Archive for May, 2005

Journalism at its Finest

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

According to a recent report by the FDA, the impotency medication “Viagra” causes blindness. At last, now we know why Bob Dole spent so much time hawking the drug, and it wasn’t just to creep everyone out. Obviously, the GOP is creating an army of perpetually horny jazz pianists, for what evil purposes I have yet to uncover.

More in this sinister plot can be found here.

Hey, it makes more sense than Newsweek.

Cutting deals

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

There has been a lot of furor going around regarding the Republicans (well, seven of them anyway) cutting a deal with the Dems on the judicial nominations rather than “going nucular”.

I think it was a good move.

The Democrats have taken a huge amount of damage politically by filibustering the nominees; now they have agreed to let most of them through and promised to only filibuster “extreme” cases. If they turn around and filibuster again, they had better have a damn strong — I mean air tight — case regarding the person’s “extremism”, or they will only take further damage. They know this… and in the long run, if they do it anyway, the Republicans can always go nucular later.

Many people are arguing that if the positions had been reversed, there is no way that the Democrats would have cut a deal — they would have unhesitatingly steamrolled the opposition the moment they had the votes to do it. I agree with this assessment; but remember: the Democrats are idiots. They’ve spent the last six years gleefully shooting themselves in the ass, over and over again. The seven Republican senators (at least), and perhaps even the seven Dems, are smarter than that.

In short, the Republicans have cut a deal that allows the Democrats to back down and save a little face, in the process powerfully undermining the accusation that Republicans in general are themselves extreme. In the meantime the nominations will go through — probably all of them.

Update: Jay Briant at has a slightly different take, but in essence his essay coincides with my argument, (Hat Tip: Neal Boortz). I would also point out however, that he seems to be under the mistaken impression that the “Nucular Option” would have eliminated filibusters entirely, when in fact it was far more focused than that, and only intended to eliminate filibusters on judicial nominations.

Bill and Ted

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

Freshman year in college I had a dorm-mate by the name of Bill. One night we were hanging out in his room having some discussion or another (topic now long forgotten). After a while the phone started ringing. By ringing, I mean that he would take a call, and twenty seconds later he would get another one. Phone call after phone call after phone call — wrong numbers, quick questions, whatever. None were very long, but it quickly became an irritation as he was wasting so much time answering the phone that we couldn’t actually carry on a conversation. After a while we were laughing at it — his phone was so unrelenting it seemed like someone had to be playing a joke or something.

After a while he started prank answering his phone. *RING* “Pizza Hut — may I take your order?” *RING* “Earl’s House of Lust — what’s your pleasure?” *RING* “Kappa Kappa Kappa, can I hep’ ya hep’ ya hep’ ya?”

That last one was a bit striking (or not) as we were in the deep south. Bill, however, was not a southerner.

*RING* This time my hand shot out and grabbed the phone out from under his reaching hand. “Tri Lambs, Lamar speaking.” (If you know the reference, you can easily imagine the accompanying voice — I’m a pretty good mimic.)

The next instant is the only reason I really remember this story at all. It was a good thing that I wasn’t sitting across from Bill, because it was (and is to this day) the only time in my life I have ever seen somebody do a genuine, bona-fide, across-the-room spit take.

Then there was this other guy — let’s call him Ted. (for t’was his name)

Ted was a self-conscious Personality. By that, I mean that he was a unusual personality at least in part as the result of conscious effort. Upon arriving on campus freshman year,Ted picked up a copy of the newly distributed Freshman Student Directory — which included a photo of each student — and memorized it. Well within a week, word had spread of the guy who knew your name even if you didn’t know his. You’d be walking around campus and this random guy would perk up at the sight of you and say “Hi Bob” in passing (assuming, for the sake of example, that your name is/was Bob). You then either had heard of him, and knew that this must be that “Ted” guy, or suddenly started walking a little faster, wondering if someone had surreptitiously slapped a nametag on you somewhere.

I, as it happened, was a procrastinator. I was such a procrastinator, in fact, that I had neglected to send the school my photograph in time for its inclusion in the aforementioned Freshman Student Directory. Thus, to the man whose vast storehouse of vicarious student familiarity came from the memorization of said volume, I was an enigma. A cipher. An unknown. And that meant that in the Ted-screwing-with-my-head game, I had an edge.

It was thus hugely amusing to walk past him in front of the UC about five days after arrival and deliver a cheery “Hi Ted” in passing. He gaped a bit at me and his eyes leapt a bit wider. That little puzzled crinkle appeared in the center of his brow. Almost instantly it vanished, and he returned with an only slightly hesitant, “…Hi.” I simply grinned and continued on my way. Turnabout and all that.

