Hometown superstar Derek Jeter dislocated his left shoulder in the Yankees’ opening game this evening. Hope everything goes well in your recovery, Derek. You’re the only baseball player I bother following.

Oh, and George Steinbrenner: stuff it in your arse. Jeter’s the best player you have, and easily your most reliable. He’s never shown up for a perfect game drunk, that’s for sure…

posted on 31 March 2003 at 2344sports0 commentstrackback

The People Responsible For the Credits Have Been Sacked

I’m not entirely sure how I really feel about the firing of Peter Arnett, but I tend to think that if NBC and National Geographic don’t want their reporters associating with Iraqi TV, that’s fine by me. That said, Arnett has a history of stirring up trouble in his war coverage, and perhaps this was for the best. I would like to think, though, that the networks that fired him did it because the way he acted was wrong, not because they were trying to suppress the truth, as the American media so often do. (In case you hadn’t noticed, that’s why I read a lot of the BBC.)

posted on 31 March 2003 at 2336war0 commentstrackback


At least this time you can touch it without it falling off in your hand. They finally fixed my doorknob, though I’m not entirely sure how they accomplished it, since I can’t see a difference between the way it was before and how it is now. Ah well. At least it works. Maybe I ought to be happy they haven’t tried to fix the dripping faucet…

posted on 31 March 2003 at 2253apartment0 comments

Global Politics Quiz

Shamelessly stolen from a poster on an online forum:

1. Which is the only country in the world to have dropped bombs on over 20 different countries since 1945?
2. Which is the only country to have used nuclear weapons to take the lives of thousands of civilian women and children?
3. Which country was responsible for a car bomb which killed 80 civilians in Beirut in 1985 in a botched assassination attempt, thereby making it the most lethal terrorist bombing in modern Middle East history?
4. Which country’s illegal bombing of Libya in 1986 was described by the UN Legal Committee as a “classic case” of terrorism.
5. Which country rejected the order of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to terminate its “unlawful use of force” against Nicaragua in 1986, and then vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling on all states to observe international law?
6. Which country was accused by a UN-sponsored truth commission of providing “direct and indirect support” for “acts of genocide” against Mayan Indians in Guatemala during the 1980s?
7. Which country unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in December 2001?
8. Which country renounced the efforts to negotiate a verification process for the Biological Weapons Convention and brought an international conference on the matter to a halt in July 2001?
9. Which country prevented the United Nations from curbing the gun trade at a small arms conference in July 2001?
10. Aside from Somalia, which is the only other country in the world to have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?
11. Which is the only Western Country which allows the death penalty to be applied to children?
12. Which is the only G7 country to have refused to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, forbidding the use of land mines?
13. Which is the only G7 country to have voted against the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998?
14. Which was the only other country to join with Israel in opposing a 1987 General Assembly resolution condemning international terrorism?
15. Which country refuses to fully pay its debts to the United Nations yet reserves its right to veto United Nations resolutions?

US Presidents responsible for each of the above:
1. Various, but the most egregious examples of unliateral aggression were Republicans. See 3-9.
2. I could get into a lot of reasons why this was necessary to end the war in Japan, but suffice it to say this probably saved more lives that would have otherwise been sacrificed in an invasion than it took in civilian casualties. And it was Truman, by the way.
3. Reagan.
4. Reagan.
5. Reagan.
6. Reagan.
7. Dubya.
8. Dubya.
9. Dubya.
10. No idea.
11. Not really the president’s decision to repeal.
12. Clinton, with a Republican senate.
13. Clinton, again with a Republican senate, and a Republican house.
14. Reagan.
15. Mostly Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. Reaganomics, people.

posted on 29 March 2003 at 1512politix0 commentstrackback

Dubya, Dubya, Dubya…

Yeah, uh, just take a look at these. I’m still laughing.

posted on 29 March 2003 at 1502humour0 comments


Ninjas are AWESOME and TOTALLY sweet! If you haven’t seen The Official Ninja Web Page, go there now. It’s been over a year since I discovered it and it’s still hilarious. Bonus points for stopping by The Official Ninja Forum and reading the Luke Skywalker vs. Ninjas thread. Fav quote: “Any organization that prohibits porking Natalie Portman sucks a fat bumpy dong.”

