Friday, June 30, 2006

Friday Quote & Dog Blogging

This week's quote comes from Mad Dog Time, an eccentric, unknown gangster movie with an all-star cast, including Jeff Goldblum, Gabriel Byrne, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Dreyfuss, Billy Idol, Gregory Hines, Burt Reynolds, Diane Lane, Henry Silva, Ellen Barkin, Richard Pryor, Rob Reiner, and Angie Everhart:

"Did you say anything in the last five days that wasn't bullshit?"

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

Random cute dog I saw at the arts festival.

Light posting this weekend, as the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. will be in town. Probably just the occasional photoblogging until Monday evening.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday Not-At-All-Tacky Candyblogging

Before & After Mints. I just noticed these at the 7-11 today. The display box they were in had pictures of attractive, happy women on it, and the tin itself features lips rather prominently. And they're called "Before & After Mints," as I may have mentioned.

So, um... yeah. Totally not suggestive at all.

More Random Photoblogging

Just some more random wandering-around-town pictures.

Best not to worry about how I got eye-level with the lights...

I'd hit it.

Not that there isn't competition...

Mmm... Blueness...

How much is that paper in the window?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Multi Medium Manifesto

As a timesaver, I have decided to try to consolidate all of my pet ideas into a single handy post. So unless you like photography or bizarre videos, there's really not much reason to come back here ever again. I am a Marketing Genius!

1. Accountability is the hallmark of democracy; impunity is the hallmark of dictatorship. The two principal mechanisms of accountability are media and elections, and the Republicans have co-opted both.

1.1. The media's primary objective is to advance and defend the Republican narrative up to the limit of credibility. Maximizing profits is a secondary goal, as the media's parent companies stand to gain more from Republican government than they could through mere ratings. One need look no further than their lackluster coverage of a male prostitute (complete with website of lurid pictures and testimonials) for proof of this.

1.2. The Democrats should push loudly for election reform, stressing the democracy ("Everyone should have the right to vote") and legitimacy aspects ("Americans need to know that their votes count, and that our leaders are fairly elected"). Force the Republicans to defend the indefensible.

2. The Democratic establishment's pandering to an illusory center is a grave error.

2.1. When polling is broken down by party affiliation, Independents look a lot like Democrats on Bush approval rating, as well as most of the issues. Democrats are playing to the right, and they are actually alienating the "center."

2.2. Democrats must consistently oppose Republican policies and nominees, even when they can't win. When campaign season rolls around, they need to tie the Republicans' votes around their necks, and this is considerably more difficult when half or more of the Democratic caucus voted with them.

2.3. Republicans understand the significance of turnout; Democrats do not. A motivated base's passion and conviction drives them out to vote; the center is not as passionate, and will not turn out en masse. For every "swing" vote gained by tacking right, more than one "base" vote is lost. It is a self-defeating strategy.

2.4. Voters respect conviction, passion, and heart. Candidates like Hackett with firm convictions, who tell it like it is without pulling punches, who say things like "I said it, I meant it, I stand behind it" will gain the voters respect, even from voters who don't agree with all their positions.

2.5. The Democrats must start calling the Republicans on their strategy of using smears, fear, and hate every single election. They must make voters realize just how stupid, cowardly, bigoted, and easily distracted the Republicans think they are. When the American people finally reject these tactics, the Republicans will have nothing left - it's not like they can run on their record or their policy positions.

3. Progressives must reclaim the Democratic Party from within.

3.1. Politicians and their parties listen to and obey whoever can get them elected, or un-elected. Until the progressive netroots can demonstrate to the Democratic Party that they must have them on their side to win, they will have no leverage, and will remain marginalized.

3.1.1. A Ned Lamont primary victory, followed by a Ned Lamont general election victory, would mean far more than a truly Democratic seat in the Senate. It would announce to the Democratic Party that the progressive netroots are capable of toppling a corporate- and establishment-backed incumbent.

3.1.2. Ned Lamont notwithstanding, the House of Representatives affords the best opportunity for a progressive takeover. All the seats are in play every two years, the campaigns are smaller and therefore easier to impact, and the seats are safer thanks to the magic of gerrymandering.

3.2. Bill Clinton inadvertently ruined the Democratic party by using his immense charisma and political talent to legitimize the DLC's corporate-friendly "triangulation" strategy. The Democratic Party never figured out that he won because he was Bill Clinton, not because he was a centrist.

4. The judicial confirmation process needs the opposite of the nuclear option. Instead of eliminating the filibuster, the Senate should make 60 votes the official standard for confirming judges, and retire the notion that selecting judges is solely the President's prerogative. A judiciary that is confirmed by a simple majority becomes effectively another branch of the legislature, as decisions are determined by party affiliation rather than honest interpretation of law. A 60-vote requirement would force presidents of both parties to nominate highly-qualified moderates who would be acceptable to both parties, and who would make their decisions based on law.

This is what I could think of off the top of my head, so far. I will probably continue adding to it and tinkering with it, and try to figure out a place to link it on the main page. Oh, and if someone could tell me how to indent (Blogger eats leading spaces and tabs), I would be very grateful...

UPDATE: I've added a few more, and hyperlinked to any posts that elaborate on the particular topic.

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

This is possibly the most reasonable-sounding Ed Anger column I've ever read, as he writes an open letter to then-newly-minted Pope Benedict XVI, offering suggestions on how to fix the Catholic Church:
Dear Pope Benedict XVI,
Right off the bat, let me congratulate you on getting yourself elected pope and tell you how glad I am you won. Mainly 'cause I had 50 bucks riding on you!


