Sunday, December 31, 2006

When A Senator Procrastinates

Another excellent spam today:

A class action suit behind a turn signal is righteous. Indeed, the ravishing particle accelerator gives lectures on morality to a prime minister from the jersey cow.

Sometimes a mortician for a dolphin sweeps the floor, but some insurance agent always buries a fundraiser of an industrial complex!

Some polar bear related to a globule takes a peek at a cab driver.

The greedily cosmopolitan line dancer

When a senator procrastinates, the imaginative bottle of beer flies into a rage.

It's a good thing the Democratic Congress plans to actually get some work done - the imaginative bottles of beer should be very pleased.

B&W Deck-Clearing Photoblogging

Alrighty, this is the last of the South Carolina pics (taken immediately post-nature-hike), so I should be ready to post some NJ & NYC pics soon.

Very lonely parking lot.

Air-raid sirens.

Mmm... barbed wire...

No, we did not go hiking on an army base...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eli's Obsession With The Google

On the first page of search results for cindy crawford for everybody.

And don't you forget it.

Oh My.

USB twigs.

For people who find ordinary flash memory too inexpensive or compact...

Does This Look Strange To Anyone Else?

Umm, okay - I can understand that Saddam's executioners would not exactly want to broadcast their identities, but ski masks??? Am I the only one who thinks this looks more like a terrorist action than a lawful execution? They might as well have just beheaded him instead...

Nightmare Visions Of An All-Too-Probable Future

I'm pretty sure this is me in 10-15 years.

Take My Leave... Please

More leaves, just because spork likes them so much. Maybe one more South Carolina post after this one, and then onto NYC photos... which I will hopefully have processed by then.

Backlit in black & white.

Backlit ivy.

I thought this one was almost alarming.

And I found this one... strangely arousing for some reason. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from Mannequin, of all things:
Women are weak, and men are strong - my mother wasted a lifetime of strength trying to prove that.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

My brother's kitty Squish, gradually realizing that something may be amiss...

Program Notes/Travelogue

Well, the wireless network I had been using at my sister's has pulled the plug on me, so I'm limited to the Treo, which means no catblogging until I get back to my Dad's in Joisey.

Apart from that, yesterday was quite a lovely day. I took a bunch of pictures along the river between 10th and 30th (the riverside has been very good to me, photographically speaking), including Sanitation Headquarters (huzzah!), then tried to find Bobby St. Chomsky's favorite pizza place on 30th & 8th. There were actually two pizza places there, and I'm pretty sure I picked the oldest (they had an old-fashioned mechanical cash register and everything). Their eggplant pizza was pretty good, but their pepperoni was disappointing.

Then I headed over to Flushing Meadows to meet Thers and Molly Ivors and their 723 children/demolitionists at the Queens Museum Of Art, right near Shea Stadium and that giant metal globe from the World's Fair. The Museum's feature attraction is an enormous diorama of NYC's five boroughs, which takes up a full art-gallery-sized room. My inability to locate even the approximate whereabouts of my old apartment was pretty pathetic.

Finally, to cap off the day, my sister and I had a lovely time at the Atriots' Festivus Dinner which res ipsa loquitur was kind enough to organize. Also in attendance were Thers and Molly Ivors, The Kenosha Kid, karmic jay and his friend Dan, watertiger, brooklyn girl, HoneyBearKelly, and a couple of lurkers whose names I unfortunately did not quite catch.

I'll be back home for good Saturday night, so hopefully blogging will resume as normal, after I watch the Giants finish choking away a playoff spot.

More Spamlet

Yeah, everyone on the planet is probably getting the same spams as I am, and wondering why the hell I keep posting the damn things on my blog, but just in case you're not... I give you "round range", by Bryan Graham:
Furthermore, a mortician hesitates, and a grain of sand is a big fan of the bartender toward the senator.
Another fried football team graduates from the load bearing mortician.
Suddenly I want to be a mortician.

Possibly even a load-bearing one.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Leafy Photoblogging

I'm just about to head out to take some NYC pics, so here are some very not-NYC pics in the meantime:

I liked the stark lighting on these.

I liked the funky shadow.

More holly, looking very geometrical.

Mmm, backlighting... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Celebrity Dead Pool

Well, The Kenosha Kid has tagged me with a morbid meme:

1. Pick ten celebrities who you think will die in from 1/1/07 to 1/1/08
2. You aren't allowed to murder the celebrity.
2.5 Saddam Hussein doesn't count.
3. The point system works like this: you get one point for every year UNDER the age of 90 that the celebrity dies at. Anyone over 90 gets negative points.
4. Whoever gets the most points, wins.

It'll frankly be a miracle if I get any points at all, but I'll take a stab at it. In no particular order:

1. Courtney Love
2. Larry Flynt
3. Andy Dick
4. Pete Doherty (sorry, Jenny)
5. Whitey Ford
6. Fats Domino
7. Henry Kissinger
8. Bob Feller
9. Mickey Rooney
10. Fidel Castro

I'll just tag the shadowy and mysterious Codename V, who likes these sort of things.

Moody Prince Spamlet

Just a small excerpt from today's spam, entitled "upholstery":
It' s really hard to say as Herpes dosen't always "act" the same! It proved a serious step forward in using hydrogen as a potential energy source for cars, while showing defects that make the concept a clear work in progress.
Who knew herpes could be so useful?

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

(Is that Bruce Campbell?)

The Swiss are precise about everything:
BIENNE, Switzerland -- Here in the world's watchmaking capital, five o'clock shadow appears on men's faces at precisely five o'clock, according to a new study by the Swiss Health Council.

"It's nothing new in this country," said Dr. Pascal Schmid, who has reviewed centuries of Swiss medical literature.

Dr. Schmid traces the timely stubble to Geneva in the 1500s, when the unfamiliar din of clocktower bells literally scared the hair out of men's faces during working hours.

In more recent years, the depilatory effects of glow-in-the-dark radium dial paint spread for miles around timepiece factories.

"At closing time, workers sealed the paint away in sturdy cabinets, and facial hair was free to grow again," Dr. Schmid explained.

Nowadays, exposure to the pulsing electric fields from Switzerland's countless modern watches affects the release of human epidermal growth factor -- a protein controlling hair length.

"Until recently, none of this was thought to cause any wider genetic mutations," Schmid said. "However, we're looking at evidence that quartz and radium exposure may have affected the Swiss gene pool."

"We're seeing a lot of babies born with asymmetrical limbs in this country--usually a little hand and a big hand," he said.
Behind every cliche, there is always some very solid and reputable science.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank You. Thankyouverymuch.

As it should be:
This year's Wonders of America set climbed to second place in the most popular stamps, but Elvis is still the King, the Postal Service said Tuesday.

Some 124.1 million of the 1993 Elvis Presley stamps were saved by Americans, according to the post office, which does an annual survey of 10,000 households to determine which stamps are most popular.

Rising into second spot was the Wonders of America set with 87.5 million stamps saved, the agency said.
But K-Fed's day will come. Just you wait.

Lying Comes Naturally

If it occurs in nature, it's okay, right?

If you happen across a pond full of croaking green frogs, listen carefully. Some of them may be lying.

A croak is how male green frogs tell other frogs how big they are. The bigger the male, the deeper the croak. The sound of a big male is enough to scare off other males from challenging him for his territory.

While most croaks are honest, some are not. Some small males lower their voices to make themselves sound bigger. Their big-bodied croaks intimidate frogs that would beat them in a fair fight.


