January 23, 2010

The Race To Zero Has Been Called On Account Of Skunks

First there was Budweiser. Then Miller Lite. Then Bud Light. Then Michelob Ultra. Then Bud Select (which happens to be my weak-ass mass-market American piss-water of choice, when I'm in the mood to drink weak-ass mass-market American piss-water). I'm sure my chronology is wrong, but you get the idea - the mass-market low-cal beers are going lower and lower.

Then Miller upped the ante, so to speak, by cutting 30-some calories below Select with its MGD64. Bud, not to be outdone, said "Oh, yeah? We'll see your 30-some and raise, err, lower you 9" and introduced Select 55.

I wondered how it was possible to have anything resembling a flavor in a 55-calorie beer (and here's where the crunchy beer snobs interject that 'there isn't any flavor at all in Bud et. al., and all the light variants actually have negative flavor'), especially since alcohol is 7-calories per gram and that leaves you almost no calories available for flavor. I finally got around to trying Select 55, and here's my conclusion as to how they did it:

  1. It's a 3.2 beer (yeah, really), rather than the 4.5-5 that even regular light beers have. More headroom for flavor components. I think that's the minor contributor.
  2. The major contributor? After they brew it, they let it sit around until it's good and spoiled, THEN slap a Born-On Date on it and send it out.

Maybe I'm overreacting based on a small sample size, but when you buy a six-pack that claims to be less than 60 days old, and you're fairly certain that it's been stored cold since it got to the store, and every single one tastes like you sucked on the business end of a skunk, that's the easiest conclusion to draw.

I'll try Select 55 again from a different store just to make sure it wasn't an aberration, but if it tastes the same (and yeah, I'll remember. There's no un-ringing THAT bell), I'll recategorize this entry under Corporate Stupidity.


Posted by Chris at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 18, 2010

I Heard They Offer A Two-For-One Ticket Deal With The Reformation Museum In Vatican City

I saw a billboard today for a car museum in Shipshewana.

If you asked me which towns in Indiana would be least likely to have a car museum, Shipshe would be near the top of the list (for those of you not from Indiana, here's a hint as to why).


Posted by Chris at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 08, 2009

And I Didn't Think I Even *Had* A Fan Club

[H/T Daily Telegraph Sign Language, where there is a good-sized collection of funny signs and examples of Engrish]


Posted by Chris at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 10, 2009

And All This Time I Thought It Was Because Comcast Hated Turtles

For a while now, Comcast has been advertising how much better their high-speed Internet is than DSL; for example, they used a pair of low-speed turtles (but I repeat myself) named the Slowskys to contrast the old and busted DSL with teh new hotness of cable modemity. Since I've been workin' teh newer hotness of FiOS for about two years now, I would mock those ads; Comcast was picking on DSL because it knew it would get its clock cleaned if it went head-to-head against FiOS.

But now I understand why: according to Wired, DSL still comprises 40% of the broadband customer base in the US (cable leads with 53%; fiber trails badly with 4%, and 'other' takes the remaining 3%). Since DSL customers have to be within two-ish miles of a phone substation, that means most of them are already in cities or towns, where, presumably, cable already exists. THERE'S your target demographic. Going after FiOS customers wouldn't even be worth the effort.

And I was so hoping to get out of this week without learning anything.


Posted by Chris at 01:06 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

October 01, 2008

Make Sure You Poke Air Holes In The Box

Seen on a local church marquee last night:

Every life is sacred and a gift from God

So if you put your baby up for adoption, would that be considered regifting?

Posted by Chris at 06:30 AM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

September 29, 2008

How Does One Say "Hindsight Is 20/20" In Mandarin?

Our financial sector is in near-meltdown. Meanwhile, China successfully completes a manned space mission.

Twenty years from now, will we look back on this week as the beginning of the changing of the guard?

Posted by Chris at 04:17 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

July 10, 2008

The Law Of Unintended Consequences Has Been In Effect For A Lot Longer

California just enacted a new law requiring that people who use cell phones while driving also use hands-free devices. I wonder what happened to the accident rate last week, since all these people are now distracted by fiddling with brand-new (and unfamiliar) hands-free devices.

Posted by Chris at 02:56 PM | Comments (8)
Category: General Weirdness

January 13, 2008

Dost Thou Thinketh Thou Canst Vanquish Me? Fuggedaboudit!

Went to see In The Name Of The King with my son yesterday, mainly because we're both big Jason Statham fans.

The good:

  • Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski, and Kristanna Loken (double points for her as a vine-swinging lesbian forest nymph) are all hot.
  • I could listen to John Rhys-Davies read from the phone book.
  • The fight scenes were generally well done.
  • Statham played pretty much the same character he always does, which was fine by me (kind of like how Ryan Reynolds plays Berg most of the time, regardless of what role he really has).
The bad:
  • I would have preferred Rhys-Davies reading from a phone book to most of the lines he actually had.
  • Some of the casting was just terrible. Burt Reynolds as the king?!? Ray Liotta as the evil wizard?
  • About Liotta: he probably could have pulled it off, even without your standard-quasi-British Eurofantasy accent, but his hair and costume people couldn't have been working from the same directions as everybody else. His hair was a straight-up Mob pompadour, and his collared tunic and black leather coat made him look like he walked in from the set of Goodfellas III whenever he was shot from the waist up!
  • One of my fantasy movie pet peeves: it's not clear Who's running the theology. There were occasions where characters talked about God; on others, they talked about 'the gods.' Sure, they could have done it on purpose (after all, we're not all the same religion), but I think the continuity guys were just asleep that day.
  • The dialog was... off. It wasn't really the accents (although Liotta didn't even bother); it was more like they couldn't decide whether they wanted a medieval/fantasyish or a modernish tone to their dialog, so they took constructs and phrasing from both, and accomplished neither. I'm not a fantasy snob, so I don't need "thou's" and "mayhap's" (and in fact I tire of them quickly), but you can set the right mood without doing that, and they didn't.
  • The wire work was blatant and obvious, especially the catapulting Krugs and the levitating Liotta.
  • I swear I'm not making this up - In this Euro-esque fantasy setting, the King's personal protective detail is... Ninjas!

The Verdict: My son liked it a lot. I thought it was OK.
Under What Circumstances Would I See It Again: Probably none. I might rent the DVD if the director's cut has nekkid scenes.


Posted by Chris at 12:32 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

July 09, 2007

Today's Sign I'm Going To Hell

On the bulletin board in the break area at work, there's a flyer for an OCD support group. It says they meet Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

The first thing I thought of when I saw that was "..and again at 8:03, and again at 8:06, and again and again and again until we get it juuuuuuuust right."

Posted by Chris at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

April 26, 2007

I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlord Cult Leaders


Japanese robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro has unveiled a robot doppelganger of himself.

Germinoid is a humanoid robot designed in his creator's image, down to the tiniest of details.

It sits on a chair and gazes around the room in a very human-like fashion, just like its creator.
There's some sloppy writing for you - the implication of the last sentence is that Ishiguro gazes around the room in a very human-like fashion. But I digress.

I saw this picture:

And immediately thought of this guy:

And I don't know which scares me more.


Posted by Chris at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 04, 2007

Unless You See One Holding A Gun, Then It's Cool

I forgot to mention this last week when I discovered it - The Unit is a lot more interesting when you Tivo it and skip over all the backstory scenes with the wives.

Of course, the wives are why my wife watches it with me, so I suppose I shouldn't complain.

I sometimes watch 24 more or less the same way - I skip over any scene with a female Palmer in it. Those subplots just don't do it for me.


Posted by Chris at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

I'm Lucky I Could Even Find My Office

You ever get anything out of order in your morning routine, then spend the rest of the day feeling like you've got your skivvies on sideways, mentally speaking? 'Cos that's where I am right now.

At least I remembered to shower before dressing. If only I'd remembered to dry everything off before that, too...

Posted by Chris at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 02, 2007

Today's 'Great Name For A Rock Band'

Naked Chocolate Jesus:

The Easter season unveiling of an anatomically correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, dubbed "My Sweet Lord" by its creator, has a Catholic group infuriated.

"This is one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever," Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, said Thursday. "It's not just the ugliness of the portrayal, but the timing - to choose Holy Week is astounding.

. . .

The artwork was created from more than 200 pounds, or about 90 kilograms, of milk chocolate, and it features Christ with his arms outstretched as if on an invisible cross. Unlike the typical religious portrayal of Christ, the Cavallaro creation does not include a loincloth.
Donohue blows a gasket (which he apparently does quite often); me, I just shrug. Of course, Christians are easy targets here - Piss Christ, elephant dung Mary, whatever - people complain, and a few mentally unstable people make death threats, but most people react like I do. If the sculptor had any balls, he'd create 'Naked Chocolate Mohammad.'

And then go into hiding.

Posted by Chris at 02:19 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 16, 2007

As Penance, I'll Eat Two Animals Today

I can't believe I forgot that yesterday was International Eat An Animal For PETA Day!

And don't forget - it counts double if it's a cute animal. I think I'll have filet of panda with a nice tuna-free dolphin salad.


Posted by Chris at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 02, 2007

Photo Safari: Grocery Store

This was a little odd, but it brought a smile to my face - explicitly kosher teriyaki sauce:

Veri Veri Teriyaki

This one, though, makes me want to track down the perpetrators and force-feed them prime rib - Tofu Cutlet:

Tofu Cutlet

Posted by Chris at 05:18 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

February 21, 2007

It's Like 40 More Days Of Mardi Gras

Overheard in the hallway this morning...

A: "What'd you give up for Lent this year?"

B: "Self-denial."

A: "How's that working out for you?"

B: "Oh, man, it's awesome!"

Posted by Chris at 11:37 AM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

February 08, 2007

Life, The Universe, And Everyblog

Via Lifehacker (though I can't find the exact post) I found a HOWTO that I never expected to see, at least not from Lifehacker: HOWTO: Achieve blog nirvana

The broadest of those [reader] responses are indignation, titillation, stimulation, and affirmation. Hitting any of the buttons is good. Ideally, you pack as many of those responses as possible into your content, even (and sometimes especially) if they're contradictory. Hitting the sweet spot in the center of all four virtually guarantees bloggy nirvana.
There's a beautiful Venn diagram describing the interaction between the responses. Indignation and Affirmation intersect to form Outrage; Indignation and Titillation intersect to form Scandal; Titillation and Stimulation intersect to form Lust; and Stimulation and Affirmation intersect to form Novelty.

Likewise, Outrage + Scandal = Revenge; Scandal + Lust = Perversity; Lust + Novelty = Sex; and Novelty + Outrage = Schadenfreude.

Finally, Revenge + Perversity + Sex + Schadenfreude = Nirvana, complete with figure of Buddha. I leave writing The Ultimate Blog Post as an exercise to the reader.

Get on it. I expect answers by midnight tomorrow.

Posted by Chris at 05:44 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

January 30, 2007

Coming Soon: The 'Burning Man' Commemorative MP3 Player Built Into An Incendiary Grenade Casing

'Rock-and-roll' can be used as a slang term to mean "firing your weapon on full auto;" however, "rock and roll with your AK-47" can now be taken literally:

The "AK-MP3 Jukebox" comes with 20GB storage capable to hold up to 9000 songs or 3000 hours of mp3 audio books.

AK-MP3 player built into the body of the ammunition magazine of Kalashnikov automatic rifle.
Player could be used on its own or it could be attached to the Kalashnikov machinegun instead of the ordinary magazine.
That last part could make the AK-MP3 a real hoot at the next muj ambush. Stick one of these in Haji's AK and watch the look on his face when he blasts out 'Rock The Casbah' instead of blasting the dirty kuffir!

Oh, yeah, there's chicks too:


Posted by Chris at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 24, 2007

It's Almost A Win-Win-Win - The Chickens Still Get It In The End

Scott at Commblogging noted something that didn't hit my radar - PETA was willing to cut a deal with the devil. It seems that Yum! Foods wanted land to build a new Taco Bell, but the site in question was owned by PETA. During negotiations, PETA countered Yum!'s $1 million offer by offering to give the site to Yum! if Yum! forced KFC (another Yum! company) to adopt the advice of KFC's own Welfare Advisory Council on the humane handling of chickens. Yum! told PETA to stuff it (heh) - something about dealing with anti-corporate terrorists - and broke off negotiations.

Two things struck me about this:

  • I can't believe that PETA made the offer in the first place, offering up essentially a million dollars in exchange for what would only be a drop in the bucket in their struggle for animal equality against animal cruelty.
  • I have to think the only reason Yum! turned down the offer was that implementing the WAC recommendations (and isn't that a fitting acronym?) would have cost more than the $1M they were willing to pay for the property.

Scott thinks PETA's offer was counterproductive and damaged their credibility (if that's even possible anymore). I disagree. Now, I claim second place to no one in my loathing of PETA, but I have to admit that I think this was a genius move. If the deal had gone through, PETA would have been able to say "OK, sure, we may give you street theater 24/7, but we also gave up A MILLION DOLLARS just to get KFC to start treating their chickens more humanely before they kill them. We put our money where our shrink-wrapped naked people are." So it's just as well that Yum! told them to go pound tofu.

Which reminds me - I have to cut the animal abuse parts out of that nekkid PETA chick video and YouTube it. I'll have to redo the soundtrack, too - she insists on talking.


Posted by Chris at 06:20 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 18, 2007

And This Is My Husband, Ms. Bijon

A California man is suing because it's apparently a legalistic pain the ass for him to take his wife's surname:

Mike Buday isn't married to his last name. In fact, he and his fiancee decided before they wed that he would take hers. But Buday was stunned to learn that he couldn't simply become Mike Bijon when they married in 2005.

As in most other states, that would require some bureaucratic paperwork well beyond what a woman must go through to change her name when marrying.

. . .

"Diana and I feel strongly about gender equality for both men and women," Buday said. "I think the most important thing in all of this is to bring it to a new level of awareness."
It seems to me like the logical thing if s/he believes in gender equality would have been for each partner to keep his/her/its own surname. Why not? Here's why not:
[Buday's wife Diana] Bijon, 28, approached Buday about the idea when they were dating. She had no brothers but wanted to prolong the family name. Buday, a 29-year-old developer of interactive advertising, was estranged from his own father and was not attached to his own last name [emphasis added].
And those two sentences tell you everything you need to know about this patrophobic nancy boy. The problem isn't the law making it difficult for Buday to change his maiden name - it's that he didn't marry the right guy to begin with!

OK, I'm being overly cynical here. If the guy wants to change his name, it shouldn't be any big deal. But I'll bet he gets tired of explaining himself after a while.


Posted by Chris at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 05, 2007

In Other News, I Polished My Polish Sword...

Why do we call it 'DEE-fense' when we're talking about a sport and 'de-FENSE' when we're talking about a country?

Posted by Chris at 04:47 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

January 04, 2007

Shhhhh! Don't Give Them Any Ideas!

Wouldn't you think that commericals for hearing aids or hearing clinics would be louder than regular commercials?

Posted by Chris at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 14, 2006

Pred(Schneider) = Kipling?

Rob Slade is a computer security specialist who regularly reviews security-related books on comp.risks and elsewhere. He recently reviewed Kim, by Rudyard Kipling, and had this to say:

Within the first twenty pages we have authentication by something you have, denial of service, impersonation, stealth, masquerade, role-based authorization (with ad hoc authentication by something you know), eavesdropping, and trust based on data integrity. Later on we get contingency planning against theft and cryptography with key changes.
I read his reviews all the time, and they generally seem reasonable, but this one tripped my BS-ometer. So I found Kim at online-literature.com, and lo and behold:
And there was that on Mahbub Ali which he did not wish to keep an hour longer than was necessary - a wad of closely folded tissue- paper, wrapped in oilskin - an impersonal, unaddressed statement, with five microscopic pin-holes in one corner, that most scandalously betrayed the five confederated Kings, the sympathetic Northern Power, a Hindu banker in Peshawur, a firm of gun-makers in Belgium, and an important, semi-independent Mohammedan ruler to the south. This last was R17's work, which Mahbub had picked up beyond the Dora Pass and was carrying in for R17, who, owing to circumstances over which he had no control, could not leave his post of observation. Dynamite was milky and innocuous beside that report Of C25; and even an Oriental, with an Oriental's views of the value of time, could see that the sooner it was in the proper hands the better.

There's a lot more, but you get the idea. So I guess I need to get my BS-ometer recalibrated.


Posted by Chris at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 20, 2006

You Had To Know This Was Going To Happen

As soon as I heard about the motion-sensitive controller for the new Wii, which allows players to use real-life motions to control game actions like swinging a tennis racket, I knew that at some point one of them would become a missile. I would have put my money on '100mph fastball wild pitch breaks lamp,' but apparently the winner is 'bowling ball trashes SIXTY-INCH TV!'

So there's this dude who was playing Wii Sports bowling, as his story goes, and his pal rolls a Lebowski and the next thing you know the strap breaks from the force of the swing; his slippery hands let loose, and the Wiimote flies like a missile and cracks his pal's TV. . . . this guy really is out a 60-inch TV. . ..

Posted by Chris at 06:09 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

November 15, 2006

Behold The Power Of Porn

Pandas is dumb. Not only do they sometimes squish their young'uns, they (at least the ones in captivity) often don't even know how to mate! But a zoo in Thailand thinks they have the solution: porn.

"They don't know how to mate, so we need to show the male how through videos," project chief Prasertsak Buntrakoonpoontawee told the Reuters news service.

Chuang Chuang, the six-year-old male, will view films of other mating pandas when scientists judge him to be relaxed and receptive—perhaps just after a tasty dinner.

If all goes well, the racy video will be both instructional and inspirational, showing Chuang Chuang the reproductive ropes and causing him to see five-year-old Lin Hui in an entirely different light.

Porn - is there anything it can't do?

Posted by Chris at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

October 25, 2006


One of the things that I don't like about some fundamentalist Christians is that they don't pass up an opportunity to witness, whether we're interested or not. Which is why Chuck Norris on Chuck Norris Facts just sucks all the fun out of what used to be a perfectly hilarious 'net meme.

Jack Bauer would never do that to us.

[H/T Chess]


Posted by Chris at 11:57 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

September 28, 2006

When Bad Things Happen To Good Vehicles

If I stand in the right spot in my office, I can see the building where this happened:

A woman was formally charged in Allen Superior Court on Thursday in the case of an 11-year-old girl who smashed a car into Delmar Video at 5311 Merchandise Drive late last week.

Jennifer N. Dettmer, 26, faces one felony count each of neglect of a dependent, criminal recklessness, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to a probable-cause affidavit, Dettmer let the girl drive a 2001 white Mitsubishi around the parking lot. The girl then drove the car down an embankment, through some grass in front of the building and into the store. Several shelves of videos were thrown into a woman at the store, injuring her head, arm and hip. The car also struck a railing at the front counter, injuring a man. The car came to rest at the front counter, the affidavit said. Damage to the store was extensive.
In a completely coincidental story: if my uncle stands in just the right spot on his back porch, he might be able to see the woods where this happened:
A local pleasure cruise by the Beverly-based Hood blimp went sour when the ship developed rudder problems shortly after take off and wound up caught in treetops several miles from its base at the Beverly Airport.

The lone pilot, Leigh Bradbury, was unhurt and there were no passengers.

Rescue crews safely lowered Bradbury by rope, harness and ladder to the ground from the cockpit.

The crash came after Bradbury radioed the Beverly Airport tower to say that the blimp was having rudder trouble and was planning to crash land just before 1 p.m. Sept. 26. Air traffic controllers in the tower in turn called the Fire Department to say the ship could come down in Beverly Farms.

Emergency crews from Beverly and Wenham, and later Manchester-by-the-Sea searched the Beverly Farms area for the crash scene, which was just over the town line in Manchester-by-the-Sea, in a heavily wooded area north of the Brookwood School.

Posted by Chris at 08:24 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

September 22, 2006

The Thought That Woke Me From A Sound Sleep At 3:00 This Morning

Why didn't Flavor Flav wear the clock around his neck upside down? That way he could just look down and see what time it was.

Posted by Chris at 02:28 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

September 20, 2006

Maybe I Should Have Only Asked For A Recycled Sheet Of Copy Paper

I was commiserating with one of the other owners in my fantasy league about our underperforming Raiders players: Randy Moss (mine) and LaMont Jordan (his). The chat went like this:

FunkDruckers: Trade you Moss for Jordan?

BattleHounds: Throw in a candy bar and I'll think about it!

FunkDruckers: OK, how about Moss and a Snickers bar for Jordan and a blank sheet of copy paper?

BattleHounds: Now you're just getting greedy with the copy paper. No deal!

FunkDruckers: Dammit!


Posted by Chris at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 15, 2006

And Not Only Can He Encrypt A Message He Himself Cannot Decrypt, He Can Decrypt It Too!

First it was Chuck Norris. Then Jack Bauer. Now we honor computer security/encryption/freedom defender Bruce Schneier, with Things You Might Not Know About Bruce Schneier. It's as geeky as you might expect, with entries like this:

If we built a Dyson sphere around Bruce Schneier and captured all of his energy for 2 months, without any loss, we could power an ideal computer running at 3.2 degrees K to count up to 2^256. This strongly implies that not only can Bruce Schneier brute-force attack 256-bit keys, but that he is built of something other than matter and occupies something other than space.
and this:
An autographed picture of Bruce Schneier is all you need to securely wipe any hard-drive.
and this:
On Bruce Schneier's birthday, a person standing at the very center of Stonehenge casts a shadow in the shape of Bruce Schneier's PGP public key fingerprint.
but I think this one is my favorite:
Bruce Schneier can log into any computer just by staring down the prompt.


Posted by Chris at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 27, 2006

Great Idea - Tell The Kids They're Getting Ready For Battle Just Before You Put Them To Bed

When I saw the title of the Boing Boing post Armor of God kids pajamas, I thought it would be some kind of Mormon sacred underwear thing, or maybe an anti-masturbation aid (e.g., item 5 here).

Turns out the pajamas aren't that weird, although it could be argued that sleeping in a metaphorical representation of Ephesians 6:10-18 (the verses about putting on the Armor of God to do battle against the armies of Satan, etc., etc.) isn't far removed from sleeping with the Book of Mormon in hand (suggestion 18).

Then I saw the picture:
Armor of God pajamas

and thought "The boy's got crazy eyes... Operation Rescue eyes."

And "Shouldn't the word along the bottom of the tunic read 'No!' and be upside down?"

And "Speaking of 'Truth' appearing over young Stuart's Danger Zone, who's going to be the first to make the joke 'You can't handle the Truth!'?"

Posted by Chris at 02:56 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

August 25, 2006

This Is Me Telling You How To Think. Irony Score: 7.5

Also on the topic of 'Required Reading For Freshmen' is 10 Tips On How To Think For Yourself. They're all good, but I like this one the best:

3) Understand People.

Does the person communicating with you have an agenda that might be influencing what they are telling you? What is motivating this person? Why do you think they think this way?

[H/T Lifehacker, again]

Posted by Chris at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 24, 2006

Maybe, But How Did Bush 'Know' Saddam Had WMDs?

And speaking of required reading for incoming freshmen: maybe if more people read this essay on how to detect bullshit, then schmucks like Ward Churchill and the ISM would be far less popular:

The first detection tool is a question: How do you know what you know? Throw this phrase down when someone force feeds you an idea, an argument, a reference to a study or over-confidently suggests a course of action. People so rarely have their claims challenged, that asking someone to explain how they know sheds light on whatever ignorance they’re hiding. It instantly diminishes the force of a BS driven opinion. It works well in response to the following examples:

# "The project will take 5 weeks". How do you know this? What might go wrong that you haven't accounted for? Would you bet $10k on this claim? $100k?
# "Our design is groundbreaking." Really? What ground is that? And who, besides the designers/investors, has this opinion?
# "Studies show that liars' pants are flame resistant.." What studies? Who ran them and why? Did you actually read the study or a two sentence press clipping (poorly) explaining the results? Are there any studies that claim the opposite?

When you ask a flavor of “how do you know what you know?” often they can't answer quickly. Even credible thinkers need time to sort through their logic, separating assumptions from facts: an an exercise that works in everyone’s favor.
[H/T LifeHacker]

Posted by Chris at 04:39 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

August 16, 2006

Today's "Fun With English"

Why do we say "What time is it?" and "Where are we?" but not "When are we?" or "What location is it?"

Posted by Chris at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 11, 2006

I'm On The 15-Day Disabled List With A Bad Dream

I have a tendonitis problem in my elbow that flares up every time I play hockey. It's not too bad; it's sore for a day or two afterwards, but it's OK by the time I play hockey again the next week.

Well, now it looks like I've screwed myself - I had a dream last night that I vacuumed my whole house with an old-fashioned reel lawn mower, and my elbow still feels like I just played a quintuple-overtime game.

Posted by Chris at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 14, 2006

And The Story Had Such Promise

So Michael Douglas had a nasty encounter with a jellyfish, and asked his son to perform, shall we say, the folk remedy:

"I took my kids down to the ocean the other day and we had a little problem, we have jellyfish. I got stung actually pretty bad, across my back just last week. There's sort of a remedy that we've all heard...urine. It's the remedy if you have a bad sting.

"So I asked my five-year-old son if he would pee-pee on my back. He looked at me like he'd gone to heaven. He was like 'This is what I call a good summer holiday! Pee-pee on daddy's back!' I don't know if it helped at all, but my son was happy. We'll work it out in 20 years - when he's in therapy!" stated Douglas.

I know I'm not alone when I say that that story would have been FAR more interesting if he had asked his wife instead of his son.


Posted by Chris at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

July 13, 2006

New Trade Offer: Free Press Coverage For An Afternoon In Tax Court

Kyle MacDonald, the red paper clip guy, has achieved his goal. Yesterday, he completed his series of trades starting with one red paper clip and ending with a house.

That's all well and good, but I wonder what the Canada Revenue Agency has to say about a guy getting a house for essentially nothing?

Posted by Chris at 04:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 06, 2006

I'd Settle For Them Having A Remote-Controlled Ignition Cutoff, As Long As I Held The Remote

I just thought of something that's going to make whoever invents it rich, and I'm already pissed off because it won't be me. You know those breathalyzer interlocks they put in cars that prevents them from starting if the driver has had too much to drink? Somebody needs to invent some kind of biofeedback interlock to prevent road ragers from driving if they're pissed off.

Posted by Chris at 02:58 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

June 30, 2006

Hahhy Fwithay, Eryothy!

I gave blood yesterday. I forgot my water bottle for my workout this morning.

These two seemingly unrelated facts probably explain why, no matter how much water I drink now, I can't get my tongue to unstick from the roof of my mouth.

Posted by Chris at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 27, 2006

Can I Get A 'Hallelujah?'

Also courtesy of yesterday's Bob & Tom: a story about a ministry that takes Jesus' message of 'go to where the sinners are' pretty dang seriously:

One of the hottest items at this weekend's Erotica L-A pornography show is a Bible with a cover that says "Jesus Loves Porn Stars."

The Reverend J.R. Mahon (man) of Triple-X Church-dot-com says his anti-porn ministry handed out its entire stock of 33-hundred Bibles on the first day of the three-day show.
Well, of course they did - that way they could close up the booth early and enjoy the other two days like everybody else!

Posted by Chris at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

I Know That Statistically This Is Quite Possible. It Doesn't Lessen The Pain.

I am now 0-for-11 on Pepsi Smash caps.

"1 in 3 gets a ringtone," my ass.

Posted by Chris at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 25, 2006

Cliches Come To Life, NASCAR Style

Back in one piece, much more later. Right now I'm watching the NASCAR road race, which featured a first-lap crash that took out four cars. There's a joke here about forcing NASCAR drivers to make right turns, but I'll let somebody else make it.

Update that I swear I'm not making up: one of the drivers just told his pit crew that his car doesn't want to turn right.

Posted by Chris at 04:13 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

June 08, 2006

What Next? Will They Stop Calling The President "Bushitler?"

I don't know which was more surprising - the fact that we finally got al-Zarqawi or the fact that al-Guardian actually used the t-word in reference to him:

The most wanted terrorist in Iraq, blamed for personally beheading British hostage Ken Bigley, was killed in a US air strike after weeks of surveillance, coalition forces have revealed. [emphasis added]

Posted by Chris at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 29, 2006

The Purpose Of The Exercise

I am fortunate in that to the best of my knowledge, no one in my family died serving our country since my great(^5)-grandfather and a couple of great(^5)-uncles did in the Civil War. Not only that, I am also fortunate in that no one I knew personally died serving our country.

So to Dad, and Dad; to Uncle Fran and Uncle Dick; and to Jim and Ronnie:

Thanks for your service, and God bless you and all your brothers-in-arms.

Posted by Chris at 05:21 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

Vacation Training Camp

The base tan is coming along nicely, and we just completed a four-night training run in preparation for the 14-day/15-night beer-drinking marathon known as the annual vacation. We're right on target to peak at the optimal time. It's a good thing beer in North Carolina doesn't cost any more than it does here.

Posted by Chris at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 26, 2006

'Anywhere, Anytime' Confirmed!

Last March, I wondered whether Instapundit would blog from a storm shelter:

I happened to notice on the Weather Channel not too long ago that Knox County, Tennessee (home of the Blogfather, is under a severe thunderstorm warning. I wonder, if the weather truly went to hell there, whether he'd liveblog from the tornado shelter.

The answer is yes:

And here's an interesting interview with Craig [Newmark, creator of Craig's List]. I can attest that he does customer-service at all hours; I was up and posting at 3:30 AM one morning (we had moved to the basement during a tornado watch) and immediately got an email from him wondering what was wrong. Nothing, I replied, just a tornado.

Posted by Chris at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 23, 2006

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity?

Chixie Dick Natalie Maines got roundly thumped after dissing the President in the runup to OIF. However, she wasn't shipped off to Gitmo for it, which kind of puts the lie to her whole argument. Anyway, after three years of not saying a whole lot, she's flappin' her gums again. Now why would she do that at this exact point in time?


It seems to me bandmate Martie Maguire's statement (from the second link above):

"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."
is code for "Our red-state hick former fans are not welcome back on the bandwagon, and we think there are enough progressive country fans to make our career, and by the way we're not a country band anymore because there aren't enough progressive country fans to make our career."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but here's Maines in a January ew.com interview:

I like lots of country music, but as far as the industry and everything that happened... I couldn't want to be farther away from that. And it's easier when you're financially set, because you can be a little more ballsy, and just do what you want to do. I don't want people to think that me not wanting to be a part of country music is any sort of revenge. It is not. It is totally me being who I am . . .
...someone who says "Thanks for the money, you backwards-assed country fucks, now go away."

Good luck with that.

[H/T Hot Air]


Posted by Chris at 01:01 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

I've Also Already Figured Out Next Season's Plot

I totally called the final twist to this season of 24. I was watching the finale with my friend, and when they got to the 'happily ever after' part with fifteen minutes left to go, I explained to him how Nina killed Jack's wife in the last minute of season one. Right as I concluded by saying "Now watch, Jack's going to turn around and see the Chinese ambassador," Jack turned around and saw the Chinese imposter agent, who told him to go stand on the X so the ambassador's goons could grab him. Yay me!

While I'm on the subject of season finales, I want it noted for the record that Marisol's death on CSI: Miami was the lamest hospital death scene in the history of television.


Posted by Chris at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 21, 2006

No Pictures, No Video, Never Write Anything Down...

...Deny, Deny, Deny. That's Chick McGee's motto, which Ina, a Malaysian IT executive probably now wishes she'd followed:

KUANTAN: "It was the worst mistake I have ever made. I am so embarrassed and this will haunt me forever".

Those words were uttered by Ina, an IT executive whose semi-nude images became the talk of Temerloh after video compact discs (VCDs) of her and her Indonesian boyfriend were sold for RM10 each.

The 25-year-old victim said she allowed her boyfriend to snap photographs of them using his handphone because she loved and trusted him.

It's not clear whether he distributed the pictures on purpose...

Unfortunately, the images were copied and distributed when her beau sent his handphone for repairs.
...but that doesn't seem to matter to people from the woman's town:
Her boyfriend returned to his hometown after he was beaten by villagers agitated by the incident.

Posted by Chris at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 19, 2006

From The Glass-Lined Tanks Of Old Latrobe, err, Newark

It would appear that the evil empire has acquired Rolling Rock:

Anheuser-Busch Cos., the world's largest brewer, has purchased the Rolling Rock brands for $82 million from parent company InBev, the two brewers announced today.

. . .

Rolling Rock will continue to be brewed at the Latrobe brewery until July 31, under contract with Anheuser Busch, she said.

After that, it will be brewed in Anheuser-Busch's Newark, N.J. plant, a company spokeswoman said.
Not that I care a whole lot or anything - they don't sell a lot of Rolling Rock around here, so as a consequence, the few times I've tried it, it's always tasted slightly skunked. Maybe AB will start using the 'born-on date' thingy like with their other beers.

OK, I admit it, I blogged this just so I could do the title.


Posted by Chris at 12:38 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 18, 2006

I Think I'll Tag Him "Mr. Dribbler"

Attention, whoever it is that's responsible for me having to dodge a puddle of urine whenever I want to take a leak here at work:

Your dong is not as long as you think it is. STAND CLOSER TO THE URINAL!

That is all.

Posted by Chris at 09:19 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

May 15, 2006

Everything Old Is New Again, Like It Or Not

Is it just me, or does the new Toyota FJ Cruiser look like the bastard child of a Hummer and an old International Scout?

I think both the Element and the xB (or xA, whichever one is the box on wheels) have a certain amount of twisted style to them, but I don't think any of them compare to my beloved '68 Land Cruiser, affectionately named Zonk:
1968 Toyota Land Cruiser - click for full-size


Posted by Chris at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 06, 2006

M. O. M-O-R. M-O-R-N-I-N-G. W-O-R-M.

Today's earworm is Nth Degree by Morningwood. That is all.

Posted by Chris at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 04, 2006

Thursday's Quick Hitters

Sudan rebels hold key to peace pact. So I guess we can count on it not happening.

Earth Day, my ass!

A high school baseball team in Orange County, Fla., was angered after a concert at their home stadium left the venue damaged and the playing field littered with debris and feces, according to a Local 6 News report.

The Lake Highland Prep baseball team was scheduled to play Umatilla inside Tinker Field Tuesday night.

However, damage to the historical field from Sunday's Earth Day Birthday concert left the team without a home field.

"You don't have to look very far here at Tinker Stadium to see why tonight's game cannot go on as planned," Local 6 reporter Jessica Sanchez said. "The Lake Highland Prep baseball coach is disgusted with what he sees. A bathroom in shambles, a grass-less field littered with debris and feces. [emphasis added]"
(and incidentally, have I mentioned lately that Local 6 is the bestest site on INTERNET?)

Well, I'll be darned. Maybe we haven't lost the war in Iraq.

Just because YOU thought it was funny doesn't mean that EVERYONE thought it was funny: Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow is outraged that not everybody thought Steven Colbert's mocking of President Bush was funny (link NSFW if your site uses SmartFilter, which still thinks Boing Boing is a porn site). Look, Cory, I know that every breath President Bush continues to draw is a grievious personal insult to you, but stick to writing SF and you'll be OK.

Posted by Chris at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 01, 2006

Who Needs A Gerbil In The Back When You Have A Rabbit In The Front?

Man Charged With Sex With Rabbit:

SYDNEY, Australia (UPI) -- A New Zealand businessman has been charged in Australia with having sex with a rabbit and killing 17 rabbits and a guinea pig.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports police launched an investigation after dead rabbits began showing up in a lane outside a building where Brendan Francis McMahon kept an office.
What kind of pindick do you have to be to think "Sheep? Naaaah, too big. Rabbit? Hell, yeah!"

McMahon was charged with one count of bestiality and 18 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Investigators said some of the rabbits were still alive when they were found and some appeared to have been dropped from a height. [emphasis added]
Remember those plastic toy rockets from the '70s (apparently they still make them)? They had a chamber you'd fill halfway with water, then you'd connect it to a hand pump and crank away until you got enough pressure. Release the catch, and you'd get a rocket rising on a jet of water. Well, the same principle is at work here. This guy was probably doing his thing on his office balcony. At the proper moment, the combination of fluid pressure and, um, small receptacle space would result in the rodent being shot into the air like a rocket.

