Monday, October 30, 2006

Been there done that

Wherein big deal, it isn't even raining

Below is nice video of a short portage. Very peaceful place, the Boundary Waters. That is, when the mosquitos and ticks aren't trying to kill you. Then there are the wolves, though the moose and bear are probably more dangerous.

Many years ago I did a couple of trail clearing expeditions in the BWCA. Day one we canoed and portaged 20 miles to the middle of the trail. Each day we'd hike and clear about 4-5 miles of trails with hand tools. We'd get back to camp about 9 hours after we left. Longest portage was, I think, around 3/4 of a mile. My canoe partner carried the canoe, since he was more experienced at it. I carried the bags. Our canoe had the food -- two Duluth bags of 40-50 lbs each. Two ways to carry them, each about as equally as painful:
  1. Wear the first like a backpack, then wear the second on your chest, like a forward backpack.
  2. Again first one like a back pack, then throw the second bag on top and hold it steady with upraised arms. After about 10 minutes, stepping carefully so the almost 100 pounds doesn't snap an ankle, and with the straps digging through your shoulders and the poorly distributed weight killing your back, you realized you can't breath and your arms are dying. This must be what it feels like to be crucified without using nails.

The portage in this video is 20 rods; 320 rods equals a mile.

It was during a lunch break during one of our shorter portages that I realized -- while sitting in the rain -- that a fat slice of chedder cheese on a bagel with a lot of crunchy peanut butter is food of the gods brilliant.

Never made it to Tuva

Wherein perfectly reasonable deviations

Richard Feynman documentary on Google Video. Can't get it to load here, but click the link when you have 40 minutes to spare.

Friday, October 27, 2006

At least he expects a pigeon to crap on him

Wherein this post contains more than the usual amount of profanity

Let's discuss Evil Bert for a moment. If unfamiliar, you can catch up with this recent Hit and Run post, this article, and the Bert is Evil webpage, and then there's Snopes. Sure, it's worth a chuckle to imagine Bert as an evildoer throughout history. But the problem with this is that it works from the supposition that Bert isn't exactly nice to begin with and that Ernie is the friendly muppet. For those of us paying attention this is what we like to call "bullshit."

If Bert is evil, it's because his asshole roommate drove him over the edge and he finally snapped. You might be able to make the case for a worse roommate than Ernie -- and I'll discuss a few -- but he is definately the most unpleasant person/monster on Sesame Street. He's a vindictive, mean-spirited cheat with no morals or scruples. His modus operandi is ruthless badgering, with no regards for the feelings of his victim, until that victim finally cracks and agrees to go along with Ernie. At that point, Ernie changes the rules or decides he's finished and disappears, leaving the victim in a homicidal rage. And for some reason we're supposed to think that Ernie is the funny one and Bert is the one with the stick up his fabric ass. Again, I say bullshit.

A person who will constantly ridicule you, lie to you, cheat, and basically treat you as a doormat is no friend. Children should be taught that people like Ernie are not friends and should always be avoided. If this requires teaching a 3-year old the proper usage of "asshole" then so be it. Still, Ernie is just one of a long line of manipulative bastard "friends." Did you ever pay attention to Gumby? Possibly more of an asshole than Ernie. He screws everything up, then when Pokey has to fix it, Gumby takes all the credit. That green fucker. At least Ernie and Gumby are individual friends, not like that whole neighborhood of greedy, fascist bastards that the pleasant Rainbow Fish has to deal with. HOw did a book, whose entire premise is "only pretend to be friends with the gullible and insecure so you can crush their individualistic spirit," become so popular? We received one when The Child was an infant and I promptly threw it out. It's disgusting. I'd rather leave Hustler in the playroom.

Of current children characters, the one that most grates on my nerves is Franklin, the whiniest turtle in the whole-wide world. Good fucking God. If The Child acted like that, she'd get slapped. If she had friends like that, the only sensible recourse would be to tell the parents their child was an asshole. How the show can justify anyone being friends with Franklin is beyond me.

Go ahead and laugh at the funny "Bert is Evil" pictures, just so you know who the real evil fuckers are.

Socrates was probably called an asshole

Wherein not like you

ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE,The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I. F. Stone is a book I'll probably pick up. Don't know much about him, but what I've heard sounds interesting. I am currently rereading a book of his I first read in 1989: The Trial of Socrates. A NY Times Magazine interview from 1979 offers a pretty good overview of Stone's research that he'd eventually turn into a book.

This quote is taken from Chapter 4 as Stone is discussing the "second basic divergence between Socrates and [Athens]." Quote:
Real knowledge, Socrates taught, could be obtained only through absolute definition. If one could not define a thing absolutely, then one didn't really know what it was. Then Socrates demonstrated that such knowledge was unobtainable, even by him. Modestly, he claimed that, in this sense all he knew was that he didn't know. Virtue was knowledge, but real knowledge was inaccessible. Even this much of the truth could be grasped only, if at all, by a very few. So behind his immeasurable modesty there lurked an equally immeasurable conceit.

It followed -- at least for Socrates and his disciples -- that since virtue was knowledge and knowledge was unattainable, ordinary men, the many, had neither the virtue nor the knowledge required for self-government. By this labyrinthine metaphysical route Socrates was back to his fundamental proposition that the human community was a herd, and could not be trusted to govern itself.

To understand the contrasting Athenian view, which was the general Greek view in the time of Socrates, we turn again to Aristotle. The basic premise of his ethics as of his politics is that virtue is arete politike. The first word means virtue and the second word means political but the better English equivalent, as we have seen, is civic or social. For Aristotle as for most Greeks every citizen possessed -- by his very nature as a social animal -- those elementary virtues required for communal life. He didn't have to be a master of metaphysics. But he had to have that necessary modicum of reason, the logos, and with it the ability to distinguish right from wrong. This "political virtue" gave men a sense of justice, and sufficient consideration for the rights of others, to make the polis -- the civilized community -- viable.

Of course, then as now, not everybody measured up to this requirement, but most did. Otherwise even the primitive community could not have come into being and grown into a city-state. This was the basic ethical premise of the Greek polis, whether its citizenship was restricted to a relative few or extended to all freeborn males. By refusing to recognize this modicum of basic virtue and of basic knowledge, the Socratic teaching struck at the very core -- the necessary premises -- of the polis. The dominant Greek view gave dignity to the common man. The Socratic view demeaned him. This was an irreconcilable divergence.

Har Mar

Wherein not just a mall

So I'm driving into work a couple years ago, and hear the last half of a song that blows me away. One of the benefits of listening to college radio as opposed to commercial is that if you call you'll probably get the DJ. Artist was Har Mar Superstar and the song was Transit; an intriguing piece of studio-engineered funk. Heavy doses of self-deprecating humor, reasonably well sung, it grabbed me and based on that 2 minutes I bought two CDs. I was also intrigued by the name since Har Mar is the name of a mall down the road from the Minnesota State Fair. Turns out the guy is from St. Paul. Real name Sean Tillman, he also has a rock band, Sean Na Na. Hmm, looks like I just missed them in concert.

Har Mar is much more popular in Europe than the US, where the character seems to be celebrated for his goofiness more than his singing. And it is an interesting character. Looking quite a bit like the schlubby Jon Lovitz' animated character from The Critic, he often strips to his underwear while his songs are almost parodies of the sexual boasting of R&B and rap.