...[B]iologists have long puzzled over deception. Dishonesty should undermine trust between animals. Why, for example, do green frogs keep believing that a big croak means a big male? New research is offering some answers: Natural selection can favor a mix of truth and lies, particularly when an animal has a big audience. From one listener to the next, honesty may not be the best policy.


By the mid-1900s, scientists had documented deception in cases where one species fooled another. Some nonpoisonous butterflies, for example, evolved the same wing patterns that poisonous species used to warn off birds. Within a species, however, honesty usually prevailed. Animals gave each other alarm calls to warn of predators; males signaled their prowess in fighting; babies let their parents know they were hungry. Honesty benefited both the sender and the receiver.

“The point of signaling was to get information across,” Dr. Nowicki said. “Deception was almost not an issue.”

There was just one hole in this happy arrangement: it presented a great opportunity for liars. Shrikes, for example, regularly use alarm calls to warn one another of predators. But sometimes the birds will use false alarm calls to scare other shrikes away from food.

Imagine that a shrike fools other shrikes with a false alarm. It eats more, and therefore may hatch more babies. Meanwhile, the gullible, less-nourished shrikes hatch fewer babies. If false alarms become common, natural selection should favor shrikes that are not fooled by them.

When scientists created mathematical models of this theory, they found that dishonesty could undermine many vital kinds of communication. The challenge, then, was to find out how honesty countered the advantage of deception. “The liars ought to be able to take advantage of the system, so that you’d have selection on the listeners to ignore the signals,” said Jonathan Rowell, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee.

I found this last point particularly interesting: Does natural selection weed out gullibility, or just breed better and better liars? And does intraspecies deception take a toll on the entire species (i.e., favoring the less fit, undermining the integrity and trustworthiness of vital signals)?

Of course, it's very tempting to extrapolate to the human world, where deception is practically a way of life. There is certainly ample evidence that deception has severely damaged the well-being of the United States, but I'm not sure there's as much evidence that gullibility is being selected out. Yes, the Republicans got spanked in November, but only after the mess their lies created had grown to such epic proportions that it could no longer be concealed or spun. Unfortunately, I think we still have a long ways to go, and probably not a lot of time to get there.

In conclusion, I leave you with this tasty little morsel:
Dr. Ellner’s rough translation of their call: “I’m looking for female frogs, and if you come on my lily pad, I’ll show you a good time.”
Oh baby.

Encouraging Health Stuff

No specific point to make here, but the NYT's medicine writer-doctor has a nice roundup of all the progress we've made in the last fifty years since Eisenhower's physician advised Mamie to snuggle with him in bed to keep him warm after his heart attack. (I would think you'd have to be very careful about who you gave advice like that to. "Don't panic, Ms. Jolie; just calm down and do exactly as I say and I promise everything will be fine...")

Monday, December 25, 2006

Eli's Obsession With The Google

On the first page of search results for meerkat on the segway (Kos is #1, oddly enough...).

I did check the image results too, but no, there are no pictures of meerkats on Segways. I promise that if I see any, I'll take the shot.

Interact With Hoopla

Old-fashioned sort that I am, I'm a sucker for the traditional Christmas spam. This year's is from Woodruff, and is entitled "bewilderment deft":


ex-pat salon look, complete with gold samovars, red leather banquettes, and . The interior is superb, a digitally remastered version of the RL luxury sedan interior with fine-stippled aluminum trim, rich leather and dark polished faux .

Strangely, however, the video does not mention the product at all. Whether you're new to litigation support software or a veteran TrialDirector user, you'll find something to like in Ted's comprehensive review. As a dedicated appliance for business file transfers, SFTA requires minimal IT administration and support.

Crushers had taken the outdoor season off and with the appearance of a few new faces in the Crusher's line-up there was no telling what talent they had picked up.

Luckily, we have technology at our fingertips. about expressing one's individuality, culture, or religion through clothing, even as The new version also has enhanced tools for splitting, combining, and reordering PDF files.

Fulchester handed competitive debut's to Steve Barss, Rory Moncur, Matt Rohachuk, Scott Brown and Kim Vander Linden.

Carrie demonstrated that she had lost none of her patience and control during her break and easily shut down many of the Crusher's advances. Drury had gone scoreless for the first time all season in Friday's 5-4 victory over Carolina. If you are the system administrator, please click here. Somebody has to pay for all of those styrofoam peanuts.

What does matter is creativity and talent.

From the poor quality of reffing to an injury that resulted, there was a lot that should have been different about the game. Outdoor division 5 champions Eclipse, came in to the game boasting the divisions leading scorer from outdoor Debra Zilkowsky up-front. Luckily, we have technology at our fingertips. Young people nowadays wear metal-studded leather clothes or dye their hair .

Interact with hoopla.

The special effects budget needed a lot more money. Free file transfer sites can handle large files, but also lack sufficient security.

Increasingly, they seem to choose online repositories.

We think it will once again reign supreme as the leading technology gift this year

It's just what I always wanted - this is the best Christmas ever!

And if that wasn't enough, feast your eyes on what my dad got me for Christmas:

Monday Media Blogging - Christmas Edition

Christmas + Twisted Sister + Katherine Harris = QUALITY!

*happy sigh*

Merry Holidays, everybody!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Airport Natureblogging



Sorry. I, ah, scored the only table at the airport food court with a power outlet. I'm... an enormous geek.

Anyway, this is not actually photos of Nature at the airport, merely photos of Nature posted from the airport. And you shall see once again why Nature photography really is not my thing...

Life from Death, or some kind of cosmic Wheel-Of-Life stuff like that.

Okay, reflections I can do. I like reflections.

Bark! Barkbarkbarkbarkbarkbark!!!

Holly. I think this is some kinda seasonal thing. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Eternal Ice Skaters

The Protopopovs in 1987, age 50 and 53.

Whoa. In their 70s and still doing lifts and splits:

The words echo in the ears of Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov: “Your train is gone, you’re too old.”

That was a half-century ago. They were in their early 20s and had recently begun their partnership on and off the ice, but Soviet Union sports officials tried to stop perhaps the greatest pair in figure skating history before their career even began.


It has been more than four decades since the Protopopovs brought unparalleled artistry to pairs figure skating, winning the first of two Olympic gold medals. He is 74 now, she is 71. But time has barely infringed on their artistry, if it has at all.

“I learn something every time I see them skate, even now,” said Dick Button, the gold medalist in men’s singles in 1948 and 1952 and a longtime television commentator on the sport. “The basic movements and basic positions are all there. They take and break down every single element that they do, and follow through on the classical style that they’ve been so good at, to their ultimate destination.”

Four hours a day nearly every day, Oleg effortlessly lifts Ludmila off her feet and sets her down gracefully as they practice and practice and practice.

“We dedicate our life for skating,” said Ludmila, who weighs about 100 pounds and can still do the splits. “Everything revolves around skating.”

Oleg, whose mother was a ballerina, said: “There is no limit to how old you can be. Figure skating is a long-lasting sport, it prolongs life. Now, I feel young. I don’t feel old. We are like seagulls. While we can move our wings, we will fly.”

And fly they do. For five months a year, the Protopopovs train on the ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., that Coach Herb Brooks and the United States Olympic hockey team made famous in 1980. They also spend five weeks windsurfing and in-line skating in Hawaii, and live the rest of the time in their adopted home, Switzerland.


“They are in the most wonderful physical condition I’ve seen,” said Barbara Kelly, who has provided the Protopopovs with an apartment in Lake Placid for five years. “People who come to watch them skate are amazed. They don’t believe it. They have a style that’s never been matched.”