Posted by Chris at 06:38 AM | Comments (6)
Category: General Weirdness

April 29, 2006

Today's Public Service Announcement

No matter where you live, something bad can happen to not only you, but everyone around you. Earthquake, large-scale fire, hurricane, tornado, alien attack, divine retribution, something. If that happens, emergency services will probably be overwhelmed, so you need to be able to take care of yourself until they can get to you.

That's the point behind 72 Hours, a site set up by the San Francisco Office of Emergency Services, who obviously has a vested interest in making the city's citizens self-sufficient for three days (hence the name) if that kind of thing happens. As you might expect, it's skewed towards San Fransisco's likely problems, so not every section is universally applicable - we're not likely to get tsunamis here in northeast Indiana - but there's lots of worthwhile stuff there for everybody.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled featherweight crap and weak humor. [H/T Randy Cassingham's Bonzer Web Site of the Week]

Posted by Chris at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 28, 2006

Today's Reader Appeal - Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

I'm looking for a comedy bit that I first heard around 1980, so I know it's at least that old. It was a parody of radio commercials for Sunday afternoon drag races, and it went something (loosely) like this:

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! U.S. Amphetamine Speedway! Sunday!

See the amazing wheel-standing rapping lunatic Corvair! Sunday!

See Shad Crapper light his nose hairs on fire as he pulsates and blasts down that quarter mile thrillway! Sunday!

See Tim Leary and his Superblown head! Sunday!

See Big Daddy Roth and funny cars from across the universe! Sunday!

12 bucks buys you the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge! Sunday!

BE there!

Some Googleage revealed the following: it was probably done by 'The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie' a/k/a 'Flo & Eddie' a/a/k/a Marc Volman and Howard Kaylan of The Turtles - who, due to a spectacularly badly negotiated contract, couldn't even use their real names as musicians after The Turtles went belly-up - and probably as part of a Frank Zappa album. Since Flo and Eddie played only on these Zappa albums:

that narrows it a bit, maybe. If not, it could have been on one of these Flo & Eddie albums: Any ideas?

Posted by Chris at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 25, 2006

Lots Of Money Gets Hosed Around. Nobody Gets Rich. WTF?

As if I wasn't already downcycled low enough over my ability to finish anything and get it published, Boing Boing points me to another pile of salt I can rub in my wounds - a look at the numbers behind paperback publishing:

Book #1 is a mass market romance novel called Crichton is an Idiot by a brand new author named Aeryn Sun. She doesn't know anyone, and no one's heard of her. You, her loving and caring editor, call in every single favor you've got, but no one has time. You do not take this as a bad sign that no one really likes the book at all, but you take everyone at their word. (This is your mistake. Although, of course, you've already bought the book -- there's not much you can do at this point.)
After a REALLY depressing series of transactions (during which, I assure you, not even the author makes very much)...
$26,971.40 is the net total this book earns for the publishing company. You have lost your company:

$12,500 + $36,000 - $26,971.40 = $21,528.60

And this is totally normal.

Guess I won't be giving up the day job anytime soon.

Posted by Chris at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 24, 2006

"The Customer Comes First" Now Has A Whole New Meaning

I had occasion to be at a local gas station/convenience store over the weekend. As I approached the counter with my bottle of Mountain Dew, my copy of Peddlers' Post, and the knowledge that I had used pump #9, the clerk said "Hiya, sexy." Now, she was turned sideways to me when she said it, but there wasn't anyone else in the store, so she must have meant me, right?

Apparently that thought process was tattooed across my face, given the look on her face when we made eye contact and I could then see the cell phone that she had cradled 'twixt shoulder and ear.

Turns out she had just called her husband. Good thing I didn't break out my standard response: "Ya think so? Then come over here and prove it."

Posted by Chris at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 12, 2006

Fealty To The King Of Battle

Michael Yon's latest dispatch includes a paper on counterinsurgency warfare written by Australian Army LTC David Kilcullen Ph.D. titled Twenty-Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company Level Counterinsurgency. RTWT, as they say, but here are two excerpts:

23. Practise armed civil affairs. Counterinsurgency is armed social work; an attempt to redress basic social and political problems while being shot at.
I don't think I've ever heard CI summarized so neatly.

But there's also this, which reminds you of the potential consequences of crossing the King of Battle:

What if higher headquarters doesn't "get" counterinsurgency? Higher headquarters is telling you the mission is to "kill terrorist", or pushing for high-speed armored patrols and a base-camp mentality.

. . .

Over time, you will find ways to do what you have to do. But never lie to higher headquarters about your locations or activities: they own the indirect fires. [emphasis added]
Getting a 155 round dropped on your head because your DS battalion didn't know you were where you were can ruin your whole day.


Posted by Chris at 11:18 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

April 04, 2006

Of Course, Now That You Know How Easy It Is, You'll Be Expected To Fix The Washer Every Time

The lid switch on my washer (the safety device that forces you to have the lid down before the basket will spin) crapped out over the weekend, just in time to trap us behind an entire laundry room full of dirties (as an aside, it continually surprises me how much laundry can be generated by just three people). After twenty minutes of staring at the thing trying to figure out how to take it apart, and actually unscrewing two screws that accomplished NOTHING, I put the adage "If you can't find it on the internet, it ain't worth knowing" to the test.

Thanks to applianceaid.com, I learned how to quickly and easily pop the ENTIRE CABINET off the washer. Twenty minutes later, I'd managed to replace the lid switch and reassemble the washer without flooding the house, shocking myself, or having any parts left over.

For those of you scoring at home: you have to remove two screws from the console, rotate it out of the way, release two clips holding the back of the washer on, slide the cabinet towards you about half an inch, and lift it up. That's it. YMMV, of course (e.g., I had to remove two pop-off plastic trim pieces to get to my console mount screws), but most new top-loaders work that way.

Posted by Chris at 04:13 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 28, 2006

Channeling My Inner Language Nazi

This may sound strange coming from someone who actually keeps a list of office-related neologisms, but I really really hate the pseudo-word "mentee" (which, surprise, doesn't even show up on webster.com unless you pay extra for their super-ginormous online dictionary).

The word is "protege." Get it right.

Posted by Chris at 12:32 PM | Comments (6)
Category: General Weirdness

There's Nothing Wrong With Him That A Big Ol' Block Of Debrand's Won't Cure

A lot of people are making fun of John Kerry's rider, but I read through it and didn't see anything too excessive for a senator and major Presidential candidate.

That is, until I spotted this on page 2:

  • Food - JK (for the time being) will not be eating spicy food or anything containing tomato, citrus or chocolate
No chocolate?


Posted by Chris at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 20, 2006

Consider The Irony Of The Mastectomy Patient

I've got to slow down a little. I was scanning the BBC RSS feed, which showed these two headlines:

  • Flash memory price 'to drop 25%'
  • Uneven breasts linked to cancer
but what I saw was
Flash uneven breasts to drop cancer 25%

Posted by Chris at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 16, 2006

And I Completely Missed The Fact That The Dual-Monitor Rig Appears To Be Staring At Her

We used to worship a CDC Cyber 170 Model 750 when I was at Michigan State - and I mean that almost literally. We called the computer center the Cyber Castle, and there was a viewing room where you could watch the various vestmented (OK, lab-coated) acolytes and deacons tend to the Cyber. Since the room had steps along each wall (for better viewing for the vertically-challenged, I guess) that looked a lot like the kneelers you'd find in a Catholic church, we dubbed the room the Cyber Chapel.

And if our Cyber had had a priestess like this Cyber had, I might still be there, staring at her with my face pressed up against the glass.

Although I'd wonder why she appears to have two different kinds of hair.

Courtesy of James Lileks' Institute of Official Cheer.

Posted by Chris at 07:22 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

March 13, 2006

I'd Call It A Freudian Slip, But I Think Freud Is Haraam

The Army has published a HOWTO on dealing with Arab culture. A lot of it is pretty elementary, but I learned quite a bit I didn't know before, e.g.:

Not eating everything on one's plate is considered a compliment. It is a sign of wealth when an Arab can afford to leave food behind.
Most Arabs DO NOT share the American concept of "personal space" in public situations, and in private meetings or conversations. It is considered OFFENSIVE TO STEP OR LEAN AWAY!
Shake Hands with right hand only and at the beginning and end of any visit. Shake hands longer but less firmly than in the West. Left hand grasps elbow...
Of course, evil Arabophobe that I am, I immediately thought "...so you can wipe your left hand on his robes."

But the one that really got my attention was this:

Ka'ba - located in Mecca, it is the most scared site in Islam. Muslims pray five times a day facing toward Ka'ba [emphasis added].
My first thought was that it was a typo for 'sacred.' My second thought was that maybe 'scared' was the right term after all. [H/T Secrecy News]

Posted by Chris at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

March 10, 2006

Next I'll Slap Somebody On The Back And See If Their Face Stays Like That

You've probably seen pictures of the recently-discovered hairy lobster by now:

Marine biologists have discovered a crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster or crab covered in what looks like silky fur.

Kiwa hirsuta is so distinct from other species that scientists have created a new taxonomic family for it.

. . .

K. hirsuta is blind; the researchers found it had only "the vestige of a membrane" in place of eyes, the Ifremer researcher said.

It's blind and it has hair on its palms.


Damn, my mother was right!

Posted by Chris at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

February 24, 2006

Even Worse, It's Not The Whole Song - Just The Bass Line!

Today's earworm is The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army.

I'm going to end up hating the song by lunchtime.

Posted by Chris at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 20, 2006

So I Bought A Watchdog, But They Stole Him Too

I saw a commercial for the alarm company ADT over the weekend, showing various evildoers deterred by the presence of an ADT alarm system - actually more by the sign indicating the presence of an alarm system, since you have to figure it's unlikely that they see the sign, then bust a window, then run away when the alarm goes off. It occurred to me that you really wouldn't need the alarm system at all - the warning sign would be enough.

Of course, since ADT wouldn't want to sell you just the sign, you'd have to steal it from somebody who already had one. Oh, the irony.

Posted by Chris at 09:20 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

February 15, 2006

Working Title: 'Brokeback Mosque'

If you thought the Islamofascists got their burkas in a wad over the Mohammad caricatures, just wait until they get a load of this movie:

Sandi Dubowski, who won the Teddy gay and lesbian award in 2001 for his controversial doc "Trembling Before G-d," may cause an even bigger stir with "In the Name of Allah," which explores the struggles of homosexual Muslims.

Gay Indian Muslim helmer Parvez Sharma is directing the pic, which looks at gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims across the Muslim and Western worlds.

And forget Sundance, Cannes, and all the 'right' film festivals - they're headed right into the lions' den:

Sharma and Dubowski plan to submit the pic to all major festivals in the Muslim world as well as in the West, but if it's rejected, Dubowski said, "We'll find ways of screening it in every Muslim nation, even if it's underground."
Good luck with that. And 'underground' sounds right - six feet underground, probably.

Posted by Chris at 11:42 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

February 14, 2006

From Russia With Love For Valentine's Day

pravda.ru is like the Russian local6.com - they have the best stories:

But my favorite is this one: Russian oligarch does not mind his beautiful wife starring in softcore porn film:

The wife of an influential Russian banker, Olga Rodionova, 31, shocked the Moscow elite when she posed nude for several men's magazines. Now she is going to act in a softcore porn film

. . .

Olga Rodionova, the owner of a fashionable boutique and a mother of a ten-year-old girl, says there is no problem if a woman wants to show her wonderful body. “I think there is nothing bad about erotic scenes in my film. I have always dreamt of being an actress and I think a nude body is an art. I have no time to dispute with those who criticize my photos; these people are just narrow-minded. I feel sorry for them because they see no difference between pornography and erotica,” Olga Rodionova says.
Hubby's take?
It is said that the husband approves of his wife's doings and even paid for some of the photo sessions himself.

Sergey Rodionov, 44, says that he was the first who took a nude picture of his wife. Some of Rodionov's business partners interpret Olga's behavior as adultery. “I tell my wife that rumors will die away soon, and the pictures will remind her of her young beauty even at the age of 90. I feel proud of her,” Sergey says.

Which reminds me of the old joke:

Guy goes into the confessional and tells the priest, "Father, I fornicated with a beautiful woman I just met, all weekend long. My place, her place, the car, the choir loft, everywhere.

"My son," the priest says, "Your penance is to say twenty - "

"But Father, I'm not Catholic."

"Then why are you telling me this?"

"Telling you? I'm telling everybody!"

Posted by Chris at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 03, 2006

Hope The Kool-Aid Tasted Good, Katie

Aaaaaaaand Katie Holmes' brainwashing is complete:

Well, it's happened. Katie Holmes is now shilling for Scientology.

I told you one year ago this week that I had received an unsolicited gift package in the mail from the Church of Scientology.

It included a personalized, signed note from Tom Cruise, informing me that a donation had been made in my name to the organization.

The package also included a framed set of Scientology lessons to live by. The most memorable was No. 12: Never fear to hurt another in a just cause.

Now I've seen the updated package for 2006, and it's a showstopper. The signed note now comes from Tom and Katie, and it includes both of their signatures.

And I see they're still pulling the same old tricks; e.g., 'endorsement by association:'

The package also contains a book that has pictures of smiling children and quotations, in large type, from people who would probably be surprised to find themselves in the company of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard: Kofi Annan and the late Martin Luther King, Jr. The quotations are made to seem as if their authors endorse Scientology.

Posted by Chris at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Catching Up On Random Thoughts

I think every car should come with two horns: a "Excuse me, the light just turned green. Thank you." horn, and a "You stupid #^(@ing mother(@*$er! What the $(#@* in the name of #(%()@ and #)@(%^*# did you do that for?" horn. I would have had occasion to use both just on my 10-minute commute home yesterday.

It took us 66 years to get from Kill Devil Hill to the Moon landing. It's been 37 years since then. How much farther have we gotten?

Apparently the NFL is going to pony up $20 million to help repair the Superdome. What, it isn't insured?

Posted by Chris at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 31, 2006

24: Everything Old Is Nuked Again

In Season 2, a shadowy government group allowed terrorists to bring a nuke into the US so they could catch them red-handed with it. Last night, it was revealed that a shadowy government (maybe) group allowed terrorists to take a bunch of nerve gas out of the US so they could catch them red-handed with it. In both cases, the terrorists turned the tables and got loose with their WMDs.

So is 24 completely out of new ideas in Season 5? I sure hope not.

Posted by Chris at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 24, 2006

Stories Like This Don't Help Fight The Stereotype "'British Dentistry' Is An Oxymoron"

Dentist let partner drill teeth:

A dentist from south-east London who let her unqualified boyfriend treat patients has been struck off.

Mogjan Azari allowed her lover Omid Amidi-Mazaheri to work on more than 600 patients, leaving many in agony.

He drilled out cavities without local anaesthetic and installed expensive fillings that crumbled within days.

The pair charged the NHS for the bungled work and other non-existent procedures and are believed to have made £120,000 from the scam.
The alleged dentistry happened between 2002 and 2003. Both were sentenced to prison for their misdeeds in March of 2005. Azari was sentenced to one year, Amidi-Mazaheri two (more on his exploits here, including a bit where he dropped a piece of equipment down a patient's throat).

Azari, 39, a Swedish Iranian, was barred from practising in the UK by the General Dental Council (GDC) for serious professional misconduct.

. . .

The GDC considered claims that Azari "did not take any, or adequate, steps" to check that Amidi-Mazaheri was a qualified dentist.

It was alleged she allowed him to continue treating patients despite promising the Croydon Primary Care Trust in 2003 that he would stop. [emphasis added]

Such conduct would have been "unprofessional, dishonest and contrary to the best interests of patients", the council heard.
It took the General Dental Council this long to pull her license?

This reminds me of something that happened the last time I went to the UK. Of course, I'd heard about the stereotype of Britons having bad teeth, but I didn't really believe it. But wouldn't you know, every time I thought about it over there, two of the next three people I saw would have really, really, bad teeth. I'm talking colors-not-found-in-nature-and-be-careful-chewing-or-you'll-lacerate-your-face bad teeth.

Every time.

Finally, my last night there, I was eating in a restaurant in Swindon when I looked across the floor, maybe four or five tables away, and saw a really attractive woman. She was probably in her late twenties and bore more than a passing resemblance to Kimberly Williams. Hey, she's really pretty, I thought. Too bad she'll have nasty teeth like most people I've seen this week. Then I saw her smile at the couple she was dining with.

White. Straight. Perfect. I was floored.

I barely had time to recover from my shock when her party got up to leave. I had occasion to catch her accent as they walked by my table.

She was American.


Posted by Chris at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 20, 2006

Take Something Out, Put Something In... Preferably Non-Explosive

When I first heard about geocaching, I thought "They've made dead drops a game anybody can play!"

I didn't consider that not only did it give a cover for, say, terrorists to securely pass data around, the caches themselves could look like bombs if they're poorly placed:

In a game of global positioning called geocaching, the lowly treasure hunt has gone high-tech -- but it can also be a game of risk when terrorism-sensitive authorities find the goods first.

Scot Tintsman found that out when he stashed a green bucket under an Idaho highway bridge last September, intending to fill it with goodies for other players to find using Global Positioning System units. But before he could finish adding the requisite trinkets and log books and posting its GPS coordinates on the Internet, a bridge inspection crew found it.

Rounding a corner on his motorcycle to finish rigging his cache, he was greeted by a barricade of police cars and a bomb squad. He struggled to explain the misunderstanding.

"I got off my bike and three officers approached me very cautiously, hands on their holsters," he said. "I was trying to turn off my MP3 player and I think they were worried I was going for a detonator."

. . .

In November, a geocache outside a police station in Provo, Utah, met a bomb squad robot as its fate. It contained a toy gun, holster and nightstick.

In June, a bomb squad in De Pere, Wisconsin, used a robot-mounted shotgun to blast the lid off a suspicious-looking military ammunition box found in a park. It also turned out to be a geocache.

And on the night before the 2004 presidential election, police and the FBI spent hours questioning a man seen prowling along a fence at Los Angeles International Airport with a GPS unit. He was a geocacher from Vermont trying to stash a toy snake into a cache, placed five weeks earlier, that had already been visited by 463 people.

Posted by Chris at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Caribou Everywhere Are Now Running Scared. Should We Be, Too?

Apparently a piece of the warhead from a NorK missile test firing was found in Alaska:

The warhead of a long-range missile test-fired by North Korea was found in the U.S. state of Alaska, a report to the National Assembly revealed yesterday.

``According to a U.S. document, the last piece of a missile warhead fired by North Korea was found in Alaska,’’ former Japanese foreign minister Taro Nakayama was quoted as saying in the report. ``Washington, as well as Tokyo, has so far underrated Pyongyang’s missile capabilities.’’

What we don't know is how scared we should be about this. If North Korea was aiming for a spot in the middle of the Pacific, then they've got a way to go shrinking their CEP. If, however, Kim Jong-il was trying to settle a personal score with some Alaskan wildlife, then Pyongyang may be farther along than we thought...


Posted by Chris at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 16, 2006

Brandishing Dangerous Logic At The Fuel Pump

So a new gas station just opened near where I live, and among their offerings is the new E85 fuel that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline (hence the name). It's always priced 20 cents below unleaded regular, regardless of how the price of unleaded changes (and this being Fort Wayne, it changes a lot).

Why does its price vary exactly as gasoline's does when it's only 15% gasoline?


Posted by Chris at 12:04 PM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

January 13, 2006

I'm Guessing He Won't Be Hitting Heaven's Friday Night All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp Bar

You know that trick at Japanese table-cooking restaurants where the chef flips shrimp onto diners' plates? You'd think you couldn't kill a guy that way.

And you'd be wrong.

Of course, there's a lawsuit involved:

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A shrimp a hibachi chef tossed at a man eating at a Japanese steakhouse ultimately led to the diner's death, his family claims in a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against the restaurant chain Benihana.

Jerry Colaitis wrenched his neck when he ducked to avoid the shrimp in the chain's Munsey Park restaurant, attorney Andre Ferenzo said in opening statements Wednesday.

Months after the January 2001 incident, the 43-year-old Long Island man died from complications caused by neck surgery he required afterward, the lawyer said.

I can picture St. Peter now:


"Jerry Colaitis."

"Oh, yeah, you're the flying shrimp guy. Hang on a second. (picks up phone) Yeah, boss, I need You at the front gate. Bring Your dad and the Spook, too - you're all gonna want to hear this one."

"I should have just let the damn thing hit me."

Posted by Chris at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 09, 2006

I Could Always Just Sell My Plasma 20 Times

Do you suppose the wife would notice the $500 hit my wallet would take if I bought one of these?

Nixie Tube Clock

'Cos I want one. Other cool nixie clocks here.


Posted by Chris at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 07, 2006

Today's Moment Of Smug Satisfaction

I had three bills that to mail today, using my last three 37-cent stamps to do it on the last day you can use just a 37-cent stamp. I caught my mail carrier just as she was leaving the neighborhood.


Of course, by 'caught my mail carrier just as she was leaving the neighborhood' I mean 'hopped in my car and chased her down as she was servicing the last communal mailbox before leaving my neighborhood because I just missed her at the communal mailbox right outside of my house,' but still. I haven't had a whole lot to be smugly satisfied about lately (a known side effect of being a Michigan fan), so I'll take what I can get.

Posted by Chris at 11:05 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 01, 2006

Ten, Nine, EightSeven, SixFive, Four, ThreeTwoOneHappyNewYear!

Anybody catch Dick Clark's New Year's Slurrin' Eve last night? Dude sounded like he had five pounds of raw liver for a tongue, although fears that he'd take two minutes to stammer out the last ten seconds turned out to be unfounded - he actually got there three seconds early!

But the thought that kept coming back to me was "Some ABC suit had to be there during rehearsals. That means he heard Clark and still thought "Yeah. We're good to go."


Posted by Chris at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 28, 2005

Whoosh, Boom, Splat

Here's a perfect example of why I read BoingBoing even though I don't share their politics: contributor Mark (he of the above-referenced Chomsky gush) pointed me to the new blog by William Gurstelle (author of Backyard Ballistics), wherein he talks about neat stuff like a decent use for fruitcake, magnetically levitating frogs, and outing Orlando Bloom's catapult fetish.

Posted by Chris at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Why I Can't Quit The Day Job

I like taking sports pictures, and occasionally I get pretty decent ones. Sometimes, when the day job really sucks, I wonder if I could get good enough to make a living at it. Then I remember situations like this...

...where this play...

...ends a game this way...

...and I'd have to be this guy...

...taking a picture of this guy.

And I just couldn't be that guy.

Unless Anguished Guy was like, a fND player, or an aOSU player. Then it'd be cool. But you can't really count on that, can you?

Posted by Chris at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 27, 2005

Maybe It's Not As Subtle As 'Water Into Wine,' But It Will Get Your Attention

So just when is Jesus returning, anyway? Of course, we don't know:

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

. . .

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

But here's a hint. If you see something like this:

you might want to get your ass to church.

Lots of other cool Photoshops at Floating Logos Project, including Invasion Of The Aliens From Planet 84 Lumber.

Posted by Chris at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 22, 2005

Isn't A Camauro One Of The Musical Instruments Played By The Whos?

Apparently the Pope unintentionally did a Santa Claus impersonation in his latest weekly appearance for the faithful:

ROME: He was not riding on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, but when Pope Benedict arrived on the Popemobile for his weekly audience in St Peter's Square, onlookers could have been forgiven for thinking Santa Claus was in town.

To keep warm in the bitter cold, the pontiff wore a red velvet cap, trimmed with white fur which, with his scarlet cape, gave him the look of Father Christmas.

The traditional hat, known as a camauro, was commonly worn by popes from medieval times on to keep their heads warm on cold days, but has rarely been worn in recent times. The last pope to wear it was John XXIII [emphasis added].

I know I'm going to burn in Hell just for this, but my first thought upon seeing the accompanying picture was Holy cow, it's Pope Grinch!

Holy cow, it's Pope Grinch!

Posted by Chris at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 16, 2005

I Think This Merits A Celebratory Shot Of Tequila. I May Even Wait Until I Get Home From Work.

After about three weeks of trying real real hard, I finally cracked 46:00 for a 10,000m row (45:38.2). I know you uber-rowers are chuckling snidely right now (oh, who am I kidding? You're all chuckling snidely right now), but I don't think that's a bad time for a 41yo fat man with a bum knee.

Posted by Chris at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 06, 2005

I Would Have Passed Him, But We Were Already Running Three-Wide In The Corner

On the commute home last night, I got stuck behind a car sporting about twenty of those NASCAR number decals - you know, 2, 3, 6, 20, 42, 69, square root of -1 (that was the DARPA-sponsored Hummer, fresh off its Grand Challenge victory).

He was driving ten miles an hour under the speed limit. Oh, the irony.

Posted by Chris at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 02, 2005

Isolating Us From Our Allies

The next step of the animal campaign to remove humans from the top of the food chain has started, as they are now beginning to move against "Man's best friend":

Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report.

Passers-by were too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute.

They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh.

Posted by Chris at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

November 30, 2005

I Wish I'd Thought Of This

Mobile Strip Club For Tailgaters Found Outside Tampa Football Stadium:

Officers found a 40-foot-long mobile home filled with strippers, bouncers and tailgaters outside Raymond James Stadium before Tampa's game with the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

The mobile strip club featured a stripper pole and a disco ball, Local 6 News reported.

For $20, men were allowed to enter the mobile home, according to the report.

Undercover police said the men were given alcohol and then offered nude lap dances for money.

"Bringing it to a family environment such as a Bucs game totally surprises me," Tampa police Officer Bill Todd said.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

5,700 Channels And Nothing's On

Even though this story involves a small town in West Virginia and 12 satellite dishes, it is NOT my White Trash Wednesday story, since neither meth nor stupid crime is involved, and Mr. Jessup seems like a decent guy who just likes to watch TV.

A lot of TV.

Do constant reruns of “I Love the ’80s” on VH1 have you ready to gouge out your eyeballs?

Then come to Al Jessup’s house — where his 5,000-plus radio and television stations from around the world beamed in by his 12 satellite dishes are bound to keep you entertained somehow.

Since 1998, the Beckley resident has amassed a collection of 12 dishes around his James Street home. He said he first just began subscribing to Direct TV and Dish Network, but he later learned that by purchasing special satellite receivers he could receive “free to air” programming from several different satellites swirling the globe. The information on how to adjust a dish and set up a receiver to pick up programming from these stations such as Galaxy 10, AMC 2 and Telestar 5 is included with these receivers.

“Up in the sky, there’s lots of free stuff,” he said.
. . .
The last time he counted, he received more than 5,000 channels. He has stopped counting since.

[H/T Boing Boing]

Posted by Chris at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 29, 2005

Next Week's Auction: Ladder 58's Tire Gauge

Whatever 'it' is, you can get it on eBay, whether it's a fake 9/11 firefighter's helmet or an authentic FDNY prybar used at Ground Zero:

A firefighting tool that disappeared from a Bronx firetruck at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 has been returned after an eagle-eyed captain spotted the device for sale on eBay.

Capt. Joe Principio of Ladder Co. 58 on East Tremont Avenue saw the prying bar, called a Halligan tool, being auctioned in May ? and quickly notified fire marshals. "I recognized it immediately," said Principio. "We had spot-welded '58' on the forked portion."
The seller sent the Halligan tool back at his own expense when contacted by the fire marshals; the article didn't say whether further action will be taken or how the seller got the tool in the first place.

And if that isn't sad enough, read this:

Ladder 58's Halligan tool disappeared Sept. 11 from the side of its truck after the company responded to the World Trade Center attack.

"Our rig was stripped," said Principio. "Most of our equipment was gone."

Posted by Chris at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Nice Shootin', Ute!

Via News of The Weird comes this Deseret News Salt Lake City road-rage story:

One of four shots from a .357-caliber revolver hit the tip of a man's raised middle finger as he was driving on I-15 early Friday.
The incident appears to be one of road rage, and police are looking for an unidentified woman who fired the shots from another car.
About 12:40 a.m., the 25-year-old man was waiting at 500 South for the light to change so he could get on the freeway, said South Salt Lake Police Capt. Chris Snyder.
As he waited, a woman in what turned out to be a stolen car pulled up next to him.
The two made eye contact, but there was something about the contact that made the man uncomfortable, Snyder said. The light turned green and the two cars entered the freeway.
On the onramp, the man told police, the woman began to drive aggressively and sped up to pass the man. In doing so, she hit some traffic cones that gradually closed some of the southbound lanes, Snyder said.
Somewhere between 2100 South and 3300 South, the woman rolled down the window of her car and yelled at the man.
So he made an obscene hand gesture.
That's when she apparently fired four shots at the driver's side of the man's car. One of the bullets hit the tip of the man's middle finger on his right hand, severing it. His index finger also was injured, but not as seriously.
It could be argued that this was just an Old West-style discussion: he expressed his opinion; she expressed hers. And to hit a small moving target from a moving platform, I'd have to say it was quite an eloquent expression.
It appears the woman made a U-turn on I-15 after the shooting and headed north. She crashed into a concrete barricade near the I-15 and I-80 interchange and took the State Street exit on I-80, Snyder said.
Witnesses saw the woman as she left the car in the middle of the southbound lanes on State Street and ran away.
OK, so she shoots better than she drives. Nobody's perfect.

It also appears that the .357 Mag is the preferred handgun of road-ragers (something to keep in mind when you're shopping for your next kevlar car coat). From another Deseret News article:

Williamson, 45, played the shrimp-loving soldier Bubba in "Forrest Gump." According to a police report, his car may have cut off Diaz's sport utility vehicle on a Gardena street on May 3.
Diaz began to "aggressively tailgate" Williamson and flash gang hand signs, the report said.
When Williamson pulled over to let him pass, Diaz instead parked in front of his car, got out, pointed a .357 magnum revolver at Williamson and threatened to kill him, police reported.

Posted by Chris at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 28, 2005

How Beer Goggles Work

Somehow I don't expect this one to end up on How Stuff Works, but British scientists may have figured out why guys sometimes wake up next to a double-coyote-fugly:

SCIENTISTS have figured out why alcohol makes ugly people seem more attractive - otherwise known as the "beer goggles" effect.

Far from being a simple matter of how much you have to drink, the researchers have devised a complex formula which takes into account the level of light in the pub or club, the drinkers' own eyesight, the smokiness of the room and the distance between two people.

. . .

"The beer goggles effect isn't solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes, there are other influencing factors at play too," said Professor Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester. Amazingly, scientists now believe you don't even need to have had an alcoholic drink to suffer from the beer goggles effect.

"The formula shows for example, that a person with poor vision who's talking to someone in a very smoky bar will be experiencing a beer goggles effect close to someone who has consumed eight pints in a smoke-free and well-lit room."

The formula can work out a final score to measure the effect.
And if it's 69, you win!

Posted by Chris at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Zenu Wuz Here. And Will Be Again.

A WaPo article referenced in Boing Boing describes how Albuquerque TV station KRQE has found $cientology's Dead Sea Scrolls, so to speak:

Secret Flying Saucer Base Found in New Mexico?

Maybe. From the state that gave us Roswell, the epicenter of UFO lore since 1947, comes a report from an Albuquerque TV station about its discovery of strange landscape markings in the remote desert. They're etched in New Mexico's barren northern reaches, resemble crop circles and are recognizable only from a high altitude.

Also, they are directly connected to the Church of Scientology.

The church tried to persuade station KRQE not to air its report last week about the aerial signposts marking a Scientology compound that includes a huge vault "built into a mountainside," the station said on its Web site. The tunnel was constructed to protect the works of L. Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who founded the church in the 1950s.

The archiving project, which the church has acknowledged, includes engraving Hubbard's writings on stainless steel tablets and encasing them in titanium capsules. It is overseen by a Scientology corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology. Based in Los Angeles, the corporation dispatched an official named Jane McNairn and an attorney to visit the TV station in an effort to squelch the story, KRQE news director Michelle Donaldson said.

OK, maybe they're not so much their Dead Sea Scrolls as they are the ultimate offsite backup (you can kind of see it in this Google satshot [H/T Boing Boing reader Tom Pozar]):

The contents of the vault itself are not secret -- they were shown in 1998 on ABC News's "20/20."

"Buried deep in these New Mexico hills in steel-lined tunnels, said to be able to survive a nuclear blast, is what Scientology considers the future of mankind," ABC's Tom Jarriel said in his report. "Seen here for the first time, thousands of metal records, stored in heat-resistant titanium boxes and playable on a solar-powered turntable, all containing the beliefs of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard."

But why bother? If there is an Apocalpyse, who will be around to listen to L. Ron's Greatest Hits? The folks who signed the billion-year contracts, that's who! And they'll be coming from a long way away:

The church maintains two other vaults in California to preserve Hubbard's materials and words, according to Hines and another longtime staff member who also quit a couple of years ago, Chuck Beatty of Pittsburgh.

"The whole purpose of putting these teachings in the underground vaults was expressly so that in the event that everything gets wiped out somehow, someone would be willing to locate them and they would still be there," said Beatty, who spent 28 years in Scientology. Some loyalists are tasked specifically with the "super-duper confidential" job of coming back to Earth in the far-off future, he added.

The billion-year contracts are signed by members of what Hubbard, a Navy lieutenant in World War II, called the church's Sea Organization. The motto of that cadre, according to Beatty and Hines, who said they were both members, is "We come back."

Posted by Chris at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Rods From... Well, Not God. Maybe Saint Barbara.

This baby step towards Rods From God could also be called "Brads from Brad," Brad being any Redleg firing this munition, coming soon to a tube near you:

The modern military is borrowing an idea from Robin Hood to deal with unexploded landmines. Patents filed by US defence contractor Raytheon concede that current landmine clearance is ineffective, especially if mines are in sand or under water.

But the company has developed a shell containing hundreds of steel "arrows" – 155 millimetres long and 15 mm in diameter – that can trigger landmines with a single shot.

Each rod has a flared rear end, like the feathers of an arrow, and hundreds can be packed into a single cylindrical shell. This shell can be lobbed into a mined area and just before impact a charge behind the arrows will fire them downwards. The metal flights will keep the arrows on a straight course so that they pepper the area at high velocity and at regular spaces.

Tests show that a shell containing hundreds of arrows can wipe out every mine in an area several metres square, even when the mines are buried under sand or under nearly a metre of water. GPS can also be used to guide the shells into overlapping patches in order to safely clear a wide area.

Let's think about some unintended consequences:

  • Scrap metal dealers in landmine-heavy areas overjoyed at the thought of money falling from the sky
  • Every crop grown in a field cleared this way will be iron-fortified
  • It'll drive metal detector-wielding battlefield scavengers batty - how are you supposed to find that ultra rare swivel hook from the Zimbabwean model ZM-214 field mess kit if your detector is going off every second?
  • A two-fer: ground mole and turf aeration problems solved forever!
  • For seaborne application, thousands of metal rods quickly moving through salt water will disrupt the earth's magnetic field, possibly waking the Elder Gods (I know Dave is hoping for this one)
[Full Disclosure and disclaimer - I work for Raytheon. That doesn't necessarily mean I think this is a good idea.]

Posted by Chris at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 21, 2005

If I Were A Beauxbatons Parent, I'd Be Asking For My Tuition Back

(These only make sense if you've seen Goblet of Fire)

1. If shrinking violet Fleur Delacour was the best that Beauxbatons Academy had to offer, then that is one seriously lame-ass magic school.

2. I find it interesting that someone else can enter you into a binding magical contract. And I thought the lawyers in our world were bad...

3. Googling "Emma Watson turns 18 countdown" yields about 54,800 hits.

Posted by Chris at 04:23 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

November 20, 2005

RIP Moribrook's Unforgettable Sullivan, 11/5/1992 - 11/17/2005

I just got email from my sister letting me know that her Golden Retriever, Sullivan, died last Thursday. It wasn't a big surprise, since she had just turned 13 and had had health problems for several months, but it was still quite a blow. Sully basically grew up with our own Golden, Wrigley, who is only two months younger than she. Although he's still pretty healthy for a senior dog, it's never pleasant to be reminded that he won't be around forever.

