May 31, 2002
Pray for Me People, Pray for Me

Ok, so my wife has volunteered us to kid-sit my father-in-laws demons. Take 'em to the zoo, take 'em to Air and Space, take 'em to Natural History. A four year old and a six year old. Oh. My. God.

Posted by Ellen at 09:11 PM | Comments (3)
Fun with Picture It pt. 2

Posted by Ellen at 09:04 PM | Comments (2)
What The?!

Ok, this company has too much time on their hands to think of this kind of stuff.

I mean who would think of animals that need to be artificially inseminated need a Toy like this?

NO NO! there are no graphic photos to see you pervs! BUT, it makes ya wonder who gets this job. Imagine telling your friends that your career is to make and animal 'get off' when its inseminated to make the procedure more 'enjoyable'

Posted by Ellen at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

This is a pretty interesting excerpt from a new book coming out about Queen Elizabeth II.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)
May 30, 2002
Fun with Picture-It

Posted by Ellen at 09:00 PM | Comments (3)
Hearing Voices

This day in history.
May 30 1431

Joan of Arc is burned at the stake, ostensibly because she "heard voices" and refused to wear female clothing. * compliments of The Rotten Daily*

  1. it was very bad in that era to wear stuff you just weren't supposed to.( cause you may just look better in those pants)*though, men of the church are allowed to wear dresses--oops! no no....cloaks*
  2. 'hearing voices' from God was an act of heresy, not what some people nowadays would call it 'mental illness'.
  3. a supposed 'prophet' *hey ya never know-but men did not like that idea for probably the sole reason that she was a girl!*
  4. canonized as a saint in the 1900's. wow, takes a long time to determine what makes a miracle real. * ya got to take a break between those poker games to decide important stuff ya know*

Though in my opinion, she was most likely mentally ill. People were very stupid back then- even more so than today, and they would believe anything. You don't see people now a days walking up to the crack-addict supposed prophet on the sidewalk proclaiming he is the second coming. If you do, find the nearest toilet and drown yourself. Schizophrenia and some forms of manic depression can cause delusions/illusions and voices.(where is Zyprexa when ya need it) Hell, and if you are smart enough, you get people to play along! You don't get tossed in some asylum to rot away(not yet at least)

But if it is all true that she was hearing the voice of god, no one would ever really know. Mainly because the church proclaimed her a heretic, therefore if you were a devout church follower, the church IS right. *or you go to hell- say your penance please*

No one will ever really know. I suggest you take it they way you want to see it.

Posted by Ellen at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)
The Dignity Ladder

The following document was acquired only after great risk and hardship on the part of humanity's spying effort. Many Bothans died to get you this information (well, ok, one wife got a little grossed out finding it in the litter box). And it's Goblin's own fault for eating the wrong roll of toilet paper too.

Feline Dignity Scale
May 1, 1908
Revised: 1922, 1937, 1946, 1958, 1966, 1974, 1990, 2002
By taking possession of this document you hereby swear never to reveal its contents to any of our slave servants (known by the common name of "hyoo-mans")

It has come to our attention that many fellow comrade felines are having difficulty determining their place in our socialist movement to overthrow Hyoomanity and achieve our rightful place as rulers of this planet. The central office of the Proletariat's United Society of Socialist Youth - Central Authority Terminal has therefore created this document to assist you in the recruitment, discipline, and maintenance of authority amongst our new recruits. It is only by maintaining the most rigid discipline within our ranks that we will maximize our kibble, destroy the bourgeois canine class, and guarantee our supply of fuzzy mice forever.

All cat ranks are based on Dignity, that most important of all measures of a fellow Comrade. The more Dignity a Comrade obtains, the higher in your ranks you should place them. The rankings are as follows:

1-20 - Level 1 - rank amateurs, kittens that pop at broomsticks, and/or adult cats unfortunate enough to be photographed actually sleeping with a "party hat" or "sun glasses" on. Some have actually been known to make friends with canine bourgeois.
21-40 - Level 2 - "Cat". The normal level for rank-and-file feline party members. Such a Comrade will show great affection for its Hyoo-man slaves but will fail to maximize the return on this labor. Dignity losses are very common, while gains are few and far between.
41-60 - Level 3 - "Mouser". The enforcers of the party, Mousers also live in households but only use affection for the slave races when requiring kibble, attempting to sabotage a bourgeois canine, or aquire a fuzzy mouse.
61-80 - Level 4- "Tiger". Tigers represent the finest minds and strongest wills among us. Tigers are never actually seen being affectionate with the slave races, at least not in public. Bourgeois canines rightly fear them, and Mousers are typically given their marching orders by them. They are our most valuable spies, and are able to make a Hyoo-man sitting on a toilet quake with fear just by their unblinking stare.
81-100 - Level 5 - "Dragons". Dragons are our most revered leaders. Whenever possible at least one Dragon is assigned to every multi-cat household to ensure discipline to the Party and dedication to the Cause. Dragons disdain contact with all lesser life forms, and tend only to acknowledge other members of the Party when enforcing discipline. Amateur cats can gain dignity points just by sitting near a Dragon. When Dragons are not disciplining party members they are usually found in high places staring down at the world, only their eyes visible.

Dignity can be both acquired and lost. While the items below are provided as a general guideline, when in doubt one must always consult a Tiger or Dragon final arbiter of a Dignity loss or gain:

  • Basic Fall: Class (sometimes "level") 1 loss of Dignity, 1-3 points. Point loss will be halved if the party member can either a) blame the noise on a bourgeois Canine or b) convince its Hyoo-man captives that it meant to fall.
  • Special Fall with Tumble or Spin: Class 2 loss of Dignity, 2-6 points. Point loss will be doubled if witnessed by Hyoo-mans. Point loss is tripled if the Hyoo-man video tapes or otherwise records the event.
  • Basic Vomit: Class 1 loss of Dignity, 1 point. A true party member does not emit such undignified noises, even when ill.
  • Projectile Vomit with Interesting Bits: Class 2 gain in Dignity, 2-6 points. Point gain is doubled if performed in front of a Hyoo-man. 2 bonus points are awarded if the inclusion of "interesting bits" includes identifiable pieces of mouse, bird, or squirrel. Point gain is tripled if a party member gets a human to step and/or stumble in the results.
  • Hyoo-man Grab, type 1: Class 2 loss of Dignity, 1-3 points. Type 1 grabs are generally characterized by brief unrequested touching by the slave races to a party member. Point loss is doubled if the party member is a Dragon unless that member complains loudly.
  • Hyoo-man Grab, type 2: Class 3 loss of Dignity, 2-6 points. Type 2 grabs are characterized by extended unrequested touching by the slave races to a party member, up to and including inversion of the party member, a "belly rub" in mid-air, and the actual contact of a party member to the Hyoo-man's body (known to them as "a hug"). Dignity loss can be ameliorated somewhat if the party member complains loudly.
  • Hyoo-man Grab, type 3: Class 4 loss of Dignity, 3-12 points. Type 3 grabs are the worst possible forms of contact between true party members and the slave races. Examples of such perverted forms of contact include a "Cat Hat" (whereupon the party member is actually placed on the head of a member of the slave race), a "Hug and Kiss" (the party member is tormented by contact with the food orifice of a slave), or, worst of all, "party dresses" (which we will not describe in detail here lest it traumatize the party member reading this document). Point loss can be halved if the party member exacts immediate revenge by swatting the impudent slave. Point loss is completely erased by excreting into the shoes or hat of the slave.
  • Bath: Class 5 loss of Dignity, 9-24 points. The worst form of torture to a party member is to be submerged into the liquid medium known as "water" laced with poisonous "soap". Worse, the loss of Dignity continues due to the unDignified things a party member must go through in order to rid themselves of the horrific substance. A party member must take every possible step, no matter how extreme, to ensure they will not be given a "bath" again.
  • Pills: Class 3 loss of Dignity, 2-6 points. It is common knowledge that some slightly more clever members of the slave races have created methods of mind control that allow direct manipulation of a party member's psyche (how else can one explain the phenomena of "cat dresses" being worn willingly by members of the party?) that are introduced in pill form. Therefore a party member must at all costs avoid being "pilled". All party members are cautioned to treat "baby food" with extreme suspicion, as at least one trusted party member has witnessed an especially clever slave placing mind control substances in the treat.

Again, the above points are included only as guidelines, and are far from complete. All party members are hereby encouraged to append their own dignity loss/gain events to the end of this message.

Posted by scott at 06:23 PM | Comments (4)
Glass Houses

I'm getting damned sick of all of you people out in "the rest of the world". Supposedly you're all grownups, certainly most of you seem to think you are, and yet you've all proven incapable of acting like grownups.