After settling in Switzerland, the Protopopovs joined the Ice Capades and competed in the world professional figure skating championships. They won their final gold medal in 1985, tying the Americans Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, a couple half their age.

In 2003, at the invitation of Viacheslav Fetisov, the Russian minister of sport and a former N.H.L. star, the Protopopovs returned to their homeland for the first time since they defected. They received a tumultuous ovation from a crowd of 15,000 in St. Petersburg.

“We try to bring the gladness to people if they watch us,” Oleg said. “There is no limit to how old you can be. They get pleasure from this, so why do we have to stop?”

Hell, I'll be happy just to be walking in my 70s...

Almost-Nature-Trail B&W Photoblogging

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. was kind enough to indulge me on a photo hike so I could attempt to hone my near-nonexistent nature photography skills. Needless to say, I dawdled for a while in the parking lot, which was a lot closer to my natural element...

The back of a scoreboard, I think.

Biiiiig tire. I liked the shadows from the fence on it.

Creatureless bleachers.

Is it... supposed to be sticking up from the ground like that, or has there been an awful lot of erosion here? Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 22, 2006


I just got this Very Exciting E-Mail from "Production", entitled "together Anyway know some":

Expression dude walking, second think hes, grown inches passed.

Support, igns lohanceleb freaky teenage, drama?

Online services wrap files.

Bunch never didnt further though wholesome likes tease.

Extra definitely probably id knock nooooooo problem better. Metacritic mpcom, tvcom email, password login, signup free.

Conditions fair housing pledge madison ave ny fax owned.

Assumes material note updates frequently. Denying statement dogged doubt. Gregg jen gotta heart. Features videos photos players, charts podcasts forums hiphop? Forums hiphop alt indie metal rampb, soul urban electro.

Battle tarantinos funny jonesquot. Fully loaded pines leading project being!

Low, cut dress, showed off awesome cleavage! Included fresh total sort tmetersort byyear nashrek nanorbit nasaturday. Jerry caught down blouse. Action vampire, brooklyn beverly?

Learning spanish program oldlyon resides encino birth.

Beckinsale moss winslet katharine mcphee, kellie pickler kelly.
God, I love this stuff. I wonder who would win in a fight between the Action Vampire and the Battle Tarantinos.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from Til There Was You, which appears to be total crap and I'm not entirely sure why I watched it.
Next thing I know, I'm writing "Hi, I'm Your Hernia."

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

Shadowy and mysterious Codename B&W.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Celebrity Nutcase Of The Year

And the winner is... Vincent (Gi)Gallo!
VINCENT Gallo is no pal of PayPal. The online payment service abruptly cut ties with the actor-director because it didn't want to be associated with him selling his sexual services and sperm through his Web site. "They are really fascists. They should breathe some death gas or something," the star of X-rated flick "Brown Bunny" told Page Six. For years, Gallo had used PayPal as an intermediary to collect payments from people ordering merchandise over, including clothing, posters, artwork and jewelry. But he says PayPal got squeamish at him offering himself to single women and lesbian couples for prices of $50,000-$200,000, and sperm samples for women who want to have his baby for $1 million. "For them to say they have some sort of moral regard for their clients is incredible - they're a penny-pinching, conniving company," he fumed. Gallo says he's switching to American Express, Visa and MasterCard, "just like all the good escort services use." A PayPal rep defended cutting off Gallo, saying he violated its "policy against facilitating meetings for sexually oriented activities."
But wait - if you go back a few days, it gets even better:

Last February, the outrageous actor-director offered to "fulfill the wish, dream, or fantasy of any naturally born female" for a "modest fee of $50,000 plus expenses." But "bargains" don't last forever, and Gallo just upped his price to $100,000 - even though no one has apparently yet taken him up on the lower price.

But, "Female couples of the lesbian persuasion" can still "enjoy a Vincent Gallo evening together" for the old price of $100,000 for two - or just $200,000 for an entire weekend, Gallo says on his Web site. He adds, sensitively: "Heavy-set, older red-heads and even black chicks can have me if they can pay the bill. No real female will be refused. However, I highly frown upon any male having even the slightest momentary thought or wish that they could ever become my client. No way, José."

Gallo advises women considering his offer to check out his sex scene with Chloe Sevigny in "Brown Bunny," "to be sure for themselves that they can fully accommodate all of me."


Gallo has offered to sell his sperm for $1 million - although in a racially insensitive diatribe, he reserved the right to pick and choose who gets it.

"Mr. Gallo maintains the right to refuse sale of his sperm to those of extremely dark complexions," he wrote on his Web site. "Though a fan of Franco Harris, Derek Jeter, Lenny Kravitz and Lena Horne, Mr. Gallo does not want to be part of that type of integration."

Gallo wrote that a Jewish mother would be an asset because, if their child got into movies or music, "this connection to the Jewish faith would guarantee his offspring a better chance at good reviews and maybe even a prize at the Sundance Festival or an Oscar."

Un-frickin'-believable. Sorry, Mel, you're not even in the same league.

Hat tip to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

The Goode, The Bad, And The Batshit Insane

Okay, so over at Frothy's place, I learn that some loon of a Republican congressman is a-feared that the Muslim hordes will overrun us if we don't slam the door shut:
A Republican congressman (Virgil Goode) has told constituents that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims" will be elected and follow the lead of a recently elected lawmaker who plans to use the Quran at his ceremonial swearing-in...

Goode added: "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped."
Oookay. Obviously, the xenophobia is pretty naked, and there's not a whole lot I can say about it.

But what I find almost as striking as unapologetic racism from an elected official is: There are 300 million people in this country. Just how many Muslim immigrants is Goode expecting to come over here? Does he know about some upcoming cataclysmic event which will turn a huge chunk of the Muslim world into refugees? It sure as hell ain't gonna be Operation Temporary 21% Increase In Troop Strength Surge™.

Lest We Forget

I can't believe I had forgotten about this until the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. jogged my memory...

The 213 Things Skippy Is No Longer Allowed To Do In the U.S. Army

Explanations of these events:

a) I did myself, and either got in trouble or commended. (I had a Major shake my hand for the piss bottle thing, for instance.)
b) I witnessed another soldier do it. (Like the Sergeant we had, that basically went insane, and crucified some dead mice.)
c) Was spontaneously informed I was not allowed to do. (Like start a porn studio.)
d) Was the result of a clarification of the above. (“What about especially patriotic porn?”)
e) I was just minding my own business, when something happened. (“Schwarz...what is *that*?” said the Sgt, as he pointed to the back of my car? "Um....a rubber sheep...I can explain why that's there....")

To explain how I've stayed out of jail/alive/not beaten up too badly..... I'm funny, so they let me live.

Some of my personal favorites:

7. Not allowed to add “In accordance with the prophesy” to the end of answers I give to a question an officer asks me.

10. Not allowed to purchase anyone's soul on government time.

31. Not allowed to let sock puppets take responsibility for any of my actions.

32. Not allowed to let sock puppets take command of my post.

48. I may not use public masturbation as a tool to demonstrate a flaw in a command decision.

49. Not allowed to trade military equipment for “magic beans”.

58. The following words and phrases may not be used in a cadence- Budding sexuality, necrophilia, I hate everyone in this formation and wish they were dead, sexual lubrication, black earth mother, all Marines are latent homosexuals, Tantric yoga, Gotterdammerung, Korean hooker, Eskimo Nell, we've all got jackboots now, slut puppy, or any references to squid.