The guy can sing, but it can be hard to take him seriously after watching a couple videos:

I have an earlier CD, You Can Feel Me and, my favorite, The Handler. In The Handler, Har Mar proves to be a student of R&B. Compared to earlier CDs and tracks I've heard, the whole effort also sounds like an attempt to be taken more seriously as a singer without completely foregoing the humor -- from what I remember of the reviews, not many people enjoyed this album as much as I did; come to think of it, when I passed around a few tracks at work, it was pretty much hated. Checking iTunes, DUI is one of my most listened to songs (try getting the video to work here) and traffics in early Jackson 5 and Prince falsettos. Body Request is early 80s Michael Jackson and Sugar Pie is a decent Stevie Wonder cut. Love the lyrics for As (Seasons) and the delivery reminds me a little of Eminem, while Save the Strip is also more recent hip hop. I'll also recommend the weirdness of Back the Camel Up, the jazzy funk of Bird in Hand, and dipping back into the 70s with a very sad Alone Again (Naturally). Fair warning, I might be the only person who likes this CD.

For a good sense of what I'm trying to get across about Har Mar, it's worth viewing this clip from Jimmy Kimmel. First he strips down to sing Power Lunch with some very sexy dancers, then, if you can hang out until about the 4 minute mark, still in only his underwear, he rips into an amazing Sir Duke. I like the guy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

People will pay you to be inhumane

Wherein I guess when they don't get to bore us with hurricane survival stories, they have to find another topic of conversation

Icepick is linking to tales of dental woe. My own tales are limited since I've pretty much avoided those fucking asshole sadists since the braces came off many, many years ago. Yeah, I should probably go to the dentist, but I've never had a cavity and reading these stories isn't helping.

Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors? That was too real for me. Head over to Chopper City for the seasonally appropriate horror stories.

Of course this reminds me of a quote. Wait for it...wait for it...Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon, and the wisdom teeth with the maximum degree of difficulty:
A few years ago, when Randy became tired of the ceaseless pressure in his lower jaw, he went out onto the north-central Californian oral-surgery market looking for someone to extract his wisdom teeth. His health plan covered this, so price was not an obstacle. His dentist took one of those big cinemascopic wraparound X rays of his entire lower head, the kind where they pack your mouth with half a roll of high-speed film and then clamp your head in a jig and the X-ray machine revolves around you spraying radiation through a slit, as the entire staff of the dentist’s office hits the deck behind a lead wall, resulting in a printed image that is a none-too-appetizing distortion of his jaw into a single flat plane. Looking at it, Randy eschewed cruder analogies like "head of a man run over several times by steamroller while lying flat on his back" and tried to think of it as a mapping transformation—just one more in mankind’s long history of ill-advisedly trying to represent three-D stuff on a flat plane. The corners of this coordinate plane were anchored by the wisdom teeth themselves, which even to the dentally unsophisticated Randy looked just a little disturbing in that each one was about the size of his thumb (though maybe this was just a distortion in the coordinate transform—like the famously swollen Greenland of Mercator) and they were pretty far away from any other teeth, which (logically) would seem to put them in parts of his body not normally considered to be within a dentist’s purview, and they were at the wrong angle—not just a little crooked, but verging on upside down and backwards. At first he just chalked all of this up to the Greenland phenomenon. With his Jaw-map in hand, he hit the streets of Three Siblings-land looking for an oral surgeon. It was already beginning to work on him psychologically. Those were some big-ass teeth! Brought into being by the workings of relict DNA strands from the hunter-gatherer epoch. Designed for reducing tree bark and mammoth gristle to easily digestible paste. Now these boulders of living enamel were horrifyingly adrift in a gracile cro-magnon head that simply did not have room for them. Think of the sheer extra weight he had been carrying around. Think of the use that priceless head-real-estate could have been put to. When they were gone, what would fill up the four giant molar-shaped voids in his melon? It was moot until he could find someone to get rid of them. But one oral surgeon after another turned him down. They would put the X-ray up on their light boxes, stare into it and blanch. Maybe it was just the pale light coming out of the light-boxes but Randy could have sworn they were blanching. Disingenuously—as if wisdom teeth normally grew someplace completely different—they all pointed out that the wisdom teeth were buried deep, deep, deep in Randy’s head. The lowers were so far back in his jaw that removing them would practically break the jawbone in twain structurally; from there, one false move would send a surgical-steel demolition pick into his middle ear. The uppers were so deep in his skull that the roots were twined around the parts of his brain responsible for perceiving the color blue (on one side) and being able to suspend one’s disbelief in bad movies (on the other) and between these teeth and actual air, light and saliva lay many strata of skin, meat, cartilage, major nerve-cables, brain-feeding arteries, bulging caches of lymph nodes, girders and trusses of bone, rich marrow that was working just fine thank you, a few glands whose functions were unsettlingly poorly understood, and many of the other things that made Randy Randy, all of them definitely falling into the category of sleeping dogs.

Oral surgeons, it seemed, were not comfortable delving more than elbow-deep into a patient’s head. They had been living in big houses and driving to work in Mercedes-Benz sedans long before Randy had dragged his sorry ass into their offices with his horrifying X-ray and they had absolutely nothing to gain by even attempting to remove these—not so much wisdom teeth in the normal sense as apocalyptic portents from the Book of Revelations. The best way to remove these teeth was with a guillotine. None of these oral surgeons would even consider undertaking the extraction until Randy had signed a legal disclaimer too thick to staple, something that almost had to come in a three-ring binder, the general import of which was that one of the normal consequences of the procedure was for the patient’s head to end up floating in a jug of formaldehyde in a tourist trap just over the Mexican border. In this manner Randy wandered from one oral surgeon’s office to another for a few weeks, like a teratomic outcast roving across a post-nuclear waste land being driven out of one village after another by the brickbats of wretched, terrified peasants. Until one day when he walked into an office and the nurse at the front desk almost seemed to expect him, and led him back into an exam room for a private consult with the oral surgeon, who was busy doing something in one of his little rooms that involved putting a lot of bone dust into the air. The nurse bade him sit down, proffered coffee, then turned on the light box and took Randy’s X-rays and stuck them up there. She took a step back, crossed her arms, and gazed at the pictures in wonder. "So," she murmured, "these are the famous wisdom teeth!"

That was the last oral surgeon Randy visited for a couple of years. He still had that relentless 24-Jam pressure in his head, but now his attitude had changed; instead of thinking of it as an anomalous condition easily remedied, it became his personal cross to bear, and really not all that bad compared to what some people had to suffer with. There, as in many other unexpected situations, his extensive fantasy-role-playing-game experience came in handy, as while spinning out various epic scenarios he had inhabited the minds, if not the bodies, of many characters who were missing limbs or had been burned over some algorithmically determined percentages of their bodies by dragon’s breath or wizard’s fireball, and it was part of the ethics of the game that you had to think pretty hard about what it would actually be like to live with such injuries and to play your character accordingly. By those standards, feeling all the time like you had an automotive jack embedded in your skull, ratcheting up the pressure one click every few months, was not even worth mentioning. It was lost in the somatic noise.

So Randy lived that way for several years, as he and Charlene insensibly crept upwards on the socioeconomic scale and began finding themselves at parties with people who had arrived in Mercedes-Benzes. It was at one of these parties where Randy overheard a dentist extolling some brilliant young oral surgeon who had just moved to the area. Randy had to bite his tongue not to start asking all kinds of questions about just what "brilliant" meant in an oral-surgery context—questions that were motivated solely by curiosity but that the dentist would be likely to take the wrong way. Among coders it was pretty obvious who was brilliant and who wasn’t, but how could you tell a brilliant oral surgeon apart from a merely excellent one? It gets you into deep epistemological shit. Each set of wisdom teeth could only be extracted once. You couldn’t have a hundred oral surgeons extract the same set of wisdom teeth and then compare the results scientifically. And yet it was obvious from watching the look on this dentist’s face that this one particular oral surgeon, this new guy, was brilliant. So later Randy sidled up to this dentist and allowed as how he might have a challenge—he might personally embody a challenge—that would put this ineffable quality of oral-surgery brilliance to some good use, and could he have the guy’s name please.