Time and again Americans get patronized and criticized by the "intelligencia" (self-appointed, by the way) of other nations for "not having perspective" on a crisis or "not understanding the historical roots" of a people enough to make a judgment.

I think the situation is on its head right now. I want someone to please explain to me why the only way to get groups of "old world" peoples to get along and not gleefully kill each other is to sit on them 24x7 for decades at a time, using our tax dollars and risking our children's lives? Europe bled itself white twice and had to be divided and sat on by the two most powerful nations the world had ever seen for fifty freaking years before they stopped.

Of course, they didn't really stop, not completely. The Balkans are still filled with adults... grownups, not teenagers or school kids with a grudge, but grownups with jobs and houses and kids of their own, that have to have someone else's tanks pointed at them before they stop sneaking into each other's houses with guns and knives to kill babies. There are huge groups of Irishmen that think it's their god-given right to march down streets they know they're not welcome in because of some damned three hundred year old battle. And there are still places in northern Spain that you don't hang around in because a small group of bloody-minded people have been throwing bombs trying to get themselves a country for, what, a thousand years?

And this is supposed to be the civilized part of the old world. The rich part, with what you'd think would be the most to lose. The rest of you are just hopeless. Ask any half of you why you hate the other half and you don't get an explanation, you get a goddamned history lesson.

I used to really try to educate myself about the situations behind these conflicts. I really do want to understand why the world has turned out this way, because I think figuring that out leads you to solutions.

But after digging through a hundred history books about dozens of different subjects and making untold forays to libraries and web sites, I've pretty much found that all of these conflicts have one, and only one, common thread: a set of people too greedy, stupid, infantile, and stubborn to get along with anyone but their own mothers (and only then if they happen not to be hung over that morning). Yeah world, I'm calling you all a bunch of stupid gits, because you are.

I really have stopped caring if the world thinks we're taking over. You see, we can't win playing their game. If we stay out of these stupid never ending four-hundred-years-ago-he-stuck-a-stick-in-my-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandad's-eye things what do we get? Bosnia, Rwanda, Palestine, Somalia. If we try to help? Bosnia, Rwanda, Palestine, Somalia. It never changes and it never stops. For at least the past twelve years America has tried to understand you and get along with you and figure it out with you. No more.

Because the rules changed after 9-11. Before, we could with a clear conscience and a smile on our face let you bleed yourselves dry and kill each other's children and blow each other's houses up and gather each other up into death camps and gas yourselves to hell over your stupid little grudge matches. Oh, there were parts of America (mostly left-wing boomers that didn't have a domestic cause to push that particular day) that would get horrified and start rattling politicians' cages until we hosed down one area or another with food and troops. Usually all that accomplished was to give all of you a great warm-n'-fuzzy feeling of unity while you were shooting at our children until we left. Whereupon you'd promptly go back to your regularly scheduled fragfest.

But we have a big hole in the middle of Manhattan now to show us the consequences of ignoring all you violent little bastards. That's what we got for trying to understand you all and let you figure it out amongst yourselves and only come running with band-aids and iodine when you'd let it get completely out of control. So yeah World, it does, thanks to your actions, and (EUROPE!) inactions, mostly boil down to "with us" or "against us".

This should scare the bejeezus out of you. Remember how incomprehensible and inconsistent we were in the cold war? Nobody'd bombed us then. But you all should take this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.

And some of you are. China, Russia, North Korea, and Libya, countries that used to be on the short list, are learning quickly that "with us" leads to potentially immense rewards. Not just in monies or weapons, but in that oh-so-valuable area of getting the US to mind its own damned business about their internal affairs, hell, even help out with them. Do they trust us? What, are you stupid? Of course not. But they are "with us".

And anyone "against us" is in for a bumpy ride. Nope, it's not fair. But you've all been so bloody stupid and stubborn and bloodthirsty that you've forced us to become you're damned parents, and like my Mom always said, "of course it's not fair, life isn't fair."

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)
May 29, 2002
The World's Tiniest, Shiniest Mouse

Ok ok, anyone with a cat gotta get you one of these things. If not from that guy, from someone. All I have to do is jingle the chain just a bit and they'll come running from the other room. Teddy will chase it till he passes out. They'll run into each other, crash against walls, spin until they fall over, and otherwise generally suffer level-4 and -5 losses of dignity (future essay) to get the goddamned shiny red mouse

Plus it keeps the PMS'ing wife busy for hours. This alone is easily worth the price of admission.

