Sunday, December 31, 2006

Advise for a Hangover

Here is a helpful article taken from Livescience.com. Happy New Year to all my friends. Be safe, and party on!! :-)

Marius


Hangover Helpers
By Robert PreidtHealthDay ReporterHealthDay Reporterposted: 30 December 200602:22 pm ET

(HealthDay News) -- Don't look to Khursheed Navder for sympathy if you drink too much on New Year's Eve and wake up with a wicked hangover.
Navder, a registered dietitian and associate professor in the nutrition and food science program at Hunter College in New York City, is willing to offer you some advice on how to deal with the party-fueled problem, however.
But first, it may help to understand the science behind that throbbing, queasy, mouth-full-of-cotton malaise. According to Dr. Christine Lay, a neurologist at The Headache Institute at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City and co-author of an upcoming article on hangovers in the journal Headache, the culprits are:

Dilation of blood vessels. This may contribute to the throbbing headache.

Low blood sugar. Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to produce glucose, which leaves you feeling weak and tired, clouds your thinking and makes you moody.

Poor sleep. While alcohol is sedating and promotes sleep initially, the sleep is often of poor quality with frequent awakenings due to factors such as decreased rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

The accumulation of toxins. The main byproduct of metabolized alcohol, acetaldehyde, is a toxin that can make your heart race and lead to headache, sweatiness, flushed skin, nausea and vomiting.

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Alcohol promotes urination by inhibiting the release of the brain hormone that normally protects against dehydration. When dehydration is accompanied by sweating, vomiting or diarrhea, there is additional fluid and mineral loss leading to electrolyte imbalances The result? Excessive thirst, lethargy, dizziness and light-headedness.

So, if you do consume too much alcohol, drinking plenty of water is essential because dehydration is perhaps the most common cause of hangover symptoms.

"Those pounding headaches and everything else are related to the shriveling of the cells because they lose so much water," Navder said. "Before sleeping, force yourself to drink water. If you throw up, very good, because you're going to get some of the alcohol out that way."

If you forget to drink water before going to bed, then do it first thing in the morning. The sooner you replenish your fluid loss, the quicker you'll bounce back, Navder said.
If you don't feel like drinking water, then sports drinks are a good option because they replace essential salts and minerals that were flushed out of your body during frequent urination. Non-acidic fruit juices are another good choice because the sugar in them helps prevent hypoglycemia and feeling weak and lightheaded.
Also, avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeine does not speed up the body's metabolism of alcohol. All it does is irritate the stomach lining and prevent you from falling asleep, which is one of the best ways to escape a hangover, she said.
Navder's next bit of advice involves a bit of tough-love: exercise. While being active is the last thing you may want to do when you have a pounding head, it increases blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body and induces sweating, which helps the body purge alcohol, she said.
Other tips, courtesy of Navder and the U.S. National Institutes of Health:
Try to eat because food will reduce the irritation to your stomach lining. Soups are good for replacing salt and potassium depleted by alcohol, and fruits and vegetables can help replenish lost nutrients.
You can take pain relief medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium to reduce your headache and muscle aches as long as your stomach isn't upset and you have no history of ulcers or bleeding problems. Antacids can help ease nausea and gastritis.
Drink a glass of water in between drinks containing alcohol. This will help you drink less alcohol, and will also decrease the dehydration associated with drinking alcohol.
Navder also has some hangover-prevention advice. Drinking lighter-colored alcohol and higher brands of alcohol may reduce the severity of a hangover. That's because lighter-colored drinks, such as vodka, gin and white wine, have fewer congeners -- a toxic byproduct of fermentation and aging -- than darker-colored drinks such as whisky, brandy and red wine.
And more expensive alcohol generally contains fewer congeners because it goes through a more rigorous distillation process that filters out more congeners.
She also suggests that you eat while you drink, because food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol. But don't munch on salty snacks because they'll just make you thirsty and likely to drink more.
Or, Navder said, you could just avoid booze altogether. "With a hangover, I think prevention is definitely better than the cure," she said.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Holy Sh*t, They Hung Him!

Saddam Hussein, Middle Eastern gadfly and Bush family boogy man, is dead. He was hanged earlier today, and responses are very mixed. The British condemn the death penalty, but say justice was served. Kuwait and Iran are rejoicing, while Libya has initiated an official period of mourning. Afghanistan merely objected to the timing of the execution, which came just before the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, one of the most important holidays for Muslims. As for Your's Truly, I am now very afraid for our troops over there. I had no love for Saddam, but I had hoped that those in power would realize that having him in prison was far more demoralizing to his followers than making him a martyr. Now I'm afraid that the violence in Iraq will be vastly escalated.

I really hope I'm wrong on this.

Marius

Friday, December 22, 2006

Smile, Architeuthis, You're on Japanese Camera!

The Japanese research team that took the first ever live photos of a giant squid raised the bar again by catching one. It was a small (only about 24 feet long) female that they caught using a smaller squid as bait. They followed a pod of sperm whales, theorizing that since sperm whales eat giant squid, they might lead the scientists to the elusive mollusks. Here is where you can see the video. Unfortunately the squid did not survive.

http://www.cnn.com/video/player/player.html?url=/video/tech/2006/12/22/von.giant.squid.ap


Now I'm off to get some calamari.

Cheers,
Marius

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This'll Warm Your Cockles




This was lovingly swiped from PIKARESQUE, and she's right, this is destined to be a holiday classic. Oh, probably not a good one to play while the kiddies are watching.

Marius

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Somewhat More Honest Personality Test

Freak- INFJ
26% Extraversion, 66% Intuition, 40% Thinking, 53% Judging
Well, well, well. How did someone like you end up with the least common personality type of them all? In a group of 100 Americans, only 0.5 others would be just like you. You really are one of a kind... In fact, I do believe that that's one of the definitions for the word "FREAK."
Freak's not such a bad word to describe you actually.
You are deep, complex, secretive and extremely difficult to understand. If that doesn't scream "Freak!" I don't know what does. No-one actually knows the REAL you, do they?
You probably have deep interests in creative expression as well as issues of spirituality and human development.
You've probably even been called a "psychic" before, because of your uncanny knack to understand and "read" people without quite knowing how you do it. Don't fret. You're not actually psychic. That would make you special and you'll never accomplish that.
You're also quite possible the most emotional of them all, so don't take this all too hard. Nevertheless you most definitely have the strangest personality type and that's not necessarily a good thing.
*****************
Well, I don't suppose I can argue too much with that. :-)
The Brutally Honest Personality Test

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Semi-Live from the deck of the Demeter

Bleah! So Mrs. Marius and the COTA* have been ill for a couple of weeks now. They have both mostly recovered, and I was actually marvelling at how I had come through the plague season unscathed...until yesternight. Some sneaky little rhino virus, showing a remarkable amount of consideration for a microscopic protein packet, waited until my pre-holiday labors were mostly done at work and then struck like a falling turd in the night. Fortunately I had already requested Monday off, so I'll get two uninterrupted days to convalesce and, hopefully, recover.

On to something really cool. Last night I attended a dance performance at HCC. It was a marvelous, brilliant show, the only downside of which was my sadness at not being involved. I got to see some of my friends whom I have been greatly missing, and had a great time. The crud mentioned above was already working its nasty magic on my, but that did not dampen my spirits as I left. Then the universe favored me with yet another gift. I was driving East on I-4 when I saw a bright orange light coming from behind the clouds and ascending. I was puzzled for just a moment before I realized that Discovery had just launched. Whenever there is a shuttle launch I try to see it, but since I had forgotten that they were going to attempt liftoff last night it was a wonderful surprise. And as I was on the raised portion of the freeway and headed straight for the launch site, I got a beautifully unobstructed view of the spectacle. I may be in the 'retire the shuttle' camp, but I still get shivers whenever one of those aging beauties muscles her way into the sky.

And on that note, I'm going to do my best to become one with the couch, the TV, and the Playstation.

Oh, that reminds me. I have been taking no small amount of pleasure in watching a fascinating phenomenon. Craig's List, if you haven't heard of it, is a website where people can post classified ads selling everything from matchbooks to real estate. I check it out from time to time since it's usually much cheaper than eBay, and more local. We have made a couple of great Craig's List purchases, including our dining room table and couch, and it's also fun to see just what people think will sell. Right after the PS3 came out, and people camped out to get one, there was a plethora of ads on Craig's List for PS3's asking upwards of $1200. Now, two weeks later, there are no fewer listings, but the prices have all miraculously come down to the $600-800 range. Could it be that the annual 'must have at any price' idiocy that started with Beanie Babies and that fraking Tickle Me Elmo has finally died? Let's hope.

