Friday, March 30, 2007

All British Friday

So I was at my favorite international grocery the other day, picking up some samosas for lunch. It's the place I go for good olives and cheese and such. As I was leaving I spotted a small sign on the front door that I had never noticed before.

"Fine British food sold here."

I can only assume they were being ironic.

It's A Dog's Life In The Royal Navy

The EU is upset that British sailors have been held for a week in Iran.

Wow. A week, eh? That's harsh. So that means they've been held just about 10 weeks less than the Iranians that were siezed from an Iranian Consulate in Iraq way back in early January.

Did the BBC mention that the Iranians were supposed to be released 3 days before the British sailors were taken into custody? No?

Did they mention that we broke our deal with Iran and that we are still holding them? No?

How's that demand for unconditional capitulation working out for you, Tony? Are they home yet?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fun With Alcohol

OK, that last post was a) really long, and b) about subjects that probably bored you to tears, so here is one that is a) short and b) about something everyone loves.

Next time you're out at a bar with your friends, order a pitcher of black and tans. Enjoy the ensuing moment of disconnect and amused confusion, and think of me. For bonus points, post the reaction here.

Mattoonery... rhymes with buffoonery.

I was back in my old stomping grounds yesterday. My daughter's soccer season started with an away game, and we were on the road down to Mattoon. (On the way to the field, I drove past the Icehouse, the site of Johnny's "All fun and games..." story.)

Let me digress. Here's the thing about Mattoon. It's the shabbier, crappier version of Charleston, the town where I grew up. It's the version of Charleston that Charleston would have been if Eastern hadn't been there. Instead of a university, Mattoon got an interstate off ramp. Mattoon hates Charleston because they claim that Charleston cheated to get the university (true). Charleston hates Mattoon because the people that live there are no-class jerks (also true). Or maybe because they have that sweet interstate off ramp right outside of town and you have to drive 10 minutes to get to Charleston... one or the other. Remember the "no-class" part, it's coming up again soon.

So anyway... soccer. My daughter Zoe found out the day before yesterday that she wasn't going to be starting varsity after all, and she was pretty disappointed. The coaches talked to her after the game yesterday and gave her an explanation for their decision. It turned out to be the one that I had suspected. They need someone to provide leadership for all the new players, and they picked Zoe to be that person. She's got a great eye for the flow of the game, and as center mid she's in the perfect position to be the team leader. But, because the varsity starters can't play in jv, it means she can't start varsity.

This year, our high school team is going to struggle. Last year we had a lot of seniors graduate, and because they cut players last year instead of planning ahead, we are really short handed this year. We barely have enough players to field a varsity and a jv team, and a lot of the freshmen players are new to soccer. To make things worse, anyone who starts varsity can't play in the jv game, so the new players are going to be playing without subs. Ouch.

We got there a few minutes into the game, and the jv team was already down a goal. The Mattoon team wasn't that great, but they were still running all over us. Whenever we had the ball, they were all over us like stink on a monkey. Then I counted jersies. What the hell? I counted again.

They had 11 players. We had 8.

To make matters worse, not too long after we got there, one of our players was injured and had to come off, so it was 11 versus 7 for the rest of the game. How did this happen? Because of injuries and illness, we were even more short handed than ever yesterday, and we could only field 8 jv players. Because he has no class, the Mattoon coach played a full team against our short-handed jv team so they could run up the score and get a win against our jv team, even if it doesn't count in the standings. The ref had tried to suggest that they play 8 on 8, but the Mattoon coach insisted on playing a full team.

Zoe was everywhere. She was dropping back on defense, helping to keep the other players calm and out of trouble, making attacking runs. Still, there is only so much a team can do when the other team has 4 extra players.

It was a rout. 8-0, including an own goal by one of our defenders, and the Mattoon parents cheered and whistled and rang their cowbells and sounded their noisemakers every time they scored. Nice show of class all around. Pretty much what you would expect from a pack of... err... what the hell do you call people from Mattoon? Mattooninites?

Of course, it's not so easy when we aren't spotting them 4 players, and our varsity team tore them a new one. We went up 3-nil before finishing the game at 3-1. Boo yah, Mattoon, boo yah.

