homepage is the Wikipedia Current Events summary. And I'm pretty sure that, despite the report currently on the page, Richard Simmons has not, in fact, been caught with a nuclear weapon.

But I really want this to work. An interview with the founder of Wikipedia on the news project is here.

January 15, 2005


Hey, Reggie Tongue (former Seahawk) is from Fairbanks. And he just ran an interception back for a touhdown.

While looking into Tongue's stats, I found this very interesting ranking of top Alaskan athletes. I had the honor of being scored on more than once by #19 Steve MacSwain, a very crafty forward with quick hands who was able to make most goalies look silly and was able to make me look down-right goofy.

Of course I just missed the list at number 14,346. Those were heady days.

Master and Margarita Online

Found a website today, built in the Russian constructivist style, about that formative novel of my youth, The Master and Margarita. Pound for pound, I say this is one of the best novels ever written. It's got everything: good, evil, a love interest, the rejected artist, debasement of the currency, and a talking cat. It's funny and deeper than most "serious" novels. The website doesn't have a plot summary, but there is a decent one at Amazon, or you could read the Cliff's Notes, or the Critical Companion. But hell, it's only 300 pages - start with the novel, and when you confused let the Middlebury site sort you out.

As long we're talking about Depression-era novels about people in oppressed countries toiling in obscurity to be the Greatest Writer Ever, I supposed we should mention At Swim-Two-Birds (excerpt here). Joyce thought Flann O'Brien was the best comic writer he'd ever read. I'd argue O'Brien is more worth reading than Joyce. His books are both funnier and darker. I don't recommend The Third Policeman (which he withheld and was not published until after his death) unless you want to feel really bad for a long time.

It is an indefensibly intuitive connection, but when I think of these works I also think of The Natural, which appeared later (1952) in a freer and richer country. Perhaps that is why Malamud goes lighter on the religious symbolism than the other two authors, although the preoccupation with the nature of evil is deeply comparable:
Through the nausea Roy remembered an old saying. He quoted, "Woe unto him who calls evil good and good evil."
The Natural, I learned this week, is based on a true story.

So, three books from three dramatically different cultures, about the gift of talent, being a loser, and the nature of evil. All written by technically masterful novelists who have not received the recognition they deserved.

I think of a topic for my Engish thesis!

Harry, Edward VIII, and other Royal Nazi Pains

The Telegraph of India, of all things, points out why the Prince Harry flap is an extremely uncomfortable gaffe: many of the Royals and the aristocracy had friendly, even supportive relationship with the Nazis before the war.

The detail added on NPR today - at the "natives and colonials" theme party (not exactly a stellar theme either), someone did an imitation of the Queen, so upsetting Harry that he sat pouting in the corner, which lead the NPR wag to "imagine this kid squatting in the corner, pouting over the offense, wearing a nazi uniform." As gaffes go, it's a little hard to imagine how it could have been worse - at least he didn't go as Eva Braun.

To regrettably quote the Tonight Show: "Didn't we have a revolution to get away from these people?"

January 14, 2005

Dean Leads

The polls show Dean as the frontrunner...wow...deja vu...

First Photos From Saturn Moon Titan Intrigue Scientists, Excite Speculation

Titan is pwn3d!

Watch out for earth man. We can fly something seven years through space, land it, take pictures, and unfurl the star-spangled flag of the European Union. It freakin' works!

Nice flash briefing on the spacecraft here.

January 13, 2005

More Sea Lord

See page 7, here. Liquitex will soon put up a 50th Anniversary website, where the Sea Lord will be featured prominently...

Endorse by Ebert

The Chicago Sun-Times has put a ton of B&W photographs up on the web. You know, 1968 was not a good year...

I Believe This

Dave Barry is a genius. No, really:

"Dave had astonishingly high SAT scores," says Weingarten. "His humor is informed by an astounding intellect." One week, when Tropic converted itself into a kind of Devil's Dictionary, Weingarten instructed Barry to come up with a definition for "sense of humor." Barry disappeared from the office for a few days. He came back with this: "A sense of humor is a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge." Then he promptly went back to writing about exploding livestock.