Now when I meet Natalie and she finds out I wrote that, she’ll probably not like that so much, but, well, it was all in good fun, right, Nat? :)

Some of the various knockoffs are hysterical too.

posted on 29 March 2003 at 1501humour0 comments


So I was just on AIM with one of my good friends from undergrad (Hi, Jessie!) and she suggested I mention this kid in my blog. One of my roommates discovered it last year - I think one of his buddies sent it to him - and turned up his speakers one day and left the page up and locked his door and left.

Go on. Try it. I dare you.

Almost as funny is what you get when you search Google for the scary kid’s catch-phrase.

Bye…thanks for stopping by!

—chris@hellomyfuturegirlfriend.net (Yes, I really registered it.)

posted on 28 March 2003 at 0003humour0 comments


Not much else I can say about this painting.

Scary Iraqi Mural

posted on 26 March 2003 at 2333war0 commentstrackback

Fifth Grade Fart Games

Remember “Doorknob,” the game where you yelled “doorknob!” when someone farted, and they had to touch a doorknob or you could hit them until they did so? Or if they knew they were gonna fart and not be able to get away with it, they could yell “Safety!” and you couldn’t call “Doorknob” on them?

Aw, c’mon, you know you played it…

Anyway, I just want to say that they FINALLY put a new doorknob on my apartment. Yes, it’s been a week and a half. I know. I came home this afternoon and saw the maintenance tag hanging on the knob and thought to myself, “Great! They finally fixed it! Maybe I’ll actually pay my April rent on time now!”

So I went inside and ate some dinner. I got ready to leave to go back to work to grade some papers, and as I pulled the apartment door shut, get this:

The stupid fucking worthless piece of shit $3 Wal-Mart doorknob came off in my hand. And my apartment was still locked.

AAAAAAARRRRGH! I’m gonna break the maintenance guy’s face next time I see him. Fuckin idiot.

posted on 26 March 2003 at 2247apartment0 comments

Quote of the Day

As seen on the wall of the bathroom in the basement of the UGLi:

“God is dead.” - Nietsche
“Nietsche is dead.” - God

posted on 24 March 2003 at 0153humour0 comments

The South Will Rise Again

Some people just don’t get it, apparently. South Carolina’s state House just passed a resolution by a 50-35 margin requesting the Dixie Chicks perform a free concert for SC troops and their families. Best quote:

“I think it’s an olive branch to the Dixie Chicks,” [Republican Rep. Catherine] Ceips [who introduced the resolution] said.

“But only after they apologize first for exercising their free speech, is that correct?” asked House Minority Leader James Smith, a Democrat.

You tell ‘em, James!

posted on 24 March 2003 at 0152war1 commentstrackback

Right Thing, Wrong Reasons

Let me get one thing clear: I support our troops 100%. They have to follow orders or risk court-martial for desertion, or worse, treason. So don’t hate them.

But dammit, we have the stupidest president in history. And I’m sick and tired of all the Dubya apologists who say this war has nothing to do with avenging Bush Sr.’s embarrassment at the hands of Saddam in the aftermath of the Gulf War, when Saddam didn’t get ousted like everyone wanted him to. And I’m tired of people saying the first war wasn’t about removing Saddam, because at that time, the executive order that Ford put into place against political assassination was still in effect, and Bush Sr. didn’t try to classify anyone wearing a military uniform and of Arab descent an “enemy combatant” and throw them into pig cages in Cuba.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that Bush Sr. was mad as hell that Saddam got to sit there and thumb his nose at the US despite our best efforts to make him unwelcome. And you can bet that this distaste got transferred to Dubya the moment he was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court.

So whether it’s officially stated or not, Dubya is doing it to avenge Daddy’s embarrassment. Of course he’ll never admit that, but he’s human, male, and from Texas. He has to protect the family name, and he just happens to be in a position where he has the most powerful armed forces in the world at his disposal to do so.

There isn’t one single shred of evidence that Saddam has any direct links to Al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Sure, he offers money to Palestinian suicide bombers’ families, but does anyone think he does that for any reason other than to piss off the US? If his motives were purely altruistic, he wouldn’t need to make sure his offers get broadcast all over world television for his enemies to hear. Saddam is an evil, evil man, but to go to war with him in the name of protecting the US from his terrorist activities is a bald-faced lie, and nothing Dubya ever says will change that.

