Friday, September 30, 2005


Ok, I'm a pig, but this is funny.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Wanna Be The Minority

Howdy folks. I planned to devote this entry to the Tom Delay indictment, but after trying to research it, I find I would much rather cut my own head off with a rusty bandsaw blade. This indictment is so weak that even Bill Clinton could have shrugged it off. This will be, unfortunately, merely a hiccup in the career of evil that is our House Majority Leader. So let us move on to more pressing issues.

Just in case you were concerned that the airline industry isn't doing enough to keep flights safe after 9/11, I give you this little tidbit. Three flight attendant unions are calling for a boycott of Jodie Foster's new movie Flightplan because: spoiler alert! spoiler alert! spoiler alert! spoiler alert!

the flight attendant is the bad guy. GASP!!!!!!! Apparently it is now unthinkable for a movie to portray anyone, from any race, creed, gender, or occupation as a villain without some support group screaming about it. I guess all movie villains must be alien robots who have absolutely no agenda, and can only kill big tobacco executives and rabid pitbulls. Give me a fucking break!!

Are the flight attendant unions so unoccupied with the real problems of an industry that is going down faster than Alanis Morrisette in a movie theatre that they have time to worry about a film? Movies are fiction, and not usually very good fiction at that. If I ran into Elijah Wood at a restaurant tomorrow I would neither expect him to be three feet tall, nor would I wonder how he grew his arms and legs back. That's because he's an actor, not a Hobbit or cannibalistic serial killer. I don't hate all robots because of The Terminator, nor do I run screaming and lock myself in my car every time I see a St. Bernard. These are works of fiction, and I am so sick of special interest groups caterwauling every time one of their own is portrayed as the villain. I'm a bald, white guy, but I don't raise a stink every time Vin Diesel releases one of his cinematic stink-bombs.

The US is the melting pot of the world. The word 'minority' is rapidly losing its meaning here, the same with the word 'majority'. Once you get a few miles away from the frightening, creamy white, inbred center of this great nation you find a level of cultural diversity that makes the UN look like a KKK meeting. It has become something of a status symbol to be part of a minority now. But you can't get minority status just by asking for it. There are still large minority populations in the US who are set aside by their country of birth, or the color of their skin, or the shape of their eyes, and these people are genuinely oppressed and discriminated against. People who choose to go into one career or another don't get to jump on that bandwagon. Flight attendants are the same as you and me. You didn't hear the pilots' unions yelling that not all their pilots are child molesters after Airplane came out. They got the joke. So flight attendants let me say this. I respect what you do, and I know you get more shit then you deserve from crass, drunken assholes who you can't ask to leave at 35,000 feet, but that's where it ends. You are as valid a target for fiction as anyone else in the world. Now give me my fucking peanuts!
Love ya, mean it. :-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Smile and Say Architeuthis

Oh frabjous day! Calloo, callay! He chortled in his joy.

The jabberwock has been captured on film, finally. Man has known about the giant squid for centuries. It is quite possibly the inspiration for such mythical beasties as the Kraken and Leviathan, but except for the bloated corpses of dead squid that either washed ashore, or were snagged in fishing nets, no one has ever seen, let alone photographed a living giant squid. Until now, that is. Japanese researcher Dr Tsunemi Kubodera caught video footage of a 26', that's small in giant squid terms, young squid in 3000' of water off the coast of the Bonin Islands. They used a remote camera that had a line with bait trailing behind it. The squid attacked the bait, allowing for several very clear shots. You can see the pics here:

That is all. We now return you to your regularly scheduled, squid-free day.


Republican Theatre

Who says the Republicans don't support the arts? In the last couple of months we have seen a three act play, staged like a Greek comedy, enacted by two of the most powerful men in the country, and one jester. Pray attend whilst I encapsulize.

Act I: The place-Capitol Hill. The scene-The Floor of Congress. Dramatis Personae: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, A Chorus of Senators.

In a stunning move of bravery, selflessness, and pointless combativeness, the Senate Majority leader steps forth to valiently soliloquize that embryonic stem-cell research is, indeed, something that should be pursued. 'Tis a mighty stand, carefully planned to give the illusion of dissention, yet carrying no real political consequence. After a brief, and somewhat lack-luster performance, the chorus harrumphs a bit then breaks for lunch.

Act II, Sc. I: The place-Somewhere in Louisiana. The Scene-an 'impromptu' press conference. Dramatis Personae: Pres. Bush, Michael Brown, Numerous sycophants and toadies, The Press.

Mr. Bush almost emotes as he praises 'Brownie' for doing a 'heck of a job'. Brown looks quite convincing in his embarassment, though soon the oracle prophesies his coming doom.

Act II, Sc. II: The Place-Washington DC. The scene-Another press conference. Dramatis Personae: President Bush.

The Presidents speaks words the world has never heard pass his lips--I take full responsibility. An angry country scratches its collective heads.

Act II, Sc. III: The Place: The Blasted Heath, The scene: Yet another press conference. Dramatis Personae: Michael Chertof, Michael Brown, The Press.

We finally see just what 'I take full responsibility' means as FEMA chair, and sacrificial lamb Michael Brown is sent back to Washington.

Act III: The Place-Congress. The scene-before the investigating committee. Dramatis Personae-Brownie, Numerous Republicans, Two Democrats.