OK, couch-spud time. Love you all.

Marius the Infirm


*Child Of The Apocalypse

Saturday, December 09, 2006

You will be...you will be!

As if there aren't enough things to worry about, here's an obscure danger that I never would have imagined.


1 Death, 19 Injuries Blamed on Magnets
By Mike StobbeAssociated Pressposted: 08 December 200610:20 am ET

ATLANTA (AP) — At least one U.S. child has died and 19 others have needed surgery since 2003 after swallowing magnets used in toys, the government reported Thursday.

Most of those cases were believed to involve tiny but strong “rare earth'' magnets that can link together in children's digestive tracts, squeezing and even perforating the intestines, the researchers said.

The magnets, made from neodymium iron boron or other compounds, have become common in the U.S. toy market in the past five years because they have become cheaper to produce, said Jonathan Midgett, the study's lead author and an engineering psychologist with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

They are used in building sets, action figures and dolls.

“Most people who have never had them in their hands are shocked at how strong these tiny things are,'' Midgett said.

Kenny Sweet, a 20-month-old boy from Redmond, Wash., died in two days after he began complaining of stomach aches and vomiting. An autopsy found nine small magnets stacked together. They had caused a twisting of the bowel and a blood infection.

The magnets had come off a building set belonging to Kenny's 10-year-old brother, according to his family's lawyers. Mega Brands Inc. recalled 3.8 million Magnetix building sets, added warning labels and agreed to pay $13.5 million to settle lawsuits.

Last month, Mattel Inc. recalled more than 4 million Polly Pocket play sets, dolls with small magnets in their hands, feet, clothing and other accessories.

Last month, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group for the first time included the magnets on its annual holiday warning about dangerous toys.

Midgett said federal and industry officials hope to have a warning label ready within six months for toys containing magnets.


I guess it's time for Lincoln Logs to make a comeback.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blue Mars?


The Mars Global Surveyor is already earning its keep. It recently sent home images that seem to indicate that liquid water has flowed on the surface of the frigid world within the last few years. While it is impossible to tell from orbit what exactly caused the lighter splotch, it strongly suggests that liquid water burst forth from the gully and flowed down the slope leaving the pictured deposit. Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego said, "The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water".
We have known for quite some time that there was still plenty of water on Mars, but it was assumed that most of it was locked up in permafrost, ephemeral vapors, or at the polar ice caps, but this is the strongest evidence yet for underground liquid water deposits. And where there is liquid water there is as strong possibility for life. Of course, no one is expecting to find a thriving underground civilization, but even the presence of microbes or primitive plant life would finally prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we are not alone in the universe. It seems to me that while a Moon base, as NASA plans to establish by 2024, would be cool, a manned mission to Mars might just be a bit more important now. And if, indeed, there are large quantities of liquid water close to the surface, it just became a lot more feasible, since liquid water can be converted into both oxygen and hydrogen, two primary components for human survival...and rocket fuel. Go here for the full story.
Ares rules!
Marius


Mea Culpa

Apparantly my last post about how to deal with comics that are too small to read sounded brusque and 'smart ass' like. Pray forgive me. That was not the intention. I was merely trying to explain how to make them big enough to read. The tone was meant to be light and amusing, and not at all condescending. Rest assured that the brain cells involved in writing that post have had a stern talking to, and have promised me that nothing of the sort will happen again.

Kisses,
Marius

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Operational Information

Greetings, True Believers,
Whenever I post a comic, and it is too small to read, click on it. It will magically grow to a wonderously legible size. (I know there is a penile joke in there somewhere, but I'll let you fill it in yourselves.)

Good night, and may The Flying Spaghetti Monster bless.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Peek-A-Boo, I See Me

Greetings, dear ones, and welcome to The Corner. First off let me send out a huge thanks to D and R for a wonderful Thanksgiving. The food was awesome (who knew vegetarian fare could be so...urp...filling), the hospitality solar in its warmth, the gaming a fun reminder of why I need to get this magic box fixed, and the fighting as informative as it was painful. And, apropos of the title of today's edition, several of our conversations lead me to the following realizations. There have been many times in my life where it was revealed, usually at the trailing edge of some agonizing blunder, that I was hiding behind such realistic facades of my own construction that even I couldn't see behind them. Fortunately, for me, this holiday allowed me to see that I had built some more of these things without the 'benefit' of a painful hindsight episode. Here are some of the things that I saw.

Amongst our discussions of movies, tv, childhood foibles, the subject of the legalization of marijuana arose. I have spent years honing my beliefs on this subject, to the point that they have become, in my mind, FACT. Any rational person should see that the drug cartels are in bed with the American government to keep it illegal, so they can keep the profits all to themselves. To me, legalization would save the country billions by allowing law enforcement to focus on more important crimes, as well as allowing for additional tax revenue. But there is an angle I had not considered. D is a health care professional, and after my harangue about the above he asked me simply if I could go back in time and make tobacco illegal, or keep alcohol illegal, would I? Since a large part of my objections to keeping weed illegal were monetary in origin, illegalizing all harmful substances could possibly save even more in health care costs. I don't yet know if I agree that legislation should protect people from themselves, but the point is that with one sentence it was pointed out in crystal clarity that there were factors I was ignoring in forming my opinion.

Another instance of D's uncanny knack for cutting through the fog of preconceptions was during our discussions of the SCA. Over the last four years I had built up some pretty strong prejudices toward 'what the SCA has become'. All along I was taking a page out of my grandmother's book by prefacing opinions with 'now I don't want to sound like an old codger, but' and then I would launch into a diatribe about how much better things were back in the old days. It was during one of those spurious comparisons that D showed me that I was mistaken, but not in a 'you are so wrong' way, but in a 'well, this is what the reality is' way. The same thing happened during our brief fighter practice. I had tons of excuses for why my fighting sucks, and rather than say, 'yeah, you suck', he just showed me how to do some new stuff, and a bit of insight on how he did stuff. Never once did he say 'this is how it should be done', but just 'this is what I do'. And it was during the course of these conversations that I realized many of the underlying fears that caused me to find excuses not to practice, or go to events, or whatever. Of course, he also used my helmet like the Liberty Bell to emphasize his point from time to time, but I guess that goes with the territory. :-)

So thanks again to D and R for the great holiday. My tummy was full, and my mind opened a bit. Oh, and the kitten therapy was great as well. :-)

Peace, Y'all.

Marius

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is it just me?

Greetings, Friends, and welcome to an interrogative day here at The Corner. Today I am puzzling over the predilection a large number of Americans have for looking at politicians and/or celebrities as role models. Maybe it's because I still have some deep seated resentment toward Richard Nixon because weeks of my after school television watching were disrupted in 1973. When you see the President of the United States of America hauled before the Congress when you are nine years old, that tends to set the subliminal stage for your views of politicians henceforth. To the best of my knowledge, the only 'good' man we've had in office in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter, and while I sincerely respect and admire him as one of the greatest humanitarians in American history, he was also one of our worst presidents. And many, if not most, of our best presidents were horn dogs and scumbags. But that goes with the job, doesn't it? Power is the greatest aphrodisiac, they say, and the political world is one of back scratching(and stabbing), blow-jobbing(both figurative and literal), and hand washing. The phrase 'plausible deniability' came about during the reign of that God of Conservatives, Ronald Regan, and the undisputed champ of modern presidents, JFK, made Hugh Heffner look like Ghandi.

As for sports stars, the blinders have been on about them for decades. For some reason people venerate the athlete as if having some sort of physical skill automatically makes you a good person. Babe Ruth was an overweight, womanizing alcoholic with possible ties to the mob, but he is most remembered for hitting a small sphere farther than anyone else at the time. Even today, years after his foibles became public knowledge, his name is synonymous with all that is good in baseball.

And then there are the performers. Musicians have been spared the role model treatment, going instead in the opposite direction. The worse the behavior the more they are adored. But actors are a whole different story. Many of you reading this already know what I am going to say, but for those of you outside the theatrical world allow me to pull back the curtain just a bit. While there are many, many very nice, sane actors, there are many more who really should not be allowed out of the house unsupervised. People freaked when Tom Cruise lost it on Oprah...not me. For some reason the talent gene is all too often attached to the batshit crazy gene. Again, there are very notable exceptions to this, but in general successful actors are narcissistic, egocentrical need machines whose addiction to attention is only matched by their ruthless dedication to success at all costs. But that is not a criticism, that's what is needed to make it in the heartless, soul-sucking world of Show Biz. And the craziest thing about all of this is that people seem to want their entertainers to be role models, yet as soon as Daryl Hannah starts speaking out on the environment, or Bono champions helping the poor countries of the world, those very same people start decrying their heroes for getting into areas they don't belong.