Another One Bites the Dust

Robert Shrum takes a seat on the sideline next to Tucker Carlson.

January 12, 2005

The Mahjongg King

I believe I've mentioned the Hong Kong series "The Virtues of Harmony" in the past. It runs every night on Sir Run-Run Shaw's TVB network, which we get here in SF as The Jade Channel. No subtitles, so my wife translates on the fly.

"Virtues of Harmony" started out as a medieval court drama with a huge cast. It featured beautiful costumes and wacky antics as hicks from the countryside tried to survive in the Emporer's palace while his evil concubine (the estimable Stephanie Che) plotted their demise. After 322 episodes (let's see "Friends" top that) they wrapped it up - and reincarnated all the characters as modern citizens of Hong Kong. The modern series has now run even longer than the original (364 and counting).

The show has its ups and downs, but the recent "Mahjongg King" episodes were as good as anything that's ever run in the States. Lam Sin is a quiet taxi driver:

The image “http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v243/DoctorX/MJKingBefore.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

His domineering wife runs his life. One of the regular characters, a gambler named Gam (the Bluto Blutarsky of Hong Kong), learns that before his miserable marriage Lam Sin was the the best mahjongg player in town. Gam talks Lam Sin into trying the game again. He is caught by his wife, and she promptly moves out (and into the main characters' apartment), demanding an apology.

Liberated from his wife's influence, Lam Sin swiftly returns to form, and in days the word is out - there's a new sheriff in town:


Lam Sin win victory after victory over the best players Hong Kong has to offer.

Meanwhile, his wife is driving the main characters bananas. She's manipulative. She complains about everything, she's impossible to live with. Even Gam, who started the whole mess, is losing it. He asks Lam Sin to take her back, but no dice. The whole family decides: we have to get these two back together, or we'll never have any peace.

Lam Sin is playing in a tournament at a fancy hotel, so they make up a story and take his wife to dinner there. They are trying to figure out how to get Lam Sin to come in and apologize to her when she wanders off, just in time to see him take the microphone as the tournament winner. He says something like: "I owe all this to my wife who left me! Ha ha ha!"

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Now, any Hong Kong gambler will tell you: women are bad luck. If you have a lottery ticket, don't let a woman touch it. If you have a favorite horse, never tell your wife its name - it'll never win again. And the ultimate luck killer, the sure-fire death of any winning streak, is if you're touched by women's underwear. Especially your head.

One day the Mahjongg King is at it again, wiping out some easy marks, when smoke starts pouring into the room. The hotel is on fire! He clambers out the window onto a drain pipe and starts to shimmy down. He hears a voice above him - looking up, he sees an enormous woman above him, losing her grip. The last thing he sees before he hits the pavement is the biggest pair of blue knickers in the history of the world.

So it's over, and he knows it. He begs his wife to take him back. She initially refuses, but when she overhears some girls talking about that hot Mahjongg King, she interrupts - there is only one Mrs. Lam, she says, and that's me.

And Lam Sin goes back to his taxi, with nothing but his memories.

Special thanks to "MetalAZNWarrior" who appears to have dedicated his life to this show.

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

Passing of the Sexiest Woman of the 20th Century

For some reason, this wasn't on the front page of the paper in Honolulu:

Susan Sontag, 71.

No Nukes, No Smallpox, No Sarin -No Service

I am sure you are as surprised as me that the world's most expensive, deadly and catastrophic easter egg hunt has ended in utter failure.

A Prophet is Not Without Honor, Save in His Own Country

In my voting career, we've had six presidential terms, four Republican, two Democratic. The Democratic candidates in those elections were: Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry. Four out of five lost.

