June 2004 Archives

On Second Thought, Never Mind


I was all set to post a detailed entry on just how cool Oak Island was and how envious you all must be since I just spent two weeks there and you didn't. Then I read Steve's (of The Sporting Life) description of his recent trip to Alaska:

I almost didn't write about my trip to Alaska because, well, it's tough to keep vacation stories from putting people to sleep or sounding as if there's one underlying theme: "I went to this cool place and you didn't. And, even if you've been there before, I assure you it wasn't as good as my experience."
Boy, am I glad I read that first.

Anyway, I think I'll settle for short vignettes like this one: SmokeEater and I were sitting on the deck, just watching the ocean and enjoying adult beverages (it's amazing how much time you can spend just doing that). After a while, a woman came along, walking her little rat-dog along the water's edge.

SmokeEater says: "Well, she's using live bait, but I don't think she's working deep enough."

Anniversary Dinner

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Nineteen years ago on June 14, flower_goddess and I got married, so this year our anniversary was during our vacation on Oak Island. The first week, we split a beachfront house with our neighbors Chumley and Rabbit and their daughter Choley, and boy did they have an anniversary present for us. We were told to clear out of the house about 4 PM and not to return until summoned, so we headed out for some souvenir shopping until we got the all-clear by phone a couple hours later.

We were met at the bottom of the stairs by Rabbit, acting as hostess: "Welcome to Di's Dream; we've been expecting you. This way, please." She led us to our table (set for two, with flowers) on the decorated oceanfront deck. Choley then appeared with shrimp cocktails and glasses of wine. She told us that our salads would be arriving shortly, with the entree - chef's choice - soon after that.

Chef's choice turned out to be exquisitely grilled sirloins with stir-fried vegetables. Chumley came out and did his best snooty chef impersonation, simultaneously sucking up to us while implying that we weren't sufficiently high-class to deserve his creations. Dessert was ice cream with fresh blackberries, and our son served as busboy, efficiently clearing the table between courses.

A hundred-dollar meal with a million-dollar view, all brought to us by our neighbors.

Scenes From A Vacation #1


SmokeEater: I bet you ten bucks I can juggle three jellyfish.
Me: Are you crazy? Those things will sting the living shit out of you!
SmokeEater: Not like those Man-O-War things - I mean the ones they have around here, with the little stubby tentacles. They're about the size of a softball, and if you keep them right-side-up you should be OK.


Me (sighing): OK, you're on. I'll go get my keys.

Twenty minutes later, in the ER at Dosher Memorial:

Dr. Larry: You tried to do what?!?

On The Beach Again

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Headed to Oak Island, North Carolina, for the next couple of weeks. Half the 'hood is coming with us, so the trip report ought to be entertaining...

Drugs Bad! Scientology Good!


Control the children and you control the future. The corporate shell game that is Scientology Inc. knows this, which is why they're trying to distract us with something shiny...

Anyone listening to a classroom talk by Narconon Drug Prevention & Education is unlikely to recognize the connection with Scientology; the lessons sound nothing like theology . . .. Narconon is an efficiently run program with a well-received anti-drug message for grades three to 12. Its popularity with kids and teachers cuts a wide swath -- from the posh suburbs of Malibu to the urban classrooms San Francisco. Speakers pepper their presentations with personal tales of drug abuse and redemption and emphasize the importance of knowing how drugs affect the body.
while they're a'fixin' to club us over the head:
Instruction is delivered in language purged of most church parlance, but includes "all the Scientology and Dianetics Handbook basics," according to Scientology correspondence obtained by The Chronicle.

Narconon's anti-drug instruction rests on these key church concepts: that the body stores all kinds of toxins indefinitely in fat, where they wreak havoc on the mind until "sweated" out. Those ideas are rejected by the five medical experts contacted by The Chronicle, who say there is no evidence to support them.

Narconon was created by L. Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who founded Scientology, a religion that claims to improve the well-being of followers through courses aimed at self-improvement and global serenity. Narconon operates a global network of drug treatment centers, as well as education programs for elementary, middle and high school students.
As with everything else Scientology touches, Bad Science is everywhere:
Narconon speakers tell students that the body stores drugs indefinitely in fat, where they cause drug cravings and flashbacks. Students are told that sweating through exercise or sauna rids the body of these "poisons." And, some teachers said, the speakers tell students that the drug residues produce a colored ooze when exiting the body.

"It's pseudoscience, right up there with colonic irrigation," said Dr. Peter Banys, director of substance abuse programs at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco.

Dr. Igor Grant, professor of psychiatry and director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, agreed: "I'm not aware of any data that show that going into a sauna detoxifies you from toxins of any kind." Three other addiction experts contacted by The Chronicle echoed their skepticism.
A Chronicle review of Narconon's curriculum found that, like the Church of Scientology, Narconon embraces Hubbard's belief that experiences are recorded in three-dimensional images in the mind, with sound and smell, called "mental image pictures" or "pictures in the mind." Taking any drug "scrambles" the pictures.

"Our take-home message is that drugs are essentially poison," Carr said. "This is how we basically explain it to them. Drugs scramble pictures. When people take drugs, they affect the mental pictures."

Scientologists believe that scrambled pictures interfere with one's ability to "go clear," a state of mental purity that is a goal of the religion.

In his 1979 Scientology text "Clear Body, Clear Mind," Hubbard writes that high doses of the vitamin niacin and hours of sauna flush out drugs, "freeing the person up for mental and spiritual gain." He calls it "Purification," and Scientology churches often are equipped with saunas, said ex-Scientologists and a tour guide at San Francisco's church.