I know that many people simply equate money and fame with responsibility, and there are some rich and famous people out there that should be admired, but simply having a huge bank account, and magazine cover recognition should not be an automatic reason for hero status. Real heroes don't just make movies, or pack pork into a spending bill. Real heroes demonstrate true leadership, or use their wealth to better the world, or just take a few nights off to help their kids with their homework. Actors, politicians, and musicians can all be good people, but they can, more often than not, be raging assholes looking out for only one person...themselves. Look a little closer to home for the best role models. The cop who has dedicated his life to dealing with the scum of society so you won't have to. The EMT whose willingness to risk health and sanity to save your life. The mother who worked two jobs so you could go to college. For every Jimmy Carter, or Shaquille O'Neil, there are hundreds of Barry Bonds and Dick Cheneys. Let the politicians be dirtbags; politics is a dirty business. Let the entertainers be hedonists. As long as they entertain us who cares? But don't get all shocked when a senator tuns out to be a crook, or an actor turns out to be a freak. After all, you don't fault a skunk for stinking. It's just what a skunk is.

Marius

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ummmm


This is disturbing on so many levels I can't even think of what to say.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Episode IV: A New Look

So I've given The Corner a bit of a facelift. Opinions?


Oh, and that arrogant, right-wing asshole that we all love to hate outed himself last night. Alas, 'tis Doug, the inveterate chain-yanker who once posed as the uber Christian and is now quoting one of his students. Kudos to Doug for fooling me, but it terrifies me even more that these opinions he's been sharing with us were direct quotes from someone else.

I have a show opening Thursday, so I doubt there will be much new here this week, but then again you never know. (I can't wait for next week. I'm off Wednesday-Sunday!!)(Hey Thummy, wanna play?)

Hasta, y'all.
Marius

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

And The Winner Is...

Well, it is done. Some good, some not so much, but We The People have spoken. The Democrats have taken back the House, and gained ground in the Senate, and Democrat Bill Nelson crushed Katherine Harris by more than one million votes. On the not so good side, Charlie Crist will be our new governor. While I'm somewhat disappointed in that, I don't think he will be a bad governor, I just don't agree with most of what he stands for. And the scariest outcome is Republican Ronda Storms' victory in the Senate race. For those of you outside of the Tampa area, she is the charming lady whose public intolerance for any sort of Gay Pride celebrations made me long for the open-mindedness of Anita Bryant. But, overall I think we have gotten a more balanced government after this. I don't want to see one party having total control over the legislature. When they actually have to work together, things can only get better...or at the very worst not change much. Anything to stop the tailspin we're in has got to be a good thing.


I hope.

Marius

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I Voted!

Tag! You're it!!

VOTE! VOTE!! VOTE!!!

Today's the day. This is, quite possibly, the most important election day in my lifetime, and most of yours as well, so please go out and exercise your most fundamental American right. There is no electoral college nonsense getting in between you and those for whom you vote. No Supreme Court. No Katherine Harris. It's just you and the machine. I won't stump for any party here today. All I ask is that you vote your conscience, and don't just 'christmas tree' the ballot along party lines. Today whether we are Liberals, Conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, Independants, Greens, or Little Fuzzy Blue Creatures from Alpha-Centaurists we are all Americans, and what we are permitted to do today is relatively unique in the world. It doesn't take long, it doesn't hurt, and it doesn't cost anything...anymore.

And to my anonymous antagonist, I wish you nothing but the best today. Vote well.

Oh, and one more thing. If you experience any irregularities in voting today, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the hotline for the National Campaign for Fair Elections. EFF lawyers and many others are standing by across the country to take legal action to remove malfunctioning voting machines, keep polls open, etc.

Happy ballotting, my friends. :-)

Marius

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Right Wing Blather

Hi folks. You may have noticed that my Jedi Idiot series of blogs drew some less than complimentary attention. That's exactly what I was hoping would happen, but this last comment worries me. Not because he/she posted a salient, well thought out riposte, but because of the underlying 'if you ain't with us, yer agin us' mentality it evinces. Behold the pertinent stanza:

Also why are you for "gay marriage". marriage is between one man and one women. Anything else is a sin.

Some of you, my dear friends, will know that I actually am for gay marriage. If same sex couples want to destroy their sex lives the same way we 'hets' have for centuries, more power to you. ;-) But, the reason I'm mentioning that is that this conclusional leap was based on this statement from your humble blogger:

As for domestic issues, getting people all fired up over non-issues like gay marriage, abortion, and flag burning so disgusts me that I would never vote for anyone stumping for them.

Now, before you start snapping your fingers in Z formations and calling me Miss Thing, allow me to clarify. By calling these non-issues I don't mean that they are unimportant. I mean that, in my opinion, government has no business legislating one way or another about them, and using them as planks in a political platform is merely pandering to the mouth-breathing, sheep-eyed, 'do whatever my pastor tells me' psuedo-fundamentalists of the type that made the aforementioned comment. In some ways I guess I do agree with what the Republican party used to stand for; smaller government that barely interferes with public life. But over the last two decades Republicans have more and more been trying to legislate morality, probably in order to keep their deep-pocketed religious right affiliates happy, but it's as false as Judas' kiss. There is no morality in Washington, and anyone who believes that there are more than a handful of truly good men and women in our government is sadly delusional. As I have pontificated before, our bureaucracy has become a bloated, overfed, masturbatory Jabba the Democracy whose main goal is not to make life better for the American people, but to maintain the power hungry, cash sated lifestyle of those who supposedly represent us. When even someone like Mark Foley can be corrupted by the 'don't ask, don't tell...unless you get outed 3 weeks before election time' mentality I say it's time to throw them all out and start over.

So long as there are people out there like my eloquent objector, who think that any president deserves respect(although I would be curious as to his opinions on Clinton)and blind obedience, there will be scumbags in office who will take advantage of them by waving the 'immorality and terror' flags. I once had a student who accused me of perpetuating the stereotype that all conservatives were inbred, undereducated hicks, and I granted her that point, and have made an effort to eradicate that type of thinking from my mind. But when all it takes to bring out the snaggle-toothed Lil Abners is to call the president an idiot in the title of a blog which maybe a dozen people read, I find it very hard to reprogram myself.

Have a happy Sunday, y'all. :-)

Marius

Rumsfeld Must Go

This was posted by the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. It is an editorial slated to be publised in the major military papers tomorrow.

Army Times: "Time for Rumsfeld to go"

AP

An editorial scheduled to appear on Monday in Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times, calls for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The papers are sold to American servicemen and women. They are published by the Military Times Media Group, which is a subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc.

Here is the text of the editorial, an advance copy of which we received this afternoon.

----------------


Time for Rumsfeld to go

"So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.

But until recently, the "hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington. One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.


For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake.

It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

Posted By: Andrew S Ross | Nov 03 at 05:55 PM

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

George W. Bush: Jedi Idiot II...The Emperor's Chambers

Our hero enters the cloying darkness of the Emperor's sanctum sanctorum and kneels before the great throne. Slowly the massive Armani chair swivels to reveal the shrivelled visage of Emperor Rove. Darth Goofus speaks.

"What is thy, um, I mean...uh...what'cha want?"

"Have you seen the recent polls, Darth Goofus?" Rove's voice creaks with the weight of decades of evil.

"I have, my mustard, uh, I mean master. They're pretty bad, huh?"

"Of course they're bad!! Now shut up and listen."

"Yes, my mustard."

"(sigh) You must go forth to the reddest places, and there ridicule our enemies. Dis them in public as if they were pledges at your frat house before the hazing bans. Use your Sith powers to make them feel as if they have just been pantsed in PE, and then tripped in the lunchroom."

"Heh, heh. I just did that to Scooter last week before his hearings. heh,heh."

"(groan) Yes, my foolish apprentice, I know all about that. You should not be attacking your own minions."

"Oh, sorry, mustard."

"Whatever. I will work the talk shows, while you work the morons who still think you know what you are doing. Together we must convince them that the polls are lies, and that Saddam was a far greater threat than Iran and North Korea combined."

