The latest ruckus here in the Great Lakes area is about the Asian carp that are on the threshold of invasion. Chicago, and by extension, the rest of Illinois, claims they aren't a big problem and aren't as close as all kinds of scientific evidence says they are, while Michigan outdoors types are quite literally foaming at the mouth at the idea of 100-pound carp invading the already-devastated (zebra and quagga mussels, sea lampreys, etc.) Great Lakes ecosystem. Wisconsin is the latest of the Great Lakes states to file an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's request for an injunction to close a major shipping canal in Chicago. Minnesota and Ohio have already filed briefs in support of the injunction.
Notably absent from the list is Indiana, the state with the least shoreline along the Great Lakes. Of course, Indiana has already demonstrated it doesn't give a crap about Lake Michigan anyway, when it issued a permit to BP/Amoco to dramatically increase its pollution output from the Whiting refinery south of Chicago.
So the two states with the shortest coastlines on the Great Lakes get to destroy them for the rest of us? Yeah, screw you, Illinois, and that Hoosier horse you rode in on.
Despite my earlier promise to remove WWMT from my RSS feeds due to their continued incompetence in the "actually communicating things in English" department, I haven't yet gotten around to it, and so this morning, I -- along with their four other feed readers -- was treated to this gem:
Just don't run the hen house as too much of a democracy, or Chè the Hen will lead a coup against you and the chickens will run their own hen house, thankyouverymuch.
WWMT "Newschannel 3" is officially kicked out of my RSS feeds for repeated offenses against decent grammar:
Note also the extensive use of German Capitals in the one-Paragraph Snippet captured in the Screenshot.
Yes, Judy Markee, your smiling mug is front-and-center on this one even though you probably had nothing to do with it. Tell your station manager to hire a Web copyeditor, because it's making the rest of you look like a bunch of two-bit hacks who barely finished junior high.
The Freep is running this gem of an article today, by driving columnist Matt Helms:
Uhm...it takes a whole article to say, "Buckle the hell up, idiots?" This is not a complicated concept, folks, and it is certainly not deserving of an entire newspaper article. That goes double when said article consists pretty much entirely of telling people where the enforcement zones are, and only includes the admonition to buckle up as part of a photo caption.
Might I recommend seppuku with a Frisbee?
In three and a half hours, give or take a couple minutes, stores around the country will open their doors to people who have now been camping out in tents on the sidewalk for the night in the hopes that they'll be one of the first 10 individuals to buy some loss-leader product at some ridiculous fire-sale price. Riddle me this:
It's November. In Michigan. Which means it's approximately 28 freaking degrees outside, and you're going to spend the night on the sidewalk outside Best Buy in a tent so that you can be the fifth guy in line at 4 AM just so you can (you hope) save $250 on a Nintendo Wii.
If I offered you $250 to camp out at the mall for 18 hours overnight in the middle of winter, you'd look at me like I was crazy, but because you're doing it for a Nintendo Wii, it's OK?
People are nuts.
Probably everyone who reads this blog regularly -- all three of you -- has done a fair bit of flying and has some idea of the shockingly different perspective a person can have on the world from 30-odd thousand feet above it. I've been a pilot since 2004, I've flown as a passenger literally around the globe, and I've spent something like 2500 hours of my life in airplanes so far.
It was a clear night tonight up at 37,000 feet in cruise from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi, and the Milky Way was very clear and bright. I love night flights over fairly dark terrain (open water is even better) because it almost feels like you could reach out and touch the stars.
As we began our initial descent into Biloxi, we crossed over I-55 at about 33,000 feet. At first, I didn't know exactly what I was looking at, but then it dawned on me: as Hurricane Gustav bears down on Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, as mandatory evacuations have been ordered for all of New Orleans to avoid a repeat of Katrina, the entire interstate had become one solid bumper-to-bumper mass of headlights streaming north to safety.
I'm going to hop in the same airplane at 0700 tomorrow, fire up the engines, and blast off to Dallas, where I'll have a two-hour break and eat some breakfast before going to Cincinnati. Monday morning, I'll get up, fly back to Chicago, do an Albany (NY) turn, then fly home to Kalamazoo. Meanwhile, those thousands upon thousands of headlights will still be marching north, to wait for who knows how long. I hope when they turn around and head back home, they'll have homes to head back to.
Alan Shore, in the Boston Legal episode "Nuts" (transcript, in PDF format):
I suppose you‚Äôre right. One has to wonder how many Denny Cranes are out there, being denied the right to fly, who can‚Äôt afford an attorney.
[He turns to the gallery.]
Do we have any with us today? If so, please stand.
[Nearly the whole room rises.]
Old people, children, even a few women. Everyone here is named Denny Crane. These are just the ones within driving distance, of course, since airplane travel was not an option.
Sadly, life imitates art yet again.
When I was a new hire at my current airline job, one of my fellow classmates in ground school was also on one of the various no-fly lists used by the TSA. I'd hazard a guess that as many as one percent of cockpit crew members at US airlines might be in the same situation, all because our government is too stupid to use a little common sense.
Marshall Fitzpatrick, firefighter and cigarette smoker:
That's $40 in groceries and $40 toward the electric bill, that's $40 toward whatever. When you put both of us together, that's $80 we've saved [by buying cigarettes in Indiana instead of Michigan] going toward our bills which helps us out.
How about you and your girlfriend save even more by, you know, quitting smoking entirely? You choose to smoke, and Michigan chooses to tax your vice. Give up the vice or quit your bitching.
This just showed up in my inbox:
Are you really satisfied with your p*enis size?
Yes, in fact, both I and your mother are quite satisfied with my penis size. Thanks for asking. Your mother appreciates your looking out for her sexual well-being, too.
She also said to get a haircut, take a shower, and move the fuck out of her basement.
Someone with actual journalism experience should feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'm fairly certain one of the major tenets of journalism is that headlines should be, well, factual. Apparently nobody told the anonymous AP hack covering the Cessna 310 crash in Sanford, Florida, about that. Observe:
This seems fairly straightforward and unambiguous, stating that the National Transportation Safety Board has found that Dr. Bruce Kennedy and Michael Klemm crashed because of broken cables in the flight controls of the Cessna 310 they were flying from Daytona Beach to Orlando.
Except that's not at all what the NTSB has said. Again, observe, from the second paragraph of the aforementioned article:
It wasn't known whether the cables broke before or during the crash, though, and the cause of the July 10 crash in suburban Sanford remained unclear, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
So what you're saying is that the NTSB has actually stated that they have no idea exactly what caused the crash at this point in time. Which is sort of, you know, the exact opposite of what the headline said.
Then again, the mass media seems to think airplanes stay in the air by magic anyway, so I guess expecting them to know how to write headlines that treat aviation with any semblance of reason is pretty silly.
In celebration of our freedom, independence, and democracy, I spent the morning in...Cuba.
I am spending the evening watching the neighbours light off all manner of illegal explosives over the pond in the apartment complex. Yay for Independence Day!
On a much more serious note, thank you to all the servicemen and women who have kept this country independent. Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated.
I'm still alive. I've been terribly busy.
The last two days have been spent recovering from serious hard drive corruption that's been plaguing me in one form or another for six months. I think something deep down in the OS was hosed. I'm about 75% recovered from that, but it'll probably take another two days at least. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it isn't a hard disk problem like it was last time (although I did score a free laptop out of that deal).
Last weekend, I was in Mountain View, California, for the Camino Meet-Up. We got a lot accomplished and the plans for Camino 1.6 and 2.0 are pretty solid at this point. Beyond that, things are sort of up in the air, but much less so than they were before the meeting. Kudos to Mike Pinkerton (no relation to Allan Pinkerton of Pinkerton National Detective Agency fame, as far as he knows) for being able to stand up there and talk/lead discussion for 10 hours over two days about our future.