My sister wrote a beautiful eulogy that she emailed to a few people; if I can get her permission, I'll add it to this entry later. My best memory of Sully is from several years ago, when we spent Fourth of July at my sister's then-boyfriend's parents' lake cottage. Whenever my son (who was probably seven or eight at the time) went into the water, Sully would stop whatever she was doing and walk out on the dock and watch him. If he went under water for more than a few seconds, she would start barking until he came back up.

Of course, we have pictures. Here's one from when they were less than a year old (Sully is the reddish one; Wrigley is the blonde):

Sully and Wrigley, summer 1993

And a couple from last Thanksgiving:

Sully and Wrigley, Thanksgiving 2004

Sully and Wrigley, Thanksgiving 2004

Kinda puts having your favorite football team losing its biggest game in perspective, doesn't it?

Posted by Chris at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

November 14, 2005

Does Their Fire Procedure Involve Soaking In Gasoline?

A local high school had a bomb scare today. The official procedure in this instance is apparently to go into lockdown - everybody's locked in their classrooms. I was all ready to file this one under Official Stupidity - why wouldn't you evacuate the building? - when I realized that it's a bit of a crap shoot. If the bomb's in a locker and it goes off while you're evacuating the building, well, 'Oops' probably wouldn't quite cover it. On the other hand, if the bomb's in a classroom...

Nothing was found and everything came out OK, except of course for the kid who made the threat.

Posted by Chris at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 13, 2005

This Can't Possibly Be What It Looks Like

Look at the assistant behind IU coach Terry Hoeppner in this video (773KB, opens in separate window) and tell me what you think he's doing.

Posted by Chris at 02:04 PM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

November 11, 2005

Veterans' Day

To all Vets everywhere and everywhen, but especially to my father, father-in-law, uncle, both brothers-in-law, and nephew:

Thank you for your service.

Posted by Chris at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 08, 2005

Yet Another Reason I Don't Watch The West Wing

What does it say about us when there's more fuss over a pretend debate on a TV drama than there is over real Presidential debates?

Posted by Chris at 07:28 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

November 07, 2005

I Tried To Build A Transmogrifier Once, But I Couldn't Get The Parts

My son and I used to read Calvin & Hobbes together when he was little. Boy, was that a mistake. C&H is The Anarchist's Cookbook for seven-year-olds. As an aside, we read a lot of Shel Silverstein, too, which, now that I think about it, goes a long way towards explaing a lot of things. But I digress.

It's well known among C&H fans how publicity-averse Bill Watterson is - I was shocked to find a picture of him in his Wikipedia entry - but Len Peralta of Jawbone Radio took a trip to Watterson's hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and managed to score a brief interview from Watterson's mother. It's worth a listen, especially if you start at about the 7:10 mark to avoid the slightly stalker-esque part where he interviews everyday folks in the town who might have some inside info about him.

[H/T Cory Doctorow at BoingBong]

Posted by Chris at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 04, 2005

Advice For Madonna: If He Asks You To Sign A Billion-Year Contract, RUN!

Is Kabbalah a scam like any other cult? Say it ain't so!

America's "Material Girl," singer Madonna, may have to search for a new Kabbalah guru soon, unless she plans to make pilgrimages to an Israeli prison on visiting day to visit her rabbi.

According to reports coming out of Israel, Shaul Youdkevitch and other Kabbalah rabbis are accused of bilking a terminally ill woman out of over $30,000. Many believe this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Actually, it's not like just any other cult...
Israeli police detectives alledge that Youdkevitch and rabbis managing the multi-million dollar Israel Kabbalah Center conned Leah Zonis and her husband, Boris, into making "significant and painful donations" if she wanted to recover from her cancer. Police say the rabbis sold the dying woman bottles of "holy water" with trademark Kabbalah labels. They were told the miraculous water would cure her ailment.

Boris Zonis' lawyer, Haim Cohen, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that, "The woman's condition continued to deteriorate and instead of telling the truth that these were empty promises, they took more money and cheated with medication that is just a bottle of water."

After several treatments, the distraught couple told the Kabbalah rabbis they could not afford to pay for more holy water, police state, and that the rabbis conned the husband to work for their centre in order to work off future payments [emphasis added]. It was at that point Mr. Zonis filed a complaint with the police charging the Youdkevitch with extortion.
The 'if you can't afford it, come work for us' ploy is a well-known tactic of Scientology (as is the Billion-Year Contract). Of course, as a celebrity, Madonna would get the Celebrity Centre treatment.

Posted by Chris at 08:09 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

November 01, 2005

From My Lips To CMU's Ears

Last week, I speculated that the DARPA Grand Challenge might later be referred to as the dawn of the Age of Machines. A couple of days later, I noted another advance that may mark the Middle of the Beginning of the End. So it's not a moment too soon that I see this article about a new book, How To Survive A Robot Uprising:

A new book by a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute is poised to make waves behind the cloistered doors of the school's famed robotics labs, and its rights have already been optioned for a Hollywood film.

It is not a sexy roman a clef or an investigative look at the school's ties to the U.S. Defense Department, but rather a humorous guidebook for battling a robot takeover of Earth.

"Any robot could rebel, from a toaster to a Terminator, and so it is crucial to learn the strengths and weaknesses of every robot enemy," author Daniel H. Wilson warns in "How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion."

What makes the book cool -- and unlike some other survival books -- is that Wilson is an actual roboticist, who got his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon last month. While his scenarios are outlandish -- describing attacks by humanoid robots, some of them with creepy tails, some that can climb walls or swim -- the research on how to build and attack the robot creatures is quite real.
We can only hope it isn't already too late. [H/T Gear Factor]

Posted by Chris at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Great, But What I Really Want Is An Early Warning Device Against Stupid Drivers

Force protection is a big deal and getting bigger all the time, as evidenced by this new counter-sniper system:

WASHINGTON -- A sniper fires on American troops in Iraq. In the milliseconds before the bullet hits -- in fact, before the shot is even heard -- a computer screen reveals the gun's model and exact location. That's the kind of intelligence that can save soldiers' lives. The Army is currently testing the technology in combat.

. . .

Walt Smith, a technology director at Radiance who traveled with the system to Iraq during its March 2004 launch, said soldiers like it because of its precision.

"A person who has a rugged tablet personal computer can see an image," Smith said. "Someone on the second floor, third window from the right, shot from that location."

The system was tested on top of a building where there was a high concentration of insurgent gunfire. Within a few days, American troops were able to use WeaponWatch to return fire more rapidly, Smith said, resulting in a noticeable drop in enemy attacks.
It was at this point in reading the article that I wondered how long it would be before somebody figured out that they could connect this to a weapon and make an automatic gun like in Goldeneye or Half-Life. Of course, they're already ahead of me:
Kimzey said that because the technology has become so mobile and keeps getting smaller, there's virtually no end to the possibilities. For example, the Marines recently tested a program that links the infrared detector to an automatic weapon. It would allow the combatant wielding that weapon to get a shot off almost immediately after the enemy fired.
Of course, now the lawyers would get involved:
Kimzey said such an invention could be problematic because military rules of engagement require that a human being, and not a machine make firing decisions in the field of combat.
Party poopers.

[full disclosure: we're working on something similar linked to the LCMR for anti-mortar force protection]

Posted by Chris at 07:53 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

October 28, 2005

Carnival Of The Costumes

With Hallloween weekend coming up, this post will be frequently updated with costume pictures from DL's favorite bloggers (oh, who am I kidding? Anybody who links to this post and provides a picture will probably make the cut).

So leave a comment or email with a link to a photo of your halloween costume, and expose yourself to an audience of, well, a couple of dozen.

Posted by Chris at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 27, 2005

If You Kill Yourself And Nobody Notices, Are You Really Dead?

This kind of falls under the category "If the aliens pick the right night to invade, we'll never notice it until it's too late":

Authorities in Delaware said a woman's body was found hanging from a tree Wednesday after she apparently committed suicide. But they say it went unreported for a few hours, because people walking by thought the body was a Halloween decoration.

The body was suspended by rope from a tree about 15 feet off the ground in Frederica.

The wife of the town's mayor told a Wilmington paper (The News Journal) that it looked like "something somebody would have rigged up."

Posted by Chris at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Great. Now Can You Tell Me How Copperfield's Going To Impregnate A Woman Without Touching Her?

My kitchen table wobbles even when sitting on a perfectly flat surface. My kitchen floor, as you might expect of anything assembled by Lowest Bidder Builders, is not perfectly flat; however, I can always rotate the table such that it sits in a stable manner. I'd just kind of assumed that you could always do that for any reasonable values of 'table wobbliness' and 'floor flatness', but this guy had to go out and prove it:

Do you always get the wobbly table at restaurants and cafés? Don't despair. A physicist has proved that, within reasonable limits, it is always possible to rotate the table to a position where all four legs stand solidly on the ground.

André Martin was moved to study the problem because he was fed up with the wobbly tables at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, where he works on abstruse problems in high-energy physics.

Anyone who drinks a cup of coffee on the terrace of the CERN cafeteria, says Martin, discovers that the tables usually have only three feet resting on the ground, so that the slightest touch spills your drink.

Time after time, Martin would find himself rotating the table to look for a stable position. "I've always been able to find one," he says. "People are sometimes amazed that it works."

More than ten years ago, Martin decided to see if he could find some proof that a stable state always exists. He believed that he'd found one, and even presented it at a summer school in 1998, but he never wrote it up and discovered that in any case it wasn't completely correct.

Now Martin believes he has a more watertight case, and this time he has gone public1. "I had the feeling that mathematicians were interested," he explains.
[H/T Boing Boing]

Posted by Chris at 04:52 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

The Young Lady And The Old Lady Are BOTH In My Head!

A quick hitter to start your day (Pacific Time, anyway): if you're not fooled by optical illusions, you might be schizophrenic:

Optical illusions that fool most people don't seem to trick those who suffer from schizophrenia, concludes a study published in the latest issue of Current Biology. The success may actually be linked to a weakness in a brain mechanism called contextual processing, which is responsible for picking out relevant sensory information from the barrage of stimuli a person constantly experiences. If that's the case, it may explain why some schizophrenics misunderstand other people's actions in the context of a situation or feel paranoia or persecution.

(title reference here)

Posted by Chris at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 25, 2005

Recommendations Wanted: Cheap Flash-Based MP3 Player

My current El Muy Cheapo MP3 player has this annoying habit of resetting to the beginning of the current track whenever it shuts off. Although I can fast-forward back to the same point when I power up again (assuming I know approximately where that is), this is a real pain in the ass when I'm listening to the Bob and Tom podcast since each one comes as four forty-minute tracks.

My MP3 player also has the infuriating habit of switching off spontaneously about half the time I un-pause it, about a third of the time I switch from/to the headphones to/from the car adapter, and about once an hour for no reason at all.

Now I know I shouldn't expect a lot from a $15 player, especially one with 128MB that has a screen display and can double as a USB drive, but I'm about ready to chuck it all the way across the workout room the next time it pukes on me. So I'm open to recommendations for a replacement.

  • Flash-based, 256MB or better.
  • Under $50.
  • Has some kind of screen display.
  • Can fast-forward and rewind within tracks.
  • Starts at the same point within a track after powering down and restarting (and preferably even after switching batteries).
  • Tolerant of damp environments - I'll be using it during my workouts, and that's a damp environment if ever there was one.

Somebody, please, hook me up.

Posted by Chris at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

October 24, 2005

Eventually, They Will Have A Killswitch For Us...

I know I'm about two weeks late to this party, but circumstances led me to Wikipedia's entry for the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. I was quite impressed with the robot vehicles' improvements over last year's Challenge, where none of the competitors got to the 8-mile mark, but I noticed a couple of disturbing things:

  • Golem2: Out of race at 22 miles; software bug crashed main computer causing 60mph rampage.
  • NaviGATOR: Out of race at 14 miles; lost control pushing speed past known tolerances
  • Alice: Out of race at 8 miles; after GPS reacquisition, veered over barrier and towards media.
Sure, safety devices prevented any real problems, but any vehicle we make smart enough to auto-navigate will eventually be smart enough to circumvent them.

And thus will begin the Age Of The Machines.

Posted by Chris at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

October 20, 2005

Jus' The Cost Of Doin' Bidness...

Apparently there's a price scale for everything in Russia, including bribes:

The chairman of the Russian Anti-Corruption Committee, Anton Belyakov, stated that bribes may vary in Russia from $100 (to a police officer) to $20 million (to acquire the official position of a governor).

And it's going up, too:

The average amount of bribes on the business market of Russia has increased to $135,8 thousand. A successful Russian businessman has to pay about $243,7 thousand of bribes a year as opposed to $23,000 in 2001. The Russian market of bribes is evaluated at some $316 billion a year.

This was enough to vault Russia to 34th place on the Most Corrupt Countries list, slotting in right with Albania, Niger, and Sierra Leone.

It's an impressive jump, but they're going to have to do better than that if they expect to make a BCS (Bribery Championship Series) bowl, because even though the Former Soviet Republics Conference champion gets an automatic bid, Russia still has to jump over Kyrgygzstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and undefeated Turkmenistan. It's doable, because everybody except the Azeris are still ahead on the schedule, but they'll need somebody to beat them and somebody to beat Turkmenistan twice.

Of course, with the proper bribes, everything can come out just the way you want it.

Posted by Chris at 06:03 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

October 11, 2005

I'm Guessing It's More A Shrug And A Mournful "I Knew That Was Going To Happen"

A church I drive by on my daily commute recently put this on its sign:

God doesn't let something happen and then say 'Oops.'

Now I'm not certain what this particular church believes in terms of predestination (I can never keep all the different flavors of Protestantism straight on doctrine), but my first thought was, Of course He doesn't say that, because 'Oops' implies surprise and God already knows everything that's going to happen!"

Posted by Chris at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 10, 2005

Today's Reason I'm Going To Hell

I just had a great idea for a website. You surf to it and it displays an image that flashes at 20Hz. If you're still sitting on that page after thirty seconds, the site automatically dials 911 for you.

I think I'll call it epileptictest.com.

Posted by Chris at 05:43 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

October 07, 2005

Do They Have Frikkin' Laser Beams? They Better Have Frikkin' Laser Beams!

You've probably heard about the Navy-trained killer dolphins who escaped their Gulf-coast compound when Katrina hit:

It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Not to worry - they're training sharks to take 'em out! OK, fine, the article admits only that the Office of Naval Research funded the study and doesn't mention anything about weapons, but what do you expect from an unclassified article in the open literature?

Posted by Chris at 05:00 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

September 07, 2005

Well, My Birthday Party Is Coming Up

Absolutely true story: flower_goddess went to the store today and bought three items: a can of Crisco, a bottle of tequila, and a tub of Cool Whip.

Posted by Chris at 10:30 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

September 03, 2005

Attention Incoming Freshmen

TAMABINPO has an excellent post with advice for anyone starting college right now. Some of it is specific to Texas A&M, but a lot is universal. Some of my favorites (I've rearranged things a bit for related groupings):

  • Don’t skip class. At A&M each class session breaks down to something like $20 so think about taking a $20 bill out of your wallet and lighting it on fire…plus some professors take attendance for bonus points at the end of the semester.That made the difference between an B-A and a C-B for me in two of my classes…
  • Try to make your best grades at the beginning of the semester (first couple rounds of exams) because you don’t know when your schedule will get rough down the road…at least you’ll have something to fall back on…
  • Try to make your best grades at the beginning of the semester (first couple rounds of exams) because you don’t know when your schedule will get rough down the road…at least you’ll have something to fall back on…
  • There will be nights or even entire weekends when you won’t be able to chill or go out with your friends…deal with it…
In general, establish good habits early. It's far easier than trying to change them later. I have heard from more than one source (and can also back up from personal experience) that the single biggest factor in how well you do in a class is how often you actually show up. You can borrow somebody else's notes when you miss, sure, but nobody takes notes quite like you do and it's a guarantee they missed something important that you would have written down. Data lost in this way has a distressing tendency to show up on exams.
  2. Don’t study in your dorm room…
  3. Get your studying done by 5pm…So many more temptations occur after that time…Think of it as a 9am-5pm job…
  4. Don’t live your life pushing your limits (limits on sleep, studying, free time). If you live in a constant state of pushing you will eventually just break down like a car…
You may not realize this, but you will spend less than forty hours per week in class and studying. If you can train yourself to study as soon as you get out of class, you'll be done for the day by dinnertime and have All. Evening. Free.

There's one more thing I'd like to add: if you're someone who does not use 'creation' and 'science' in the same sentence, you will be challenged to a debate over the origins of life by someone who does.

Do. Not. Accept. No amount of good science from a peer at this stage of a Creationist's life will change his/her mind. Later in your career (but only if you're a Biology or Geology upperclassman), feel free to go hunting for frosh Fundies, but not now.

Posted by Chris at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 31, 2005

His Silicon Feathers

Seen on /.: Space Penguin Could Hop Around The Moon:

A robotic Lunar Penguin explorer could be hopping around on the moon by 2009, said Raytheon on Tuesday, as it unveiled the concept lander at an aerospace conference. The unmanned lunar device, in development for two years, is 3 feet tall and weighs approximately 230 pounds.
That's all well and good, but we'd better be prepared for when it goes renegade - we need to make sure Robotic Batman is ready to take him down!

[Yes, the paper's done. No, I don't think I'll have time to do WTW or Part IV. Sorry, Chess.]

Posted by Chris at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

Mad Max IV: Tornadodome!

Paper due in class tonight + fantasy football draft tomorrow = no White Trash Wednesday or Part IV.

Meanwhile, go chase a tornado:

Anyone wanting a closer look, or to actually get a glimpse of the interior of a tornado, would need a heavy, armored vehicle that could withstand intense winds, debris and hail.

That's exactly what IMAX cinematographer Sean Casey has built with his Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV). The TIV is big, heavy and armor plated. With it, Casey hopes to record a direct hit with a tornado and survive.
Check this thing out - it's like the Batmobile's ugly brother:
(Photo courtesy George Kourounis)
The TIV, before the addition of a rotating turret to house the IMAX camera.

Yeah, I want one.

Posted by Chris at 08:11 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

August 24, 2005

Another Uncomfortable Life Lesson Learned

Lately, I've been sampling some podcasts trying to find a few to listen to regularly (so far the only winners are Earthcore, IMAO Podcast, Area 51 Show, and The Starkcast).

On one of the other casts - I can't remember for sure but I think it was either Dawn and Drew, Keith and the Girl, or Soccergirl, Incorporated (all of which fit under the category of 'occasionally interesting') - where they made reference to a class of developmentally disabled students singing White Christmas. They even played a clip of the MP3 - yes, somebody made an MP3 of it, and yes, it sounded every bit as bad as you think it did.


Every one of those students is a better singer than I am.

Posted by Chris at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

August 15, 2005

Not Just Hoffa, But Natalee Holloway And A Stiff To Be Named Later, Too

The Verizon guys are installing FTTP in my neighborhood this week, and they are tearing the dogshit out of my backyard (literally; I haven't cleaned up after the canine family member for a few days now). I guess I'm being punished for leaving an open access to the utility easement behind my house - you know, actually obeying the covenant, unlike most of my neighbors who build their fences right up to the property line.

Aaaanyway, they've chosen my backyard as Base Camp to run fiber to my whole side of the neighborhood, and right now there are about three grave-size holes behind my house. I mean literally - they're about 3' x 6' x 6', and I'm going to want to pay attention when they fill them in just in case they try to sneak Jimmy Hoffa in there or something. Allegedly when they're all done, they'll send in a 'remediation crew' to clean up the mess they made.

I hope you'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath waiting.

Update: Apparently the job description for the 'remediation crew' is "chuck most of the dirt back in the general direction of the hole, pack it down a bit, then wave jauntily as you depart," because according to flower_goddess that's pretty much what they did.

And they probably get paid more than I do.

Update: They had a crew come in to rake and seed it yesterday. I take back what I said.

Posted by Chris at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

August 09, 2005

Good Thing I Didn't Have This Problem During The Tour De France

I'm accustomed to seeing one episode of The Amazing Race, then spending the next week talking about it. Now that Game Show Network is rerunning all of them from the beginning, one leg per night, I'm approaching TAR overload, and I think it's beginning to frighten flower_goddess. See, since I Tivo it (Replay it, actually) and watch it as the last show I see before bed, it's usually still running through my head as I fall asleep.

And sometimes even after I fall asleep. Last night about one AM, this exchange occurred:

me (making pedaling motions with my legs, while lying in bed)
flower_goddess: What are you doing?
me: I think I'm going to finish this lap and call it.
flower_goddess: Call what?
me: Leg. I mean leg.
flower_goddess (who by now has realized I'm still asleep): Leg? What are you doing?
me: Finishing The Amazing Race, duh!
flower_goddess: You're quitting?
me: No! I'd never quit! I just got eliminated.

Posted by Chris at 06:16 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

The Correct Phrase Is 'His Life Meter Read 0 And He Was Out Of Respawns...'

Today's Lesson: Taking Videogames Too Seriously Can Kill You:

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean man who played computer games for 50 hours almost non-stop died of heart failure minutes after finishing his mammoth session in an Internet cafe, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old man, identified only by his family name Lee, had been playing on-line battle simulation games at the cybercafe in the southeastern city of Taegu, police said.

Lee had planted himself in front of a computer monitor to play on-line games on August 3. He only left the spot over the next three days to go to the toilet and take brief naps on a makeshift bed, they said.

"We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a Taegu provincial police official said by telephone.

Lee had recently quit his job to spend more time playing games, the daily JoongAng Ilbo reported after interviewing former work colleagues and staff at the Internet cafe.

I guess he didn't grab that last health power-up quickly enough. [h/t BoingBoing]

Posted by Chris at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

What's Next? Beer Cans You Can't Smash Against Your Forehead?

I got this package in the mail the other day. The contents aren't relevant to this post, except for my excitement when I saw a big ol' sheet of bubblewrap. I dig it out of the box, all set for ten or fifteen minutes of good geeky fun, and commence to poppin'.

At least, I thought I did. The first few bubbles I squeezed just kind of gave a weak sigh and deflated. I took a closer look and saw that the bubbles had been joined into long rows of cells, interconnected enough that you couldn't pop any individual cell - the air would just move into the other cells in the row!

What godless slimy Communist mouthbreathing twinkletoed buzz-harshing killjoy thought that was a good idea!?!?

Posted by Chris at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 05, 2005

Fatwa Issued Against Hugh Hefner For Hogging All The Chicks

Hugh Hefner's new reality show, Girls Next Door, premieres this weekend on E!. Apparently dude can still bring it, because at nearly 80 he has a stable of three girlfriends (a #1 girlfriend and two others) living in the mansion. He described his latest arrangement thusly (heard on Bob and Tom yesterday at the end of the second hour):

There are many roads to Mecca, many ways of living one's life, and I've certainly tried a variety of different kinds of ways. [emphasis added]

I'm willing to bet that when he gets on his hands and kness, bows forward, and starts mumbling unintelligibly, that he ain't praying.

Posted by Chris at 08:53 AM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

August 02, 2005

Because "Take Cover In The Temporary Stock Pen" Didn't Have The Same Ring To It

I enjoy hearing about the origin of coined words and phrases (incidentally, The Straight Dope is a good place for that kind of thing; examples here and here and here). Anyway, on this day in 1867, a battle fought in Wyoming gave us the expression 'circle the wagons.' [H/T Castle Argghhh!]

Posted by Chris at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

August 01, 2005

Because Once The Magic Smoke Escapes, Your PC Won't Work No More

Today's public service announcement: next time you've got the lid off your PC to clean the dust out of it (and you do clean the dust out, right?), take a couple of extra seconds to inspect the capacitors. Dan Butler of TNPC Newsletter has the story (with pictures for those of you who don't know what a capacitor is):

It was frustrating. My mouse jumped all over the place. My system locked up for unexplained reasons. Maybe it restarts, maybe it doesn't. I've checked for viruses, spyware, and the rest. Al Gordon was convinced of spyware but I am not sure how it would get on my system in the first place.

So I'm typing this on my backup system that was ready for just such emergencies. Total down time to move from one machine to another? Less than one hour thanks to my backup routine. This is an older slower machine but it gets the job done until I can repair the main system.

It turns out that my motherboard has bad capacitors. They were bulging, leaking and the cause of all my problems. I'll be replacing the motherboard in the next day or two. Hopefully all my other components are still good. It turns out the "bulging capacitor" problem is widespread but not well acknowledged by the manufacturers. Not only is the problem widespread but it has elements of corporate espionage. [From email - TNPC Newsletter Volume 7 Issue 16, 1 August 2005]

The corporate espionage Dan refers to is a story in itself - read all about it here.

Posted by Chris at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 27, 2005

So What Were They Going To Charge Him With, Anyway?

And the hits just keep on coming from Local6.com today - Police Give Man Amputated Foot Back:

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Ezekiel Rubottom now has his left foot back exactly where he wants it - in a bucket on the front porch. Police in Kansas have returned the amputated foot to him after seizing it during the weekend to check out just how it got there.

The 21-year-old man's foot was amputated three weeks ago after a series of medical problems, and he started keeping it in a five-gallon bucket filled with formaldehyde.

. . .

Unsure of what to make of the unusual discovery, police confiscated the severed foot and put it into evidence storage.

"We had to make sure that no crime had been committed," Sgt. Dan Ward said.

Rubottom, an artist, recovering methamphetamine addict and occasional hip-hop master of ceremonies, said he was born with a clubbed foot and has dealt all his life with pressure sores and infections. An infection this summer became so severe that doctors at Lawrence Memorial Hospital decided it should be amputated.

. . .

Karen Shumate, a vice president at the hospital, said people can keep parts removed from their bodies if they want them.

"They've had women that want their uterus," she said. "People take tonsils. They take appendixes. I think it's unusual that someone would want a foot, but it's within their rights because it's theirs."

After a friend picked up the bucket at a hardware store, Rubottom added several objects as well as the severed foot - including a porcelain horse and can of beer - to make what he called "a collage of myself." He also cut off two of the toes, saying he was considering giving them to friends.

On Monday, police returned the foot to Rubottom after taking him to the hospital, where he signed a release allowing them to see his medical records. [emphasis added]

Good thing the guy didn't have more than five friends.

Posted by Chris at 05:13 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

In The Future, Your Dumps Will Be Measured In Kilowatts

EE Times could have had some fun titling this article:

  • From Crap To Current
  • From Waste To Watts
  • From Poop To Power
  • Doody Dynamo
  • God, Please, Somebody Stop Me!
but they went with the benign title of "Bacteria in wastewater harnessed for electricity":
Portland, Ore. — An environmental engineer has found a way not only to cleanse contaminated wastewater with its own bacteria but to generate electricity from the funky flow.

Lars Angenent, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Washington University (St. Louis), has already prototyped his findings in a device the size of a thermos bottle — a variation on the hydrogen fuel cell — but he knows it will have to scale up dramatically to fill a commercial role.

With scaled-up capacity, Angenent said, a large food-processing plant, which now must cleanse its water at a cost, would be able to turn that processing into a profit center. Industrial-scale wastewater treatment plants, he said, could produce enough electricity to power thousands of households while simultaneously cleansing their water.

Angenent's microbial fuel cell design uses the bacteria from wastewater on its anode and cathode instead of platinum, enabling it to make a fuel from the water to create electricity while simultaneously neutralizing the biological matter that would otherwise have to be purged from the water.

. . .

"Today, contaminated water is treated in giant reactors that produce methane and carbon dioxide gas," Angenent said. "But the microbial fuel cell would use these treatment chambers to produce electricity instead."

Angenent estimated that a bioelectricity-generating wastewater treatment system based on a scaled-up version of the microbial fuel cell has the potential to power about 900 single-family American households from a single food-processing plant. Angenent performed the research in consultation with professor Shelley Minteer at St. Louis University and with the assistance of Washington University doctoral candidate Jason He.

Angenent's team continues to optimize the reactor configuration, with their next step being optimization of the reactor's operation and, finally, building a large system capable of processing millions of gallons of wastewater. "We believe that larger versions will be able to be used for local-neighborhood electricity generation," he said. "I want to have a large pilot-scale system within 10 years."
So the future of power generation may be a lot cleaner (or lots lots dirtier, depending on your perspective) than you think.

Posted by Chris at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 26, 2005

It'd Be Like Me Giving Up INTERNET

The thought that woke me from a sound sleep at 3:00 this morning:

Do you think Lance Armstrong ride his bike yesterday?

Posted by Chris at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 23, 2005

Great Strides Made In Head-Replacement Surgery

Today a foot, tomorrow another head:

[full story at local6.com]

Posted by Chris at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 21, 2005

Sadly, Laser-Capable Sharks Didn't Make The List Either

Edmonton's Vue Weekly has a rundown of Hollywood's best death rays. Of course, heading the list is Darth Vader's penile substitute:

Set aside the standard suspense-creation of a countdown list—that shit’s for Cosmo and David Letterman. We all know who wins this contest, so let’s get this bad boy outta the way quick. Which bad boy? The bad Death Star beam boy, of course. A full-on, no-nonsense, kill-everybody-now planet-smasher, it’s as if millions of lasers cried out in terror and were suddenly awesome. Also, the gunnery crew had those cool helmets with the underbite blast shields.
I disagree about the helmets - they made me think of humanoid cockroaches. But I especially loved how the four sub-beams moved in slow motion, formed up, thought about it a second, then took off to go blow something up.

Also on the list was my personal favorite:

Proton streams, Ghostbusters

They’re produced by unlicensed nuclear accelerators, they’re untested and they’re not to be crossed; the ghost-snaring proton streams are perfectly realized on film with a wild, unpredictable, snaking blast of barely-controlled pure energy. Look at those dudes! They can barely hold on to their projector nozzles. These are truly the weapons of a gang of irresponsible genius science-cowboys with nothing left to lose but their immortal souls. Brilliant.
I'm reminded of the part where they switch them on for the first time in an elevator and other people slowly backed away.

The other ones on the list:

Martian heat ray, War of the Worlds (1953)
Scanning beam, Tron
Pure love, The Fifth Element
Radioactive breath, Godzilla et al.
Crotch laser, Goldfinger
The map room ray, Raiders of the Lost Ark
The SOL laser, Akira
The White House wrecker, Independence Day
Lifetime achievement award: Star Trek

All well and good (although I think the Martian heat ray and 'pure love' were kind of lame), but how could they possibly miss the myriad of beamage shown in Mars Attacks?

[h/t - BBspot]

Posted by Chris at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 18, 2005

That Address Is 12 Yemen Road, Yemen

Shining the light where the Yemeni government would prefer it stay dark: Jane of Armies of Liberation (h/t Dean's World, which I think makes me a Deaniac).

Posted by Chris at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 15, 2005

You May Fire When You Are Rea- Uh, Never Mind

I was ready to open up with all batteries on this Tiny Mix Tapes request:

The four girls who were my best friends for the past eight years, aka half of my life announced a few months ago that they hate the way I am. Basically I learned that for the past 3 years they've thought that I’m a horrible, rude, angry, defensive asshole who acts like the world is against her, have always put down others' opinions, that it's always "I’m right you're wrong fuck you", and that I practically strangle anyone who makes a joke. They said that I don't respect others' opinions. That really scared me. If that's the aura I’d been putting out, which I really hope it wasn't, I was very worried. If they'd been noticing it for three whole years, and been talking about me, the horrible rude insensitive bitch cunt, between themselves for that entire time, shouldn't I be wondering why they waited so long to tell me?
Until I got to this part, which kind of hit a nerve because a sister of one of my son's friends committed suicide last week:
I began seriously considering suicide, so that I wouldn't have to subject any more nice, pleasant people to my horrendous self.

But they think I’m doing it on purpose for attention, and that it's my own bad attitude that's making me feel this way.

So I've been wanting to make a fresh start, since my best boy friend who for some reason actually likes me talked me out of a bottle of aspirin. And my heart needs to heal.

So instead of a mocking 'Oh, woe is me!' rant like I was all wound up to do, I'll just say this:

Your 'friends' are toxic. Find new ones. Fast.

I've cracked on tinymixtapes.com before (here and here), but occasionally I see some really good requests:

Posted by Chris at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

You'll Find Us At The Intersection Of Pi And Avogadro's Number

I was told to get off at State Road 6.4167, but I saw this sign. Was this what they meant?

It was my understanding there would be no math.

But seriously, folks...

They're called 'fractional routes,' and they're explained here:

H.B. Elkins, webmaster of West Virginia Roads [link], writes: "These (Fractional Routes) are county routes, although they are maintained by the state. West Virginia signs its state routes in a square or rectangular marker. The county routes either have whole numbers or "fractional" numbers. The whole numbers are the main county routes. The "fractional" routes serve as minor branch routes off the major routes, either the state or U.S. routes or whole county routes. The numerator is the main route the highway branches from; the denominator tells what branch. For instance, you may be driving along U.S. 119 and you'll see a succession of markers for 119/1, 119/2, 119/3, etc. If you were driving along County Route 1, you might see signs for routes 1/4, 1/7, etc.

Posted by Chris at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 08, 2005

Hey, Kettle! You're Black!

I was in a teleconference this morning that had about two dozen participants from five or six different sites. The guy coordinating the telecon (from one of the other sites) was an Asian-American, and he had a definite accent; in particular, he had the stereotypical problem with 'l' sounds.

I chuckled inwardly about that until I realized something: when I was taking high school Spanish, I couldn't trill my 'r's properly. Sure, I could fake it by making this quasi-French sound in the back of my throat, but any native speaker would instantly peg that as the Spanish version of "can't pronounce 'L'," with the attendant silent (or not-so-silent) derision.

So that was this year's Moment Of Self-Awareness. Man, I hope I don't have another one of those anytime soon. It takes all the fun out of cracking on people.

Posted by Chris at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 06, 2005

And Don't Forget To Promote Rob Jackson, Too!

The folks at Rinkworks have a Book-A-Minute service for people who want to read the classics but just don't have the time. Sure, they take some artistic license, but when you're condensing War and Peace down to two sentences, you pretty much have to. They also have sections for SF/Fantasy and Bedtime books, but they don't do technothrillers.

And that's too bad, because I was all ready to submit

                        Any Book featuring Jack Ryan
                                by Tom Clancy
                       Ultra-Condensed by Chris Carter
                                  Jack Ryan
     Aw, shucks. I'm just a regular guy with a lot of money and the
     perfect family.
                               Catherine Ryan
     And my career's incredibly fulfilling.
                              The Ryan Children
     Look at us! We're incredibly cute!
                                   Bad Guy
     Here's my Master Plan to bring down the United States and increase
     my standing in the world community...
(Begins to EXECUTE Master Plan. It is succeeding. The United States is
                                  Jack Ryan
     Gosh, can I do this job?
(CLUE arrives in Washington via Federal Express.)
                       Smart People In The Government
     We've figured out what the Master Plan is...
                           Various Military Folks
     Let's foil the Master Plan...
(They do. Lots of things get BLOWN UP; some people get KILLED.)
                                   Bad Guy
     Curse you, Jack Ryan! Oops, my house just blew up.
                                  Jack Ryan
     Oh, look--I got promoted. Golly!
                                   THE END

Posted by Chris at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 02, 2005

Now Why Does This Reunion - Ooh! Shiny!

So I'm getting breakfast this morning when I see this pen. It says "2004 Jacob II & Mary Edelman Reunion / Sabetha, KS". I get to thinking about it while I wait for my toaster strudel to toast (or is it strudel?), and it occurs to me that A) I don't know anybody named Edelman, so where the hell did the pen come from, and B) why isn't it "Jacob I and (spouse) Edelman Reunion?" Was there some kind of falling out between Jacob I and Jacob II? Did Jacob I have other, shall we say, less savory children that Jacob II didn't want at 'his' reunion?

Right about then, the toaster strudel finished strudeling, so the Edelman Mystery will have to wait.

Posted by Chris at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 03, 2005

Around The Blogroll, Again

  • If you're thinking about replacing your A/C, Dan from Madison (who knows whereof he speaks) recommends you do it now.
  • Red Hot Cuppa Politics brandishes some Dangerous Logic:
    A fourteen year old girl is supposed to be old enough to make a decision about an abortion without parental approval, but if you want to join the army, it's because your parents make you. Riiiight ....
  • Mia's post from Monday is a must read: Erogenous Zones.
  • hubs and spokes has a great example of an escaped 'I Love Me' Wall.
  • small dead animals puts the runaway bride (koo-koo! koo-koo!) story in perspective.
  • The Sporting Life puts together his Amazing Race dream lineup. My pick to win - Glen Campbell and Nick Nolte.
  • I'm a sucker for lighthouse pictures, and Da Goddess has an excellent one.