Zoe's frustrated because she ran her ass off in the jv game and didn't have the energy she wanted when she did get subbed into the varsity game. She still got a few decent shots off and made some nice plays, but she's hoping to play her way back into her varsity spot, and it's hard to shine in that situation.

If the other coaches decide to play 11 on 8, it's going to be a long season.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Alphabet Soup

A- Available or Single – Nope. I’m sorry, my brother, but you will have to get your own.

B- Best Friends – Justin and Joe, who I never see any more.

C- Cake or Pie – Chocolate Raspberry torte from Sweet Indulgence… or cheesecake… or a good apple pie… although blueberry is nice too. But I’m really not much of a dessert person.

(I was going to provide a link to Sweet Indulgence here, but frankly their website looks like ass. C'mon, it's 2007. There's no excuse for that. No link for you!)

D – Drink of Choice – Lemonade, as long as it’s real. That powdered crap tastes as much like lemons as Pledge does. When it comes to alcohol, I’ll have a good beer, thanks.

E- Essential Item – Try to take away my Mac and you die.

F- Favourite Colour – Black. Everything should come with a matte black option.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms – Da Bears.

H- Hometown – Charleston, Illinois. In case you were thinking of visiting, don’t bother. It sucks. I did my time and got the hell out.

I- Indulgence – Cappuccino, although I don’t indulge it nearly often enough. In my wallet I have one credit card, one ATM card, and a debit card from my local coffee shop.

J- January or February – January. You’ve made it through the holidays and have a bit of a breather before the winter doldrums really set in. February just sucks.

K- Kids – Two. One of each. Teenagers. Oy.

L- Life is incomplete without – Fun. You’ve got one shot at this, and then you’re done, so you had better have fun while you’re doing it.

M- Marriage Date – Late May, in the Walled Garden at Allerton.

N- Number of Siblings? – Three: one brother, two sisters. I’m the baby.

O- Oranges or Apples? – Apple.

P- Phobias/Fears – About the only one that I haven’t overcome is needles. I still have to look away when I get a shot.

Q- Favourite Quote – “The sky over the port was the color of a television set tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson

I think it’s really evocative, and (as I’ve mentioned before) I love that it now means exactly the opposite of what it meant when it was written.

R- Reasons to smile – A well-struck goal, friends, and a weekend without responsibilities.

S- Season – Fall suits my temperament best, but I hate them all when I’m in them. I should move to San Diego where they don’t have seasons.

T- Tag 3 PeopleFlannery, Dale, and Beckeye.

U- Unknown Fact About Me – I hate talking on the phone.

V- Vegetable You Hate – Zucchini. Did you know that zucchini is latin for “Why did I grow this again?”

W- Worst Habit – I have no bad habits. They’re endearing. No? If I have to pick one it would be procrastination.

X- X-rays You've Had – Pretty much all of them. Like Johnny, I was a pretty rough and tumble kid, but I probably got most of them when I was in a pretty serious car accident in Jr. High.

Y- Your Favourite Foods – The spicier the better. I love a good curry. I also like sushi.

Z- Zodiac
– Gemini

Monday, March 26, 2007

Kangaroo Court

If the Republians are so enamored with the rule of law, why do they always feel the need to avoid following it? "Just following orders" isn't an acceptable defense if you're German or Japanese, only if you're an American. Arming insurgents is fine when the US does it in Central America, but bad if Iran is doing it in the Middle East. The ICJ should have jusrisdiction over people from other countries, but obviously not Americans. Secret courts to approve spying on American citizens aren't secret enough, so they'll just skip the whole approval process. The Geneva Convention only applies when they want it to apply. And apparently, the American justice system is only good enough for Democrats. The Republicans created one military tribunal system that was declared unconstitutional, and now their new version is swinging into action.

David Hicks is going on trial today in Guantanamo after 5 years. Not satisfied with just playing fast and loose with the Constituition, the prosecution will be using a host of dirty tricks from the great (submitting hearsay evidence, which is not allowed in most other courts, and evidence obtained through torture, ditto, and also notoriously unreliable) to the petty (the defendant will not be allowed to shave before the trial). In a monumental piece of understatement, his lawyer said "He doesn't have a lot of confidence in the process." Neither do we.