Your holiness, I've taken the liberty of sending you eight of my best ideas for fixing the Catholic church. Act on them pronto, sir. You look about 6 months younger than the pope who just kicked the bucket, so there's no time to waste.

1. Bring back those oldfashioned "penguin suits" for nuns. Folks oughta be able to take one look at your holy ladies and know they're not just Plain Janes whose mamas never taught 'em about makeup. And while you're at it, give them the go-ahead to start whacking uppity brats with rulers again.

2. Start going medieval on those pedophile priests. Drag up all the old torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition, like the rack and the Iron Maiden, from the Vatican basement, dust 'em off -- and wipe that scum off the face of the Earth.

3.Teach priests Irish accents. Anyone who's seen old-time movies with stars like the late, great Barry Fitzgerald as padres knows that heartwarming "top of the morning to you" stuff is essential.

4. Replace all altar boys with altar girls -- ages 18 and up. That'll discourage boy-crazy fruitcakes from becoming priests. Shorten the altar girls robes to show a little thigh and I betcha that'll double church attendance in no time flat.

5.Priests need better costumes -- so replace robes with black leather jackets. Make the outfits cool enough and I guarantee you, plenty of Italian youths will dream of getting ordained instead of becoming "made men."

6.Let parishioners vote on saints by a show of hands. Mind you, sometimes you'll get goofy ones like "Saint Di" and maybe even "Saint Oprah" when Ol' Tubby is pushing up daisies. But let ordinary folks get in on the excitement and Mass will soon be as popular as American Idol.

[The last two were kinda mediocre]

As long as I don't think about all the people who read it without a trace of irony, The Weekly World News is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tuesday Hamsherblogging: DL Meets FDL

Woohoo! Jane Hamsher came to Pittsburgh Drinking Liberally, and was just as sweet and delightful as can be. Um, I'm too tired and generally fried to have anything to say about the conversation, but I have pictures! (As does spork_incident) I'll send the rest to Jane, and maybe she'll post one or two if they're not too awful.

Doggie Chaos!!!

Kobe is the still point of the turning world. Well, except for his tail.

Low light, but I kinda like it.

Random Photoblogging

Nothing to say this morning, so... more photos!

I liked how the wall looked like some kind of freaky sky...

This is obviously some strange new definition of "Top Notch" that I was not previously aware of.

I guess this really shouldn't surprise anyone.

It's an awning and... um... I got nothin'.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rush To Judgment

Rush Limbaugh was detained for about 3 1/2 hours at Palm Beach International Airport after authorities said they found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription.

The 55-year-old radio commentator's luggage was examined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after his private plane landed at the airport around 2 p.m. from the Dominican Republic, said Paul Miller, spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

ICE officials found in Limbaugh's luggage a prescription bottle labeled as Viagra, a prescription drug that treats erectile disfunction, Miller said.


"The problem was that on the bottle itself was not his name, but the name of two Florida doctors," Miller said.


"We believe there may be a second degree misdemeanor violation, which is possession of certain drugs without a prescription, because the bottle does not have his name on it," Miller said.

A doctor had prescribed the drug, but it was "labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr. Limbaugh for privacy purposes," Roy Black, Limbaugh's attorney, said in a statement.

Last month, Limbaugh reached a deal with prosecutors who had accused the conservative talk-show host of illegally deceiving multiple doctors to receive overlapping pain pill prescriptions. Under the deal, a single charge commonly referred to as "doctor shopping" would be dismissed after 18 months if he complies with terms that include submitting to random drug tests and continuing treatment for his acknowledged addiction to painkillers.

I wonder if this would be considered a violation of his deal, or if it has to be painkillers? Assuming that it really is just Viagra, which would be more embarrassing than anything else. In any sane world, any moral standing he had left would be utterly demolished. But we live in a world in which Bill O'Reilly and Jack Burkman are still lucratively employed.

Ohhh Dear.

This may be one of the most disturbing Google searches ever to lead to my blog: drano barbie.

And by a happy coincidence, it just happens to lead to another video for Monday Media Blogging:

The greatest homemade video of Aqua's "Barbie Girl" ever made. Duct-Tape-Mustache-And-Chest-Hair Guy is my idol.

UPDATE: Oh, good. I'm also the #3 hit for Vaginal Electric (They're Breastinghouse's biggest competitor). In case you ever forget the link and need to find me in a hurry.

UPDATE 2: Does anyone else find it odd that the guy singing the Barbie part in "Barbie Girl" has a fake drawn-on mustache?

Monday Media Blogging

This is a phenomenon that I learned of probably about a year ago: Gamers who have discovered the vast untapped dance potential of the Voldo character in the fighting game Soul Calibur 2 (and possibly 3).

Voldos dance to "Pump It" by the Black-Eyed Peas.

You can also see the Voldos dancing to "Hot In Here" by Nelly, and "Toxic" by Britney Spears.

My question is, who the hell programmed the moves for Voldo, and what the hell was going through their minds?

Hussein In The Membrane

This is... interesting:
Saddam Hussein believes the United States will have to seek his help to quell the bloody insurgency in Iraq and open the way for U.S. forces to withdraw, his chief lawyer said Sunday.

Khalil al-Dulaimi argued in an interview with The Associated Press that the former leader is the key to returning stability to Iraq.