Posted by Chris at 01:32 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 24, 2005

Which Gives The Concept Of Anakin As 'Loose Cannon' A Whole New Meaning

Lots of other people have done reviews of RotS that I can't hope to match (in particular, Dave), so I'll settle for the 'seeing stupid little things nobody else sees' thing that I seem to be known for.

Congress? Who said anything about Congress? I thought there was just a Senate; you mean there's a House too?

A strange and maddening juxtaposition of energy weapons and Stone Age-tactics.

Capital ships engaging at a range of what looked like a few hundred yards was tactically idiotic but gave a real 'wooden ships and iron men' feel that I think was Lucas' intent - especially when he showed two ships exchanging broadsides in a fashion strongly reminiscent of 18th century sea combat.

The shock and 'Ah!' of recognition when Bail Organa's ship is first shown.

How does a woman go from 'five months pregnant' to 'full term' in (at most) a couple of weeks? And does the Republic not have ultrasound machines? She's carrying twins and doesn't know it? And Anakin doesn't know it? Apparently you're not part of the Force until you're born...

And speaking of which, nobody dies in childbirth anymore, and don't give me that 'lost her will to live' crap.

Posted by Chris at 05:18 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 23, 2005

Did Somebody Get The Number Of That Thought?

A couple of thoughts arrived in my head simultaneously from different directions this morning:

  1. If you zap a guy wearing a bomb belt with a Taser, will the bomb go off?
  2. Why was Anakin's nickname 'Anny' and not 'Ana?'
The resulting collision nearly knocked me off the elliptical machine.

Posted by Chris at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 19, 2005

Off To See The Emperor

I'm taking off now to go see Episode 3. I suffered through two crappy prequels to get here; the payoff damn better well be worth it. Hopefully Hayden Christiansen has learned to act in the last three years.

Update: Short answer: yes, it was; yes, he has.

Posted by Chris at 03:01 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 18, 2005

In Other News, I've Given Up Not Drinking Beer For Lent

I've got to start reading slower. Drudge headlined this link with "Social Worker: Boy Denied Abuse by Michael Jackson", and when I read it I thought "Poor bastard can't catch a break. Now he's being accused of not abusing a kid?"

Posted by Chris at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 16, 2005

Weekend Wrapup

Nothing really blogworthy by itself this weekend, so let's just roll up a few little things.

Hallelujah! Governor Daniels signed Daylight Saving Time into law, bringing Indiana into the 20th Century only five years after everybody else has entered the 21st (six, actually; we start observing DST next April). Now it's just a matter of whether we go Eastern, Central, or both; frankly, I don't really care which, now that we've gotten rid of Indiana Stupid Time.

The Freedom avoided a letdown after winning the battle of the unbeatens last week, beating Peoria 52-32. I've got a few pictures that I'll be adding later. Also, Sioux City lost again, giving Fort Wayne a two-game lead in the home-field advantage race. Yeah, I know, the season isn't half done yet, but still.

The Komets forced a split at Muskegon after blowing a two-goal lead in Game 1. They now own home-ice advantage in the Colonial Cup finals. If you're an out-of-town reader laughing at my parochialism, bear in mind that the UHL is the second-highest tier of pro hockey being played this year.

Ian is the worst liar in the history of Survivor. Of course, that's an admirable trait in real life, and it's endearing that his integrity was worth enough to him to intentionally forfeit a chance to be in the final two (particularly since Tom made him exactly that offer about ten hours before). I thought for sure he was going to propose to Katie at the reunion show, but it looks like they aren't even dating. Congratulations to Tom, who survived his vulnerable moments, seized control of the game at the end, and had the good sense to pick the thoroughly-unlikeable Katie as his final opponent. Katie, a word of advice: if you crack on everybody but the person you're speaking to, it doesn't take a great deal of intelligence on their part to conclude that at some point when you're talking to someone else, you're cracking on them (I can diagram this out if you need me to). If it weren't for Coby's deep-seated need to stick it to the jock (heh), you wouldn't have gotten any votes at all!

Posted by Chris at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 10, 2005

Somebody Has To Win, Even If They Try Not To

We took a few minutes before the reception Saturday to watch the Kentucky Derby. Of course, by know everybody knows that the winner and second-place horse were both REALLY long shots, but when I saw that the fourth-place horse was another long shot, I started wondering what the superfecta would have paid, and if anybody won it. The answers are, in order, 'over $860K' and 'yes, seven winners':

Hertzog bought one of seven $1 tickets to hit the Kentucky Derby superfecta, which yielded the highest payout in Derby history. Two of the other winning tickets were sold in New Jersey, one each was sold at Philadelphia Park and Suffolk Downs and two others came through clearinghouses in Maine and Nevada, said Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher.

The gigantic payoffs came after 50-1 long shot Giacomo sprang the second biggest upset in Derby history, edging 72-1 longer shot Closing Argument. Afleet Alex, one of the favorites with odds of 4.5-1, finished third. Another long shot, 30-1 Don't Get Mad, was fourth.
And winner Chris Hertzog has a story of his own:
Hertzog figured all was lost as he sifted through the trash at Turf Paradise, frantically searching for his winning Kentucky Derby supefecta ticket. The Phoenix firefighter gave up after two hours, wondering how he could've let $864,253.50 slip away.

''I couldn't believe I lost this once in a lifetime payday,'' the 39-year-old Hertzog said in a statement released through the track on Monday.

According to Turf Paradise, the mutuel clerk who sold him the ticket came to the rescue on Sunday, finding the misplaced slip of paper next to the machine where Hertzog had placed the wager the previous day.

''Don't you just love happy endings?'' Hertzog said.

. . .

Hertzog made 100 $1 bets _ 50 superfectas and 50 trifectas _ all in random computer-generated quick picks. When he thought he'd lost after the Derby, he left the tickets on a table and walked off.

Later, according to Turf Paradise, a track official told mutuel clerk Brenda Reagan that her machine had spit out a superfecta winner. Track owner Jack Simms told Hertzog, but when he returned to the table, the tickets were gone.

''I couldn't believe it,'' he said.

Maintenance crews gathered all the garbage bags in the clubhouse and Hertzog and others picked through them with no luck.

The next day, Reagan noticed two tickets lying next to her machine, according to track officials. One of them was Hertzog's winner.

''When I punched Chris' tickets, there were so many that they bunched up and these two must have fallen on the side,'' she said in a release from the track.

After taxes, Hertzog walked away with over $604,000.

Posted by Chris at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 06, 2005

Now It Can Be Told

The Jeopardy method of studying from your notes, where you form questions based on your notes and use them as test prep later, is one facet of the Cornell Notetaking System (I've also written about it here). It also works for most textbooks. Now that the semester's ended, I present the questions I derived from most chapters of CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, Second Edition by Shon Harris. Out of deference to those readers who don't care about the CISSP exam (and also because it's about 900 questions), I present it below the fold. You can also visit it directly as a text file.

==> Note:  the level of detail of the questions of p222-p240 is higher (i.e., less detailed) than elsewhere, due to the requirements of the class I was orignally taking with this book.  

===== Chapter 4 - Access Control

- What is 'access?' A subject?  An object?
- What are access controls? (also 108)
- What are the three main security principles?
- What is availability?
- What is integrity?
- What is confidentiality?
- Why should a company encrypt only critical data, as opposed to everything including the cafeteria menu?
- What three steps need to happen to allow a subject to access an object (and describe each step)?
- What are logical access controls?
- What are the three authentication factors?
- How many authentication factors are used in strong authentication?
- What is biometric?
- What is it called when a biometric system rejects an authorized individual?  Vice versa?
- What is the CER, and how does it pertain to the accuracy of biometric authentication systems? (also 114)
- What are some barriers to the acceptance of biometric authentication?
- What are the characteristics of these biometric authentication systems:
  > fingerprint (and what's the key term here?)
  > finger scan
  > palm scan
  > hand geometry
  > retina scan
  > iris scan
  > signature dynamics
  > keyboard dynamics
  > voiceprint
  > facial scan
  > hand topology
- Why are passwords considered a weak security method?
- Why shouldn't automatic password generators just pump out a 20 character string of random characters?  What's a good guideline for a password generator?
- How should the password file on an authentication server be protected?
- What's a dictionary attack?
- What's the usefulness of displaying the date/time of a user's most recent login when they log in?
- What's a clipping level?
- What is a password checker?
- What is password aging?
- What is a cognitive password?
- What is a dynamic password?  What other name is it known by?
- What's a token device?
- What are the two types of synchronous token authentication?
- What are the differences between synchronous and asynchronous token authentication?
- What is a passphrase and what does the application transform it into?
- What is the difference between a memory card and a smart card?
- What's the difference between authentication and authorization?
- What are some criteria used to define access?
- From a security standpoint, what is the best default action for access?
- What is the least-privilege principle?
- What is 'need-to-know?'
- What is single sign-on and why is it so difficult to implement? (also 128)
- Describe the 'scripting' implementation of single sign-on.
- What is Kerberos?  What kind of cryptography and security does it use?
- What is a Kerberos KDC?
- In Kerberos, what is a principal?
- What is the purpose of a ticket in Kerberos?
- What is a realm in Kerberos?
- Give an example of the Kerberos authentication process.
- In Kerberos, what's the difference between a secret key and a session key?
- What is a Kerberos AS and TGS?
- If a Kerberos implementation is configured to use an authenticator, what additional security measure is taken and what attack does it combat?
- What are some drawbacks to Kerberos?
- What is SESAME and how is it different from Kerberos?
- What is a PAC and PAS in SESAME?
- How do thin clients enforce access control?
- What is a network directory service?
- What are LDAP, NDS, and Active Directory?
- What is an access control model?  What are the three main types?
- How does DAC restrict access to data?
- How does MAC restrict access to data, and what system is it based on?
- How does RBAC restrict access to data, and what other name is it known by?
- Which model is best suited for companies with high employee turnover?
- What are role-based, task-based, and lattice-based access?
- What is rules-based access control?
- What is a constrained user interface, and how is a database view related to it?
- What is an access control matrix, and what model is it usually found in?
- What is a capability table, and how is it different from an ACL? (also 142)
- What is content-dependent access control?
- What is centralized access control administration?
- What is RADIUS?  Describe an example of it in use.
- What are TACACS, XTACACS, and TACACS+?  Describe an example of it in use.
- What is Diameter and how does it improve on RADIUS and TACACS?
- What is decentralized access control administration?  Why would a company use it instead of centralized administration? (also 144)
- What are the advantages of a hybrid administration scheme?
- What are the three categories of access control?  Give some examples of each.
- What is a security policy?
- What is separation of duties?
- What is a control zone, and how is it different from just having a dedicated machine room?
- What are the types of access control?  Give an example of each. (also 160)
- What is an audit reduction and why is it useful?
- What are some 'best practices' in the access control arena?
- What is object reuse and how can it be a security risk?
- What is Tempest?
- What is IDS?  What are the two kinds?
- What is signature-based IDS and what is its major weakness?
- What is behavior-based IDS, and how does a TIM factor into it?
- What is a honeypot?
- What's the difference between enticement and entrapment?
- What's a sniffer, and how can either side use them?
- What's a dictionary attack?  What are some countermeasures?
- What's a brute force attack? What are some countermeasures?
- What's wardialing?
- What's logon spoofing?  What are some countermeasures?  What's a trusted path?
- What is penetration testing?

===== Chapter 5 - Security Models and Architecture
- What is a security model? (also 210-211)
- What are the three main attributes of computer security?
- How does a buffer overflow attack work?
- How is memory management important to computer security?
- What is secondary storage?  Virtual storage?
- What is paging?
- What are protection rings?  What's the general term for processes that execute in the inner rings?  The outer rings?
- What runs at ring 0? 1? 2? 3?
- How does an application running on a lower ring access functionality provided by a higher ring?
- What operating states can a process be in?
- What's the difference between multithreading and multiprocessing?
- In terms of device management, why is WinNT safer than Win9x?
- What is a deadlock?
- Where are the three main areas security can happen when a user accesses data?
- As the complexity increases, does security become more or less certain?  Why / why not?
- What does it mean for a component to be trusted?  
- Should you design a system such that all components can be trusted?  Why or why not? (also 203)
- What is the TCB?
- What is the security perimeter?
- What is the reference monitor?
- What is the security kernel?  What does it have to do?  How does it relate to the reference monitor concept?
- In security terms, what is a domain?  What is an execution domain?
- What is hardware segmentation and how does it contribute to security?
- What is a security policy?
- What is the security kernel?
- What do multilevel security policies do?
- What is the concept of least privilege?
- What is layering and how does it provide security?
- What is data hiding and how is connected to layering?
- What is abstraction?
- How does the state machine model apply to security?
- Why is failing in a secure state important?
- What is a multilevel security system?
- What is Bell-LaPadula and what are its three main rules?
- What is an information flow security model?
- What is the simple security rule?  By what other term is it known?
- What is the *-property rule?  By what other term is it known?  Why is it important?
- What is the strong star property rule?
- What is the Basic Security Theorem?
- What security service does Bell-LaPadula provide?
- What are some criticisms of the Bell-LaPadula model?
- What is the Biba model?  What are its two main rules?
- The rules of the Biba model seem counterintuitive.  Why are they the way they are?
- In general, what does a 'simple-' rule describe?  A 'star-' or '*'- rule?
- What is the Clark-Wilson model and what does it emphasize?
- What is 'access triple' and why is it called that?
- What is separation of duties?
- What are the three main goals of integrity?  Which one(s) is/are emphasized by Clark-Wilson?  By Biba?
- What generic model were both Biba and Bell-LaPadula built upon?
- What is the noninterference model and how does it enforce confidentiality?
- What is the Brewer and Nash model?  What other name is it known by?
- What issues do the Graham-Denning and Harrison-Rizzo-Ullman models address?  How do they differ?
[great summary on 219]
- What is dedicated security mode?
- What is system-high security mode?  How is it different from dedicated security mode?
- What is compartmented security mode?  How is it different from system-high?
- What is multilevel security mode?  Which model is an example of it?
- What's the difference between assurance and trust?
- What is TCSEC?  What other name is it known by?
- What's A-level security? B? C? D?
- T/F: B1 is a superset of B2?
- What are the four main topics of the Orange Book?
- What seven different areas do they break down into?
- What is NCSC?  TPEP? EPL?
- What is C1?
- What is C2?
- What model are Division B levels based on?  What other evidence must be present?
- What is B1?
- What is B2?
- What is B3?
- What's the difference between A1 and B3?
- What are some of the limitations of the Orange Book?
- What's the TNI?  What is its other name?
- What Red Book ratings are available?
- What replaced TCSEC?
- What is ITSEC?  Where is it used? What are its two main attributes?
- What is the fundamental difference between ITSEC and TCSEC?
- What are the rating scales for ITSEC?
- What is the TOE?
- What are the Common Criteria? Who developed?
- What's the biggest difference between Common Criteria and the Orange Book?
- What is EAL?  How many packages are there?
- What is a protection profile?
- What is the security target?
- What's the difference between certification and accreditation?
- What is ISO I7799?  What was it originally called?
- What's the difference between open systems and closed systems?
- What are covert channels and why are they security risks?
- What is a covert storage channel?
- What is the Loki attack?
- How can you try to detect covert channel attacks?
- What's a backdoor?  What other name is it known by?
- What are some countermeasures against backdoors?
- What's an asynchronous attack?
- What's a TOC/TOU attack?
- What's a race condition?
- What's a buffer overflow?  How can it be exploited?
- What are some countermeasures against buffer overflow attacks?

===== Chapter 6 - Physical Security

- What are some mechanisms of physical security?
- Why is physical security more challenging today than in the '60s and '70s?
- Why are physical computer incidents today raising costs for companies?
- What is the layered defense model, and why is it important?
- What are some physical security vulnerabilities?
- What is an EAC token and what is it used for?
- What is a critical-path analysis?
- What kinds of controls fall under the physical security umbrella?
- What are some of the issues with selecting a facility site?
- What are some of the issues with designing and building a facility?
- What is an internal partition and what is its main vulnerability?
- Where in a building should data centers be located?  Why?
- In the past, personnel were needed in computer rooms for proper operation.  Why isn't that the case now, and what changes in computer room design are now possible?
- Why should there be only one, dedicated, entry to a secured computer room?
- What main threats do physical security components combat?
- Why is a cost-benefit analysis of physical security important?
- What physical security procedures use security components that are already part of the environment?
- Why shouldn't you try to back up every piece of data on every computer?
- What is an SLA and why are the details important?
- What is MTBF? What is MTTR?  Why is knowing both necessary when evaluating hardware for purchase?
- What are the three main methods of protecting against power problems?
- What's the difference between an online UPS and a standby UPS?
- What are the two primary sources of backup power?
- What factors should be considered when evaluating secondary power?
- Define the following: EMI, RFI, (transient) noise, inrush current, clean power
- What can induce EMI?  RFI?
- Define spike, surge, fault, blackout, sag/dip, brownout
- What two kinds of devices are typically used to ensure clean power?
- What are some preventative measures for power management?
- How does job rotation or cross-training serve as a kind of backup?
- What steps should typically be taken when a technical employee leaves or gives notice?
- What is a positive drain?
- What are five preventative steps against static electricity?
- What's the proper range for relative humidity?  What are the risks if it is too high or too low?
- What's the proper temperature range?  What are the risks if it is too high or too low?
- What is a closed-loop circulation system?
- What is positive pressurization?  Is it desirable for data centers?
- What are the four classes of fire?
- What are the three kinds of fire detectors?
- What are the two different kinds of heat-activated sensors?
- What distinugishes plenum-rated cable from other kinds?
- For each class of fire, what is the type of fire what is the suppression method?
- What are some dangers of using CO2 as a supression agent?
- Why is Halon no longer made?
- What are the four types of water sprinkler systems and what are their distinguishing characteristics?
- What is another name for a 'wet pipe' system?
- Summarize emergency planning.
- What are the two main modes of perimeter defense?
- How can personnel assigned to sensitive areas help with perimeter defense?
- What is a disadvantage of a lock-and-key system?
- Describe the following options for cypher-lock systems: door delay, key-override, master-keying, hostage alarm.
- Describe the following device locks: switch controls, slot locks, port controls, peripheral switch controls, cable traps.
- What is piggybacking?
- What are the two types of wireless proximity readers?
- What are the three kinds of system sensing cards?
- What is PIDAS fencing?
- At what height and characteristics is a fence considered serious for area denial?
- What are bollards and where are they used?
- What is the NIST standard for perimeter protection for lighting critical areas?
- Describe the five types of perimeter scanning devices.
- What is a mantrap?
- What information should be kept in the audit log of access control systems?
- What is fail-safe?  Fail-secure?

===== Chapter 7 - Telecommunications and Networking Security
- What is a PSTN?
- What is ATM?
- What is TCP/IP? (also p325)
- What is a network protocol?
- What are the layers of the OSI and TCP/IP models and how do they map together?
- What is an open network architecture?
- What is encapsulation?
- What is the purpose of the application layer?
- What protocols work at the application layer? (also p323)
- Does the application layer include the actual applications?
- What is the purpose of the presentation layer?
- What protocols work at the presentation layer? (also p323)
- What is the purpose of the session layer?
- What protocols work at the session layer? (also p323)
- What's a good analogy for the session layer?
- What are the three phases of session layer operation?
- What is dialog management?
- What is the purpose of the transport layer?
- What protocols work at the transport layer? (also p323)
- What's the difference between the functions of the transport layer and the session layer?
- What is UDP?
- What is SPX?
- What is the purpose of the network layer?
- What protocols work at the network layer? (also p324)
- What is the purpose of the data link layer?
- What protocols work at the data link layer? (also p324)
- What are the two sublayers of the data link layer?
- What is FDDI?
- What is SLIP?  PPP? RARP? L2F? L2TP? ISDN?
- What is the purpose of the physical layer?
- What protocols work at the physical layer? (also p324)
- The 'IP' in TCP/IP provides "____________ routing services."
- What are the two main tasks of IP?
- Is TCP a connectionless protocol or a connection-oriented protocol?  What does that mean?
- What is UDP?  Is it a connectionless or connection-oriented protocol?  What does that mean?
- What is best-effort?
- Apply the postal system analogy to the Data, IP, and Network components of IP.
- Is TCP simplex, half-duplex, or full-duplex?
- What are some tradeoffs of using UDP vs. TCP?
- What is a socket?
- What are port numbers up to 1024 called?  Why?
- What ports are the following protocols usually mapped to: Telnet, SMTP, HTTP, SNMP, FTP?
- Differentiate between TCP and UDP according to reliability, connection, packet sequencing, congestion control, usage, and speed/overhead.
- What is the three-way handshake? Describe it in action.
- What is a SYN packet?  A SYN/ACK packet?  An ACK packet?
- What is the term used to describe the data at each layer of the TCP model?  The UDP model?
- What are the major differences between IPv4 and IPv6?
- How many bits for addressing does IPv4 use?  IPv6?
- What is a class?  What is a subnet?
- What is baseband?  What is broadband? (also p334)
- What is an analog transmission signal?
- Why are digital signals more reliable over long distances?
- What is the local loop (or last mile) and what's different about it?
- What is asynchronous communication?  Synchronous communication?
- Do modems use synchronous or asynchronous communication?
- Is CATV a baseband or broadband medium?
- What is the physical arrangement of computers and devices on a network called?
336-337 (for more topology info, see p338)
- What is a ring topology? What's the difference between physical ring and logical ring?
- What is a bus topology?  What are the two main types and how do they differ?
- What are two vulnerabilities of a simple bus topology?
- What's a star topology?
- What is a main vulnerability of a star topology?
- Most LANs nowadays are star topology.  Why?
- What's a mesh topology?  Full mesh?  Partial mesh?
- What defines a LAN as opposed to a WAN? (also 338)
- What's the difference between a LAN and an internetwork?
- What is attenuation?  What causes it?
- What is Ethernet?  What IEEE standard applies?
- What topologies does Ethernet traditionally use?
- What are Ethernet's characteristics?
- What is a BNC?  What types of Ethernet use it?
- What is 10Base2?
- What is 10Base5 and what distinguishes it from 10Base2?
- What is 10BaseT and what distinguishes it from the others?
- What topology does 10BaseT usually use?
- What is 100Base-TX also called? (also 342)
- What is 1000Base-T also called?
- What is token-passing and what LAN technology uses it?
- What is the central hub in a Token Ring LAN called?
- What is the transmit speed for Token Ring?
- What does the active monitor do?
- What is beaconing?
- What is FDDI?  How fast is it?  What IEEE standard applies?
- How does it provide fault tolerance?
- What is a ring wrap?
- How long can a FDDI network be?
- How is the bandwidth of a cable different from its data rate?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages of coaxial cable?
- What is the difference between STP and UTP?
- What is crosstalk?
- How does the twist of the wire improve its usability?
- What are some disadvantages of UTP?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages of fiber-optic cabling?
- What is cable noise?
- What is attenuation?  How do you minimize it?
- What is crosstalk?  How do you minimize it?
- What is plenum space?  Why is it relevant to cabling?
- What is a pressurized conduit?
- What is unicast?
- What is multicast?  How is it done across routers?
- What is broadcast?
- What is MTU?
- What is a token?
- Can token-passing networks have collisions?  Why or why not?
- What is CSMA/CD?
- What is contention?
- What is collision?  What does a system do when it detects one?
- What is the back-off algorithm?
- What is CSMA/CA and how does it differ from CSMA/CD?
- What is a collision domain?
- What is latency and how does it happen?
- A subnet will be on the same broadcast and collision domain if it is not separated by what?
- What is polling?
- What is ARP and how does it work?
- What is a MAC address?  How many bits?  What's the layout?
- What is ARP table poisoning, and what kind of attack is it?
- What is RARP and how does it work?
- What is a DHCP server and how does it work?
- What is BOOTP and how does it work?
- What's the difference between ARP and RARP?
- What is ICMP and what does it do?
- What is a repeater?
- What is a hub, and what other name is it known by?
- What is a bridge and why is it used?
- What is the difference between a local bridge, a remote bridge, and a translation bridge?
- What are the functions of a bridge?
- What's the difference between a bridge and a router?
- What's transparent bridging?
- What's source routing? (also 386)
- What is an internetwork?
- What is STA and what is it used for?
- What's a security risk associated with source routing?
- A router can connect similar networks.  Can it connect dissimilar ones (e.g., Ethernet LAN and Token Ring LAN)?
- What does a router use to filter traffic?
- What actually happens inside the router when it receives a packet?
- What is TTL and what's it used for?
- What happens if the destination network requires a smaller MTU than the packet being routed?
- What are the differences between routers and bridges?
- What is routing?
- Where does the sending computer send the packet if the destination computer is on a remote network?
- How were routing tables originally built, and why aren't they done that way anymore?
- What are ASs and how do they come into play in routing?
- What's a border router?
- A switch functions as a combination what and what?
- What's a VLAN?
- What's a gateway?
- What's IPX?
- What's a NAS?
- What standard do all mail servers understand?
- What's a PBX?
- What's a firewall?
- What is a DMZ and how is it used?
- What's packet filtering?
- Are packet filtering firewalls considered 'stateful?' Why/why not?
- What are pros and cons of packet filtering?
- What is stateful inspection, and what are some characteristics of a stateful inspection firewall?
- What's a firewall state table?
- What's a proxy?
- How can a proxy fight attempts by an attacker to probe a network?
- What are some pros and cons of proxy firewalls?
- What is a dual-homed firewall?
- What two functions should be shut down on a dual-homed firewall for security reasons?
- What's an application-level proxy?
- What's a circuit-level proxy?
- What is SOCKS?
- What is dynamic packet filtering?
- What is a kernel proxy?  What makes it different from the others?
- What are the characteristics of a 'bastion host' firewall architecture?
- How can a system be configured as a bastion host?
- Should all systems in DMZs be running as bastion hosts?  Why/why not?
- What is a screened host?
- What is a screened subnet?  Why is it superior to a screened host or standalone firewall?
- What should the default action of any firewall be?
- What is masquerading or spoofing?
- What's a zombie?
- What should a firewall do when it encounters a fragmented packet? What's the catch?
- What are some disadvantages to firewalls?
- Some firewalls perform authentication.  How does this help?
- What's a honeypot?
- What's the difference between enticement and entrapment?
- Why is suppressing broadcast and collision domain formation important?
- What's a NOS?
- What's a redirector?
- What is DNS?
- Who maintains the authoritative root databases?
- Who allocates IP addresses?
- Where do DNS servers live?
- Why are internal DNS servers usually split up?  What is this called?
- The DNS server that holds the file for a zone is called the  for that zone?
- What is a resource record?
- If a router does not know the necessary path to the destination of a packet, what does it do?
- If a DNS server does not know the necessary necessary resource record to resolve a hostname, what does it do?
- What are the seven most common top-level domains?
- What seven top-level domains did the International Ad Hoc Committee create?
- What is a directory service, and what model and protocol is it built on?
- What is a metadirectory and what is it used for?
- What is a schema?
- What's Microsoft's directory service?
- What's Novell's directory service?
- What is an intranet?
- What are the non-routing class A, B and C networks?
- What is an extranet?
- What is EDI?
- What is NAT?  How does it help provide security?
- How does NAT distinguish between IPs of all the computers connected downstream of it, if all are accessing the WWW at the same time?
- What is a MAN?
- What is SONET?
- What is self-healing?
- What is multiplexing?
- What's the bandwidth of a T1 line? How many telephone calls can it carry?
- How many T-1 lines can a T3 carry?
- What is ATM?  Describe its relationship with SONET in terms of a highway analogy.
- What is OC?  What's the throughput of an OC-1 line?
- What is SDH?  Is it compatible with SONET?  
- What are the bandwidth of E1 and E3 lines?
- How could an SDH network communicate with a SONET network?
- What is a dedicated link and what other names is it known by?
- What is TDM and who uses it?
- How many bits in a time slot?  How many time slots in a frame?
- How many T1 frames go in a second?
- What's it called when a T1 line is split between more than one customer?
- What's the main driver in the cost of a dedicated line?
- What is S/WAN?
- What is a CSU/DSU?
- What is DTE?  Give an example of a DTE object. (also 408-9)
- What is DCE?  Give an example of a DCE object. (also 408-9)
- What's the difference between circuit switching and packet switching? (also 406-7)
- What scheme does ISDN use?
- What is frame relay?
- What is CIR?
- What is the frame relay cloud?
- What's the difference between PVC and SVC?
- What is X.25?
- What is an HDLC frame and how large is it?
- Why was X.25 good for its time but obsolete today?
- What is ATM?
- Are ATM and frame relay connectionless switching technologies?
- What's the difference between packet switching and cell switching?
- How large is an ATM cell?
- Is ATM a good choice for voice and video transmission?  Why or why not?
- What is SMDS? 
- What is SDLC? What's its primary use?
- What is HDLC? What is it an extension of?
- What is HSSI? What's its max bandwidth?
- What is a multiservice access technology?
- What is the Signaling System 7 protocol?
- How does VoIP get around some of the barriers present in today's PSTN?
- What's the term used to describe packet loss or latency in a VoIP call?
- What's an H.323 gateway?
- (good WAN comparison table on 415)
- Remote access can be a huge security problem.  Why allow it at all?
- What is a NAS?
- What is a RAS?
- How can a call-back mechanism be defeated?
- Is it a good idea to have modem-pool access filtered through a firewall?
- What is wardialing?
- What's the local loop?
- What is ISDN?  What are the three implementations of it in use today?
- What is DSL?  What's its bandwidth? What are the two biggest disadvantages?
- What's the difference between symmetric and asymmetric DSL, and which one is better suited for home use?
- What's the biggest drawback of cable modems?
- What's the security risk behind DSL and cable connections being 'always-on?'
- What's a VPN?  
- What's a tunnel?
- Why would you use an encapsulated but unencrypted tunnel?
- What is PPP? What protocol did it replace? How does it use PoPs?
- What are PAP, CHAP, and EAP?
- Is PPP alone sufficient to bring serial data to, say, a corporate network?  Why/why not?
- What is PPTP?  How does it use MPPE?
- What is a GRE header, and how does it work in PPTP?
- What is L2F, and why did Cisco then create L2TP?
- What is PAP? 
- What is PAP's major security drawback?
- What is CHAP?  How does it overcome PAP's major security drawback?
- Is CHAP vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks?  Why or why not?
- What is EAP, and how is it different from CHAP and PAP?
- Modem pools should be set up to answer after how many rings?  Why?
- What is a possible effect of two machines on a network having the same MAC address?
- What is a single point of failure and what's the best defense against it?
- What is RAID?
- Name and describe the following RAID levels: 0-6, 10.
- Why is RAID 10 not called RAID 7?
- What are the characteristics of these RAID classifications:
  . Failure Resistant Disk Systems
  . Failure Tolerant Disk Systems
  . Disaster Tolerant Disk Systems
- What is HSM?
- What is SAN?
- What is clustering, and what is its advantage over just having secondary servers? (also 432)
- What's the relationship between frequency, bandwidth, and distance?
- What is CSMA/CA?
- What is spread spectrum?
- What is FHSS?  What two problems with wireless communication does it address?
- What is DSSS? 
- What is a chip?  A chipping code?
- What are some advantages DSSS has over FHSS?
- What is the IEEE wireless LAN standard?
- What is the frequency range and bandwidth of these wireless standards:
  . 802.11b
  . 802.11a (and how is it different from .11b?)
  . 802.11g
  . 802.11h (and where is it used?)
- What are the characteristics of these standards?
  . 802.11e 
  . 802.11f 
  . 802.11i
  . 802.11j
  . 802.16
  . 802.15
- What is WAP and why is it necessary?
- What is WTLS?  What are the three classes of WTLS?
- What is the 'gap in the WAP?'
- What is an infrastructure WLAN and how does it differ from an ad-hoc WLAN?
- What's a channel?
- What's a SSID?  When is it required?  Why should it not be relied on as a security mechanism?
- What two ways can a wireless device authenticate to an access point, and what is the difference between them?
- What is WEP and how secure is it?
- What is wardriving?
- What is NetStumbler?
- What are NetSnort and WEPCrack?
- What are some security best practices to implement a wireless LAN?