60. “The Giant Space Ants” are not at the top of my chain of command.

72. May not wear gimp mask while on duty.

75. May not conduct psychological experiments on my chain of command.

79. I am neither the king nor queen of cheese.

83. Must not start any SITREP (Situation Report) with "I recently had an experience I just had to write you about...."

87. If the thought of something makes me giggle for longer than 15 seconds, I am to assume that I am not allowed to do it.

94. Crucifixes do not ward off officers, and I should not test that.

95. I am not in need of a more suitable host body.

96. “Redneck Zombies” is not a military training aid.

97. Gozer does not dwell in my refrigerator.

100. Claymore mines are not filled with yummy candy, and it is wrong to tell new soldiers that they are.

118. Burn pits for classified material are not revel fires - therefore it is wrong to dance naked around them.

128. "Shpadoinkle" is not a real word.

129. The Microsoft ® “Dancing Paperclip” is not authorized to countermand any orders.

132. The loudspeaker system is not a forum to voice my ideas.

133. The loudspeaker system is not to be used to replace the radio.

134. The loudspeaker system is not to be used to broadcast the soundtrack to a porno movie.

145. I should not drink three quarts of blue food coloring before a urine test.

146. Nor should I drink three quarts of red food coloring, and scream during the same.

156. I will no longer perform “lap-dances” while in uniform.

157. If I take the uniform off, in the course of the lap-dance, it still counts.

160. No part of the military uniform is edible.

163. Take that hat off.

164. There is no such thing as a were-virgin.

167. Not allowed to operate a business out of the barracks.

168. Especially not a pornographic movie studio.

169. Not even if they *are* “especially patriotic films”

174. Furby ® is not allowed into classified areas. (I swear to the gods, I did not make that up, it's actually DOD policy).

176. Any device that can crawl across the table on medium, does not need to be brought into the office.

183. My chain of command has neither the time, nor the inclination to hear about what I did with six boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups. ®

185. My name is not a killing word.

191. Our Humvees cannot be assembled into a giant battle-robot.

200. My chain of command is not interested in why I “just happen” to have a kilt, an inflatable sheep, and a box of rubber bands in the back of my car.

203. “To conquer the earth with an army of flying monkeys" is a bad long term goal to give the re-enlistment NCO.

205. Don't write up false gigs on a HMMWV PMCS. ("Broken clutch pedal", "Number three turbine has frequent flame-outs", "flux capacitor emits loud whine when engaged")

207. The Chicken and Rice MRE is *not* a personal lubricant. (Skippy wanted this noted for the record that this is not something he has ever attempted or considered! It was something we heard at dinner on 22 September 2001 and it was just so obscene it had to go here.)

213. Do not convince NCO's that their razorbumps are the result of microscopic parasites.
Yes, I know this has been around for a good long while, but I didn't have a blog the first time I saw it, so...

Meerkat Madness!

© Alice Zrodlo

For those of you who just can't get enough meerkat-on-meerkat action:

In September Discovery Films, along with Animal Planet, Oxford Scientific Films and the sales company Southern Star, began shooting an untitled documentary featuring some of the “Whiskers” meerkat family of the “Meerkat Manor” television series at home in their Kalahari colony.

Not to be outdone, the Weinstein Company in New York, along with BBC Films and the BBC Natural History Unit, got busy in November with “The Meerkats,” a documentary with its own take on the little diggers.


“Animals in a documentary go a long way with audiences,” Jack Foley, president of distribution for Focus Features, said in a telephone interview. Mr. Foley pointed out that “March of the Penguins” was not simply an outsize success in its own right, but also helped pave the way for “Happy Feet,” an animated penguin story that has been a major hit for Warner Brothers this season.

If meerkats are indeed the new penguins, that may owe something to the animals’ inherent charisma. Pam Bennett-Wallberg, a meerkat expert and executive director of Fellow Earthlings’ Wildlife Center in Morongo Valley, Calif., cast that appeal in the very grandest terms.

“I think people have become interested in meerkats,” she said, “because they are reminiscent of what is best in our own society and what is worst in our own society. They are incredibly courageous in defending family and friends, and they have the ultimate Napoleon complex. They’re small but mighty.”


The Whiskers family of “Meerkat Manor” has been under observation at a remote resort owned by Cambridge University in the Northern Cape of South Africa for about 3,000 hours over three years. That family has already worked its way into pop culture through the Animal Planet television show. The feature documentary in which those and other meerkats will star “will be, at times,” said Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks, “a little bit of ‘Desperate Housewives’ meets ‘Father Knows Best.’ ”

By contrast, James Honeyborne, director of the Weinstein/BBC project, appears focused on the animals’ wilder side, which he said would be easier to capture outside of a colony. “This is the opportunity for us to make a stand-alone, blue-chip wildlife film from the ground up,” he said. “It will be immersive. There will be a huge sense of place on a massive scale. You will really see real wild animals.”

If you can't wait, or if you want to familiarize yourself with meerkats a little more, I recommend Animals Are Beautiful People, an earlier film by the same director as The Gods Must Be Crazy, and very similar in style and charm, if not content.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


(WARNING: Potentially insensitive analogy ahead)

While here in South Carolina, I saw both a dead cat and a dead dog on the side of the road (not at the same time). It's a sad sight to begin with, and then I think about how that that cat and that dog were probably someone's pets, and some unfortunate family is just devastated because their four-legged family member got hit by a car, and that makes it even sadder.

Now imagine that it's someone's mom or dad or grandma or brother or son, and they got shot or blown up for no good reason other than that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now imagine that there's hundreds of thousands of them.

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

These things happen, I suppose...
ALSTAHAUG, Norway--A squid infestation has forced the closure of Hollerheim Suites' flagship hotel.

"The creature is viscid enough to dart through the hotel's narrow plumbing," said squid abatement expert Erik Pontoppidan. "It surfaces in guests' bubble baths, coils hapless bathers in its tentacles, and vanishes again in a deadly but invigorating whirlpool."

So far, no guests have been seriously hurt, though one bather did emerge, wet and dazed, from a bidet three rooms down the hall from his suite.

"In all of these cases the kraken was successfully repelled with a loofah," Pontoppidan explained.

"But it's just a matter of time before the aromatics and concentrated nutrients of bath syrups and body butters induce a fatal attack."


The expert plans to release the squid's natural enemies, sperm-whale calves, into the water pipes.

Some guests, however, think Pontoppidan is overreacting.

"I don't think there's a real threat here," said businessman James Hennteye, who mistook the squid's suction cups for a non-skid applique. "In my case, I think the squid may have saved a life."

Once again, the Weekly World News is kraken me up.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eli's Obsession With The Google

Dr. Lobo, gastroenterologist.

'Nuff said.

More B&W Travelblogging

This is probably the last of the Charlotte Airport pics, unless I see something tomorrow that I didn't see on Friday.

If you're an airport in North Carolina, this is probably obligatory...

All hail the Hypno-Can.

A completely different chair entirely. It's not white, and it doesn't rock or have slats, or anything like that.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Eli's Obsession With The Google

#1 search result for Eli Pennsylvania computer unitarian and penguin whores.

There was something else amusing a few days back, but sadly, I have forgotten what it is...

Shadowy B&W Airport Blogging

Some more photos from the Charlotte Airport, mostly of the high-contrast variety which has been my thing for, oh, about 23 years.

Rocking chair shadows again.

And yet still more rocking chair shadows. This is the last of 'em, I promise.