"Is the Dark Side truly that powerful, man...um, I mean my mastard?"

"For our sakes we must hope so, foolish apprentice. Now go, and send in the attack droid, Cheney. We must get him on Face the Nation immediately."

"Yes, my muster."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

George W. Bush: Jedi Idiot

We join the press conference already in progress.

"Mr. President, do you still say that 'stay the course' is your philosophy for the Iraqi conflict?"

"IIII neeeverrrr said 'staaaay the coooourssssssse." [wave]

"Mr. President, you and nearly every member of your staff has been repeating that phrase at any and all opportunities. And what's with the little hand wave?"

"Youuu will forgeeet that youuuu eveerrr heard us saaaaay that."[wave,wave]

"Um, ok, I'll wave back if that makes you happy, sir. But we have dozens of video clips of you and your staff saying 'stay the course'.

"Dammit, Rove. It's not working. Get Snow in here! Um...ahem...Yooooou will goooo baaack tooooo yoouuuur stuuuuuudio and eraaaaase those videooooos." [wave,wave,wave,wave]

"Mr. President, I'm sure this is all quite amusing to you, but the press has a responsibility to the public to show the truth. I will not erase anything. And I respectfully request that you stop waving at us. Ah, Mr. Snow. Perhaps you can shed some light on things for us?"

"Certainly. We feel that the phrase "stay the course" doesn't capture the dynamism of the tactics America and its allies are employing."

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! He's a Sith! Run for your lives!!!!! NO MORE QUESTIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Racoons, Vampires, and Bears, Oh My!

We just watched a wonderful movie. Over The Hedge is hillarious, fun, silly, and a romp. I don't think I've enjoyed an animated film this much since A Bug's Life. The plot line is pretty formulaic: huckster racoon gets in trouble and takes advantage of a naive group of animals to get him out of it, only to find that they are far more noble than he, but the execution is brilliant. There are more sight gags and inside jokes for the 'grown-ups' than a Bullwinkle episode, and the performances by Bruce Willis, Gary Shandling, Wanda Sykes, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, and William Shatner(doing a brilliant parody of...William Shatner)are so honest and guileless that you can't help but care about them. Dreamworks has finally made a film that rivals anything Pixar has done, and I think Pixar is the bomb. If you have kids, make this a family evening as we just did. If you don't have kids, pop open or light up the intoxicant of your choice and buckle yourself in for a fun evening. And if you have ever had the pleasure of living with a Rottweiler, just remember the word...play?

It has also been quite some time since I read something I felt compelled to recommend, but my wife turned me on to Night Watch, by Sergei Lukyanenko. It is sort of a Harry Potter for grown ups. The protagonist, Anton, is a member of the Night Watch, a supernatural police agency dedicated to keeping tabs on the forces of Darkness in the world. There is also a Day Watch, who are to keep an eye on the forces of Light in the world, and the two watches make sure that the balance is maintained, while at the same time trying to tip it in their favor. The book is actually a compilation of three novellas translated from the original Russian by Andrew Bromfield, and that is, in my opinion, its greatest strength. The characters are well defined, and the stories well told, but it is obvious that this was never meant to be for anyone but Russians. It is totally unselfconscious, with no comparisons between East and West; no hint that the author even considered that Americans would one day read it. The translation is, on occasion, somewhat inelegant, but the tales unfold rapidly and in a way that makes you truly care about the characters, and yet is quintisentially Russian. I highly recommend this tome, and eagerly look forward to the sequals that are already published in Russia, and will get here hopefully by January. (oh, there is a movie out, but me wife tells me that unless you have read the book, it makes little to no sense.)

Ok, that's all for now. Night night, y'all.

Marius

Friday, October 27, 2006

Canine vs Feline

Shamelessly swiped from PIKARESQUE.

For all you pet lovers out there...

EXCERPTS FROM A DOG'S DIARY
Day number 180
8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!
Day number 181
8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!
Day number 182
8:00 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
9:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
9:40 am - OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!
10:30 am - OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!
11:30 am - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
12:00 noon - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
1:00 pm OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!
1:30 pm - ooooooo. bath. bummer.
4:00 pm - OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!
5:00 PM - OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!
5:30 PM - OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE

EXCERPTS FROM A CAT'S DIARY
DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling
objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry
cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and
the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of
furniture...Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their
feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top
of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile
oppressors,I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite
chair...must try this On their bed.
DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in
attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike
fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a
good little cat I was... Not working according to plan.
DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good
reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included
a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent
such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still LODGED
between my teeth.
DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was
placed in solitary throughout the event, however, I could hear the noise
and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer." More
importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of
"allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe
snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to
return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got
to be an informant, and he speaks with them regularly. I am certain he
reports my activities. Due to his current placement in the metal room
his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Justice is Served

A vicious animal has been put down. Yesterday, at 6:13pm Danny Rollings was declared dead. I don't normally advocate the death penalty, but in this case it was totally, unquivocally, and absolutely justified. Most of you probably remember reading about the Gainesville murders back in 1990. I remember because not only did I attend the University of Florida for my freshman year, but I still had/have lots of friends in G'ville. I feared for them all, for this monster didn't just grab coeds off the street, he invaded apartments, killing, mutilating, and then posing the dead before moving on to kill again. There could be no rehabillitating this creature, no punishment harsh enough to fit his crimes. Even the civilized man I try to be would not have objected had the execution been less humane. A lot less. You can read more details, should you wish, here.

Perhaps the souls of those five young people will rest a bit more easily now.

Marius

A Visitor...From Beyond

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ANTIGO, Wis. (AP) — A toddler who went fishing for a stuffed cartoon character in a vending machine wound up sharing space with the toy inside the game's plastic cubicle.
Three-year-old Robert Moore tried to scoop out a stuffed replica of SpongeBob SquarePants with the vending machine's plastic crane on Saturday, but had no luck on his first attempt.

While his grandmother, Fredricka Bierdemann, turned her back to get another dollar for a second try, Robert took off his coat and squeezed through an opening in the machine. He landed in the stuffed animal cube.

"I turned around and looked for him, and he said, 'Oma, I'm in here," Bierdemann said. "I thought I would have a heart attack."

Store employees couldn't find a key to the machine, so Robert waited while the Anti-go Fire Department was called.

"He was having a ball in there, hugging all the stuffed animals," Bierdemann said. "He was so good-natured, but I was shaking like a leaf."

Firefighters broke one lock but then spotted two latches inside the plastic cube. They passed a screwdriver to Robert, who eventually freed himself.

He went home safe — but without a stuffed Sponge Bob.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted 10/25/2006 9:33 AM ET
Updated 10/25/2006 12:20 PM ET

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Quality of Mercy

This morning I did battle with a spider. Not an eensy-weensy spider, but one of those huge, brown arachnids whose very presence dredges up primal terrors from the times before men could speak. This hapless beast committed no crime other than to find itself trapped in my bathtub at 4:30am. It's odd how the human mind works. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that large though the creature was by spider standards, compared to me it was a speck. A mere two inches or so of chitenous exoskeleton and a few grams of internal goo. Yet to my mind it was a hulking leviathan; too large to slay outright lest it fight back and give me a terminal case of the screaming heebie-jeebies.

I pondered how best to dispatch my foe. The proverbial shoe? The can of bug spray out in the carport? Ignore it and hope it just finds a gap in the dimensions and vanishes from my reality? No. None of those were acceptable. Then it hit me. THE DRAIN!! But the cover over the drain has holes far too small for this behemoth bug, and is secured with a screw in the middle, and my screwdriver is in the bedroom with my sleeping wife. I tried a pair of nail clippers, but the handle was too thick. Then I went to the kitchen to fetch a butter knife...every housewife knows that a butterknife makes an excellent makeshift screwdriver. Upon my return, however, the horror had ramped itself up a notch or three. The alien in my bathtub had made its way from the far end of the tub to rest RIGHT NEXT TO THE DRAIN!!!! Well, attempting to put all of my knowledge of such critters ahead of my dread, I knew that it would ignore me unless I actually touched it, so I unscrewed the drain cover and turned on the water. It put up a valient struggle against the tide, but ultimately gravity and water pressure won. And, tho it may just be a mental balm to ease my bleeding heart liberal guilt, I like to imagine that where ever the water sent the eight-legged interloper, it is filled with lots of yummy roaches and other spider delicacies, and it is a much happier beastie.