Work is keeping me extremely busy; I just got done with four days straight yesterday, had today off (sort of -- more on that below), and have six straight starting at 0800 tomorrow morning, including two days of OT that I picked up a week ago. The good news is that I have a line next month. The bad news is that it's mostly day trips and the only overnights are our super-short Fort Myers overnight. Grr.
My day off, today, was spent mostly fixing my computer, but also taking my FFDO computer screening, basically a several-hundred-question true-false personality profile. Seems like it might be a good idea if they gave that personality profile test to anyone who wanted to buy a handgun. It would probably have prevented Seung-Hui Cho from committing the Virginia Tech massacre. It took me about 25 minutes. I'm the sort of guy who tests fast in general, but the proctor told me when I started that the last guy he saw take it took two hours. I'm still trying to figure out if I know myself better than most people, or if that two-hour tester was a fluke. It's not all that hard to answer 300-400 true/false questions about yourself, or it doesn't seem to be, anyway.
Anyway, I just wanted to let my five or six readers know I was still alive. I'll try to get back into the swing of things in the next few days.
The Supreme Court ruled a number of years ago that prayer in public schools was unconstitutional, so it's no surprise -- and I would fully agree with the decision, were it not for one minor detail -- that Comstock Park High School officials have removed a sung version of The Lord's Prayer from the graduation ceremony.
The minor detail? Comstock Park High School is holding its graduation ceremony in a church.
Kudos to Veronica Griffin of Grand Rapids, MI, whose 15-year-old son, Travis, was suspended from school for 10 days for putting a teacher in a headlock. Mrs. Griffin had no intention of allowing Travis to enjoy his 10-day forced vacation, so she put him to work picking up trash along the side of the road, wearing a sign reading "I made a bad choice in school. Now I'm living with it."
The world needs more parents like that.
Title pretty much says it all. Novelist Kurt Vonnegut died tonight in Manhattan at the age of 84. Rest in peace, Mr. Vonnegut. Your sense of humour will be sorely missed.
In three days in Miami living out of a hotel near the airport and taking only one significant excursion, a walk to Coral Gables for lunch on St. Patty's, I saw one Ferrari F430 Spyder ($200K), one Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder ($200K), two Maserati Quattroporte Vs ($120K for a vehicle that resembles nothing so much as an Oldsmobile Aurora), several late-model Porsche 911s ($100K or thereabouts; they were all Carrera S models or Turbos), and a Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen ($100K+, not sure which model it was).
Must be nice.
From the Freep:
The headline itself is great -- you just knew something like this was going to come to light eventually, and it would be hard to find two more polarising figures to be involved. Maybe Jesse Helms and Louis Farrakhan or Malcolm X, but I think Thurmond-Sharpton is pretty far out there.
What really makes this worthy of note, however, isn't the headline. It's what Ellen Senter, one of Strom Thurmond's nieces, said:
[I]t is wonderful that [Sharpton] was able to become what he is in spite of what his forefather was.
That may be the most patronising sentence I have ever seen or heard in my entire life. Senter acts like being a slave -- a matter in which Sharpton's ancestors undoubtedly had no choice -- made an individual inherently less human, less worthy. Are you kidding me? Is it any wonder nobody takes anything he ever did seriously? Miss Senter might as well fly the Stars and Bars on her front porch and burn a cross so all the all the hooded men in her front yard can dance around it.
The 1850s called. They want their philosophy back. Please hand it over with all speed. Alternatively, please hand yourself over to the 1850s by hanging yourself from a tree in your front yard.
If airport security screeners aren't secure, then who is? Check out the situation in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.
That's it. I am moving to Bangor, Maine, where it is now illegal for adults to smoke in cars where minors are passengers.
Best. Law. Ever.
"Drive by eggings / plaguing L.A. / 'Yo, they just got my little cousin, es?©!'"
You can't sell a mixture of oil, water, colour, and flavours as "cheese", so why is it that Kraft Foods sells a similar concoction as guacamole, containing less than two percent avocado? There's a lot of complaining about the frivolity of some lawsuits filed in this country, but you heard it here first -- this isn't one of them. That crap is not guacamole. "Processed avocado food product," maybe. But it sure isn't guacamole.
I promised more on the civic duty thing Tuesday morning. It's now Friday night. Sometimes other things get in the way. That's coming soon, though.
Work was shaping up to be a day of nothing on Tuesday with the weather being below company minimums for training flights and not being able to get hold of half my students. (I just got upgraded into a new plane and got a new student load on Monday, and scheduling didn't inform any of them that I was their new instructor, so getting them out there for last-minute slots wasn't happening.) Garrett, another one of the instructors, asked if I wanted to burn some time and go to Milwaukee for lunch, so I said sure.
We got to Milwaukee and grabbed a crew car from Signature, went to lunch at a fine little Italian place in the UW-Milwaukee neighbourhood a few blocks from where Garrett grew up, and headed back to the airport. Then a phone call came in from dispatch asking what our plans were. The weather had dropped down even further, contrary to the forecast, and was below company minimums even with special permission. We waited around a couple hours to see if things would get any better. They didn't, and we got stuck in Milwaukee for the night. So much for voting.
Once we figured out we were stuck, we went out to dinner with one of Garrett's friends and then saw the world's worst movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. I don't go for horror movies in general because most of them are chock full of bad acting, bad dialog, unrealistic gore and violence, etc. This one hits on all cylinders of bad -- the acting is mediocre, the dialog and script are awful, and the villain isn't particularly believable. Yeah, there are some sick bastards out there, but nobody this ridiculous.
Making my displeasure with the movie even more complete was the fact that it prevented me from taking the beautiful Jeannine Gauthier out for a drink after her shift at the desk at Signature finished at 2200. Grrr.
The weather was little better on Wednesday morning, but just better enough that we could head back. We were VFR for most of the flight back but got to shoot the approach down to about 200' above minimums coming back in to Battle Creek. Yay for the instrument rating.
I have jury duty tomorrow morning. For those newer readers, here's a synopsis of what happened last time I got to take time off of...doing whatever it was that I was doing.
If that happens again, I'm going to be super pissed, because this time I actually have to miss work on the day of a student's checkride, on a day I could be doing my 141 check in the Cirrus, and three days before another student's checkride.
I'm gonna break some heads if I actually get selected for a jury. They wouldn't be in court if they weren't guilty, would they?
Wes digresses into the culinary again with an essay on the coffee market, which is fascinating in its own right.
However, this blog would like to take the opportunity to point out that Wes has apparently never heard of, as Dave Barry so charmingly described it, "weasel-poop coffee", which sells for -- you guessed it -- over $250/pound.
Fellow ATPM staffer Wes Meltzer has penned a brilliant ode to the hamburger.
Now I kinda want one, although like Wes, I really shouldn't.
Sometimes I wonder if anyone working at the local NBC affiliate has any journalism training at all:
Driver identified in rollover accident fails to, well, identify the driver, and merely re-hashes the 35 earlier stories WOOD has published on their site about the crash.
Since Lee just tagged me with this little Wikipedia meme and I'm a sucker for history, I figured I'd join in.
This is an interesting exercise for anyone who wants to learn a little more about world history, but it's also food for thought: to most Americans, a birthday is a very special personal holiday, yet the event of any given individual's birth is staggeringly insignificant in the harsh light of the thousands of years of recorded human history.
On August 12, all of the following happened:
In 490 BC, the army of Athens (Greece) defeated an invading Persian army at the Battle of Marathon, an event that later gave rise to the Olympic running event by the same name. According to Herodotus, some 6400 Persians gave their lives (in stark contrast to fewer than 200 Athenians) in the failed attempt to conquer those portions of Greece that were not yet under Persian control. Had the Persians won the battle, the development of Greek -- and subsequent Western -- civilisation may have been delayed several hundred years, or not happened at all, an idea first put forth by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill, who famously claimed the Battle of Marathon to be more important to British history than the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Languishing in captivity in the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam in 1883, the last known quagga on Earth died. The extinction of the quagga, a zebra-like animal that was found in great abundance on the South African plains in the late 1700s, was the second major human extinction of an African species (the first being that of the dodo in Mauritius some 250 years earlier).