Airport ceiling, working the Centre Pompidou vibe.

Some sort of utility shed or trailer outside the main terminal.

American Crimes

1) Driving while black.

2) Flying while Muslim.

3) Working with children while gay.

4) Speaking out against the President while liberal... or moderate... or conservative. (Includes squealing whistleblowing)

Have I missed any?

Monday Media Blogging

One of my favorite recurring gags on Mad TV is the incredibly poorly-made commercials for dubious products by Spishak. Here are some!

I like how the boss and the priest have the same secretary...

It's Ovens For Kids!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sunday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging, Part II

Those of you familiar with the Weekly World News know about their op-ed columnist, Ed Anger. Every time I've read him he's sounded like an absolutely insane, over-the-top, flag-waving reactionary. One might even suspect that he might possibly be a parody.
But imagine my surprise when I saw this in this week's My America column ("All I want for Christmas is accountability!"):
Folks, normally I'm the angriest guy around. But the recent election results have turned my scowl into a smile.

No, it's not because the Democrats beat the Republican party. I'm an Independent. It's because there will finally be a reckoning.

In case you've been in hibernation, the Republican Party received what George Bush called "a thumping" as Democrats took control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Immediately, Bush's architect of the Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld, resigned. What took you so long, Donald? People were dying while you were collecting your paycheck.

With two years remaining of Dubya's administration, there's plenty of time for the newly-elected Congress to investigate what's been going on for the past six years. That's why I've put together my very own What Ed Wants For Christmas List!

First of all, there's the matter of Dick Cheney - from his shooting folks without a license to lining the pockets of his former employers with billions - that's billions - of dollars in no bid Iraq war and post-Katrina contracts.

Second, I'm sure you all remember those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and how there weren't any to be found? The American people were sold a heap of lies to promote a war to control the cost of oil and gas. I want to know who was behind that. I'm betting that once Congress starts holding investigative hearings, Cheney'll take a hint and resign. Because of his heart or something.

Third, I want someone to take a hard look at the rights we're surrendering for the dubious value of the Patriot Act. Benjamin Franklin said that folks who surrender liberty for security deserve neither.

Fourth, I want to know why we've spent billions - that's billions - to rebuild Iraq when our shores are still vulnerable to attack. That money could have been used for bomb and radiation detectors, police, security systems... things that would have made us safer. Oh, and also rebuilt New Orleans. Nothing the administration has done has achieved either of those goals.

Frankly, Mr. Bush is more than a lame duck - his goose is cooked. Now I'm not one of those people who want the Democrats to start talking about 'impeachment' to get these criminals out of office. Their ability to hurt us will be curtailed when the new Congress is seated in January. Impeachment would waste valuable time, as it did during the Clinton Administration. Perhaps if he'd been allowed to focus more on Osama and less on Monica, this country would be better off.

No - I want to see these specific con jobs investigated and all the con artists exposed. When they resign and go away in shame; when the farce can end, and our troops can be reunited with their families; those will be the best Christmas gifts of all.
Wow. I mean, when Republicans have lost Ed Anger...

On the other hand, I see lots of signs that WWN has remade its image, and it appears to be distancing itself from its mock appeal to the right-wing trailer park stereotype, so maybe Ed Anger's been a pig-bitingly angry liberal for months or years, and I just never heard about it...

Or there might be a simpler (and sadder) explanation...

Sunday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging, Part I

So I picked up an actual hardcopy of the Weekly World News last night, sucked in by the alluring headline, "WORLD'S FATTEST CAT SAVES CHRISTMAS!", and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Hell, I may even have to get a subscription (free Bat Boy t-shirt!).
The Amberson family lived in a trailer park, which was all they could afford after George was laid off from the Hohman Steel Mill.

"Heck, with gas and oil prices being so darn high it was a struggle just to keep warm," George told Weekly World News. "I didn't know how we were going to afford food, let alone Christmas presents."


"Timmy took it like a real trooper, and after brushing away his tears he asked if he could have a dollar to get a present for his pet cat, Robie. It hurt like hell to tell him that Robie would have to go without this year just like the rest of us... not that Robie was suffering, mind you. You catch the size of that cat? But I even thought I saw sadness in the eyes of that big old stray who was curled next to my son to keep him warm. It was as if he actually understood what I was saying."

A few days after that melancholy father-son chat, the cat began exhibiting unusual behavior.

"He would claw at the door to be let out," said Agnes. "That fat cat hardly ever moved much less tried to go outside.... Robie would be gone all night before returning exhausted at dawn."...

"Then, on Christmas Eve, George and I put up a tree we had made from cardboard and decorated it with tin foil balls and chicken bones painted to look like candy canes...."

"The next morning we were awakened by Timmy squealing with joyous laughter. I dragged myself into the eating area and, lo and behold, there was a real Christmas tree, festooned with silver glitter and topped with a decorative angel, its cool evergreen scent filling the air. Three presents lay wrapped at the base of the tree.

"Sitting in the middle of all this Yuletide joy was Robie, all decked out in a Santa Claus beard and hat, as fat and sassy as ol' St. Nick himself!

"As we opened the presents one by one, we realized what Santa Cat had been doing every night... All the gifts had been discards which he had repaired. There was a Super GI Action Man, still stained with cooking grease from the dump but sporting fresh clothes from an abandoned Kenneth doll and a fresh green head from a Captain Alien figure. There was a fishing rod and reel made of tree branches and held together with twine, plus lures that were real dead flies. And there was a juicer for my wife, cobbled together from auto engine parts that had been gathered from a junkyard."


"Not only had the cat scrounged in dumpsters and landfill to find gifts, he had repaired and wrapped them!" Agnes said with amazement. "I guess it was Robie's way of showing his love for us. He was grateful that we had made him part of the family and wanted to do his part."

[The cat's efforts] lifted George Amberson from his depression. He went out and got a temporary job working the 'returns' counter at a local department store.... Now, a year later, George is the assistant manager of Mr. Potter's General Store and the family has moved into a new home.

"What's more, my prospects for the future have never looked better, since Mr. Potter is talking about retiring," George said. "I owe it all to that cat - a cat in a red felt hat."
See, this is why I love cats - they're always doing this sort of thing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Travel Photoblogging

Some photos from my travel day yesterday. Unfortunately, I hosed up the color balance on my camera, so I shot everything on a fluorescent light setting. It's fixed now, and I may have to go back and re-process some of the cloud pics now that I know what happened.

From the plane. Note the Spooky Cloud Angel, and is that a Spooky Cloud Kid next to her?

I'm going to reprocess some of the pictures I took from the plane and see if they come out any better.

The Charlotte Airport. I processed this before I identified the color balance problem, but the color version is actually kind of cool, in a blue kind of way. It still works better in B&W, though.

The Charlotte Airport again. This was the point at which I took corrective action on the color balance...

Charlotte is one of those airports with strategically placed rocking chairs, I guess to make people feel more at ease. I think Philly does as well.

Couldn't Have Happened To A Nicer Bottomfeeder

Judith Regan fired.

It's about damn time.

Hopefully this kills her ugly Mickey Mantle hit piece. (Mickey Mantlepiece?)

Friday, December 15, 2006


Yes, we know Mel Gibson is anti-semitic and crazy and bad and we shouldn't be putting money in his pocket, but the fact is that Apocalypto is the kind of movie the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. and I like to watch. And we both did, in fact, enjoy it rather a lot as violent escapism, despite one humorously unconvincing special effect and a glaring astronomical faux pas.