And now I have to go take a...gulp...shower.

Pray for me.

Marius the Merciful

Ahhh, memories.

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See more at Dork Tower.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Silence, Coffee, and the Occasional Cat Fart

It's Monday morning. 5:18 to be precise, and it's very quiet in Castle Marius. The only sounds, now that the feline contingent has been sated with compressed picine parts, are the gentle sighing of the fan, and the hum of the fridge. My synapses, fired by the gift of Juan Valdez, feel like an old Frankensteinian lightning machine just waiting for Eyegore to give them a whack. 'Not the third switch' I seem to hear. Screw it! Yes, the third switch!!

Mark Foley. Many, many years ago I did a play with him at the Lake Worth Playhouse. He was a nice guy, and despite being a Republican I always thought he was one of the good ones. But then again, I suppose Job himself would deliver himself unto evil if he stayed in DC long enough. I do find it hillarious, though, that all these Republican and conservative spin-meisters who are trying to, if you'll pardon the pun, blow this whole thing off as unimportant are the same ones who, just a few short years ago, were beating their breasts and claiming that a blow-job was the end of government as we knew it, and that the recipient should be rode out of town on a rail. My how the worm hath turned.

The Buccaneers finally won a game this weekend in a 14-13 squeaker over the Bengals. Things will be a bit happier in T-Town today.

I have created a new character in Champions:Return to Arms, which is Mrs. Marius and my new video game obsession. His name is Grapthar, and he wields a mighty hammer. (if you get this joke, let me know that I'm not the only obscure geek out here)

As a recent convert to I-tunes I was dismayed to find that Harvey Danger's song Flagpole Sitter is not available. Dang!

Sand makes for a very boring conversation, unless, of course, the words 'ass crack' are involved.

So over the last few days Mrs. Marius has been trying to get me to decide if we are going to stay here in Tampa or keep looking for something better. She wants to go to Culinary Arts school, and can't start it if I can't stay in one job for more than a year. So, I'm going to bite the bullet and stay a high school teacher for the time being, unless something better comes along that does not require us to move.

Pray for me. ;-)

Well, after perusing the headlines and finding nothing but doom and gloom, I'm going to sign off now. Y'all take care out there now. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Good night, everybody!

hee hee
Marius

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ubergeek Roundup

Greetings, Folks, and welcome to an all-nerd special here at The Corner. I have come across two stories that are both 'interesting' and 'fascinating'. (heh heh, I kill me) Uh, ahem, sorry. Anyway, some of you may be aware that Christie's is auctioning off some of the grooviest Star Trek props, models, and memoribilia ever sold this weekend. It is the stuff of legend, such as an original ILM built model of Enterprise-D, and the reconstructed Constitution Class captain's chair from the DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations. I've been reading the press releases over the last few months, and lamenting my poor lotto choosing skills, since most of this stuff is expected to go for thousands of dollars, but no one expected the financial depths of some of the more well heeled Treknerds out there. The above mentioned 78" long model starship, listed at between $25,000 and $35,000 eventually sold for an astronomical $576,000!! And the captain's chair, which is only ten years old and a copy, went for $62,400. So far the auction has racked up $4.9 million. Read more about it here.


Diving deeper into the geek end of the pool, here is a tale of some gamers with mad carpentry skills, and an abundance of free time. Behold the ultimate gaming table.

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It has 6 gaming stations, each with it's own dimmable light, coaster, dice rolling pit, and glass plate under which the GM can put handouts and such. Plus each station has a MDS, or Message Delivery System, port where the GM can send secret messages via a pool table like system of tubes. The GM's station has two dice pits, places for miniatures and papers, and is set up for either a desktop computer or laptop. The table top itself is sturdy enough for a person to stand on, and covered with linoleum. It is quite impressive, and...are you listening D...the builders will soon be publishing plans for the thing. Go here for more pics. It is truly impressive.

Ok, nerdlings and nerdettes, I'm going to go surf the Christie's site and weep quietly to myself.

Live long and prosper.
;-)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Saturday Funny

 


Here's a tidbit from Alien Loves Predator, an online comic I frequent, that I think you all will appreciate.

Marius Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Shine, Jesus, Shine.(really)

As you have probably heard, a terrible thing happened in an Amish school in Pennsylvania on Monday. An armed man went in, sent all the adults and boys away, then shot 10 little girls, killing five, and leaving three in critical condition, and two in serious condition, before killing himself. The reasons for this unthinkable act are as numerous as they are puzzling, and listening to the reports on NPR yesterday had me on the verge of tears several times, but what really pushed me over the edge was when the reporter mentioned that not only were the people in the community praying for the families of the slain children...they were also praying for the family of the gunman. If this were days, or weeks after the fact I would not have given it a second thought. 'Good' Christians are supposed to forgive, at least superficially in front of others once the rage has worn off. But here are a group of Christians who, in the fullness of their grief and horror, finding room in their hearts for forgiveness. A newspaper reporter named Daniel Burke spent Tuesday evening with an Amish family named Mary and Ben. Here is a tiny bit of the conversation they had:

As Mary and Ben explained the day's violence to their sons, they emphasized the importance of forgiveness and trusting in God.

"I just feel bad for the gunman," said Mary's husband, Ben, 41. "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God."


I have seen religious hypocrisy that was medieval in its scope, but this is one of the very few times that I've seen real faith in action. The above conversation is typical of several reports I've heard coming from the Amish about this horrible event. While I'm not about to give up my tv or computer and go buy a wide-brimmed black hat, it is somewhat comforting to see that in the midst of trying to sort out this terrible crime there is a ray of divine light shining through. Maybe, just maybe there is a slight hope for the souls of humanity after all.

Marius

Monday, October 02, 2006

Invasion of the Demon Teddy Bears!

Well, we seem to have another theme going here at The Corner. On the contraceptive front it appears that a small island off the coast of Australia is experiencing a bit of a wildlife conundrum. A population explosion of koalas is threatening to divest Kangaroo Island of all its eucalyptus trees. The problem is that until the 1920's, when 18 of the adorable marsupials were brought to the island, there were no koalas there. Since they were not a part of the island's natural ecosystem, no koala-eating predators exist on the island. There are now over 28,000 of the little guys chomping away at a rate of nearly a pound of leaves per bear a day. Pretty soon they'll literally eat themselves out of house and home.

Of course the obvious answer to the problem, open season on Kangaroo Island koalas, has met with massive protests, so scientists have taken another tack...contraceptive implants. They have had great success with implanting a canine contraceptive between the shoulder blades of female koalas which keeps them sterile for up to two years. The process is completely painless, requiring no sedation, but is very time and effort intensive since koalas are arboreal beasties. It can take more than an hour just to get up into the trees where they spend most of the day sleeping. So the scientists, in conjunction with the Australian government, have been developing a dart that can be fired into the koalas' thigh that will drastically reduce the time, and thus the cost, of putting the Kangaroo Island koalas on the pill. Now I have to wonder just how they can tell, from dozens of feet below, which bears are female. Maybe it's the nightcap and face cream that gives them away.

Contraceptively yours,
Marius

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Trojan Man: boon to the boudoir, or filthy liar?

Great leaping tadpoles of destiny! I just found out that nonoxynol-9, the primary ingredient in the spermicidally lubricated condom, is actually not all that good at killing the little devils. And not only that, it can cause microscopic lesions in living tissue that atually increase the likelyhood of contracting STD's! I have never been a fan of condoms(what man is?) but rarely complained due to the even greater dislike of unwanted progeny. But one of the more unpleasant effects N-9 had on me was that it caused the first pee after sex to be extremely painful. And now I find out that the sensation of fire shooting from my artillery was all for naught? And what's even better about this is that the World Health Organization released this information back in 2001, yet I just found out about it this morning! Here is an excerpt from the WHO report:

There is no published scientific evidence that N-9-lubricated condoms provide any additional protection against pregnancy or STIs compared with condoms lubricated with other products. Since adverse effects due to the addition of N-9 to condoms cannot be excluded, such condoms should no longer be promoted. However, it is better to use N-9-lubricated condoms than no condoms.

This does raise an interesting thought, however. Since the fruitless pregnancy of a few months ago, Wifey and I have been trying quite actively to make another go of it, so far with no success. I am now wondering if the problem lies with my little swimmers, since there have been a total of 2 pregnancy scares in nearly 25 years of illicit activities. It makes one ponder...

So, anyway, if you are still relying on the lauded N-9 to keep you child-free, think again.