This administration has bleated on at length about returning the rule of law to Iraq. How about we start with returning it to the United States?

Friday, March 23, 2007

What the Friday?

For your enjoyment, a cinematic gem from 1918: The Mystery of the Leaping Fish. I first saw this way back in the day on Night Flight (Thanks, Beckeye, for the correction.) and was reminded of it yesterday when catching up on The Pop Eye.

It starts out with some credits for the people who put this on the web now that it is in the public domain... OK, I guess. About 20 seconds in, we hit the actual credits, and for the next 20 seconds or so, things will be pretty normal.

Douglas Fairbanks, silent film actor, director, and all around legend. (Senior, not Junior [repeat the description])

Wow. Bessie Love, despite being saddled with a name more appropriate for a porn star, is going to continue acting for another sixty-five years after this movie, according to IMDB. I refuse to comment on the fact that she is credited in this role as "The Little Fish Blower".

You might remember the director John Emerson as the writer of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes... if he had written the 1953 version instead of the 1928 version.

Tod Browning is listed as the writer. This is pretty cool since he is now a zombie. According to IMDB, he wrote London After Midnight a good 40 years after he died. (Yeah, yeah, I read the details, but my version is funnier.)

IMDB kicks up aother writer: D. W. Griffith. Yes, that D. W. Griffith. Birth of a Nation, Intolerance... that guy.

So far, this looks like it is a big time movie with big time players... well, big time 1918 players, anyway.

Then we find out the name of the main character. Coke Ennyday, Scientific Detective. And yes, 60 seconds in, that large box on the desk does say "Cocaine". One minute, nine seconds in, Coke Ennyday shoots up for the first of many times in this film, and suddenly we begin to understand how this ended up on late night television in the Eighties.

But here... see for yourself.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who'll Be That Quiet Guy This Time?

My friend Johnny has an excellent post this morning. He usually does, but this morning it is about school and bullies and dimwitted thugs. If I didn't know better, I'd think he grew up in Charleston. It's weird, because I was thinking about this on the way to work this morning. Of course, Johnny's a big picture kind of guy, so it's really about more than that, but Johnny said:
"When I was a kid, there was always a bully around. And eventually, some quiet kid would turn out to be the one not to be trifled with. The bully would mess with him, and in the end, get the living shit kicked out of him by this quiet guy, as his little flunkeys walked away and the rest of the school stood around and cheered on the quiet guy."

Minus the cheering, I was the quiet guy.

I was always the fucking quiet guy. I liked to read. I was weird. My parents were divorced back when nobody got divorced. I went to a weird-ass church (Hi, Mom!). I got swapped around to different grade schools during an aborted redistricting plan, so I didn't have a lot of friends. We were poor. I didn't really hit my growth spurt until high school, so I was usually one of the smaller guys in class. I was a bully magnet.

So I would take their crap until I finally decided that no matter how badly things went, it couldn't be worse than just continuing to suck it up, and then someone would get hurt. It was usually them, but once in a while it was me. See, my siblings are all older than me, quite a bit older, so when I finally got pushed into a fight, I was in it to win it. My brother and I stopped sharing a room one day after he started picking on me and I decked him and left him with a bloody nose. He was 16. I was 7. As he leaned over me, I waved my little left fist under his nose and while he was watching that I pulled my right hand waaaaaaay back and dropped him with a haymaker that he didn't even see coming. I couldn't believe he fell for that. Of course, I also ran like hell before he could get up and retaliate.

Skip forward to Jr. High... One of the Hayes boys had been picking on me for months. He walked by and casually shoved me against my locker. This time, however, I dropped my books, tackled him right there in the hallway in front of Mr. Hutton's room and put him in a headlock. I put my fist right in front of his face and told him: "This time, I'm not punching you in the face." He tried to squirm away and I tightened my grip and repeated, "This time." After a totally flabbergasted Mr. Hutton pulled us apart and took us to the principal's office, the Hayes boys never bothered me again.