In the denoument of this epic, the embattled sacrifical lamb gets a new asshole torn before the entire country by his former collegues. The illusion of shared responsibility is shattered, and the broken man lashes out at his attackers, trying desperately to emulate his superiors and let the blame roll off of his back, but alas, the Chorus is just too strong, and 'Brownie' falls on his sword. And the president, his hands clean of the blood of the innocent once again, sleeps the sleep of the truly disconnected.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Me Smart

Who would have ever thought that Stephen Hawking and I would be on the same page about, well, just about anything? Certainly not me. Dr. Hawking, who will be remembered in the same breath with Newton, Einstein, and Beeblebrox as one of the greatest minds in history recently stated that he has all but given up on his search for the Grand Unified Theory (GUT). This is the grail of physicists everywhere; the one equation that will reconcile relativity with quantum physics. Gravity seems to be the key. It is the weakest of forces, yet it binds the universe together in very predictable ways. Predictable, that is until you get very, very small. In the quantum world, down where quarks and bosons roam freely, and a millisecond is an eternity, gravity gets really, really weird. I can't pretend to understand the mathematics of it, but at the quantum level gravity just doesn't make sense. Many, many scientists feel that there must be a single equation that can explain it all, and I've always had a problem with that belief. I never thought that there couldn't be an all encompassing theory of life, the universe, and everything, but I also don't think that there must be one. And now Stephen Hawking agrees. In this month's Discover he states, "Up to now, most people have implicitly assumed that there is an ultimate theory that we will eventually discover. Indeed, in the past I myself have suggested we might find it quite soon. However, we have recently realized that the two leading candidates for the ultimate theory--supergravity and string theory--are just part of a larger structure known as M-theory. Despite the name, M-theory isn't a single theory. It is actually a network of theories, each of which works well in certain circumstances, but breaks down in others. ...This has now made me wonder whether it is possible to formulate a single theory of the universe, at least in a finite number of statements." {Discover magazine, Oct. 2005, Vol.26, No.10, pp. 64-65}

I have always found it quite amazing that the one group of people on Earth you would expect to have the most open minds would be scientists, but often the opposite is true. Frequently the greatest minds are also the ones who latch onto an idea, and strive to prove, rather than disprove it. A few years ago it seemed that every month some astronomer would assert, with absolute conviction, that the age of the universe was X. 10, 12, 14, 15 billion years old, the number fluctuated wildly. Finally, when it became apparent that the universe was somewhere between 8 and 13 billion years old, but there appeared to be stars that were 15 billion years old, astronomers admitted that there must be something we just don't know yet. And now physicists are following that path of the unknowing.

Anyone, be they scientist, philosopher, or theologian who claims to have all the answers is suspect in my eyes. We are a fledgling species, on the very fringes of our understanding of the universe in which we live, and if one of the greatest minds on Earth, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and one of the lesser minds, yours truly, can see that, then there is hope for us after all.

Oops, gotta go. Spongebob Squarpants is on.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

What a World

I was just looking at some of the Rita coverage coming from Texas, and I actually thought to myself 'Whew, at least it was only a cat. 3.'

That's pretty messed up.


Happy News

Greetings, and welcome. Today I have some items that illustrate that the handbasket we seem to be plunging downward in isn't without some light.

This first observation was inspired by an entry in Pikaresque's blog. One positive aspect of the whole Hurricane Katrina mess is the effect it has had on the media. Usually they stand aside in thier pressed shirts and polyester pantsuits and watch people suffer and ask the most inane of questions. This time the combination of absolute devestation and official inertia shocked the media out of their electric towers and dragged the humanity out of them. Plus I have, for the first time in my life, not heard a single Floridian commentator chuckle, grin slyly at the camera, and say "Boy, aren't we glad that one missed us?"

Some stories from the world of science are hopeful too. Scientists have been seraching for some time now for a way to make a nuclear fusion reactor. We have had fission reactors ever since the 40's, but these are inefficient, dangerous, and creates tons of toxic waste. [side note: I just looked up the toxic potential of plutonium, which I had always believed to be the most toxic substance on Earth. It isn't. The primary danger from plutonium is radiation, and even then it's not as bad as other substances. The alpha particles emitted by plutonium aren't energetic enough to penetrate the skin, so surface effects are it's main danger. If ingested, or inhaled, then there are great cancer risks. It is certainly not a safe substance, but cyanide will kill you faster, and if a little bit of plutonium were introduced into a water supply it would not kill an entire city.] Fission is the famous splitting of atoms, thus releasing their stored energy. Fusion, on the other hand, is the combining of atoms, thus forming other substances, and releasing far more energy, without the nasty byproducts. This process is very difficult to achieve, and has only been accomplished in very limited forms, for very brief times, and at exteremely high temperatures. Cold fusion, the current holy grail of physisists, would permit a fusion reaction at room temperature. With the exception of a few, unverifiable and unreproduceable claims to the contrary this has never been achieved. On Earth, that is.
At the center of our system is a huge fusion reactor, the Sun. For decades we have been trying to harness that bountiful, endless supply of energy directly using photo-voltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. These are hiddeously inefficient and expensive, and just don't seem to be the way to go. Now bio-engineers are going in a direction I never imagined, and it's brilliant. Plants convert sunlight into energy with incredible efficiency, so geneticists are working on creating bacteria or algea that can, through photosynthesis, convert sunlight into ethanol, or hydrogen without messy byproducts or chemicals. This science is in its infancy, but across the board engineers are turning to nature to solve problems that evolution has already figured out. Remote Air Vehicles are being designed to mimic birds and flying insects, submarines are being patterned after fish and sea mammals, so it's only natural [heh heh] that scientists look for biological solutions to our looming energy problems.