This has been a public service announcement from Dr. Marius.

:-)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Barfunkle!

Alas, the ancient utterance of power above worketh not. Oh well, I guess I'll just ramble then. It's tech week, so I'm pretty much brain dead. And it's a special tech week, since I was given a two week vacation/hell-ride to Normaltown that put me two weeks behind. My set is similar to what I had in mind, and my lighting designer has yet to write a single cue. And my sound designers almost have the CD made. Oh, and did I mention that the show opens Thursday night? I'm trying to figure out how to spell that special kind of giggling that preceeds the call to the sanitorium. Arkham? Yeah, Marius here. How's about you reserve me a room, a bed, and one of those special jackets.

Ok, that's all I have the energy for. Don't know what's going on in the world. Hope it's not too creepy.

George Bush sucks!

Love ya's.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The wind is in the sails, the oars are in the locks, and we must awaaaaay!

Arr, shiver me timbers and hoist the mainsail, me hearties, for 'tis National Talk Like a Pirate Day. The day when all ye scurvy dogs and saucy wenches put gravel in yer guts, and booty on yer thoughts, and arr the day away. And if ye be a landlubber, and need some larnin of the pirate way, then ye'll be wantin to watch this...

Movie

Now be off with ye, lest I draw me cutlass and send ye t'Davey Jones. Arrrr!!!!


Cap'n Marius

Monday, September 18, 2006

Some Sort of Return in Triumph is Required...

(bonus points if you can identify the show that title quote is from)

Greetings, Gentle Readers. I went back to the arts school today, and it was actually pretty groovy. I got many hugs, handshakes, and even people I didn't know saying how glad they were that I was back. And they had actually gotten quite a bit done on the set in my absence. It's still going to be a tight squeeze to get the thing up in time, but not so impossible as I had feared. So, I'm in a good mood for the first time in quite a while. On to some more trivial things.

Saturday was the first showing of the first of the re-done Star Trek episodes. They chose Balance of Terror, which was the first episode to feature the Romulans. It starred Mark Leonard as the Romulan Commander, the same actor who would later play Spock's father, Sarek, and the Klingon Commander at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The new effects were very well done. Vastly superior to the originals, but made to blend seamlessly with the show itself, even adopting the same graininess and texture of the original footage. They could easily have ramped up the effects, but chose instead to simply replace the herky-jerky old model shots with much smoother CGI. Overall the revamp was beautiful. My only complaint was that the episode was still edited for syndication, but it was edited with all the subtlety of Freddy Kruger on crack. I guess we'll have to wait for the DVD's to see the real glory of the refits.

Ok, I'm really tired, so I'm going to end this here. I don't know what the future holds for us, but at least it's a lot less aggravating.

Peace, y'all.
Marius

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why Can't Johnny Read? 'Cause the Bosses are Idiots!!

Ok, my mom called me last night and berated me, gently, over the paucity of local news in recent editions of The Corner. She was, this time, quite correct. I have been purposely avoiding blogging about my adventures through the hallowed halls of education, but for good reasons. 1. I was unsure as to the outcome of the tale. And, more importantly, 2. I was so disgusted that I didn't want to talk/write about it, lest I continue the bitch fest. But, a promise is a promise, so pray attend my tale of bureaucratic woe.

So, when last we met I was sent to a school for 'normal' kids. I went, and much to my dismay not only was I to teach Drana, but I was also to teach one class of...English 1! I haven't taken an English class in over twenty years. How in the screaming f*ck am I supposed to teach it? So the beleaguered department head, understandably expecting a 'real' teacher, added to her already Sisyphean work load the joyous duty of providing me with a lesson plan each day for a class that I had no clue how to teach. The Drama classes were somewhat better, but even this class was half populated with kids put there against their wills by the guidance counselors. Ya-freaking-hoo. And all along I kept being told by the people back at the arts school that I would be back 'any day now'. Meanwhile the kids at my new school, who were trying to deal with a steady stream of subs after their 'real' teacher went to jail for check fraud, kept asking me if I was staying. Not that they were particularly fond of me, since for some reason I expected them to be quiet in class and do their work, but they were just sick of not knowing who would be their teacher each day. And all I could tell them was that as far as I knew I wasn't going anywhere. Then, finally, on Wednesday I got a call. I'm going back. But, not until Monday. So I was just another sub for two days, and now I'm going back to the arts school. Now, I have no idea if any work has been done on the set since I left, but we have a show that's supposed to open next Thursday, and I just lost the better part of two weeks build time. And on top of that, I am going back to West Palm next weekend for my adoptive son's going away party, and there is no way in hell I'm missing that. So this next week should be interesting.
So what is the moral to this little tale? Mainly that the Hillsborough county school system doesn't give a fuck about the students. All they care about is having a body in the classroom, and who cares if that person can actually teach the subject. It's no wonder most freshmen I've seen in college can barely put a sentence together.

And there you have it, oh faithful few. I don't know how long I'll be in this situation, but I am actively looking to get back to collegiate teaching. They may be clueless, but at least they make sure the teachers know their shit.

I'm exhausted, disgusted, and tired of this whole thing. But, I will try to be more entertaining with my next entry.

Peace, dear ones.
Marius

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pharmacist's Blues

This was sent to me by a dear friend who is a pharmacist. I found it both amusing, and very enlightening.

Why your Pharmacist hates you so much....
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I Realize Today I've Done You A Disservice
WARNING: This post may be painful for those in the profession to read.

For over a year and a half now, the first thing anyone visiting my
little blog garden has seen under the headline at the top of the page
is the promise that the question of "why does my prescription take so
damn long to fill" will be answered. Tonight I looked over this blogs
archives and realized it was a promise not kept. While many topics
have been covered here, and you have been provided with ample evidence
of how drugstore workday life does indeed warp the mind, the question
of why it took 2 hours for you to get 20 Vicodin has remained
unanswered. I can't help but to think there may be someone out there
who has been logging on every day for the last 18 months hoping in
vain for this mystery to be solved. Should such a person exist, I
offer my humble apologies. To everyone else, I offer the following
prescription scenario:

You come to the counter. I am on the phone with a drunk dude who wants
the phone number to the grocery store next door. After I instruct him
on the virtues of 411, you tell me your doctor was to phone in your
prescription to me. Your doctor hasn't, and you're unwilling to wait
until he does. Being in a generous mood, I call your doctors office
and am put on hold for 5 minutes, then informed that your prescription
was phoned in to my competitor on the other side of town. Phoning the
competitor, I am immediately put on hold for 5 minutes before speaking
to a clerk, who puts me back on hold to wait for the pharmacist. Your
prescription is then transferred to me, and now I have to get the 2
phone calls that have been put on hold while this was being done. Now
I return to the counter to ask if we've ever filled prescriptions for
you before. For some reason, you think that "for you" means "for your
cousin" and you answer my question with a "yes", whereupon I go the
computer and see you are not on file.

The phone rings.

You have left to do something very important, such as browse through
the monster truck magazines, and do not hear the three PA
announcements requesting that you return to the pharmacy. You return
eventually, expecting to pick up the finished prescription.....

The phone rings.

......only to find out that I need to ask your address, phone number,
date of birth, if you have any allergies and insurance coverage. You
tell me you're allergic to codeine. Since the prescription is for
Vicodin I ask you what exactly codeine did to you when you took it.
You say it made your stomach hurt and I roll my eyes and write down
"no known allergies" You tell me......

The phone rings.

.....you have insurance and spend the next 5 minutes looking for your
card. You give up and expect me to be able to file your claim anyway.
I call my competitor and am immediately put on hold. Upon reaching a
human, I ask them what insurance they have on file for you. I get the
information and file your claim, which is rejected because you changed
jobs 6 months ago. An asshole barges his way to the counter to ask
where the bread is.

The phone rings.

I inform you that the insurance the other pharmacy has on file for you
isn't working. You produce a card in under 10 seconds that you seemed
to be unable to find before. What you were really doing was hoping
your old insurance would still work because it had a lower copay. Your
new card prominently displays the logo of Nebraska Blue Cross, and
although Nebraska Blue cross does in fact handle millions of
prescription claims every day, for the group you belong to, the claim
should go to a company called Caremark, whose logo is nowhere on the
card.

The phone rings.