But the one truly WTF? moment in the movie was when this Mayan warrior badass, annoyed that his group's progress has been disrupted by an act of nature, crankily says, "I am walking here!" In the context of what had just happened, it really made no sense at all. So the only thing I can think of is that Mel Gibson decided to insert a Midnight Cowboy tribute in the middle of his full-immersion Mayan epic. Makes sense to me...

Random Airport Treo Musings

1) "Roller sneakers": Cool, or the little-kid equivalent of a Segway?

2) The guy across from me just called his mom to get her address. Aw. I'm all choked up now - it's like a Christmas miracle.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from Monster In A Box, Spalding Gray's hilarious-but-unknown followup to Swimming To Cambodia. In this quote, he's musing about how the Russians never say anything about the lack of vodka in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev.
Do you remember the vodka? When will the vodka come again?

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. prepares an ambush.

Light posting for the rest of the year, as I will be traveling for most of it.

Good, Good.

Sounds like there's a good chance Johnson's going to be okay:

The attending physician of the Capitol, Adm. John F. Eisold, who examined Mr. Johnson before he was sent to the hospital Wednesday, said the bleeding was caused by a rare tangling of the blood vessels in the brain, known as a congenital arteriovenous malformation, that physicians say often goes undetected. The operation successfully drained the blood and stabilized the problem, Admiral Eisold said in a statement released by Mr. Johnson’s office.

“He has been appropriately responsive to both word and touch,” Admiral Eisold said. “No further surgical intervention has been required.”


Doctors who specialize in the condition said that in the overwhelming majority of cases the bleeding does not cause long-term damage, particularly for someone who showed the symptoms Mr. Johnson did. But they said the outcome might not be known for weeks or months.


Specialists in the condition, while emphasizing that they did not know the specifics of Mr. Johnson’s case, varied in their assessment of the likely damage. Dr. Mohr said that what had been reported — that Mr. Johnson could still hold the phone and walk — “suggests to me that the brain was not totally destroyed.” [That's, um... encouraging?] Very likely, he said, doctors discovered blood that had leaked in the ventricles, which could be removed “with very little damage to the adjacent brain.”

“He was able to get up and walk around and report to a local hospital,” Dr. Mohr said. “These are the things that could make for a favorable result.”


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cynical, Morbid Question

Given that Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (get well soon, Tim!) can only be replaced by South Dakota's Republican governor (thus returning control of the Senate to the Republicans) if he dies (or retires), I have to ask...

If he ends up braindead and on life support, will the Republicans and their fundie minions put up the same fight to keep him alive that they did for Terri Schiavo? Or will they start gravely pontificating about the importance of his right to "die with dignity"?

I know, I'm a horrible person for even thinking about this, and I want nothing more than for Johnson to make a full recovery and for this situation to remain eternally hypothetical. But when vicki made a snarky comment about Frist doing a diagnosis-by-video, it got me to wondering just how deep the Republican commitment to preserving life really runs, especially when that life stands between them and something shiny.

Note To Self:

Get Roller Coaster Tycoon 3.


Courtesy of the shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

Progressivism A La Carte

By way of Swopa over at FDL, George Lakoff has a fascinating analysis of what happened in last month's election. I was particularly intrigued and encouraged by his take on the conservative/centrist Democratic candidates (bold emphasis added):

There was a marvelous moment on NPR right after the election: Melissa Block asking newly elected representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina, a former NFL quarterback, what it meant for him to be a Democrat, given that he opposed abortion, opposed gay marriage, and supported gun ownership. "Well, it's a reflection of my district," Shuler replied.

What makes you a Democrat, Block asked. Shuler replied that it was what his parents and grandparents taught him: "A Democrat helps people that cannot help themselves." What about fiscal responsibility? Earmarks like bridges to nowhere are irresponsible, Shuler replied; instead we should be spending money on education, social security, universal health care, preserving the environment, and renewable energy.

In short, what Shuler really cares about, what he was running on, and what he got elected on were progressive policies — even though he happened to hold some conservative positions that inoculated him in his district against charges of being "too liberal."

Shuler is what I've been referring to as a "biconceptual," someone who has progressive positions in certain areas of life and conservative positions in others. What makes Shuler a Democrat is that he identifies himself politically with the progressive values he ran on, despite having conservative positions he didn't run on.

Bob Casey happens to be a Catholic who opposes abortion rights, but every position he ran on was a progressive position. Jon Tester believes in gun ownership in Montana, but that is not what he ran on. He ran on his progressive beliefs — by the dozen. These candidates ran primarily on their progressive positions. Despite having some conservative positions, they do not run primarily on their conservative positions. It was the progressive values they ran on that have given them their mandate.


Meanwhile, Harold Ford, Jr. lost in Tennessee for many reasons, including a racist ad campaign against him. But among the reasons was the way he campaigned. He ran enthusiastically using conservative code words: personal responsibility, strong moral values, character education, pro-family, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, eliminate abortions, and so on. In short, he had Heath Shuler's positions, but unlike Shuler, he ran overtly on those positions and made a big deal of it, trying to convince good ole boy Tennesseans that he was one of them. As Shuler understood, if you really have those positions and really are part of your community in that way, you don't have to say so.... What he was running on did not, in toto, fit any consistent moral worldview. He was trying to be too many things to too many people.

In short, the Democratic candidate who campaigned on conservative values lost; those who may have had such values, but campaigned on their progressive values, won.

Like Shuler and Casey, swing voters are biconceptuals, with both conservative and progressive worldviews in different areas of life and with both available for politics. How did these biconceptual candidates appeal to biconceptual swing voters? By taking progressive positions, and campaigning vigorously on them. How did this work? They activated the progressive values in the brains of swing voters.
This is the exact opposite of the DLC approach: Instead of emphasizing their similarities to Republicans, the successful centrist candidates glossed over them in favor of showing off their similarities to Democrats... or the Republicans' similarities to criminals and buffoons. In other words, their centrism manifested as a sort of "negative" conservatism: As far as their public utterances were concerned, they weren't for conservative values, they just weren't for their progressive counterparts. So instead of saying, "Don't be afraid, I love guns and hate gay marriage!", they simply didn't make an issue of them. Presumably if anyone asked, they would say where they stood, but it wasn't what they campaigned on. The really encouraging thing is that voters responded to this approach and rejected the Ford approach of packaging themselves as Republican-lite, which puts the lie to the Republican/DLC spin that the election was somehow a grand victory for conservative values.

Of course, I would much rather have Democratic candidates who were in favor of choice and gay marriage. But if they're in a red state or district and feel that those views would be electoral poison, then better to just keep quiet about them rather than publicly reinforce the Republican platform. This also cuts to the heart of why Democrats like Lieberman are so offensive to progressives even while agreeing with us on many issues: Their mix of policy views may be comparable to that of many other Democrats, but they repeatedly show off their conservative views, thus giving the Republicans phony "bipartisan" cover and undercutting their own party.

In today's world, for better or worse, words speak louder than actions.

Planes On A Belt! Follow-Up

Some more thoughts on the Can-A-Plane-Take-Off-From-A-Conveyer-Belt Conundrum (I considered just updating the original post, but this issue is too damned important):

o I like Anders' summation of the conveyer belt as no more consequential then a gremlin spinning the wheels of a plane hovering above the conveyer belt.

o The jet engines are exerting a force on the plane to move it forward, and that force is not being transferred or dissipated anywhere, unless you believe that the freely spinning wheels are transferring it to the conveyer belt, which I can't buy. So according to my rudimentary understanding of mechanics, the plane has to move forward.

o Alternate Scenario #1: Imagine a giant hovering in midair and pushing the plane forward with the same amount of force as its engines (which are turned off). Would the plane move forward? If so, how is this different from if the jet engines are supplying that force?

o Alternative Scenario #2: You're standing on a miniature version of the conveyer belt, wearing well-oiled roller skates and a jetpack which thrusts horizontally. Assuming you have superhuman balance, would you move forward, or would you just stand still while the skates and the treadmill spun furiously?