If the point of this were simply to “free” the Iraqi people, why didn’t we try a bit harder to get the common people to revolt against Saddam? And another thing that’s been bothering me for years: since when is it the US’s responsibility to make sure every other country in the world is democratic? When did we become the world’s police force? Why is Saddam’s dictatorship any of our goddamn business as long as he “keeps it in his pants,” so to speak? You don’t see us waging war with Cuba to eradicate Castro, or with Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe, or Burma or Cambodia to remove the corrupt, evil regimes there. Or, as many have said, why aren’t we going after North Korea? At least we know the North Koreans have WMD and every intention to produce more. As much as everyone is reasonably convinced that Saddam is hiding them, the North Koreans have publicly admitted it.

posted on 24 March 2003 at 0115war0 commentstrackback

"Buck Fush!"

I was watching a bit of CNN early this afternoon and they were showing the anti-war march in NYC. Apparently the censors weren’t on duty, as not only did a giant “Buck Fush” sign make it onto the broadcast, but when Maria Hinojosa was interviewing one protestor, a guy walked by wearing a t-shirt with a Time magazine cover on it that had a head shot of Dubya on a black background with “FUCKED” in giant white letters under the photo.

It took me about five minutes to stop laughing. Now, someone tell me where I can get that t-shirt.

posted on 22 March 2003 at 1627war0 commentstrackback

Calling Pepe LePew

I know the World Cup was almost a year ago, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is still funny.

posted on 22 March 2003 at 1134general0 comments

The Six Days War, Part II

All I have to say to this is “Wow.” We’ve been at war for all of 36 hours and they already want to surrender.

Hey, I suppose if war has to be done, this is about the best way to do it :-\

posted on 22 March 2003 at 0102war0 commentstrackback

I’m With Stupid

And all this time, I thought the Onion made up the “What Do You Think” quotes.

Apparently the Onion just interviews these people and records what they actually say. No, really. And people wonder why the rest of the world thinks Americans are stupid. Some choice quotes:

“[Y]ou have to abide by the president, whatever he does.”
Only if you’re in the military, lady. But if you want to think that, be my guest. By the way, Dubya said we should all run around with our feet on our ears, so hop to it.

“I don’t really support President Bush. Yeah, I do actually, I do. I’m really not sure. I don’t really care, I guess.”
Would sticking my foot up your ass help you make up your mind? Because you’re obviously completely incapable of doing so.

“[A]ccording to the Pope, [war] wasn’t even necessary, and the Pope has a lot of advisors to tell him what’s going on.”
Right, and all those advisors really helped good ol’ Johnny decide what to do about all those pedophile priests, didn’t they? Sheesh. Some people put waaaaay too much faith in Catholic dogma.

For some rather more intelligent commentary, check out the BBC’s interactive essays on war.

posted on 21 March 2003 at 0013war0 commentstrackback

Bush Demands Recount

After learning Gore was appointed to Apple’s board of directors yesterday, “President” Bush immediately demanded a recount.

Good thing Jeb isn’t on Apple’s board.

posted on 20 March 2003 at 2350humour0 comments

FAQ: War in Iraq

The BBC already has a FAQ on war in Iraq. Sorta funny, if you ask me. A FAQ on war? Hey, whatever.

posted on 20 March 2003 at 2349war0 commentstrackback


I left this untitled because I’m so frustrated that I can’t think of a worthwhile title. And apparently, I’m not alone.

Ugh. At least get it over with quickly if you must make an ass of yourself and this country, Dubya. And don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of office, either. Maybe you and Tony Blair can go cry in each other’s tea after your respective parties get absolutely obliterated in the next elections.

Can I send in my vote for a straight Democratic ticket right now? They could nominate a garbage bag full of prion-infected British cow brains and I’d vote for it over four more years of Dubya.

posted on 20 March 2003 at 2348war0 commentstrackback

Look! Salmon!

In what has to be one of the most drawn-out fights in recent memory, the Senate recently rejected Dubya’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I wonder what sort of effect that vote will end up having on Apple’s board of directors?

posted on 20 March 2003 at 2341politix0 commentstrackback

Priorities, People!

Two guesses as to what ISN’T fixed as of this posting. The second guess doesn’t count.