How was Clinton different from the other four?
  • He was the governor of a southern state. Clinton's critique of Edwards during the primaries was that, as a Senator, he was out of touch with issues that mattered to ordinary Americans.
  • He could "energize the base" with the best of them, but he also pushed the party to the center, even when it meant bucking the party establishment. He is the only one of the five you could say successfully stole Republican issues. He supported NAFTA, and he kept his promise to "end welfare as we know it."
  • He switched political consultants and pollsters frequently, even bringing in Republicans like David Gergen. Amy Sullivan in Washington Monthly lays much of the blame for Kerry's loss at the doorstep of some of the Dems' pollsters and campaign consultants, people like Robert Shrum. Joe Klein was warning of this back in 2002.
But despite his unique winner status and successful presidency, Clinton is looking more and more like a footnote to history. His era felt like an end to America's move to the right, but subsequent events suggest otherwise. And remember, the Dems lost control of Congress on his watch.

And the man has left no legacy. This is a serious charge against someone I admire and who cares more about his legacy than almost anything else. But consider:
  • Clinton's boy in the primaries, Wesley Clark, had nothing. Lieberman, who also had a Clinton-like policy outlook, got nowhere.
  • Howard Dean, practically the anti-Clinton, has a good chance to run the party. I agree with practically everything Howard Dean says, but the Democrats already have the progressive urban professional vote sewn up. Give Dean credit, though, for saying what his followers don't want to hear: we gotta convince some of them Good Old Boys to vote for Democrats.
  • The Democratic Leadership Council is screwing up. Its position is, shall we say, problematic. Marshall writes brilliantly about this here and here. I guess I'm in the treacherous evil DLC camp - you can't or shouldn't be America's president without at least some support from currently red states. Democrats didn't just lose the last two elections, they lost the wrong way - the GOP expanded its margins in Florida, Tennessee (despite it being Gore's home state), South Carolina (despite it being John Edwards' home state), and Arkansas (despite it being Clinton's home state). Folks, there's a reason we put southerners on the ticket - you've got to win down there at least a little bit...
  • I listen to the liberal media every day, and haven't heard a single front-line Democrat utter a word of support for his current hot button issues, energy conservation and global warming. I think Clinton's right and the party's wrong to ignore him, but that willful ignorance is a measure of how his influence has waned.
  • Social security and healthcare are Democratic issues, right? Despite a lot of talk, Clinton didn't get much done on either one. He left it for the next guy. And that guy turned out to be a Republican ideologue.
Sorry if this is all too realpolitik, but we're talking about winning, not about what you or I want. The Democrats have think about how to make inroads into Republican territory. When Bill Clinton is the only guy who's been able to do that in a generation, maybe the Dems need make their next candidate look more like him.

IBM Actually Did This at Comdex One Year

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Advertising executives say they have hit upon an ingenious new way to target blacks: Mount a campaign that co-opts their own language and musical style. "Many blacks enjoy 'rapping' music," said Briggs & Adams Advertising president Sherman Roe, who developed the campaign for HospCare HMO. "And what better way to tap into their market than by 'rapping' good health to them?" Roe's campaign employs the use of a black teenager doing a "rap" for good health. Billboards of the campaign have been put up in black neighborhoods, and radio and TV ads have aired on black-oriented stations in the area. Roe predicts area blacks will, as a result, be "'rapping' happy with their HMO service."

(This is just one article from The Onion's special MLK Day issue.)

January 11, 2005

This Just In- Alaska in January May Be Cold

A generator goes out in Kaktovik and the little northeast coast town is in serious trouble.

In Unexpected Places

What do "Mellow Yellow" and "You Really Got Me" have in common? Correct, Jimmy Page played guitar on both (well, the Kinks deny the second allegation - let's just say it's a strong possibility). I had known about the Yardbirds stint (used to have a bootleg of a NY concert that was all Page), but not that he had been a "teenage guitar prodigy" or that he had been one of the most-employed studio musicians in the British pop music scene of the early 60s.

Fresh Air has the story (2nd from the bottom).

We Only Did It That One Time...

...so far as you know.

My Letter to TMQ

This is the second time I've written to Greg Easterbrook, the Tuesday Morning Quarterback. He's pretty much the only stranger I ever write to...