A few days later he was talking to this oral surgeon, who was indeed young and conspicuously bright and had more in common with other brilliant people Randy had known—mostly hackers—than he did with other oral surgeons. He drove a pickup truck and kept fresh copies of TURING magazine in his waiting room. He had a beard, and a staff of nurses and other female acolytes who were all permanently aflutter over his brilliantness and followed him around steering him away from large obstacles and reminding him to eat lunch. This guy did not blanch when he saw Randy’s Mercato-roentgeno-gram on his light box. He actually lifted his chin up off his hand and stood a little straighter and spake not for several minutes. His head moved minutely every so often as he animadverted on a different corner of the coordinate plane, and admired the exquisitely grotesque situation of each tooth—its paleolithic heft and its long gnarled roots trailing off into parts of his head never charted by anatomists.

When he finally turned to face Randy, he had this priestlike aura about him, a kind of holy ecstasy, a feeling of cosmic symmetry revealed, as if Randy’s jaw, and his brilliant oral-surgery brain, had been carved out by the architect of the Universe fifteen billion years ago specifically so that they could run into each other, here and now, in front of this light box. He did not say anything like, "Randy let me just show you how close the roots of this one tooth are to the bundle of nerves that distinguishes you from a marmoset," or "My schedule is incredibly full and I was thinking of going into the real estate business anyway," or "Just a second while I call my lawyer." He didn’t even say anything like, "Wow, those suckers are really in deep." The young brilliant oral surgeon just said, "Okay," stood there awkwardly for a few moments, and then walked out of the room in a display of social ineptness that totally cemented Randy’s faith in him. One of his minions eventually had Randy sign a legal disclaimer stipulating that it was perfectly all right if the oral surgeon decided to feed Randy’s entire body into a log chipper, but this, for once, seemed like just a formality and not the opening round in an inevitable Bleak House-like litigational saga.

And so finally the big day came, and Randy took care to enjoy his breakfast because he knew that, considering the nerve damage he was about to incur, this might be the last time in his life that he would be able to taste food, or even chew it. The oral surgeon’s minions all looked at Randy in awe when he actually walked in the door of their office, like My god he actually showed up! then flew reassuringly into action. Randy sat down in the chair and they gave him an injection and then the oral surgeon came in and asked him what, if anything, was the difference between Windows 95 and Windows NT. "This is one of these conversations the sole purpose of which is to make it obvious when I have lost consciousness, isn’t it?" Randy said. "Actually, there is a secondary purpose, which is that I am considering making the jump and wanted to get some of your thoughts about that," the oral surgeon said.

"Well," said Randy, "I have a lot more experience with UNIX than with NT, but from what I’ve seen, it appears that NT is really a decent enough operating system, and certainly more of a serious effort than Windows." He paused to draw breath and then noticed that suddenly everything was different. The oral surgeon and his minions were still there and occupying roughly the same positions in his field of vision as they had been when he started to utter this sentence, but now the oral surgeon’s glasses were askew and the lenses misted with blood, and his face was all sweaty, and his mask flecked with tiny bits of stuff that very much looked like it had come from pretty far down in Randy’s body, and the air in the room was murky with aerosolized bone, and his nurses were limp and haggard and looked like they could use makeovers, face-lifts, and weeks at the beach. Randy’s chest and lap, and the floor, were littered with bloody wads and hastily torn-open medical supply wrappers. The back of his head was sore from being battered against the head-rest by the recoil of the young brilliant oral surgeon’s cranial jack-hammer. When he tried to finish his sentence ("so if you’re willing to pay the premium I think the switch to NT would be very well advised") he noticed that his mouth was jammed full of something that prevented speech. The oral surgeon pulled his mask down off his face and scratched his sweat-soaked beard. He was staring not at Randy but at a point very far away. He heaved a big, slow sigh. His hands were shaking.

"What day is it?" Randy mumbled through cotton.

"As I told you before," the brilliant young oral surgeon said, "we charge for wisdom tooth extractions on a sliding scale, depending on the degree of difficulty." He paused for a moment, groping for words. "In your case I’m afraid that we will be charging you the maximum on all four." Then he got up and shambled out of the room, weighed down, Randy thought, not so much by the stress of his job as by the knowledge that no one was ever going to give him a Nobel prize for what he had just accomplished.

Randy went home and spent about a week lying on his couch in front of the TV eating oral narcotics like jellybeans and moaning with pain, and then he got better. The pressure in his skull was gone. Just totally gone. He cannot even remember now what it used to feel like.

Wind Chill: part 2 or "Randy lay there like slug"

Wherein not many scooter chronicles lately because a blog that just read "I rode to work" and "I rode home from work" would be...not much different from what you're actually getting, quite frankly

With the frost warnings, the last couple of mornings have been the coldest in eight months. Our temperature gauge has read a firm 32ºF as I scootered out of the garage. Checking the wind chill chart, with speeds up around 50mph, it "felt" like 12-15ºF. Thirty minutes later, as I park, while I wouldn't say I was toasty, I also wouldn't say I was freezing. A very pleasant ride and I think riding into the mid-to-low 20s is easily doable. A 15º ride with speeds around 45mph results in a wind chill of -15º and I'd definately need to add at least one other layer. I think I'll be able to do that kind of ride without too much discomfort. Luckily, those kind of days are rare.

What makes it doable is the gear; a combination of insulation and windbreaker is needed. Back in ye olde North Country, part of my winter gear that allowed me to tromp around well into the minus 20s consisted of heavy wool pants from the Army surplus store, polypropylene long underwear (for wicking and added warmth), and -- depending on the temperature and wind conditions -- I'd throw on some of my long cycling pants as a middle layer for added wind protection.

The Suit
For the scooter commuting, I started with the Olympia Moto Sports Airglide 2 Mesh Tech. This is a great suit. Kind of amusing that I'm wearing more protection and body armor than easily three-quarters of the motorcyclists I see on the road. Then there's all those years of bicycling in heavy traffic in lycra shorts and t-shirts, not to mention bombing mountain descents at over 50 mph. But I've had a bicycle slide out from under me at 25mph and I've slammed into a car door at 18 mph -- it fucking hurts. Considering my scooter speeds will often be in the 40-50mph range, in rush hour traffic, and I'm new at this, body armor is a good investment. The Airglide works well in summer weather, too. My first few rides were in 95º weather and when moving, it breathes wonderfully. When temperatures dipped below 60º, I added the jacket liner. The legs get more of a wind break than the upper body and I didn't add the pants liners until this week. It's bulky and heavy, but keeps me warm, and slides easily over my work clothes. Add a light pullover or a polypro undershirt and I'm probably good into the low 20s. I have some long underwear that should also comfort my legs into the low 20s.

The Gloves
Started with lightweight summer gloves that are quite chilly at about 60º. Added some thin glove liners and those started to get chilly at about 45º. The other Saturday, with morning temperatures at 40º, I decide to head over to the BMW Motocycle dealership to check out their winter glove line. Before I did, I dug out the cycling gear box and put on the lobster gloves. These were so warm I decided to skip buying motorcycle gloves. Still toasty at freezing levels and I can add the liners when it gets colder.

Foot wear
I'm wearing hiking boots and the pants cover the ankles and the tops of my feet. Just wore my regular socks yesterday and it was a little cold. Slipped on heavy wool socks today and total comfort.