In 1985, Japan Air Lines Flight 123 crashed into Mount Ogura after a catastrophic loss of the vertical stabiliser and subsequent loss of control, killing 520 of the 524 souls aboard in the worst single-craft air disaster in history. (The Tenerife disaster, which involved two 747s, remains the worst aviation accident to date.) The Boeing 747SR had sustained a tail strike some seven years previous and the repair, effected by Boeing, used only one row of rivets where two were called for. The failure of the bulkhead caused the vertical stabiliser to detach from the aircraft and also severed all four hydraulic systems, leaving the aircraft with only engine thrust for directional control. Many of the JAL staff, as well as the Boeing mechanic responsible for the faulty repair, committed suicide as a result. In a similar incident some four years later, Captain Al Haynes managed to land United Airlines Flight 232, a DC-10, in Sioux City, Iowa, after total hydraulic failure using only the two remaining engine thrust levers (the number two engine, in the tail, had catastrophically failed and caused the situation) for directional control, probably saving the lives of the 185 survivors.
Schrödinger, born 1887, was one of the most famous physicists of the 20th century. His contributions to the field of quantum mechanics are virtually unparalleled. Perhaps his most famous work is the Schrödinger equation, although he is probably better-known among the general populace (particularly those with less than a Ph.D. level of physics knowledge) for his thought experiment involving a cat, a vial of poison, and a black box.
Richard Reid (born 1973) is better known as the "shoe bomber", and is the individual you can thank next time you find yourself standing in line in your stocking feet at the airport, wondering when the TSA wand-wavers are going to realise you pose no threat to your fellow travelers. The response to his attempted terrorism is emblematic of the reactionary defence philosophy put forth by Homeland Security and ignores the fact that such organisations as Al Qaeda are unlikely to strike by the same means twice. A reactive defence is no defence at all.
Finally, my birthday shares a day with the anniversary of the death of the English novelist Ian Fleming, best known as the creator of the archetypal Cold War spy, James Bond. To date, Fleming's most famous character has spawned 20 "official" films (along with two unofficial films and a TV movie) and almost singlehandedly turned both Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan into household names. (The franchise also virtually destroyed the career of Timothy Dalton, who has done nothing remarkable since his second and final Bond film, "Licence to Kill", in 1989, though Dalton's interpretation of Bond was critically well-received.) This coming November will see the release of "Casino Royale", the 21st Bond film and the first starring new Bond actor Daniel Craig, based on Fleming's first Bond novel (published 1953).
Since my blog-circle contains many of the same folks as Lee's, I doubt I'll be able to pass the torch to five people, but Eric, Raena, and Wes all seem like they'd be pretty interesting candidates for a bit of discussion here.
Our bass-ackwards neighbours to the south in the Hoosier State (motto: "We don't know what a Hoosier is either") have, after 30 years of holding out, begun to observe daylight saving time, in a manner of speaking. Perhaps the most telling quote from the article is this:
Martin County Commissioner John Collins, who works in construction, said he personally would be satisfied with either time zone. But he is frustrated that residents and visitors will need to study a map to figure out the correct time.
Please, John, explain to the rest of us how this is any different from the current (well, now "former") situation:
Under state law, most of Indiana has ignored daylight-saving time since the early 1970s.
The result has been a patchwork of time zones, with 77 counties observing Eastern time but not changing clocks; five on Eastern time unofficially observing daylight-saving time; and 10 on Central time that observed daylight-saving time.
Collins sums things up -- past and present -- quite appropriately by saying "It's a mess."
A mess, indeed.
It's that time of year again. In light of the events of last fall, perhaps public support for this holiday could be rekindled? You know, as a holiday honouring the nation's history and the city Jackson saved with a few hundred squirrel hunters 191 years ago today.
From the whiskey-tango-foxtrot file:
I was driving to lunch from the airport today when I noticed a large (50-lb or so) bag of concrete mix in the right-hand lane. I figured I should probably call the police and let them know, and since I didn't know the number, I dialed 9-1-1. The following is a reasonably accurate (i.e., I'm really not kidding about this) transcript of what happened:
*Click* "You have reached 9-1-1 emergency services. All operators are currently busy, but if you'll stay on the line, your call will be taken in the order it was received."
I got 9-1-1's friggin' on-hold message. Yes, that's right, 9-1-1 has an on-hold message.
So I hung up. Not all that important, and I was at Quiznos, so whatever.
Five minutes later my fone rang.
"Yes, this is the Battle Creek Police. Someone called 9-1-1 from this number and then hung up."
So I explained the situation and they said they'd send someone out to look at it.
I still can't believe 9-1-1 has an on-hold message. And on-hold music, I suspect.
There is a cricket in my bedroom.
He is very lonely.
Someone get him a fine lady cricket immediately, or get me a big can of Raid, because this noise is driving me nucking futs.
We now return to your irregular and unscheduled blogging.
The esteemed drunkenjournalist has posted some pics of The Cow in Israel, courtesy of a reader. The photos are nice, but the gem of the piece is this:
I don't care that Jon uses Windows, and I doubt Jon cares that I usually gravitate towards Macs or Linux, but we both like technology and both think The Cow is amusing.
Chances are, we'd both enjoy a drink together too, and chances are while drinking we'd find out more things we had in common while laughing about what makes us different, and there's probably something important in there somewhere.
Time for the venerable classic, "Good Decision / Bad Decision." This week's subject: Michael Jackson.
As many of you know, MJ was found not guilty on all charges yesterday. I still personally believe the man has done dirty deeds (though probably not dirt cheap) with little boys, but it is America, after all, and if this nation has shown the world anything in the last 50 years, it's that we hold most sacred our Constitutional right to be weird.
Good Decision: In the wake of his latest close shave, Jacko "will no longer share his bed with young boys," says his lawyer.
Bad Decision: Having shared a bed with young boys in the first place!
Apparently, as little as ten bucks.
Unfortunately, there's enough uncertainty surrounding the incident -- police didn't even have suspects until two days ago, and it happened in April -- that any halfway-decent lawyer ought to be able to get both girls found not guilty, whether or not they were involved.
Ugh. Someone stop me before I vomit. If anyone tries to rob my grandmothers, I will kill you. Fair warning.
Of course, the vending machine theft is important because it's one of five in Michigan's entire Upper Peninsula. (ba-dum *ching*)
Still haven't figured out the moose.
Northwest Airlines has announced that it's no longer offering free pretzels on domestic flights as part of a cost-saving measure meant to return the airline to profitability.
NWA lost over 450 million dollars last quarter.
Being stingy with pretzels is expected to save two million dollars per year, or half a million per quarter.
Only 457-and-one-half million to go.
Somehow, I don't think this is going to help at all.
Both houses of the state legislature are now backing a measure that would ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants, and bars. Here's hoping it passes.
It's expected that the Michigan Restaurant Association, a 4500-member trade group, will again oppose the legislation. WOOD-TV says, "[m]any restauranteurs say they should be able to decide the issue for themselves."
Yeah. And I should be able to decide for myself whether or not to sue your irresponsible asses for letting secondhand smoke give me cancer in 30 years. It's a public place. No smoking. If people want to kill themselves in their own houses with all the windows closed, more power to them, but don't inflict that on the rest of us, OK?
I've remained silent on the whole Terri Schiavo thing until now, when I just had to say:
Along with a big heaping cup of "it's not your damn life so butt the fuck out already you damn worthless vote grubbing politicians."
Keep your laws off my body. And my wife's. And my children's. And my parents'.
Are we clear?
Blogging the trip to Maryland...
Mile 122, I-94, Michigan: Three bales of hay in the fast lane eastbound. Called State Police. Surprisingly, no one had reported it yet. Score one for the good guys.