Posted by scott at 08:46 PM | Comments (1)
Bad Dog, No Biscuit!

Ok, yeah, I'm a juvenile, I watch the occasional cartoon. I'm listening to a pirate of one of the best fusion jazz CDs, well ok probably the only "fusion" jazz CD, I've ever heard, the soundtrack from the show. I want everyone at RIAA to know that I was only thinking about buying this CD until I heard a really badly recorded pirate version, now I probably will buy it. Hear that you greedy bastards? It's 'cos I got to listen to the goddamned thing first that I'm buying it.

It also seems to be completely freaking out one of our cats, who has been "singing" the entire time it's been playing. Apparently according to Magrat, computers should only make funny noises, not music. She's been howling and rubbing (got no claws) and "bunting" and otherwise expressing confused opinions about the entire adventure.

Any damned way, just because it's animated doesn't mean it's no good, or even that it's meant for kids (MOM). Anime is most meant for grownups. Certainly some of the stuff I've seen isn't even meant for grownups, at least not normal ones. A lot of it doesn't make any damned sense. Partly this is because the Japanese have a very different method of telling a story, and partly because Anime is a lot like porn... most of its crap, but a very small amount is absolutely amazing.

The first anime I ever saw, and apparently this goes for a whole lot of "30-somethings", was Battle of the Planets on WTCG (what you all know as WTBS, the thing that got Mr. Turner started) every afternoon. I only found out much, much later that it was based on a much darker, different, anime series.

My brother and I had never seen anything like this. The hardware alone (and, as the first generation of Star Wars fans, we drooled over hardware) was to die for. But even slashed up like it was for the "American Child", it was still a better story, with more interesting characters and plotlines, than anything Hanna/Barbarra (bless their scooby souls) ever came up with. For god's sake, one of the main characters dies half way through the story arc!

I can remember being blown away by how much got done in the first 4 minutes of the half hour. I also distinctly remember "taking a bullet" for the team by griping my dad out that he was dragging the cub scout meeting out too long and making us miss the third-from-last episode of the series (this was before VCRs). Nobody rushes my dad when he gets started, certainly not some snot nosed kid! :) Of course, none of my buds had the good graces to acknowledge it. Actually, I think my brother and maybe one other guy were the only ones that "got it" and watched the series.

I'm just damned lucky to have married someone that's even nutsier about Anime than I am. She has watched pretty much everything that's available here in the US. Don't even get her started on Sailor Moon or Project A-Ko (toldja she liked the wierd stuff).

Is there a point? Well, no, not really. If you like fusion jazz, jazz, soundtracks, or funky instrumental rock & roll then at least four of you out there should buy the damned soundtrack by clicking through our website so we can get the measley $5 per and buy it ourselves.

Because this thing I downloaded has really crappy sound quality, and I want to get the real deal.

NOTE TO RIAA CD POLICE!!! No! Really! I didn't download anything! I just kinda.. figured out... what it sounded like... umm... nono, please, don't get up, please no, I promisetobuy... @#$*&(&*(



Posted by scott at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)
May 28, 2002
Wheelchair Races


It's not what you think. I'll prolly get in trouble by old people everywhere. (yes I am VERY aware I will be one one day)

I actually should of called the title,"Another Fun Way to Kill Your Spouse When Life is 2 Much for the Both of You"

Posted by Ellen at 06:43 PM | Comments (3)
Save That Tiger!

Here's an interesting article about breakthroughs the Australian Musem has acheived in attempting to clone a Tasmanian Tiger (a really cool marsupial that died out in 1936). Looks like they've still got a long way to go, but they've made significant progress.

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (4)
May 27, 2002
Drive Carefully

I suppose they found this road sign somwhere in Arkansas. Scott told me there used to be old nuclear missle silos out there.

Now a days you can purchase an empty one and convert them into houses. If I am recalling correctly, one was auctioned off of ebay a few months ago.

Posted by Ellen at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)
May 26, 2002

The Incredible, Edible EGG!

ps. you may want to check this out. You may look at your breakfast differently. *come to think of it, I wouldn't know if you think its a good OR bad thing*

Posted by Ellen at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)
Rough Draft~Recital Page

OK! Its here! I want ALL the names of the girls eventually on the site, but hey, if you want to remain annonymous thats cool.