On the space front, it seems that there is a little start-up group that may just be able to pull NASA's chestnuts out of the roaster. A company called Trasformational Space, or t/Space has been working with NASA funding to create a relatively inexpensive low Earth orbit craft to use as a back-up for when the shuttle isn't working. NASA has been trying something new, giving small research grants to companies to encourage them to come up with new space flight vehicles. As a company clears certain hurdles, NASA trickles them some more funding, thus getting more bang for their buck, and avoiding the inhearant bloat and waste of government research. t/Space has already successfully tested a full-sized re-entry capsule mock-up that splashes down in the ocean, and a 1/4 scale launch vehicle dropped from a Scaled Composites Proteus aircraft. The launch strategy is nothing short of genius. The two-stage rocket is lifted to 50,000 feet above the Earth, well above any potential bad weather, by a specially fitted aircraft. It is then released, and a drough chute pulls the rocket away from the aircraft and orients it tail down. The single engine is fired, and the rocket is soon in orbit. This is not meant to be a replacement for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, due in 2011 or so, but it will be finished long before the more expensive and complex shuttle successor. Since the shuttle program is scheduled for termination as soon as the ISS is complete, this will keep the manned spaceflight program in this country alive for the forseeable future. And t/Space isn't only focusing on government contracts. They are planning to capitalize on their low cost to orbit strategies, and are one of the possible contractors working with Robert Bigelow, a developer who hopes to have a commercial space station in orbit by 2010.
This story gives me hope for two reasons. First of all it shows that the commercial exploitation of space will bring real results much more quickly than the government will. And secondly it shows that NASA is finally realizing that they have to shift their paradigm if they are going to remain relevent. Let's hope it works. :-)


Friday, September 23, 2005

I Embrace My Inner Geek

There were only two areas of geekdom that I have managed, up til now, to avoid. Comic books, and on-line gaming. Well, recently my friend Adam and my wife have conspired to get me into comic books. I am now hooked on Boneyard and The Teen Titans, dammit! And last night I dove headfirst into the digital world of on-line gaming.

A little history is in order here. I was always the worst video gamer of our merry little band. While Dave, and Steve, and Jeff were dominating Donkey Kong, or Joust, or Gauntlet, I had trouble with Pac-Man and Asteroids. And when Defender came out, with three different buttons and a joy-stick I turned in my quarters and stuck with my books. Over the years I have tried a few others, even purchasing a second hand Nintendo system, but for the most part my video gaming has been restricted to things like cards, and Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit. Then Dave called me a couple of weeks ago.

"Dude, we're going to play Diablo II on line. Get the game and join us."

Well, it became quickly obvious why Dave is such a successful salesman, and within minutes I was on eBay looking for the software. It was found, and purchased, and last night we played. They all had played the game before, so I was something of a hinderance to the party, but we still managed to kill everything that came our way, although I got dead more than a couple of times. I haven't figured out how they can type and fight at the same time. Everytime I would stop to answer or send a message, when I looked up I was alone. But we all had fun, and as I was drinking my morning go-juice at oh-dark-thirty today I was killing quill-rats and zombies and nearly losing all track of time. This is too cool!

Yup, no doubt about it. I'm a geek. But at least I'm a married geek, so I do occasionally get laid. ;-)


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Purge The Lexicon

Greetings, Gentle Readers, and welcome to a moderately pissed of version of The Corner. Herein shall I list the words and phrases I could happily go my entire life without ever hearing again. Pray feel free to add to the list.

Bling: Ok, it was cool when it was a rap code word for upscale and flashy jewelry, but now I hear it in everything from sitcoms to Burger King ads. It's time to throw this overused word into the linguistic cesspool.

Ya know what I'm sayin'?: It is the height of naivete to state that there are no cultural differences between the black and white communities in this country. For decades white folks have used 'like' and 'you know' as conversational place holders. Black folks use 'you know what I'm sayin' in a similar way. But now that rap has become so popular you hear white people using it, and it's got to stop! Black people have struggled to find a cultural identity for a long time now, but every time some affluent white kid mentions the 'bling in my pimped out ride, know what I'm sayin' it takes something away from that struggle. It doesn't make you sound cool when you talk like Snoop Dogg if you look like Doogie Howser. Besides, spinning hub caps on a Gremlin are just plain stupid.

WMD, and War On Terror: Both are overused, bullshit terms being used as a smokescreen by incompetent leaders desperate to justify their bad decisions.

ATM Machine: Ok, folks. ATM stands for Automatic(or automated) Teller Machine. ATM Machine means Automatic Teller Machine Machine. That's just repetitively redundant.

And finally, when referring to yourself and anyone else the word 'me' follows the others!!! I keep hearing 'me and my friend' on the news, in classrooms, and in commercials. I know that teachers are vastly undervalued and underpaid in this country, but such a basic rule of English is surely still being taught.

Peace out, yo. ;-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Get Your Unitarian Jihad Name

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Machine Gun of Enlightenment.

Get yours.

With loving, and fully approved thanks to Sister Cattle Prod of Compassion

Unbridled Reasonableness Approaches

From the San Fransisco Chronicle:

- Jon Carroll
Friday, April 8, 2005

The following is the first communique from a group calling itself Unitarian Jihad. It was sent to me at The Chronicle via an anonymous spam remailer. I have no idea whether other news organizations have received this communique, and, if so, why they have not chosen to print it. Perhaps they fear starting a panic. I feel strongly that the truth, no matter how alarming, trivial or disgusting, must always be told. I am pleased to report that the words below are at least not disgusting:

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism -- 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.