Jesus H. Christ. Can they possibly be any more inept? Just in case you thought the answer to that was “no,” I’d like to point out that they also managed to do a horrible job of plastering over the mostly-nonexistent hole in the wall where they apparently had to replace the shower supply pipe (the thing that connects to the shower head) as well. Brilliant.

That’s V-A-R-S…

posted on 20 March 2003 at 1748apartment0 comments

Remember To Never Split Infinitives

Saw this on CNN tonight:

EDITOR’S NOTE: CNN’s policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.

Apparently, it’s also CNN’s policy for the editor not to edit editor’s notes.

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2317language0 commentstrackback

Onions Made Me Cry

I probably don’t read the Onion as much as I should. I certainly don’t read it as much as I used to. But man, sometimes, I really kick myself for not reading it more often. I have a bunch of friends who graduated college and became teachers, and I can totally see some of them doing this. I can also think of a couple who would be Adam Sigler (hi Dave!). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2249humour0 comments

Fan, Meet Shit

So much for waiting a couple of years for Saddam to forget.

At least we have major Arab leaders, like Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, saying that Iraq is “fully responsible for the current crisis.” Not that that statement doesn’t completely ignore the fact that Dubya is going to war without a declaration by Congress, but it’s nice to know not everyone in the Middle East completely blames us. Even if it really is our fault.

Of course, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz saw things a bit differently; he was quoted as saying “[The US government] have power but no brains.” I never thought I’d agree with anything he said, but this is the first reasonable statement I’ve heard out of anyone in the Iraqi government ever. Now why doesn’t anyone with the power to stop this business realise that?

By the way, thanks a lot for making CBS show war coverage instead of CSI. And you folks might want to have a gander at ESPN’s take on what Dan Rather was thinking last week when he interviewed Saddam. I like option D.

Once again, the Onion pretty much summed up my feelings about this whole giant mess. They were only three days off on the release date, too ;)

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2242war0 commentstrackback

Mac News of the Day

There’s a new iPod firmware updater out, and Al Gore just got appointed to Apple’s board of directors. Maybe now he’ll get to claim he invented the iMac too. ;)

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2225computing0 commentstrackback

March Madness

ESPN.com does this great Tournament Challenge thing for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament every year, but they left out one very important feature: you can only be a member of one group at a time. Who’s the moron who decided people only wanted to be in one group of friends to whom they could talk shit? C’mon. I have at least three different groups of friends who I have to talk shit to about the tournament. Don’t make me create three entries like my best friend did.

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2150sports0 commentstrackback

Twiddlin’ Thumbs

So Dubya, being the infitely stupid man that he is, decided it would be a good idea to go to war. Fortunately, he said Saddam had 48 hours, after which we could strike “at a time of our choosing.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we just pulled out all our troops, brought everyone home, let things simmer for a couple of years, and then just bombed the shit out of Baghdad with B-52s from Barksdale one night? Like sometime in July 2005. Everyone will have completely forgotten about this whole mess by then, and Saddam will be caught so off-guard that he’ll be a piece of cake to assassinate.

Hey, it could work…

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2146war0 commentstrackback

"That Depends on What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is"

Let’s see. This is Wednesday.

My doorknob was broken Monday afternoon and reported Monday night. I was told at the time that they’d fix it “tomorrow.”

I was told this morning that they’d fix it “today.”

So not only does Jesse Ventura work as a maintenance man for my landlord, but Bill Clinton is working the front desk.

Great. Anyone want to start a pool to see when this doorknob actually gets fixed? I’ve got next Tuesday. I’m hoping for something before that, because in testing to see whether or not it was fixed after arriving home tonight, I somehow managed to lock myself in my apartment. I can’t open the door, because it’s locked, and the plunger is stuck in.

On a somewhat related note, this is getting so ridiculous that I had to give it its own category.

posted on 19 March 2003 at 2043apartment0 comments

"What Are ‘They?’"

I was eating lunch today whilst watching CNN Headline News in the basement of the Michigan League, and saw the funniest thing. A brief segment was describing the so-called “inner circle” of Saddam Hussein, which apparently consists of three of Saddam’s relatives (two sons and a cousing) and some other guy.

The other guy was referred to by the commentator as “the gatekeeper.” As soon as I heard that, the following immediately popped into my head:

“…[T]hey are the gatekeepers, Neo. They are guarding all the doors; they are holding all the keys, which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.”