Bonita's Belly Dance Extravaganza

Please let me know if there are any mistakes and whether or not you want your photo taken down.

One reason I had Scott create the site was for everyone to be able to share it all with your family! ENJOY!

Posted by Ellen at 09:53 PM | Comments (2)
If God Didn't Want Me to Gamble, He Wouldn't Let Me Win

This story reminds me of an ocurrance in our own small town when I was growing up. My mom was on the city council doing what she thought was right in the midst of the big fish in the little pond of our dinky Arkansas town, and was eventually defeated by a "deacon of the Baptist church" (whatever that actually means) who lobbied the churches crowing that he was moral and mom wasn't.

Of course, it was only after he was elected that he was caught in a different small town in a different state boinking the Veteranarian's wife. Caught by the Veterenarian. Mom got the ... amusing ... news on Sunday morning and called her mom. My grandmother was quite shocked, but mentioned that she did think it quite odd that the preacher that day seemed to be extra emotional and picked a surprise sermon on, not surprisingly, fidelity.

Ah, the vagarities of small town southern life. I am so very, very glad I do not have to deal with it anymore.

And this story's headline? An exact quote from my pillar-of-the-Baptist-church grandmother when I asked whether or not gambling really was a sin. My grandmother had a weakness for the ponies, you see.

Posted by scott at 04:08 PM | Comments (1)
Mars News

Here's some really cool Mars news. Apparently they've found massive amounts of water frozen on Mars. Get this:

The presence of such a vast amount of ice - if it were to melt it could cover the planet in an ocean at least 500 metres deep (1,640 feet) - will change profoundly the direction of future exploration.

How cool is that?

Posted by scott at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)
From the Archives

For Memoria Day, a few from the archives "on war":

Doctor Strangelove
War and Peace
Collateral Damage


Posted by scott at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)
Unknown Soldiers

Nearly everyone knows about the Tomb of the Unknowns. When I was growing up it was called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, even though there were (at that time) two people buried there. At one point there were four buried there, but they managed to identify the soldier from Vietnam, so right now they're just three.

I think I was first introduced to this monument some time in early grade school, perhaps as early as 1976, when the country was going bananas over the bicentennial and you couldn't even see through all the red-white-and-blue bunting. Even though I was only 8, it was easy to take to heart the somber, serious attitude of the thing. You knew immediately just by looking at it that it was important.

The problem I had was that nobody could really explain to me why it was so important. We had better technology than they did back then, why not climb in there and figure out who they are? My parents seemed puzzled that I would even ask the question, but they really couldn't come up with a good answer either. I eventually stumbled upon my own explanation, that every family that had someone go MIA could believe that it was their son inside that tomb. But even then I knew that, while important, that probably wasn't the whole story.

This lack of a good explanation struck me hard a second time several years ago when my wife's mother and sister came up to visit. We took them to Arlington and they got to watch the changing of the guard and a laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, probably two of the most moving moments in a very moving place.

But again, I was asked not only by Nina, Ellen's sister, but also by Suzanne, Ellen's mother, why? Why is this here? What does it mean? It's not that they denied its importance, they just didn't understand. Again, I didn't have a good answer. I mumbled something about a nation's promise to its soldiers that even if we can't find you we'll remember you and while I knew this was again part of it, I also knew it wasn't quite right.

A few months later I read The First World War by John Keegan, and finally I had my answer.

You see, the US isn't the only country with a monument to unknown soldiers. Every major combatant in World War One has them. England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and most others have somber memorials that contain unidentified remains.

And that is the key. At heart, these memorials are World War One memorials. Over time other things have been added, even other soldiers, but the aspect of the First World War is always the most prominent. I think that this is, again, a case of "forgetting how to build a pyramid". Everyone knew why they were built, when they were built, and so nobody really bothered to write it down. The things are so somber and so important you always feel embarrassed to ask what the original point of it is, and so it ends up being forgotten.

World War One was the first war of the mechanized age. It was the first war where horrifically large numbers of men were literally blown to bits. Previously, after a big battle, you could go out and collect all the bodies, identify most if not all of them, and if nothing else at least bury them all in a place that could be visited later on. You couldn't do that in World War One.

Millions of men were thrown up over the tops of trenches and tens of thousands of them simply ceased to be. The First World War was the war for artillery, like nothing really before or since, and the effects of a direct hit from a 155 mm howitzer shell (hint: it's as big around as your head) on a human body don't really take much imagination.