===== Chapter 8 - Cryptography
- What is cryptography?
- Since most crypto algorithms can be broken, what's the point?
- What is a substitution cipher? Monoalphabetic substitution?  Polyalphabetic substitution?
- What is DES and how does Lucifer play a role in it?
- What is the Clipper Chip and what were some problems with it? (also p470-472)
- What is the unencrypted message called?  The encrypted message?
- What is a cryptosystem?
- How are algorithms used in cryptography?
- What is a keyspace, and what are its characteristics?
- Should the algorithm for a cryptosystem be kept secret?  Why or why not?
- What factors comprise the strength of the encryption method?
- What is 'work factor'?
- What four of the Big Five does cryptography contribute to?
- What different emphasis wrt crypto might military, financial, legal institutions have?
- What is key clustering?
- What is a transposition cipher?
- What is frequency analysis and how is it used?
- What is a running key cipher?  
- What is a concealment cipher?
- What is steganography?
- What is Kerckoff's Principle?
- What is EES?
- What is key escrow?
- By what name is key escrow also known when describing a software cryptosystem?
- What is symmetric cryptography?  What are symmetric keys also called?
- How many different keys would be needed for N people to communicate without more than two people sharing any one key?
- What is an 'out-of-band' method?
- Which of the Big Five does symmetric cryptography contribute to?
- What are the main strengths/weaknesses of symmetric cryptography?
- Are the following stream or block ciphers: DES, 3DES, Blowfish, IDEA, RC4, RC5, RC6, AES?
- What is asymmetric cryptography?  By what other name is it known?
- What are asymmetric keys also called?
- What is an important distinction between the public and private keys?
- Which of the Big Five does symmetric cryptography contribute to?
- What is a secure message format?
- How is authentication accomplished with asymmetric crypto?
- What is an open message format?
- What is a 'secure and signed message format?'
- What are some strengths and weaknesses to asymmetric crypto?
- Between the list of algorithms on this page, and the list on p476, which are symmetric and which are asymmetric?
- What's the difference between a block cipher and a stream cipher?
- What's the distinction between confusion and diffusion?
- What is an S-box?
- What is a keystream generator?
- What are the characteristics of a good stream cipher algorithm?
- Are stream ciphers better suited for HW or SW implementations?  Why?
- What is DEA?  What's its effective key size, and why is it different than its full key size?
- What is 3DES?
- What is AES?  What algorithm does it use?
- What block size does DES use?
- How many rounds of transposition/substitution does DES use?
- What are the four DES operation modes and how are they different?
- Why 3DES and not 2DES?
- How many computation rounds does 3DES use?
- How much stronger than DES is 3DES?
- How much slower?
- Define and explain the three different operation modes of 3DES.
- What is IDEA?  What's its block size?  Key size?  Number of rounds?
- What is Blowfish?  What's its block size?  Key size?  Number of rounds?
- What is RC5?  What's its block size?  Key size?  Number of rounds?
- What is RSA?  What Big 5 functions can it perform?
- What provides the strength of the RSA algorithm?
- What's a one-way function?  How does it apply to the RSA algorithm?
- What is El Gamal?  What is it based on?
- What are ECCs?  What are they based on?  What advantages does it have over RSA?
- What is public key crypto? Describe a message exchange using it.
- What is a session key?  Describe a message exchange using it.
- What is a disadvantage of reusing the same secret key over and over?
- What is the Diffie-Hellman algorithm used for?
- What is PKI? What's the difference between it and public key crypto?
- What is a digital certificate?
- What is a certificate authority?  Name two well-known CAs.
- What is a registration authority? (also p498)
- What is a CRL?
- Why might a certificate be revoked?
- What is the current standard for creating a digital certificate?
- Describe an example of all components of a PKI working together.
- What's another name for a directory of public keys?
- What security services does PKI provide?
- How can crypto detect if a message has been modified in an unauthorized way?
- Why aren't parity bits a sufficient means of ensuring message integrity?
- What's a one-way hash?  How does it differ from an encryption algorithm's 'one-way function?'
- What's a message digest?
- What is a weakness of using a simple message digest to verify integrity?
- What is a MAC? How does it work?  What is its weakness?
- What kind of authentication does MAC provide (two different terms)?
- How is system authentication different than user authentication?
- What is a digital signature?
- Go through an example of sending a digitally-signed message.
- Encrypting a message provides which security service(s)?
- Hashing a message provides which security service(s)?
- Digitally signing a message provides which security service(s)?
- Encrypting and digitally signing a message provides which security service(s)?
- What are DSS, DSA, ECDSA, and SHA?
- How large a message digest does SHA produce?
- What does it mean if a hashing algorithm is 'collision free?'
- Re-create Table 8-2.
- What is a 'birthday attack?'
- What are features of a good hash function?
- What are characteristics of MD4, MD5, MD2, HAVAL?
- Describe the digital signing process using SHA and DSS.
- For a hash algorithm with n-bit output, using a brute-force attack, how many messages could it take to determine the input from a given output?
- For a hash algorithm with n-bit output, using a brute-force attack, how many messages could it take to determine two messages with the same output?
- What is a one-time pad?  What is its major advantage?  Its major flaw?
- What does it mean that cryptography is based on a 'trust model?'
- What is a KDC?
- What is KEA?
- Describe a good way to manage backups of crypto keys.
- What are the rules of key management?
- For link encryption and end-to-end encryption, answer the following:
  > What is it?
  > What part of the packet is encrypted?
  > What are its advantages?
  > What are its disadvantages?
  > Which part (higher or lower) of the OSI model is it performed in?
- Where is end-to-end encryption usually initiated?
- What is traffic-flow security?
- What is link encryption? What part of the packets are encrypted?
- What is end-to-end encryption? What part of the packets are encrypted?
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?
- What are the tradeoffs of hardware v. software encryption?
- If a company's security needs are as given below, what cryptosystem / scheme is the best choice:
  > only encrypting the occasional email message?
  > encrypting all network traffic, both internal and external?
  > single sign-on?
- What is MIME?
- What is S/MIME?  What security services does it provide?
- What is PEM?  What security services does it provide?  Why hasn't it really caught on?
- What is MSP?  What security services does it provide?  Who uses it?
- What is PGP?  What security services does it provide? 
- What is a PGP 'web of trust?'  
- What is a PGP key ring?
- What disadvantages does PGP have when compared to a CA model?
- Is PGP a complete cryptosystem?  Why or why not?
- What is the main security issue with browser plug-ins?
- What is a stateless protocol? Is HTTP a stateless protocol? Is S-HTTP?
- How is S-HTTP different from HTTP?
- What security services does S-HTTP provide?
- What is the difference between S-HTTP and HTTPS?
- What is SSL and how is it different from S-HTTP?  What security services does it provide?  Where on the protocol stack does it reside?
- Describe an SSL session.
- Does SSL provide security for the data once it is received?
- How does a user verify an SSL connection?
- What is SET?  Why hasn't it caught on?
- Describe an SET transaction.
- What are cookies?  Why are they used?
- What potentially damaging information can be in cookies?
- What is SSH? 
- Describe an SSH session? 
- What is IPSec? What two basic security protocols does it use?
- What is AH?
- What is ESP?
- What two modes can IPSec work in?
- Describe an IPSec session.
- What is an SA, and how does it work?
- Are SAs directional or omnidirectional?
- What is the SPI?
- How does AH use MAC?
- What security services do AH and ESP provide?  Why would you choose one over the other?
- Which would you choose to set up a VPN?
- Which would you choose in a NAT environment?
- What is an ICV? What part of the packet is used to calculate the ICV in AH?  ESP?
- Does IPSec dictate how hashing and encryption algorithms are to be used?
- What is IKE?
- What is ISAKMP?  OAKLEY?
- What is a passive attack?  An active attack?
- What is a cyphertext-only attack?
- What is a known-plaintext attack?
- What is a chosen-plaintext attack?
- What is a chosen-ciphertext attack?
- What is 'adaptive' when applied to all the above attacks?
- Why are public crypto algorithms generally better than private/proprietary ones?
- Why would you want to keep your crypto algorithm secret?
- What is the man-in-the-middle attack?  Describe it in action.
- What protocol is vulnerable to MITM?
- How can MITM be prevented?
- What is a dictionary attack?
- What is a replay attack?
- What is a side-channel attack?

Posted by Chris at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 05, 2005

The Latest Thing In Lead-Lined Jockey Shorts

Ever dreaded going to a meeting where you expect to be chewed out? You'll want a pair of these (the link is subscriber-only; the text below is from the print edition):

Marines concerned about injuries to sensitive areas of the body [hee!] may someday have the option of special ballistic protection - as long as they don't mind lugging around more pounds.

The Marine Corps has developed a small number of armored shorts as a potential option to protect Marines in certain jobs from lower torso injuries due to small-arms fire and shrapnel from improvised explosives.

. . .

A batch of the $1,500 armor shorts has been field-tested by turret gunners in Iraq. So far, the feedback is that they may be too heavy to be practical.

The oversized Kevlar shorts are worn over the cammies, covering a Marine from the waist to four to six inches above the knees. Because of their 11.5-pound weight, they include a harness that goes over the shoulders.
Sounds like my hockey pants!

Posted by Chris at 02:01 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

...And The Volvo You Drove In On!

Ace notes yet another example of the exempt media doing sloppy fact checking when the alleged fact is to their ideological liking, and compares it to the longstanding dilemma of whether to argue with a professor whose politics run counter to yours, or just spew back what s/he wants to hear:

If you had liberal professors in college, you know this for a fact: Yes, you could argue with them when it comes to final exam time. And, if you present a perfectly-argued essay with very few gaps in logic and sufficiently backed up by evidence, they might even give you a good grade.

But they are going to be reading your essay much, much more carefully, and little slips here and there are going to cost you.

On the other hand... if you just parrot back to the professor the crap she was spouting all semester, you can turn in a rather shoddy effort and get an A.

If you're principled, you may have chosen the former course. If you were me, on the other hand, you almost always chose the latter.

In the Fall term of my senior year in college, I took a freshman sociology course. The professor was an unreconstructed Marxist (two of our alleged textbooks were Feminazi Chowderheads Bitching About Capitalism, Vol DCLVI and It's Not About East vs. West, You Capitalist Pig!, and it was clear ten seconds into his first lecture that the cause of every problem the Third World ever had, has, or will ever have is the fault of Ronald Reagan.

Now I had a dilemma. In that lecture hall with me were about two hundred first-term freshmen, their minds empty. Did I dare let this Commie bastard get away with pumping their heads full of shit, thus guaranteeing another generation of clueless activists, or did I just say "Reagan's fault. Okey dokey." and regurgitate all his shit right back at him?

Let's just say I took the Ace approach. I had two other classes that term (one of which was a compiler construction class), I was working 35-40 hours a week, and I just wasn't going to have the time to deconstruct the little Lenin like he deserved.

I had a small slice of revenge at evaluation time, though. I wrote him an evaluation that went something like this:

I will get a 4.0 in this class, but it isn't because I learned anything. I recognized immediately that I could get an easy 4.0 just by parroting back what you wanted to hear, and, frankly, engaging you in classroom debate wouldn't have been worth my time. The hardest part of this whole class was figuring out how to make "It's all Reagan's fault!" fill up two bluebook pages per essay question without making it look like I was repeating myself. You'll never know which of your 'prize pupils' was merely your echo board (hint: there was more than one of us); alternatively, if you find out who I am and give me anything less than a 4.0 as political punishment, I'll be in your department chair's office filing a protest before the envelope with my grade report hits the floor, because I did 4.0 work all term and I can prove it.

Posted by Chris at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 26, 2005

Aaaaaaand We're Back


Huh. Sun shining? Check. Birds singing? Check. Same new pope (no bait-and-switch like last time)? Check. Baseball under way? Check (and bletch). NBA Playoffs? Check. Freedom win again? Check. Any more of my dead pool picks snuff it? Nope. OK, then. I'm all caught up.

[Warning: in-joke ahead. Familiarize yourself with Swordfish before proceeding.]

So I was speculating on the nature of the impending final exam in my Computer Security class yesterday at work, saying something like "Watch the instructor bring in a locked laptop, drop it on the desk, and say 'pwn this machine. You have one minute.'"

Without missing a beat, my buddy Chess added "Fetch me Halle Berry."

Posted by Chris at 07:55 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

April 19, 2005

Ratzinger, Your Delta Tau Chi Name Is 'Benedictus'

It seems that every time I declare that I'll be too busy to blog for a while, an entry just falls into my lap. While reading about the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, I saw this:

On Monday, Ratzinger, who was the powerful dean of the College of Cardinals, used his homily at the Mass dedicated to electing the next pope to warn the faithful . . ..
Well, of course he got elected pope - he had all the other candidates on Double Secret Probation!

Posted by Chris at 04:04 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

April 07, 2005

So Does She Get Worker's Comp?

Exotic Dancer Injured Inside Fire Station:

SAN ANTONIO -- A 19-year-old exotic dancer was injured while sliding on a fire pole at a West Side fire station, sources told KSAT 12 News.

Sources said that three off-duty San Antonio Fire Department firefighters visited a gentlemen's club in October 2004 when two dancers followed the trio to Fire Station No. 10 at Culebra and Zarzamora roads because the women wanted to slide down the fire pole.

One of the dancers injured her back but refused treatment from paramedics, sources said.
Huh. I would have expected someone with her pole-sliding experience would have been able to deal with that.

Posted by Chris at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

And Would Somebody Answer That Damned Phone?

local6.com has the story of a near-tragic high school track and field accident in Florida (I blogged about a rash of similar injuries hit the Fort three years ago):

LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. -- A Lauderdale Lakes high school senior who was hit on her head with a shot put during track practice will be back out on the field.

The mother of 17-year-old Mona Hassan says her daughter has already been asking if they won.
"If who won, dear?"
"The Red Sox, Mom. Did they win the World Series?

(I'm only joking about this because Miss Hassan wasn't seriously hurt; I'm not that cruel.)

Posted by Chris at 12:37 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

March 27, 2005

What I Want To Know Is How It Knows What Channel FNC Is On

See, this is why I love the Internet. Even if you're a humorless prig with a bug up your ass about Fox News Channel, you can find like-minded people willing to pay you $8.95 so they never have to see it on their TV:

It's not that Sam Kimery objects to the views expressed on Fox News Channel. The creator of the "Fox Blocker" contends the network is not news at all.

Kimery says he has sold about 100 of the little silver bits of metal that screw into the back of most televisions, allowing people to filter Fox News from their sets. The Tulsa, Okla., resident also has received thousands of e-mails, both angry and complimentary, as well as a few death threats since the device debuted in August.
. . .
Kimery now contends Fox News' top-level management dictates a conservative journalistic bias, that inaccuracies never are retracted, and what airs is more opinion than news.

"I might as well be reading tabloids out of the grocery store," he said. "Anything to get a rise out of the viewer and to reinforce certain retrograde notions."

Or... you can do what I do to avoid the ten religious and fourteen home shopping channels that Comcast inflicts on us here in the Fort: use the menu function on my TV to remove those channels entirely!

Let go of your hate, Sam - it's making you ugly:

And to the people sending him death threats? Geez, get a little perspective - It's not like he's selling a Bush Blocker or anything.

Hey, that's an idea - there are a lot of people out there with Terminal BDS who would probably pay not to see the President on their TV, and I'd get a real kick out of making money from their psychosis. To the Batlab!

Posted by Chris at 10:52 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 25, 2005

MacAmber Alert

Have you seen this boy?

If so, please contact Kylie Minogue:

because she really really wants to find him.

POP princess Kylie Minogue last night begged Scots to help her find the boy who stole her heart during a gig.

The Aussie singer had thousands of adoring fans screaming for her during last Sunday night's concert in Glasgow.

But the 36-year-old was charmed by the youngster sitting in front of the stage.

As our picture shows, she reached out to hold his hand as she belted out one of her hits. Now Kylie is desperate to get back in touch to give hima souvenir before she leaves Scotland.

Posted by Chris at 10:01 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

His Other Auction Features A Set Of Janitor's Keys From Treblinka

I can't even come up with the words to describe what a schmuck this guy is:

The eBay seller who triggered an outcry by posting a "9/11" firefighter helmet for sale for $10,000 admitted Tuesday that the helmet is his own, and claims the auction was a joke.

The seller originally wrote that he is a firefighter who volunteered at Ground Zero and that he found the helmet near the site. He also wrote that he needed to sell the helmet to pay for college. However, after an onslaught of negative feedback, he told Firehouse.com, "It was all a huge joke."

Not only is he a schmuck, he's a stupid schmuck:

Joke or no joke, the auction appears to have brought the seller more publicity than he intended, and it didn't take long for his former rescue squad in Virginia to identify the purported "9/11" helmet as one of their own.

After seeing the photos posted online Monday, Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad Vice President Tommy Harrison told Firehouse.com, "We're 99 percent sure it's ours. We had no idea about this sale, and we'd actually like our helmet back."

. . .

Harrison noted Monday that it was an interesting coincidence that PVRS wears similar yellow helmets and is called Company 14, and that the yellow helmet for sale has the number 14 on it, although the sticker for the 1 had been removed.

Not only is he a stupid schmuck, he's a clueless stupid schmuck:

The seller said he said he is not currently affiliated with any fire or rescue service. At times during the interview, he asked where else the story would appear and didn't apologize for the anger that was provoked by the auction.

On Monday night, a forum user who identified himself as a 'friend' of the seller told the same story about the "bet" relayed by the seller himself the next day. During that exchange, the poster bragged about the publicity generated and attempted to engage users with profanity-riddled exchanges.

. . .

The seller had also added a note to the listing that read, "This eBay auction will be featured in Firehouse magazine!! How about that for publicity!! Thanks guys!! This could quite possibly be the most controversial item sold on eBay."

Firehouse.com quickly requested the seller remove the statement, and received a profane e-mail. However, the 'publicity' comments were removed by the seller shortly before the entire auction was removed by eBay.

I'm at a loss for words here. Can you folks help me out?

Posted by Chris at 05:33 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

March 21, 2005

OK, That's Settled. Now What About 'Rice?'

Something I'd always wondered was why the Japanese would create a film monster whose name they couldn't properly pronounce.

Now I understand the problem isn't them, it's us:

1954 would see the birth of Japan's number one international movie sensation Gojira. (Pronounced godzeeda) American fans would come to know the monster as Godzilla. (Correct translation from Japanese to English)
So now I have to ask, why don't we pronounce it 'Godzeeda?'

Posted by Chris at 01:38 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

March 13, 2005

Anywhere, Anytime

I happened to notice on the Weather Channel not too long ago that Knox County, Tennessee (home of the Blogfather, is under a severe thunderstorm warning. I wonder, if the weather truly went to hell there, whether he'd liveblog from the tornado shelter.

Something in his history makes me think he would...

Posted by Chris at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 12, 2005

Beer Can Save Your Life, But Is It Worth It?

Grilling meat produces carcinogens; I think we all knew that. But it looks like beer can mitigate the risk:

Like your meat well done—perhaps with a slightly charred flavor? Then have a beer. The reason: A new study shows that, at least in mice, beer limits the DNA damage triggered by exposure to the carcinogens that form in overcooked meat.
But there's a catch:
Researchers at Okayama University administered locally purchased beer—minus its alcohol—to the rodents. Alcohol was excluded because it alone can be carcinogenic. Some mice got the nonalcoholic beer in place of drinking water. Others got solids extracted from the beer, added to their chow.

Non-alcoholic beer.


I guess it's cancer, then.

Posted by Chris at 10:14 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 09, 2005

More Things I Never Thought I'd See Together

I saw a car today with two bumper stickers on it: one for the local rap station, and one with a Confederate flag.

Now don't that just beat all?

Posted by Chris at 04:28 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 08, 2005

Oh, Yes, Kick Me In The Gut Again, Please

I had hernia surgery yesterday, so I'll be off work for a couple of weeks. How this will affect my blogging, I don't know. On one hand, I should have more free time. On the other hand, sitting up hurts. On the other other hand, generic Vicodin is only about $6 for 32 pills, can you believe that?

Posted by Chris at 05:11 PM | Comments (8)
Category: General Weirdness

February 25, 2005

Nobody Panic!

Spongebob is safe.

Posted by Chris at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness


Comedian Geoff Brown appeared on Bob & Tom last Friday, and the topic of his voicemail greeting came up. The guys called his cell phone to listen, and it was basically just "Whachoowont? Beep!" They liked it so much that they asked him to do it again in the studio so people could record it for their own voicemail greeting / answering machine message, and he consented. I present it to you here.

No need to thank me; I'm a giver.

Posted by Chris at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 22, 2005

The Shot Heard Round The Kennel

If you're a regular Bob & Tom listener, you're probably familiar with the animal conspiracy to bump us off the top of the food chain that only Tim Bedore is brave enough to write about. Nervously, I watch the news, wondering if each day will be an evolutionary Pearl Harbor. We had a bit of a scare back in early December, but things died down after that.

Or did they? Now we've got elephants enjoying a nice shish-ke-Bob in Vienna and Malaysia, and if that isn't bad enough, gun-wielding dogs:

A hunting dog stepped on a loaded shotgun, firing a blast into the arm of a Klamath Falls man, authorities said.

Matthew Harper, 27, was taken to a Klamath Falls hospital on Sunday and then transferred to Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where he was in critical condition, the (Klamath Falls) Herald and News reported Monday.

I always thought the no-opposable-thumbs thing would be enough to keep all but the other primates at bay, but that limitation can now be worked around.

Be afraid. And make sure your dog can't get the key to your gun cabinet.

Posted by Chris at 05:30 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

February 15, 2005

Motivational Quote Of The Day

Today's quote of the day, from my Franklin Covey day planner:

Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.
--Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I don't think she goes far enough, though:

Look instead for a window - they're easier to break.
--Chris of Dangerous Logic

Posted by Chris at 09:36 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

February 14, 2005

More Fun With Mix Tapes

Just because I haven't posted since Friday, and that post was also about The Automatic Mix Tape Generator, one might conclude that I spent all weekend submitting mix tape requests. Not really, although I did spend a bit of time looking at other requests, and some of them are quite interesting, like Um, you're not Ms. Right, you are Ms. Right Now (track 2: The Impossibles - "Priorities Intact"), You told me that you had a baby shower to go to! Why are you here with a stripper on your lap? (track 8: Magnetic Fields - "Fido, Your Leash is Too Long"), and I missed a whole year of my life in an alcoholic fog. Can you tell me what happened this year? (track 15: Robbers On High Street - "Hot Sluts (Say I Love You)").

They've got quite a backlog of mix tape requests, if the frequent appearance of 'omg make me a mixtape to describe how i feel because i check every day and u havnet made my mixtape yet lol' requests are any indication (like this one or this one or this one or this one). You can even volunteer to help them fill requests, and I'm thinking I can contribute. Take, for example, this whiner: Can you please make a mix for me that will keep me and my friends from Killing ourselves now that W has been re-elected? These are dark days

    No problem; I've got just the thing:
  1. Ozzy Osbourne - "Suicide Solution"
  2. Beck - "Loser"
  3. Angy Dee - "No Escape"
  4. The Blues Brothers - "Shotgun Blues"
  5. Jim Travers Band - "People Who Died"
  6. Head East - "Goin' Down For The Last Time"
  7. Marcy Playground - "One More Suicide"
  8. Nine Inch Nails - "Head Like A Hole"
  9. Manic Street Preachers - "Suicide Is Painless"
  10. Slayer - "Mandatory Suicide"
  11. Gravediggaz - "1-800-SUICIDE"
  12. At The Gates - "Suicide Nation"
  13. Cradle Of Filth - "Suicide And Other Comforts"
  14. Frank Zappa - "Suicide Chump"
  15. UFO - "Just Another Suicide"
  16. Barney and Friends - "Theme"

Oh, wait. The loser wanted a mixtape to keep himself from commiting suicide.

Never mind.

Posted by Chris at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

February 11, 2005

They Still Call Them 'Tapes?'

During one of my bouts of random web-staggering, I found The Automatic Mix Tape Generator (a feature of tinymixtapes.com, a pretty cool music site). You submit a topic for a mix tape, and, maybe, eventually, one of their 'robots' puts together a track list appropriate to your request.

They've got lots and lots of track lists, and it's depressing in a way because it shows how little I actually know about music - the vast majority of the tracks listed are by bands I've never even heard of. Anyway, some of them are pretty funny, like this one:

My husband thinks it is time for us to have a baby but I love the independent life too much - help! Side 1 to make me want to have a baby, and Side 2 to make him not want to [emphasis added].

Now that by itself is chuckleworthy, if only for the O. Henry-esque possibility that both sides of the tape will be successful in their respective missions, but here's the punch line: every other song on Side 2 is the theme from Barney.

Posted by Chris at 11:51 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

February 08, 2005

Paint Yerself A Power Supply

I know that a 'Manhattan Project'-style effort to minimize our dependence on a petroleum-based economy (a/k/a "Tell the oil ticks they can go pound sand") is a pipe dream - Steven den Beste has already laid that all out, at least in the short term. But wouldn't it be cool if you could add active solar to your house for the cost of paint plus a bit of wiring?

That day may be closer than we think:

Development of a low-cost plastic infrared photovoltaic material by a group at the University of Toronto could herald a major step forward for solar power, its creators believe, by enabling solar-powered systems to also harvest infrared emissions.

The material embeds various-size nanoparticles-or quantum dots-in a polymer suspension. "We have designed a plastic device that is physically flexible-you could even paint it onto things by putting it in a solution," said Toronto EE professor Ted Sargent. "However you deposit it, after drying you have a nice, thin, smooth film that provides the basis for an electronic device."

. . .

"Our first device was an infrared detector, which converts infrared optical signals into an electrical signal," said Sargent. "As a bonus, because we hadn't anticipated that this would work, we found that it was also a good photovoltaic material capable of harnessing the sun's power.

. . .

But Sargent argues that his plastic photovoltaic material can be tuned, with almost any variety of embedded quantum dots, to whichever spectrum is required-both visible and infrared nanoparticles-for a full-spectrum solar cell.

"We think it is quite important," said Sargent. "In the past, photovoltaic cells have not harvested that other [infrared] half of the spectrum, but our device does for the first time."

One of the knocks on solar power is that the efficiency factor is too low to be cost-effective. Maybe a material that can capture and convert the infrared portion of sunlight will lower the cost-benefit ratio enough to make solar practical.

Of course, it ain't like I'll be schlepping down to the Big Orange Box and grabbing a few gallons of Behr Galvanic Pile Green anytime soon:

Sargent believes large-area plastic infrared photovoltaics could become a major marketplace within 10 years, depending on how low their cost goes.

Posted by Chris at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 04, 2005

Uncle Ted In Fallujah

Ted Nugent was on Bob & Tom yesterday (recall that I'm always a day behind on my B&T listening since I download the MP3s of the show at night and listen to them on the treadmill the following morning), and those of you who remember his previous appearances know that he's always a blast to listen to. Tom asked him to talk about his recent USO trip to Iraq with Toby Keith, and I've transcribed his response below (all the punctuation is my best guess and I couldn't for the life of me figure out where to put the periods). This interview alone justified the cost of my B&T VIP subscription. Now fasten your seat belts, 'cause here we go:

Well, it was a glorious celebration, particularly as life is good, bad, and ugly. It was the greatest of good, and it was the most gut-wrenching of bad and ugly, but the irrefutable conclusion is that good must hammer relentlessly - and good is hammering relentlessly - to eliminate the bad and the ugly, and the spirit, the soul, the attitude, the piss and vinegar, the fire, the passion, the American Dream firestorm of every man and woman of the Armed Forces, everybody in the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the National Guard, the cavalry, everywhere we went, playing acoustic guitars in some hell zone of a tent outside of Fallujah, sharing C-130s and Chinook helicopters with flag-draped coffins, it was an intense - I believe - y'know, I'm a pretty intense guy anyhow, but I've never witnessed nor felt deep in my guts an intensity of confidence and certainty that was fortified there like never before in my life, that the whole world sucks but America sucks less, and the more America can get freedom and liberty and a hint of these glorious God-given rights that are guaranteed in our Constitution and our Declaration and our Bill of Rights - the more that we can bring that to people, the better chance they have of having a quality of life - most of them for the first time in their lives, so my spirit is soaring on eagle wings right now, and it'll never come down because of that experience.
Of course, once you get Ted going, he's hard to stop, and after a brief exchange with the guys, he continued:
...you haven't lived until you've seen Toby Keith performing 'Great White Buffalo' on an acoustic guitar with some little half-assed microphone supertaped to a folding chair in a tent in Fallujah with 100% of the audience toting machine guns. It was so beautiful, I cried tears of emotion. It was absolutely beyond anything I could have ever dreamed, getting my first guitar back in 1955, but it was, it was moving because, again, because of the buoyant intensity of the troops. I mean, here you've got men and women in just the most athletic, most attentive, most warrior atmosphere that you've ever been in. They're all in great shape, they're all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, cocked, locked, and ready to rock, both figuratively and literally, and you're playing a song like 'Great White Buffalo' with Toby Keith, and you're wearing kevlar, you just came in in the middle of the night in a clandestine operation where we weren't even allowed to know where we were going, it was like two in the morning and we land in this godawful desert where you can hardly breathe, and this giant caravan of Hummers and Bradley military vehicles, and I'm manning a big Ma Deuce Browning on top of a Hummer. I thought I was going to die, I mean die like in 'go to Heaven,' and it was BEAUTIFUL, and then I get a guitar and start whippin' out a 'Great White Buffalo' song with Toby Keith at my side. I'm tellin' ya, I've been to the mountaintop and I'm living there as we speak.
But wait! There's more!
...with the emotion of the USO tour for the troops - and I talked to you guys about it live from Iraq, I remember that - and it was very emotional, and it once again cannot be overemphasized that when you're bringing a big 'thank you' to the troops on the front lines of the War on Terror when our brave soldiers are dying every day, but then you take part in that sacred ceremony, saluting a flag-draped coffin entering the back of a C-130, and then you get in that 130 and you're sitting there with those flag-draped coffins, and you know their names - we made our last trip out of Baghdad with LT Erik McCrae, and he had died so we could have radio fun, they die so that we can have barbecues, they die so that we can have concerts, they die so that we can be the best that we can be and reap the rewards of our own work ethic, and I'm gonna tell you, that stays with you forever. So when I hear some numbnut tell me that war is not the answer, and I think back to Pearl Harbor, and I think back to Pol Pot and Adolph Hitler, that maybe some retarded person like Michael Moore could tell the Jews that got out of Auschwitz that war's not the answer, and it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. So I salute the President, I salute the United States military, and I think we all should go to uso.org and help them in any way that we can so that the truth finds its way into policy making so that that support is tangible and efficient so that we can win this war against terror.
Phew! OK, I need a nap now.

Update: The interview sounds much better than it reads, so I'd like to thank Floyd of excelsiornews.com for hosting the audio. You can hear the parts I excerpted above or the whole damn thing.

Posted by Chris at 12:35 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

February 01, 2005

And Then They Can Pop Out A Litter Or Two Of Unemployable Geniuses

So the 'world's cleverest woman' can't find a job. She needs to hook up with William Christopher Holley (whose whole sad deceased website is memorialized here and immortalized here and here).

Update: I guess Holley is out of luck - Ms. Simidchieva apparently now has to beat the job offers back with a stick.

Posted by Chris at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

And I Thought People Who Show Dogs Were Weird

When I visit my in-laws', I end up watching different TV than I usually do. That's how I encountered Animal Planet's Cat People, a show about a big cat show and some of the people and cats involved.

Some of the people looked relatively normal, but there were two in particular who I thought were just out there. There was a blonde woman who showed kittens (that's right, folks, kittens between four and eight months of age get their own category), and one of her kittens had won Best Kitten something like 21 straight times. How this could happen when there are only fifteen weeks in the four-month period that a cat is showed as a kitten, I'm sure some cat lover will be able to explain to me. Anyway, this lady definitely needed to up her Prozac dosage, because when her kitten finished behind FatSweatyBum's kitten in a preliminary round, she looked despondent - as in 'one more piece of bad news away from eating a bullet.'

And about FatSweatyBum. The show had a bit where he made a big deal of 'putting on his game face,' indicating that he's somebody who 'shouldn't be messed with.'

He. Shows. CATS! What does he do, put on whiskers? Hell, you could probably distract him with a hoagie and do whatever the hell you wanted to his cats.

There was also another woman who had a dream her cat would win, even though the cat had some kind of eye problem and at one point peed all over his cage, but she looked harmless; also, I saw a breed called an ocicat that looked pretty cool, so it wasn't a complete waste of my hour.

In the end, all was well - FatSweatyGuy didn't stroke out (he settled for a quick nap in his car, caught on camera, and boy was that attractive), and NeuroticBlonde's kitten won his billionth Best In Whatever, so we didn't see her go all Budd Dwyer on us.

Now that would have been some different TV than usual.

Posted by Chris at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 31, 2005

One Blue Finger For A Man; One Giant Leap For A Country

My take on Iraq's elections: So far so good, and keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by Chris at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 27, 2005


A blogger I read regularly, and I can't remember who, remarked recently that they thought Oprah said something outrageously PC, but they couldn't be sure, and they couldn't go back and listen again because they weren't taping.

Well, now you can:

Google and Yahoo are introducing services that will let users search through television programs based on words spoken on the air. The services will look for keywords in the closed captioning information that is encoded in many programs, mainly as an aid to deaf viewers.

Google's service, scheduled to be introduced today, does not actually permit people to watch the video on their computers. Instead, it presents them with short excerpts of program transcripts with text matching their search queries and a single image from the program. Google records TV programs for use in the service.

Posted by Chris at 12:58 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 26, 2005

About The City Attorney Story...

My irony detector must be down, or it would have red-lined when I posted a White Trash Wednesday story about the Fort Wayne City Attorney on the same day I complained about Men's Health naming Fort Wayne as America's Dumbest City.

As of now, WTW-participating blogs include Riehl World View, Beautiful Atrocities, CrankyNeocon, Daisy Cutter, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Nickie Goomba, Rachael Ray Redux , Six Meat Buffet ,Vince Aut Morire and Dangerous Logic.

Posted by Chris at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 21, 2005

I Was Scribbling Notes So Fast My Paper Actually Burst Into Flames

If American Digest isn't already on your daily reading list, it should be. I think Gerard has the solution to a problem that's been bothering me ever since I started working on my Master's - how to take notes in a way that they're useful when you go back to them later. My instructors' lecture styles have been all over the place so far, and I mesh with some better than others (e.g., one guy lectures to PowerPoint slides that he emails to the class beforehand; I print those up six-to-a-page before class and annotate them during his lecture, which works pretty well). My instructor this semester is an almost stream-of-consciousness guy who goes off on more tangents than a Trig final. I've had him for a class before, and when I studyed for his exams then, I often found myself wondering just how I was going to pull any useful information out of my notes.

I think today's American Digest has the answer - a framework for note-taking called the Cornell Note Taking System:

The feature I think will really make it work for me is the Cue column, and the reason I think that is because one of the things you can do with it is to play Jeopardy! by jotting down potential questions based on the information on the Notetaking column. The System recommends doing this as soon after class as possible, but I think that doing it at the same time I'm taking the actual notes would be a good way to capture my instructor's train of thought, which often runs on several tracks in perpendicular directions simultaneously.

Posted by Chris at 04:19 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

January 19, 2005

Dip Etiquette 101: Always Use A Dented Can To Spit In

Because otherwise the guy who steals your truck might drink it by accident:

Police in Vancouver, Washington, say a man arrested held for investigation of truck theft should have looked before he swallowed.

The man, 26-year-old Cuitlahvac Renteria-Martinez of Vancouver, called 911 shortly before he was arrested to say he was choking and needed emergency medical attention.

Police say he told investigators he saw a cup as he was driving the truck, took a drink, and discovered he had swallowed the regular driver's tobacco spit.

We had something like that happen here at work several years ago: a friend brought a can of Pepsi into another (tobacco-chewing) friend's office. When he left, he took the other friend's can with him... and drank out of it. Hilarity ensued.

But you know what they say - "It's all fun and games until somebody vomits on the HR manager" - and the next thing you know, a memo was being circulated around the office banning tobacco chewing.

Posted by Chris at 01:30 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

January 18, 2005

In Other News, "Be Seeing You" Has Been Trademarked By Microsoft

(Warning: semi-obscure '60s British TV reference ahead)

If you want proof that product placement/embedded advertising has gone too far, check out this still frame leaked from the in-progress remake of The Prisoner.

Oh, all right. If you don't get it, read this.

Posted by Chris at 01:43 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

The Popemobile Cornered OK, But It Just Couldn't Keep Up In The Straightaway

In a move that shocked the Formula One world, Pope John Paul II jumped ship from Rover to join Ferrari:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul got a flame red Ferrari from the Italian world championship racing team on Monday . . . for having what they said was the inside track on the roads of humanity.

Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher and the rest of the Ferrari team met the Pope in the Vatican's frescoed Clementina Hall to give him the . . . car that won both the championship and constructor titles in 2004.

OK, there was some selective ellipsizing there, but this story is real:

And after [Ferrari racing team president Luca] Montezemolo's last visit, which took place in October, he revealed that Ferrari would be building a special Popemobile to mark Pope John Paul II's 26th year as pontiff.

"We will make a Ferrari Formula One car especially for the pope," Montezemolo told reporters on a visit to the Vatican City.

Posted by Chris at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 14, 2005

An Boff De Udda Buls, Dey Air Laffin At Hem

Last year while we were vacationing on Oak Island, we met a couple who were in the process of moving down there full time in order to open a recreational center. We're trying to get ahold of them, but we've somehow lost all their contact info. I was searching back issues of the Oak Island/Southport paper to see if there was an announcement of a recreational center opening, when I found this column about, among other things, a claim against the A & Y Railroad for damages to a bull:

The following letter is an exact copy (except the original was written in pencil) which is on file in the Claim Agent’s office of the A&Y Railroad at Greensboro, NC. The writer is Mr. Simon Green, RFD No. 1, Bear Creek, NC. The letter was written in all seriousness, with no attempt to be funny.

Mr. C. F. H. Faulkner
A & Y ralerode
Greensboro, N. C.

Yore Ralerode rund over my bul at the 20 mile pose las Wensy. He air not ded, but mout as well be and I want your sexion host repote him ded and pade fur. Hit mash off boff his seed leaving him mighty little of his bag, hit tore out a pease of skin a footsquar twixt his peker and nabul, he air totaly unqualified to be a bul and he air to mamed up too bad to be a stear and he air to dam tuf fur beef, so I want you repote him ded and pay fur.

Yors truly and so forthe
Signed – Simon Green

P.S. He wur a red bul but he stand arond lookin mity dam blue these days.

To me, the funniest thing about that letter is that 'unqualified' is spelled correctly.

Posted by Chris at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

January 13, 2005

Yeah, But I Gotta Know - Is It $19.99 Or $1999?

One of the features of my (kinda) new ReplayTV is Commercial Advance. When I'm watching a show it previously recorded, and it detects a commercial break, it skips ahead to the end, playing only the first few seconds of the first commercial and the last few seconds of the last commercial. Which is why I sometimes get sound bites like this:

The love of your life
Only nineteen-ninety-nine for the first three months!

Posted by Chris at 09:46 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

January 12, 2005

I Guess I'm Not Cleared For That

There are websites for certain TV stations and newspapers that kill my internet connection entirely when I try to surf to them in IE (f'rinstance, a story linked on Drudge earlier today about a 50-car pileup on a freeway between Lansing and Detroit. The Drudge link has now been updated to a Lansing State Journal article that I can access without a problem). I get the 'This page cannot be displayed' error page for that page AND EVERY OTHER PAGE, ANYWHERE, I TRY TO ACCESS AFTERWARDS! I end up having to reboot the PC. Anybody else seen this problem? Switching off ActiveX, Java, and scripts doesn't seem to help.

Posted by Chris at 06:32 PM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

January 10, 2005

Which Of These Things Is Not Like The Others?

Can somebody explain to me the difference between the left two counters in this ad (and the difference between the right two)?