Subject: Why Football Matters -- and the Dropped Passes Group

Mr. Easterbrook,

I thought of another reason why football is more emotional than other sports: the players have to really want to play football to play football. They are the lowest paid of the big-sport athletes, and the only sport where (in my opinion) the players actually earn that money. I only played football for one season when I was 10 (offensive line), and what I remember most vividly was taking a bath and having my entire body covered with bruises. One season was more than enough for me.

Naturally, had I stuck with it, it would have gotten worse. Whenever I hear a guy say that pro football players are overpaid, I ask him, "how much would somebody have to pay you to have knee surgery?" If the price is low, you know you're talking to a guy who's never had a knee operation. (I've had three.)

We fans are quick to condemn players like Ricky Williams as "quitters" (better example: Ryan Leaf), but I simply can't begrudge them for acting in their rational self interest. We can look down our nose at Brett Farve and his addiction to Vicodin -- but we simply don't know how painfull it is to be in Brett Farve's body. If you've got even a million dollars in the bank, and you still want to play pro football, you're nuts -- but my hat's off to you. Some may be annoyed by the cliche of calling a football player "a warrior", but I believe that this game is the last vestige of the pitched battle. The mortality rate may be low, but there are wounds, and there is pain, and "the warriors" don't relent.



The Dropped Passes

You can afford having one of your starting receivers drop too many passes. But you can't afford BOTH of them to drop too many passes. Who knows how far the Seahawks could have gone with (what we used call) a "possession receiver?" A guy who knows how to get open and catch a football? I'll take Stever Largent. Heck, I'll take Paul Skansi. What's Jerry Rice doing these days?

The Colors

No, I'm serious. When I catch a glimse of the old Seahawks royal blue and forst green colors, I have a tangible emotional reaction to them. Now, it's like watching on black and white TV. Who can get emotionally charged by rental-car blue? Alas, apart from my close friend, a painter who is also a lifetime Seahawks fan, nobody but nobody takes this seriously. When the Broncos took the field in their orange jerseys this year, can anybody think the fans didn't have an emotional reaction to it? (They lost the game, but you get the point, I hope, if you've read this far...)

Big Ben Has a Big Heart (and a Big Wallet to Match)

Yahoo! News - Steelers QB Gives $18,000 to Tsunami Aid

The Laird says: "I'll take hypocricy over cynicism any day of the week."

The Laird Recommends: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle

Watched this movie for a second time last night with M. and our neigbors on DVD. I declared it: "The Greatest Stoner Road Movie Ever Made." None disagreed. What seperates it from it's predecessors is that 1) the stoners are smart, 2) the jokes are funny, 3) the cast is great, and 4) it makes the most eloquent (half-joking) case for American hyper-consumerism I've ever heard.

January 10, 2005

Speaking of hard-boiled detectives.

This could be either really good, or really, really bad.

The director has some credibility with me as he directed the very fun "Spy Kids" movies. Along with, El Mariachi, the remake, From Dusk 'til Dawn, etc. So he's a winner in the "If nothing else, it was fun" category.

And The cast looks reasonably competent as well.

Fingers crossed that it won't suck.

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter .41 Wildcat - Under Egregious Owls

The lollipop-lucious lips of Dardenella steamed away East at six knots max as Jenny and I woke up tied face to face on a slow boat to Bora Bora that hauled a load of flax, jute and floss for Singapore. Crumples had slipped me a Mickey alright, a chloral hydrate handshake with San Francisco Nazis!

Pressed right up against the gorgeous red-haired Jenny but facing a bottle-nosed Luger wielded by that psycho mime Gunther, I was kinda scared and kinda turned on, like the last time I floated a check to the Jimmy the Twitchy Cleaver to cover a long-odds bet on nag named Cement Molasses.

Gunther made a move. He started swimming in the air, and then pretended to drown. He wasn't the best mime, but I worked that out it was a threat. Then he pretended to hit me across the face with the Luger. That would have hurt, had he hit me with the Luger.

