March 2001 Archives

2001.03.31 This Just In... B'rer Rabbit Thrown Into Briar Patch

I've found my next nominee for Carroll County (NH) Superior Court Judge James O'Neill sentenced cracker Coolio (and there's two words I never thought I'd use together) to program the jail's computers as part of his sentence. I can see the headlines now: "Child Molester Gets Work-Release As School Janitor In Wacky Computer Mixup", or maybe "Manson Sentence Commuted To Time Served". Here's another story on the incident.

Aaron Anderer's Mountain Dew Tribute Page is but one of many dedicated to the drink I gave up for Lent (and anyone who knows me realizes how hard that is--far harder, for instance, than giving up beer, which I did last year). What makes it for me is the hypnotic background image. It's much better than Cats. I'm going to go back again and again and again...

One of the things I like best about web surfing is its serendipity. For instance, while I was searching for an answer to an entirely different question, I stumbled across the story behind one of the most popular urban legends: the rocket car. At least, it's plausible that it's the real story. Read it and make up your own mind.

Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead!

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2001.03.30 Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead!

I'm a big fan of Survivor,although I don't spend nearly as much time discussing it as I did the first series. And this morning, I've got to tell you, the sky looks a little bluer, the sun a little brighter, and the birds a little cheerier because JERRI GOT RUN! Per usual, Burnett et. al did their little editing thing, leading us to believe that Elizabeth (The Colleen Of The Outback) would be exiting sans torch this week--certainly it was the obvious play in the Ogakor-rolls-up-Kucha strategy, given that Nick earned immunity--even going to some length to show Keith and Colby discuss ousting Jerri, and then deciding not to. Then the vote announcements:

"Elizabeth." (Sigh. It was nice knowing you, Liz.)

"Jerri." (Yeah yeah yeah, just get on with it.)

"Elizabeth." (Snif.)

"Jerri." (Big surprise.)

"Jerri." (OK, they're just wanting to add a little drama to it, fine.)

"Jerri." (Wait a minute--that's four votes! SOMEBODY TURNED!)

Then a short pause for effect, during which I realized that it was already over; worst case was a 4-4 tie, which Jerri loses by having votes against her previously. Then Outback Jeff dropped the hammer:
"Jerri." And cue the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

That being said, was doing Jerri the smart move for Colby, Keith, and Tina? Hell, no, for two reasons:

  • Which person would each of the other seven want to be up against in a final vote for the million? It's well-established that Jerri is universally despised--nobody is going to want to vote her the million, except maybe Amber.

  • If Amber has half a brain (and that's being generous), she'll jump ship. She voted for Elizabeth, and what that tells me is that the rest of Ogakor hadn't told her of their plan to run Jerri, probably because they couldn't trust her. Without Jerri to protect her, and knowing that Ogakor can run her at any time, her best bet is to go over to the Kuchas, who would be delighted at the chance to gain the upper hand.

So my prediction for next episode is Kucha+Amber votes for Colby, Ogakor-Amber votes for Elizabeth, and Colby takes the long dark walk.

In what may be the biggest case of identity fraud yet, two New York men are charged with stealing identity data from dozens of people and using it to fraudulently obtain between $100,000 and $1 million in cash and prizes. These guys aimed high--they allegedly had identity data for several members of the Forbes 400, and in fact they were caught trying to steal $10 million from the holdings of "an unidentified top executive listed in Forbes 500 wealthiest Americans." Actually, the Forbes 500 refers to companies; individuals are listed on the "Forbes 400 Richest in America", but what do you expect from the New York Post, anyway? The best quote shows that our heroes may have been trying a salami fraud writ large: "They targeted people they figured were so rich they would not notice they were missing $1 million."

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"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.

New from Nike--The Air Sprain!

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2001.03.28 New from Nike--The Air Sprain!

A report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that air-filled basketball shoes may cause, rather than prevent, ankle injuries. Continuing on, however, the intrepid reader learns that the primary factor associated with ankle injuries is... previous ankle injuries! The Journal is expected to publish a report next month suggesting that the rich get richer.

On the Listening List: I just wrapped up Demolition Angel by Robert Crais (Amazon: paperback
), about an LAPD detective and former bomb technician (and the reason for being a
former bomb tech is a bomb that killed her partner and lover and injured her gravely) drawn into a bomb investigation that is far more than it initially seems. I'm not a big fan of the cop genre in general, but I really enjoyed this BoT. Patricia Kalember's narration is very good, except that she manages to make all the male characters except the villain sound like pansies.

The Three Mile Island melt (not meltdown--the Government says so!) occurred 22 years ago today. That this anniversary passed largely unnoticed was due primarily to a somewhat larger oops that happened in 1986.

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, 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.

2001.03.26 OK, We Opened The Borders And Made Ashtrays Out Of All The Lenin Statues; Now What?

Simon Bone has a very nice site detailing "places in transition from authoritarian rule to, uh, something else." The opening quote about North Korea is funny in a pathetisad way. Of particular interest to me is the page describing his time in Moscow. And to think I was trying to angle my way onto a program that would have meant I'd spend some time there. Be careful what you wish for, eh?

Holy Maple Leaf, Batman, eh? You're being knocked off north of the border!

2001.03.25 Once The Big Fish Eats The Smaller Fish, The Smaller Fish Don't Get Laid No More...

I spent several years of my life (and way more money than I want to think about) addicted to a particular flavor of crack. Now you can read the behind-the-scenes story of Wizards Of The Coast and how it went to Hell in a three-ring binder of nine-pocket pages.

And if the net weren't weird enough, you can have Zippy The Pinhead translate it for you! Disclaimer: The 'Zippy Meets Meta-HTML' page isn't an official ZTP page, so far as I can tell, but my GOD it's a HOLE all the way down to BURBANK (be sure and try your hand at the Unclaimed Property Bulletin Board System--you never know what you might have lost while in California)!

And speaking of California, Everything2 has the etymology behind why it's really called "The Land Of Hot Sex".

I May Seek You, But I Don't Seek Embedded Ads!

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2001.03.24 I May Seek You, But I Don't Seek Embedded Ads!

Are you tired of ICQ's ever-increasing emphasis on ads? Here's somebody who knows what to do about it!

If I wrote user interfaces (I actually used to at the day job, until they told me to stop), they'd look like this. And that doesn't even capture the beta version, which had options like "Clarify Corn-Fed Requirement" and "Bamboozle Customer." Ahh, those were the days.

2001.03.23 No Taco For You! or Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around Old Glory.

Well, Mir made it down without killing anybody (at least not right away--refer to yesterday's entry about what might survive the landing). In all fairness, I'd like to note that Mir was designed with a life expectancy of three years, but survived for almost fifteen. That kind of puts the mishaps (the Russian word here is 'oopskis') in perspective.

Did you know there's a group of people who believe you can dodge most U.S. laws because almost all courtrooms have gold fringe around the U.S. flag therein? To this group, that makes the court an Admiralty court instead of a Common Law Court, and all kinds of pseudo-legalistic jiggery-pokery comes into play. Like writing "Without Prejudice, UCC 1-207" underneath the signature on your driver's license and thus becoming immune to any traffic ticket that does not stem from an incident harming another person. How well does it work? Ask this guy.

It Came From Lower Earth Orbit

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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?

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".


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