April 2001 Archives

On August 28, 1988, at an air show at (U.S.) Ramstein Air Base in Germany, two jets of the Italian Air Force aerobatic team (Frecce Tricolori) collided during their performance. One fell directly into the crowd of more than 200,000 people along Ramstein's flight line, killing 70 and injuring over 300 more. The 30 Apr 01 print edition of Marine Times is reporting that German attorney Gerhart Baum is representing 82 people who witnessed the crash. Claiming that his clients are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he is suing the German government for unspecified damages. If he fails to win, Baum says he will move the case to the U.S. and sue the Department of Defense. Let me point out here that these were not people injured in the incident; these were people traumatized by seeing the incident!

Now let me get this straight--two Italian planes collided, and he's suing the Germans, with his Plan B as suing the Americans? That'd be like if you got food poisoning in a restaurant and sued the construction company that built the restaurant, with Plan B as suing the taxi driver that took you there!

In the same issue of Marine Times, a former naval chaplain has been accused of "inappropriate sexual conduct" with two [male] sailors. Commander Robert Milewski, who is known as 'Father Bob,' faces a court-martial for the allegations. No word yet if his partner, known as 'Father Neil,' has been accused.

    You actually have to pick up a telephone to do this one:
  1. Call National Discount Brokers at 1-800-888-3999
  2. Listen to the all of the recorded options
  3. Pay attention to what option 7 is
  4. Hit 7

Spoiler: "To hear a duck quack, press 7." And it does! AFLAC is said to be considering legal action, contending that NDB is infringing on their Duck commercial. Of course, I'm the only one who's saying that.

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog...

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...to work on some content. I've recently HTMLized Office Lexicon, a collection of (mainly technical) office jargon collected from email, co-workers, and my own sprained imagination.

I'll be doing this periodically (read: when I can't think of anything worth blogging), because I've got a lot of stuff to add. Whether any of it is any good will be an exercise for the reader. Most of it will go here, although some will find its way here. Stay tuned.

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.

Commander Scott Waddle, captain of the USS Greeneville, arrived in Uwajima, Japan, today and formally apologized to the family of Toshimichi Furuya, one of nine people killed when the Greeneville rammed and sank the Ehime Maru on February 9. After Waddle made a few brief remarks, Shizuko Kimura, sister of Furuya, presented Waddle and executive officer Lieutenant Commander Gerald Pfeifer with a matched set of traditional Japanese swords. Then, in a gruesome but poignant ceremony, Waddle knelt before a Shinto shrine in the family's living room and commited seppuku with the wakizashi while Pfeifer stood second with the katana, prepared to decapitate Waddle if he risked dishonoring himself by crying out. After mopping up the copious amount of blood and spilled entrails, Kimura said that Waddle has "atoned for the great shame of murdering my brother" and brought honor to his family and crew. A high-level Pentagon spokesman says that President Bush is "satisfied" with the outcome and considers the matter closed.

OK, I made that all up, but I'm surprised The Onion hasn't come up with something like it yet. Except better, since they're way way funnier than I am.

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.

My friend Paul rants:

[But for this article,] I might never have known that games like Atari Combat, Wizardry, and Dungeons and Dragons that I played as a kid had changed me into the mentally unbalanced serial killer that I am today.

Division I-AA Prairie View A&M has the dubious distinction of having one of the longest losing streaks in NCAA football history: 80 games from 1989 to 1998. They finally got the monkey off their back--although by that point, the monkey was probably a gorilla--by beating Langston (just a guy named Langston, not the whole team) in 1998. Now we find out it was all tainted: the NCAA placed PVA&M on one year's probation for bad timing. The probation includes no TV or postseason appearances, but no loss of scholarships.

I can't decide whether this constitutes regulatory overkill (kicking a team when it's down) or the most incompetent coaching staff ever (they cheated and still couldn't win more than one game). On the other hand, this isn't the first time the school's run afoul of the powers that be (maybe they ought to suit up the band--at least they have some fight!).

Now At amazon.com: Jihad For Dummies

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Looking for just the right book to complete your Jihad Studies degree (with a minor in Destroying The Infidels)? The Smoking Gun has what you need: "Military Studies in the Jihad Against the Tyrants". It shows the typical 42-gazillion ways to kill someone, using everything from crap to castor beans. And if you're running into trouble getting the information you need from your captives, have no fear! Tried and true methods in the physical torture section will get you the President's travel schedule faster than you can say "Allah u-akhbar!" The textbook is a little weak as far as psychological torture goes (I mean, "Using harsh treatment, insults, and curses to defeat his morale?" C'mon! I get worse than that at the office on a daily basis!), but who ever accused the mujahadeen of being subtle?

Thanks to Cruel Site Of The Day.

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!

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.

One of the (countless) things that embarrasses me about living in Indiana is the fact that we can't get the hang of this daylight savings time thing. Y'see (for those of you who live in the 47 other states that understand 'spring ahead fall back' as something other than a line dance step), most of Indiana observes Eastern Standard Time year-round. The practical effect is that in the spring and summer, we observe the same time as Chicago; in the fall and winter, the same time as Detroit.