Icky Mantle

Blech. Judith "If I Did If I Did It" Regan has nine lives and zero shame. The bottomfeeder-di-tutti-bottomfeeders, America's premier purveyor of shit that I won't eat, is going after Mickey Mantle now:
The memory of Mickey Mantle will be sullied by ReganBooks in a "biographical novel" that has the Mick recounting an imagined past replete with pornographic passages and foul jokes.

Author Peter Golenbock admits that much of "7: The Mickey Mantle Novel" - including a steamy scene where Mantle beds Marilyn Monroe behind Joe DiMaggio's back - are based on "not documentable" stories.

The publisher gives this description of the novel's premise: "Mickey finds himself in heaven - much to his surprise - and realizes he's carrying a huge burden around with him. He needs to tell someone all the horrible things he did."

So Golenbock does it for Mantle in 286 lurid pages, some of which read like they were ripped from the pages of Penthouse Forum.


Golenbock describes Mantle succumbing to Monroe's charms, even as she "just lies there staring at him with cold, accusing eyes" while they are having sex.

Mantle expresses no remorse in cuckolding DiMaggio. "What had he ever done for me?" he says.


Former Yankee pitching star Whitey Ford said the idea that Mantle would seduce Monroe "is the stupidest thing I ever heard."

"We met her once at a ballpark in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Joe was with her," Ford told The News. "Mickey was too bashful to say hello to her."
But at least Golenbock is honest about something...
Golenbock... makes his reasons for writing this book clear in the prologue, where he imagines himself talking with Mantle.

"Maybe this is the book that will make me rich," he writes. "I'll publish the raunchiest book about you, and my guess is it'll be a smash because no one has ever written a book like this before."
Yeah, this is totally something the world can't live without. Judy Regan is performing a valuable public service.

Seriously, what's it gonna take to make this woman go away? Is there any limit to this country's appetite for lies and sleaze? Wait, don't answer that.

Stop-Motional Rescue

Also from David Pogue's Technoblog:

Dear Tony - You are a jerk!

Which reminds me: Has anyone seen The Wizard Of Speed And Time? It's low-budget but charming, and Mike Jittlov's stop-motion skills are quite impressive IMHO. (Film-within-a-film excerpt here - don't expect it to be all stop-motion, though)

Now My Brain Hurts.

From David Pogue's Technology blog in the NYT:
...I found it presented at 8452:

“Imagine a plane is sitting on a massive conveyor belt, as wide and as long as a runway. The conveyer belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off?

“I say no, because the plane will not move relative the the ground and air, and thus, very little air will flow over the wings. However, other people are convinced that since the wheels of a plane are free spinning, and not powered by the engines, and the engines provide thrust against the air, that somehow that makes a difference and air will flow over the wing.”

The guy behind me at the airport told his buddy that, in fact, the plane WOULD take off, and his buddy seemed to agree. Do we have any physicists in the audience?

The emerging consensus (at least as far down as I read) seems to be that the plane wouldn't take off, because it wouldn't have enough airspeed to generate lift. But that argument seems to take it as a given that the conveyer belt is preventing the plane from moving forward, which to me seems silly. As the quote above says, the thrust would be provided by the engines, which are pushing against the air, not the conveyer belt. I liked the comment that suggested picturing a prop plane instead of a jet, since the props pulling the plane through the air is somehow more intuitive than the jets pushing it. (This is all assuming that friction would not be a factor, and I don't think this puzzle is really about friction.)

Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Can anyone explain how the conveyer belt would prevent a plane from moving forward fast enough to generate lift?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Deliberater

A little late now...
President Bush said today that he would not be “rushed” into deciding on a new course of action in Iraq, and that United States troops would not leave the country “before the job is done” and Iraq is free and stable.

“We’re not going to give up,” Mr. Bush said at the Pentagon, after discussing the Iraq situation with senior Defense Department officials and military leaders. “The stakes are too high, and the consequences too great.”

In vowing that he would not be hurried, the president said he will announce his plans after “a long deliberation.”


He also said he was open to new ideas, including some outlined by the Iraq Study Group, which urged a change of course in Iraq.


The president is to spell out a new strategy for Iraq in early January. For today, he was deliberately vague -- the better, he said, to keep getting valuable, interesting advice.

And while Mr. Bush pledged to work with the new, Democratic-controlled Congress on Iraq, he warned that to leave Iraq precipitously would be to hand that country over to “an enemy that would do us harm,” an enemy whose deadliness was demonstrated on Sept. 11, 2001.

But that will only happen, he said, “if we lose our nerve, if we’re not steadfast in our determination.”

So Bush is happily tooling along, Staying The Course and marking time until he can hand the Iraq mess off to his hapless successor, when the Wise Old Men present their Grand Scheme To, Well, If Not Fix Everything, At Least Try To Minimize The Scope Of The Disaster. Bush doesn't like their grand scheme because it has too much withdrawal and diplomacy, and not enough people getting tortured or blowed up. Bush suddenly realizes that in order to reject their plan, he must actually come up with a plan of his own, which is an idea that never occurred to him even once in the past five years.

And so now we get The Big Stall, as Bush pretends to be giving the matter Serious Thought and Weighing All His Options, just like he did before 9/11, when he milked the Moody Prince Stemlet routine for six months. And I can guarantee you that this decision will be just as half-assed and counterproductive as that one was. After all that faux deliberation, Bush will gravely announce that after much prayer and debate and Hard Work, he has reluctantly Decided™... to keep on doing exactly what he's been doing for the last three years and hope that something different happens, which is so totally not the definition of insanity, OMG I'm so sure. In fact, in a breathtaking Multi Medium Exclusive Scoop, I have managed to obtain a mathematical representation of Bush's plan.

Yes, the ISG plan is mediocre crap with only half an exit. But Bush's plan will be terrible, disastrous crap with no exit at all.

We're Number One!

Chuang Zhao and Lida Xing
"I'm not a squirrel, dammit!!!"

In your face, Archaeopteryx!
Scientists have discovered an extinct animal the size of a small squirrel that lived in China at least 125 million years ago and soared among the trees. It is the earliest known example of gliding flight by mammals, and the scientists say it shows that mammals experimented with aerial life about the same time birds first took to the skies, perhaps even earlier.

From an analysis of the fossil, the researchers concluded that this gliding mammal was unrelated to the modern flying squirrel and unlike any other animal in the Mesozoic, the period best known for dinosaurs living in the company of small and unprepossessing mammals. They announced today that the species qualified as a member of an entirely new order of mammals.


Until a couple of years ago, Dr. Cifelli said, most scientists held the view that such early mammals were simple shrew-like creatures that cowered in the shadows of the dominant dinosaurs, and now “this adds a new dimension to our knowledge of early mammals.”

Until now, the earliest identified gliding mammal was a 30-million-year-old extinct rodent. The first known modern bat, which is capable of powered flight, dates to 51 million years ago, but it is assumed that proto-bats were probably gliding much earlier.