Fast forward a year. Marty was dumb kid. He was a year behind me, but only because they flunked dumb kids back then. He was also mean. He and his little droogie were walking behind me as I walked home from school, and every so often they would speed up and give my backpack a kick. I was finally sick enough of their shit to do something about it, so I knocked him down and told him to leave me alone or I would have to hurt him. His little droogie danced around us making noise but didn't intervene. Marty said he would leave me alone so I let him up and continued walking home. A few seconds later, I heard the crunch of running tennis shoes on the gravel behind me. I stepped sideways, turned, and clotheslined him. I repeated the lesson about not messing with me, but this time I emphasized it by thumping the back of his head against the ground on the important words, and this time the lesson stuck. His little droogie ran away and left him there.

OK, that time there was a little cheering, but we were in front of the line of busses picking up the high school kids when it happened.

It didn't always go down like that. I wasn't a particularly tough kid or a very good fighter. Mostly, they were so shocked that someone was actually standing up to them that I took them completely by surprise. One kid just dropped me like a bad habit. One punch and the fight was over. It turns out that in addition to being a jackass, he actually was a particularly tough kid and a pretty good fighter. You know what? He also decided that there were easier kids to mess with, and he left me alone after that.

My strategy was to hurt them a little, and let them know that that the next time the gloves would be off. The fear of what I might do was always going to be worse than anything I could actually do. Am I going to share this strategy with my son? Hell, no. Back then, kids didn't take guns to school. The worst you would end up with was an ass kicking. Even so, there's an important lesson in this. You've got to stand up to the bully, even if you lose in the short run. If you never stand up to them, they'll never stop, and you'll just have to keep sucking it up.

So here's my question for our elected officials: Can you please stop sucking now?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Meet the New Doubts, Same as the Old Doubts.

The Beeb is reporting new doubts about the intelligence leading to the war in Iraq.

It seems to me that they are the same old doubts resurfacing: deliberate misuse of intelligence by heads of government, complicity by the intelligence agencies involved, and a lapdog media too afraid of losing access to actually do its job. Haven't we heard them all before?

I mean, OK, sure... thanks, BBC, for reporting that there are problems with the intelligence. Thanks, intelligence officials, for stepping forward and saying that Tony Blair was making unjustified assertions about the quality of intelligence that you provided. Thank you, opposition leaders, for actually acting like the opposition party.

But where the hell were you 5 years ago?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Room To Move As A Fry Cook

McDonald's, or "That Scottish Place" as we used to call it when the kids were little and had learned what "McDonald's" meant, thinks that it is better judge of the meaning of words than the Oxford English Dictionary. Tell you what, when you can cook a better hamburger than I can, then you can start thinking about branching out into lexicography, 'kay?

At stake: the word "McJob". The OED defines it as "An unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector." One will not be surprised that this is the meaning used by Douglas Coupland when he either coined or popularized the word. Mickey Dee's (and there is, let's face it, nothing sadder than people who give themselves a nickname, except possibly a multinational corporation that does) would have you believe this definition is "out of date and inaccurate," much like the idea that they sell "food" which is "tasty".

Here's the thing about words: they mean things to people, and those meanings are largely the result of consensus. Words mean what most people say they mean. Dictionaries just record those meanings to help enforce the meaning upon those who would like the word to mean something else. Because there are far more of us than there are members of the board of McDonald's, the meaning of that word is not going to change until they make a job at McDonald's something other than an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, and wait around until the old definition stops making sense to people. If I might make a suggestion, "marconi" fell out of use as a synonym for "radio" sometime after the Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company went out of business.

For the record, McDonald's, here's what you're up against:

Deadspot's Big and Tasties
Load up the grill with charcoal and put some foil on at least part of the grill. If you're cooking on gas, you might as well be in the kitchen. Play with fire. While the coals are getting ready, go prepare the burgers.

-Tear 2 1/2 lb. ground chuck into large chunks in a big mixing bowl.
-Pour a generous zig zag of good barbeque sauce across the top of the ground chuck.
-Add a couple of shots of Worcestershire sauce.
-Finely dice a couple of thin slices of bermuda onion (about 1/4 cup, more or less) and sprinkle over the meat and sauce.
-Gently mix by hand until ingredients are combined. Don't overmix: you're making burgers, not meatloaf. Form into 8 patties. Pop into the fridge.