The Head
I have a full face helmet that was OK to around 40º. With Teh Freeze on its way, a trip to REI Coop was scheduled to purchase this balaclava. Pull it up over the nose and cinch it tight, my head and neck were completely covered. Wearing glasses, it was comfortable to ride a little ways with the visor up. Which was good, because the visor suffered from massive fogging. Yesterday was a bit rough. Searching for a quick solution, I found: I apply a drop or two of dishsoap, smear it good accross the inner side of the visor and buff it out with a soft tissue. I’ve been riding for a week now since my first application of dishsoap and my visor was still fog-free this morning. So I tried it and it worked! NO visibility issues with this morning's commute.

You want a piece of me, old man Winter? Bring it on.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Always thought she was a better singer than Madonna

Wherein I feel her involvement with Madonna derailed an interesting career or least caused her to play up the clownish aspect of it

Sandra Bernhard: Interesting actor and she never quite got the credit she deserved for her singing. I recall her first album, I'm Your Woman, being straight forward and serious. Her second, Without You I'm Nothing, is an uneven recording of her one woman stage show. Many of the bits just drag on and on and on. But it is saved by her last two tracks (once you skip over the intro BS): The Lion Sleeps Tonight and then my favorite cover of Little Red Corvette. After that, I stopped paying attention. Based on the second youtube clip I think I'll have to find at least one more of her albums.

From Martin Scorsese's greatest film (and Jerry Lewis' greatest performance):

Just found this pretty good song from her 1998 album:

Embedding is disabled, but she appears (appears, doesn't perform) in this sketch from The Richard Pryor Show. She's "Snow White." This is a show that needs a DVD release. And here it is!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Whale fishing

Wherein food is food?

With recent reports that Iceland will resume whale fishing, let's go back to May, 2006 and read the Outside magazine article, Bloody Business. Author, Philip Armour, spent time on a whaling ship and provides an interesting report on the culture and history of whaling.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about whale hunting. I guess I'd prefer it not be done, but I have no problem with the typical pets — cats, dogs, horses — ending up on the dinner plate. Once you've made your peace (he said in the second person) with being a meat-eater, the line of what's proper and verboten can get a little fuzzy. I like what William Saletan wrote in 2002:
Strip out Bardot's silly arrogance and her Korean colleagues' sentimentality, and their philosophy boils down to this: The value of an animal depends on how you treat it. If you befriend it, it's a friend. If you raise it for food, it's food. This relativism is more dangerous than the absolutism of vegetarians or even of thoughtful carnivores. You can abstain from meat because you believe that the mental capacity of animals is too close to that of humans. You can eat meat because you believe that it isn't. Either way, you're using a fixed standard. But if you refuse to eat only the meat of "companion" animals—chewing bacon, for example, while telling Koreans that they can't stew Dalmatians—you're saying that the morality of killing depends on habit or even whim.

More recent examples of this sentimentality and relativism are evident in the attacks against foie gras. Legislators intent on shutting down foie gras farms not only ignore the fact that these farms are routinely noted for the clean and healthful environments provided to the ducks, they then see no reason to literally clean up the poultry industry. Like most of politics, it's easy sensationalism over actual substance.

But back to the whales. Norway seems to provide a different scenario than Japan — who seem happy to kill and eat everything at one time. Norway has, and has had, a food problem. Not much grows there and it's expensive to import food. Short of making everyone move to where the food is, and with increasing arguments to eat local, I'd say Norway has as much of a right to eat whale as anyone.

Quote from Bloody Business:
After my two weeks aboard Sofie, I would speak with Jann Engstad, a 50-year-old sea-kayaking guide from the Lofoten Islands hamlet of Kabelvåg. Engstad is an ardent environmentalist, but he's in favor of the minke hunt. He points out that, in Norway's far north, you've got to eat what's available.

"Since I'm not a millionaire, I can't afford being a vegetarian during our winter and spring," he says. "I have 33 pounds of top-quality whale meat in my freezer—along with 66 pounds of local carrots—stored for the coming winter." Engstad says his relatives in Oslo have just one complaint about whaling: There isn't enough meat in stores, and it's too expensive.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Super Regionals

Wherein it is likely that if any of the sports teams practiced as much as the marching band, they would be in violation of so many regulations the high school would be reduced to a smoldering hole in the ground

Fifty high school bands are competiting today and tomorrow in St. Louis for one of the Bands of America Super Regionals. Our local high school is performing (2 National Championships and 5 Regional Championships). We'll go up in the evenings and watch them practice: neighbor's daughter is in the band. After winning a Super Regional last year, everyone thought this would be the year to return to Nationals. Turned out, this is the big trip, so maybe next year they'll go for the title. I don't remember the exact amount, but I'm pretty sure the fundraising is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The band owns two tractor trailers just to haul all their equipment.

  • My MN high school is competing on Saturday
  • There's a Super Regional next weekend in Atlanta that the local school will not be competing in. I'll have to ask the neighbors about that decision

Here's how the local HS describes this year's program:
This year’s show, Musical Tapestries, contains four movements based on famous painters of the 20 th century; Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. In the first movement, John Barnes Chance’s Chance Symphony sets the mood for Miró’s style. The show then segues into Solitaire, the perfect ballad to portray Picasso’s Dove of Peace. Following the breath-taking ballad comes David Holsinger’s Scootin’ on Hardrock, accompanied by visuals based on Jackson Pollack paintings. This piece includes a thrilling percussion feature, a dizzying woodwind fugue, and brilliant brass. The show concludes with a goose-bump raising rendition of Eric Ball’s Kingdom Triumphant, featuring the trumpet section playing the melody, with Rothko’s vibrant colors bordering the field.

With band membership around 275 this year, we end our season in St. Louis at the BOA Super Regional on October 21.

The World, what is she coming to?

Wherein maybe it's just that the commenters have mostly become a bunch of humorless scolds

Drop a perfectly relevant Northern Exposure reference into the conversation and it goes ignored. I gotta get a new hobby.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Well you want a victory, well that makes you a wisher, cause one thing is for sure you ain't no Bobby Fischer

Wherein I googled for chess moves because I have no idea what I'm talking about

Chris Farley: You know in that match with Korchnoi...?

Garry Kasparov: Yes?

Chris Farley: And you used the Catalan Opening...

Garry Kasparov: This is true.

Chris Farley: That was so cool...

The first rule of chess club. For more on the title, click.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The greatest SNL sketch

Wherein it's hard to remember a time when "ass" would get bleeped on TV

December 12, 1975, the seventh show of the first season of Saturday Night Live. Hosted by Richard Pryor it was a night of firsts. Aside from the first show broadcast on a tape delay, (from Saturday Night, A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingard):
....That was followed by John Belushi's first Samurai sketch, "Samurai Hotel." Pryor and Belushi played samurai bellboys arguing over which of them would carry a guest's bags upstairs. Pryor ended the argument by cutting the hotel's check-in counter in half with his sword, causing Belushi's samurai to respond, "I can dig where you're coming from," the only line he would ever say in English. Gilda Radner's character, the sweet little old lady Emily Litella, dilvered her first editorial on Weekend Update, deploring the "busting" of school children. When anchorman Chevy Chase informed her the issue was actually busing school children, her "oh...never mind" brought down the house.

The peak of the show may have been a sketch in which Chevy played a job interviewer giving Pryor a word association test.

...The tension generated by Pryor and Chevy during the sketch could be felt distinctly in the audience, and there was a nervous edge to the laughter not usually associated with TV comedy.

Pryor used the word ass twice on the show, but the censor manning the delay device let both go by. (They were edited out of the taped version that was broadcast in the western tme zone later that night.)