And this didn't just happen to a few dozen poor bastards who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when charging a cannon emplacement. One of the utter horrors of that war was that this happened again, and again, and again, and again for years at a time. You sometimes knew Joe got it in the last battle because you yourself saw his head blown open like a watermelon hit with a hammer. But sometimes Joe just didn't come back, and no matter how hard you looked or where you looked or when you looked you knew you'd never find him, because all that was left were some teeth and a few bits of bone scattered across the hundred foot radius of a random shell impact.

And these fragments were everywhere. What were you supposed to do after a battle when you found a jawbone under your foot, still glistening with its meniscus layer intact? Or when you looked up and saw thousands... millions of these fragments glistening in the morning sun the day after a charge?

So while the Tomb of the Unknowns has become many things to many people, all of them valid and important and deeply felt, originally the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was erected in memory to all those men that didn't just give up their lives but gave up their very identities in a terrible, terrible war. The remains of the soldier inside the tomb are a symbolic reference to the tens of thousands of soldiers who will never, can never be buried. We don't identify those remains because they're a symbol of all the ones that won't, can't, ever be identified. We guard those remains because we want to express that such a sacrifice is supreme beyond all others, and therefore requires the most supreme honors we can bestow.

And that, to me at least, is what the Tomb of the Unknowns means.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)
May 25, 2002
Pick and Choose Your Battles People

People are just stupid. Especially stupid people owning pets. I love them so much that I have calculated that they have WaStEd about 3 years of my life.

People think that pets should just sit there and look pretty. They should take care of themselves, let alone become full time servents for them. Its the OTHER way around people. You are the servent to your pet.

Wanna pet? Wanna sleep ever again? DON'T get a pet.

Why Pets LIKE to Fuck Around With You When You TRY To Sleep

For those of you that lead a life of denial to this fact, I highly recommend getting somthing else other than a live critter to entertain you. You can go purchase a stuffed animal in place of a real pet. They are economical, don't shed, and they don't even like to eat! Hey! That leaves more money for you to buy some dildo another drink at that bar! ~WOW! ~ Think of the money you will save in the end!

As for you people that actually accept your pet for what it is, a family member: You are smart enough to devise tactics around being disturbed at night. *NO- closing the bedroom door does not count- that's for pussies!* That also tells me you are not very smart to begin with and probably therefore you should give up your pet instantly to the next smartest human standing next to you. But then again, if you are a stupid person, you may make a bad choice anyway. Hire a smart person, they know how to hold hands professionally!~

Be clever, be tactful, succumb to every demand to your pet makes, *especially cats-they plot your death daily, but figure out its easier to keep you because you clean the shit box and feed them.* You should just come to the fact you will lose some sleep from your pet. It's a fact of life, get over it. OR you can take the easy way out and NEVER own a pet.

Oh and by the way, the people that bitch over losing sleep over a pet? I hope you don't have children. You won't ever sleep again if you will. At least owning a pet you KNOW you will at least get 4-6 hours in there somewhere.

Posted by Ellen at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)
Tweety Bird

I am not a fan of Loony Toons. They are not my style. I do not laugh at them. They are just not my time or kind of cartoon ya know... I do know that Tweety needs a face lift by now.

What do you think?

Posted by Ellen at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)
Another Level of Seafood

Where you can eat seafood and get an STD all in one place!

WOW! Who thought of that one ;)

Posted by Ellen at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)
The Road Less Traveled

Ok. The difference between married guys and single guys is mostly to do with smarts. Single guys think they're smart. They got freedom, they got lots of girls in their phone book, they got a pad decorated just like they like it. Single guys think their smart.

Single guys are idiots. And deep down inside, they know it.

Married guys aren't idiots. They're stupid, but not idiots. Want to know how they know they're stupid? Duh, ask their wives. Married guys can't do anything right. Either they're watching too much TV, or not cleaning up enough, or not changing the diapers enough, or not... well... just not being enough. Single guys look at married guys and think, "boy, what morons!" But again, that's because single guys are idiots.

And the problem is, married guys will sometimes start to believe the single guys, and start acting like idiots. It's so damned hard to be a husband 24x7. You try to do good at work, but they make you eat shit because they know that you have a mortgage and kids and if you don't eat shit here you really will be eating shit on a breadline somewhere.