“I won’t lie to you, Neo. Every single man or woman who has stood their ground - everyone - who has fought an agent has died. But where they have failed, you will succeed.”


“I’ve seen an agent punch through a concrete wall; men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air. Yet their strength and their speed are based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be.”

“What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?”

“No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.”

Which was then followed by a mental image of Keanu Reeves in a black leather walking into Saddam’s palace in Baghdad and being asked to “please remove any metal items” he might be carrying by a security guard, and proceeding to shoot up the entire place with about six different pairs of automatic weapons.

Uh-huh. Send Keanu in to do our dirty work. None of this war business. We’ve got Neo.

posted on 18 March 2003 at 1900entertainment0 comments

Free as in Speech

It’s nice to see German courts still believe in free speech, even if the political party in question is, well, very questionable. Hey, we don’t particularly like the KKK here in the States, but we don’t tell them they can’t talk, either.

posted on 18 March 2003 at 1820politix0 commentstrackback


I’m a sucker for technology, and particularly as it applies to weapons. Not because I’m some card-carrying NRA “you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers” weirdo, but because I just think means of accelerating projectiles to ridiculous velocities (and the effects thereof) are pretty cool. Take depleted uranium shells, for example. The stuff is heavy as hell, but it’s also hard like you wouldn’t believe. Can someone install some DU armour on my car, please? :)

posted on 18 March 2003 at 1816sci-tech0 commentstrackback

You Broke My WHAT?

Remember the really stupid maintenance guys?

They struck again. I came home last night to find my apartment locked only by its deadbolt (I normally lock both the knob lock and the deadbolt). “OK,” I thought. “No big deal. The Maintenance Man From Hell has been at it again, and forgot to lock the bottom lock.” Had I been paying more attention at the time, I would have remembered that the maintenance guys always lock the bottom lock, and always forget to lock the deadbolt back. I didn’t think anything of it until I was leaving for class an hour and a half later. I tried to lock the door on the way out - it has one of those little twist plunger things that are so common on medium-security doors - and couldn’t. I tried again, and discovered that not only could I not twist the plunger, but I couldn’t even push it in, and it was sticking out about half an inch farther than usual, like someone gave it Doorknob Viagra.

This was Not Good(tm). I pushed and I pulled and I pushed and I pulled and the evil little piggy living inside the doorknob just laughed at me for trying to collapse his evil little brass house, which was clearly beyond my capabilities. Being somewhat familiar with the inner workings of doorknobs, I was unfazed by this minor setback, and got out a screwdriver and went to work.

Ten minutes later, I had the thing apart. Try this at home, kiddies: find a doorknob whose lock operates on this pluger mechanism. They’re really common. Borrow a friend’s house if your house doesn’t have one. Take the doorknob itself off, but leave the rest of it intact. Look at the metal sleeve the plunger fits into. Now, I ask you…


No, really. Who IS this maintenance guy? Jesse “The Body” fucking Ventura? I’ve decided I never want to shake hands with anyone who can abuse a doorknob that badly whilst trying to lock it. He’d break every bone in my hand!

I told the building manager that the maintenance guy broke my doorknob. Or, more correctly, I told his wife to pass the message on, because he wasn’t in at the time. She said they’d fix it “tomorrow.” Guess what I found when I came home from the lab this afternoon?

Yep, the same broken doorknob. I love my landlord.

posted on 18 March 2003 at 1650apartment0 comments

"Get Out!" "No, YOU Get Out!"

I know I’m not the only one who finds this absolutely hilarious (from CNN.com this afternoon):

•President Bush to speak at 8 p.m. EST, will say Saddam Hussein must leave Iraq to avoid war
•Iraqi foreign minister responds by saying Bush should leave office instead

Here’s an idea: how about both of you piss off and fight each other. Leave the rest of us the hell out of it. OK? Thanks.

Then again, maybe we should declare that war is inevitable more often. It made me about $60 on the stock market.

posted on 17 March 2003 at 1645war0 commentstrackback

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

It appears that some large percentage of “American people” - or at least the segment of us who vote in CNN online polls - are the world’s biggest hypocrites. The lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, a country band whose music I couldn’t possibly care less for, recently stated her regrets that our current President is from Texas, her home state. Now there are radio stations and fans boycotting the Chicks’ music because the listeners are offended that she would say something so, well, “unpatriotic.”