Mile 145, I-94, Michigan: Zig's, formerly Jackson Brewing Co., is now no longer Zig's. It's out of business and for sale.
Mile 148, I-94, Michigan: Large billboard on side of road, reading "Christ died for our sins. 1 Cor [something something]." Funny because "Bible" is in huge letters in front of "1 Cor." You'd think that would be obvious.
Mile 91, I-80/90, Ohio Turnpike: The world-famous Fangboner Road. Also, one of the Cedar Point exits. Three hours since leaving home, including a detour to dop off an iPod mini case. Why did it always take five hours to get to Cedar Point whenever we went on school field trips?
We're celebrating with this wonderful one-day colour scheme. Nobody's gonna pinch this this blog for not wearing green today!
As one respondent in the Fark thread said:
You're not a martyr. You're not a patriot or the last defender of American freedom because you have the courage and manly fortitude to slowly kill yourself in the stupidest method possible. You are most likely a self-serving, weak-willed, egomaniacal, out of shape asshole who, statistically speaking, probably has trouble climbing more than three stairs without hacking up brown lung butter. Sadly, smoking will not kill you quickly enough to prevent you from reproducing, thereby frustrating both Darwin and the rest of us.
How's that brown lung butter taste, guys?
Dan Rather signed off for the last time as anchor of the CBS Evening News tonight.
For the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting. Good night.
I grew up with that signoff. Twenty-four years of hearing that every weeknight at 1859. I like Bob Schieffer, but it's just going to be weird watching anyone else trying to fill that chair.
Couldn't the BBC have found a better picture, though?
Battle Creek's police chief has set a new traffic ticket policy:
The police department will require its patrol officers to write a certain number of tickets every day. But, the police chief says it's not a quota.
Not a quota, eh? Let's see about that:
1. A proportional share, as of goods, assigned to a group or to each member of a group; an allotment.
2. A production assignment.
So how is this not a quota, exactly? Oh, right, because the chief said it wasn't. Let's try that, shall we? "Battle Creek's police chief is President of the United States." Hmmm...
Do you know what tomorrow is?
Yes, that's right.
It's the day all the chocolate in the entire United States goes on 50-percent-off clearance.
And I, for one, am definitely not above heading to Meijer and buying a bunch of half-price chocolate in pink, foil-covered, heart-shaped boxes.
Who's with me?
Wanita Young, professional persecutor of well-meaning cookie bakers everywhere, is finding the attention from her little tantrum too much to bear:
This has turned into quite a fiasco. It's something that never should have happened, and it's just devastating. My phone hasn't stopped ringing. My life has been threatened, and I'll probably have to move out of town.
To which I can only think to reply: duh. What the hell did you expect would happen, you heartless, selfish bitch? You sued two teenage girls for anonymously leaving cookies on your doorstep in a random act of kindness. You deserve everything that happens to you as a result.
A side note: the Denver Post is having way too much fun with these headlines:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
The City of New York banned smoking in all indoor public places on 30 March, 2003. Almost two years after the ban went into effect, the New York Times is looking at the effects of the ban:
Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, [James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association,] sounded changed. "I have to admit," he said sheepishly, "I've seen no falloff in business in either establishment." He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.
[A] vast majority of bar and restaurant patrons interviewed last week, including self-described hard-core smokers, said they were surprised to find themselves pleased with cleaner air, cheaper dry-cleaning bills and a new social order created by the ban.
Kudos to New York City for having the cojones to keep this ban in place and enforce it. I'm sure the bar scene smells much better now, and this has been an inspiration to other areas as well -- Boston has enacted a city-wide ban, Philadelphia's city council is considering one now, and that heart of tobacco production in the United States, Virginia, has enacted a state-wide ban. Australia, Italy, and Ireland have also followed suit. Hopefully this portends a new attitude toward smoking in public: if you want to screw up your body, do it on your own time, on your own property, and leave the rest of us out of it!
Wanita Renea Young, you should be ashamed of yourself. You sued two teenage girls for anonymously leaving cookies on your doorstep.
I sure hope nobody in your neighbourhood plans on trick-or-treating on Halloween, you sorry waste of humanity.
(via Dave Barry)
To the judge who failed to throw this suit out of court:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
You wouldn't want to be sleeping with a snake.
Australia, where the incident occurred, is home to nine of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, a list that includes the tiger snake.
(via Dave Barry)
All you nutjobs who are wasting your lives away protesting a woman's right to choose might direct your energy toward wondering why a kid who unilaterally aborts his girlfriend's baby isn't charged with first-degree murder.
Maybe next time a homeless person sets a fire with a dollar's worth of scrap lumber it won't cost a major city 25 to 60 million dollars to fix it. That says to me there's a serious weakness in the system. And what are they doing to fix it? They "were actually able to find enough relays left over in [their] system that [they] could salvage out of other jobs [they] had to do this work" — in an old closet, one presumes — so they can restore it to its previous vulnerable state. Brilliant.
Only 1455 days until Dubya is no longer President. 'Nuff said.
Continuing the proud SEC tradition of football players being arrested for possessing large amounts of marijauana is Mississippi State offensive tackle Richard Burch. Only this time, instead of a garbage can full of the stuff, he had an ounce. C'mon, Burch, can't you do better?
Dear Washington Post, San Jose Mercury News, Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald, etcetera,
Please stop asking for my name, address, birthdate, dog's name, mother's maiden name, step-sister's IQ, grandfather's shoe size, closest African-American relative, great-uncle's time of death, arrest record, favourite book, least-favourite movie, number of pieces of junk mail I get each day, and any other so-called "demographic" information when I go to your sites in an attempt to view your online content.
I know you think that you're going to use this information which you have absolutely no business asking for to serve me "targeted" advertisements that your marketing staff has determined I'm more likely to click on.
What your marketing staff hasn't determined, though, is that I am using very aggressive advertisement and cookie blocking, so I will never see your ads anyway!
I find the registration how-to at the Washington Post very telling in this regard:
1. If you are running an ad or pop-up blocker please temporarily disable the software to test to see if the survey can be completed.
2. If you are then able to complete the registration, you should then be able to configure the ad/pop up blocker by entering an exception for www.washingtonpost.com and washingtonpost.com. Please refer to your ad/pop up blocker manual or manufacturer for the proper settings.
The Post goes on to outline a detailed, 20-step process for getting registration to work.
No one on their staff, apparently, has ever considered the fact that maybe there's a reason so many people are using ad and pop-up blockers! (Hint: it isn't because we enjoy going to great lengths to install them, then turn them off so we can see your site, then turn them back on, then turn them off so we can see another site five minutes later, then turn them back on, ad infinitum.)
There are literally thousands of other news sites on the Web where I can get most of your content. If you make it difficult for me to get, I'll simply use your competition.
Enjoy your gradual slide into irrelevance.
A Concerned User Who Is Really Fucking Sick Of FIve-Minute Demographic Surveys Just So He Can Read One Article
In honour of the events of 08 January, 1815, I give the world a Wikipedia entry on The Battle of New Orleans, the 1959 Johnny Horton song that topped the charts and won the Grammy for Song of the Year.
According to yesterday's edition of All Things Considered on NPR, 08 January used to be a national holiday on par with the Fourth of July. I think we need to bring this back. You know you all want the day off of work!
Needless to say, The Battle of New Orleans is the Song of the Day.
Those of you who don't browse MacSurfer probably haven't seen my latest article on SchwarzTech.
Chris Lawson shares his thoughts on the state of the Mac Web and lets you in on a little secret that PC Magazine and Ziff-Davis don't want you to know...