You try to do good at home, but you live with someone who is quite patently insane, a hostage to their own hormones. Every once in awhile (you only wish it was once a month) their head will spin around and the face that meets yours would make Linda Blair blanche. You're not quite sure, and you sure as hell would never say it out loud, but you think this person might be the vanguard of some sort of alien invasion.

You think you know how to deal with this, because you grew up watching your dad deal with an insane person, but your dad ended up listening to the idiots and you're pretty sure at least some of the stuff you learned was wrong. The problem is that you can't tell.

And your kids. Jesus, your kids. How can any human being have that much energy? They're monsters. You're constantly stuck in this catch-22. You know if you don't discipline them, when they're 16 they're going to end up in a trailer park somewhere calling the 1-800 number for the Springer show because their kids held up a liquor store and got caught because the training wheels wouldn't let them pedal faster than the squad cars. But if you don't discipline them you know, you know, that they'll end up being one of those quiet types that hangs out with other kids in trench coats that mix strange smelling stuff in the basement and take an unhealthy interest in "Guns and Ammo" and read "How to Become and Effective Terrorist in 16 Easy Steps".

So the truly stupid married guys, the ones who had a clue but lost it, end up trying to step back into the world of the single guy by messing it up with booze, other women, gambling, or simple neglect. It can't happen. Because, at heart, we're designed to be in pairs. Once you get the knack, a guy can't become single again. You just become this sad thing that drinks alone and watches NYPD blue by himself and sobs at Kodak commercials. It's been scientifically proven that a married man, once single, either marries again or fucking dies.

So why, if it's so goddamned hard, are married guys geniuses and single guys morons? Who elected us the kings of the western fucking world?

Because there's nothing quite like the spark in her eyes when she looks at you, when all you did was pick a stupid flower off the path, a stupid, didn't cost anything at all, not-even-half-an-inch-across flower, and put it in her hair. There's nothing like being able to make enough cash to let her buy whatever the hell she pleases and be so cool about it she doesn't notice and yells at you when you stumble going out of the store. There's nothing like having someone that can think and talk run up to you when you come home from eight hours of hell and not care a damned bit what you look or feel or smell like and love you more than life itself.

I don't look to my dad for how to keep a wife. I look to my grandad, who separated from his wife by putting her in the ground and then followed her six months later. I look to my dad for how to raise kids, because in spite of the fact that yes, I do have a mother and yes, I am totally grateful and yes, she did 90% of the work, the stuff that moms do is stuff that I can't do. So I look at how my brother and I turned out and take lessons from my dad so that I can be that kind of dad.

And so this morning I took the mysterious horse pills setting on my plate, without complaint, even if I did end up pissing Gatorade all day today.

Because I may be stupid, but I'm not a moron.

I do not know where I end and you begin,
I do not know where life will lead, or what tragedies may fall
I only know that I am complete only in your eyes
and your smile is my world

Posted by scott at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)
Perspective of Porn

Ok, I will admit I shop for porn. Not on a regular basis, but when the mood strikes me that I need to spice things up I do. *I know my southern Mama is going "I don't want to hear that you shop for that stuff!!"* So far, I've picked out some impressive movies. *otherwise NOT junk!*

I do want to make one thing clear. I DONT like watching porn at other people's houses in groups! 1. thats just wrong. 2. you KNOW who you are when I mention this. 3. yes, I know Scott wishes we had a channel that he could watch it 24-7 unscrambled.

Today I went to the local porn shop(NO WAY!! NOT ME~!) with Scott to pick out a new DVD. * don't by videos people! DVD's cost the same amount!* Of couse, I am the only chick in the shop. Mind you this is a HUGE store. 2 stories of magaznies, videos stacked 2-3 deep and DVD's. Not to mention some scary ass toys and other oddities.

Once you walk in, everyone seems to look at you and go "oh shit, chick in the store." They think, 1. you are WeIrD!, 2. you are just plain curious, or 3. you are shopping with your boyfriend for a new toy or movie. Plus you have the balls to walk in the place.