The script....and scene:


Wherein I like to watch or would if these came to town and we solve the babysitter issue; otherwise, I'll probably just end up staying at home watching 5 year old episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? on the Family Channel.

Probably me more than the movies, but there just hasn't been much the last few years that's sounded even slightly worth the effort to put up with the hassle of the movie theater. My two favorites of the year: Thank You For Smoking and The Matador. Here's what I'm interested in seeing now:
  • Where the hell is Mike Judge's Idiocracy? Atlanta was one of the few places it opened, but I didn't know about the movie until after it closed. Ok, can I just send Mike Judge some cash for a copy of the DVD?
  • Opening in three days: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D! Oh, yeah.
  • Terry Gilliam's Tideland.
  • Stranger Than Fiction. Saw a commercial for this and looked better than the description.
  • Poppy Z. Brite attends a documentary about the old-line Carnival societies and debutante balls of Mardi Gras: Rebecca Snedeker's Invitation Only. Here's the NOLA review. And Poppy's reaction:
    By Invitation Only (I'm still snorking at us thinking we'd been invited to some exclusive deal) was an interesting movie made even more interesting by watching it with an audience. The filmmaker, Rebecca Snedeker, is a young woman from one of New Orleans' old Carnival royalty families. Her mother and grandmother were Queens of Carnival; her uncle was Rex; her father, it was implied, was a high muckety-muck in Comus if not the god himself at some point. (Comus' identity is never revealed.) She was slated to make her society debut and likely take her own turn as Queen of Carnival one day, but as she began to comprehend the discriminatory racial/class policies of the old-line krewes, made black and Jewish friends who weren't welcome at many of her social activities, and eventually had a serious relationship with a black man, she began to question whether she wanted to live this life and ultimately stepped away from it ... and then stepped back to make this movie, which is a rather heartbreaking blend of the genuinely disturbing racial issues inside Carnival and Snedeker's obvious nostalgia, if not actual longing, for a life that was once the ultimate fairy tale to her.

    ...Me, I'm not sure what I think of the various racial/class politics of Carnival ... or maybe I should say I'm not sure how to feel about them. I find it extremely disturbing that krewes with over a hundred years' tradition behind them chose to stop parading in 1993 rather than admit black members. They claimed it was the principal of the thing, but it looks like plain old hate to me. On the other hand, I tend to disagree with the ordinance forcing integration of krewes: they are private organizations, and I believe that private organizations are entitled to be hateful, racist, sexist, homophobic, fanatically religious, politically radical, any combination thereof, or just about anything else they like, as long as they're not actually infringing on anyone else's rights (and it seems to me that no one has the automatic "right" to be in a Carnival krewe). If they want to make utter asses of themselves, that would seem to be their business. However, it's hard to argue with the people who point out that Carnival krewes make use of taxpayers' resources, which would render discrimination illegal.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Your sports injury of the week

Wherein the worst injury I suffered as a goalie was a partially separated shoulder. Then there's the cleats I took to the knee that did something to the fluid so walking sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies. The time I blew out the ligaments in my ankle I was just playing sweeper

Chelsea loses two goalkeepers during Saturday's game. Petr Cech suffered a skull fracture and after surgery is expected to be out at least six months. Carlo Cudicini only had a concussion and swallowed his tongue. He hopes to return for this Saturday's game. Of course there's video.

Here's a 5-minute cut from the coverage. From this it sounds like the ref is rushing Cech off the field. He's in a bit of hot water for his actions.

Let's watch a couple shorter clips. The first is 30 seconds and shows Cech sliding out to his right to collect a through ball. Hunt, from Reading, comes in a little late and looks to go over the top. Doesn't look too bad.

Next is s 7-second clip that shows Hunt dropping his knee and crushing Cech's cranium. My gut reaction is that it wasn't intentional, but no one ever looks innocent in slow motion replay.

The Cudicini clip is 1:58. This one looks much worse than the Cech injury -- he is clearly unconscious. Starting about 47 seconds in, you get two clear replays. Ouch.

Nominations for the Wack-job party

Wherein I'd probably forego the hyphen, but don't think it's important enough to argue

Icepick wants to create The Wack-job Party. Sounds like a good idea:
The Wack-job Party is apolitical. The purpose is to tag the political wackos of any political stripe, or even those of no political stripe.

I was ready to nominate just about every politician running television ads in Georgia, but "Being an idiot shouldn't be enough to get one in the Wack-job Party." Yeah, most of these guys are more idiots than true wackjobs.

One I should probably investigate more, though we're under another county's school board, Julia Bernath. Her offense: campaign billboards use nothing but the comic sans font. Don't know if this is enough to qualify as a wack-job, but it should be enough to disqualify her as overseeing the education of children. Unless she's an administrator at a clown school.

I'll take a picture.

And I'll be sure to make note of any wack-jobs.

Update: more on the idiot faction.

Same idea, different implementation

Wherein while "Snow Crash" has a ratdog, it's "1984" that places the cage of rats over the person's face

Callimachus writes (in the comments): Bill, I find myself checking back in to Stephenson's "Snow Crash" every couple of years to see how closely we're tracking toward his glum futuristic vision. Sure he's been more on-target than "1984" and more depressing.

Two things. One, I don't think Stephenson's visions are all that depressing. Sure, Snow Crash depicts a general break-down of society and government -- sort of the ultimate libertarian fantasy -- but overall, there's plenty of room for personal freedom and expression. Two, yeah, he's been pretty prescient. As I've said before, I wouldn't be surprised if his novels are studied for the reflections of technological and geek culture in the 1990s. Snow Crash for it's influence on just about anyone starting an online community and Cryptonomicon for its geedy depiction of the Silicon Valley hacker as civilization's savior.

But let's not forget his nonfiction. There are few people who can take complicated ideas and people and explain them in a way that is not only informative but also entertaining. Here's a few of the obvious ones: Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Ruhlman, Michael Lewis. Even with his meager output, Neal Stephenson should definately be included in this company. Go read his Mother Earth Mother Board, a meandering trot around the globe exploring deep sea cables and the history of passing information.

Then there's In the Kingdom of Mao Bell. Written just a couple years after Tiananmen square and a handful before the Hong Kong takeover, Stephenson writes about the influence of technology. Interesting to reread in regards to recent Chinese attempts to control the flow of information.

Two quotes:
The first thing that happened during Jaruzelski's military coup in Poland was that the narcs invaded the telephone exchanges and severed the trunk lines with axes, ensuring that they would take months to repair. This and similar stories have gotten us into the habit of thinking that modern information technology is to totalitarianism what crosses are to vampires. Skeptics might say it's just a coincidence that glasnost and perestroika came just after the photocopier, the fax, and the personal computer invaded Russia, but I think there's a connection, and if you read WIRED, you probably do too. After all, how could any country whose power structure was based on controlling the flow of information survive in an era of direct-dial phones and ubiquitous fax machines?

Now (or so the argument goes), any nation that wants a modern economy has to have information technology - so economic modernization will inevitably lead to political reform, right?
I went to China expecting to see that process in action. I looked everywhere for hardy electronic frontierfolk, using their modems and fax machines to push the Communists back into their holes, and I asked dang near everyone I met about how communications technology was changing Chinese culture.

None of them knew what the fuck I was talking about.

I was carrying an issue of WIRED so that I wouldn't have to explain it to everyone. It happened to be the issue with Bill Gibson on the cover. In one corner were three characters in Hanzi (the script of the Han Chinese). Before I'd left the States, I'd heard that they formed the Chinese word for "network."

Whenever I showed the magazine to a Chinese person they were baffled. "It means network, doesn't it?" I said, thinking all the warm and fuzzy thoughts that we think about networks.