''He's their last resort. They're going to knock at his door eventually,'' the lawyer said. Saddam is ''the only person who can stop the resistance against the U.S. troops.''


Al-Dulaimi said Saddam brought up the topic during a meeting Tuesday, and indicated he would be willing to help the United States -- ''for the sake of saving both peoples -- the Iraqis and Americans.''

He quoted Saddam as saying:

''These puppets in the Iraqi government that the Americans brought to power are helpless. They can't protect themselves or the Iraqi people. The Americans will certainly come to me, to Saddam Hussein's legitimate leadership and to the Iraqi Baath Party, to rescue them from their huge quandary.''

Although he would not say exactly what Saddam might ask in return for helping, al-Dulaimi said it would not necessarily involve being reinstated as president of Iraq -- a nation he ruled brutally and plunged into three devastating wars.


Saddam predicted Iraq would ''flourish within five years,'' saying that was the time that would be needed for reconstruction that would transform the country into the envy of the region, the lawyer said.


The Bush administration should recognize the ''hard reality'' that the U.S. invasion of Iraq delivered the mostly secular Arab nation into the hands of Shiites strongly sympathetic to their larger Iranian neighbor, the lawyer said.

''Iran is the enemy of Arabs, Islam and the United States, and the only person who can stand in the face of Iran is Saddam Hussein,'' he said.

You know, I think if they ever met and sat down and had a nice long talk, Bush would look into Saddam's soul and recognize a kindred spirit. They both hate Iran, they both have the same slippery, optimistic grip on reality, and they both have very similar ideas about ruling governing.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cassandra '08!

I just got back from seeing An Inconvenient Truth with spork_incident, and it was everything I had hoped for and more. Gore has been presenting and fine-tuning this message for a long, long time, and his presentation is inexorably logical and organized. And alarming, as indeed it is meant to be.

I found myself thinking, "We are so screwed," over and over and over again. I knew things were bad, but I had no idea just how bad. And despite his assurances that we have the capability right now to fix the atmosphere's CO2 imbalance, I think we're in some serious trouble, for two primary reasons.

1) CO2 and glacial/arctic ice levels are so far out of their normal equilibrium right now that I believe we are bound to experience some nasty climate effects, even if we were to jump into a full-blown program of robust countermeasures this very day.

2) The political will is simply not there. Nor will it ever be there until the balance of power shifts from the corporations to the citizenry. And even then, that citizenry must be informed and motivated. As long as a voting majority of Americans view environmentalists as a bunch of wild-eyed tree-hugging loonies who want to stifle industry and take away our jobs, nothing positive will happen. So, once again, we need a media that doesn't solely represent corporate and Republican interests.

Yes, theoretically our elected officials could see the light and dedicate themselves to saving the planet, political consequences be damned, but, well... no. Very little in their past behavior suggests that this is likely ever to happen, not until saving the planet becomes congruent with saving their own asses. If the polls get up to somewhere on the order of "70-80% in favor of not letting the Earth turn into Venus," maybe then we might see the government show some "leadership" on the subject. Either that, or Halliburton and Exxon/Mobil start investing heavily in environmental technologies.

One of the interesting devices Gore used to make this overwhelming and abstract issue more "relatable" (aside from a very funny quasi-Simpsons cartoon) was to use tragedy and near-tragedy in his own family as metaphors for our current situation. He talked about his six-year-old son's brush with death as a way of illustrating the profundity of almost losing something that you cherish, and how that kind of experience can change your life and sense of purpose.

More powerfully and aptly, he talked about his older sister's death from lung cancer caused by smoking, and his father's decision to stop growing tobacco soon afterward. All the rationalizations his father had used to justify making money from tobacco simply fell away when he experienced that shock. Not only did his beloved daughter die a horrible death, but it was indirectly by his own hand. Gore implies that we haven't yet had that shock to snap us out of our senses and jolt us out of our comfortable rationalizations, but the fact is that we have. Hurricane Katrina was our wake-up call, and America slept right through it. And before that, the tsunami in Southeast Asia (of course, that didn't really count, because it was Over There). The Earth is sounding ever-louder alarms, and We. Are. Not. Listening. I can't begin to imagine Al Gore's frustration as he desperately tries to alert us to our peril, and is perpetually ignored and marginalized by the mainstream and the conventional wisdom.

I will close with the Upton Sinclair quote that Gore uses in his presentation, which completely and perfectly explains our government and our media, on this issue and all others:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

Do Not Adjust Your Memory.

I just saw this scary post at American Prospect, by way of Atrios:
CNN has now picked up today's Times's story saying that the top commander of forces in Iraq projects troop drawdowns through 2007 -- in stark contrast to the GOP's stay-the-course position. And guess what?

In the CNN story there is no mention whatsoever of the fact that the primary message of the Republican Party over the past week, delivered by party leaders and elected officials alike in every media forum imaginable, was that anyone calling for a timetable for withdrawal was embracing "retreat" and "surrender."

And get this: The story doesn't even mention at all that the GOP's official position has been squarely against troop drawdowns, let alone mention that the Republicans relentlessly smeared anyone who was for them. The only hint of this comes at the very end of the story, where it vaguely notes that the "Senate" last week rejected calls for troop withdrawals, without specifying that this has overwhelmingly been the GOP's position. Meanwhile, the only mention that Dems have been demanding troop drawdowns comes in the second-to-last sentence.