I imagine this will ruffle quite a few feathers in the community; that's what it's supposed to do. I'm not so much trying to piss people off as make them think about what they're publishing. Just because it mentions the Mac doesn't mean it's worth linking to, which Michael Alderete really hammers home in his post published over at MacInTouch (and kudos to Ric for at least paying lip service to the ideas I've outlined in my article):
John Dvorak is a "shock jock" columnist. He's not particularly interested in getting anything right -- he's interested in getting a reaction. That's why he picks on the Mac so often. He knows that Mac users will rise up to defend their platform, guaranteeing a ton of mentions around the web, irate responses in blogs, and vigorous letters to the editor...and a whole lot more traffic to his columns, improving his standing with his editors and publishers, and thus compensation.
The worst thing any Mac user can do to John Dvorak is ignore him. Even though we know he's wrong, and provably wrong, it's actually better to just let it go.
An Indonesian man has been found alive approximately 160 km west of Banda Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra. He had survived eight days on a raft of coconut trees and other wooden debris, drinking rainwater and eating coconuts he had reportedly cracked open with a doorknob.
A 16-year-old New Jersey girl, whose father called police after she came home drunk because he wanted to "teach her a lesson," turned him in for drug dealing and possession of weapons when the police arrived.
Never underestimate the vengeful nature of a teenage girl, especially if she's drunk.
And for the dad:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
A fellow Wolverine decided to be an iPod for Halloween. Oh man. Why didn't I think of that?
Two Norwegian pilots were attacked by an axe-wielding Algerian on short final (about 100 feet above the runway) earlier today, and a Delta 737 pilot was shot in the eye with a laser pointer, causing temporary injury to his eye from which the pilot is expected to recover.
On a more personal — and positive — note, I passed my AGI and FIA written exams this afternoon, leaving my aviation career with one further written examination: my ATP. Wahoo!
The first four hurricanes — Bonnie (technically a tropical storm, but still), Charley, Frances, and Ivan — weren't enough. Now we have to contend with Jeanne. And, oh yeah, the remnants of Ivan that came back through here after making a 1200-mile loop through Washington, D.C.
Ugh. Time to evac again. Looks like Pensacola this time. I'll keep you posted. And once again, over to Lee Bennett for your complete hurricane coverage. :)
It's funny, but it's not. Today's APoD pretty much sums up the current situation. Every time a new hurricane gets close to landfall, another one is brewing down there in the Carribean. And it always seems to be predicted to strike Florida.
Ah, the delicious sound of torrential rainfall. Some areas around here have had nearly two feet of rain in the last week. Now Ivan is set to add to that, and the end of hurricane season is in November? Are you kidding me?
I'm hereby passing off all responsibility for updates about the hurricane and its impact on the area to Lee Bennett over at SecondInitial. His September archive has about all you need to know, keeping in mind that Jacksonville is about two hours north-northeast of Orlando and thus has experienced far less impact than Orlando has.
In short, I don't expect anything will be too out of the ordinary when I get back tomorrow night.
Well, I'm safe and sound here in Hot-lanta, hooked up on a wireless connection in the hotel (for free, no less). It's starting to look like Frances might be a bit of a bust -- she's slowing down, almost stalled in place about 170 miles off Miami right now, and might (one would hope) blow herself out before she hits land.
The other option is that she'll get a whole lot worse over the warm waters off the Florida coast and build back into a Category 4 storm. Let's hope that isn't what happens, because I'd rather not be stuck in Hot-lanta, no matter how hot the A-T-L is, for five days.
Everyone in the area is beginning to brace for Hurricane Frances, which is expected to make landfall sometime between the wee hours of Saturday morning and midday Sunday, depending on how far north the storm tracks. Counties from about Flagler to Duval (approximately Cape Canaveral to Jacksonville) have cancelled school for Friday, and most sporting events for the weekend have already been cancelled. Folks are starting to sell plywood on the sides of the roads, and Duval County plans to announce evacuation plans tomorrow afternoon.
As for me, I'll probably be evacuating an airplane to Pensacola, Atlanta, or Dothan (AL) and leaving the car at the airport, which is fairly free of debris-creating trees and the like. Here's hoping Frances makes landfall somewhere between here and Daytona, where the coast is much less heavily populated, and where damage around here should be minimal.
Expect a full report (no photos; my digicam is back in Michigan) sometime after the weekend.
I'm not sure whether to laugh or be incredibly angry. A foreign toy manufacturer has produced so-called "9-11 Attack Toys" and a Miami distributor purchased a bunch of them sight-unseen (as part of a larger assortment) and has begun distributing them in bags of candy around the USA.
What the hell is wrong with the people who came up with this toy? Who plays with a toy like this? Is Al Qaeda trying to recruit four-year-olds now?
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
Microsoft has patented what appears to be an equivalent to the venerable (as in dating back to 1980) Unix command
sudo, which comes as only a mild surprise considering the recent stupidities of the USPTO.
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
The International Olympic Committee, in a fit of money-grubbing suppression of free speech, banned Olympians from publishing online journals of their Olympic experiences at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. (Ooh! Don't tell them I *gasp* linked to their site! Get bent, you morons.)
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
Traffic, as usual, was really bad on the way home today. Some jackass behind me thought it would be fun to sneak up and block a driveway for a lady who was trying to turn left just behind me. I would have stopped short and left it open for her, but I didn't realise I was blocking it until it was too late, and when I pulled up to give her room, this guy in a Chevy Avalanche decided to pull up and take the space I was trying to give her to turn, (insert heavy sarcasm) you know, because it makes so much difference whether or not you're 15 feet further up toward the light.
Well, he got his 15 feet, she got blocked out, and as soon as he turned right, the cooler full of Pepsi sitting on his tailgate (this is another reason why fake trucks like the Avalanche are useless, by the way) went flying off the tailgate and landed in the middle of the road, immediately bursting open and scattering Pepsi cans and ice packs all over the street.
Serves you right, Mr. I-Need-15-Feet-And-Damned-Who-I-Run-Over-To-Get-It.
Then a fire truck came through the intersection right as our light turned green, and some dumb bitch behind me had the nerve to honk when I didn't go the instant the light turned green, even though the fire truck was a) still in the intersection and b) blaring his horn and siren.
And people from Florida say Northerners can't drive.
I saw a girl on the way back from the airport today.
Not just any girl, either. This girl was quite attractive, and she was filling up her Ducati 996 at the Amoco station.
I couldn't figure out which one to stare at: the girl, or the bike.
OK, I'm done.
I know you've all been eagerly anticipating this day since February, so here it is...
Happy Birthday tooooooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Happy Birthday toooooooooooooooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Happy Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirthday tooooooooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Happy Birthday toooooooooooooo meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
I am less than one-fourth the age that my great-grandmother was when she passed away. Longevity seems to run in my family. That I have passed less than a quarter of my life on this Earth is mind-boggling to me right now.
Holy crap, 97 is old.
After realising it had "slipped the surly bonds of Earth," the cat was understandably distressed about its situation, seeking refuge on the nearest seemingly anchored surface — the plane's co-pilot. It seems one of the passengers had fallen asleep and the cat had escaped from its travelling case, possibly with the help of a child in the next seat. It then began wandering about the plane and slipped into the cockpit unnoticed whilst flight attendants served the captain and first officer their meals, after which it looked out the windows, saw the ground several thousand feet below, and went ballistic.
The captain made the very wise choice to return to Brussels immediately, where the aircraft landed without further incident.
International flights allow small (less than five kilograms, or about 11 pounds) pets to be carried in the passenger cabin of aircraft, so the owner won't be facing any legal trouble.
In related news, Afghani authorities report a very large shipment of cats has recently arrived in the country's eastern mountains. No word on why...
In a new(ish) variant of a scam that's been around for ages, prisoners at a Dallas-area correctional facility have been calling numbers — collect, as all prison calls are — and getting their unsuspecting victims to hand over control of the phone by dialing *72. The prisoners then proceed to run up ridiculous charges on the victims' phone bills.