"Yes," they said, "this is the term used by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution for the network of spies and informers that they spread across every village and neighborhood to snare enemies of the regime."

See what I mean? Same idea, different implementation.

Our concept of cyberspace, cyber-culture, and cyber-everything is, more than we care to realize, a European idea, rooted in Deuteronomy, Socrates, Galileo, Jefferson, Edison, Jobs, Wozniak, glasnost, perestroika, and the United Federation of Planets. This statement may be read as criticism by people who like to trash Western culture, but I'm not one of those. For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter's is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you're trying to breathe liquid methane.


Some unimaginative sorts have described this as cultural imperialism. When millions of Chinese spend their scant yuan on putting antennas up to pull in snowy programs from Hong Kong, that's us nasty Westerners being imperialistic, you see.
It's not imperialism. It's what happens when a culture with a sophisticated immune system comes into contact, as it inevitably will, with a culture without one. The Chinese have a completely different relationship to the world of ideas than Westerners do - it seems that they either take an utterly pragmatic approach, paying no attention to abstract ideals at all, or else they go nuts with it, the way they did in the Taiping Rebellion (when Chinese Christians went out of control in the 19th Century and sparked a very nasty civil war) and again during the Cultural Revolution (and let's remember that Communism is, after all, another Western import). I'm not sure what happens to such a country when radical Maoism is replaced by the far more seductive meme of Western consumer culture, as purveyed by the Hong Kong television stations.

I don't imagine we'll see anything as dramatic as the Taiping Rebellion or the Cultural Revolution again; I suppose it will be something like what's happening in the States right now: an abandonment of the value system that has traditionally made the society work. This probably won't improve matters in China, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a violent backlash.

It can be argued that the same consumer culture is in the process of dragging American civilization down the toilet, making us more nihilistic, less educated, less respectful of our own civilization in general. It's the smallpox of our time - it's hurting us badly, but we survive because we've got some immunities. Nobody over the age of three believes most of what they see on the tube. When we export it, though, cultures get flattened.

The influence of Western culture has a long way to go before it reaches its peak in China, but the early signs of a backlash are already developing. After I left, the government announced it was cracking down on private ownership of satellite dishes and intensified its regulation of the pager and cellphone business. The excuse was that these things were letting in too much Western culture (thanks in part to Star TV's Rupert Murdoch, who runs five channels out of Hong Kong). As the Economic Daily, an official publication of the People's Republic of China, put it: "If China's information system is spread about and not grasped firmly in hand, how can people feel safe?" Of course, one of the major players in these industries is the People's Liberation Army, so it's also largely a turf war; but at some point they'll have to put a stop to the spread of Western culture, in the way that Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and even France have recently tried to do.

The five stages of winter

Wherein since I wrote it, it isn't exactly stealing to copy & paste and edit.

  1. Denial. "It can't be snow!" Maybe a volcano erupted in South Dakota and this is the ash fallout. I hope.
  2. Anger. Screw this, I'm moving to Arizona. For reference, read Lileks' Bleat every day for the next six months.
  3. Bargaining. Just let me see the sun once and I promise not to run over the Winter carnival.
  4. Depression. One word: snotcicle.
  5. Acceptance. It's not so bad out. You just have to learn to dress in layers.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I will respond accordianingly

Wherein you best be laughing because that was funny

Quite possibly my favorite song: Lula Lula Don't You Go To Bingo.

Boozoo Chavis:

T Broussard & the Zydeco Steppers:

Loituma singing Ievan Polka:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

One of those weeks

Wherein it's occasionally amusing to spend a couple minutes tweaking an unhinged bigot

Three points from the last few days:
  1. Michael Gray claims a person cannot hold two opposing thoughts.
  2. Reader_iam claims/hopes it can be done.
  3. I get labeled a "defender of fame-whores" for...I'm not exactly sure why. But I'm thinking of having bumper stickers made.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Shit, they still owe you money, fool

Wherein don't you blaspheme in here

To quote myself:
If I were to explain America in ten movies I don't care what numbers two through ten are. The only movie that matters is number one: The Blues Brothers.

One of the all-time great American movies and vastly underappreciated. It's the best overview of American culture: car crashes, blues, car crashes, country AND Western, car crashes, religion, car crashes, road trips, 4 fried chickens and a coke, car crashes, hammond organs, rooting for the underdog, car crashes, electric guitars, car crashes, disregard for authority, car crashes, eternal optimism in the face of overwhelming odds, car crashes, hating nazis, car crashes, you know - for the kids, and car crashes.

You go hungry

Wherein baw baw baw

They kind of look like biscuits

Couldn't find Dan Ackroyd, so here's SCTV:

But here's the script.

Kentrivia 15

Wherein I know I skipped next last week, just let it go

First, Ken begins with a confession:
I've been pitching softballs for the last several weeks and I know it. Thirty-two perfect scores again last week. Thirty-two! Where did I go wrong? I'm still playing fair this week--no tricks, no curve balls--but I think the material is harder. My goal is to have few enough perfect scores next week that I can actually list all the winners, just like in the good old days.

Just great. Softballs, huh? Might as well get this beating over with.

But first, let's review his answer for one of last week's questions:
Which book of the Bible also names one of the felines in T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats? Old Deuteronomy is the T.S. Eliot (or, heaven help us, Andrew Lloyd Webber) cat in question. One reader points out that "Peter" and "James" ought to be acceptable as well, since their mentioned as potential cat names in "The Naming of Cats." But I disagreed and marked 'em wrong, because I'm a real bastard that way.

One, that's funny. Two, hey, Brainiac! You misspelled their/they're! That little feeling of superiority I'm feeling, I'll hold onto like a life preserver as I go 0 for 7.
  1. Went with Madison, which was a good guess but wrong. The Wife is in charge of remembering names, even so, I cannot think of any Emilys in The Child's classes.
  2. I wrote: "sunday picnic seurat." I'm counting this as a correct answer.
  3. ??????
  4. If this had been multiple choice, I would not have recognized his name.
  5. Score! Now that's what I call a quality guess. Thinking an arrow probably signifies moving, stuff going forward, then some sort of transport company would make sense. UPS probably doesn't work, nor does DHS. Even though I can't picture it, I settle on the logo of the company that turned Tom Hanks into a castaway.
  6. I guessed Wayne Gretzky. Researching -- I've never heard of Howley or Richardson -- all three were MVPs in their sport's championship game. If this is the answer, then Gretzky is correct. Interestingly, Howley and Richardson are MVPs unelected to the hall of fame. There's a trivia question: for basketball and hockey, find two championship MVPers not elected to their sport's HOF. And almost interesting was discovering that Howley and West both went to WVU. But no mention of Richardson going to WVU.
  7. What unusual distinction is shared by these U.S. cities? Don't know. Perhaps I'll find it later.

Two confirmed kills, possibly a third. Best result in a month.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Buddy Rich and Jerry Lewis

Wherein did they really need a third drummer at the end?

Rich versus Roach, an album of competing solos between the bands of Buddy Rich and Max Roach, has some amazing percussion performances. Couldn't find any video of that, but Jerry lewis gives Rich a run for his money.