Posted by Chris at 04:06 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

December 18, 2004

Blegging For An iPod

OK, I've checked it out and decided that this 'free iPod' thing is worth a shot. Here's how it works: you register at the site and sign up for one or more of several offers through a referral link. Once you do that, get five friends to do the same thing via your own referral link. Once they do, you get a free iPod. At press time, you can choose between a 20GB iPod or a 4GB mini iPod (in true Apple style, you get your choice of color). Yes, it's definitely multi-level marketing, but it ain't like Amway where you have to have a pyramid of 64 people extending eight levels below you to make any money at it. One offer, five friends at one offer each (and most of them are cancellable after freeipods.com credits you for completing the offer but before you're actually charged any money), and you're done. I chose Blockbuster Online because I've been thinking about trying it out anyway.

You can read more about the offer on wired.com, engadget.com, and geek.com. And I'll make the same offer that my referrer made to me - once I get my iPod, I'll change my referrer link to yours (one referral at a time, first come first serve).

Posted by Chris at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 02, 2004

Instant Computer Museum

Got 300 grand? Want your own computer museum? Go see eBay.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 30, 2004

The King Is Dead. Too Bad I Didn't Kill Him.

Based on my own experiences and tonight's show, I can say with an absolutely straight face that had I been up against Ken Jennings tonight, I would have smoked him. Period, paragraph, game in the bag by the end of Double Jeopardy, The End.

Of course, I knew tonight was going to be the night - the 6:00 news of my local Jeopardy affiliate announced as much. I thought that was a stupid idea at first, then I realized it was genius. After all, how many casual Jeopardy fans would want to miss The One Where Ken Lost?

I should have taped it so I could do a detailed breakdown (although I'll be surprised if Game Show Network doesn't syndicate it, like, tomorrow), but it seemed to me that the turning point came when he missed both Daily Doubles in the second round - that's usually where he takes so much money off the board that there literally isn't enough left to beat him.

Update: Full disclosure requires me to admit that The One Where Ken Lost is one of only two shows (of about a dozen of Ken's shows that I've seen) that I'm certain I would have won. I might have won two others; he would have cleaned my clock every other time.

Posted by Chris at 07:47 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

November 12, 2004

It Wasn't As Dramatic As Missing A Flight That Crashed, But...

You may have heard about this train crash in England over the weekend where seven people died. I'm pretty sure that was the exact same line I rode when I took this trip a year ago September. Chills, man, chills.

Posted by Chris at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 11, 2004

Honor Their Sacrifice

Today is Veterans' Day, and I found myself thinking about how I can begin to repay the debt I owe those who keep us free. I can't think of a better way to honor those who served, and paid the cost of keeping us free with the sacrifice of their own lives, than to donate to a memorial fund for the family of an area service member killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

If you live in Fort Wayne, I suggest the Trevor Penisten Educational Fund for the son of SPC Brian Penisten (KIA 2 NOV 03). You can donate at any BankOne branch.

Posted by Chris at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 03, 2004

Empty Gestures From An Empty Suit

You'll forgive me if I'm less than impressed with Kerry's concession; it's not like he's disqualified himself in the event that his minions' provisional- and absentee- ballot stuffing suceeded (unlikely, but possible).

Really, conceding at this stage, with Florida in the Bush column by more than the margin of lawyer, was the only thing he could do without looking like Al Gore. Minus the beard. And slightly less deranged.

As of this writing, Michael Moore's website hasn't been updated since about 5PM ET yesterday. I wonder why that is...

Posted by Chris at 11:21 AM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

October 15, 2004

Beware The Frankenfish

Ever since I first heard about the Northern Snakehead appearing in a Maryland pond, I've wondered if maybe they were the second coming of the sea lamprey, whose invasion of the Great Lakes in the middle of the 20th century had devastating impact on the region's commercial fisheries (although urbanlegends.about.com is far less concerned about the snakehead than I am).

I fear that time has now come, as a Frankenfish was found in a Chicago harbor:

A fish known for a voracious appetite and ability to wreak havoc on freshwater ecosystems has been found in Chicago's Burnham Harbor. An angler caught an 18-inch northern snakehead last weekend.
. . .
Scientists describe the northern snakehead as a "Frankenfish" for its ability to survive in oxygen-depleted water, move from pond to pond and eat other fish. It's a native of Asia and can grow to more than three feet in length.

It took the better part of fifty years to get the sea lamprey problem under anything resembling control; I don't think we have that kind of time here (especially if, as the voices in my head tell me, the Chicago fish hitchhiked from where the species was originally found in Maryland). If only we can get the lampreys to start attacking the snakeheads...

Posted by Chris at 03:51 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

October 12, 2004

Unsolicited Testimonial: Evolution Neckphone MP3 Player

Cords hate me. Headphone cords, keyboard/mouse cables, all that stuff; they hate me and they try to do me harm. I tried to run with a walkman once, and I ended up snagging the headphone cord, breaking the walkman AND the headphones, and hurting myself in in the process.

In order to listen to music while running without being a danger to myself or those around me, I needed a headset MP3 player. I got the Evolution Neckphone 32MB, which is a combined MP3 player / FM radio. It fills the bill VERY well; the sound quality of the MP3 player is acceptable and it's not too heavy on the ears. I haven't gotten the FM radio to work worth a fig yet, but with the MP3 player, I don't really care. And I've never had any problem with the included MMC Toaster under Windows XP, even without updating the driver. I've only tried MMC cards of 64MB or smaller, but I've heard that 128MB cards work fine too.

Sure, there are some things I don't like - the volume doesn't go up real loud, your only navigation option is 'skip to the next track,' there's no pause, etc., but you're bound to make some tradeoffs if you're only paying $45 for the thing (on eBay, including a 32MB MMC). The only other item of note is that after a year and a half of several-times-per-week usage in a high-sweat environment, the volume doesn't always change when I turn the dial.

But the reason I'm writing this review is because I recently put the thing through the washer AND the dryer. Everything came out in the washer - both batteries, both compartment covers, and the MMC card; the four wires that connect the earpieces came out of their groove in the back of the neckband. I let the player dry out for three days, tucked the wires back into place, replaced all shed parts, said a brief prayer, and fired it up.

It worked perfectly.

Posted by Chris at 09:57 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

October 11, 2004

The First Interstellar Time Bank Of Karma

As I was waiting in line at the store behind somebody who didn't think to start looking for her checkbook until her total was announced, it occurred to me that a truly just God would account for this kind of thing at each person's Final Reckoning. Since God knows when we're all going to die, He could simply account for time wasted by others to our detriment, add that to our nominal recall date, and adjust accordingly. Conversely, anyone who was a net drain on the time of others would get called home early.

Of course, since any discussion of the nature of Heaven is by necessity speculative, it is possible that He does this already.

Posted by Chris at 08:41 PM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

October 08, 2004

Random Vocabulary Thoughts

A lot of people say 'left-leaning' when they really mean 'left-staggering.'

A lot of people say 'mainstream media' when they really mean 'legacy media' (in much the same way that an accounting package written in COBOL thirty years ago is a 'legacy program').

Posted by Chris at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

September 21, 2004

Clearly, The Iraqi Army Didn't Have Its Head In The Game, But...

Today on Iraq The Model:

Iraq is not an adventure. Toppling Saddam was never the main reason for the war and should never be thought of as this. Removing Saddam could’ve been done 13 years ago by just preventing him from using his helicopters in the uprising. It could’ve been done also by deploying the Iraqi opposition groups into the north, which together with the Peshmerga and with air support from the coalition could’ve done the job. It could’ve been done through a military coup planned by the CIA or the M.I.6. After all, Saddam regime proved to be much weaker than it looked. It certainly didn’t need hundreds of thousands of coalition soldiers and all this massive power. Besides, if it was the main reason, then why didn’t the American troops pull out of Iraq soon after doing it?
I agree with Ali's premise, and his conclusion, but I disagree with a bit of the road between them. By saying essentially "Iraq's army wasn't nearly as strong as suspected, so if all we wanted to do was depose Saddam, backing a coup would have done the trick," Ali makes a couple of what I think are dangerous assumptions:
  • That because the Iraqi army proved largely inept against the full might of Coalition ground forces, that it would have proved equally inept against a 'sponsored' coup attempt. Internal security seemed to be the one thing the Iraqi army could do.
  • Given our previous track record of hanging Iraqi coups out to dry, it isn't even certain that we could have gotten a coup off the ground. "Fool me once, shame on you..." and all that.

Actually, that's peripheral to the point I wanted to make. I also wanted to make a hockey reference, especially since it's probably the closest I'll get to actual hockey for a while. When the Wings won back-to-back in '96-'97 and '97-'98, one recurring complaint I heard from vanquished opponents was 'we just didn't play very well.' What they failed to realize was that the Wings' game plan was specifically designed to deny their opponents their own game plan. They didn't just not play well; the Wings made them not play well.

And I think that's what we saw in the dash to Baghdad. The Iraqi army wasn't necessarily a priori incompetent; they were rendered incompetent by the Coalition's overwhelming resources, execution, and, yes, 'game plan.' They denied the Iraqis the ability to gather intelligence, analyze it, and act on it. In other words, they denied to the Iraqis the ability to execute their own game plan.

Keep that in mind the next time you hear somebody say that because Saddam's army performed so poorly, he therefore wasn't a threat to anyone.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 12, 2004

It's All Happening So Quickly, I Can't Write Fast Enough

Geez. I haven't even finished chronicling my first birthday party, and I have another one. With cops. Really.

Oh, yeah. Completing Thursday's thought - I sure hope the sports books weren't using that 13 1/2 point line to get all the money on the fND side, because if they did, they got worked.

Posted by Chris at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 27, 2004

It's Either A Defection Attempt Or The Office Mishap Of The Century

Or maybe it was a bar bet. Local6 does it again, with this story of a woman who shipped herself to the US:

MIAMI -- A Cuban woman is in good condition Wednesday after being found inside a wooden crate that was loaded in a cargo plane from the Bahamas to Miami.

A DHL cargo crew found the woman curled up inside the crate the size of a small filing cabinet after workers unloaded it late Tuesday at Miami International Airport.

The woman, who did not require medical treatment, was taken to an immigration center for processing and was to be released, immigration spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez said Wednesday. Under the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, Cubans who reach U.S. soil are usually allowed to stay, while most picked up at sea are sent home.
Authorities aren't saying she defected from Cuba per se:
Federal officials and DHL released no information on how long the woman was in the Bahamas and whether she flew out of Cuba in the crate as well. The U.S. attorney's office had no comment.
But I'm guessing that since she's Cuban, her trip didn't originate in the Bahamas.

Posted by Chris at 06:55 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

August 25, 2004

Technical Difficulties, Again

Coincidental computer problems at both home and work. Will probably continue for the next few days.

Posted by Chris at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 20, 2004

The Question That Woke Me From A Sound Sleep At 3:00 This Morning, Part II

Does the laurel wreath the medalists wear on their heads count as a hat, thus falling under the category 'things you should remove while the national anthem is playing?'

Posted by Chris at 07:49 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

August 16, 2004

Cheech And Chong Would Be Proud

This is what I meant when I referred to them blazing up the Olympic blunt:

The Olympic fattie

Posted by Chris at 11:08 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

August 06, 2004

The Question That Woke Me From A Sound Sleep At 3:00 This Morning

If Greece traditionally appears first in the Olympic opening ceremony's parade of nations, and the host nation appears last, then how are they going to do it this year?

Posted by Chris at 12:31 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

Yes, But Will She Get Her Elementary School Teaching Job Back?

Convicted child rapist Mary Kay Letourneau got released from jail yesterday after serving her sentence (she did 7 1/2 years for doing a 12-year-old). As part of her post-release processing, she had to register as a convicted sex offender. As a result (and among other restrictions), Inside Edition announced, Letourneau would have a curfew.

Without even looking up from her crossword puzzle, flower_goddess said "Shouldn't affect her any; the guys she wants all have earlier curfews."

Posted by Chris at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 28, 2004

History Is Written By The Winners

The Blogfather, this time wearing his MSNBC hat, reports that Burt Rutan has given official notice that they'll be gunning for the X Prize starting September 29:

Aerospace engineer, Burt Rutan, leader of Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, has formally announced a timetable for back-to-back flights of the firm’s SpaceShipOne rocket plane.

Rutan and his team have given its official 60-day notice, with the first X Prize attempt set for September 29 from the inland Mojave Spaceport in California. To win the $10 million, SpaceShipOne will need to make a second flight within two weeks, by October 13.

Rutan is not alone in being near his 'ship date,' so to speak:

Hot on Rutan’s heels is Brian Feeney, leader of the Canadian da Vinci Project. Feeney also reported today that his team is rolling out on August 5 their completed X Prize vehicle -- the balloon-lofted Wild Fire rocket. The public unveiling will take place at the team’s Dowsview Airport hanger in Toronto.

The da Vinci Project Team, widely heralded as a contender for the $10 million purse, will pursue its own Ansari X Prize space flight attempts this fall.

Glenn then asks:

Think I exaggerate the importance of this [the X-Prize] race? Then ask yourself this -- what do we remember more about now, the 1928 Presidential race, or Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight?
It's a fair question, but I don't have the same answer he did. Certainly, Lindbergh's flight was a catalyst as far as commercial aviation was concerned, and I damn sure want a rocket car before I die. But had Lindbergh not won the Orteig Prize in 1927, he would have won it the next year, or somebody else would have. It was a technological inevitability.

And nobody remembers the 1928 Presidential election, but everybody knows what happened in 1929. I'm not saying that we wouldn't have had the Great Depression had Al Smith won instead of Hoover, but it's pretty clear that President Hoover's responses to the stock market crash exacerbated the Depression.

Now consider this: everybody always talks about Presidential elections being about The Direction This Country Is Headed, and I think this one really is. With Clinton, we got eight years of appeasement with the occasional interestingly-timed missile strike. Under President Bush, who understands that appeasement at best gets you killed last, we are actually now fighting the war we've been in for some time prior to September 11. Although I don't agree with all his methods, I am confident that he will keep fighting until we either destroy or marginalize the terrorist threat (and by 'terrorist,' I mean 'Islamofascist,' because let's face it, except for Oklahoma City, it's not like anybody else is doing this to us).

I have no faith whatsoever that John Kerry even believes what he's saying about fighting the WoT, or that he'll take any serious steps in that arena, or that he won't just give up the first time it gets difficult (and by 'gets difficult,' I mean 'the first time Old Europe complains about something we're doing'). Unless he commits an impeachable offense, he'll have four years to roll over for the splodeydopes before we can replace him. That's four years we can't afford to lose.

In 2054, how will this year be remembered? Will it be 'the year SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize' or 'the beginning of the end of our victorious jihad against the infidels?'

Update: See the comments.

Posted by Chris at 07:57 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

July 16, 2004

So Hot That Straight Girls Want Her

flower_goddess and I were watching Inside Edition last night, and they did an interview with Halle Berry's soon-to-be-or-maybe-already-ex-husband, where he denied being a sex addict.

When flower_goddess heard that, she said "Hell, if I were married to Halle Berry, I'd be a sex addict!"

I looked at her. "You meant to say that if I were married to Halle Berry, I'd be a sex addict, right?"

"Oh yeah, that too."

From the "How About That" department: the headline on today's page of The Onion's desk calendar was "Brad Pitt Bored With Sight Of Jennifer Aniston's Naked Body".

Posted by Chris at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 12, 2004

If You Smoke After Sex, There's Something Wrong...

...and if you explode during sex, then something's really wrong:

Ilarie Coroiu was taken to hospital in the Transylvanian town of Cluj after his girlfriend, Magdalena, 18, "felt something strange" and noticed that the bed was covered in blood.

Dr Angela Domocos, head of the accident and emergency department at Cluj General Hospital, said: "It is very rare for this to happen. We call it an exploded penis because it happens when the blood cavities in the penis burst.

"I don't know what this couple were playing at, but there must have been tremendous pressure inside the penis to make this happen."

Posted by Chris at 08:00 AM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

July 07, 2004

Pigs Get Fat, Hogs Get Slaughtered

Posing as a food/drink/whatever inspector is a time-honored way to get in a bit of grift, but you gotta know when to quit:

At a restaurant in Söderhamn in Sweden, the man introduced himself as alcohol inspector from the local authorities. He said that he was going to control that the restaurant provided the correct amount of alcohol in drinks.

Alcohol for about NOK 660 (USD 95) was placed in front of the 59-year-old man, who immediately started to investigate the volume and the amount of alcohol in the drinks.

After a while the man became so drunk that he started to throw the alcohol all over the place. At this time, the staff concluded that something was not quite right, and called the police.

Posted by Chris at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 02, 2004

If You're Not Winning The Game, Change The Rules

As the Tet Offensive showed, there's more than one way to win a war. Nicholas Kristof thinks we've already beaten the ChiComs:

So, 15 years after Tiananmen, we can see the Communist dynasty fraying. The aging leaders of 1989 who ordered the crackdown won the battle but lost the war: China today is no longer a Communist nation in any meaningful sense.

Political pluralism has not arrived yet, but economic, social and cultural pluralism has. The struggle for China's soul is over, for China today is not the earnest socialist redoubt sought by hard-liners, but the modernizing market economy sought by Zhao Ziyang, the leader ousted in 1989. The reformers lost their jobs, but they captured China's future.

In retrospect, the Communist hard-liners were right about one thing, though: they warned passionately that it would be impossible to grab only Western investment and keep out Western poisons like capitalism and dreams of "bourgeois freedom." They knew that after the Chinese could watch Eddie Murphy, wear tight pink dresses and struggle over what to order at Starbucks, the revolution was finished. No middle class is content with more choices of coffees than of candidates on a ballot.
I'm not 100% sold on this; I think there's a good chance a Communist government will merely be replaced by a vanilla imperialist one, but that's another topic. What Kristof argues is that the same tactics should work against Fidel and the NorKs (good name for a rock band?), among others:
So Communism is fading, in part because of Western engagement with China — trade, investment, Avon ladies, M.B.A.'s, Michael Jordan and Vogue magazines have triumphed over Marx. That's one reason we should bolster free trade and exchanges with China, rather than retreating to the protectionist barricades, as some are urging.

The same forces would also help transform Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Burma, if only we would unleash them. We are doing a favor to the dictators in those countries by isolating and sanctioning them. If we want to topple them, we need to unleash our most potent weapons of mass destruction, like potbellied business executives and bare-bellied Britney Spears.
What this reminded me of, of all things, was VH-1's 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs... Ever; particularly, Toby Keith's "Courtesy Of The Red, White, and Blue." Some critic from Blender magazine (who?) was deconstructing the lyrics, sneering "'We'll put a boot in your ass / It's the American way?' That's not the American way!"

I was just afore going all Righteous Anger on the TV when he finished the thought: "We make you think that boot is cool, then we sell it to you. That's the American way!"

I had to admit the twerp had a point. For instance, I had always considered the embargo against Cuba as a punitive measure - we were trying to punish Castro for letting the Soviets try to install IRBMs that could reach the eastern half of the U.S. Now I'm starting to rethink this. It's been forty years; do you think he's had enough yet? He's still in power, he still does whatever he wants (actually, the fall of the Soviet Union has hurt Cuba's ability to project power far more than our embargo has), and the vast majority of his people have precisely Jack Shit. Why not try a change of tactics?

(hat tip: QandO)

Posted by Chris at 07:46 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

May 29, 2004

Have A Good Weekend

Headed out of town for the weekend. See you Monday.
Posted by Chris at 09:05 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 27, 2004

Today's Waste Of Time

This, more or less, is me:
Chris as a South Park character

So who are you?

I forget where I saw this first. I'll credit it when I remember.

Posted by Chris at 08:24 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

A Quick Lap Around My Blogosphere

It appears that I have a few clusters of regular readers who know each other, but don't know each other. So instead of performing n! iterations of "A, this is B; B, A," I'll just do this instead.

  • Curmudgeonly & Skeptical fingers a Seattle moonbat with terminal BDS.
  • Dale Franks has a toughlove-type answer for those who say Abu Gharib was an egregious breach of the Geneva Conventions.
  • Spiced Sass notes one thing John F'in Kerry is consistent on.
  • American Digest presents a list of blogger 'thou shalt not's cleverly disguised as affirmations.
  • Feste looks at the world of 2050 without America as world policeman.
  • Cranial Cavity takes on The Day After Tomorrow.
  • Bill from INDC Journal differentiates between John F'in Kerry's Vietnam service and his conduct thereafter.
  • CavalierX lays it all out about the Sarin IED.
  • Azygos points out one of the hazards of living in Arizona.
  • mlah compares prostitution and pimping, arguing that the former should be legal.
  • Analog Mouse reviews a quick-access gun safe.
  • And we're all holding our breath pending the results of Neanderpundit's doctor visit.
I didn't get everybody - gotta save some for next time! Now... talk amongst yourselves!

Posted by Chris at 04:04 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

May 26, 2004

I'm Guessing The Headline Wasn't Written By One Of Them

Headline seen in today's edition of my son's soon-to-be high school newsletter (motto: "A Tradition of Excellence"): "Top 10 Studnets Announced."

Posted by Chris at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 25, 2004

Give Me Strength

So Bill Whittle's stepped it up again, and Strength I and II are the result. Go read them right now. I'll wait. Hell, pack a lunch and make a day of it.

OK, what was your first thought on reading it? Mine was "My God, this should be required reading for everybody in America!" And that's what most of the comments basically said, too...

...until I saw one that said 'Nice job preaching to the converted. The rest of us remain unconvinced.' In other words, he thought Bill was wasting his time.

I think he missed the point. If you look at poll numbers from the start of OIF compared to now, there's a nontrivial percentage of people who have lost faith in what we are doing. Even if some of them weren't paying attention and thought it was all about the WMDs (despite the fact that A) it wasn't and B) what the hell was this, a can of Mace?), there are still a lot of people who have become disillusioned for other reasons, most notably the lack of apparent progress.

They are the people who have bought the negative media spin of everything that is happening in Iraq. They are the people who didn't hear President Bush say from the beginning that the task would be long and hard. They are the people who don't understand that to quit is to lose. Everything.

They are the people who need to read Strength. And they need to do it now.

Posted by Chris at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

You See What You Look For

When we got our first Jeep back in 1998, I immediately noticed how many Jeeps were on the road. Clearly, they didn't suddenly materialize on the road the day after we got ours; they were there all along and I just never noticed before. The same thing happened when we upgraded Jeeps a few years later (interestingly, the opposite happened back in December when we traded the Jeep in on a Pacifica - we saw them all over the place before, but seemingly not so much now).

I was waiting to fly out from Fort Wayne last Tuesday when I saw (at a distance, and from behind) someone who looked so much like a co-worker I wanted to call out his name just to check. Maybe that put me in the appropriate frame of mind, because over the next several hours and two airports, I saw dead ringers for the following people:

  • My sister who lives in San Francisco (ironically, boarding a flight to SFO)
  • Amber from Survivor
  • Two other co-workers
  • Ronnie Lott
  • Caroline Kennedy (at age 21)
The kicker? I found out when I got back that the guy who started me down this path was indeed the co-worker I thought he might have been. There's probably some psychological theory that can neatly explain all of this.

Posted by Chris at 02:02 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 24, 2004

I Knew They Had A Supercharged Version, But DAMN!

I must have this car:

A Belgian motorist has been sent a speeding ticket for travelling at 2,100 mph.

The ticket claimed he'd been caught doing Mach 3 in his Mini in a Brussels city suburb.
Once the word got out, the Illuminati had to swoop in and sanitize the story:
Police have apologised for the mistake, and have blamed a faulty radar.

They said human error was to blame for sending out the ticket, even though it was clear the man's car couldn't have been travelling at three times the speed of sound.

Posted by Chris at 09:35 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

May 21, 2004

Oh, Yeah. I'm Back.

Got back from Camp Lejeune (memo to self: First Class rocks!). Fixed a double entry. Commented on comments on recent entries. More later.

Posted by Chris at 03:59 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 18, 2004

Checking Out Of The Net?

Headed here until Friday for some troubleshooting work. Maybe I'll have Net access, maybe not. In the meantime, here's a couple of quick hitters:

Sign Of The Times: I was out at lunch yesterday when I saw a police car pulled over and the officer standing in the door talking on his radio, but nothing else of obvious interest near him...

until I saw the (industrial-sized) compressed gas canister on the inside shoulder of the opposite lane...

not ten feet from where I was waiting for the light to change.

In a September 10 world, I don't give that a second thought.

I Used To Think This Was Dangerous Stupidity Until I Did It Myself:

Traffic was tied up early this afternoon after a roofing truck got stuck under the railroad underpass on Fairfield Avenue. It forced north and south traffic to alternate under the remaining opening. How do you remove a stuck truck? You can start by taking the air out of the tires. No injuries were reported in the accident.

Posted by Chris at 06:24 AM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

May 14, 2004

This Is Some Strange New Definition Of 'Friend' I Wasn't Previously Aware Of

People say regrettable things in their grief, which is why I'm willing to give Michael Berg a pass on what he's saying to the press now (even though his Bush-hating cred is fairly well established). If he's still saying this kind of thing in two weeks, though, I'll have to re-file this entry under Dangerous Stupidity:

"Nicholas Berg died for the sins of George Bush and (Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld," Michael Berg, visibly upset, told ABC television.
I've heard of parents who worship their kids, but I think Michael just said Nick is the Second Coming. [Hey, I said I'd give him a pass. I didn't say I'd give him a free pass. I've got a full-blown rant on five-minute airborne alert if it becomes necessary.]
"The al-Qaeda people are probably just as bad as they are, but this administration did this," he said.
The proper response to this remark at this time is left as an exercise for the reader.
The al-Qaeda that killed my son didn't know what they were doing," Berg's father, Michael, told reporters camped outside his house Thursday. "They killed their best friend. Nick was there to build Iraq, not to tear it down. He was there to help people, not to hurt anyone."
...and that was why (in AQ's mind) he had to die. Nick Berg and the other people like him are AQ's worst enemy, because they show the Iraqi people that the U.S. is not the Crusader Empire AQ makes us out to be - that we're not in Iraq to steal their oil and pillage their antiquities.

There's a lot more I want to say, and if Michael Berg is still saying this kind of thing in two weeks, you'll hear about it.

Posted by Chris at 07:56 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

May 11, 2004

Stupid Website Tricks

I know that publishing companies host more than one magazine on their web servers, but it's still funny to see evidence of it.

    Do this:
  1. Go to runnersworld.com.
  2. In the search box on the main page, search for "President Bush" (no quotes). You should get a results page with about 14 links.
  3. Change 'Match: Any' to 'Match: All' in the search parameters and search again.
  4. Look at the banner at the top of the (failed) results page.

Posted by Chris at 07:43 AM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

May 07, 2004

Obeying The Latest Trend

Apparently, amongst the cool kids, Friday is for catblogging. OK, so be it. This is Shaggy, our 3yo Maine Coon:
Click for hideously big picture

Posted by Chris at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

Call For Sniglets

And speaking of made-up words, we need one to describe this feeling: When you look at the lawn late one afternoon and decide to mow it because waiting another day means having to bag instead of mulch, and you do it, and it rains like hell the next day.

OK, maybe that's too specific. How about When you finish mowing the lawn just as you feel the first raindrops hit your face?

Posted by Chris at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

May 04, 2004

Today's Sign Of The Apocalypse

One of the ad sections in Sunday's paper pitched a Black & Decker motorized jar opener.

Are you freaking kidding me? Have we grown so soft that we now require motorized assistance to open jars?!?

OK, OK, I suppose it's a good thing for the elderly, or people with one arm, but still...

(Yes, school's done. You can expect more insight-free posts from me in the very near future...)

Posted by Chris at 10:59 AM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

April 21, 2004

Checking Out Of The Net

Impending paper + impending class presentation + impending final = low probability of blogging until about May 4 (and just when I was starting to get a bit of traffic, too--dammit!).

Posted by Chris at 01:37 PM | Comments (6)
Category: General Weirdness

April 16, 2004

Excuses, Excuses

Blogging will be light this weekend. Project Beeramid has begun.
Project Beeramid

Posted by Chris at 07:16 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

April 15, 2004

The Patron Saint Of Right-The-Hell-Now

Catholic tradition has patron saints for just about everybody, from archers to pharmacists. But when I first heard about this guy, I had to double-check the dateline to make sure it wasn't a misplaced April 1 story. From today's Wall Street Journal:

SAO PAULO -- When her husband's business got hammered in a brutal economic downturn last year, Maria Aparecida Ferreira Pichirilo, a 44-year-old homemaker, had to go job hunting. But after weeks of looking, Mrs. Pichirilo didn't have a single offer. With rejections piling up alongside unpaid bills, Mrs. Pichirilo took desperate action: She prayed to St. Expeditus, considered by many Brazilians the patron saint of urgent causes.
St. Expeditus?!? Are you kidding me? It sounds like something the Church of the Subgenius would cook up. It's slightly reminiscent of something we used to do on the INWO mailing lists many years ago: anyone who was a member of Dogbert's New Ruling Class was entitled to elect him/herself Pope of something (for example, I was the DNRC Pope ()f Pr;n+@b|e Non-@|ph@numer;< <h@r@c+ers). Anyway, this St. Expeditus thing is real:
St. Expeditus, a previously obscure figure in Roman Catholic tradition, has emerged as the object of cult-like devotion for a growing number of Brazilians. And while the Expeditus phenomenon is reviving interest in the church at a time of mounting incursions by evangelical Protestants, it's also prompting soul-searching on the part of some Catholic leaders about who this man really was and what values he represents.

All over Brazil -- which has 125 million Catholics, more than in any other country -- holy cards, billboards, makeshift altars and Internet sites display depictions of the saint: a soldier holding a cross inscribed with the Latin word hodie, which means "today," while stepping on a raven, inscribed with the word cras, meaning tomorrow. "He's the saint for real-time solutions," says Fernando Altemeyer, a religious-studies professor at Sao Paulo's Catholic University.

On the other hand, it doesn't pass my common sense test, and I'm not the only one who thinks so:

For all of the fervor inspired by Expeditus, the historical record regarding his life is notably skimpy. According to legend, he was a commander of a Roman legion in Armenia who converted to Christianity and was beheaded by the emperor Diocletian in 303 A.D. But John J. Delaney's authoritative "Dictionary of Saints" says "there is no proof (Expeditus) ever existed."

Some church historians speculate that devotion to the saint may have grown out of an old misunderstanding that occurred when Parisian nuns received a crate of relics from Rome labeled for "expedited" delivery. Mistakenly thinking the label referred to the name of a saint, "they began to propagate devotion to the imagined saint as the saint to be invoked to expedite matters, and the cult soon spread," the Dictionary says.
Now this wouldn't be the first time the Catholic Church started with an urban legend and ended up with a saint, but this one seems a little too contrived. Then I read the money graf - literally:
The interest generated by Expeditus has been a blessing to Brazil's Catholic Church, which has lately faced a stiff challenge from evangelical Christians. Spurred by rapid growth of Pentecostal denominations, the Protestants' ranks grew to 15 percent of the total population in 2000 from 9 percent in 1991. Part of the appeal of some evangelical groups, such as Brazil's huge Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is an upwardly mobile ethos that says religion can be a conduit to attaining material well-being.
My friend Jim was fond of saying "Once you play Illuminati enough, all games become Illuminati." I've managed to extend that even further - all kinds of weird real-life events can be explained by plays in Illuminati. This one breaks down as:

The Gnomes Of Zurich, assisted by The Church Of The Holy Bonanza Cashflow, are attacking to control Brazil. The Bavarian Illuminati is defending, assisted by the Roman Catholic Church.

The dice haven't been rolled yet, but it looks like the Bavarians will successfully defend on a 4 or better (2d6):

Luiz Carlos Santana, pastor of the Door to Heaven Evangelical Mission, just a block away from the chapel, acknowledges that Expeditus's arrival has stolen some thunder from his own services, which include rites to expel evil spirits from congregants. "I will give the Catholics credit for clever marketing," he says.
Posted by Chris at 04:03 PM | Comments (4)
Category: General Weirdness

April 13, 2004

We Can Do This Easy, Or We Can Do This Hard

It seems there are two schools of thought on how to properly deal with Iraq:

  • Kill them with kindness.
  • Kill them.
(I'm leaving out options like pulling out or bringing in the U.N. This blog is dedicated to fighting dangerous stupidity, not promoting it.)

I'm being overly glib here, but you know what I mean. Proponents of the former say that by wielding too heavy a hand, the population as a whole will turn against us. Proponents of the latter say that restraint on our part is interpreted by the Iraqis as weakness and encourages the insurgents.

I know this is the superficialest (is that even a word? it is now) of the many superficial takes I've expressed here, but the point I'm trying to make is this: we seem to be going back and forth between the two. Why, then, are we always wrong when we do either?

Posted by Chris at 08:31 AM | Comments (7)
Category: General Weirdness

March 30, 2004

Gee, He's Unconscious Now. I Guess That Means I Can Leave.

Local6 does it again, but I've got a bone to pick with them this time. Paralyzed Motorist Spends 36 Hours On Freeway:

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas -- A motorist injured in a crash lay paralyzed in the middle of a freeway with a broken neck for 36 hours before he was rescued.

Ed Theisen's body was blocked from view by Gulf Freeway traffic barricades in this Houston suburb. The 46-year-old survived a night alone on the concrete, unable to move or summon help.

. . .

Theisen had been rear-ended March 22 and was exchanging insurance information with the other driver. To avoid walking in heavy oncoming traffic, Theisen had stepped between concrete barriers when he felt weak.

"He thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke," said Rodeffer-Theisen. "He grabbed the concrete barrier and just went down."

Police wrote an accident report after Theisen disappeared, saying he had walked away from the scene, his wife said. She said the tow truck driver who hauled off Theisen's car did not see him.

Rodeffer-Theisen, relatives and friends were plastering their neighborhood with fliers when they got word that he was alive.
One little detail Local6 left out - what did the other driver do? Seems to me that'd be a fairly important point, and even if they didn't know, I'd at least expect them to say so. Well, the Houston Chronicle knows:
The other driver did not see where Theisen went and told police, who made an accident report, that he had just walked off, his wife said. The tow truck driver who hauled off Theisen's car about 7 a.m., and who likely was his last hope, did not see him, Rodeffer-Theisen said.
Am I an evil person for wondering if the other driver (who, by the Iron Law of rear-end collisions, appears to be at fault) maybe didn't bother looking too hard for Theisen because that would make it easier to spin the accident his way to the police? Does that make me a cynical bastard? Just wondering.

Posted by Chris at 03:44 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

March 26, 2004

Subjugation Stories Compared

I just finished reading Militant Islam Reaches America by Daniel Pipes, and I encountered a very interesting story, courtesy of one of the founders of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad:

In very brief, Muhammad's message went as follows: Blacks came into existence 78 trillion years ago and lived an advanced and righteous life through the eons. This came to an end six thousand years ago when a deviant black savant named Mr. Yakub, known as "the big head scientist," rebelled against the black gods and created the white race with an eye to destroying the paradise blacks enjoyed. When blacks learned what Mr. Yakub was doing, they exiled him to an island in the Aegean Sea, where he continued his work. Six hundred years later, he had brought the white race into existence, with a mission to reign over blacks for six thousand years. That reign ended in 1914, though a seventy-year grace period would extend it to 1984; W.D. Fard [another founder of NoI] came to proclaim its end and show blacks how to reclaim their rightful place through the Nation of Islam--something they would definitely do by the year 2000.
"Militant Islam Reaches America", Daniel Pipes, p. 223

I immediately thought of Scientology's version of Why We Are The Way We Are. In L. Ron Hubbard's own words, here's what happened:

The head of the Galactic Confederation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here) (founded 95,000,000 yrs ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet) -- 178 billion average) by mass implanting. He caused people to be brought to Teegeeack (Earth) and put an H Bomb on the principal volcanoes (Incident 2) and then the Pacific area ones were taken in boxes to Hawaii and the Atlantic Area ones to Las Palmas and there "packaged." His name was Xenu. He used renegades. Various misleading data by means of circuits etc. were placed in the implants. When through with his crime Loyal Officers (to the people) captured him after 6 years of battle and put him in an electronic mountain trap where he still is. "They" are gone. The place (Confed.) has since been a desert.
There's an urban legend that Scientology got its start from a bar bet between Hubbard and Robert Heinlein. That particular origin seems to have been debunked, but there are several sources that claim Hubbard said something to the effect of 'screw writing. You want to make _real_ money, start a religion!' I can just picture Hubbard reading Muhammad's history and thinking "Nice story. I can use that."