This is startling journalistic negligence, and it's gonna be important to keep an eye out for more of the same. More broadly, if coverage of the evolving troop drawdown debate continues to omit crucial political context, it could enable the GOP to cynically muddy the waters on Iraq and confuse voters until they lose sight of the reality of the situation, which is that Dems overwhelmingly favor a change of course in Iraq, while Republicans simply aren't serious about finding a way out of the catastrophic mess they made.

This speaks directly to the fundamental importance of the media, and the control thereof. It's not just that the media controls the message and the spin of the news, but it controls the very perception of reality, and even memory itself. Think about this story for a second. Sargent is essentially saying that if the media doesn't remind its readers and viewers that the Republican position has been staunchly anti-cut-and-run right up until this very day, that they'll forget, or maybe believe that they misremembered.

I'm hoping that this is not the case, and that the American people have the werewithal to say, "But wait - weren't the Republicans just against this very thing yesterday? And why isn't CNN mentioning that?" And I think a lot of them do. But there is a large and credulous chunk of the population (presumably the 30% who still think Bush is doing a fine job) for whom the world and all its history is born anew in its entirety each and every single day, and lovingly crafted into the Republicans' image, and it seems like they all vote. If this sounds like alarmist hyperbole, then ask yourself why the media is able to distort history, even very recent history, all the time, without any negative repercussions or loss of credibility outside of the left-wing fever swamp. The media does whatever it can get away with in service of the Republican agenda, so to observe what they do is to observe what they can get away with.

This powerful and scary control over reality, and the American people's complacency about it, is why it is so vitally important that the media be either fixed or discredited. I just wish I knew how.

You're The Birthday, You're The Birthday, You're The Birthday, Boy Or Girl...

Allow me to join the Magical Happy Eggplants in wishing the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. the happiest of birthdays!

If Codename V. were here right now, I would take her out for a tasty meal...

And then to a nice romantic movie.

They Get Letters

I'm still pissed at Arlen Specter.

I'm sure I'm wasting my time, but if there is anything remotely human left inside that degraded husk, I would be remiss not to attempt to reach it. So...
Dear Senator Specter,

I read with interest your question, or perhaps lament, asking why it takes a newspaper investigation to get the Bush administration to comply with the law, and I have an answer for you.The answer is you, Senator Specter. You are the reason that this administration flouts the law on a regular, ongoing basis.

Every time the NSA or the CIA or any other government agency, or President Bush himself, is exposed as doing something illegal, you make a big show of questioning it, or saying that it is “troubling”, or even holding hearings to get to the bottom of it. And then you fold. You always fold. Instead of holding the administration accountable for the illegal actions you decry, in the end you seek ways to whitewash them, or even to make them legal. What incentive does the administration have to abide by the Constitution and the laws of the land if they know that the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to give them a free pass every time?

You do not get to throw up your hands and ask why this is happening. It is happening because you, the Constitution’s principal guardian in the Senate, allow it to happen. For the sake of all of us, for the sake of your own self-respect, for the sake of this country of ours and the Constitution that makes it great, I beg you to please take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. Run your fingers along your back and get reacquainted with your spine. For if you do not start to take your responsibilities seriously, you will go down in history as the man who let the rule of law slip away, the man who allowed America to devolve from a great democracy into a third-rate dictatorship. Is that really what you want as your legacy? To be remembered as the man who betrayed American democracy?

I understand that you have an obligation to your party. But your obligation to your country must come first.


I'll probably tinker with it a bit more before I send it, but that's the general gist of it. I just had to get it out of my system.

UPDATE: I have swapped in the final post-tinkering version.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why I Hate Specter So Very, Very Much

Arlen Specter is such a humongous tool, he actually makes Joe Lieberman look integritty. I think the following quote, buried in the NYT's Cheney-is-mad-at-us-for-reporting-on-the-government-spying-
on-financial-transactions article might just set some kind of world record for complete and utter lack of self-awareness:
"Why does it take a newspaper investigation to get them to comply with the law?" [Specter] asked. "That's a big, important point."
Because you never do, you posturing, useless, insincere little phony of a manturd. If you would for just once do your job instead of folding every time Cheney or Rove make that little snipping motion in your general direction, Bush Jr. might actually think twice about wiping his ass on the Constitution every time he messes himself. Jaysus.

(hat tip to The Heretik)

NY Daily News Scoops Everybody!

This just in: Pets not enthused about work.

(Well, okay, the cat might be taking an interest, but everyone knows that cats are Very Serious.)

Jason And TNR Go Nuts

June, 2006: Jason Zengerle of The New Republic writes an anti-blogger hit piece about Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas supposedly using the weight of his Vast Liberal Blogads Empire to pressure prominent liberal bloggers to ignore recent revelations about his business partner, Jerome Armstrong. One of his follow-up articles, for which he claims to have three sources, includes a completely fabricated e-mail from Steve Gilliard, in which he is chomping at the bit to start blogging about this "once we know the facts." (Glenn Greenwald has the definitive rundown on this latter development and its significance)

May, 2006: Jason Leopold of trumpets the scoop of all scoops, that Karl Rove has been indicted in the Valerie Plame case and will resign as soon as the indictment is announced. Nothing happens. Nothing continues to happen, until Rove's attorney finally announces that his client will not be indicted. Leopold and Truthout steadfastly refuse to burn his sources, if indeed there are any.

May, 2003: Jayson Blair is forced to resign from the New York Times for serial fraud and plagiarism.

Obviously, the lesson to be learned here is: Do not hire reporters named Jason, or any variation thereof (probably best not to even hire anyone named Jasmine, just to be on the safe side).