What this also means is that the rest of the country is never exactly sure what time it is here. At best, it's tedious, like whenever I make plans to visit my family in Michigan or vice versa and have to remind them whether we're on the same time or an hour behind; at worst, it can cost Big Money. It would be comical if it didn't reinforce the stereotypical image of Hoosiers as backwards-assed country fscks, but it happens the same way every year--a big push goes on at the beginning of the legislative season, where this by God is the year we're going to finally do it, and then the next thing you know, the Indiana Farm Bureau bitches about how the farmers can't cope with it, and the initiative vanishes without a trace.

Of course, there are folks who think the entire DST thing is a crock and we should all go back to 'normal' time anyway. In a twist, some think that God set the clocks and we should leave well enough alone [these people think of evolution as a Communist Satanic plot, so don't even get me started here].

Wow, that's a lot of venting over something so trivial as what time zone we're in. I wonder what'll happen when I decide to comment on something meaningful?

Let McVeigh Die, But Save The Cows!

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In a particularly egregious case of sticking their noses where they don't belong, PETA sent a letter to Harley Lappin, warden of the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute where Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to get The Needle next month, asking that McVeigh's last meal be vegetarian. I'm pretty sure their request was rejected on Constitutional grounds. Failing that, PETA appealed to McVeigh personally to request a vegetarian meal. His response is far more charitable than mine would have been, were I in his shoes: "I'm kind of preoccupied right now, what with my impending death and all, but look at it like this: I offed over 160 people. What makes you think I give a flying fsck about animals?". Then I'd order a panda steak (seasoned with powdered bear's gallbladder) with extra dolphin sauce and a bowl of spotted owl's nest soup. Thanks to pure (watermelon) sugar for the ref.

I have always said that vegetarianism (or whatever the PC term is today; I don't keep up because I don't care) is a religion based on guilt, and that it's the closest thing to animal worship extant in the First World.

The Spiritual School of Ascension is a typical bunch of New Age nut jobs, with a twist (at least from my perspective): I am 99 44/100% certain that "Oa" (nee "Rama" nee "Tom Weber") was a co-worker of mine here at the Imperialist Capitalist Running Pig-Dog Military-Industrial Complex from about 1992 through 1997. During that time, he was one of the most stable and rational people I've known. I wonder what happened. There is much speculation among the people who work there who knew him that "Mila" must have seductive powers from... Elsewhere...

I nominated the SSA to Temple ov thee Lemur as a potential Cult ov thee Week.

I can honestly say I never thought I'd headline a post with a John Denver lyric. Ever since his unfortunate demise, I can't listen to one of his songs without mutating the lyrics: "Grandma's feather bed" becomes "Pacific ocean bed", "Rocky Mountain High" becomes "Gas tank runnin' dry", that kind of thing. For the right price, you can hear his voice from beyond, if that's what you're into. But I digress.

The point behind today's headline is that we didn't get the apology right in the EP-3 hijacking. Here's the apology I would have written:

Dear Comrades, We're sorry your pilot was such an idiot. We're sorry that we let him hide his little fighter under our great big aircraft. We're sorry he squished himself like a bug trying to force our aircraft down on Hainan. We're sorry you didn't let us help you find him. We're sorry that nobody else in the world recognizes your claim to territoriality over the entire South China Sea. We're sorry you can't control your electronic emissions sufficiently to prevent an aircraft in international airspace from picking them up. And finally, we apologize in advance for the damage we're about to do to your runway to make it unnecessary for you to dispose of the aircraft. Sincerely, Dubya.

...specifically, because he played Chicken with an aircraft several times the size of his own. It's bad enough that the Chinese fighters were trying to steal the EP-3 by herding it into Chinese airspace, but then to claim that the EP-3 caused the accident and the U.S. is therefore to blame? C'mon--if you want the technology onboard that aircraft (and you do, Comrade, you do), get it the same way everybody else does--buy it from a turncoat in the U.S. Government! By the way, did you know that China claims ALL the South China Sea outside the 12-mile limit of bordering countries as its territorial waters? Check a map, and you'll see just how absurd that claim is.

Klingon Rules Of Succession In Action: On this date two years ago, the president of Niger was assassinated by members of his own guard. Taking power was a junta led by... wait for it... the commander of the presidential guards!

Disaster Month continues here in the Reserved Space: on this date in 1963, USS Thresher sank in the Atlantic off Boston, killing all 129 crewmembers. In 1991, an Italian ferry in the Mediterranean Sea collided with a tanker and sank, killing 151.

All Your Marketing Scheme Are Belong To Us!

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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.

Hey, Little Girl, Want A Piece Of Candy?

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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.

It Was President Clinton, On The Mountain, With The Airplane...

Or was it the Green Berets, on the airplane, with the pistol? Or was it Chinese Intelligence, at 35,000 feet, with a thermite bomb? Step right up and offer your theory in this high-stakes game of Clue, with former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown playing the role of Mr. Boddy. Five years ago yesterday, the VIP aircraft carrying Brown and 34 others crashed into a mountainside near Dubrovnik, Croatia, and all 35 ended up dead. Note that I didn't say the crash killed them all; that's because there's some dispute over exactly what transpired, and why. I have one version on my own web site; there's another that goes several steps beyond those claims, and yet another that blames the Chinese!

Dammit, Swabbie, I Said TanquerAY On The Rocks!

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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."

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.


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This page is an archive of entries from April 2001 listed from newest to oldest.

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