Might I remind the 60-odd percent of people who are supporting this that there are an awful lot of people who are PROTESTING THIS RIDICULOUS PROPOSED MILITARY ACTION? YOU STUPID HYPOCRITES! You can’t say the Dixie Chicks are unpatriotic and then turn around and bitch at Dubya for bringing Armageddon to the Western world, or vice versa. Pick a fucking position and stick by it, or just shut your mouth and sit back.

Who ARE these people, anyway? There has to be some pretty substantial overlap between the segments if a majority of the American public doesn’t support war, yet a very large majority of the voters on CNN think the Dixie Chicks deserve to be boycotted merely because their lead singer expressed an opinion. Wake up, folks. Your musical/artistic/film idols are not perfect and do not necessarily agree with you. If that bothers you, fine, but don’t hold them to a higher standard than that to which you hold yourselves.

Maybe I’m being redundant here, but I fail to see how the Dixie Chicks aren’t allowed to say war is wrong and the President is an idiot when these folks feel that it’s their God-given right to do so.

And just in case any of them are reading this page: George W Bush is a two-bit President who couldn’t reason his way out of a wet paper bag. The pending war is wrong, and Dubya is a fool for not seeing the will of his people. Please, feel free to boycott me, you hypocritic slime.

posted on 16 March 2003 at 2317war0 commentstrackback

Wooo, Look At Me!

I know I’m not the only one who thinks these commercials for stuff like the Bowflex Ultra are just bleedin’ ridiculous. There is absolutely no way those people get that ripped using that machine, no matter how long they work out. No way, no how.

On a related note, I’m pretty sure the guy in this weight-loss product commercial I just saw - I don’t remember the name of the product - did a lot more than lose 29 pounds in six weeks to go from his “before” photo to the “after” photo. And the girl he’s walking on the beach with was DEFINITELY NOT FAT when she started out. This girl couldn’t have been more than 10 pounds “overweight” and most of that was in her ghetto booty. Dammit, why are there people out there who keep trying to convince teen girls that anything thicker than Barbie is grossly overweight?

posted on 14 March 2003 at 0836general0 comments

Good News? Who-da Thunk It?

And on a more positive note, Salt Lake City police have found Elizabeth Smart alive and well over nine months after she was abducted at gunpoint. What should be interesting is seeing exactly what the heck has been happening over the nine months she’s been missing.

posted on 12 March 2003 at 1849general0 comments

Deja Vu All Over Again

Remember what happened last time there was a major political assassination in what used to be Yugoslavia? You probably don’t - I certainly wasn’t around - but, well, you gotta love coincidences. Fresh from the front page of CNN’s web site, the assassination of the Serbian prime minister has a very good chance of being followed by a major world war.

(Yes, I realise that’s about the extent of the parallel I can draw. Work with me here.)

posted on 12 March 2003 at 1843war0 commentstrackback


Three days ago, I commented on palindromes very briefly. Well, I was working on today’s LA Times crossword (as published in the Michigan Daily) and one of the solutions was “deities.” I realised that “deified” is also a palindrome, and off the top of my head, it takes the prize for Most Obscure Palindromic Word in Everyday Usage.

posted on 12 March 2003 at 1833language0 commentstrackback


Only chemistry folks will truly appreciate this, but it’s funny so I’m posting it.

We had to grade a Chem 125 exam this evening, and one of the reactions they had to discuss was a redox reaction between tin(iv) (as the chloride salt solution) and cobalt metal, which produces (reduced) tin(ii) and (oxidised) cobalt(ii). The chloride ions are spectators, obviously. Well, a certain rather significant subset of the students apparently don’t understand the concepts of a net ionic equation and spectator ions. So we had a lot of students writing some sort of reaction that gave cobalt(ii) chloride as a product in aqueous solution.

Problem is, a significant fraction of these don’t write elemental symbols with particular care, which means their cobalt atoms look more like carbonyl (CO) ligands, or, in the case of elemental cobalt (Co), carbon monoxide (CO).