The stupidity of the folks who fall for this is fairly impressive, but not nearly as impressive as what the corrections officials said when the scam was made known to them. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something like, "Well, we have thousands of inmates, and one telephone, so it's awfully difficult to know exactly who's making these calls."
Because there are no security cameras in a goddamn jail? Get serious. Put a camera right on the phone and log all calls. Synchronise the clock on the call log with the timestamp on the security videotape. DEAD SIMPLE. This isn't complicated, nor is it expensive. The capability is already there. USE IT.
By the way, if anyone can find a news story on the WWW about this (I saw it on The Early Show on CBS this morning), please let me know. I'd like to link it.
For the people who fall for this scam:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
For the corrections officials who won't do anything about it:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
Seventy years ago yesterday, to quote the famous musical philosopher Rob Gordon, "John Dillinger was shot dead behind that theatre in a hail of FBI gunfire. You know who tipped 'em off? His fucking girlfriend. And he just wanted to go to the movies."
The New York Times is running a very interesting piece on the interest Dillinger still holds with the American public.
The US Army Soldier Systems Center has developed a new way of reconstituting dried food on the battlefield: just add dirty water or urine. The food is protected from bacteria and most toxic chemicals by an osmotic membrane that allows only water and other tiny molecules to pass whilst keeping bacteria, viruses, and particulate matter out.
The membrane is not, however, fine enough to filter out urea, which is present in urine and can cause kidney damage if ingested over long periods of time. Fortunately for soldiers' stomachs and psyches, urine is suggested as an emergency-only reconstitution measure.
Here's your Conspiracy Theory of the Day, courtesy of Slashdot.
For the uninitiated, Zero Wing was a Japanese video game whose English translation was, well, if not the seminal example of Engrish, at least a very important milestone in the development of the Engrish phenomenon. It is best known for its introduction of the phrase "All Your Base Are Belong To Us," which has been perpetuated throughout the Internet community for years. (West Michigan fans of AYBABTU will enjoy the 2003 April Fool's prank perpetuated by some college-age kids in Sturgis.)
Next time you have a spider walking across your ceiling, or a wasp nest under your gutters out back, be glad you don't live in Dover, Florida, where a nest of a quarter-million yellow jackets was recently destroyed in an abandoned trailer.
Up there on the list of jobs I think would be wicked fun for a year or two: wasp nest exterminator. I mean, you get to dress up in a beekeeper suit and shoot a fire hose of toxic chemicals at a giant swarm of angry stinging insects for an hour. How much more exciting can life get?
In a development that should surprise absolutely no one outside the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the ratings for last Friday's Nightline show were up nearly 30 percent compared to earlier broadcasts this week, and up nearly 25 percent over the previous Friday's show.
John McCain sez: "I told you so."
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
The BBC is running a documentary on BBC Two this Sunday, 28 March, that chronicles his life through the eyes of acquaintances.
If anyone has satellite access to BBC Two and the capability to encode this to MPEG format, I'd really like to see it.
Early this afternoon, Eric IMed me, saying cryptically, "I have too many cards." Turns out he was talking about wallet pollution, a plague with which any college-age guy ought to be intimately familiar. Of course, I was thus inspired to take a look through my own wallet, whereupon I discovered the following:
The wallet pollution wasn't as bad as I had expected it to be, although my wallet has gained very little over the last 18 months, and I gave it a pretty thorough cleaning before I moved up to Ann Arbor. The only three things I tossed were the expired health insurance card, the expired motorcycle insurance card, and the ACS student membership card. But the whole experience got me to thinking: as Capital One asks, "What's in your wallet?"
What time, you ask?
Time to me to dig out the steaming pile of donkey poop that is Internet Explorer 5.2 and do my tax return.
Why, oh why doesn't anyone write an online tax prep engine that is both free and functional with something besides IE?
It isn't even a matter of user-agent spoofing, either. Nothing but IE will even communicate with CompleteTax's servers once a tax return editing session is begun. Argh.
Ah well, on the bright side, it hasn't crashed. Yet. (Knock on wood!)
Someone's getting fired for installing critical space shuttle parts backwards.
And then not noticing it for 20 years!
Herbs and whiskey aren't going to cure cobra bite, but some people just can't be convinced that modern medicine does occasionally have its uses.
Australians have too much time on their hands, as evidenced by the two contenders who lost to the singing dingo in the voting for top Australian trivia item. The two runners-up: a guy who can jump in place on his unicycle 232 times per minute, and a guy — this must be a guy — who can shoot his toenail clippings direct from toenail to wastebasket with 90 percent accuracy at a distance of a metre.
Benton County, Oregon, has said "screw you all" and banned all marriages as of Tuesday afternoon. Rather than deal with a legal mess if or when the state decides whether gay marriage is permissible, county commissioners are now refusing to allow any marriage at all. As you might expect, the homophobes are violently up in arms about this, and completely puzzled by the county's refusal to allow "legal" marriage.
I went to the bank Friday afternoon to deposit a check. My bank happens to be in a grocery store. As I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car, I noticed a crowd of store employees huddled over and around something on the sidewalk.
As I got closer, I realised they were sitting on someone. One of the guys was holding about 10 styrofoam meat trays full of steak, and three more were sitting on a guy who was struggling to get away. Two more guys each had one of the thief's legs.
Now, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's hilarious that anyone would think he could escape on foot with 15 pounds of fresh steak tucked in his pants, but it's sad that someone would feel the need to steal food in order to eat.
Based on my conversations with various store employees, I suspect the man was not, in fact, homeless or hungry, but rather stealing because he could get away with it.
The really pathetic part of the whole incident is that nearly every store employee other than active cashiers immediately ran outside to see wht the commotion was all about, so I'm thinking this guy should have had a partner. Simple, really: steal a few things as a giant (and extremely effective) diversion, while your partner walks right out of the store calmly pushing a cart full of free groceries. Even the tellers at the bank ran out to investigate when I mentioned what had happened outside.
For trying to escape a store with 15 pounds of fresh steak shoved down his pants, the perp gets the following award:
Red Forman Dumbass Rating:
To a 44-year-old engineer and divorced father of two, for £8400.
Notwithstanding the fact that I wouldn't pay for sex in the first place, I certainly wouldn't pay that much money for any sex act. Again, some people apparently have more money than sense...
The FDA plans to define "low-carb" by summer, in an attempt to bring some semblance of order to the current mess in supermarkets across the country.
Child-porn charges against R. Kelly have been dropped in Florida for want of evidence. The judge ruled most of the photographic evidence inadmissible due to insufficient evidence provided when the search warrant was issued. This follows closely on the heels of Chicago-area prosecutors dropping several charges against him there relating to the infamous video tape that allegedly shows Kelly in, uh, "compromising positions" with a then-14-year-old girl.
A French motorist has been sentenced in the attempted vehicular manslaughter of a pedestrian the motorist claimed looked like Osama bin Laden. He was ordered to seek counseling and pay a 500-Euro fine.
Utah has banned execution by firing squad, leaving lethal injection as the only means of capital punishment. There have to be Mormon and SCO jokes in there somewhere...
Bill Clinton's boyhood home, at 321 East 13th Street, Hope, Arkansas, is for sale on eBay, where bidding has surpassed $216,000 as of this post. Mildly overweight interns and large desk are not included.
Finally, the Detroit Pistons are after a record. A 'fro-fearing record. The team plans to distribute 5,000 red, white, and blue wigs to fans under the age of 15 at its home game against Denver this Friday in an attempt to set the Guinness World Record for "most people wearing wigs in a single venue."
Fear the 'Fro.
This guy can't get enough spam. The fact that he's a grandfather at age 45 ought to tell you a lot. Why can't guys like this die in terrorist attacks instead of bright young individuals like my friend Brad Hoorn?
NASA is planning to send a probe to the Jovian moon Europa to search its oceans for life.
Clearly, God is the God of the Jews, and is angry at Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism.
I mean, why else would He have sent a Plague of Locusts to Australia?