Startling new underground group spreads lack of panic! Citizens declare themselves "relatively unafraid" of threats of undeclared rationality. People can still go to France, terrorist leader says.
Michael row the boat ashore, and then get some of the local kids to pull the boat onto the dock, and come visit with

Page E - 18

©2005 San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Need Some Assitance

Greetings, Gentle Readers. I would like to conduct a totally unscientific poll here. The movie Napolean Dynamite...greatest flick ever made, or dismal waste of pixels? I have been trying to decide whether to rent it or not, and lest this seem a strange dilemma, we don't get much kid-free time to watch movies, so we must rent carefully lest we end up with late fees on movies we never even got to watch. So chime in, and guide your friendly neighborhood Marius.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Musica Obscuria*

Ok, Senior Tortuga, the gloves are off. I'll see your 5 desert island CD's, and raise you this. What 5 musical groups and/or albums that only you, and maybe 3 other people in the world, know about and love, should everyone be made aware of. Allow me to fire the first salvo.

Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Warren Zevon This album has the classic Werewolves of London on it, but also the equally classic Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, and the title song Lawyers, Guns, and Money. This is Zevon at his weirdly political best. And who else could make the phrase 'the shit has hit the fan' sound so lyrical?

Brontosaurus: DaVinci's Notebook This mostly acappella quartet is a favorite on the Bob and Tom show with such brilliant songs as Internet Porn, and Heather Graham, but their Irish Drinking Song is something best listened to when not drinking to avoid a beer cleansing of the nasal passages. And, of course, Enormous Penis speaks for itself.

From Dublin to Dakar: Various Artists If someone said to you 'you know what would sound great together? Bagpipes and African tribal drums' you'd probably think they were waaaayyy too friendly with the hooka, but this fusion of Celtic and Middle Eastern music is incredible. Very little of the album is in English, but Arabic and Gaelic blend beautifully to create a tapestry of unintelligibility that is the musical equivalent of listening to the waves at night: you haven't a clue what the meaning is, but it is still a pleasing sound.

Imaginos: Blue Oyster Cult This was BOC's only concept album, and I think one of their best albums, period. It's creepy in that Lovecraftian, I-think-I-just-missed-something way that BOC has, as well as being almost operatic in its score. Not every song is a gem, but with titles like I Am The One You Warned Me Of, and Les Invisibles, and the explosive The Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle at Wasseria there is a track for nearly every mood on this disc. It is my all time favorite BOC album, yet it languishes in out-of-print obscurity.

Kiss: Alive This is Kiss's first, and best live album. It comes from the time before the lads began to believe their own press, and The Show became more important than the music. This double disc set totally kicks ass, with a 10 minute long Peter Chris drum solo in the middle of it that makes your arms ache just listening. It pre-dates Destroyer, so no Detroit Rock City, but they more than make up for that with 100,000 Years, Rock Bottom, Hotter Than Hell, Strutter, and that quintessential anthem, Rock and Roll All Night, and Party Every Day. If you want to hear what Kiss sounded like before they became more side show than rock show this is the album to get.

Ok, that's 5. I could go on with bands like Luscious Jackson, and Off Kilter(Tom Sawyer played on a bagpipe), but I'll obey my own restrictions. There is, however, one honorable mention. The Buggles: The Age of Plastic. Most of the album is like Thomas Dolby Lite, but Video Killed the Radio Star is such a classic that it's worth the rest of the disc.

Tag! You're it!


*I don't know if that's real Latin, but it sounds good.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Disturbed...And Liking It

I was commenting to the wife the other day that after hearing their latest single I decided that I like the band Disturbed. So yesterday she picked up 'The Sickness'. I was listening to it this morning and I had this bizarre description of the band pop into my head. I imagine that this is what it would sound like if a tribe of mountain gorillas were to become a rock band.

Check 'em out, they rock.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Separation, Schmeparation

How many times have you quoted The Constitution when discussing such touchstone issues as free speech, freedom of the press, or the separation of church and state. I know I have done so often, and with the righteous assurance of the totally correct. Then on the way home tonight I was scanning through the conservative quagmire that is AM radio and I heard a discussion about the separation of church and state. That whole 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegience thing again. (an athiest is sueing to get the phrase stricken from the Pledge so his daughter isn't forced to acknowledge a deity they don't accept) Now I really don't care for the Pledge, since anything that a child is forced to repeat over and over eventually loses all meaning (uh oh, I guess I'd better say 1500 Hail Mary's) but I figured this would be a slam dunk. No 10 Commandments in a court house--no 'under God' in a public school. But the gentlemen on the radio were saying that the phrase 'separation of church and state' isn't anywhere in the Constitution. What, what, whaaaaaat?!, Quoth I. But that is one of the most basic tenets of American society, isn't it? So I did something radical upon my return home. I read the Constitution.

The Contstitution of the United States is a remarkably simple document, and equally as remarkable in it's brevity. Granted it goes into some pretty opaque 'leagalese' in its descriptions of the duties and limitations of the three branches of government, but overall it is very straight forward. There are a few surprises, like this one from Article 1, Section 8: The Congress shall have power to...raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; How long have we been in Iraq? But the most shocking thing I found was that there are only two mentions of the church in the Constitution. One simply states(in Article VI) that The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. The other, and most famous, yet most misused, is from the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I may not be a lawyer, or a Constitutional scholar, but it seems to me that the Constitution merely prevents the formation of a state church, but says nothing about keeping religion out of goverment. If anything it seems to me that the Constitution protects religion from the government, and not the other way around. And there is absolutely nothing preventing individual states from imposing whatever religious regulation they deem fit. The document simply prohbits the federal government from interfering in religious practice. That's a far cry from a separation of church and state.