The observant reader can probably predict where this is about to go. Cobalt(ii) chloride, if written carelessly, looks like this:


Anyone remember the little segment of Square One Television, the great math series on PBS in the late 1980s, that was called Oops!, and “brought to you by erasers,” of course? Yeah, well, oops. Let’s just say that if these students - and the overwhelming majority of them are pre-med and engineering - ordered some of the above chemical, better known as phosgene gas, instead of cobalt(ii) chloride, or accidentally ingested some, well, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the immediate vicinity. Melting lungs are not a pretty sight, and in addition to hydrolysing to produce copious hydrochloric acid in the lungs, the other byproduct of aqueous phosgene decomposition is (drum roll please) … carbon monoxide.

Is anyone really surprised that phosgene was used by the Germans in World War I as a chemical agent?

I’m going to have to remind my students to be more attentive to their handwriting in the future. Then again, we did get a great laugh out of some of the rather preposterous answers to that test question. I didn’t know CO(s) had a +2 charge…then again, I didn’t know Ag3+ or Cl4- ions existed (or were good reducing agents!), either.

posted on 12 March 2003 at 0120school0 commentstrackback

Home Unimprovement

I should really get in bed, but I knew I’d forget about this again if I didn’t blog it now.

People are stupid.

Perhaps I should qualify that a little bit. The geniuses who somehow managed to get themselves hired by my landlord to paint the bathroom in my apartment two days ago are quite possibly the most incompetent repair workers in the history of the universe.

See, when I moved in, the paint was peeling like mad, plaster was cracking and crumbling off the walls, and the bathroom just looked generally bad. In theory, a good repainting job would fix that.

Rule Number One of painting: NEVER APPLY PAINT OVER WET PLASTER OR SPACKLE. The surface needs to cure at least 48 hours before painting, and it needs to be primed. In a humid environment like a bathroom, an enamel coat should be used as a finish coat.

Guess what the maintenance guys did, after dropping big blobs of spackling compound all around my bathroom (which, by the way, I’m still trying to pick off the walls of my shower), breaking the splash guard on the bathtub, coating everything in the area with a layer of plaster dust, and leaving a cell fone on my chest of drawers?

Of course! They painted over the wet plaster. With a non-enamel paint. Without priming first.

Does anyone else think that maybe the management company could save a lot of money by hiring competent painters and not telling them to finish the job in 4 hours or they don’t get paid? Sure, they might pay twice as much to get the job done, and they might have to wait until my lease is up (August) to do the repair (since it would require about a week without the shower being used to keep humidity down), but they’d only have to do massive wall repairs every 10 years, instead of every spring, when leasing season rolls around. The coat of paint over the still-damp plaster has already begun to absorb humidity from the shower, which will render the substrate dry and crumbly within a year, causing the problem to reappear all over again.

I really like it when maintenance guys come into my apartment unannounced and move all my shit around in the bathroom, too. I like hunting for my deodorant when I’m half-awake in the dark at 0630 in the morning trying to get to school to teach a lab. It wakes me up for my students. Really.

Did I mention I’m not renting from these folks next year? Or the year after that? Or EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE? If you ever need an apartment in the Ann Arbor area, don’t call Varsity Management. That’s V-A-R-S….

posted on 12 March 2003 at 0049apartment0 comments

Armageddon II

Watching CNN this morning and Bill Richardson, current governor of New Mexico and former US Ambassador to the UN, just said “Iraq is not an immediate threat to the US.”


I would have followed that up with “…but North Korea almost certainly is.” Why are we completely ignoring a country that we KNOW is developing ballistic missiles, has a sophisticated nuclear program, and isn’t afraid to admit, publicly, that they’re in blatant violation of various non-proliferation treaties? This is ridiculous.

posted on 10 March 2003 at 0811war0 commentstrackback

Armageddon is Upon Us

T minus seven days until the end of the world, better known as the day Dubya bombs the shit out of a not-necessarily-innocent country without the approval of virtually anyone else, including most of our so-called allies.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks our government has completely divorced itself from the desires of the American populace, so why the hell are we letting them get away with it?

I think it’s high time we decided that ignoring whatever treaty it is we signed saying we wouldn’t participate in political assassinations is less vital than ignoring oh, the majority of the UN. We all know the CIA are perfectly capable of pulling this off, and if they aren’t, why does anyone take the conspiracy theorists (who say the CIA are certainly equipped to do so) seriously? Either they can or they can’t, and I certainly have no reason to think they can’t. So just assassinate Saddam already and call it good. Don’t send a quarter of a million troops into a region that’s already unstable just because of some petty grudge your daddy has with some fat-cat dictator. The rest of the world isn’t listening to your excuses any more, and the American people are quickly losing patience. Don’t make us even more targetable than we already are.