He made a dumb-guy face, and held up a finger.

"Um...one word...sounds... like wrench? No..tool! Fool!!"

Gunther touched his nose, and pointed at me, then air-beat me with the Luger again.

"I'll never talk! And neither will you, apparantly."
Over the next twelve minutes and a knee cramp we eventually worked out that I was still being foolish and there were bays of making me talk. I may have missed a bit. It's always sad how the art goes to hell when a street performer turns fascist on you.

This kept on for hours. I wouldn't crack. Gunther was getting sloppy. The darkness fell. The wind arose.

The Pacific turned surprised and angry, like a woman who's just been kidnapped by a Nazi sea mime. Huge waves built. Gunther finally left forward by grabbing a non-existent rope and pulling against the wind, which somehow seemed to affect him more strongly than I thought it would have. He left Jenny and I tied around a stantion, and I noticed a rather large number of times that her silk dress was soaked, and I could estimate the temperature pretty accurately.

"Make out with me if you want to live!" she screamed against the wind.
"Whaa..?" But it's not the kind of request you really question for very long. Finally I got it - in the throes of our attempted sea-passion, the ropes were falling around our heads in reach of our mouths. By the time I got to 2nd base Jenny had chewed lustily through a 2 inch hemp cable. I smiled quietly through the rope burns to myself.

There were only a few dirty Krauts on board. I came around a corner and a dark shape asked me in Kraut-talk for a cig. I had a pack, which I shoved all at once into his mouth.

"Here's your smokes, Henreich, courtesy of President Roosevelt!," I informed him, and I shoved him overboard with splash lost in the furious waters.

I really wish I hadn't done that. First of all it was my last pack, and Ol' Fritzy McNazi turned out to be the navigator, and since Jenny had shot the captain with the little derringer she kept in her unmentionables, by the time we had taken the bridge no one actually knew where we were anymore. Gunther the mime was now in the engine room and I prayed to god he was actually shovelling real coal. "All Ahead full!" I yelled, and turned the Bon Chance Hedy Lamarr into the wind, praying for break in the storm.

We did get a break, in the form of a brand new volcano, and the break was the ship's back on a shoal that could not have been more than 2 weeks old. Jenny and I scrambled into a lifeboat and managed to launch, leaving six or seven Jerrys to fend for themselves on a bitterly ironic floating shipment of models of lifeboats, while we watched the curious spectacle of Gunther both drowning and pretending to drown at the same moment.

I counted my blessings. Two, if you include Jenny.

Gee, We'd Hate to look like an Occupying Force

NYT article on the U.S. looking for our peace with honor, um, no, uh retreat, uh no, how about victory and withdrawl with a sudden completely unforseeable deterioration into Iraqi civil war.

Rummy's rationale for not sending more troops: we'd "hate to look like an occupying force."

Opening up the layers of this perfidious idiocy is like unfolding baklava.

You know, it's one thing to get us into this stupid, deadly, ultimately imperialist war. It's another to conduct it with total ignorance, arrogance and incompetence. It's begining to make McNamara, Westmoreland, and Johnson look military geniuses.

A Yule-Tide in the Pacific Isles: Chapter 3 - I Am Killed and Eaten by Natives

January 09, 2005

Worse Than You Thought

How bad was it? Consider Football Outsiders' view of the Rams:

"The Rams may be the worst team to ever make the playoffs (read about other bad teams here). Not only are they 8-8, but eight wins is actually more than a team of their caliber would usually have. The pythagorean projection (explanation) says their points scored and allowed would normally lead to only 6.1 wins, or a .380 winning percentage. Only two other teams have made the playoffs with a pythagorean projection of lower than .400: the 1978 Atlanta Falcons (9-7, outscored 290-240) and the 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7, outscored 326-265)."

I chalk it up to karma. Shaun Alexander put personal goals ahead of the team on January 3rd. And now the Seahawks can go home and take a nap.

Trifle not with the football gods!