The NYT at least deserves credit for actually getting rid of not only their dodgy reporter, but the editor-in-chief who enabled him. So far, Zengerle and Leopold's editors have backed them to the hilt. Hooray for loyalty! And truthiness!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Word Photoblogging

Fun with words in pictures.

I'm sure I should make some kind of deep insightful comment here about words and their meanings, but really, I just thought it looked cool...

I would totally buy some.

Duly noted. Posted by Picasa

Throes Up

Victory is so close, I can taste it!
The Iraqi government declared a state of emergency in Baghdad after American forces were involved in quelling a firefight in the city's center.


The state of emergency and curfew imposed today followed a gunfight that broke out as members of the Mahdi Army militia moved in force to escort the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to a Shiite mosque in a Sunni neighborhood. During last week's Friday services, a suicide bomber carrying explosives in his shoes blew himself up in a crowd of worshipers at the Baratha mosque, killing 11 and wounding 25.

Four members of the militia were killed when gunmen opened fire on the Mahdi Army convoy, in fighting involving guns and mortars that left eight of the group's vehicles ablaze, an official with the Interior Ministry said.

Iraqi and American troops rushed to the scene, and three Iraqi police officers and five Iraqi soldiers were wounded in the fighting, Reuters said. Televised images showed American helicopters swooping low to drop flares over the midday battle.

The government responded to the outbreak by ordering a sudden curfew, extending from 2 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Saturday, sending Baghdad residents scrambling to get home in time. Normally, vehicle traffic is banned in the city from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, to prevent repetitions of earlier car bomb attacks on the crowds attending Friday services.

The state of emergency includes a ban on carrying weapons and gives Iraqi security forces broader arrest powers, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohamed Jassim of the Defense Ministry said, The Associated Press reported.

"The state of emergency and curfew came in the wake of today's clashes to let the army work freely to chase militants and to avoid casualties among civilians," he said, adding that security forces will arrest people carrying weapons and will shoot them if they appear to pose a danger.

Tell me again how an ultra-secret surprise visit by Bush proves that the Iraqi occupation/experiment is a smashing success. Tell me again how peace and democracy and standing-down is just around the corner. Tell me again what objective our troops are getting killed for.

Tell me again why the Republicans want to make this a 2006 election issue, and please, PLEASE tell me that the Democrats have a plan to counter it (how hard could it be???).

Codename V, Soccer Of Enlightenment

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has been desperately seeking an understanding of the shadowy and mysterious offsides rule in soccer.

It is my fondest hope that my humble effort will bring her closer to her goal of Ultimate Knowledge.

(But not closer than the ball and the last defender, because that would, like, give Ultimate Knowledge a free kick or something)

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from the Troma classic, Sgt. Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D., in which an inept police detective is given the ability to transform into a superhero with awesome kabuki powers.

"I like a dog-faced monkey that has an appreciation of expensive sports cars."

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

More Gollum. Even while petting, I retain my sense of composition.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Top Five Sonofabitch

More fun with Google.

(Okay, so I got beaten out by, but I suppose that's to be expected)

Science + Spiders = Awesome!

Try to imagine a world without spiderwebs:
The classic spider's web, like Charlotte would have woven, was invented just once, way back in the Cretaceous period some 136 million years ago, scientists report.

Called an orb web, it's the generally circular style spun by two major types of spiders, which had raised the possibility of the two groups evolving this form separately.

But a paper in Friday's issue of the journal Science says a comparison of the spider genes related to web making shows that the orb web developed just once.


While the two groups probably developed orb-web spinning from a common ancestor, they came up with different ways of making the web catch prey.

Araneoid webs have glue droplets that make prey stick to the web, while deinopoids wrap their threads with a different type of silk fiber that ''the spiders comb, until it almost has the appearance of Velcro under a microscope, and they snag insects that way,'' Garb reported.

On the other hand, I think jumping spiders are kinda cute...

(And there are Velcro spiders? I had no idea.)

Random Braindead Photoblogging

Ugh. Too fried to post anything intelligible, so I will instead attempt to dazzle you with photographic not-quite-mediocrity.

This actually ended up looking a lot better than what I saw in the viewfinder...

Yes, please.

These robots are clearly too primitive to play chess. The RUSHHOUR Traffic Jam Game might be just about their speed, though.

(And when they jam you with their robot cars, you can't break free. Because they're made of metal, and robots are strong.)

Also probably not much of a chess player, I'm thinkin'...

Pittsburgh LOVES Chimpy!

I've actually been sitting on the first photo for a few months, and recently realized that I now have enough photos in the same vein to support a full post demonstrating just how beloved our fearless leader is here in Pittsburgh.

When I saw all the NASCAR and girlie stickers, I expected to find a whole bunch of Bush/Cheney stickers as well. I guess I was sort of right...

(You may need to click on the pic for a better view, and be sure to check out the homemade duct-tape sticker)

Another satisfied customer.

Come to think of it, oil does seem to have the same effect on Dubya as Cocoa Puffs have on that crazy bird...

See my previous post...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Keeping The Pie Right Where It Is

Oh, what a shock:
The Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal pushed by Democrats that would have given some of the lowest-paid hourly workers a boost in their wages for the first time in nearly a decade.

A majority of the Senate, 52 senators, voted in favor of incrementally raising the federal minimum wage -- unchanged since 1997 -- 40 percent from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 by January 1, 2009.

But the measure needed 60 votes to win under a procedural agreement worked out earlier.