A lady comes to the counter wanting to know why the cherry flavored
antacid works better than the lemon cream flavored antacid. What
probably happened is that she had a milder case of heartburn when she
took the cherry flavored brand, as they both use the exact same
ingredient in the same strength. She will not be satisfied though
until I confirm her belief that the cherry flavored brand is the
superior product. I file your claim with Caremark, who rejects it
because you had a 30 day supply of Vicodin filled 15 days ago at
another pharmacy. You swear to me on your mother's'....

The phone rings.

.......life that you did not have a Vicodin prescription filled
recently. I call Caremark and am immediately placed on hold. The most
beautiful woman on the planet walks buy and notices not a thing. She
has never talked to a pharmacist and never will. Upon reaching a human
at Caremark, I am informed that the Vicodin prescription was indeed
filled at another of my competitors. When I tell you this, you say you
got hydrocodone there, not Vicodin. Another little part of me dies.

The phone rings.

It turns out that a few days after your doctor wrote your last
prescription, he told you to take it more frequently, meaning that
what Caremark thought was a 30-day supply is indeed a 15 day supply
with the new instructions. I call your doctor's office to confirm this
and am immediately placed on hold. I call Caremark to get an override
and am immediately placed on hold. My laser printer has a paper jam.
It's time for my tech to go to lunch. Caremark issues the override and
your claim goes though. Your insurance saves you 85 cents off the
regular price of the prescription.

The phone rings.

At the cash register you sign....

The phone rings.

......the acknowledgement that you received a copy of my HIPPA policy
and that I offered the required OBRA counseling for new prescriptions.
You remark that you're glad that your last pharmacist told you you
shouldn't take over the counter Tylenol along with the Vicodin, and
that the acetaminophen you're taking instead seems to be working
pretty well. I break the news to you that Tylenol is simply a brand
name for acetaminophen and you don't believe me. You fumble around for
2 minutes looking for your checkbook and spend another 2 minutes
making out a check for four dollars and sixty seven cents. You ask why
the tablets look different than those you got at the other pharmacy. I
explain that they are from a different manufacturer. Tomorrow you'll
be back to tell me they don't work as well.

Now imagine this wasn't you at all, but the person who dropped off
their prescription three people ahead of you, and you'll start to have
an idea why.....your prescription takes so damn long to fill.

A year and a half late, but a promise kept. I feel better about myself
already.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memorium

I don't have much to say about 9/11 that I haven't said before. Mourn, remember, commemorate as you will. This should not be a day of politicizing, but a day of quiet reflection. And I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thumpthumpthumpthump

anx‧i‧e‧ty 
–noun, plural -ties. 1. distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune

It is also a powerful and irrational master. I try to sleep, but unfocused thoughts pour acid into my guts and turn my heart into a metronomic M-16 on full auto. The people from the 'good' high school called and think they can get me back. The college responded with a 'Let me get back to you.' Which option is the best for me, and the family? Am I even looking in the right direction? Is there some other field I could go into, yet not have to start at the bottom? Then again, what I have been making for the last 5 years or so is starting pay for most 'real' careers. The only other thing I've ever really wanted to do was marine biology, but that kinda requires a whole lot more schooling. I'm a lousy salesman, and retail is out of the question. So, what can a married forty-something with a kid do? My stress level, and thus my asshole-at-home quotient has skyrocketed since I started the new job, but we can't afford for me to be unemployed either. I'm feeling tired, and trapped, and more unsure of myself than ever. If only I could find a nice, cozy shop where I didn't have to be the boss, but could make a livable wage. And as long as I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony, too.

Thanks for listening to me bitch. You guys are the greatest.

Marius

Rectum? Damn near killed 'em!

This was sent to me by one who personifies this philosophy perfectly. Thanks, Doug.
:-)


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Much Needed Weekend

Ahhhh, friends. What a wonderful thing they are. Let me explain...no, wait, there is too much. Let me sum up. A little over a month ago I got wind that the Fine Arts magnet high school here in town needed a new technical director. You all know that tale. The rapid departure from the college; the torturous application procedure, the blood-pressure raising stress; and the myriad downsides to the gig that no-one told me of. But there was one very vital piece of information that should have been shared with me but wasn't. Apparantly every year the school board threatens to eliminate the position of technical director at this school, and, up til now, the administration has managed to forestall that elimination. Note that I said up til now. On Friday, half-way through my first class, I was informed that I was supposed to report to 'the pool'. This is where displaced teachers go to be reassigned. Now, my bosses kept telling me that, since I am not qualified to teach anything but technical theatre I would probably be coming right back. Oh foolish ones, how little they understand the bean counter mentality. When I explained that the one class they wanted me to take, Drama at a different, regular school, was outside of my abilities, they simply said that I either take that one, or they'd put me in something I was even less able to teach. So quality of education loses to simply having a body in the classroom. Nice. So, while my former bosses assure me that they have come up with a plan that 'should' work to get me back, I'm getting ready to contact my former boss at the college and grovel for my old job back. It's so much fun being me.

Which brings me to the real subject of today's blog. My friend Sean-Logan and his lovely wife had said that they would be replacing their children's bedroom furniture sometime soon, and would our young'n like the bunk bed set that would then be superfluous. Ever the free-furniture whore I said yes. Well, this weekend became the date of transfer. We rented a U-Haul and went to Naples. In addition to getting said bedroom set, we played video games, ate pizza, watched Firefly episodes(and yes, I'm hooked now, dammit!) and generally did nothing of great import. It was a much needed break from the soul-crushing stress I've been under, and the kid got a groovy new bed. Now I can face this week with some degree of calm, and hopefully put an end to this grand mistake I've made.

Peace out, y'all.

Marius

Stingray Elaboration

I got this from Livescience.com.

How a Passive Stingray Can Become Deadly

By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 04 September 2006
12:16 pm ET



Stingrays like the one that killed "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin are cousins of sharks. But unlike some sharks, which are fearsome predators with powerful jaws, the stingray is rarely a threat to humans and its small mouth is no threat at all.

The tail of the stingray that killed Irwin is capped with a roughly 8-inch spear made of the same stuff that makes up shark scales, known as dermal denticles. The spear, which stiffens when the stingray feels threatened, is serrated like a steak knife and packs a venom that can be deadly to predators.


The tip of a stingray's tail is serrated like a steak knife.
"The venom itself is a largely protein-based toxin that causes great pain in mammals and may also alter heart rate and respiration," according to the Mote Marine Laboratory.

"Stingrays do not attack people, however if it is stepped on, the stingray will utilize its spine as a form of defense," according to Nancy Passarelli and Andrew Piercy of Florida Museum of Natural History. "Although being pierced by the stingray’s spine is painful, it is rarely life threatening to humans."

There are about 200 species of stingrays. They live in both freshwater and in the oceans. Many do not have the ability to sting.

A stingray's mouth is on the underside of its flat body, so that it can feed on worms, crustaceans and other creatures on the seafloor. Its teeth are used to crack shells of prey.

Stingray spines have been used by coastal tribes to create spears and arrowheads, according to the Miami Museum of Science.

Irwin was likely killed not by the sting so much as the fact that the stingray's spear pierced his heart and caused him to bleed to death, according to news reports.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey!

Well, for a guy who seems to have lived a charmed life, crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has been suffled off this mortal coil by an extreme case of bad luck. After making a career out of manhandling the fiercest predators on Earth, Irwin was killed by a stingray while diving off the coast of Australia. It wasn't the venom that killed him. Stingray venom is painful, and not a lot of fun, but is very rarely lethal. What got him, apparantly, is a one-in-a-million shot where the ray's barb pierced his heart. He is survived by his wife and two kids. Here is the full AP story.

I can't say I was a fan. I took more of a 'let's see what this nutjob will do next' attitude toward him, but I can't deny that he did a lot of good for wildlife in general, and for Australian wildlife specifically. His high profile and crazy antics may have paved the way for the popularity of the cable network Animal Planet, and he definately helped raise public awareness of the plight of the world's endangered species. And, at the risk of sounding trite, he died while doing what it was he loved to do. And I suppose that's one of the better ways to go. Vaya con dios, Steve. Good on ya.

Marius

Thursday, August 31, 2006

To Boldly Return

Ok, fellow Trek-nerds, hold on to your saurian brandy. Something we never knew we wanted is about to make us...well, at least me...very happy. Last month I was cruising YouTube, the website where people can upload various video clips for the general perusal, and on a lark I did a search for Star Trek. Strangely there weren't as many as I would have thought, but in amongst the Simpson parodies and Con footage I came across some 'proof of concept' clips of original Trek episodes with modern CGI effects put in over the 'then ground breaking but now horribly dated' old effects shots. I was blown away. The Doomsday Machine seemed to be the favorite target, and it was awesome. At the time I thought to myself that wouldn't it be great if the studios actually allowed this to be done to all the episodes? You see, I was assuming that these clips were from ambitious fans with lots of mad computer skillz, and too much time on their hands. I was wrong.