Anyone want to give me a plane ticket to get the hell out of here? I like the Perth area, and I don’t think terrorists would ever have any reason to attack anything there. They’d get into town and get so relaxed that they’d completely forget about their plans to blow anything up.

posted on 10 March 2003 at 0002war0 commentstrackback

Rule of the Boob Toob

Television, the best and worst way to waste time ever invented. I was bored last night and saw Ten Things I Hate About You for the first time. Having never read Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew upon which it’s based, I can’t comment on how good the adaptation is, but I really wonder why they bothered to make that movie. I mean, sure it lets Julia Stiles do another Shakespeare-based movie, and Heath Ledger is teenybopper girl eye candy, but there were a few too many liberties taken with the characters. Nobody who’s that much of a “heinous bitch” turns into a sappy lovebird after two dates with a supposed ex-jailbird who’s being paid to date her, and high school parties are NOTHING like that. Ugh. Hollywood.

Incidentally, Heath Ledger is from Carrawarra, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and about five minutes from where I lived (yeah, the Ugly Yellow Pub!) when I was on study abroad at Curtin, so I don’t mind him so much. I just didn’t think his acting in Ten Things was all that great.

Then again, I saw a program about submarines on TLC this afternoon and learned a lot about Jesse James thanks to the History Channel. This is why TV is worthwhile.

Speaking of the “boob toob,” that phrase is almost a palindrome, which reminded me of visiting this Web site a while back. Some people have waaaaay too much time on their hands. I think my favourite is probably “A man, a plan, a butt tub: anal Panama,” although “a nut for a jar of tuna” seems to be one of the more, well, realistic examples listed. I think I originally found the site when I was looking for information on palindromic numbers, after my buddy Dave (who was a math major) ran a little math puzzle by me that used some palindromic trick. Gosh, Google is great.

posted on 09 March 2003 at 2240general0 comments

Naming Your Children

I should probably explain the name, too, whilst I’m at it. That’s pronounced like “blizzard,” not “pizza.” Those of you who know the “lingo,” so to speak, will recognise the so-called “z insertion,” first popularised (I think) on a long-forgotten episode of Seinfeld and then adopted in a somewhat modified form by various gansta rappers in such songs as Jay-Z’s HOVA. For the uninitiated, allow me to provide an example.

The following sentence, written normally, reads:

I am a thuggish gangsta rapper.

In the “z-insertion” style, that would read:

I am a thizzuggish gizzangsta rizzapper.

In the “modified z-insertion” style, it would probably read:

I am a thizzie gizzangsty rizzie.

The latter style is also the least clearly defined, perhaps because it has emerged in only the last couple of years. My theory, completely unsupported by evidence, is that rappers started to get lazy, and saying the entire word after inserting an extra syllable was too much work, so they started dropping everything after the Zs.

I find this somewhat amusing, along the lines of the common Australian usage of dropping all but the first syllable of a word and appending the “ie” sound to the end (unless the first syllable already ends in such a sound, in which case the “o” sound is added), so that “football” becomes “footy,” Fremantle becomes “Freo,” a can (“tin”) of beer becomes a “tinny,” any Eskimo(tm)-like portable icebox/cooler becomes an “Esky,” etc. But at least you can understand what the Australians are saying. Someone trying to figure out what the heck “fo sheezy” means is going to have a bloody difficult time about it.

posted on 08 March 2003 at 2041meta0 comments

Blog blog blog blog blog

You know, like “blah blah blah blah blah.” Yeah, bad pun. Deal with it.

Why a blog? I dunno. The “because everyone else has one” is probably more honest than you might think, especially if you know me pretty well. It’s some combination of that, my repeated boredom on weekends, my avoidance of homework/studying, and the idea that blogging is probably much more likely to give me a useful outlet than, say, putting up random pages about shit would, primarily because this lets me opine, rant, and whatever without spending so much damn time on it.

Or something. Like I said. I dunno ;)

posted on 08 March 2003 at 2025meta0 comments