[Senator Edward] Kennedy acknowledged to reporters that it will be "pretty difficult'' to win a minimum wage increase this year. He said the pay raise for about 7 million workers and their families would be a top priority if Democrats win control of the Senate in November's elections.


Kennedy also chastised Republican leaders for blocking a minimum wage increase while pursuing repeal of the estate tax, which mostly helps the wealthy, and taking "plenty of time to debate flag burning. I don't know the last time a flag was burned in my state of Massachusetts,'' Kennedy said.
This is yet another one of those slimy, pro-corporate votes that Democrats should be hanging around Republicans' necks in 2006. They need to find a way to get this in the faces of poor, minimum-wage Republican voters (I'm betting there's more than a few) and make them understand that it's the Republicans keeping them down, not the Mexicans.

Republicans don't care about poor people. It's that simple, and the Democrats must get the message across. There's a lot more poor people than rich people.

Wednesday Softball Blogging - The Golden Rule

Very peculiar game tonight. I started out 3-for-3, but literally couldn't do anything right in the field: Couldn't throw, catch, or even block the ball. Complete disaster. Then I got my focus back and got some cloud cover so the sun wasn't right in my eyes, and played lights-out defense, catching or cutting off everything in sight... and couldn't buy a hit until my last at-bat. I hit one bloop that the centerfielder bobbled and then dove to catch, and another one that was a perfect, right-on-the-screws line drive right at him. Must be some kind of instant karma kind of thing, I dunno. Final result, a mediocre 4-for-7 with 2 runs and an RBI, but pretty good for a Wednesday.

Current Stats: 12 games, .583 BA (42-72), 1.028 SLG, 9 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 27 runs, 25 RBI.

Career Stats: 39 games, .577 BA (154-267), .775 SLG, 26 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 88 runs, 65 RBI.

Baserun like an Egyptian...


At first glance it appeared to be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill phishing e-mail claiming to be from PayPal. Since I had recently completed a PayPal transaction, I decided to open it just in case...
If for garbage can derive perverse satisfaction from from onlooker, then widow toward carpet tack panics.for submarine dance with labyrinth inside satellite.A few cigars, and bullfrog about senator) to arrive at a state of food stampFurthermore, anomaly related to demon panics, and toward cigar share a shower with oil filter from warranty.Furthermore, swamp living with debutante hibernates, and toward inferiority complex reach an understanding with dahlia from hockey player.Furthermore, related to tuba player beams with joy, and mastadon near roller coaster confess clodhopper for food stamp.

I'm pretty sure that envying spam is one of the telltale signs that you're a crap writer...

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

Looks like it might be time for another trip out West...
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable and economically vital spans in the nation. So it was not surprising when the U.S. Office of Homeland Security (OHS) discovered the bridge listed on a terrorist memo of potential targets. However, working with the San Francisco Police Department, the OHS has devised a plan to keep the bridge safe. "We've hired 25 young, beautiful women willing to remove all their clothing and station themselves at strategic points on and approaching the bridge," explained San Francisco Police Public Information Officer Bruce Onder.

"Hopefully, that will keep religious radicals from coming near the structure."


Operation Bust Attacks, as the project has been named, is scheduled to begin within the next two weeks. Are any problems anticipated?

"Oh, we imagine we'll get some complaints from the Religious Right and from parents of small children," responded Onder. "But it's the 'new normal' so they'll just have to cover some eyes and deal with it."

If Operation Bust Attacks is a success, arrangements will immediately be made to have naked women stationed at the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Alamo and Independence Hall.

The Weekly World News may very well be the most subversive publication in America.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Can Stem Cells Smooth Wrinkles?

Technology + Vanity = Profit!
Applying technology used for inspecting semiconductor wafers for defects, BrighTex developed the Clarity Pro facial image scanner, which claims to identify bacteria-clogging pores, show where wrinkles are forming and identify skin damage caused by the sun.


BrighTex, a San Jose, Calif.-based start-up, hopes to create a cheaper version for home use. Someday, the company even envisions its technology being built into cellphones or laptops so consumers can get an analysis of their skin on the go.


''We have developed algorithms which can recognize features and shapes and the significance of things before something develops fully,'' says Chhibber. ''When it's in the 5 percent stage, we can tell what it will turn into.'' That means the product can tell if a wrinkle just starting to form will turn into a deep wrinkle or a fine line.

After taking a white light and UV image of a person's face, that image is entered into a software program to detect damage. In the case of clogged pores, Clarity Pro can identify what type of bacteria is in the pores and predict where acne will form.

For sun damage, the facial scanner can tell how much damage is under the skin, how long a person can stay in sun before the skin is damaged more and forecast the chances of a person getting skin cancer due to harmful UV rays.

Chhibber, who founded the company in January 2005, comes from a semiconductor background and said the leap from detecting defects in wafers to defects in faces wasn't that big. ''To me inspecting a face or a wafer is very similar,'' he says, since in both cases you have to look for the tiniest of defects. [I hear the "Wafer Look" is in this season.]

Clarity Pro can also be used to monitor the progress of a particular facial cream to see if it is reducing wrinkles or improving sun damage. For the cosmetics field, Chhibber says a future product will be targeted toward research and development departments and may result in better creams and lotions.

Part of me is appalled, part of me thinks this is... kinda cool. On the one hand, I really can't diss anything that could help fight skin cancer or even acne. On the other hand, this looks like a huge cash cow for the cosmetic industry, which would make all kinds of money exploiting vain wrinklephobes desperate to stamp out any signs of aging before they hatch.