Slice the rest of that bermuda onion into generous slices.

Wash up, grab a beer, put on some ska, and go keep an eye on the coals. When the coals have died down, spread them out and grill the burgers. Keep the lid closed as much as possible. They'll cook faster, stay jucier, and absorb more smoky flavor. Wait to add salt and fresh ground pepper until the burgers are nearly done. Meanwhile, grill the bermuda onion slices on the foil until they are tender and caramelized.

Serve with kaiser rolls and an assortment of condiments. I like dijon mustard, a little ketchup, grilled onion, and banana pepper rings. Your milage may vary.

Until you can top that, McDonald's, sit down, shut up, and do your McJob.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Everything's Gone Gray

I came in to work this morning, like I normally do. It did not register that everyone else was wearing green. I am not a morning person. I don't trust morning people. I think that if you looked into it, you would probably find that all fascists are morning people. I mean, I could make the trains run on time too, as long as none of them ran before, say, 10am.

The subject of green came up quickly, though. I hadn't been here long before someone asked why I wasn't wearing green. My first response was "Hnh?". Then I remembered the memo yesterday re: St. Patrick's Day Activities. My second response was a more coherent "I am Irish. I don't have to wear green."

Tell me to wear green, will ya? I've gone gray and if you don't like it, you can lump it.

It is at this point that I must confess to having an old ladies' hobby. I've somehow, through no fault of my own, become the family genealogist. I call it an old ladies' hobby, not to be sexist or ageist, but in pursuit of accuracy. When I go to the archives, I am the only male there who was not brought there to fetch things for their wife, and I am the youngest researcher by at least a couple of decades.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I also know how to play Canasta.

As the family genealogist, I can conclusively say that we have a genetic predisposition toward jackassery. We can't help ourselves. We are, as another researcher described us, "secretive and contentious". I'll elaborate later, but for now, an Irish highlight for St. Patrick's Day:

Engage the Wayback Machine, and you'll find my Irish several greats-grandfather, who fought in the Revolutionary War essentially because the English told him not to.

How'd that work out for them?

The English brought over a Scotts mercenary who, coincidentally, was a colossal dick (and, not-so-coincidentally, is probably also distantly related to me) and was hated by the local Scotts-Irish farmers. (Oddly enough, Ferguson once fought against Casimir Pulaski, of the eponymous Illinois holiday.) The British had crushed the Colonial Army in the south, and in the process, had massacred a group of colonial soldiers who were trying to surrender. With no one to stop him, Tarleton, the British general, split his forces into three groups and marched north toward the undefended capital to finish off the rebellion. Before setting off, Fergie the Merc threatened the locals that he would bring fire and sword down upon them if they got involved. This did not have the intended effect.

Being Scotts (who knew and didn't care for Ferguson) and Irish (who didn't much care for the English in general), they didn't like being told what to do. They raised a militia called the Overmountain Men. They sallied forth. Moving from west to east, they kicked the English army's ass one, two, three, and saved the Revolution.

You're welcome.

The Overmountain Boys caught up to Ferguson and his Loyalist militia at Kings Mountain and killed him stone cold dead. A week and a half later, they caught up to Tarleton and crushed him at The Battle of Cowpens, taking more than half his army prisoner. They then fought a war of attrition against the remaining English forces, culminating in the Battle of Eutaw Springs, where Irish Ancestor was finally wounded. After Eutaw Springs the English scurried back to Charleston with their tails between their legs, having lost so many men that they could no longer go on the offensive, despite having won most of the battles after Cowpens.

Irish Ancestor recovered and eventually came west to Illinois. Among his stubborn and contentious descendents is one deadspot, who will not be wearing green for St. Pat's after all.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Death is Not an Option

Flannery made me do it.

1. Batman or Superman?
Batman. Superman is boredom in a can.

2. Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?
David Lee Roth. Van Halen > Van Hagar

3. Freud or Jung?
Freud. Doctor Frood was in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and he has a nifty bobblehead.

4. The Stones or The Who?
If I'm in the middle of a radio wasteland and the only option is a classic rock station, I'd rather they play The Who.