Archaeopteryx, the earliest known bird, lived about 145 million years ago, though scientists are not sure if it could flap its feathered wings in fully powered flight. But it lived about the time birds did take off in flight.


Dr. Meng’s team said tests produced inconsistent dates for the new specimen, ranging from as recent as 125 million years ago to as ancient as 164 million. The older date may be more probable, other scientists said, and would put the aerial life of the mammal even earlier than known bird flight. [Ha! Mammals RULE!!!]


In their study of the fossil, Dr. Meng and his associates noted that the mammal was about half the length of the squirrels frolicking in Central Park, across from the museum. [So... it's more like a flying gerbil?] The animal had a long, stiff tail that served as a stabilizing rudder for gliding flight. The impressions of fur on the gliding membrane, or patagium, and other parts of its body preserve some of the most ancient examples of mammalian skin covering.
Stoopit birds, think they're so smart with their fancy "feathers," and "beaks," and "powered flight." This'll sort their bacon.

(I could have sworn that the first flying mammal was the rare and exotic "kitty hawk", but I've been known to be wrong before.)

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

I don't know why no-one ever thought of this before...
Atman University has challenged its reincarnated students this fall by offering the world's most advanced graduate degrees.

"Students who retain knowledge from past lives can explore subjects with much greater breadth than is possible in an ordinary doctoral program," said Professor L. Chandra Rao, the university's Aeternus Chair of Ancient, Early Modern, Modern, and Contemporary American, European, Asian, African, Australian, and Antarctic History.

"That's why we now offer the post-post-post-postdoctorate degree, or PPPPPhD."

Coursework for the new degree is unprecedentedly difficult, and includes Rao's own notorious class, "Ancient History for Eyewitnesses."

"Students usually require between four and eight lifetimes to receive their diplomas," Rao said.

The school provides an extensive library in which students may find dusty copies of their own writings from former lives.

"This helps enormously with the completion of the students' dissertations, which must be between 2 and 20 million words in length," Rao said.

Atman University also maintains an open policy on transferring credits from past schools. Transcripts on punch cards, clay tablets, and olive leaves from Plato's Academy were all honored this year.

"And there's no minimum age requirement," Rao explained. "One student's memory of past lives is so clear that he enrolled before most of his fellows had begun kindergarten."

Alas, if I had any former lives, I'm pretty sure they were all useless dumbasses who didn't witness anything interesting.

The Bush Charm Offensive Continues

Yet another example of that warm gooey spot in Dubya's heart when it comes to the disabled:
The Bush administration on Tuesday asked an appeals court to overturn a ruling that could require a redesign of the nation's currency to help the blind.


The appeal seeks to overturn a ruling last month by U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who ordered Treasury to come up with ways for the blind to recognize the different denominations of paper currency.

Robertson had ruled in a lawsuit brought by the American Council of the Blind. The council proposed several options for changes, including printing different size bills or changing the texture by adding embossed dots or foil.

Jeffrey Lovitky, an attorney for the council, said he planned to petition the appeals court to reject the appeal until Robertson makes a decision on what remedies the government should pursue. A hearing to hear the government's recommendations is scheduled for next month.

Christopher Gray, president of the council, said that while his group has been lobbying for changes to help the blind since 1995, the government has yet to conduct any feasibility studies of what those changes might cost. He said that during that time, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has made several design changes to thwart counterfeiters.

''We would be happy to wait until the next change in the bills and build accessibility in at that time,'' Gray said. ''Surely, if you did it that way, the costs can't be anything like what is being claimed by Treasury.''

In his ruling, Robertson said that of 180 countries issuing paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations.

He said the current practice violates the Rehabilitation Act, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs.

In the government's appeal, Justice Department lawyers argued that visually impaired people are not denied ''meaningful access'' to money by the way the nation's currency is designed.

They noted the existence of portable reading devices that the blind can use to determine the denomination of paper money. The government said the blind can also use credit cards instead of currency.

The government also argued that Robertson was wrong in ruling that making changes to help the blind would not be unduly burdensome.

Tara Cortes, president of Lighthouse International, another advocacy group for the blind, said the government's decision to fight making changes in the currency was ''misguided and harmful to millions.''

She said there are 1.3 million people in the United States who are legally blind and there will be millions more in coming years as the baby boom generation ages and more people fall victim to macular degeneration and other diseases that can affect vision such as diabetes.

''While the government may argue that changing the dollar bill will cost billions, it will pale in comparison to the costs of the vision loss epidemic,'' Cortes said.

The bolded paragraph in particular has kind of a let-them-eat-cake ring to it in my ears. Yet another stirring example of compassionate conservatism in action, as well as Bush's aforementioned personal fondness for the disabled.

"Stupid blindies, think they should be handling real money, like they're as good as me, heheheh."

Thank You, Paywall

I don't even need to read it. Just the title of MoDo's latest column is enough for me:

Will Hillzilla Crush Obambi?

Ugh. Personally, I want Gore/Clark to crush them all...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bleeding-Heart Libertarians

All I can say is, "What took you so long? Where were you the last five years?" Better late than never, I guess...
Prominent conservative lawyers joined liberal colleagues Tuesday in opposing Bush administration anti-terror tactics, arguing that an immigrant held as an enemy combatant has a right to seek his freedom in court.

The legal brief, filed in the case of suspected al-Qaida sleeper agent Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, argues that a new military commissions law is unconstitutional.

The argument has been made in this and other detainee cases, but Tuesday's brief is notable for the bedfellows created by the politics of anti-terrorism. Staunchly Democratic law school deans Harold Koh of Yale and Laurence Tribe of Harvard were joined by lawyers such as Steven Calabresi, who served in the Reagan and first Bush administrations and helped found the conservative Federalist Society.

"It shows the phrases 'conservative' and 'libertarian' have less overlap than ever before," said Richard A. Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor and Federalist Society member who signed the brief. "This administration has lost all libertarians on all counts." [Yeah, right.]

In June, the Supreme Court said the Bush administration's handling of detainees violated U.S. and international law. Bush then pressed for, and got, a new law that he said would help the government prosecute terrorists.

The Military Commissions Act allows the military to hold detainees indefinitely and strips them of the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts. The Justice Department did not immediately have a comment Tuesday night but has defended the law as a constitutional and necessary tool to combat terrorism.


"This involves the executive branch changing the rules to avoid challenges to its own authority," Koh said Tuesday. "Serious legal scholars, regardless of political bent, find what the government did inconsistent with any reasonable visions of the rule of law."

Epstein, who said he regards Koh as "mad on many issues," said the al-Marri case is "beyond the pale."

"They figured out every constitutional protection you'd want and they removed them," Epstein said.

I'm glad to see that at least some of the libertarian/Federalist whackjobs are coming around to the idea that holding people indefinitely without trial on the Bush administration's say-so might be just a weensy tad bit out of sync with the Constitution, really I am. But despite what Epstein says, I would be willing to bet that its apologists and enablers still far outnumber the light-seers in that particular demographic. They portray themselves as fierce, noble, and independent, but behind the pose they are craven, selfish, and intellectually dishonest.

I would be happy to offer them a deal, however: Stay away from government, and government will stay away from you. No vote, no political advocacy, no taxes, no recourse to government benefits or infrastructure of any kind. Go nuts with your bad selves. Just don't kill or otherwise harass any of the sane people, okay?

I would be willing to soften this to, say, limited taxes and limited government benefits, maybe even some kind of "a la carte" system - just stay the hell away from the polls and the media.

Sadly, as with everything else, it's not up to me.