Heaven forbid I should ever get into trouble with the law in such a capacity as to require a trial by jury.
Article III, Section 2, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution specifies:
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury
The oft-misquoted addition to this, that the jury shall consist "of [the accused's] peers," is actually from the Magna Carta and is present in neither the U.S. Constitution nor the current Constitution of the State of Michigan (dated 1963).
This is what we in the industry refer to as A Good Thing™.
"But why?" you ask. "Isn't being tried by a jury of your peers an ideal situation?"
Sure, if more than 20 of your peers can be arsed to actually show up for a jury summons. I overheard a couple people talking while we sat around the jury room this morning, one of whom had just been told by the clerk that "60 percent" of the people summoned for jury duty today failed to show. Now, it's obvious some people consider jury duty to be an imposition. Pay for district and circuit court cases is terrible: $12.50 for the first half-day, $25 for the first full day, and $20 per half-day thereafter, and you still have to pay for parking out of your own pocket. Even someone working at McDonald's makes more than that. So I can understand why people are reluctant to take an unpaid leave from work.
But that doesn't excuse them from the civic responsibility of serving as potential jurors. As the Hon. Philip Schaefer, judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, so eloquently put it:
I want you to do a simple math problem. Take the number of hours of jury duty you've served. Triple it if you want to. Now, divide that by the number of hours you've lived in our free, democratic society.
Go on. Do the math.
All this is not to say I think the present jury system is perfect. It's not. Today was a great example of why picking jurors at random from the citizenry at large is a bad idea. But those of you who didn't show up today, you should all be ashamed of yourselves. If you can't be arsed to show up for potential jury duty, you can't be arsed to go to the polls in November. If you can't be arsed to vote for your leaders, then you have absolutely no leg to stand on when complaining about anything wrong with the United States. If you can't be arsed to fulfill your civic responsibilities, the government can't be arsed to send you your Social Security check, or your Medicare payment, or your welfare check, or — God forbid — your unemployment check. Because clearly, unemployed people have so many more worthwhile things to be doing with their time.
Think about it.
In a story that should surprise absolutely no one, Columbia University researchers have found antibacterial soaps are ineffective against viruses.
In other news, hammers were found to be poor tools for removing screws, and screwdrivers were found to be ineffective for driving nails.
A sixth-grader in Ohio has been suspended for three days.
Because he brought (oh, horrors!) the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated to school.
Now, I agree that an elementary school probably isn't the place for SI's swimsuit issue, but like the boy's mother said, it's not as though he brought pr0n to school. I can understand maybe one day of detention, or a heart-to-heart with the principal about why bringing that in was a stupid thing to do, but three days' suspension? Geez.
Of course, if I had realised I could get on the front page of CNN's Web site (and probably mentioned in their broadcast news) simply by getting suspended from school for three days for something this harmless, I definitely would have done that in elementary school. Think of how cool this kid is going to be to all his peers when he gets back from school: he got three days off, and he's a national hero to sixth-grade boys because he had the swimsuit issue of SI.
School officials are obviously too far removed from sixth grade themselves to realise this. There are advantages to thinking like a kid, after all.
My mother is a lifetime member of the NEA. According to Dubya's PR-ignorant Secretary of Education Roderick Paige, this makes her a terrorist. Guess we can add teachers to the list now, eh? Is there anyone in the US who isn't a terrorist by the government's standards?
And people say Americans can't drive. Our good neighbours to the north seem to have a much greater problem with that, although one might observe that more stringent enforcement and better reporting would make Ontario's roads look like those of a Florida retirement community.
Pay close attention to this incident:
There was one point on Saturday when officers thought there had been a traffic jam only to discover a 29-year-old Oldsmobile driver had completely stopped his vehicle in the passing lane because he was too nervous to drive in the rain.
People like that should be dragged out and shot.
NB: The highest speed limit this writer has ever seen in Ontario is 110 km/h, or a hair under 70 MPH.
The next time I hear someone under the age of 100 talk about how old he or she feels, I'm going to pass on this story. A Chechnyan woman appears to be 124 years old, which would make her not only the world's oldest living person, but the oldest authenticated human in recorded history.
At 124 years old, Ms. Khachukayeva has outlived the tsars, the Bolsheviks, Communism, the Nazis, and every US President since Grant. She has lived through the invention of the telephone, the audio recording, the bicycle, the colour photograph, the video recording, practical electricity, the automobile, the internal combustion engine, the airplane, the rocket, the jet, the electronic computer, and the transistor. She has witnessed the revival of the Olympic Games, the formation of every major professional sports league, two World Wars and countless regional conflicts, the splitting of the atom, the landing of humans on the Moon, the first cloned animals, and the sequencing of the human genome. She was four years old when Krakatoa exploded in 1883, 27 when San Francisco nearly collapsed in the great earthquake of 1906, and 101 when Mt. St. Helens buried the Pacific Northwest in 1980.
You ain't seen nothin' yet.
I'll spare you my usual explanation of what "eureka" means and mention only that it's Greek for "I found it." Which is definitely true in this case: the fifth 1913 Liberty nickel was found in the closet of the family of the dealer who "lost" it in a car crash in 1962.
One of the four others changed hands in a private transaction yesterday for US$3 million.
The telemarketing powers that be — namely, the American Teleservices Association — have expanded their lawsuit against the US government. The suit claims the national Do-Not-Call registry will "devastate businesses and cost as many as two million jobs."
Small ethical question: if your job involves harassing and/or disturbing people at inconvenient hours, like the middle of dinner every night, do you have a moral right to continue that job?
Another question: if people hate telemarketing so much, we can safely assume that they won't buy products that are telemarketed. So why is the industry so concerned that this do-not-call list will devastate businesses? Seems to me the people who sign up for it are the ones who aren't going to buy a telemarketed product anyway. So the do-not-call list is actually doing the industry a favour by saying "Don't waste your time calling these people, since they aren't likely to buy anything you sell them over the phone anyway."
How the heck can doing the industry a favour be worthy of a lawsuit?
Someone call Steve Irwin and tell him to get up to north Queensland and the Northern Territory. Folks are stealing the croc warning signs on many bodies of water in northern Australia. Maybe the government should just start selling the signs at tourist shops. They'd probably make a killing, and they'd completely destroy the demand for stolen ones.
It's the nickname most southwest Michigan high school students have heard several times before they graduate, and it refers, of course, to Benton Harbor, a small, poor, mostly-black town on Lake Michigan across the St. Joseph river from the mostly-white and upper-class town of St. Joseph. To anyone who has visited both areas, the divide is palpable. A 28-year-old black motorcyclist was killed early Tuesday morning after he crashed into a building at high speed during a police chase begun by white police officers. Now the citizens are rioting and it's the top story on CNN.
Portland, OR, panhandlers now have a more productive employment opportunity: being a pizza advertisement. Hey, whatever you gotta do to get them to quit asking for my spare change...and this way, they get a square meal out of the deal too. Wonder if Shakey Jake will take time out from his busy routine of wearing fancy suits and selling his own line of t-shirts and bumper stickers to go into the pizza business?
OK, so the bush meat trade is primarly a West African phenomenon, not a South African one, but it still works. A South African baby was stolen by a large baboon, who then proceeded to bite into the child's head, eat its brain, and run away.
I didn't know Mike Tyson was roaming around in South Africa, or that Lennox Lewis was engaged to Lettie Goitsimang Tukane.
I meant to do this last night but I got tied up working on our research group WWW site. (Well, more like I got sidetracked and forgot, but whatever.)
Yesterday definitely should have been a Monday. I say that because I woke up to go for my morning run and it was raining. Hard. Normally I wouldn't mind running in the rain, but this was a very cold rain, as Michigan is prone to have in March. But this is June, dammit.