Now I'm scared.


D&D Geeks Unite!

This is kinda cool, if you ever played Dungeons and Dragons. Go to this site and answer a few questions to find out what D&D character you are. This was lovingly swiped from Loki's blog.

Here are my results:

I Am A: Chaotic Good Half-Elf Fighter Ranger

Chaotic Good characters are independent types with a strong belief in the value of goodness. They have little use for governments and other forces of order, and will generally do their own things, without heed to such groups.

Half-Elves are a cross between a human and an elf. They are smaller, like their elven ancestors, but have a much shorter lifespan. They are sometimes looked down upon as half-breeds, but this is rare. They have both the curious drive of humans and the patience of elves.

Primary Class:
Fighters are the warriors. They use weapons to accomplish their goals. This isn't to say that they aren't intelligent, but that they do, in fact, believe that violence is frequently the answer.

Secondary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.

Tymora is the Chaotic Good goddess of luck and good fortune. She is also known as Lady Luck, and also Tyche's fair-tressed daughter. Followers of Tymora believe in the tenent that, 'Fortune Favors the Bold,' and will throw caution to the wind and trust to luck to work things out for the best. Tymora's symbol is an unmarked silver disk.

Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Revelation, and A Request

This past weekend my former Artistic Director back in Louisiana got married. I was invited, but due to many reasons, not the least of which being that God smote most of the roadways twixt here and there, I was unable to attend. Yesterday I was chatting with one of the students who did go to the wedding, and she said that she didn't get to dance at the reception. I asked her why, and she said that the music was mostly 80's rock, and while she really likes that music, she would have to look too stupid to dance to it. And I realized that that is exactly why I don't dance. That is the era I learned to dance in, and she's right. 80's dancing looked more like an epileptic seizure rather than any sort of premeditated activity.

Now the request. I have been noticing for a while now just how many people don't really understand most of the science that governs our daily lives. I have made science a hobby, and many of the things I consider common knowledge aren't all that common. So if you have a question about how, or why, or what please let me know and I will do my best to get you an answer that doesn't involve imaginary numbers, or 11 dimensional thinking. :-)


Sunday, September 11, 2005

I Needed That

"There is nothing, absolutely nothing half as fun as simply messing about in boats."
Water Rat, Wind In The Willows

Man did I need today. The family and I went to Naples to visit some dear friends last night, and then went canoeing today. It was quiet, calm, and aside from an overly loquatious tour guide, quite peaceful. Even the kids, our 1 and their 2, were well behaved for the most part. But one of the greatest pleasures of the day, aside from spending time with old friends, was that we went almost the whole day without hearing the words Bush, New Orleans, Blame Game, Iraq, or any other hot button words. You never really know how tense your brain can get until you get a chance to unclench it. We played board games, chased the children, played with Bigby, the incredibly cute 4 month old wolf/dog puppy they just got, reminisced a bit, and generally just farted around. The most stressful part of the day was a Jenga game. Pizza and beer were plentiful, and now I'm happily exhausted and going to bed. Thanks Adam and Bi.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Shiny, Happy Blogging

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something."
The Dread Pirate Roberts

Welcome to The Corner, dear Readers. This blog has been quite the repository of doom and gloom of late, and not without reason. The world has been quite the sucky place for a while now, but today I have decided to accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative by regaling you all with some of the things that bring me pleasure...things that you too may enjoy.


The world of Science Fiction television has been spotty at best. During the 60's there was great Science Fiction television(The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek), and not so great Science Fiction television(Lost In Space). After Star Trek repaved the way for quality SF viewing there were various attempts to emulate Roddenberry's success. There was the cheesy UFO, the over dramatic Space:1999, the terrible Quark, but one show managed to walk the very fine line between cheese and melodrama to become a classic of 70's television: Battlestar Galactica. Now you can say what you want about the hokey storylines, or that annoying robot dog-thing, but Galactica insinuated itself into our culture to the point that few people of my generation had not heard of it. Last year the SciFi channel began a new Battlestar Galactica series. I was skeptical, since most of SciFi's original programming is, to be generous, weak. (Mansquito, anyone?) But I watched, and I watched, and I watched, and now I'm hooked. It is very different from its ancestor, with no robot dogs or precocious children. What it does have is drama, and despair, and heroism, and a gritty reality that grabs you by the throat and makes you care. It isn't always easy to watch, but once you stop trying to find Galactica past in it, Galactica present is a great show. It's on Friday nights on SciFi after two other fun shows, Stargate SG1, and Stargate Atlantis.

The other show I love to watch these days is Mythbusters, on the Discovery channel. If you haven't seen this show yet, it consists of two special effects technicians, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, who set out to prove or disprove urban myths. And usually something gets blown up in the process. With a few notable exceptions, like the time they sealed two dead pigs in a Corvette for two months to see if a dead body would really stink up a car so badly that it couldn't be cleaned enough to sell, these guys have the best job in the world. They have done everything from exploding toilets to blowing up an entire cement mixer. They even turned a huge cherry picker into a modern trebuchet in an attempts to hurl their crash test dummy, Buster, across an abandoned landing strip. Wednesday nights at 9 is when you'll find this one, or Sunday afternoons.