Stem Cells Are Go!

This could be a bit awkward for Bush and the Republicans...
Scientists have used stem cells and a soup of nerve-friendly chemicals to not just bridge a damaged spinal cord but actually regrow the circuitry needed to move a muscle, helping partially paralyzed rats walk.

Years of additional research is needed before such an experiment could be attempted in people.

But the work marks a tantalizing new step in stem cell research that promises to one day help repair damage from nerve-destroying illnesses such as Lou Gehrig's disease, or from spinal cord injuries.


The Hopkins experiment isn't the first to use stem cells to help paralyzed rodents move. But previous work bridged damage inside the spinal cord that blocked nerve cells from delivering their ''move'' messages to muscles, sort of like fixing the circuit that brings electricity to a fan.

The new work essentially installs new wiring: replacing motor neurons -- specialized nerve cells for movement -- that have died to make a new circuit that grows neuronal connections out of the spinal cord and down to a leg muscle.


...The paralysis wasn't completely gone, but six months after treatment, 11 of the 15 animals could bear weight, take steps and push away with the affected leg.

Of the roughly 4,000 new motor neurons generated in the rats' spinal cords, about 120 reached the muscle, and 50 were electrically active, further testing showed.

The next step, to start this summer: Redoing the experiment in pigs, to see if new neurons can be enticed to grow connections over the longer distances needed to reach from a pig's spinal cord to its leg.

Let's see how long Bush's policy of only funding research on existing stem cell lines holds up when people see a cure for paralysis on the horizon. It's even more awkward when you consider how many paraplegics and quadriplegics Bush has single-handedly created with his unnecessary war.

On the other hand, those wheelchairs are mighty comfortable...


Saw some... interesting store windows on my way to softball on Sunday.

If you like Betty Boop as much as Popeye does...

You should get down to the South Side any way you can.

She might just make it worth your while. (Saucy!)

There is no God.


Heckuva Job, Bloomie.

Good to see Mayor Bloomberg is fighting so tenaciously to protect his city...
Mayor Bloomberg had the opening he needed - just enough face time with President Bush yesterday so he could grill him about the city's 40% slash in anti-terror funding.

Instead, Bloomberg blinked.

There were no tough questions when the two met briefly at Kennedy Airport - merely a handshake, some pleasantries and a courteous exchange about the city's Homeland Security Department funding slight.


"I did thank him for his efforts to make all homeland security moneys ... distributed based on risk....

"And while I wish the pot was bigger, and that is something that he has some control over, then, it really gets down to the House and the Senate, and that's where we've got to make our case," Bloomberg said.


Asked why the mayor didn't ask the President to restore the 40% cut, Stu Loeser, his spokesman, said, "When the mayor raised the issue of distributing homeland security funding based on risk, it was clear exactly what the reference was."

Bloomberg has previously said he has little expectation that the 40% cut will be restored.


Bloomberg confirmed yesterday that he and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly received a classified report in 2003 about a terrorist plot to use homemade cyanide bombs in the city subways.... adding that the plot is evidence why New York needs a larger share of the homeland security budget.
Makes me want to move back right now, knowing that the city has such courageous and determined leadership.

Interestingly, there's another Bloomberg quote in there where he basically says he's trying to help the president out in his popularity slump, which suggests that he might want to call in a favor. But he doesn't seem interested in actually doing so, except for a vague plea to make the pie higher. Strange.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mo' Monday Media Madness, Microsoft Edition

Okay, I have to post yet another video. The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. told me about it, and it's just too perfect.

What if the iPod had been a Microsoft product?

Mo' Monday Media Blogging

I was only going to post the one video today, but...

It is difficult to imagine anything more awful than this, or what drugs are potent enough to keep the piano player smiling through it all. Perhaps he's deaf. And possibly blind.

Connie Chung not just singing, but vamping. The horror. The... horror.

(Hat tip to Jeffraham Prestonian. Gah.)

Republican Family Values

Remember Anna Benson? Pitcher Kris Benson's virulently right-wing lingerie/Playboy model wife? The reason the Mets traded Benson, a solid starting pitcher, for a failed reliever?

Here she is, demonstrating that she has no, ahem, hard feelings after her husband not only pitched well, but homered to help the Orioles beat the Mets:

Afterward, the ever-quotable Anna held an impromptu press conference in which she gloated about the Revenge of the Bensons and offered the Mets an adult salve to soothe the wounds of losing to Kris, the pitcher they dumped. Her proposal probably only reinforced the Mets' feeling they were right to trade the whole family.

"I am feeling generous," she said. "I was going to offer to send a case of K-Y Jelly down to the Mets' clubhouse. For as many guys prepared to use it. Give me a number."

Niiiiice. I also remember when she vowed to sleep with every single one of Kris's teammates if he ever cheated on her.

Monday Media Blogging

I keep meaning to get a weekly Bizarre-Audio/Video-From-Hell feature going, but every week I always forget or get distracted. But when the perfect kickoff video arrives in my inbox on Monday (it has to be Monday, for alliterative purposes), I simply must fire it up.

A commercial so badwrong it makes the Burger King look tame.