Max Roach on the Hi Hat

Fab Five Freddy and Max Roach

Fab Five Freddie & Max Roach, Part 2 (with break dancers)

More Max Roach
More Buddy Rich

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Escapist television at its best

Wherein I vote for someone punching Jack in every episode

A return to Lost blogging! The Season 2 finale left me flat and disappointed. Mostly over the handling of Michael; the show will have to deal with that in some way. Then the Season 3 premiere cleverly references the Season 2 premiere and I'm hooked again. We're almost 60 hours into this show and I have no idea what's going on. Nor do I care. Predictions and speculations are a sucker's game with this show. Almost everything I predicted for last season was sensationally wrong, so this year I'm just watching for the shear enjoyment of it all. Just an FYI, I have no plans for regular Lost updates. I'll probably drop comments at the usual places, but if stopping by for extended recaps, that's not my plan. Doesn't mean I won't, just saying I want to enjoy the show without the distraction of taking notes.


Juliet did not admit to being part of the Dharma group when Jack asked. I believe her response was a clever nonresponsive "That was a long time ago."

Also, we don't know that she had an autopsy report. I am trying to remember what she said, but don't think she mentioned anything about Jack that could not have been learned from monitoring the Losties or just intelligently intuiting from a captive at the end of his rope/chain. Then there's the fact Jack and the others were unconscious for a period of time, when some sort of interrogation could have taken place. Safe to assume (actually, with this show, it isn't safe to assume anything) that Jack, Sawyer, and Kate, are being emotionally and physically manipulated. Why?

Who are these people? Why do they seem so peaceful, at times, yet have demonstrated no fear of violence or killing? The show has pretty much shown that the plane crash was accidental and any connection between characters and the island is purely coincidental. Are "the others" psychotic refugees from the failed Dharma experiment who default to torturing people? Are they normal people who have created a safe zone on an insane island and outsiders must be tested before being allowed admittance? Do we know there is contact with the outside world or have we seen just enough to think that?

What happens when Sayid, Jin, and Sun show up? When Hurley gets back to camp? Is this the only group on the island. What's up with Desmond's girlfriend and the arctic monitoring facility? Have we met everyone on the island?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The new word for FMPs is: “Synergy targets”

Wherein I think we've used up all the euphemisms

There's this company -- no names, but their logo is referred to as that "flaming asshole" and they've recently merged with a company from a country known for wine and cheese and auto da fes -- that's laid off close to 80,000 employees in the last five years. Spun off from an older parent company, the unnamed saw its stock value rise 892% before all hell broke loose. Current stock price is under $2.50.

When employees are laid off, it's referred to as being FMP'ed for Force Management Program. Apparently that wasn't considered cheery enough because now if you're marked for termination, the new label is Synergy Target.

Good times, good times

Wherein geez...I've done this long enough for retrospectives?

One year ago: It's all in the pronunciation

Linkin' logs

Wherein puns are morally reprehensible

What's up with Instapundit? He writes:
DO THE REPUBLICANS DESERVE TO RETAIN THE HOUSE? This morning driving in to work I heard Neal Boortz saying no, and he made a pretty compelling case. (If it weren't for silly Democratic talk about impeachment and show-trial hearings I'd find it even more compelling.)

And doesn't even link to Boortz? Especially when the show notes set the table for the discussion? In fact, Sir Links-a-lot wrote three paragraphs consisting of 196 words and there was ONLY ONE HYPERLINK. Could someone contact the Univeristy of Tennessee -- I think Glenn Reynolds' computer has been stolen.

Here's the Boortz bit:
No .. I haven't softened on my stand. I still think that there were many people in Washington -- on both sides of the aisle -- who knew or should have known that Mark Foley was preying on pages, and did little or nothing. I'm sorry, but none of the excuses are working for me. In one of the many columns and stories I read today on this issue someone suggested that if a male congressman was writing a 16-year-old female page and asking for pictures, alarms would sound throughout Capitol Hill. Well, why not when a gay congressman asks for a picture from a 16-year-old male page?

This may change .. but right now I'm just completely fed up with the Republicans. One advantage that the Republicans used to hold over liberals and Democrats was their strong sense of traditional moral and family values. Can they make that claim today? Did they take the steps necessary to protect young men in their charge from the advances of a seemingly predatory homosexual congressman?

No .... don't tell me about Democrats and Gerry Studds. I know that Democrats excused the behavior of Ted Kennedy. I know that Bill Clinton got a pass for his tryst with Monica ... and for the rape of Juanita Broaderrick. They're Democrats. That's their pattern. Does this mean we have to excuse the same actions in Republicans?

Something spectacular is going to have to happen in the next four weeks or so to salvage the Republican control of the House. Things change, but right now I expect the Democrats to take control of the house -- but not the Senate -- in next month's elections. Republican leadership inaction on Mark Foley set the stage. Stand by for Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

I know this is heresy for some of you, but remember ... I'm not a Republican. I'm a card-carrying Libertarian. If I voted in a state where you registered your political party, my registration would be Libertarian. Obviously, though, I'm far more aligned with the alleged goals and aims of the Republican party than I am with the socialist, big government, tax-and-spend Democrats.

That having been said I would suggest that some good might come out of a Republican defeat. Which scenario would you prefer? Would you rather have the Republicans gloating over another victory over the Democrats? Or would you rather have the Republicans in exile for two years wondering where they had gone wrong, and developing a plan to regain the support of the voters?

The choice is becoming increasingly clear.

Would you like that alphabetical, chronological, or in order or importance?

Wherein yes it's a year old; sue me, I just found it

Perhaps you would like to insult someone other than Tim McCarver. I suppose, if that's what you choose to do with your breath.... To help you out, here's a listing of the worst announcers. The Road From Bristol, is a 32-man tournament to determine the worst announcer. In an earlier, ESPN only tournament, Stuart Scott beat Skip Bayless for the championship.

Looks like there should be a single page with links, but I can't get it to work. So I'll just link to all the matchups and results. Some good stuff here, someone should mirror it.
  1. Announcing the field
  2. Play-In Game (All Gumbel Edition)
  3. Results
  4. First Round Game: Tim McCarver vs. Dan Marino
  5. First Round Game: Billy Packer vs. Jeanne Zelasko
  6. Results
  7. Terry Bradshaw vs. Troy Aikman
  8. John Madden vs. Charles Barkley
  9. Results
  10. Don Sutton vs. Chip Caray (Special All-Braves matchup)
  11. Hubie Brown vs. Bob Costas
  12. Results
  13. Craig Sager vs. Steve Lyons
  14. Jimmy Johnson vs. John Salley
  15. Results
  16. Tim Brando vs. Rob Dibble
  17. Joe Buck vs. Bill Raftery
  18. Results
  19. Howie Long vs. Kenny Smith
  20. Magic Johnson vs. Todd Blackledge
  21. Results
  22. Jim Nantz vs. John McEnroe
  23. Cris Collinsworth vs. Kevin Kennedy
  24. Results
  25. Hawk Harrelson vs. Seth Davis
  26. Tony Siragusa vs. Bryant Gumbel
  27. Results
  28. Round 2: Terry Bradshaw vs. Hubie Brown
  29. Round 2: Billy Packer vs. John Madden
  30. Round 2: Tim McCarver vs. Jimmy Johnson
  31. Round 2: Special all-legacy edition: Joe Buck vs. Chip Caray
  32. Round 2: Magic Johnson vs. Kevin Kennedy
  33. Round 2: Tony Siragusa vs. Howie Long
  34. Results: Bradshaw & Packer
  35. Round 2: Hawk Harrelson vs. Steve Lyons
  36. Round 2: Jim Nantz vs. Rob Dibble
  37. Results: McCarver, Caray, Johnson, Siragusa
  38. Results: Harrelson, Dibble
  39. Round 3: Tony Siragusa vs. Chip Caray
  40. Round 3: Billy Packer vs. Rob Dibble
  41. Round 3: Tim McCarver vs. Terry Bradshaw
  42. Round 3: Hawk Harrelson vs. Magic Johnson
  43. Results: Siragusa, Packer
  44. Results: McCarver, Harrelson
  45. Semis: Hawk Harrelson vs. Tony Siragusa
  46. Semis: Tim McCarver vs. Billy Packer
  47. Results: McCarver, Harrelson
  48. Championship: Tim McCarver vs. Hawk Harrelson
  49. Ladies and Gentlemen, Our Champion

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's that time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are changing colors, and the asshole is back on TV

Wherein let's make this a yearly event

Fuck you, Tim McCarver.