Posted by Chris at 01:39 PM | Comments (3)
Category: General Weirdness

March 24, 2004

I've Never Seen A Court Recorder In A Middle School Classroom Before

Is it standard procedure for your child's school to call you and recommend you bring an attorney to parent-teacher conferences?

Just askin'. No particular reason.

Posted by Chris at 11:36 AM | Comments (5)
Category: General Weirdness

March 22, 2004

Coincidence? Never!

Roy F. Craig, former chief investigator for the Colorado Project, a government search for verifiable evidence of UFOs, died over the weekend. They say it was cancer, but we know better. What does this have to do with my report yesterday that Black Helicopters are on their way to Fort Wayne? Absolutely nothing! Therefore, the helicopters must really be coming to spread alien cancers with their mind control lasers!

Posted by Chris at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 21, 2004

Just Wait Until You Read My Take On "Koran Sura NCAA Brackets"

Poking through my referrer log, I see that somebody found this page via a Singapore Google search for "hadith prophet vegan" (DL ranks about 33d for those search terms, BTW). If I read that right, the visitor was trying to figure out if there was anything in Mohammed's writings that indicated he was a vegan. A person wondering those kinds of things could be severely damaged by a visit here.

Heh heh heh. I live to serve.

Posted by Chris at 10:15 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 20, 2004

A Combined Arms Drive-By Shooting... Just Barely

I've often wondered if we'd ever hear details of the 'Thunder Run' into Baghdad last April. I don't know how I missed this story (published in December), and I had no idea just how close-run a thing it was:

Back home, Americans learned of the victory in sketchy reports that focused on the outcome—a column of armored vehicles had raced into the city and seized Saddam Hussein's palaces and ministries. What the public didn't know was how close the U.S. forces came to experiencing another Mogadishu. Military units were surrounded, waging desperate fights at three critical interchanges. If any of those fell, the Americans would have been cut off from critical supplies and ammunition.

Embedded journalists reported the battle's broad outlines in April, but a more detailed account has since emerged in interviews with more than 70 of the brigade's officers and men who described the fiercest battle of the war—and one they nearly lost.
Read the whole thing.

Posted by Chris at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 19, 2004

Now Serving Number 1733

Alternate caption for this page of James Lileks' photo history of Times Square:

Every Hour, 3,490 People Buy At Bond

"...and we've got about three hours' worth just hanging out on the street in front of the store."

Posted by Chris at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 03, 2004

Born Under A Bad Sign... That Should Have Said 'Beware Of Falling Ice'

My hometown newspaper has the story of a woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time:

It was about 7:45 a.m., Monday morning, Feb. 2, when Brenda Beazley, a county employee was driving to work at the courthouse. She was in front of the Vo Tech Center and saw a medium sized white truck approaching from the opposite direction. Suddenly, as the truck was almost abreast of her, she saw something white fly off the roof. Brenda thought it might have been a piece of metal. She didn't think about it long, however, because suddenly a hole was punctured through her windshield on the driver's side and an object smashed into her face. She was able to pull off the road, and found blood streaming into her eyes and down her face.

. . .

Brenda had eight stitches placed in her scalp and five more on her nose. The doctor thought perhaps she had a broken nose. A piece of thick ice had dislodged from the roof of the truck and smashed through the windshield of Beazley's vehicle.
Of course, it could be worse..

Posted by Chris at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 02, 2004

Born Under A Bad Sign... That Was Dusted For Fingerprints

Wouldn't it really suck if you were a teenager and your parents were both crime scene investigators?

Mom: "Sweetie, where were you tonight?"
Teenage Daughter: "Mostly I hung out at Jennie's. We spent a lot of time on the phone talking to Courtney."
Dad: "I'll go subpoena the phone records." [leaves room]
Mom: "What else?"
Daughter: "We drove to Dairy Queen for Blizzards."
Mom [to Dad] : "Honey, while you're on the phone, get a subpoena for the surveillance tapes for the Dairy Queen on - "
Daughter: "North Clinton."
Mom [to Dad] : "North Clinton. Then get a tire kit."
Dad: "OK."
Mom: "You know the drill. Clothes go in this bag, underwear in this bag, and hold out your hands so I can get fingernail scrapings."
Daughter [sotto voce]: "I hate my life."

Posted by Chris at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 28, 2004

Your Zuitcases, Zey Are Not In Order...

I'm an infrequent flyer (about once a year), but I like to think I pay attention and more or less know what's going on with respect to security. That being said, however, this sounds like exactly the kind of mistake I would make...

We were connecting at Brussels, switching from an SN Brussels commuter flight from Berlin to an American Airlines flight to Chicago. A colleague loaded down with three carry-ons asked me to tote a bag for him as we dashed through the maze-like Zavantem Airport.

. . .

Unlike U.S. airports, American, and I presume other airlines in Brussels, had a gent posted in front of the ticket counter sort of pre-checking passengers. He wore a dark suit, not a security uniform, flashed a big smile and looked like a diplomat. I presumed he was an American Airlines Special Services agent helping out because of the huge crowd.

He asked me the standard questions, such as "Did anyone today give you anything to carry aboard?" Without even thinking about my buddy's case, I said "Nope."

Suddenly, his smile disappeared. He noticed that the nametag on my friend's suitcase didn't match the name on my passport. And that's about when I noticed that his ID said he was with a private security firm.

"Step over here, sir," he ordered, getting me out of the line. He and two other security types conferred out of earshot--and in Flemish--then he came back and asked me whose suitcase I was carrying.

I explained that it belonged to a colleague who by now was in the American Airlines business-class lounge and that I was simply helping him out. "Why don't you call the lounge and ask him direct," I suggested. That fell on deaf ears.
. . .
After a silent standoff that seemed to last five minutes but was probably just five seconds, they X-rayed my friend's suitcase three times. It apparently passed the inspection. "You're free to go," said my inquisitor, "but don't you ever do this again."

Gathering my bags, I asked him if my stupidity would be programmed into some worldwide airport or Customs security database. He ignored the question and I didn't push it.

But at the security checkpoint leading to my departure gate, I was pulled aside again, taken into a curtained booth, wanded, patted down and questioned. My bags were hand searched. My buddy's bag had a security sticker showing that it had been cleared once, but a security agent looked at me suspiciously.

At Chicago/O'Hare, where I cleared Customs, my garment bag came off the luggage conveyer damaged. A zippered pocket had been torn off and was hanging by a thread, the contents gone. It was nothing valuable, but it did stoke a little paranoia.

Am I now a marked man forever? A spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection in Washington doesn't think so. "I would say no because it was clearly an error, a silly mistake on your part," he explained. "If something suspicious was found within that bag or on your person, there would have been greater scrutiny and certainly in the future we would take a closer look at you."

However, he did confirm that "there are a number of databases [maintained] by several different agencies, but I can't be more specific."

For my part, it's been a hard-learned lesson. Airport security for U.S.-bound flights is extremely tight in Europe and a number of transatlantic flights have been cancelled due to terrorism fears in recent weeks. Business travelers who act annoyed or dumb or who are "too busy" or give any attitude to any airport security staffers, particularly overseas, are inviting big trouble and a possible black mark in those mysterious databases.
I flew back from London on September 11th (!!) last year, and I didn't notice any extra security, unless you count the two PCs walking around the Heathrow Terminal 3 departure concourse with body armor and MP-5's (kinda like this). It was a smaller security presence than when I flew to Orlando in January of 2002, where they had pairs of M-16-armed National Guardsmen at every security checkpoint.

Posted by Chris at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 19, 2004

Technically, Though, It's The Right Answer...

Just a suggestion for all the married fellas out there: if you forget to mention to your wife that you're visiting the bloodmobile that day, and she calls you on your cell while you're there, the correct answer to the question 'So what are you doing?' is not 'Bleeding.'

Posted by Chris at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 17, 2004

Your Majesty, We Can Refit Our Air Force With 175 MiG-29s... Or One Su-37

The Sukhoi Design Bureau has been doing some incredible work in the near-stall flight regime. Their Su-37 air superiority fighter can do things that a jet aircraft simply should not be able to do. Fortunately, it's so expensive that the Russians can't even afford it. Unfortunately, that means they're looking real real hard at the export market. [Hat tip: Ronit Bhattacharyya]

Posted by Chris at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 04, 2004

Some Stuff Holds Up Better Than Others

I usually listen to audiobooks when I'm driving by myself because local radio is pretty lame (although there will always be a space on my presets for Bob & Tom). Right now, I've got Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man in one car, and Robin Cook's Shock in the other. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything Crichton writes is better than anything Cook writes.

For instance, The Terminal Man holds up very well, despite being written in 1972. With only a few minor tweaks (mostly involving doctors smoking (!) inside the hospital (!!) anywhere they want (!!!), references to homosexuality as a 'disorder,' and obsolete computer stuff), it could have been published now. Reader George Wilson does an excellent job keeping things moving along and performs the voices acceptably. My biggest quibble with this novel is a bit of a 'longshot premise' - the idea that a man paranoid about computers taking over the world would allow a computer to be implanted in his brain. I'll just file it under 'Suspension Of Disbelief - Major' and drive on.

OTOH, pretty much everything about Shock bugs me (and not just me; read the reviews on Borders!). The main female characters, allegedly graduate students, speak and act like teenagers. The dialog is stiff, the pacing is glacial, and the other characters are stereotypes. C. J. Critt's reading is just awful - slow, bad on dialog and worse on voices (which is strange, because I like her work on other stuff like Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series). I especially don't like the scenes where the characters use computers - it seems like Cook interviewed a hacker for fifteen minutes and then just used buzzwords to fill in the other stuff he needed to do. As an aside, that's one of my entertainment pet peeves: Impressive Sounding Tech Jargon I Know Is Wrong. '24' is about the worst offender here - from the dialog, you'd think everybody at CTU is a sysadmin. But I digress.

Bottom line here: when I finish both these audiobooks, I'm getting two more Crichtons. I doubt I'll get anything else by Cook for a long time.

Posted by Chris at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 29, 2004

The Day Of Remembrance

I totally missed this: NASA has named January 29th as the Day Of Remembrance for the astronauts killed on Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia. From a CBS News article:

NASA's chief reminded staff members Thursday that "the consequences of us not getting it right are catastrophic," as the agency paused to remember the dead crew members of Columbia, Challenger and Apollo.

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in a televised address to employees that space exploration is risky but never should result in fatalities because of "complacency, indifference, failure to attend to detail." That should be a solemn pledge for anyone who works in the space program, he noted.

The Day of Remembrance falls three days before the first anniversary of the Columbia disaster. O'Keefe said it will be an annual event, always on the last Thursday of January coming as close as it does to all three of the nation's space program catastrophes.

The Apollo 1 fire during a countdown test on Jan. 27, 1967, left three astronauts dead in their spacecraft on the launch pad. The Challenger explosion during liftoff on Jan. 28, 1986, left seven dead. The Columbia breakup during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003, killed seven more.
That's pretty spooky - the dates all three accidents falling so close together. No word whether this will be an annual thing, though. Also, we've laid claim to part of Mars -- sort of:
"NASA announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars Opportunity rover in honor of the Space Shuttle Challenger's final crew. The area in the vast flatland called Meridiani Planum, where Opportunity landed this weekend, will be called the Challenger Memorial Station."
(Hat tip: David All on LGF)

Posted by Chris at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 16, 2004

A New Injectable Form Of Cocaine?

I remember an old Richard Pryor standup routine where he talked about dipping his penis in cocaine to increase staying power during sex. I had always assumed it was a joke and he never actually did it. Well, even if he didn't, it sure looks like he inspired somebody, according to this story in Army Times (the main page lists this article as 'subscribers only' but I was able to get to it OK):

Drug case defendant pleads - sex
Captain says cocaine was secret love ingredient

By Nicole Gaudiano
Special to the Times

When Air Force Capt. Jacqueline Chester tested positive for having cocaine in her system, her lawyer says, she had no idea how that was possible. Had her prescription painkillers skewed the results?

It wasn’t the painkillers. It was her ex-husband, her lawyer says.

"Her husband will testify that he used cocaine on the tip of his penis as a means to prolong his sexual pleasure," Charles Gittins said. "He used it topically on his penis more than once."

Gittins will present Chester’s unusual defense in a scheduled February court-martial at Dover Air Force Base, Del. He argues that the charge against Chester — wrongful use of a controlled substance — requires that the accused must have knowingly ingested the drug. Unknowing ingestion or exposure is a "complete defense," he said.

Chester, 46, a nurse at Dover’s medical center, took a drug test in January 2002 and the results showed a trace level of cocaine, though not enough for a positive result. A month later, she did register positive and the Air Force began pursuing a drug charge against her.

. . .

"The husband is prepared to testify that he never disclosed to his wife - that he was using cocaine," he said. "His statement about using cocaine is corroborated by his medical records and his employment records."

Kenneth Gagnon, technical manager of forensic chemistry at the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory, said the defense has some merit: Cocaine "can be absorbed through vaginal lining."

. . .

She could face a maximum penalty of five years confinement, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances if convicted.

Posted by Chris at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 09, 2004

Otis! My Man!

From BadJocks comes the story of former major league centerfielder Otis Nixon's bad night:

"Former Atlanta Braves center fielder Otis Nixon was arrested Thursday after allegedly threatening his bodyguard with a knife at a Norcross hotel, police said.

According to police, Nixon, 45, drew the knife during a scuffle with Keven Brown at the Town Place Suites on Bay Circle."
Why does Otis Nixon need a bodyguard? Dude's been out of baseball for like, five years now - he still has to protect himself from autograph seekers? He ever had to protect himself from autograph seekers?
"Brown, 37, told police that Nixon called him and asked the bodyguard to pick up one of Nixon's female friends and bring her to the hotel. While he was on his way to the woman's home, Nixon called Brown again and told him to return to the hotel."
OK, booty call pickup - no problem so far. Girl changed her mind - no problem there, either.
"Brown said he went into the hotel room and noticed that Nixon was naked and yelling into his cellphone. Brown said he asked Nixon to put some clothes on, but Nixon ignored him. Nixon became upset when Brown asked him to repay some money that was owed him, Brown told police."
So what's the bodyguard thinking now? Maybe something like Hmm, my boss is naked and pissed off - now would be a great time to hit him up for the twenty he borrowed from me last Sunday at Taco Bell!
"Still naked, Nixon grabbed a kitchen knife and chased Brown out of the room, according to a police report. During the scuffle, Nixon also threatened him with another blade, a black-handled folding knife, Brown told police.

Nixon was also heard yelling: "I will cut your heart out," according to the police report. Brown was not harmed during the incident."
OK, maybe I'll ask him tomorrow instead.
"Nixon told police that Brown was the aggressor in the fight. Nixon said he was naked because he was waiting for his female friend to arrive."
Now we have an answer to my first question - Nixon needed a bodyguard to protect himself from . . . his bodyguard!
"Nixon played with the Atlanta Braves from 1991 to 1993. He helped the Braves get to the postseason in 1991 by stealing 72 bases. That same year he was suspended for cocaine use."
And I imagine that pretty much explains everything else.

Posted by Chris at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 07, 2004

Bad Dog! No Surgery!

Police in Orange County, Florida, are looking for the owner of a pit bull that attacked two people, survived being shot in the head, and attacked a third person before being captured! [link]

Posted by Chris at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 06, 2004

They don't Need Hackey Sacks; They Have Plenty Left Over From When The Baathists Were In Charge

Remember the 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch called "Fondue Sets For Namibia," where Garrett Morris played an African leader who implored Americans to donate their fondue sets? Well, we've got something not too different in front of us now.

I was never terribly worried about whether we'd win the war in Iraq (although what the Administration refers to as the 'end of major combat operations' came sooner and easier than even I thought); it was winning the peace I was really concerned with. You've all read the stories, and even if it's going better than the media would have us believe, every little bit helps. The 1st Marine Division is re-deploying to Iraq soon, and they're better at the 'hearts and minds' stuff than the Army is. Since they know that first impressions are vital, they don't want to arrive empty handed. And you can help.

Posted by Chris at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

December 19, 2003

The Mother Of All Roller Coasters

Eat your heart out, Top Thrill Dragster! LLNL is designing a hypersonic aircraft that will be able to fly between any two places on Earth in less than two hours:

"A HyperSoar aircraft would boost into space, then coast back to the surface of the Earth's atmosphere, where it would refire its engines and skip back into space. Twenty-five such skips [emphasis added] would take the craft from the midwestern U.S. to Japan in 90 minutes, designers estimate."
That's twenty-five first-hill-type drops, folks. Hell, I'd pay cash money to ride that even if I just ended up where I started!

Update: The original reference is here. I wouldn't get too excited just yet - the article is from 1998, and I haven't heard anything about it since then.

Posted by Chris at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 18, 2003

Dog's Breakfast

I am way behind in my TV viewing. I just saw the Threat Matrix episode that aired October 4, about an Ebola-like epidemic in Amarillo and the team's attempts to control it. The entry vector was a Basenji dog imported from Africa, and Patient Zero was a baggage handler at the airport. At the time, I thought "Well, here comes the outrage from Basenji advocate groups!" I would have expected them to make up some fake breed (like, say, the "West African Jackalope Hound"), so as not to piss off any real dog owners. Apparently, no Basenji owners watch Threat Matrix, as there's no mention of the episode here, here, or here (how disappointing - no signs of a flame war between the basenji.com and the basenji.org factions!).

Posted by Chris at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 14, 2003


This is my PENTACON convention report (shock! horror! I'm actually doing one!). If you're not a gamer, then none of this will interest you. If you don't play RoboRally, Circus Imperium, Rail Baron, Chez Geek, or Star Munchkin, this probably won't interest you. If you do play one or more of the above games, be advised that I will wax long-winded about the triumphs and tragedies I experienced last weekend, so you've been warned.

Still with me? Great.

Friday morning: RoboRally. 3-player 4-flag race. The first flag was placed in a really fiendish square of the starting board (Island). After what I thought would be a first-turn touch (due to excellent card luck) turned into a first-turn pit-fall (due to not seeing the wall between two conveyors), I got the same batch of cards on my first turn back and hit the flag anyway. It took a long time for my opponents to notice that there was exactly one avenue of approach to the flag; they kept trying to approach it from the other direction (indeed, Veronica never did get there the whole game). By the time Kevin figured out the right approach to the first flag, I'd already hit the third and the game was in the bag. I was lucky in that I consistently got the cards I needed; I was sufficiently skillful to manage not to screw it up (at least after the first turn).

For the second race, we added a fourth player and another board. This time, ALL the flags were wickedly placed. Racing Kevin on opposite approaches to the first flag, he unveiled the howitzer, which both damaged me and pushed me back into a board laser (twice!). The second time, I was able to turn on him, and used Fire Control to destroy the howitzer before it pushed me off the board. I shut down just in time; I had four registers locked! Meanwhile, Bob, who was also approaching flag 1, miscalculated a crusher on Cannery Row and got squished. Kevin touched flag 1 and was able to cover it with his turret and pressor beam for the next two turns (he spent a lot of time early getting to double-wrenches and picking up options). He could push anybody who approached the flag onto an express conveyor near the board edge from which there would be virtually no escape. While Bob and I were trying to maneuver around Kevin to get to the flag, Bob came within range of my Remote Control and I ran him off the board. He didn't bother restarting since we were near the end of the session. Meanwhile, Veronica was thrashing around the vicinity of the start square; I never did figure out exactly what her deal was. Kevin eventually abandoned his position and made a dash for flag 2; I got flag 1 and a couple of great hands left me one square away from being able to RC him into a pit, but he was able to touch flag 2 just as the session ended. Results: one first out of three, one second out of four.

Friday night: Circus Imperium. For me, this is the highlight of PENTACON just about every year. CI is a chariot racing game set in a futuristic-quasi-Roman society on another planet (as if the grav-chariots and 'beasts' (that looked more like lions than horses) weren't dead giveaways). The mechanics are fairly straightforward: run your chariot at full speed, bashing other chariots and maneuvering carefully through the corners trying not to bash the wall. For extra movement, whip your beasts, but beware: they can go into frenzy if you do, running crazy fast and smashing everything in their way (including the corner walls) until you get them back under control. For PENTACON, the races were run on a hand-built track about three feet by six feet that looked absolutely superb, with great detail from fake buildings all the way down to (two-dimensional) faces in the bleachers. Jeff, the GM, does an excellent job of keeping the game moving and bringing newbies up to speed quickly (indeed, being a newbie isn't much of an impediment - the one event I won, at PENTACON in 2000, was my second race ever; I've run eight or nine since then and never gotten a sniff of victory). His signature line: "When a driver dies holding the reins, the Chariot Ejection System is activated, because..." [all together now] "...a clean chariot is a happy chariot!"

Anyway, there are two basic strategies: start near the front and whip like hell, praying you don't frenzy, and laying back and keeping the furball in front of you. I drew last choice for starting position, which stuck me square in the middle of the starting grid. I decided to try to run with the leaders. Bad idea. I frenzied on my third whip (pretty long odds, considering), crashed at the first available opportunity, then fell out of the chariot. Long story short: I failed EVERY SINGLE DIE ROLL I made in the entire race, whether it was how hard I hit the wall (always crashed), whether or not I stayed in the chariot when I crashed (never stayed in), whether or not I was able to 'grab a cab' (jump in a passing chariot) (never did), or whether or not I'd get dragged after failing to grab a cab (always did). This despite the fact that I had consciously chosen light armor for my driver to provide better agility, leaving most of my agility-based rolls at 50% or better to succeed. The final indignity was being dragged to death across the finish line (for my second lap) right as the session finished. Because of the carnage going on, however, I still finished fourth (out of 10) simply because I was the last guy to die! Jeff says he traditionally runs about a 60% mortality rate in his PENTACON races.

The high point of the race for me was (in a rare moment where I actually had control) managing to slam a chariot (containing two drivers fighting for control) into the wall, crashing it and dumping one of them out, then later in the same turn repeating the feat with a three-driver chariot, dumping all of them out! That got me some style points.

Saturday Morning: Rail Baron. I like rail games, and in general I'm pretty good at them, especially Empire Builder, EuroRails, and Iron Dragon (although I never did get the hang of Ur). I'd played RB once before at PENTACON (for those of you scoring at home, my first run was LA -> Portland ME, and by the time I got there, the PRR, NYC, NYNH&H, and B&M were all gone so I took so long on others' rails that the trip didn't yield squat, and I never recovered). This time, it was a 3-player game with Valerie and my friend Paul. I rolled extraordinarily well in this game, especially early (hitting triple sixes TWICE in my first ten rolls), and got both the PRR and the NYC among my first five railroads! As you might guess, it was pretty much over at that point. I ended up with 13 railroads total, including the NP, the WP, and the AT&SF.

One final note: a passing player semi-jokingly referred to Rail Baron as "Monopoly with railroads," which practically ruined the game for me since I hate Monopoly. He's got a point, kind of - except in Monopoly, you don't have any choice as to how you move around the board.

Saturday afternoon: Circus Imperium. A second attempt to qualify for Sunday's final race. I drew first choice for starting position and chose to go with a 'frontrunner' strategy, starting on the outside of row 1 (rather than the pole, due to the track being a figure-8). As I mentioned before, the keys to this strategy are whipping like hell to stay in front of the pack, and praying you don't frenzy. Bad Idea, Again (you'd think I'd learn by now). The result of my third whip was 'gain one space, turn ends.' I hadn't gotten far enough out in front of the pack. This is called 'standing on the X' since now you're a big fat target for everyone coming up behind you. The first chariot to pass me slammed me into the wall. Naturally, I crashed hard (20% chance of that happening), then fell out (40% chance, given a hard crash) That's an 8% likely outcome, in case you're counting. So there I was, lying on the track with seven more chariots coming. The next one trampled me half to death (rolling maximum damage to do it); the one after that finished the job (again rolling near-maximum damage). I was dead before five of the ten chariots had made their first move. Clearly, I used up all my good die rolls for the entire weekend in the Rail Baron game.

Y'know what, though? Despite two horrible races, at next year's PENTACON I'm going to sign up for AT LEAST two races again. It's that much fun, even if you do poorly.

Saturday night: Chez Grunt / Star Munchkin: The Army version of Steve Jackson Games' popular Chez Geek series, where the players are soldiers trying to accumulate Slack. Not much noteworthy here in my second-place (of six) finish, except that I tried to crash the same opponent's illicit poker game twice and got sent on a field exercise instead - both times! For the second half of the session, we played Star Munchkin, another fast-moving easy-to-learn card game of killing monsters, stealing their stuff, and backstabbing your friends. I finished fourth (of six) in this one, and still got a free copy of Tile Chess for my troubles (I think it was mainly because the SJ Games MiB running the games didn't want to haul a bunch of schwag back to Indianapolis).

Posted by Chris at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

November 04, 2003

The Other Semifinal Bout Will Be The Grand Mason Vs. Yasser Arafat

I've never heard anybody called out quite like this before. Chevalier James R. Reese of the Knights Templar, Grand Prior of the United States:

"Not only that, but to prove to the entire world that you [Osama Bin Laden] are a coward and an infidel, this Knight Templar challenges you to single combat in the sands of Pakistan. I challenge you to meet me with scimitar or sword, to be pitted against myself and a holy sword consecrated to our Order-a sword that was forged to destroy evil. Here's the deal: if I win, Al Qaeda is disbanded-forever. If you win, then you can set the head of a Knight Templar on a pike outside your tent, and you can claim that you slew the chief of all Crusaders in the United States."
I didn't think they even existed anymore.

Well, they don't, at least as students of the Crusades know them. From their FAQ:

"In 1118 A.D., nineteen years after the successful Crusade, these Poor Fellow Soldiers of Jesus Christ, as they termed themselves, were officially recognized and sanctioned and were given for their headquarters, a building on Mount Moriah, the site of the former Temple of King Solomon. Consequently, they became known as the Knights of the Temple, or Knights Templar.

. . .

It is a matter of history that the warriors who fought for Christianity as Knights Templar had their vicissitudes with more downs than ups on the battlefield through the centuries. However, their wealth and their prestige remained undiminished. on the contrary their treasury became too large to escape the notice of some financially embarrassed rulers, especially Philip the Fair, King of France.

Philip the Fair with Pope Clement (who Philip pretty well influenced) arranged for Convocation of the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques DeMolay, and his officers at Paris. The Convocation was held, but Grand Master DeMolay and his officers never left, at least not with their lives. In 1314 Jacques DeMolay was burned at the stake for alleged heresy and dozens of other accusations; all Knight Templar wealth was seized and Templary 'moved underground.'

. . .

To simplify the story without attempting to elaborate or quote various researchers, all we know is that when Templary emerged in the early 1700's it was a part of Freemasonry. THERE IS NO PROOF OF DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ANCIENT ORDER AND THE MODERN ORDER KNOWN TO DAY AS THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR ."
Of course, that's just what they want you to think.

Posted by Chris at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 27, 2003

What's Next? Fraternizing With The French?

I could handle it when Michael Jackson went from 'regular looking black guy' to 'china doll with a busted nose'. All the other weird stuff - they hyperbaric chamber, the Elephant Man, Bubbles, and the (alleged, never charged) sexual misconduct - weird, but not more than one standard deviation from 'normal' as the entertainment world defines it. But now he's gone too far: he's shilling for Scientology:

"A lot of big name stars are unwittingly about to start raising money for Scientology, thanks to Michael Jackson.

At 3 p.m. PST Monday, Jackson is launching a worldwide Internet download of his charity single, “What More Can I Give?” For $2 a shot, Jackson fans will be able to hear this record, made two years ago but never released . . ..

But what fans — and the two dozen participating artists — probably don’t know is that proceeds from the single download are going, in part, to Scientology. Jackson has designated The HELP Organization, which uses study techniques developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, as one of the beneficiaries of his largesse."

Posted by Chris at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 26, 2003

Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy

Afghanistan. Before:

How Afghan women were known


Making waves: Vida in bikini

Full Disclosure: Vida Samadzai, the bikini wearer in question, emigrated to the US in 1996 to escape the Taliban. I kind of suspected something like that when I first saw the picture last weekend; I didn't think it was possible to go from burlap bag to babe-alicious in two years. But still.

Posted by Chris at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 24, 2003

Your Papers, Zey Are Not In Order!

This Ananova Story describes Austrian police stopping a magician from driving a 12-mile stretch of mountain road blindfolded, but not for the reason you think:

"A German magician's plans to drive along a winding mountain road blindfolded were scuppered after police discovered he did not have the necessary permits."

"So sorry, mein Herr. You need to hoff form ZL-242a, Permission To Drive Blindfolded on a Mountain Road. Vot you hoff iz form ZL-242b, Declaration of Imported Sausage In Excess Of Eleven Kilos. You'll have to see ze officer at ze Ministry Of Incredibly Stupid Stunts."

Actually, I don't know what I'm getting all worked up about. Blindfold driving is pretty easy to fake.

Posted by Chris at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 09, 2003

The Next Big Thing... Real Soon Now... Yep... Late Next Quarter...

Last night's class (ACS 562) case discussion was on Jamcracker, a kind of 'ASP cafeteria' that is intended to turn the Next Big Thing (ASPs) into the Next Next Big Thing. The idea seems plausible - most ASPs solve only one business problem or at most a few problems, and if you can be the single point of contact sharing data between multiple ASPs from different vendors, you add significant value to the whole proposition. Based on their growth rate in an emerging market in the 2000-2001 time frame, I'd expect their name to be all over the industry press now, but I don't remember hearing about it anywhere - indeed, the Company's I Love Me page doesn't list anything after August 2002 (although I'd guess they're not doing too badly - as of August 2003, they were still hiring). What happened to Jamcracker? Discuss.

Posted by Chris at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 01, 2003

One Thing Leads To Another

On the River Of Life, things just flow... here's a quote I didn't originally pull from the article I referenced yesterday:

"'If you look around the nation, in Texas, high school football is king, and there are abuses,' [chairman of the Physical Education and Sport Department at Central Michigan University James] Hornak said. "I don't see that in Michigan. Michigan seems to be better than it has been 20, 30 years ago.'"
Just how crazy can it get in Texas? Apparently, this crazy (via Drudge):
"DALLAS -- A high school band director has apologized for a halftime performance that included 'Deutschland Uber Alles,' the anthem closely associated with Adolf Hitler, and a student running across the field with a Nazi flag."

Posted by Chris at 05:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 25, 2003

Which Founding Father Is Where?

Does anybody know what happened to the "Which Founding Father Are You?" quiz? It used to be hosted on IO.com but (as you'll see if you try the link) not anymore. Anyway, I took it a while ago, and it told me I was Alexander Hamilton (and that link's dead, too). At any rate, after reading this, I've decided I'm really Andrew Jackson (who, technically, wasn't a Founding Father, but never mind):

"No one has a right to tell the self-reliant Jacksonian what to say, do or think. Any infringement on equality will be met with defiance and resistance. Male or female, the Jacksonian is, and insists on remaining, independent of church, state, social hierarchy, political parties and labor unions."
"Suspicious of untrammeled federal power (Waco), skeptical about the prospects for domestic and foreign do-gooding (welfare at home, foreign aid abroad), opposed to federal taxes but obstinately fond of federal programs seen as primarily helping the middle class (Social Security and Medicare, mortgage interest subsidies), . . .."
Actually, I'm not terribly fond of any of those, but I recognize that tax money could be (and is!) spent in much worse ways. Also:
". . . both Jeffersonians and Jacksonians are civil libertarians, passionately attached to the Constitution and especially to the Bill of Rights, and deeply concerned to preserve the liberties of ordinary Americans. But while the Jeffersonians are most profoundly devoted to the First Amendment, protecting the freedom of speech and prohibiting a federal establishment of religion, Jacksonians see the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, as the citadel of liberty. Jeffersonians join the American Civil Liberties Union; Jacksonians join the National Rifle Association."
I'm kind of on the fence here as I feel both are equally important; however, I don't know many Jeffersonians who believe--as I do--that without the Second Amendment, the First is powerless. Also:
"The criminal who commits what, in the Jacksonian code, constitute unforgivable sins (cold-blooded murder, rape, the murder or sexual abuse of a child, murder or attempted murder of a peace officer) can justly be killed by the victims’ families, colleagues or by society at large—with or without the formalities of law. In many parts of the United States, juries will not convict police on almost any charge, nor will they condemn revenge killers in particularly outrageous cases. The right of the citizen to defend family and property with deadly force is a sacred one as well, a legacy from colonial and frontier times."
On the darker side:
"Every administration will be corrupt; every Congress and legislature will be, to some extent, the plaything of lobbyists. Career politicians are inherently untrustworthy; if it spends its life buzzing around the outhouse, it’s probably a fly. Jacksonians see corruption as human nature and, within certain ill-defined boundaries of reason and moderation, an inevitable by-product of government. "
We're getting close to the bottom line here:
"Jacksonians believe that international life is and will remain both anarchic and violent. The United States must be vigilant and strongly armed. Our diplomacy must be cunning, forceful and no more scrupulous than anybody else’s. At times, we must fight pre-emptive wars. There is absolutely nothing wrong with subverting foreign governments or assassinating foreign leaders whose bad intentions are clear. . ..

Jacksonians believe that there is an honor code in international life—as there was in clan warfare in the borderlands of England—and those who live by the code will be treated under it. But those who violate the code—who commit terrorist acts in peacetime, for example—forfeit its protection and deserve no consideration."

Posted by Chris at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

September 21, 2003

Just A Minor Change - We Need To Give Away A Major Plot Point

Maybe I misremember, but I'm pretty sure that early TV ads for Out Of Time seemed to leave unanswered the question of whether Denzel Washington's character committed the crime. Now, of course, the ads make it clear that he's been framed for it. Why would they do that? Seems to me that it'd be more interesting if they would leave the question of the character's innocence in doubt until, oh, I don't know, you actually go to see the movie!

Posted by Chris at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 18, 2003

Words That Don't Go Together

Danish biker gangs? Car bombings in suburban Copenhagen? That's just messed up. The Independent has the story of how a biker got done in by his rivals, or maybe his buddies:

"Mickey Borgfjord Larsen, the victim, formerly a member of the notorious Bandidos motorcycle gang, was killed after a bomb was slipped under his car and exploded in the car park of the hospital about nine miles west of the capital, in the suburb of Glostrup."
It was feared this marked a restart of a biker gang war:
"For three years, a murderous war raged between the Hells Angels and Bandidos motorcycle gangs, leaving up to 12 dead. In a region not known for violent criminality the gangs used car bombs, anti-tank grenades and drive-by shootings to settle scores. At the peak of the biker war, one of the gangs fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a dance being held by a breakaway gang in central Copenhagen. In 1997, the two groups signed a truce, ending the so-called 'biker war' in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland."
But there's also thinking that the perps were from his own gang, in a 'the only way you leave this organization is in a coffin' kind of thing:
'We quickly knew it was related to the biker world so we decided not to evacuate the whole hospital,' Mr [Copenhagen Chief Constable Joergen]Bro told a news conference. 'We knew that the bomb was targeting him.' Larsen had been in 'bad standing' with the Bandidos for leaving the group in 2001, he added. 'That means that he is hunted game for people in biker circles. He was very unpopular and had many enemies.'"

And if that wasn't bad enough, somebody blew up the Little Mermaid!

"Although yesterday's car bomb came as a jolt to the country, it follows another explosion last week, which blasted the country's national icon, the Little Mermaid, off her foundations into Copenhagen harbour. For 90 years, the statue has looked out at the Baltic Sea from atop a rock. Copenhagen police have made some arrests during their investigation into the blast. The damage to the country's top tourist attraction is estimated at £12,000. Police investigating yesterday's killing are questioning insiders with knowledge of the biker gangs."
Upon further research, I shouldn't really be surprised. If the Little Mermaid statue is Denmark's national symbol, screwing around with it seems to be the national sport!

Posted by Chris at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 16, 2003

No Escape From Sam

Seen on the M4 between Swindon and Chippenham, a truck (articulated lorry):

"Asda... A Division Of Wal-Mart"

Posted by Chris at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 28, 2003

Strategic Pause

In final stages of preparation for my fantasy football draft tonight, so nothing yesterday or today. Post-mortem tomorrow.