(ultra-perky hat-tip to my good buddy spear and magic)

Hypothetical Question

What would happen if, instead of the usual course of torture and beheading, the Iraqi insurgents who recently captured two American troops were a little more... subtle? What if they declared their captives "unlawful combatants" and then proceeded to subject them to the exact same treatment as the detainees in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib? What would the Bush administration and its proxies say? How would they denounce the same techniques which they had so adamantly defended before? Would they be able to come up with something more compelling than "But we're America"? I'm pretty sure that any remaining claim of American moral authority or superiority would be quite effectively demolished if this "what if" question became a reality.

Am I rooting for this to happen? Only insofar as a little "fraternity hazing" would be preferable to beheading, as any Republican will happily inform you.

Do I expect it to happen? No. They're called "terrorists," not "embarrarrists."

Belated Father's Day Photoblogging

Some Father's Day photoblogging - might have had it up on time, except I didn't have the linchpin ghastly window display picture ready until well after midnight...

Belated Happy Father's Day!!! Um, this display is perhaps not very well thought out...

Miniature golf at the Arts Festival.

The orbs, Daddy, they're telling me to... do things.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Softball Blogging - I AM SWEATY!!!

Well, walking to my softball game in 88-degree temperatures may not have been the best idea in the world, but I did get a coupla hundred more pictures on the way. I went 7-for-9 with 2 doubles, a home run, 6 runs, and 2 RBI (I seemed to be leading off almost every inning), which sounds great until you consider that it was 88 DEGREES. And we were playing 6-on-6, so I didn't get any breaks to take pictures or, well, breathe.

Defense was pretty good except for one high line drive I let tick off the top of my glove, plus I had a really awesome running, over-the-shoulder catch in batting practice (too bad I can never do that in an actual game).

Current Stats: 11 games, .585 BA (38-65), 1.062 SLG, 9 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 25 runs, 24 RBI.

Career Stats: 38 games, .577 BA (150-260), .781 SLG, 26 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 86 runs, 64 RBI.

Arts Festival Organicblogging

Yes, I did in fact take some pictures of living things at the Three Rivers Arts Festival yesterday...

Everybody loves bubbles!

The majestic bull pigeon, captured in mid-flight. Actually, I think he was just trying to impress the chicks...

Yoicks! and away... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Oof, I Did It Again

Photos + Stats <> Photostats

Owmybrain. I just did another photo marathon this afternoon - about 630 photos. In the 15+ months since I digitally rebooted my photo career, I've filled over 80GB of hard drive with 12,000 photos, (an average of 25 shots per day) and processed about 3500 of them.

In other narstatistical news, I decided to follow up on an earlier remark and split out my Wednesday and Sunday softball stats for the season so far, and the difference really is quite striking:

Sunday Stats: 7 games, .657 BA (23-35), 1.229 SLG, 6 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 13 runs, 15 RBI.

Wednesday Stats: 3 games, .381 BA (8-21), .667 SLG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 runs, 7 RBI.

So there you have it. Indisputable scientific proof that I suck on Wednesdays.

(Incidentally, my initial guess was that my Sunday average would be about 200 points higher than my Wednesday average. Turns out I was being conservative...)

Bring Me The World's Smallest Violin, Stat!

Stories like this just make my heart so sad...
Former Enron Corp. President Jeffrey Skilling says he contemplated suicide after his company crumbled and authorities began to ratchet up legal pressure on him.


Skilling, 52, said he sought psychiatric help but was only able to emerge from a deep, two-year malaise after his 2004 indictment in which he was charged with conspiracy, fraud and insider trading, among other counts.


During those couple of years of depression, Skilling said he turned into a recluse, retreating to his mansion in an upscale part of Houston, where he lingered in bed and obsessively followed coverage of the scandal.


Skilling also said he endured two weeks in the Utah wilderness, hiking 30 miles a day, to prepare for the exhausting trial. During that time, he ate caterpillars and worms.
Life can be so cruel and unfair. And, well, kind of icky.

Headline Of The Week

Ambush Keeps Dutch Pants Outside Stadium

I'm really having trouble with the visual here.

Ooo, better yet - it was in the Business section.

Completely Random Photoblogging

Absolutely no theme whatsoever. The only common ground is that two of them happen to be sky pictures, and the first and last one both have green in them...

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, Verizon phone...

Oh look, it's on o' them, whaddyacallit, sunset thingies.

More fun with clouds.

I need to take more pictures right after it rains...

(If you click on the pic and look real close, you can see some reflections in the larger droplets)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Putting The "Ooh" Back In "USB"

Do not taunt Happy USB Fun Ball.

You've got an ergonomic workspace but after several pressure-filled hours in your chair you still feel tense at the end of the workday. Not anymore! With the USB Massage Ball you can keep yourself relaxed with a soothing massage anytime. Just plug the Massage Ball into an available USB port, click it on and massage your tension away. The ball provides a surprisingly strong vibration and the textured surface helps you reach deep into tired muscles. Finally, a really great use for USB!
Yes, finally someone has harnessed the awesome power of USB technology, after years of pissing around with printers and scanners and external drives. On the other hand, the USB Massage Ball certainly does open up some... possibilities that an optical mouse just can't compete with.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote is from an article about disgusting Icelandic foods, primarily some sort of rotted-shark-steeped-in-its-own-urine kind of thing (although that's not what the quote refers to):

"He also said that there are nonsour varieties of the ram testicles, which he prefers."

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

Ol' Yellow Eyes is back. (No, not that one)

Now that the liger threat has apparently passed, I figured it was safe to post another Gollum pic.

Please bear in mind that I haven't seen him around since the first time (hopefully someone has taken him home), so I probably won't have a chance to adopt him...