Here is a quote from Startrek.com: "CBS Paramount Domestic Television has officially announced that they are releasing digitally remastered episodes of Star Trek, with all new special effects and music, to celebrate the groundbreaking series' 40th anniversary, according to John Nogawski, president of CBS Paramount Domestic Television."

The shows are scheduled to begin airing on September 16th, starting with The Enterprise Incident, which was the first on-screen encounter with the Romulans, and will show off the new starship effects brilliantly.

I am sure that there will be some purists out there who will object to this, but I feel that, unlike what George Lucas did to Star Wars, this will only enhance the shows rather than alter them for the worse. And maybe, just maybe, some of the young punks today who giggle at the original series for its primitive look might finally develop some measure of respect for the little series that started a galactic empire.

If only Gene Roddenberry were alive to see this, I'm sure he'd be smiling.

Message ends.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And Now a Paid Political Message

When it comes to helping people, Richard Smoker is your man. Dick Smoker is a compassionate, fiscal conservative who once stayed in the same city as Ronald Regan and even wrote a letter to our greatest president.

Heywood Jablowme, on the other hand, has never voted against the over six-hundred tax raises enacted since the tax act of 1874! Jablowme regularly strangles puppies in his den and uses them to polish the skulls of the orphan nuns he murdered in 1975.

Dick Smoker opposes all forms of taxation, and wants to deport every homosexual and illegal alien in the state. Dick Smoker is endorsed by the NRA, PTA, IRA, ROTF, LMAO, and The Lord God Almighty Himself. If elected governer Dick Smoker will give every man, woman, and child their very own jar of rescued embryos to raise in a good, Christian way.

Heywood Jablowme worships the devil, and if elected will kill and eat every first born male child in the state. Jablowme hates the United States, and often plays Scrabble with Osama Bin Laden while burning flags and P.O.W. bracelets.

Who would you rather have in the capitol? Dick Smoker, a decorated veteran and close personal friend of Jesus, or Heywood Jablowme, a vile, blood-drinking ghoul who despises you and your entire familY?

The choice is obvious.


I'm Dick Smoker, and God and I approved this message.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Shatner Roast

Hi folks, and welcome to a somewhat perplexed edition of The Corner. I just finished watching the Comedy Central roast of William Shatner. It was mildly amusing, although I always thought that the point of these things was to get a bunch of entertainers who were friends of the guest of honor to come up and rip on them for a few minutes then get all mushy at the end. For this one only George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Betty White had actually worked with Shatner previously. There were a few laughs, but for the most part the humor was crude, vulgar, mean-spirited, and not particularly funny. And can someone explain why Andy Dick is still employed? Even Gilbert Godfried, whom I cannot stand, makes me laugh on rare occasions. Dick is just a less attractive, shorter version of Sandra Bernhard with a smaller penis, and an even smaller talent. And the one comedian who's bit I was looking most forward to, Kevin Pollak, wasn't even aired! I will say that seeing George Takei say "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!" was worth the price of admission, but the lack of any true warmth at the end just made it feel pointless. And Shatner's closing monologue was stilted, forced, and had more of a 'I know you are, but what am I' feel to it rather than a polished riposte to the night's thrusts. And that, I now realize, sums up my disappointment. I was expecting a verbal fencing match, and what they gave me was a comedic Thunderdome, filled with cheap shots, and below the belt punchlines. Ah well, it's not the first time I was expecting sirloin, and was served cat food. C'est la guerre.

Marius

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eat it, Mickey!!

The Plutocracy is over! That pesky bit of Kuiper Belt detritus, that frigid, bifurcated dustball, that hiddeously ancient frozen Yuggoth of Lovecraftian nightmares is history. Today the International Astronomical Union finalized it's definition of just what constitutes a major planet. As before, a planet must not be in thrall to any other body but good old Sol, must not be a star, must have enough mass for gravity to pull it into a roughly spherical shape(we live on an ovoid), and(here's the planet killer for Pluto) it must have a clear neighborhood around its orbit. In other words, all of the major planets have scooped up, or flung away, all debris, asteroids, and other space crap in their ways. Pluto, on the other hand, has such a wonky orbit that it crosses over the orbit of Neptune, which tiny Pluto could never hope to clear away. So rather than the unwieldy 12+ planet Solar System I fretted over the other day, we are now left with an official, and undisputable 8 planets. And what of frozen Yuggoth? It, and it's Kuiper Belt bretheren and sisteren are to be dubbed Dwarf Planets. This way we don't have to change the kids' mobiles every time another big rock is found out beyond Neptune, and all we need do to make all of our schoolbooks accurate is just apply some creative Sharpie action.

Peace out, yo!
Marius

Saturday, August 19, 2006

...And We're Baaaaaaack!

Hiya, Folks, and welcome to the first all new, no-bitching, non-video edition of The Corner for quite some time. It's Saturday, and I got more sleep last night than usual, and for once the day is going well. I just finished a huge bowl of chocolate pudding and I'm a ready for some bloggin'!

In science news, the International Astronomical Union has finally nailed down a definition of what constitutes a planet. In their words, a planet is: " a celestial body with sufficient mass to assume a nearly spherical shape that orbits a star without being another star or a satellite of another planet." So what, you might ask, but if you have kids this will affect you more than you might guess. Remember our carefree youth, when we only had to memorize 9 planets? Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Well, your kids will now have to recall 12 heavenly bodies: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto-Charon (now classified as a double planet) and the newly discovered and officially unnamed 2003 UB313(aka Xena). Plus they are considering a new classification for objects that, like Pluto, take more than 200 years to orbit Sol and have eccentric orbits, i.e. not in the same direction as the other planets, or moving outside the plane of the ecliptic. These trapped wanderers will be known as Plutons. Personally I don't know if I like this or not. Ultimately I guess it doesn't really matter, but I would like to reserve planetary status for the big boys, but that's just me. What this does portend, however, is that like Baltic cartographers, astronomers will have to change their charts every time a better telescope comes on-line.

Ok, it's Sunday now. My mom called in the midst of the last paragraph, and I am just now getting back to the old keyboard. I imagine that everyone knows that they have apprehended a suspect in the 10-year-old murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey. This guy makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem well adjusted, and I don't really want to go into all the details of this creep here, but I will say this. I have serious doubts that he did it. I have a feeling in my gut that this clown, while a pedophile and child pornography patron, is merely looking for his fifteen minutes while living out his sick fantasy that he actually had anything to do with this horrific crime. If I'm wrong I'll gladly recant, and if he's convicted I'll volunteer to pull the switch on the chair, but I just don't think he's the guy.

Snakes on a Plane. I didn't really have any desire to see this movie until I saw Samuel L. Jackson on The Daily Show this week. There are a few celebs that are obviously friends with Stewart and it is so much fun to watch them on the show, and Jackson is one of them. Seeing him talk about how much fun he had making this movie is infectious, and the way he and Jon get along is so much fun. It reminds me of the old days of Letterman when Charles Grodin would come on, and they'd spend 15 minutes insulting each other. There's a feeling of being a fly on the wall of the interviewer's living room that makes it all the more enjoyable. When it hits video I imagine we'll rent it and have a good laugh.

And finally, in the Incredibly Pointless Science Projects category, Dutch zookeepers are looking to allow their orangutans to 'date' via the internet with Indonesian orangs. Via the connection they'll be able to push a button that gives their paramours a food treat. The intention is to see if there is compatibility, and hopefully future mating. What's the catch? Well, the cost of transporting the apes is prohibitive, so ultimately the exercise is all for naught. But, if it improves the morale of captive orangs I say just create a CD based program that simulates the process. If Dr. Zaius pushes a button that says he wants to give his digital hottie a pellet, who is to know if the swinger on the screen is real or simulated. It saves the expense of real time communication, and the technology goes back to the first CD based arcade game Dragonslayer. Hey, we're all primates at heart, and if we can let our captive distant cousins get a bit of virtual orangu-tang, why not.

Ok, true believers, this is your friendly neighborhood Marius signing off for now. And let me just say that Sake is, quite possibly, the greatest contribution the Japanese have made to the world. :-)

Namaste, my friends.