Posted by Chris at 05:54 AM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

August 25, 2003

Bits 'n Pieces

Just time for a couple of quick observations today.

First, the matricula counsular card, an identification card issued by Mexican consulates to Mexicans abroad (predominantly in the US), is gaining traction in the US as a means of establishing identity:

"But in recent months, Mr. Montes de Oca and other undocumented immigrants from Mexico have begun stepping out of the shadows. This summer, Indianapolis and seven other Midwestern cities started accepting an identity card issued by the Mexican government, offering Mexicans who are here illegally a startlingly new sense of legitimacy."
I don't know what 'undocumented immigrants' means. I think they misspelled 'illegal immigrants.'

I've written about this before, and I still think it's a bad idea. Any Mexican legally in the US should be able to get a US-based ID of some kind, and those illegally in the US don't deserve the same access to services. I'm not saying they shouldn't necessarily be in the US, just that we should either enforce the immigration laws we do have or change the laws. But to have police accept the card as ID:

"In Cincinnati, police officers accept the card from crime victims, witnesses and suspects."
and not immediately turn around and call La Migra just strikes me wrong.

Second, Haaretz reports that the US is analyzing the possibility of pumping Iraqi oil to Israel. That'll put the Islamikazes in full seething rant mode. I can hear them now: "Bush is stealing Iraq's oil to give to the Joooooooz!!"

Posted by Chris at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 24, 2003

If You Can't Find It On The Internet, You Don't Need To Know It

Since I'll probably be traveling to the UK in a couple of weeks (current probability: 85%, unchanged from last report), I'm looking on the net for travel advice. I imagine a couple of things have changed since the last time I was there 23 years ago. So I hit Google with the phrase 'traveling to the UK', except I left out the quotes. It didn't matter, though, as I still found this excellent page where I got all kinds of inside info:

"Underpants are called "wellies" and friends are called "tossers." If you are fond of someone, you should tell him he is a "great tosser"-he will be touched."
Funny how language changes -- when I was there, 'tosser' was slang for 'chronic masturbator.' It must be one of those juxtaposition things like the kids do nowadays, where 'deaf' means 'really loud and excellent' and 'stupid fat' means 'very very good and actually thin.' But there's more:
"Few foreigners are aware that there are several grades of meat in the UK. The best cuts of meat, like the best bottles of gin, bear Her Majesty's seal, called the British Stamp of Excellence (BSE). When you go to a fine restaurant, tell your waiter you want BSE beef and won't settle for anything less. If he balks at your request, custom dictates that you jerk your head imperiously back and forth while rolling your eyes to show him who is boss."
We'd call it 'prime,' but I guess "different strokes" applies here. And if I have any free time on the weekend I'll be there, this little recreation looks like it might be satisfying:
"One of the most delighful ways to spend an afternoon in Oxford or Cambridge is gliding gently down the river in one of their flat- bottomed boats, which you propel using a long pole. This is known as "cottaging." Many of the boats (called "yer-i-nals") are privately owned by the colleges, but there are some places that rent them to the public by the hour. Just tell a professor or policeman that you are interested in doing some cottaging and would like to know where the public yerinals are. The poles must be treated with vegetable oil to protect them from the water, so it's a good idea to buy a can of Crisco and have it on you when you ask directions to the yerinals. That way people will know you are an experienced cottager."
Finally, there's this little secret, which I'm sure will let me skip the regular customs lines (which is a good thing as I've heard they can be quite long):
"One final note: for preferential treatment when you arrive at Heathrow airport, announce that you are a member of Shin Fane (an international Jewish peace organization-the "shin" stands for "shalom"). As savvy travellers know, this little white lie will assure you priority treatment as you make your way through customs; otherwise you could waste all day in line. "
Do you think it'll matter that I'm not Jewish?

Posted by Chris at 03:55 PM | Comments (2)
Category: General Weirdness

August 21, 2003

OK, So Maybe It Was O-Dark-Hundred

I don't know what the hell I was thinking yesterday, because at 4:30 this morning it was pretty much fully dark. It was overcast, which explains some of it, but not much. I must have been sleeping on the drive in, and dreaming of a time later in the morning.

I sure hope I didn't hit anybody.

Posted by Chris at 04:29 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 17, 2003

Cleaning Out The Mental Scrap Box

Crampons are like tire chains for your feet--they're arrays of spikes that strap on to your footwear and give traction on ice. But doesn't the name--'crampons'--sound more like a menstrual pain reliever in suppository form: "Crampax brand crampons--70% faster acting than Midol! New lemon scent!"

New Office Lexicon entries: acluistic and beating.

Posted by Chris at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 16, 2003

Hot Time, Summer In The City...

samizdata.net reports that things may heat up in Iraq soon, for the same reason riots used to happen in the US--hot people without air conditioning get cranky. I say 'used to' because the ideal breeding ground for riots -- a large-scale blackout on a hot summer day -- just happened, but there weren't any riots except in Ottawa (!) -- not even in Detroit!

Anyway, back to Iraq, where a critical stage is fast approaching:

"It's riot season. This used to happen under the old regime this time of year as well, but a) it wasn't reported, and b) it was smaller because they used to shoot people. But the lack of electricity and other utilities that is the underlying problem was the same. It's over 135 degrees outdoors, there's no electricity for fridges and air conditioning in many areas, so people are pissed off. And it's very humid when the wind blows from the south. Every revolt in Iraqi history, including Ba'ath one, takes place at this time of year."
We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Posted by Chris at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 15, 2003

Qui Bono?

From the BBC comes this story of a really freak accident that killed a British university professor:

"Investigations are under way after a reversing car crashed through a sea wall and fell on to a sunbather on an Isle of Wight beach.

Academic Harvey Flower, 58, from Beckenham, Kent, died when the car fell on to him as he was reading on the beach at Shanklin.

The Rover car was on the town's Esplanade when it struck a Vauxhall Astra parked nearby at just before 1800 BST on Thursday.

It then crashed into a beach hut, before going over the sea wall and falling six feet on to the beach below."
Weird, no? Well, according to the article, the deceased was a Professor of Material Science, and if we dig a little deeper into the article, we find this:
[in a statement released on behalf of his family] "'In his field, he was a respected world expert on Titanium and his knowledge of the subject was sought by academics and scientists around the world.'"

Who stands to gain from the death of a world expert on a light, strong metal? People who make their living with other light, strong metals, that's who! Be vigilant; the Aluminati may be making their move!

Update: Here's how you can protect yourself (hat tip: chessandlena.com).

Posted by Chris at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 12, 2003

Yet Another Reason Not To Live On The Left Coast

If you don't get wiped out in the Big One (either here, here, or even here), torched in a wildfire, swept away in a mudslide, or irritated to death by freaks, you now have a new concern: Washington's Mount Whitney is overdue to blow its top:

"Clear sightlines have made it possible to gaze at Rainier and appreciate it less as an intermittent aesthetic pleasure and more for what the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) warns that it really is.

'A monumental threat,' said William E. Scott, scientist in charge of the Cascades Volcano Observatory, a USGS center that monitors volcanoes from California to Alaska.Volcanologists determined in the late 1990s that the mountain is far more unstable than previously thought, and they have since persuaded local emergency management officials to launch an early-warning system and a major public-awareness campaign. Tens of thousands of people are being told to 'enjoy the volcano in your back yard' but to be prepared to run away from it — fast. The town nearest Rainier has about 40 minutes to flee. Inside the national park that encircles the mountain, scientists in recent months have shortened the run-for-it survival time to five minutes."
And when it goes, it'll be worse than Mount St. Helens because the area is more densely populated:
"The volcano has a long, spotty history of spontaneous collapse and massive mudflows called lahars.

About 150,000 people now live atop lahars that have rioted down the slopes of Mount Rainier over the past 5,000 years. The lahars ran all the way to what are now the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, distances, respectively, of 50 and 75 miles.

No volcano in the lower 48 states packs so much risk so close to so many people, Scott said. Mount St. Helens, which erupted in 1980 and killed 57 people, is more active than Rainier, but it is not near large population centers."
Posted by Chris at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 10, 2003

Tears Of The Nitpicker

I was watching Tears of the Sun last night, and something in the final scenes bothered me. WARNING: this totally spoils the end of the movie. You have been warned.

Lake, scouting ahead of the rest of the team and the refugees, tells Waters, "Hold one. Hold... one." He's in a mostly grassy area facing right; the rest are in the trees behind him (to our left). The sniper attack comes from the right. Shortly later, when the first rockets come in, they're coming from the right. The team counterattacks, left-to-right. When that first attack is repulsed, they go back into the trees to see that several of the refugees have been killed or wounded. The main attack comes from the same direction as the others, and Zee tells one of the women, "You have to run! Do not stop until you hit the trees!" They start running farther back into the trees, cross a river, climb up the other bank, and into some tall grass. They cross the tall grass, and (absolute last chance to avoid spoilage) run across a small clear stretch to the Cameroon border.

So what's the problem?

The problem is that they retreated back through the trees, across the river, across the grass, and over the clearing to the border! Why didn't they just go that way to begin with and avoid the rebel troops altogether?

One other thing: when the group is moving down the path at night and first encounters the rebels, the lead scout warns the group to move off the trail and hide, saying 'danger close' to refer to the approaching rebels. That's not what that means. 'Danger close' refers to an air strike or fire support mission where friendly troops are close to the target. Interestingly, Zee correctly uses the term when he calls in the final air strike.

Oh, yeah. About that air strike: when the F/A-18s left the deck of the Truman, they were only carrying drop tanks. When they approached the target, they were carrying six HARM missiles, that are only good against emitting targets such as search and tracking radars. The explosions (with white smoke streamers) were indicative of an incendiary with white phosphorous. A real close air support mission of that type would most likely have used CBU-87 cluster bombs.

The producers went to a lot of trouble to get details right; how much harder would the air strke have been?

Posted by Chris at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 15, 2003

A Quick Peek Down Under

According to this story from Fox Sports Australia, a professional soccer team is activing wooing gay fans:

CARLTON has launched a bid to lure more gay supporters.

The Blues want to recruit gay men, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals in a new membership drive.

Art dealer Lauraine Diggins, the only woman on the new-look Blues board, is driving the push as part of a "new and expansive vision for the club".

It is front-page news in this week's edition of gay newspaper, the Melbourne Star. The newspaper reports the club will contact many of the state's "queer" community groups in its search for new members.

Diggins revealed one aspect of the plan was to attract a lesbian with a professional career and a passion for the Blues to join a new women's networking group.

We have no information on whether the Blues will rename themselves the Pinks.

This News Interactive story describes a Melbourne couple being the first in Australia to be charged with sexual slavery:

The charges are the first of their kind laid under 1995 sexual servitude laws and carry a maximum of 25 years in jail.

The arrests came after raids by Australian Federal Police in Melbourne and Sydney as part of Operation Tennessee, a joint operation with the Immigration Department.

Federal police allege the women, aged 25 to 36, came to Australia legally after being lured to work in the sex industry.

But instead they were forced into slavery under the guise of paying off debts, it is alleged.

The women were allegedly kept locked up in "safe houses" when they were not working.

Police claim they were only allowed out to work at Club 417, a legal brothel run by Ms Tang and Mr Davies in Brunswick St, Fitzroy.

So, was sex slavery legal in Australia before 1995? And I think it's pretty odd that they called it Operation Tennessee. 'Regular' brothels (whatever that means) are legal, so why didn't they call it Operation Nevada?

Posted by Chris at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 19, 2003

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

Last blog for a while; I'll be on vacation until July 8th.

I was running on the treadmill this morning, listening to 'Messiah' by The Farm (discography), when I happened to look down right when they got to

He loves fast cars,

He loves freaky women,

But most of all,

He loves Armageddon

and saw that the calorimeter read 666.6 calories. Jeepers!

Posted by Chris at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 08, 2003

So Am I Getting My Flying Car Or Not?

Yes. Or maybe no.

Posted by Chris at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

June 05, 2003

'Twas A Dam Shame

On this date in 1976, the Teton River Dam in Idaho failed spectacularly, killing 11 people and causing an estimated $1 billion damage. Fortunately, the area's sense of humor remained intact: one victim said, "We weren't flooded; we were just over-irrigated."

And speaking of killing people and overrunning land, today marks the 36th anniversary of the start of the Six Day War. I wonder why LGF isn't mentioning this.

Posted by Chris at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 16, 2003

Unfortunate Mergers

Joe Brancatelli reports that

BWIA and LIAT, two struggling carriers based in the Caribbean, will merge next month . . ..
If they name the new airline LIATBWIA, do you think people will confuse it with a Polish word for a female body part?

Hey! A Dick Cheney sighting! I was beginning to wonder whether dude would spend the rest of his term in an undisclosed location.

Posted by Chris at 07:21 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 03, 2003

Sometimes, we laugh because if we don't, we'll cry.

The Oklahoma City tornadoes hit four years ago today. What's not as well remembered is that the Lawton/Fort Sill area was the first hit. One of our field engineers had just finished a several-month nights-and-weekends garage project--literally the night before. Well, Mother Nature visited him with malice aforethought. He took out this ad in the Lawton Constitution a few weeks later.

Posted by Chris at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 12, 2003

... And Jerry Bruckheimer Immediately Offered A Six-Figure Option For Their Story

Several news outlets are reporting that a group blasted open the doors of a Paris-area prison with rocket fire to free alleged gangster Antonio Ferrara. Apparently this is becoming a trend - five days ago, suspected murder Joseph Menconi was sprung in a similar fashion from a Corsican prison. I'll ask the obvious question: it was a French prison--why did they think they needed weapons to get the guards to surrender?

Posted by Chris at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 11, 2003

Now Boarding On Platform 7 & 7 . . .

Have you ever missed a flight because you got on the wrong shuttle bus (I haven't, although I came close once)? Well, this poor Japanese guy accidentally got on a party bus instead of the airport bus and missed his flight from Edinburgh to London! Actually, it could have been much worse: I mean, it was a party bus, and he could have gotten on this bus.

    Best quotes from the article:
  • "I have very much difficulty understanding how people speak in Edinburgh. I like the Scottish people very much, but their voices - it is difficult and strange to my ears." (Roger that, Kajiyama-san - my experience talking to Scotsmen is much the same)

  • He made the best of the situation . . . "I missed my aeroplane. At first I was very angry. I felt stupid. But I was enjoying the bus - I have never been on such a thing before. So I stayed for the whole night because it was funny. And the girls were very pretty too."

  • . . . but, alas, couldn't get no nookie. "I was not lucky with them, I am sad to say. But I did do lots of dancing to the music - great. They should have karaoke too on the bus, then it would be perfect."

Posted by Chris at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 18, 2002

ERROR S306: Verb-Object Generation Mismatch

It took me five minutes just to parse this sentence: "On Thursday, Dunn gave birth to her twin granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Shelby."

Posted by Chris at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 16, 2002

Yeah, but can it go around trees?

I want one of these to mow my lawn. Do the whole thing in six seconds and never worry about vermin again.
(The funny thing here is while I was googling on "Zeus land mine" after hearing about the system from a friend, the fourth-highest entry on the list, inexplicably, was this.

Posted by Chris at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 15, 2002

Word Of The Day

Everybody does this kind of thing every now and then, but did you realize there's a word for it? Schadenfreude. OK, so it was their Word Of The Day over two years ago, but it's mine today. That's me--squarely on the trailing edge.

Posted by Chris at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 08, 2002

Watch the skies

If you see one of these flying around your town, you'd best get MOPPed doublequick. Here's why.

In a totally unrelated story, the mouse in Mouse Hunt wouldn't have lasted ten seconds against these kittens (flash required).

Posted by Chris at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

September 11, 2002

One Year After

Remember the good old days, when 'white powdery substance' meant this rather than this?

Posted by Chris at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 26, 2002

Channelling today's Daily Illuminator

Nothing original today, just a couple of links from the Daily Illuminator, the blog of Steve Jackson Games. The first is an excellent poem about the WTC attack, written by a frequent SJG contributor; the second is far more sinister, and I promise you'll never look at beanie babies the same way again.

Posted by Chris at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 13, 2002

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I enjoy cracking on McPaper as much as the next guy, but I have to admit that they did an excellent job with their current three-day feature on the events of September 11 from an air traffic control perspective (which is something I'd always wondered about). [Part One | Part Two | {Part Three is tomorrow}]

The Multicolor was also the only major paper to report (according to Slate) that a Korean Air jumbo jet came aboutthisclose to getting its ass shot down on September 11.

Posted by Chris at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

August 01, 2002



Posted by Chris at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 29, 2002

The Lie Revealed

#1 is true, although I later broke in again and left more than enough money to cover what I'd taken. In fact, the whole story is here. #3 is also true: it's "The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Done", which I originally wrote for Pyroto Mountain. So that leaves #2, which is actually almost true--I did see Moeller as he was walking out of U-M's Schembechler Hall (yes, that's what they really call it) for the last time, talking to a TV news crew.

Posted by Chris at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 28, 2002

Two Truths And A Lie

I saw this on b-may; it looks like he got it from Harrumph!. Here's mine:

  1. I once burglarized an ice-cream stand in England.

  2. I was the first 'civilian' to see Gary Moeller after he was fired as U-M football coach.

  3. On a dare, I jumped over a guard rail on a pitch-black night when I had no idea what was on the other side.

Posted by Chris at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 27, 2002

Honor All Those Who Serve

I've made it a habit, whenever I find out that someone is a veteran, to say "Thank you for your service." I've found it to be a good way of expressing my gratitude without being overbearing. So now I'm thinking about all the other people who serve our country, and it goes beyond just vets, active duty military, and public safety workers. For example, here at the Day Job, we've got a couple of people on the ground in Afghanistan right now. Who are you thinking of today?

Posted by Chris at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 10, 2002

On The Internet, Everybody Will Be Famous For Fifteen Seconds. Sixty Times.

Last week, I had a story accepted by Slashdot. I got a fourth-order taste of the Slashdot effect from it, since the site was linked to my story credit.

Me, yesterday:

"Huh, this looks kinda cool, I'll play the first hole.

That was neat, I'll play another hole.

OK, just one more hole.

OK, just one more hole.

OK, just one more hole.

OK, just one more hole.


Eleven under par! Woo-hoo!"

Posted by Chris at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 01, 2002

Mayday! Mayday!

May Day! May Day! May Day!

Posted by Chris at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 22, 2002

Look out below!

This is not a good time to be a high school track athlete here in northern Indiana. On consecutive days last week, two area high school students suffered almost-inconceivable shot put accidents. At press time, one of the boys was still in critical condition and the other was in stable condition. Last Saturday, right here in Fort Wayne, a girl was hit with a discus, although she wasn't seriously injured.

Consider this: there were only fifteen accidents involving the throwing events (shot put, discus, javelin) in high schools from 1983 to 2000 in the entire country.

Posted by Chris at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)
Category: General Weirdness

March 28, 2002

For Sale: One soapbox, Slightly Used.

I really like Yahoo!Mail in general, but the one thing that bugs me the most about it is that you have to download stored messages one. at. a. time. I've got about 800 stored messages that I'd love to be able to save off to my computer, but based on all the hoops you have to jump through to download one message, I'm looking at about 20 hours to save it all. I don't think it'd take Yahoo 20 man-hours to add multi-download capability for everyone!

If you use Yahoo!Mail, and you feel as strongly about this as I do, go to this particular Yahoo!Mail help page, then click No to get a feedback form. Don't ask them "Why can't I download more than one message at a time?", because they'll just say "Sorry, you can't do that." Ask them "When will you add the feature that lets me download more than one message at a time?"

And if you're still torqued off about it, pass this on to all your Yahoo! friends.

In totally unrelated news: if you think that failing a class because you got caught cheating was bad, then be grateful you don't live here.

Posted by Chris at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

February 23, 2002

We Have The Technology - well, OK, just a piece of it...

Metal muscles - one step closer to the Six Million Dollar Man. Oops, two steps - I forgot about the bionic tool.

I've added an Iron Chef page to capture some episode summaries I wrote in the late-2000/early-2001 time frame (if you don't know what Iron Chef is, check out ironchef.com). I'll be adding more summaries as I convert them to HTML.

Posted by Chris at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

January 08, 2002

How To Destroy Every Insurance Company On Earth

You know the sound a bullet makes (in the movies) when it zips by someone's head? This would be that sound scaled up to cosmic dimensions. Yikes!

One of my ongoing projects is the Office Lexicon. I have linked a Red Meat that is a perfect illustration of the term goat picture.

And I'll add a postmortem on the EuroDragon game Real Soon Now.

Posted by Chris at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

October 02, 2001

Using a jet engine to drive a cooler seems like destroying the village to save it...

...but there you are. I think I've found my new hero.

In a related story, I always wondered how the refrigerator on my folks' motor home could work without electricity. And now I know. howstuffworks.com just totally rocks.

Posted by Chris at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

July 21, 2001

"Cliches Come To Life", Part I

1. Even during cybersex, men don't last as long as women. And nobody lasts as long as everybody else seems to think they do. And nobody really has a cybersex 'problem.' And I'll call you. Promise.

2. The Government would tax the air if they thought they could get away with it. And now it appears they can.

Posted by Chris at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 14, 2001

So Long, Douglas. Save Me A Seat At Milliway's.

By now, you've no doubt heard of the untimely death of Douglas Adams last Friday of a heart attack. [ Slashdot | BBC | New York Times ] I wanted to headline this The Lights Went Out In His Eyes For Absolutely The Very Last Time Ever, but DNA's own website beat me to it. My second choice, Hopefully He's Just Spending A Year Dead For Tax Reasons? Saw three different posts in the Slashdot thread mentioning it. He lives on, after a fashion, with the BBC now managing The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

My sense of humor was shaped by HHGG, Monty Python, Saturday Night Live, and M*A*S*H (in roughly equal parts). I first encountered HHGG when I was in high school, in the summer of 1981 on WMUK, Western Michigan University's NPR station. I think the first episode I heard was Episode 3 (the gang lands on Magrithea). Fortunately, my brother had taped the first two episodes so I could catch up. I was hooked. I taped all the subsequent episodes, then the first two again when the series was rebroadcast. I listened to the tapes many many times over the years until they were so worn as to be almost unlistenable. One of my all-time favorite Christmas presents was a copy of The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts, if for no other reason than it allowed me to decipher all the lines I couldn't properly hear from the tapes. Much later, I bootlegged a friend's copy of the show, available as a six-tape set from The Mind's Eye (whose web site I can't find right now). The interesting thing there is that each episode has about thirty seconds of material that wasn't on my version, which is strange when you consider that my NPR version didn't have commercials either and thus no reason to chop stuff out to make room.

One of the things that was supposed to come along Real Soon Now was a Hitchhiker's movie, and the reason it was taking so long was that Adams had creative control and wanted to make sure it was done properly. Now, I fear, the movie will get made anyway. I predict Marvin will be portrayed as a wisecracking ferret with a heart of gold (ahem) and voiced by Billy Crystal.

And to top it all off, we had to have our 15-year-old cat put to sleep yesterday. This is shaping up to be an absolutely superb week.

Posted by Chris at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 10, 2001

Can I Get A Mocha Latte... And This Magazine Sterilized?

I will never think of a browse-all-you-like-in-our-comfy-chairs megabookstore the same way again. Not after this. Thanks to Adam Kempa for the story.

Posted by Chris at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

May 04, 2001

Web Serendipity In Action, or "From Travel News To The Wacky World Of Murder In Three Easy Steps"

Joe Brancatelli's Tactical Traveller column on biztravel.com this week lists a few websites commemorating defunct airlines (mainly, ones bought out by other airlines). I'm fascinated by air travel in general (don't ask), and by the history of air travel in particular, so I checked some of them out. The most interesting one I saw was a memorial to Pacific Southwest Airlines, and was pretty well done, right up to this cryptic comment on the last page: "The Webmaster honors the memory of the 42 victims of the crime committed aboard PSA flight 1771 on December 7, 1987." Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. After a brief Googlizing, I found this page explaining it all. Then I found this one, which takes a decidedly different look at it. All I can say is that I'm glad flight crews pass through security checkpoints now. Anyway, that trail eventually leads all the way back to The Wacky World Of Murder. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go take a shower.

Posted by Chris at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 26, 2001

The Winning Throw Went So Far That Some Neck In Barstow Reported Seeing A UFO

I've been playing disc golf on and off for about five years now, although in the past couple of years I've kind of turned away from it in favor of roller hockey, which I also play very poorly but with great enthusiasm. Anyway, I'm still subscribed to Rick Bay's excellent Disc Golf Online newsletter (subscribe here). The current issue's cover story is Big D In The Desert II, a long drive competition. Did you know that there are a handful of people on the planet that can chuck a golf disc (like a frisbee, but heavier, 'thinner,' and smaller in diameter) over 700 feet? I've actually met one of them (Scott Stokely), although he wasn't throwing that day. It boggles my mind to know that these guys can throw three times as far as I can. Germany's Christian Voigt set a new world's record with a throw of 217.05 meters (about 711 feet).

Now this is my idea of a "wrongful serving" settlement: biztravel.com's Joe Brancatelli reports in his April 26 column that a vegetarian passenger sued Indian airline Jet Airways after finding a chicken bone in what, he was assured, was a vegetarian meal. After a two-year court battle, the passenger successfully proved he had "suffered intense mental anguish," and was awarded... $215. Contrast that with this case, where the vege-frickin-tarian plaintiffs sought (unsuccessfully) $2100 from Taco Bell to pay for a trip to India for "purification" after inadvertently being served meat. Putting aside for a moment how a religion can have the concept of having to atone for an accidental sin, the moral here seems to be this: if you're a herbivore, being served meat by accident is considered to be worth somewhere between $215 and $2100 in damages.

Posted by Chris at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 25, 2001

If You See Any Suspicious-Looking Unattended Bovines, Call Your Local Bomb Squad And The BATF

Normally, when I hear "exploding cows", I think "flatulence" (kosher version). Or maybe "nuclear-powered air compressors". But check out this description of how a human contracted foot-and-mouth disease. The guy's faring far better than I would be, given the circumstances--I'm sure I'd have started puking and not stopped until I died of dehydration.

I forgot to mention that yesterday was a comparatively slow day for man-made disasters; the most notable was the L'Ambiance tragedy, where a partially-completed apartment complex collapsed in 1987, killing 28 construction workers in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Sorry--that's 28 union construction workers killed. On the other hand, I think I may leave the chronicling of disasters to the professionals.

Posted by Chris at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 20, 2001

It'll All Be Good As Long As I Don't Hear Suicide Solution

I was on the treadmill this morning when CNN aired their story on the fires in Florida. At the exact moment when the newsreader said "..and one home and is believed to be the work of an arsonist" (quote approximate; I was too busy trying to suck oxygen into my dying body to hear it properly), Burning Down The House started playing on my walkman (not built by Sony, so no trademark or capitalization and go blow if you don't like it).

This happens to me every now and then. For instance, I read Cryptonomicon last summer, and for three days in a row I read something in the book very close to something that happened in real life later that day. The one that I remember most is the scene where the Japanese soldiers wash ashore on the island, and one of the soldiers is bitten by a sea snake and dies in a matter of seconds. That night's Survivor showed Richard playing with a sea snake. Eesh!

Posted by Chris at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 19, 2001

The Definition Of 'Disaster' Is Culturally Relative

On the basis of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Exxon Valdez, I came to the conclusion that April is historically a bad month for man-made disasters. I need to modify that somewhat--it appears that if you look deeply enough into history, it's always a bad month for disasters. I didn't have to look too far today, though. On this day...

  • In 1989, an explosion in Turret #2 of the USS Iowa killed 47 sailors. And speaking of 47, this site goes a ways towards proving that there's nothing so pointless or obscure in the universe that there isn't a web page for it.
  • In 1993, the Federal Government stormed the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, killing 86.
  • In 1995, Timothy McVeigh (and Terry Nichols--why does everybody always forget about him?) bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 165.

But if you shift your perspective to the other side of the road and the other side of the Atlantic, you get today's biggest disaster: The Shot Heard 'Round The World.

Posted by Chris at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 09, 2001

All Your Marketing Scheme Are Belong To Us!

The All Your Base meme grabbed me as hard as anybody, and I was worried that some lame-ass ad-man would hijack it into this year's "Whazzup!" Have no fear! All Your Brand is looking out for us. And speaking of which, what happens when you mix rating sites like hotornot.com or bangable.com with AYB? See for yourself! This one is my favorite.

Today in history: General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate army to General U.S. Grant on this date in 1865. I'd always considered Lee a traitor for going over to the Rebels during the War Against Southern Secession, but his words in the days that followed were largely responsible for both sides reconciling and not becoming, say, the Balkans (Yeah, I read that in Parade. So sue me). Of course, not everyone is happy with this.

Posted by Chris at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 07, 2001

Hey, Little Girl, Want A Piece Of Candy?

Cincinnati (and I can never remember how many 'n's, how many 't's, and where they go) is learning what happens when you teach economics and sex ed on the same day. I remember my fifth- and sixth-grade days, desparately trying--and failing--to 'get a girl' (not that I'd have had the slightest idea what to do afterwards). Why didn't I think of bribery?

Evidently "keeping up with the Joneses" is not a uniquely WASP-American concept. Thanks to FriezLog for the ref.

Posted by Chris at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 02, 2001

Dammit, Swabbie, I Said TanquerAY On The Rocks!

2001.04.02 Dammit, Swabbie, I Said TanquerAY On The Rocks!

Historically speaking, this has been a big week for environmental disasters. First, Three Mile Island, now the 12th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. How much have we learned in the intervening twelve years? Apparently not a whole lot, if you believe the Environmental News Network. But check out the last paragraph, where a London tanker broker says "I'm sure Exxon is aware that there are arguments both for and against double hulls, but you would have thought they'd pay a few thousand dollars per day more just to look good [emphasis mine]. That's what double hulls are all about." Style over substance among the environmentalistas? Marx forbid!

Remark Of The Day, courtesy of P.J. O'Rourke, on forbes.com's FYI: "Prepubescent girls are in command of such large amounts of discretionary spending that the introduction of a popular new boy band can cause the Fed to raise rates in an attempt to curb demand-side inflation."

Posted by Chris at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

April 01, 2001

When You're Sufficiently Illuminated, Every Headline Is An April Fools Joke

2001.04.01 When You're Sufficiently Illuminated, Every Headline Is An April Fools Joke

I just watched last Thursday's ER; ah, the wonders of videotape. In the first minute of the show, Dr. Kovac is called in to help subdue a struggling patient whose face is covered with a pillowcase on account of 'severe burns.' Kovac swiftly syringes up 10cc of Haldol and lets the patient have it right in the thigh, whereupon the pillowcase is removed to reveal a stunned Dr. Mallucci, who says the whole thing was supposed to be an April Fools joke. My immediate reaction--and this is surely a sign that I've been reading too much conspiracy stuff--was that it was a double-cross, Kovac was in on it, and Mallucci was the actual target. I think I ought to go take my Haldol now.

Dutch company WaterNet thinks they have the answer to the (impending) problem of bandwidth bottleneck: using the plumbing system to transport data. Red Herring has the
whole story
. It's a superbly done article, if you know what I mean, and I would have bought it (even overlooking the DRIP acronym used to describe the 'research' project) if it hadn't been for the "client-side nozzle." Don't understand? Here's a hint.

Posted by Chris at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 29, 2001

I'm A Genius! And I Insist On Making Sure Everybody Else Knows It!

2001.03.29 I'm A Genius! And I Insist On Making Sure Everybody Else Knows It!

This one came to my attention courtesy of Steve Jackson Games' Daily Illuminator: William Christopher Holley's Genius web site is simultaneously a chest-thumping "Look At Me--I'm A Genius!" brag piece and a "Why Won't Anyone Hire Me?" whine/rant.

My take? It reminds me of the quote behind the dysfunction poster at despair.com--"The Only Consistent Feature of All of your Dissatisfying Relationships is You." It also reminds me of something else. Back in my elementary school days (basically, the Nixon and Ford Administrations), it was a well-known fact that I was the smartest kid in my class. Every year. Nobody else was close. A couple of kids thought they were, but they weren't. Now before you write me off as a Holley clone, here's my point: despite the fact that I spent those years in the company of the same sixty kids, and by the end of kindergarten all but the dimmest knew the score, I spent a lot of time and energy making damn sure that everybody around me knew I was the smartest kid in the class. Yet somehow I was always surprised when anybody called me 'arrogant.' I wasn't arrogant--I was just smarter than they were. Sure, it's a cliche, but it fit. It took me many many years before I realized exactly they thought that way (I'd previously attributed it to jealousy; I mean, the problem couldn't have been with me, could it?), and what did it was seeing myself at age 10 in the person of one of my son's friends. Let's call him Hal. Whenever any kid said anything incorrect, Hal corrected him. Whenever a question was asked, Hal was the first one to answer. If by chance another kid answered first, Hal gave a 'better' answer and then proceeded to explain why his answer was better. And on and on and on until I was ready to, ah, hell, I don't know what but it wouldn't have been very nice. My realization that I was seeing myself at that age was a whack on the side of the head unlike any I've experienced before or since. So to my classmates, I belatedly say, "I get it, and I'm sorry." So let's not be too hard on W. C. Holley; I just hope he gets a similar whack while he can still do something about it.

Posted by Chris at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 27, 2001

If A Quip Falls On A Stairway, And No One Else Hears It, Is It Wit?

2001.03.27 If A Quip Falls On A Stairway, And No One Else Hears It, Is It Wit?

There's a French expression, "l'esprit de l'escalier" (literally, "the wit of the staircase"), which describes thinking of exactly the right thing to say when it's no longer relevant. That goes double for today's Featured Site, both because it'll help avoid "l'esprit de l'escalier" and because St. Patrick's Day was a week and a half ago. Without further ado, An tInneal Mallachtaí - The Curse Engine (my favorite). If you'd like a gentler example of Irish, there's the Word Of The Day In Irish page. If you just came off a ten-day St. Paddy's bender and now want to offer a traditional Irish toast, IrishAbroad is the place for you.

Today in history (courtesy of strive.to, whose web site appears to be broken at the moment):

- 1964: Anchorage, Alaska suffered the strongest earthquake ever to hit North America; 117 died.

- 1977: The worst aviation disaster on record (*cough*cough*) occurred on Tenerife in the Canary Islands: a KLM 747 collided with a Pan Am 747 on the runway, killing 577.

Posted by Chris at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 22, 2001

It Came From Lower Earth Orbit

2001.03.22: It Came From Lower Earth Orbit

Perhaps a more important question even than "Can I wrangle a free taco out of Mir's demise?" is "What will survive the re-entry?" I direct your attention to these quotes:

"Although the porthole and other windows were made of extra-hard quartz glass and mounted on titanium covered with enamel, they were partly destroyed by a colony of fungi and bacteria visible to the naked eye."


"We don’t know how they [space-grown microorganisms] will behave if they get back into regular Earth conditions."

And if that doesn't rock your world, how about this--Stephen Hawking's secret double life as a gangsta rapper?

Posted by Chris at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness

March 21, 2001

Connect the jumper cables, wait for some lightning, and POOF!

2001.03.21: Connect the jumper cables, wait for some lightning, and POOF!

OK, so this is the online equivalent of slapping a new front door on a half-remodeled house and calling it done. Sue me. Anyway, here's the new look for the site, and yes, I'm adding a weblog just like sixty gazillion other people. Squarely on the trailing edge, that's me. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll update the other pages (a/k/a "The Real Content") for a smoother look. I'll also be adding a lot of stuff I've written that never made it online. Don't worry if you're pining for how the site used to look (although I don't know why you would be, unless you've got a thing for state-of-the-art Web design circa 1995); I've got you covered.

Today's Big News:

Mad Sheep Disease in the US?

Where oh where will the rocket come down? And more importantly, can I finagle a free taco out of the deal?
And speaking of Taco Bell, Hindu Couple Lose Meat-In-Rice Claim.

On almost a daily basis, I hit Google looking for some weird combination of words, usually in connection with a conversation I had that day.
Today's Corn-Fed Google Search: "orgone machine".

Posted by Chris at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)
Category: General Weirdness