Hubbard writes that drugs in fat "re-stimulate" the unwanted mental pictures created when the drugs were taken.

The real irony in all of this is that Hubbard liked his prescription drugs. And other peoples', too (link to rotten.com, not work-safe).

Greenie Watch has yet another piece of evidence that animal 'rights' advocates are really Animal Supremacists:

As the bear forced it's way into the dining room area, the beast found the grilled salmon it had smelled from what authorities estimated was over a mile away, where they found the bear's tracks around a small cave. Ryan tried shouting at the bear to get it to leave, but the bear seemed to be intent on the salmon it was feasting on. Ryan then proceeded to throw various kitchen utensils at the bear to get it's attention. "I wasn't sure what I was going to do," he said. "After I hit the bear in the head with a wooden spoon, the bear started coming after me!" The would-be bear snack ran to the other side of the kitchen counter as the bear raised up on it's hind legs and tried swatting at him.

"The bear was blocking my way to my room where I actually have a gun, so I found the only thing I had that I did not throw at him, my frying pan." he relates. "I picked up the frying pan and shouted, bring it on, bring it on!" Ryan jumped over the counter and started swinging the frying pan. The animal, estimated at six feet tall on all fours and over eight hundred pounds, got back on all fours and started to charge the young man. When the bear was about 1 foot away from him, Ryan swung the cast iron frying pan and hit the bear on the right side of its head. "The bear appeared to be dazed, so I just kept pounding him with the frying pan."

"After I hit the bear about fifteen times, the bear fell to the floor, but I dared not let up. I hit him for about another five minutes until he was not moving at all," Ryan says. Only then did he take the time to call for local law enforcement. "When the police showed up, they could not believed what they saw."

"It was the craziest thing I've ever seen," said Officer F. Barnes, of the Victoria crime scene investigation unit. "He actually killed a bear with a frying pan." The local wildlife officer showed up and took measurements of the bear, one of the largest involved in a home invasion incident in recent memory.

There is no word on what became of the animal's body, but local animal rights activists are filing to take possession of the bear's remains, claiming it was an immoral act of killing, and Ryan should not be allowed to make a bearskin rug out of it. Darcy Morris, president of the local chapter of Animal Rights Abuse Watch (ARAW), says, "This young man should be prosecuted, not praised. The bear was simply following his natural instincts, and had this Ryan criminal left it alone, no harm would have been done. It's disgusting, and he can expect to hear from our lawyers.
I am reminded of an old Richard Pryor bit about the time Jim Brown (legend has it) bit the finger off a would-be tackler after he grabbed Brown by the face mask. As the legend goes, when Brown was asked why he did it, he replied "Everything outside the face mask belong to him. Everything inside belong to me."

No Product Tie-In Too Weird


In the Harry Potter universe, there are these things called "Bertie Bott's Everyflavor Beans." When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor. These magical jellybeans have flavors ranging from orange to earwax; from licorice to dirt. There's no way to tell the beans apart by looking at them, so every time the user pops one in his mouth he's playing confectionery chicken. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this concept is being merchandised in the real world. Some of the more interesting flavors are booger, black pepper, earthworm, vomit, soap, sardine, and of course earwax and dirt.

Naturally, my neighborhood put its collective beer-fueled head together and came up with this possible list for the next series of beans:

  • Bleach
  • Feces
  • Drain Cleaner
  • Smegma
  • Menses
  • Paint Thinner
  • DDT
  • Motor Oil

Weekends Are For Hoodblogging


In my neighborhood, we play Quarters differently than most people. For instance, here's Chumley after failing on a double-or-nothing:
Chumley fails on a double-or-nothing

If you didn't catch that, here's a closeup:
In yer eye!
It's tails! Chumley won the toss and elected to receive!

A CBS Evening News story tonight discussed President Bush's trip to Rome, where he hopes to get European backing for a new UN resolution in support of the post-June-30 Iraqi transitional government. The story talked about some of the things the President is doing towards that end: a sound bite assuring that US troops would remain in Iraq with the approval of a sovereign Iraqi government, a mention of a 'charm offensive' including a Bush interview in a Paris magazine, that kind of thing. Then at the very end of the story, apropos of nothing and totally unsupported by anything said earlier, correspondent Bill Plante said:

Many Europeans are convinced that the war has only increased the threat of terrorism, so the President may discover that instead of being offered assistance, he may have to persuade countries which still have troops in Iraq not to go racing for the exit.
I don't know why biased shit like this still surprises me.

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)

Let Me Tell You About MY Weekend (Part II)...

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So the phone rang about noon Sunday. It was Deej, calling from the county lockup. I was in the process of hanging up (it being a firm policy of mine not to bail any but my absolute closest of friends out of jail*) when I heard him say he and Rusty were released on their own recognizance and just needed a ride back to the bar to retrieve his truck. What the hell, I figured, at least I'll get to hear how they ended up in the pokey. The Secure Undisclosed Location is close to the county seat, so it was the work of but a few minutes to pick them up and head back to the bar. Their story:

...that is to say, nothing:

The comedian Al Franken, the flagship host for Air America, has agreed to work without pay to help the fledgling liberal talk radio network over its acute financial difficulties.

. . .

At one stage in April it virtually ran out of money, and Franken's decision to forgo his salary and become "an involuntary investor" suggests that Air America's financial troubles are not over.
I don't think there's anything I need to add here.


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