5. Rita Skeeter or Bridget Jones?
Rita Skeeter. Nothing against Renee Zellwhatsit, but I love Miranda Richardson.

6. Peanut Butter or Baked Beans?
I'll take my alternative protein in the form of baked beans. Preferably next to a plate of ribs and some potato salad.

7. Hawkeye or Dr. Cox?
Dr. Cox. Scrubs so owns MASH.

8. Rick Blaine or Victor Laszlo?
This is sad. I read this and thought "Who?". In my defense, I was thrown off by David Blaine.

9. Cats or Dogs?
Cats. Dogs are stupid and subservient. They can't even poop without your help.

10. Bluegrass or Honkey-Tonk?
Country music is the musical equivalent of Vogon poetry. If my intestines won't do the right thing and strangle me, I would have to grudgingly prefer bluegrass.

11. Tatoos or Ties?

12. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin?
Buster Keaton.

13. Word or Excel?
Excel. Word always thinks it knows what I want to do, and it's always wrong.

14. Riker or Kirk?
Riker, but shouldn't this be Picard or Kirk?

15. Janice Dickensen or Paula Abdul?
Since I'm assuming this is asking which one I've heard of, I'll go with Paula Abdul. You know, she danced with a cartoon cat. Didn't she?

16. Dianetics or Objectivisim?
Dianetics, but only because of its connection to Robert Heinlein, and because it has more entertaining crazy celebrity followers.

17. Dollywood or Kennywood?
Are you absolutely sure death is not an option?

18. Rivers or Oceans?
Oceans. Trivia for the day: I learned to surf at Waikiki Beach, and by "surf", I mean "get up on the board and stay up long enough to ride gentle waves without running over small children".

19. Toe-tappin' or Knee-slappin'?
I have no idea what this question means.

20. Wallpaper or paint.
Paint, as long as it is low-VOC, thank you very much.

Oh, right... Tag, you're it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lace Your Sambas, Get On Out.

After a long dreary winter, spring has finally arrived. All winter long, my enthusiasm for soccer has slumbered. I was ready for the end of the fall season. I've been coaching for 8 years, ever since Lex was old enough to play, and last season I was really ready for it to be over: dreary fall evenings, rain, getting up on chill windy Saturday mornings. I was done with it.

Slowly, I've discovered that I'm feeling ready for things to start up again. When I run into them around town, parents have been asking me if I'm ready for soccer to start up again, and I've been pleasantly surprised to find that yeah, I guess I am.

In an odd coincidence, as if sensing the change in the weather, Bouncing Soul's Ole! Ole! Ole!, their tribute to the latin american soccer chant, has been kicking up more and more often when my iPod is on shuffle. Yesterday was our first practice, and the weather was unbelievable: the first really warm day we've had, bright sun, clear sky. And for once, because the time change came early this year, we didn't start the season ending by practice under the lights.

Spring is here, it's soccer season, and I'm ready for it to get started. Everything is coming together.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The People Must Have Something Good To Read...

He wore a leather mask for his dinner guests
Totally nude and with deep respect
Proposed a toast to the votes he gets
The feeling of power and the thought of sex!

- The Leader
The Clash

Friday, March 9, 2007

C-Average Law Enforcement

78%... That’s how well the FBI scores on following the rules that are supposed to protect our rights. It's a high C, but it's still a C, and it's just not good enough. Let's set aside the questions of whether the Patriot Act was a good idea (it wasn't), whether it does enough to protect our rights (it doesn't), whether it gives the executive branch too much power (it does), and even whether this administration can be trusted to protect our rights under any circumstance (they can't.). Let's just focus on one simple question. Are the FBI following the rule of law, no matter how ill-conceived it might have been? In a nutshell, no.

In a review of cases in which the FBI sought information using the Patriot Act, they used it illegally in 22% of them.

They've used the Patriot Act to spy on Americans as often as 56,000 times a year. Again, ignoring the fact that they shouldn't be spying on us in the first place, if 22% of their usage is illegal, that works out to more than 12,000 illegal actions each year... by the FBI... who were supposed to be upholding the law, the last time I checked.