Ok, I'm no connoisseur, but I likes my wine. I used to hate the stuff, being a devout worshipper of the fermenters of hopps and barley, but a little over a decade ago a friend convinced me to try some cabernet sauvignon, and the rest is history. It is possible to go broke buying wine, but as you might have gathered if you are a regular visitor to my little spot here on the web I ain't exactly swimming in ducats. I have tried many different varieties of inexpensive wines, and finally hit upon two that totally rock. I prefer merlot, and the best ones I have found, and I thank my dear friend Tammy for introducing them to me, are Yellow Tail and Little Penguin. I was once told to stick with French wines, but these both come from Down Under, and have a remarkable consistency of flavor. I don't know squat about 'bouquet', or 'nose', or any of that other pretentious wine crap, I just know that I can spend 6 to 8 bucks for a bottle of Yellow Tail (kangaroo on the label) or Little Penguin (guess what's on that label) and it will always taste good. I have also, though usually not on purpose, polished off an entire bottle of each of these in one night, and not been hating life the next morning.


During our Louisianian exile we dearly missed two restaurants: Boston Market, and Pollo Tropical. We don't have a Pollo here in Tampa, but boy are there Boston Markets. Oddly enough it's not their entrees that I missed, but their side dishes. They have a sweet potato casserole that's to die for, and their macaroni and cheese, while pure polyester, is heavenly. But there is one comestible that I didn't realize how much I missed it until I had it again. Publix supermarkets all have a deli where they make subs. And I used to live on Publix turkey subs. Their bread will rip your teeth out if you're not careful, but I just love that sub.

Ok, these are a few things that I look forward to, that make me smile. Other good things in my life, like my wife and kid, are just for me, but these are things I can share with you. I know that in light of what's going on around us these are trivial, but life is a series of tiny, trivial things all woven together to make a tapestry of existence, and it's ok if some of the threads are sillier than others.

Peace out, my friends.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blame, Blame, Bo-Blame, Banana-Fana-Fo-Flame

I'm baaaaack! The political landscape is heating up like a cast iron pan sitting in the focus of a parabolic mirror in Death Valley at high noon in August. The Mandelbrot Rorschach that is our government is happily tearing out its own liver over the hurricane Katrina response. The mayor of New Orleans makes barely intelligible accusations and profanity laden laments to Louisiana governor Blanco, yet when it was suggested before the storm hit that he use the city's school buses to evacuate people he refused, saying that 'they' should send a fleet of Greyhound buses, and when 'they' didn't it was too late since the school buses were underwater.

Governor Blanco raises a fist at the federal government, saying if they had strengthened the levees in past years, as was requested by the Army Corps of Engineers this never would have happened. The feds riposte by saying that billions were given to Louisiana, but the bills were so full of pork that very little of the money actually made it to where it was supposed to go, and after living in LA for three years, and seeing the levels of corruption there, I don't doubt it.

But wait! Breaking news, folks. FEMA chief Michael Brown has been fired!! He has borne the brunt of the criticism since the hurricane, and it doesn't seem unjustified. Reporters were on the scene within hours of the devastation, but he says he couldn't get his people in for days. Then there was the interview with Ted Koppel where he was asked why people at the New Orleans Convention Center had yet to receive any assistance, and he was completely unaware that anyone was there. Koppel lost his cool for a moment asking Brown if he had any televisions or radios at FEMA, since the situation at the convention center was well publicized.

Even Colin Powell, who has frustratingly refused to criticize the administration he so obviously disagreed with, has said that the response to the crisis was substandard.

So here's my opinion, and the one thing folks seem to be ignoring. Reporters were able to get to the heart of the stricken areas immediately. It was plain that people were dying, and that rapid, urgent action was needed. I keep hearing that the response was appropriate given the scope of the tragedy...and it is now. But for nearly 4 days nothing happened, and too many people died. The preparations for, and response to this storm that, despite W's protestations to the contrary, was a surprise to no one were totally inadequate. And in this situation inadequacy = death. When 7 astronauts died because of bureaucracy people clamored for heads to roll, well possibly thousands of civilians have died needlessly, and there had damn well be not only reckoning and recompense, but measures must be put in place to ensure that such a thing never happens in this country again. FEMA has, over the last few years, become a punchline rather than a godsend, and this tragedy points that out in full, bloody detail. It's a real shame that Trent Lott lost a house in the hurricane, and I'm sure that W was sincere when he sympathized with his colleague on national television, which is what really scares me. All this talk about making America safer for Americans has just been covered with 20 feet of stinking, sewage-riddled, oil-coated, corpse-filled water, and when it finally recedes there had better be real action taken, rather than the perpetual buck passing and spin doctoring that has been the hallmark of the Bush administration.

In my humble opinion, of course.

And Now For Something Not-So Completely Different

In my bid to maintain the cosmic balance, I give you the dark side of cats. (well, actually I give you the true nature of our feline overlords)

Be very afraid.


Thursday, September 08, 2005


Ok, here is something that is completely at the opposite end of the emotional scale from despair. Kittens!

I honestly don't remember where I found this. It was either from Kim Komando's site, or Loki's blog( ) but where ever it came from, it's pretty darned hard to see these little darlings and stay upset.

Go there meow!! ;-)


Sorry To Be A Bummer

Greetings, Gentle Readers,
I know things haven't been too entertaining here at The Corner lately, and I will be making an effort to be a bit less self-indulgent in the very near future. I know my own worries are insignificant compared to many these days, but they became overwhelming yesternight and this morning, and this blogging thing has quite the theraputic effect. So I thank you for your patience, and after a bit of emotional roadwork I promise to get back to the irreverence very soon.