Anyway, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. Woke up about 0900 and decided I'd better get going so I could get into lab at a reasonable hour. About 1000 I was ready to leave, so I grabbed my jacket and my bike and walked out the door, letting it shut (and lock) behind me.
As soon as I heard the door shut, I realised my keys were still in the apartment. Fortunately I had my cell fone in my pocket, so I called the landlord after knocking on the resident manager's door and finding no one home. The management folks said I could grab a spare from them, but my car keys were on the same keychain, so I was going to have to ride the bike. OK, fine, I'll get a little wet, no biggie.
Until I realised my helmet was inside too.
Great, so now I have to ride in very slowly, on the sidewalk, and be very careful about it. That meant I got even wetter. By the time I got my spare keys - for which the management wanted some sort of collateral, in this case my M-Card - and got back to my apartment, it was nearly 1030, and I was in desperate need of a change of clothes, since my shorts were soaked through.
I changed, got my stuff, and got in to lab about 1100. I got down to work and went over to the management office around 1500 to get my M-Card back. The lady who took it wasn't there, and the lady behind the desk had no friggin' clue where it was. So I had to go back after the first lady came back an hour later to get my bloody M-Card back.
I really think the world would be a better place if yesterday had never existed.
In a time of relative peace, in an upper-middle-class suburban environment, how many friends do you expect to lose before the age of 23? Think back to when you were 10 or 11. How many murder victims do you expect to know before you graduate college?
As those of you who visited in the last week noticed, Sunday afternoon was Peter Schwende's memorial service. He died at the ripe old age of 20, on 25 May 2003, after a three-year battle with leukemia.
He was number six.
My senior year of high school, two friends who were enjoying their first summer back from college - one at MIT and one at Case Western - died in a car accident.
My sophomore year of college, my friend Neenef Odah shot his ex-girlfriend, Maggie Wardle, who was also a friend of mine. Neenef then turned the shotgun on himself.
As I walked back to my office at Pharmacia one morning in early September, 2001, I learned terrorists had just crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, where my friend Brad Hoorn had just taken a job with a financial firm after graduating from Yale. His office was on the 93d floor of the North Tower. No one ever heard from him again.
Six friends in five years. Six brilliant minds snuffed out before their time. Six people whose full potential was never realised. Six more than I ever hoped to know so well.
Peter, you will be sorely missed. One of these days, I'll take up golf, and I'll play those holes for you. I'll always remember your incredible inner strength and positive attitude, how you got up there on the wall at Climb Kalamazoo despite having lost most of the physical strength in your arms and by golly, you were going to get some quality climbing in. Every time I pass a ski lift, I'll remember that photo of you flying off a jump with your skis in a full cross, having the time of your life. And I'll never forget that wonderful week at Lake Louise in the summer of '98, when you were the surrogate little brother I never had.
Somehow, there's a reason to all of this. God has his plans for everything, I suppose. As I approach the age of 23, I realise how little I understand of this world. Two parents shouldn't have to lose each of their jobs and a 20-year-old son within two weeks. There's a lesson in there somewhere. I can only hope and pray that we all learn a little something from these difficult times. As Rev. Cindy said, we should do whatever we do with a little more style and panache, because that's how Peter would have done it.
May God rest your soul, little brother. Keep an eye on those of us who are still left, would ya?
The colour scheme has been changed to black in remembrance of my friend Peter Schwende, who died Sunday at 1245 after a three-year battle with leukemia. He was 20.
I'll be changing it back next Sunday after his memorial service. RIP, Peter. You were a beacon of strength to all of us.
Being the, well, I can't quite think of a word for it, but being the person that I am, I've found myself recently wondering about eye boogers. Where do they come from, what are they (obviously some sort of protein-like secretion), why do they form, why do they get all long and stringy and springy if you stretch them out and dry them carefully by blowing on them...
Ahem. Anyway, I decided to hit Google, as per my usual practise when I want to know more about topics I know nothing about, and found that the Internet has a great dearth of information about eye boogers. The best site I found also happened to be the funniest by a long shot. The eye booger bit is about 2/3 of the way down the page.
Whilst I'm on the subject, I probably ought to mention what I fondly refer to as the Internet Nose Hair Site. I got really bored one day about a year ago and started searching Google for random things, and "nose hair" was one of them. That site is the first hit on Google when you search for "nose hair."
And since I'm talking about it, "Weasel Eye Boogers" would be a great name for a rock band.
"...Clear sailin' ahead for our precious cargo!"
"Uh, would that be the hot pants, sir?"
"Aye, the hot pants!"
New York City, that bastion of progressive laws in the United States, is banning cell fone ringers during public performances as of Sunday. So let me get this straight...I can't let my fone ring during a movie/concert/play and I can't smoke in bars.
Where do I sign?
And on a related note, the cell fone companies aren't very happy about the requirement that they allow customers to keep their numbers when changing carriers.
Tough friggin cookies, guys. You screw us every other possible way, so I think maybe it's time you gave a little something back to your customers.
"May we stone him?"
It's really sad, but it just lent itself so well to that joke...
Not in New York City bars you don't. A new law just went into effect banning smoking in public bars in the city of New York.
So now that a bouncer has been stabbed to death in an argument over a cigarette, the bouncer's family is blaming the mayor??? Uh, hello! How about the stupid fucks who thought it was OK to stab someone to death because they wanted a nic fix?
Nah, they're not responsible at all. What is wrong with you people?
All I have to say about this is that Stetson University is damned lucky it's not a public institution. Because if it was, the ACLU would have their sorry butts in court tomorrow.
In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see it anyway. Violation of free speech rights is still violation of free speech rights. Just ask my three friends, who did something very similar (except indendent of the school, and on their own time and with their own money), about that one. They were threatened with revocation of their admission for it, by a lame duck Dean of Students who didn't have a leg to stand on and who was supported by the chickenshit paranoid administration because of the racial hysteria surrounding the campus at the time.
Yes, I can say that now, because I have my diploma, and to quote Denis Leary, "there ain't a goddamn thing anybody can do about it."
So I was reading the Top 100 April Fool's Pranks (see "humour" entry below) and saw this one:
#98: Soy Bomb Lands Record Contract
Viewers of the February 1998 broadcast of the Grammys were surprised when a semi-naked man with the word 'Soy Bomb' scrawled on his chest danced out onto the stage during Bob Dylan's solo performance. The man (who was definitely not supposed to be there) was quickly escorted away by security guards. But a few months later, on April 1, Rhino Records proudly announced that it had signed Soy Bomb (as he was now known) to a two-year, six-album recording contract. Soy Bomb's first album would include covers of popular classics such as 'Dancing Machine' and 'You Dropped a Bomb on Me.' A spokesman for Rhino Records commented that they had been moved to offer Soy Bomb a contract because the experience of watching him dance had been for them "kind of like when you eat too many Whoppers and you feel a little nauseous, but you're so happy you ate them."
I realised I still remember when WGRD 97.9 (for those of you in the southwest corner of Michigan) interviewed the Soy Bomb guy, probably about a week after the original incident (at the Grammys, which really did happen). I remember listening to the interview at the end of Rick Beckett, Darla Jay, and Scott Winters' morning show in the parking lot of KAMSC after getting over there early one morning when Rick, Darla, and Scott were wrapping up the show, and I remember the Soy Bomb guy mentioning something about "Bird bird bird, the bird is the word." He was really fuckin weird, and the bird clip from that interview was in the ad for the morning show for the next month. Hysterical. And damn, that was five years ago. Jesus, I feel old.
Side note: Rick Beckett left WGRD last summer, Scott followed soon after, and Darla had already left sometime around the time I entered college. I still think those three were about the best morning show anyone in SW Michigan had from middle school to when Darla left, and they were far better than anything I've heard since that time. But now Rick and Scott are back, according to the Grand Rapids Press. Glad to have those guys back on the air. They're great.
I know the World Cup was almost a year ago, but that doesn't change the fact that this is still funny.
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?
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.
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.