Their defense is that they’re not criminals per se, they’re just incompetent. They accidentally infringe our rights… ten to twelve THOUSAND times per year. They wouldn’t do it on purpose. They just can’t figure out their filing system... Agents make mistakes...

Well, let me be the first to suggest that you hire a secretary and fire some cops.

If an FBI agent were to accidentally tell every fifth suspect that they have the right to a Philly Cheesesteak instead of a public defender, he would probably be fired. On the other hand, if an FBI agent only illegally uses the Patriot Act once out of every five times, he's actually doing better than the average agent. Wow, these guys suck.

Look, we all know that the FBI's "accident" defense is a load of crap. Of course there is criminal misconduct. If I "accidentally" step on your foot every fifth time I walk past you, you are going to conclude, well before the twelve thousandth time, that they aren't all accidents. If only someone could have predicted that the goverment would abuse any power given to them. Perhaps someone who had cracked a history book once in a while... or say... lived through Watergate.

I say it's time to take that bullet away from Barney. We just can't trust him with it any more.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Our Man in Dubai

I just got an email from Andre in Dubai. He wants to know how much it will cost him for me to send him a dozen Fluid End Sections for a Twin HT 400 Pump Fluid End 4-1/2" mounted on a Halliburton Cementing Unit. I don't know what he is doing to wear out the Fluid End Sections so rapidly, but he should probably be ashamed of himself.

Because I have never heard of a Twin HT 400 Pump (4-1/2" or otherwise) I can't even guess what he's doing to it. But that's OK, I don't want to know. It has something to do with Halliburton... and cementing things. Cementing things in Dubai, apparently. I wonder what kind of sentence Pump Abuse will get you in Dubai. Why are the South Koreans persecuting innocent robot floggers instead of working on a code of ethics to keep scumbags like Andre off the streets?

Why do I get email like this? Screw Andre. I'm not going to support his Fluid End Section habit. He can get his fix somewhere else. He's just lucky I'm not turning his email over to the proper authorities.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Crack That Whip

In the future, people will not be allowed to abuse robots and robots will not be allowed to abuse people if the people drafting the Robot Ethics Charter have their way. Apparently robots will still be allowed to abuse other robots and people will still be allowed to abuse other people, at least in South Korea, where it will cost about 15,000 Won, depending on exactly what you ask for and how well you bargain.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Thank Diebold

The votes from the Reader's Choice poll are in. Things were neck and neck for a while, but Dale put Hunter Spot Thompson out in front and it never looked back.

The final votes, courtesy of Diebold and Gahanna, OH, are:

The Obvious: 258
Zero: -3.1417
Hunter Spot Thompson: 260
George Bush: 3893

I think something is amiss, so I'm going to award the election to Hunter Spot Thompson. HST will be my avatar until I get bored and decide to change it. In the event that Hunter Spot Thompson cannot fulfil his duties, or if inappropriate images of Hunter Spot Thompson turn up on the internet, The Obvious, as runner-up, will step in to fulfil those duties.

Thanks everyone!

Miserable Lying Bastards

The University of Bristol set a new low in research standards when they let these clowns publish a study saying that coffee doesn't really give you a boost. What a bunch of idiots. Obviously, they were too busy shagging grad students to do any real work and came up with this pack of lies to cover the fact that they blew their departmental research budget on booze and pot. Stupid limey bastards.


I'm sorry. I may have been a bit critical in this post. Now that I've had a chance to finish my 4-shot cappuccino, I would like to extend my apologies to anyone at the University of Bristol who may have been offended by my characterization of their researchers.

Monday, March 5, 2007


One of the Firefox developers is a UNIX geek. Not only that, but this UNIX geek uses the text editor vi.

How do I know this? Am I posessed of insight unimagined by mere mortals? Well, yes... but that's not how I know. I know because this unknown developer has one of the same mental tics that I have, and it annoyed them so much that they fixed it, not by changing their behavior, but by building their quirk into Firefox.

vi is an ancient piece of software. Well, not like Hammurabi ancient, but like bell-bottoms ancient, which for computer software means that it might as well be running on a computer made from bear skins and stone knives. err.... anyhoo... It was designed to work on ancient terminals without fancy modern conveniences like a mouse or cursor keys, so you use regular alphanumeric characters to do all kinds of things for which they were not intended. I switch between vi and other applications all day long, and when I do, I sometimes forget which application I'm in. I'll use the "hjkl" keys to try to move my cursor when I'm using Word, and then I'll delete all the garbage that I just inserted into my document. When I go back to editing in vi, I'll select text with my mouse and then insert text in a place that is completely wrong.