Iraqi Blog Count

This all-english Iraqi meta-blog is what you would probably think, a set of nice people writing thoughtfully about issues, getting comment-bombed by a few sadistic right-wing psychos, and showing a natural desire for democracy that they have zero confidence in Bush's ability to deliver.

How do I tell the dental student that no one in Seattle who likes Nirvanna, Alice in Chains, and Hendrix, also likes Joe Satriani?

Which reminds me, some obvious but fine rock music recommendations: Modest Mouse (in spite of the grammy nod) and Interpol.

Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

Crossfire is cancelled:

CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein sided Wednesday with comedian Jon Stewart, who used a "Crossfire" appearance last fall to rip the program as so much hackery.

"I think he made a good point about the noise level of these types of shows, which does nothing to illuminate the issues of the day," Klein said. Viewers need useful information in a dangerous world, he said, "and a bunch of guys screaming at each other simply doesn't accomplish that."

Let Us Trim Our Hair in Accordance with Socialist Lifestyle

This is the title of the new North Korean hit reality series: the BBC reports on North Korea's new war on long hair. Do not miss the photos, which are no different from the last mormon pamphlet I saw on the subject. How to react? As one of the best and truest sayings goes:

Beware of any enterprise where everyone dresses alike.

We can thank North Korea for being one of the last major sources of incredibly awkward stalinist propaganda. Funny, except that you get the feeling people are about to be sent to hair re-education camps, never to return.

January 08, 2005


Originally uploaded by eevans24.

Can't wait until next year!

Second Grader Menaces Valuable Picasso IP

Fortunately, the authorities intervened before real harm was done.

Justice for Philip K. Dick?

Linklater is working on A Scanner Darkly - could be really, really good.

January 07, 2005

Even the Secretary of Defense Began to Take Notice

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered a review of the security situation in Iraq amid concerns over the elections scheduled for January 30.

Attacks have claimed the lives of Baghdad's provincial governor; the security chief for Iraq's Independent Election Commission in Diyala province; the deputy director for the Iraqi Islamic Party in the northern city of Mosul; U.S. soldiers and scores of Iraqi police and civilians.

Like an old German Jewish Intellectual Would Know Anything About the Rise of Fascism

A Mr. Stern, in the NYT, making waves when he stops just short of calling the rise of the US right-wing evangelical movement fascist.

If Every Millionaire...

There are about 2 million millionaires in the U.S., according to this subversive organization (the whole page is worth a look). If each followed the president's example and gave $10,000 for world health efforts each year, we'd have $20 bn to work with, or 20 times more than the World Health Organization's annual budget.

But, you say, how could we get all those millionaires to donate all that money?

Well, once upon a time governments got rich people to help society. They used an administrative technique known as a tax...

January 06, 2005

Another Film I'd Like to See

I'd never heard of a "factory gate film" until I read this.

[Here is a direct link to the archive.]

Calvin and Hobbes...

What if...

Calvin took Ritalin.

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter .38 Special - The Drippings of Angels

These were some fancy digs alright. Not only was there a restroom attendant with an monogrammed ascot, but the solid gold urinal also had it's own ascot, changed hourly by superbutlers with monogrammed capes. I tipped a superbutler with a sawbuck and he thanked me with a disdainful grunt before returning to the blower to renegotiate his currency futures with some joe in Melborne named Cecil. I headed back out past the hot towels, taking a swipe to brush the distracting chandilier out of the way. Dardenella was waiting back at the Louis the XIV dining room table, drinking champagne so old the label read "Le Tres Ancien Jus-de-Grape Bubblie," because the French region of "Champagne" had not yet risen from the sea-floor.

My diplomatic sash began to ride up. This white tie monkey suit was a rental. So was Dardenella, at least as far as dashing Prince Olaf of Norwegia was concerned. I walked up to the table, my fists tightened up in balls of fury, ready to send Olaf back across the Baltic. Sensing trouble, a couple of superbutlers made the mistake of leaping at me only to have me bat them from the air like a couple of helpful bleeding shuttlecocks. Olaf looked up from Dardenella's mesmerizingly poofy cleavage just long enough to watch his teeth land appropriately in a punchbowl.