And now I'll close with a joke:

An 8-year-old girl went to her dad, who was working in the yard.
She said, ''Daddy, what is sex?''

The father was surprised that she would ask such a question, but decided that if she was old enough to ask the question, then she was old enough to get a straight answer.

He proceeded to tell her all about the 'birds and the bees.''

When he finished explaining, the little girl was looking at him with her mouth hanging open.

Her father said, ''Why did you ask that question, honey?''

She replied, ''Mom told me to tell you that dinner will be ready in just a few sex.''


I'm tired.
Tired of being angry.
Tired of wanting, needing, not having.
Tired of hating everything that comes out of our leaders' mouths.
Tired of feeling like I'm the only one who can see how messed up things are.
Tired of lashing out at those nearest me because I can't lash out at those who are the cause of my anger.
Tired of the daily routine that holds me in an iron grip.
Tired of television, news, needing to know yet fearing the horrors that await.
Tired of pundits, and analysts, and commentators.
Tired of CNN, and Fox News, and The Weekly World News.
Tired of conservatives, and liberals, and everything in between.
Tired of death, and blame, and rhymed couplets that replace truth.
Tired of the bone-crushing realities that refuse to let me ignore them, yet stay just out of my reach to affect them.
Tired of listening to my own whining.

And to top it off, Gilligan died yesterday.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Quit Complaining about the Complaining

I am not going to jump on the Bush Bashing Bandwagon for once. The people who are pissing me off now are the ones bitching about the people who are bitching. Pointing fingers, placing blame, and general belly-aching is, no offense to Abner Doubleday, the true national passtime. We love to blame, and gossip, and belly-ache about every little thing. Well now we have a great, big thing to bitch about, and while there are equal parts justified anger(everything that happened to the Gulf Coast was anticipated years ago), and knee-jerk rhetoric(George Bush hates black people) it is fundamental to the American way to bitch. We saw the beginnings of this back when the Iraq War started. Anyone who opposed the war was branded un-patriotic, but what is more American than disagreeing with those in power? That's what got this country started in the first place. Now folks are getting upset at the folks who are upset at the snail's pace of the initial hurricane relief efforts. I, myself, was shaking my fist in impotent rage that nothing was done sooner. And I'll happily foist the blame on whomever I deem deserving, but that hasn't stopped me from donating goods and blood to the cause. Let people bitch. As long as the food and water are going where they should, and the refugees finally have a dry, disease-free bed to sleep on, let the pundits rant and rave. It's the price we pay for constant, 24 hour access to news coverage. On a bad day there might be enough news to fill an hour. That leaves an awful lot of empty air time, and folks would complain just as loudly if the same stuff were broadcast over and over as they do now about talking heads trying to get one more drop of blood from an overused stone.

And yes, I realize that this rant is somewhat oxymoronic, but hey, I'm an American, dammit! :-)

Love and kisses,

Yeah, I'm a Sellout

Hey Folks,
As you can see, I've caved in to 'the man'. It's actually kinda cool. Google ads scan my blogs for keywords, then post ads based on what's in the blog. For example the ads for turtles and turtle supplies, of course the robot couldn't tell that I was saying how much turtles suck. If ya want, give a click and check out what they're hocking. Every click gets me some fraction of a penny, so I'm not looking to make serious money here, but if I can pull in half a tank of gas every other month what the hey.
So if you wouldn't mind clicking an ad every now and then I'd be most grateful, and if not thanks for stopping by anyway.

Peace out,

Monday, September 05, 2005

Here's the Shell-Pig Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Listen To The Squirrel

Check this out. The language is "R", but the message is vital.

Amphibious Reptiles Suck

My stepdaughter's dad gave her a turtle just before we moved to sunny Tampa. It's pretty big, as house turtles go, about 6" long, and typical of every captive turtle I've ever seen...perpetually pissed. It's in a little, 5 gallon aquarium, and spends the time it's not sleeping or eating in an all-out effort to burrow through the glass walls of it's prison. I intend to upgrade it to a 10 gallon tank, but I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, this little darling would kill us all in our sleep, and then go try to dig through the walls of the apartment. Where it thinks it can go is beyond me, but it wants out, and badly. Now I love animals, especially mammals with sweet dispositions, and I don't want this beast to suffer, but that being said I don't care for this creature. You can't play with it, it's about as affectionate as a rabid tasmanian devil with hemmoroids, and I constantly have to remind the young'n to feed it. She's named it Silly-Head. I call it Shell-Pig on a good day, Asshole whenever the kid's not home. And I'm the one who gets to clean its filter. The filter cartridge needs to be replaced monthly, and it's not a pretty thing. One good sized turtle generates a lot of slimy turtle-poo, and the guy who couldn't care less about turtles get the joyous task of de-sliming the tank. I'm beginning to understand why Godzilla was created before Gamera...turtles suck! (no offense, Steve)

What's my point? None, really. Just bitching. Carry on, nothing more to see here. I have to go get turtle shit out from under my fingernails.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Another Way To Help

Hey Folks,
The coffers here at The Corner are full of little x's and a few moths, but my veins are now, happily, one pint emptier. If you haven't the extra scratch to send to your favorite charity, go to your local blood bank and give a pint of yourself. It takes less than an hour, only hurts a little bit, and can help save many lives. And if you are truly a manly man, or womanly woman, become an apheresis donor. You can do that once a week, and save many more lives. It's the greatest high you can get with a needle, plus you get free snacks and a tee-shirt!