It's almost as tedious as reading that last paragraph.

So here's how I know about the UNIX geek. In vi, you initiate a search by hitting the forward slash key. In Firefox, if you hit the forward slash key, it assumes that you, like the unknown developer, are a vi-using UNIX geek sufferering from caffeine deficiency, and it opens the search bar.

Go ahead. Do it now.

It's so seamless that I had been doing this for months before I even noticed what it was doing and realized what it meant. Pretty cool... in a geeky sort of way.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Last Post of the Day

Really. This time I mean it.

I almost posted the followup story about the crazy astronaut lady, just because I like her mugshot and I was amused by the fact that the BBC called her diaper a "nappy", but nothing I read today can possibly be better than this. It has everything. Irony, injury, old people running into things... all that and a surprise ending too.

An old lady gets called to the DMV to retake her driver's license test to make sure it is still safe for her to drive. Of course she's going to smash into the DMV waiting room, that goes without saying. And we could probably have guessed that it would happen in Florida, that's almost a gimmie. It's the kind of thing you expect to happen in Florida, right?

But then, the comedy gods decide to smile upon us all. There's a guy there dressed as Superman when it happens. At the DMV... in his Superman costume. Of course. And the best part? He walks around the accident, but can't be bothered to try and help anyone.

Thank you! You're too kind!

It's Friday, Everybody's Doing it.

I was going to write something about the evils of Open Access publishing, but I'm all out of enthusiasm. Instead you get this. Enjoy. Or not. Whatever.

iPod Shuffle: The Unhinged Coworker Mix

1. Heart in a Cage - The Strokes
2. Deadbeat Club - B52s
3. Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge
4. Going Back to Cali - LL Cool J
5. Push It - Garbage
6. Fix Me - Black Flag
7. A Hole In The Wallet - Gang of Four
8. Ma & Pa - Fishbone
9. Times Like These - Foo Fighters
10. In These Shoes - Kirsty MacColl

1. Heart... Strokes... there's probably a joke in there somewhere.
2. They're everywhere today.
3. My wife really hates these guys.
4. He had a hillarious cameo last night on 30 Rock. "Go get my nose back."
5. If she'd had a TV show in the fifties, it would have been My Favorite Manson.
6.-8. Eighties goodness.
9. Nine, nine, I forget what nine is for. Wait... that's not right.
10. Blame Dale. Como se puede bailar? Es un escandolo.

Dear Coworker

Yes, you probably are being oversensitive. If my iPod headphones are not loud enough to drown out the ambient office noise when they're in my fucking ear, they're probably not loud enough to serve as a distraction to you where you are sitting in the next room.

Kindly go fuck yourself,

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Nigga, Please!

If you're in New York, you'd better not drop the N-word in public, even if you're of the negro persuasion. Do people in New York not have children? Don't they know what happens when you tell someone that they can't use a word? Don't they have any radio stations that play music by colored people?

Here's where they lost me: " reflects a growing unease that the racial slur is now part of everyday conversation and that the taboo against its usage has been swept away." Wouldn't that be a good thing? If you're offended by it, don't you want the word to lose its power?

It's a generational thing. Basically, it boils down to a bunch of old black guys telling young black guys that they don't find the word offensive enough.

Leroy Comrie, the councilman who sponsored the bill, says the meaning of the word can't change. Really? All of the words I used to describe Afro-Americans in this bit were at one time perfectly acceptable ways for African-Americans to describe themselves. How many of them are still in use? Trust me, Leroy, one of these days "nigger" is going to sound just as ridiculous and outdated as "colored folk".

Forbidding something makes it cool, but nothing destroys the credibility of a word quite as much as letting spotty-faced teenagers overuse it. If you want people to stop using the word, you should be passing an ordinance that requires people to use the N-word. In a week, people would be done with it.