"Jeez, Brain, why'd ya have to do that? He was just making conversation." Olaf was stuck boots out in an enormous blanc-mange.

I casually plucked the broken monocle from her decolletage and put it in my pocket for later analysis. "Sorry, Tootsie, I got firsties and we gotta blow this popsicle stand now. We got a meet with Losie the Bookie."

The Rolls let us out on Dockwater Street. I tipped the guy with a suggestion to to get the hell out of there, and punched him to make sure he got the idea. It's a neighborhood so rough the kittens are packing heat. I adjusted my top hat. Normally it's not a great idea to wander around a place at night where the gutters are full of discarded police badges, not to mention wearing a white tie and tails with a foxy dame on your arm dolled up for an Academy Award with a 2 million dollar pink diamond broach, but Losie was the only person who knew anything about the use of floss for dental violence, and he didn't hang around the Waldorf counting his Canadian nickels. There was a reason he was called "Losie."

I had one arm mostly around Dardenella's little waist and one on my piece, and one eye on the alleys, windows and doors, and another eye helpless sucked into Dardenella like a baby duck in a whirlpool.

We followed a couple of depressed rats as they shuffled along the applicance repair and remaindered sandwich shops, and then there was the sign and stairs leading up to "Losie's For-Real Pawn and Danish Furniture," possibly the least believable front since Hitler sent a division of wood-pixies to stop the Russians in Berlin.

Dardenella stepped in something sticky, and it wasn't saltwater taffy. I should have guessed. There was poor Losie's body lying at the bottom of the stairs. More disturbingly, his head just then tumbled down each step and rolled out into the street where it was run over by an ice cream truck.

Dardenella was unflappable. "Guess Losie's had his last Orangesicle. Sorry about your friend." She opened up a hydrant with a firehouse wrench she kept in her bag and soaked her shoe in cold water to get the stain out.

"Well, he wasn't much of a friend. Or a bookie. Or really a very good informant. He never graduated from middle school, or knew the sweet love of a woman, and the Danish furniture was mostly styrofoam, and usually, he was wrong about the bus schedule, and what day it was, and the name of the state he lived in. He once lost 35 large betting that the Miami Dolphins would take the NBA title. He also smelled poorly, and had to replace his full set of house and car keys three times a week, and as you can see he never met a bucket he didn't like as long as it was full of chicken. "

Dardenella picked up something from the stairwell. "Hey, Honey-brain, check out the envelope."

It was a large envelope marked "INVALOPE." It was exactly what I was looking for. I planted a fast one on Dardenella's lips.

"I was wondering if those worked," I said.

"Only when they're moist and squishy."

I'll Take Waikiki

I've been on Maui since Saturday, and I'm beginning to see the appeal of Waikiki. I believe the primary appeal of Maui to many is that "it stays white out longer here." There is definately a predominant spirit of "I got mine -- fuck you" on this island. I'll live, but it still remains to be seen if I will be able to get off the island without sitting through a 100-minute time-share sales presentation (which, had they existed when the Geneva convention was penned, would certainly have been off-limits for prisoners of war).

I think you may have gathered that I'm ready to come home, now.

Oh, BTW: yesterday, I read a column by the travel writer of the local newspaper about his visit to Sequim. He remarked on eating a chicken-fried steak in the back room of Gwennie's restaurant. (The Viceroy and I had a couple of these each in November...)

Even the Economist is Concerned

Not to start a rumpus, but the colonials seem to be misfiring on their own ideals.

CIA Teaches Irony

Finally took a look at that CIA kids' page. It creepily encourages kids to stay off drugs ("Intelligence is Cool, Just Say No, Get High on Intelligence"), and directs us to these fine publications.

Hey kids, here's something else for you to read.