And your bonus link: Fire Joe Morgan. Add some more and I'll do this for next year's playoffs.

Go Twins.

Might be a photograph in my obituary

Wherein it's really a predeath song, but audience participation in the pews should be encouraged

For background, see here and here

Loudon Wainwright III, from the Unrequited album. You may also remember this from an episode of M*A*S*H.

Unrequited to the Nth Degree
Oh when I die and it won't be long
Oh you're gonna be sorry that you treated me wrong
You're gonna be sorry that you treated me bad
And if there's an after life I'll gloat and I'll be glad

Might be a plane crash, or some sort of OD
Might be a photograph in my obituary
You might see it and you'll cry a lot
Might want to wear black
Oh, I'd be dead but you can bet your life, I'm gonna get you back

I'm tired of being stuck up on your shelf
Might not wait around, Might kill myself
Not only would you miss me, you'd feel guilty to
Oh I'd be dead but it'd be too late the joke would be on you.

Ha ha ha ha, ho ho ho ho
Chuckle chuckle chuckle chuckle
Snigger snigger snigger snigger
Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw Guffaw
Yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk

So you better take a warning and start treating me good
Start doing the things that I think you should
You better not pout and you better not cry
The grim reaper is coming to town and I just might die

Monday, October 02, 2006

I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?

Wherein I link to the wav file of the title

At work less than an hour and already Pooh is using company time for personal business. Working that clock like an office professional.

Here's a quote from one of the greatest movies, ever(seriously): Joe Vs, the Volcano. Found the script through a link at a JVTV fan wank site.
WATURI: (on phone) No. No. You were wrong. He was wrong. Who said that? I didn't say that. If I had said that, I would've been wrong. I would've been wrong, Harry, isn't that right?

Mr. Waturi's attention is split between his call and Joe, who is walking around the office like a tourist.

WATURI: Listen, let me call you back, I've got something here, okay? And don't tell him anything till we finish our conversation, okay?

Mr. Waturi hangs up the phone. Joe is looking at the coffee set-up.


JOE: Yeah?

WATURI: You were at lunch three hours.

JOE: About that.

Joe wanders away, into his office. Waturi looks after.

WATURI: What's the matter with you?

JOE: Brain cloud.


JOE: Never mind. Listen, Mr. Waturi. Frank. I quit.

Joe starts to take some stuff out of his desk. He looks at his lamp, gets the cord, plugs it in, and turns it on.

WATURI: You mean, today?

JOE: That's right.

WATURI: That's great. Well, don't come looking for a reference.

JOE: Okay, I won't.

WATURI: You blew this job.

Joe takes in the little room.

JOE: I've been here for four and a half years. The work I did I probably could've done in five, six months. That leaves four years leftover.

Joe is walking towards the front door. Waturi follows him in. Joe stops at Dede's desk. She's typing. He looks at her. She stops typing.

JOE: Four years. If I had them now. Like gold in my hand. Here. This is for you. (gives Dede the lamp) Bye-bye, Dede.

DEDE: You're going?

WATURI: Well, if you're leaving, leave. You'll get your check. And, I promise you, you'll be easy to replace.

JOE: I should say something.

WATURI: What are you talking about?

JOE: This life. Life? What a joke. This situatio...this room.

WATURI: Joe, maybe you should just...

JOE: You look terrible, Mr. Waturi. You look like a bag of shit stuffed inna cheap suit. Not that anyone would look good under these zombie lights. I can feel them sucking the juice outta my eyeballs. Three hundred bucks a week, that's the news. For three hundred bucks a week I've lived in this sink. This used rubber.

WATURI: Watch it, mister! There's a woman here!

JOE: Don't you think I know that, Frank? Don't you think I'm aware there's a woman here? I can taste her on my tongue. I can smell her. When I'm twenty feet away, I can hear the fabric of her dress when she moves in her chair. Not that I've done anything about it. I've gone all day, every day, not doing, not saying, not taking the chance for three hundred bucks a week, and Frank the coffee stinks it's like arsenic, the lights give me a headache if the lights don't give you a headache you must be dead, let's arrange the funeral.

WATURI: You better get outta here right now! I'm telling you!

JOE: You're telling me nothing.

WATURI: I'm telling you!

JOE: And why, I ask myself, why have I put up with you? I can't imagine but I know. Fear. Yellow freakin' fear. I've been too chicken shit afraid to live my life so I sold it to you for three hundred freakin' dollars a week! You're lucky I don't kill you! You're lucky I don't rip your freakin' throat out! But I'm not going to and maybe you're not so lucky at that. 'Cause I'm gonna leave you here, Mister Wa-a-Waturi, and what could be worse than that?

Joe opens the door and leaves. Mr. Waturi and Dede are frozen. The door reopens and Joe comes halfway back in.

JOE: Dede?

DEDE: Yeah?

JOE: How 'bout dinner tonight?

DEDE: Yeah, uh, okay.


Wherein from my favorite book of the year

The quote below was typed months ago. Kept running across events and news stories that would have worked well for a couple lines of introduction babble. Never did it. Then there was the dinner when the friend of friend's started talking about Shirley Q. Liquor. This FoF, your basic middle-aged college administrator, proceded to repeat -- along with dialect -- a handful of Shirley Q. Liquor routines. Funny. And disturbing.

This following quote isn't necessarily the central theme of John Strausbaugh's Black Like You: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture, but it is important to keep in mind as the book explores the cultural explorations, interminglings, and hatreds as America has grown. It's also just a fascinating collection of historical ephemera
Yet American humor has always been very rough-and-tumble. What strikes Americans as funny exists on a sliding scale from vulgar insult (blonde jokes, faggot jokes, Polack jokes) to what's most often judged hate speech today (nigger jokes, kike jokes). Ethnic identity humor plays a huge role in American culture. It's part of the toughening-up process that leads to mutual tolerance (if not mutual admiration) in America's mongrel culture. Theoretically, we are all fair game. Everybody has a right to be ignunt in America. There's a reason why insult is protected free speech in America, and not susceptible to libel litigation the way it is in the UK. In America, insult is not actionable. We are expected to be able to "give as good as we get," to "dish it out and take it."

One of the functions of humor is to serve as a forum where we Americans can say things about one another that we cannot say in polite conversation. In comic performance and jokes we say how we really feel about one another in ways we never do in public and with a straight face. In that sense, Shirley Q. Liquor's blackface mask is the ultimate in not-a-straight-face. It allows White people to laugh about Black people in public, in ways they normally would do only in private. By penetrating the surface of polite, politically correct discourse, Shirley Q. Liquor forces her audience to acknowledge feelings, attitudes and opinions that they have been well trained to hide and repress. One of the signal failures of politically correct social programming has been the notion that if Americans could be trained to speak and act as if they don't have any of these opinion or attitudes, these attitudes and opinions will disappear. Comedians like Shirley Q. Liquor, Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock, Carlos Mencia, and once upon a time Andrew Dice Clay, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, have challenged this failed experiment in social engineering.


Ok, just listened to a bunch of Shirley Q. Liquor. I can cross that off my list of things to do. Didn't find it offensive, just unfunny. I think the friend of friends had better timing.