I dare ya! ;-)


Don't Help Feed The Scumbags

And now for a public service announcement. Disasters can bring out the best in people, and the worst, and one unfortunate effect of shaking things up as much as Katrina did is that many of the bottom feeders have risen to the surface. If you recieve an email, no matter how legit it looks, that claims to be from a charitable organization, please check them out before donating. And even then don't use any links from unsolicited emails. Any legitimate group will have their own website that you can find through any search engine.

Even if an email looks like it came from a real organization, that's no guarantee. These phishers have gotten pretty good at faking the look of real banks and other institutions in an attempt to bilk people out of their money. Often the only give away is some extra stuff in the email address. Your best bet is to go the organization's home page by yourself, and then make your donation.

Hope this helps.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Vitriol and Bile

I am posting a very angry, and very profanity-ridden diatribe against an ass who had the audacity to say from the pulpit that those suffering along our Gulf Coast deserved it. Because simply writing hasn't satisfied the outrage I am posting it as a comment to this, so that no one need see it if they don't want to. Yeah, it's that rough.

Your brother in rage,

A Little Perspective, If You Please

If I hear one more person bitch about how much it costs now to fill thier f***ing SUV on TV or the radio I'm going to climb through the screen and throttle them! Yeah, paying $3.00 for a gallon of gas sucks, but not as much as standing in hip-deep water, dodging corpses and looking at the slab of concrete that used to be your house. Or huddling in a giant convection oven that used to be a sports arena wondering where your family members are. Or drowning in your attic because you were too weak, or frail, or sick, or poor to evacuate. And for once I'm on the side of the government here. They are doing all they can, but releasing some of the Strategic Petroleum Supply, while necessary, won't affect gas prices anytime soon. The damage to our oil industry wasn't in the drilling area (yes, one rig was lost, but only one). The problem is that a significant number of refineries were damaged or destroyed, as were many pipelines. As much as 25% of US oil production could be affected by this storm, and oil without refineries and pipelines is just a bunch of gooey, black gunk.

So tighten your belt folks, get a bike, ride the bus, and reserve the sorrow for those who have earned it.

How Best To Help Hurricane Victims

My Friends,
You have no doubt seen the absolute devestation Katrina left in her wake, and like me you want to do something, so here is advise directly from the American Red Cross web site telling you the best way to help. More importantly it tells how not to help. Please read the entire thing, and then do what you can.

About Donating Goods to the Red Cross for Areas Impacted by Hurricane KatrinaWritten by Leigh-Anne Dennison , Staff

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 — When a disaster of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina strikes and the news broadcasts images of broken, battered and destroyed homes, it is natural for the public to be eager to help their neighbors – whether they’re across town or across the country. Often, seeing that they have lost everything, people are eager to donate food, clothing or other goods to meet the needs of storm victims and help the affected families begin to replace what they have lost.

Anheuser-Busch donated more than six million cans of
water to the American Red Cross and other relief agencies
to aid victims and relief workers during the 2004 Atlantic
hurricanes. U.S. Navy personnel provided invaluable
assistance to the Hurricane Ivan relief operation last
year by loading critically needed water donated by
Anheuser-Busch onto Red Cross ERVs at the Pensacola
Civic Center distribution site, Fla., September 2004.
(Photo Credit: Dave Murray/American Red Cross/File)

"While that generous spirit is truly appreciated, the American Red Cross cannot accept this type of donation for the victims it is serving," said Amanda Lepof, an American Red Cross In-Kind Officer.

Today, the Red Cross is operating more than 250 shelters across seven states, providing a safe haven for nearly 42,000 evacuees – many who have been left homeless by Katrina. The first priority is meeting the urgent, critical needs of those people, which include providing emergency shelter, food and water.

"In-kind donations are best when they come from companies that can provide new items in a quantity that meets the mass care needs of victims – for example, Anheuser-Busch is again donating canned water for hurricane victims and response workers," said Lepof. "Unsolicited, spontaneous donations of goods and services from individuals and community groups, although well intentioned, have hidden costs and pose a number of complications for initial relief efforts."

For these reasons, the Red Cross is unable to accept any large collections of items, such as used clothing, hygiene items, furniture, toys, blankets, and canned goods. Nor is it able to accept small, individual donations of these items.

Why does the Red Cross discourage donations of collected goods and individual items for disaster relief?

Collections of items require valuable and scarce resources such as time, money, and personnel to sort, clean, and distribute them, which come at the expense of the emergency activities relief workers are attempting to perform. The Red Cross has neither the resources, nor the logistical set-up, to properly handle these types of donations, and therefore cannot accept them.
In addition, because the organization has no way of knowing what spontaneous individual donations or unsolicited collections of items will consist of, and therefore cannot ensure there will be enough of a particular item to distribute it equitably, or if the donated products will even be appropriate for the relief effort.
Shipping donated goods is also costly and particularly difficult in the aftermath of a disaster, as roads are often damaged or impassable, and easily clogged with shipments of non-priority items. The Red Cross makes every attempt to procure items locally to save money by minimizing transportation and storage costs.
“We don’t want to discourage people who want to help,” said Lepof. “But, making a financial gift to support the relief operations really is the best way for people to help after a disaster like this.”

Monetary financial contributions enable the Red Cross to support the greatest needs in the most efficient manner. Cash can be used to purchase items in adjacent, staging areas and eliminate the added costs involved in transporting goods.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting