Archive for March, 2008

Stupid Web Tricks

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Go the Google, type “find Chuck Norris” (without the quotes) into the search bar, and click “I’m Feeling Lucky”.

That is all.

Man Demands Banned Books Book Banned!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

[alternate title: Man Demands: “Ban Banned Books Book!”]

A man in Texas wants a controversial book banned from the public school reading lists. The book? Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451.

“With God’s name in vain being in there, that’s the number one reason,” said Diana’s father Alton Verm. “There’s no reason for it being read.”

In the complaint filed against the school by Alton Verm, he listed each objected item line by line[…]. Besides bad language and violence, Verm lists “downgrading Christians” and “talking about our firemen” as reasons the book should be banned.

Well, yeah, but the people doing those things are the bad guys! By his own standard, Mr. Verm shouldn’t be reading the Bible either, because it contains people committing blasphemous acts. And violence??? Hey, Man, don’t even get me started. As for “talking about our firemen”, I can only assume he means trashing firemen, which to book does not do; (it does use the term ironically to describe people who do the exact opposite of real-world firemen — in the book they are the ones who start fires).

Altogether now: “Irony!”

Everybody Kills Hitler

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum
Subforum: Europe ? Twentieth Century ? Second World War

Page 263

At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl's cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice!

At 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223.

At 18:06:59, BigChill wrote:
Take it easy on the kid, SilverFox316; everybody kills Hitler on their first trip. I did.

Go read Wikihistory

[Hat Tip: TJICistan]

Update: foxed some link rot. The story was moved to a different site.

Our Benevolent Overlords

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Our government, specifically the ATF, has released a request to vendors containing the following (emphasis mine):

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms requires the following items, Purchase Description Determined by Line Item, to the following:

LI 001, EXACT MATCH ONLY – Leatherman Micra Color: Blue – Part number 64340101K Engraved with:… “always think forfeiture”

A “Leatherman”, if you are not familiar, is a Leatherman multi-tool — similar to the once-ubiquitous Swiss Army Knife. The “Micra” requested is a small model suitable for a keychain, presumably to be given out to agents.

How nice of them to confirm where their priorities lie. Never forget — governments always want to tighten their control over their citizens, and it’s a lot easier to control an unarmed populace.

Hat Tip: TJICistan, who has nice idea for a t-shirt.

Slice of Life

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

When I was about four years old I stepped on… something sharp… under the water at a lake in northern Wisconsin. Sliced my foot open right good. I screamed like a banshee until Mom or Dad (don’t quite remember) came and got me — I was only about ten feet from shore.

I’m now 35 years old. I still vividly remember the pain. I remember Mom (or Dad?) washing my foot off, hands soaked in red. I remember the drive to the only hospital in the area, which was on an Indian reservation.

I remember getting the novocain shot (seemingly) directly into the gash that almost severed my pinkie toe, and I remember the feeling of the sewing needle going in and out as they put in the stitches.

And I remember not being scared. Mom and Dad were right there.

(Inspired by this post.)

The Bible on Human Rights

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Interesting post from Maynard over at Tammy’s place. A story from the Old Testament, and an interesting take on modern politics.

A manipulative advisor had convinced the King to issue an edict to exterminate the Jews. Upon realizing his error…

7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows.

8 Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring ? for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

Quick show of hands: Who knows what the new decree was?

Interesting to note that the Jews actually have a holiday to celebrate this.

Go read.

Our Hero(n’t)

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Everything you think you know about Love Canal is wrong.

Citizens: Eek – there is goo in our front yard! And in the playgrounds! Aiiii!

Local Government: Well .. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! We had no idea.

National Government: We’ll save you ma’am, from the folly of short-sighted businessmen in the pursuit of the almighty dollar! Take THAT you fiend (POW) and that (KA-BLAM)!

Citizens: Thanks God for the government, the righter of wrongs and the leveler of playing fields!

That’s the end of the story. It’s the beginning part that’s interesting.

Go read.

¿Que What?

Friday, March 14th, 2008

The wife is planning to make quesadillas one of these days, and it inspired me to write up a quick etymology of this fascinating word.

Quesadilla (pron. kay-suh-dee-uh) of course comes from the Spanish language. As we all know, “Que” is the Spanish word for “What” when posing a question. “Sadilla”, in turn, is a spelling corruption of the French “cedilla“, which is pronounced the same way. A cedilla is a French bit of punctuation — that little squiggle you sometimes see under the letter “ç”. (Ooooh, alliteration!)

So “Que Sadilla” literally translates as “What French?”, or more meaningfully, “I don’t speak French” — which makes sense, as the speaker clearly speaks Spanish. As for how this strange term came to represent a delicious cheese-stuffed food, well, everyone knows that the French are notorious cheese-eaters, so there you go.

Here endeth the lesson.


Would that make him “brain-alive”?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

From the mind of David Mamet:

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

Davit Mamet (if you don’t already know) is a famous playwright, and historically the lefty-est of leftwits. The article from which I take that quote is quite excellent, even if I do take issue with some of the so-called “facts” he throws out (such as the long-disproved “Bush Stole The 2000 Election”). Hey, we got him thinking. One thing at a time.

Overall, a worthy piece, and a compelling look into the mind of a die-hard liberal moderate libertarian(???).

Go read: Why I am No Longer a “Brain-Dead Liberal”

Northern Gentleman

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

There is a large gaming convention that used to run every year in Milwaukee Wisconsin (now moved to Indianapolis, Indiana), by the name of Gen Con. It started out about 40 years ago in a basement in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, when a bunch of friends got together to play table-top war games.

It has grown a bit since then. Today, something like 30,000 people attend every year — coming together to play role playing games (“RPGs”) such as Dungeons and Dragons and its many, many descendants. In recent years it has expanded to also include a significant science fiction element — with guest celebrities from movies and television, signings, author presentations, memorabilia, and the like. Between playing everything from chess to D&D to “live action” games and miniatures battles, to game companies showing (and selling!) there latest wares, the convention has plenty for all those thousands to do for four days. A significant reason it left its home in Milwaukee is that that town didn’t have enough hotels to house the attendees! Indianapolis, home to the infamous “500” race, has more room.

I went every single year for about 12 years — I had a place to stay about a hour out of town, and did the commute, rather than spend an extra couple hundo for a hotel (I started going when I was 16).

So, one year I’m roaming through the Great Hall at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, and I come across a large booth hawking a new card game. Card games were hot that year, as Magic: The Gathering had appeared on the scene a year or two previously, and given its creators a virtual license to print money. (That company, Wizards of the Coast, now owns Gen Con, literally.)

The new game was called Legend of the Five Rings. (I could date this specifically from that fact if I wanted to, but off the cuff I think it was about ten years ago.) It was modeled on Japanese mythology, and seemed an interesting concept — so I sat in on a demo.

The first thing I noticed was that this game was bigger than Magic. Where Magic involved two opponents facing off, there were about eight or ten people sitting at the table, and we were all going to be playing one big game. I was at a corner of the long table. There was an older man across from me, and a twelve-or-so year old kid to my left (at the end of the table.)

Before things got going I was chatting a bit with the older guy and the kid. I remember the man well — he was grey haired and balding, with a salt & pepper beard and a friendly face. He and the kid clearly knew each other, as the kid was good-humoredly trash talking the man as the game got under way. (I discovered shortly later that the man was his father — it figures, though the age difference did surprise me a bit….)

The way the game worked, you could ally yourself with another player to take on a third (or an opposing alliance, as the case may be). As this was a demo, they were encouraging us to try such maneuvers out to see how they add richness to the game. I was getting a kick out of the kid, so I decided to ally myself with him against his dad. We played along, working out the new rules and enjoying the game, and after a few minutes I started noticing muttering and a few chuckles coming from further down the table. One comment caught my ear — “He’s taking him on!”

Who’s taking who on? What’s the big deal?

Then I looked down. At the convention, your ticket into events and the Great Hall was a badge that hung around your neck. A badge with your name on it. In large capital letters. The man’s badge said, in large staring-me-in-the-face-for-twenty-minutes black print: Gary Gygax.

If you’ve read this far, you are now in one of two categories: people who just cracked a grin (and maybe uttered a “Cool!”), and people who just said to yourself: “Gary Who”?

Gary Gygax is basically the guy who created Dungeons and Dragons. He’s the guy without whom the 30,000 strong convention I was enjoying at that moment would not exist. And here I was quite genially ganging up with his son against him and handing him his ass in a card game.

Normally in these kinds of situations, I end up at a loss for what to say. But I’d been chit-chatting with the guy for about half an hour by this point. We were practically buds. He was a really nice guy, and I’d liked him a lot before I realized who he was beyond “they guy sitting across from me”.

Naturally, I got his autograph. I still have that Gen Con Four-Day Pass, signed by the man himself.

I am saddened to say that that autograph just became a lot more valuable.

Gary passed away yesterday, March 4, 2008, at his home in Lake Geneva. The world has lost a really nice guy — a real gentleman. I’m happy that I had the opportunity to really meet him — far beyond the two second “autograph table” meetings you usually have with celebs at such events.

R.I.P., Gary. We’ll all miss you.