I Think We've All Learned Something From This

Feb. 11, 2003: Following a four-week search after the firing of Steve Mariucci (60-43 in six years, including playoffs), Dennis Erickson is hired and receives a five-year, $12.5 million contract.

2003: The 49ers finish 7-9.

2004: The 49ers finish an NFL-worst 2-14.

Jan. 5, 2005: Erickson is fired with three years and $7.5 million left on his contract.

January 05, 2005

That Kind of Money Could Get the Beatles Back Together

"President Bush, who has pledged $350 million in U.S. aid to help victims of Asian countries ravaged by the tsunami, has contributed $10,000 from his personal funds to the relief effort, his spokesman said Wednesday."

Yes, you heard right: ten thousand dollars.

George W. Bush is worth around $20 mm, not counting whatever he gets when Daddy's chute fails to open. Guess he'll save the other $19,990,000 for an emergency of some kind.


January 04, 2005

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Chapter .22 Rimfire

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The only real light in the Precinct interogation room was the bulb in the fridge. If it hadn't been full of donuts I wouldn't have seen anything.

"Brain! Brain! Brain! Snap out of it!"

Capt. Kornwalski pasted a meaty paw right across my talkhole, with a side of vegan contempt. I peered up at him, his smug cop face beaming down at me like the searchlight of a Nazi helicopter over a sinking box of kittens.

"Brain!" Then came the bucket of ice water on my head, complete with empty bottle of champagne.

"Brain!" Then, a refreshing lemonade and light snack.

"I ain't talking, Kornwalski. " My head felt like a family of badgers had moved in and were fighting over the last strip of caribou jerky. "Why don't you talk to your momma's Pilates instructor?"

"You saw Jenny yesteday, about 3; a man fitting your description was with her."

"At lot of people visit City Hall, and then have sex with Jenny in City Hall."

"Don't tell me the mayor didn't recognize a pair of edible panties on the desk."

"Vanilla or Blueberry?"

That did it. That cop goon of his, Martha, who'd been standing menacingly in the corner knitting, tied me to the chair and beat me with an 800 pound crab pot full of fresh Dungeness crabs. I started seeing more stars than the Hubble telescope. My right eye swelled up like an overinsulted horse jockey. What wasn't dripping on the floor was spotting the walls. And then Martha really went to work. I'd never felt so much pain since I was shot in the kneecap at a Celine Dion concert. Another man might have broke, but I was philosophical. Some men pay good money for that sort of thing.

After I was swept up and the 5-0 Doc stapled me together in a sort of a impressionist collage of a human being, my attorney Abu arrived and sprung me with the $3.34 bail, pleading that I was not a flight risk and could never be under my Delta mileage plan.

He picked me up from the Precinct in a horse-drawn Gypsy wagon, where he lit some incense and went over the charges:

"Guy, they're throwing the law library at ya. 2 counts of 2nd Degree Murder. Felony assault. Kidnapping. Misdemeanor Smelling. Impersonating a better actor. Felony phone solicitation. Felony Mp3 downloading. Felony couch relaxing with intent to order pizza. Felony Got-Your-Nose. Three hundred thousand counts of federal utility fraud. "Abu looked puzzled, shuffled a couple of papers. "Sorry- that's Ken Lay. Hmm. I was wondering where that was."

The cart jerked. A huge black Cadillac rammed the side of the wagon, trying to drive us off the cliff downtown, across from Nordstrom's. Dozens of tarot cards flew through the air. I pulled a .45 Abu kept hidden in the pantry and popped off a couple of rounds through the Queen of Swords. It was louder than a coked-up rock star at a high school party. The horse dropped dead. Mental note to check sight on gun. Then a crash and the Cady knocked us over on our side. My hand hit the ground and the .45 flew across the street. I lay there, with three or four broken ribs and a dead horse on my leg, wondering whether "lay" or "laid" was grammatically preferrable.

The car door opened. Out walked Jenny. Standing in that light, she looked sexier than two sexy patties in sexy sauce on a Brazilian sexy bun.

"You got a light?" She asked.