The next day we passed in roughly the same spot, and without further ado, I was the recipient of a friendly, yet conspicuously deliberate, “Hi Steve.” I returned the greeting, and again we both continued on our way. Turnabout indeed. I still don’t know how he found out who I was out of a couple thousand students on campus. That was just Ted. He had his ways.

It later came to light that Ted had another unusual quality (beyond being a fan of cheeseless pizza — which can be quite good, by the way; you should try it). He spoke 24 languages. That’s not to say that he was fluent in all of them; though, if memory serves, he was fluent in about 4 of them. No, his linguistic breadth was inversely proportionate to the depth of his knowledge in those diverse languages. Specifically, he could say, in those 20 tongues in which he was not fluent, one particular phrase. Testing this claim made for an interesting experience — a bunch of us hanging out in the dorm lounge one night, various people at random intervals throughout the conversation calling out a language, and his immediate responses. Gaelic! Russian! French (easy)! Mandarin Chinese!

The phrase in question was: “My cat is on fire”.

By the time we graduated, he had reportedly expanded his repertoire to 36 languages.

As it Happened, As it Happens

Friday, May 20th, 2005

One of my all-time favorite books is Dracula, by Bram Stoker, written over 100 years ago and reproduced, ripped off, and imitated countless times ever since. None compare to the dark moodiness and fearful tension of the original book.

The author made the interesting choice of presenting the story as a series of dated journal entries, newspaper articles, and the like, as though we the readers had stumbled upon a stack of original manuscripts, and were reading the words of the people who endured the “actual” events.

I’ve discovered an interesting new presentation of the story….
Dracula: the Blog

Very cool way to serialize a great book. Looks as though I’ll be reading it yet again.

Go Donald!

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Chrenkoff has the scoop; and I couldn’t possibly agree with anyone, on any topic, more than I agree with him (and Trump) on this one.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

ComplexSpiral Redux

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005

It has been my intent for quite some time to put up a page for web developers, with tips and techniques, software recommendations, and the like. Part of what has stalled me in implementing this is that there are already so many such sites around, some of them quite excellent, that I felt it would take a rather huge effort to get something going that would truly be worthwhile.

Several months ago, however, I did come up with a CSS layout effect/technique of which I am rather proud; and although I posted it to a popular web developers’ email discussion list, I did not otherwise publicise it or even link it from my main homepage.

So without further ado, I present: ComplexSpiral Redux

Start [sic] Wars, Chapter II

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

A few weeks ago I wrote:

Yesterday a co-worker made mention of the upcoming Start Wars movie, and my response was â??Oh, does that open this weekend?â? He replied â??noâ?, it opens on such-and-such weekend, but thereâ??s a preview opening so-and-so days earlier. I promptly forgot whatever the heck dates and such that he told me.

Iâ??m a miserable failure as a nerd! *sob*

Though Iâ??m still apparently a successful geekâ?¦.

(â?¦and Iâ??m eagerly anticipating the release of this movie, so thatâ??s something.)

The link in the parenthetical note at the end leads to the trailer for the upcoming movie Serenity. It seems that great minds think alike.

It’s all about rights, after all.

Thursday, May 12th, 2005

I think my man Kevin would appreciate this one:

Jail Bill Watterson

Update: Oooo, I just had the best idea for an article about Gary Larson….

The Sky Is(n’t) Falling!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2005

I can remember a few years back, when for a month or so you couldn’t turn on the television without seeing an ad for an environmental organization — “Hot Earth” or somesuch — touting the imminent danger of global warming. The first image in the ad was a memorable one — a hazy red sun rising over a desert, the heat visibly wavering the air. Then the voice over: “Scientists know that global warming is real….”

My first thought was that it was an insult to the intelligence. A basic tenet of logic: Never trust an argument that begins with the words “Everybody knows…”. (Such arguments constitute a fallacy known as Argumentum ad Populum, or Appeal to Popularity.) Because it is obvious that many people do not accept the “reality” of global warming, the people behind the ad had to add a bit of a twist to their ad populum: rather than “everybody” knows, it’s “scientists” (a.k.a. “smart people”) know.

Well what do you know? It turns out that several thousand scientists worldwide know something other that what “scientists know”. In fact, they believe it so strongly that a number of them recently spent a good chunk of their own money to create a 27-minute documentary, which they are trying to get aired on Canadian television in opposition to the Kyoto Treaty. Good luck on that.

But with a little luck and a few links, here’s hoping it gets a lot more exposure than they ever expected.

Hat Tip: Peeve Farm

Repeating myself…

Saturday, May 7th, 2005

I seem to keep saying this lately, but damnit if they don’t just keep pulling rabbit after rabbit after rabbit out of their hats….

This is why I own Apple stock.