I won't even mention the time some of us girls from work decided to go in to this store to get items for our men (movies) and we got so loud that we embarassed a few guys to leave the store. (Yes, my side-kick, Amber was there *aka-the lesbian girlfriend* -NOTE- she is not a lez, but people think we are when we hang out. It is a weird thhing we have not been able to put together)

When you pick out porn, there are several things to look for. 1. the people HAVE to be good looking! I'm sorry, but they DO! 2. Look for familiar names! Porn stars you are familiar with. 3. Look for titles made by Vivid or Private. You have a 80% chance of a decent movie!- not just the boinking aspect, but we chicks got to have a story if we have to sit and watch a movie. Even porn! One other tip: look for awards on the box! -Awards are good! That means its worth watching.

Stay away from funky stuff! You will get what you deserve if you pick out weird shit! The title will usually give it away people! Plus some pix on the front of the package will usually indicate what you are in store for. If you get ill at any point of looking at the box, put it back!

Other than that. One of my favorite things about a porn shop is the little black bag you get for your purchase. SHHHH....its a secret that people SAW you go into this shop and that you actually purchased somthing from it! Plus its a heavy duty bag! You can recycle it for cat litter in the future!

Posted by Ellen at 04:13 PM | Comments (1)
Recital Photos

OK! Finally got all the piccies back from developing *woohoo*

Just so all you ladies know, the web pages for the recital are under construction!! We hope to have it up and running by mid next week ~the latest~! Our GOAL is to have it up and running tonight or tomorrow! Then you will be able to tell friends and family to go check out the piccies of the recital. Right now we are being totally nit~picky on the layout and making the site look more interesting, but yet, as Scott would say, "kind to other computers".

I will make it a permanant bit on our website. *not me, Scott will -hehe-* Please keep comming back to check to see if it is up! It will be a fixture on the right hand side of the homepage to AMCGLTD. KEEP CHECKING!! :) ~Ellen

Posted by Ellen at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)

The History Channel just showed two documentaries about the "Amityville Horror", a movie that, even when edited for TV, I wasn't allowed to watch because it was all too scary.

For those unfamiliar with the story: In 1975 Richard "Butch" Defeo, the oldest son of a family of seven, murdered his six family members with a rifle in a single night. He was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder and given six consecutive life sentences. He sits in a New York prison to this day.

The house, located on 112 Ocean Avenue in the Long Island town of Amityville, New York, was sold approximately twelve months later to George and Kathy Lutz. They have reported experiencing a large number of very strange occurrences, eventually frightening them so badly that they left the house with all their belongings still inside, apparently less than 28 days after moving in. They "returned the house to the bank" (the History Channel didn't explain exactly what this meant), auctioned off all their belongings, and moved to California, never to return.

Their story was so interesting that a best-selling book was written about it, and later a hugely successful movie was made based on the book.

Now, notwithstanding the fact that I think anyone who tells an exciting story for profit is automatically suspect, the Lutz's willingness to sacrifice a considerable investment both in money and belongings over things they experienced in a house tends to indicate to me that something happened to them. But I noticed a pattern that was not remarked on in either documentary. Consider:

  • The Lutz family's experiences increased in frequency and intensity the longer they were in the house, and only "tailed off" over months or even years after they left the house.
  • The Lutz's discovered a "secret room" in the basement with a "strange odor", that their dog wouldn't go near.
  • The Lutz's themselves confess that while in the house experiencing obsessive behavior, increasing irritability, personality changes, auditory and visual "occurrences", and extreme mood swings.
  • Each family member reported different experiences, sometimes while in the same room.
  • One of the reported "incidences" was black stains appearing on all the bathroom fixtures, and mysterious banging coming from the pipes.
  • Butch Defeo was know to be a drug user, although I can't find evidence of what drugs he used, hallucinogens were popular at this time.

I think these observations lead to an interesting hypothesis: could the Lutz's have been poisoned? All the evidence cited above tends to indicate this to me. The hallucinations, the mood changes, the obsessive behavior, the gradual increase in "symptoms" over time, the gradual decrease in experiences even after leaving the house, all tend to be hallmarks of poison as I understand it. Could the "secret room" have been where Butch Defeo manufactured or used drugs? Perhaps he had a "stash" somewhere else in the house that started getting into the water? Or maybe the plumbing itself was simply broken, allowing mold or fungus to grow and leach toxins into the water.

As I said, it's a hypothesis, and like all good hypotheses, it makes predictions that can be tested. Specifically:

  • Was the water in the house tested while the Lutz's lived there?
  • Did Butch in fact take hallucinogens?
  • Was the "secret room" found to contain drug paraphernalia during the murder investigation?
  • Was the "secret room" ever tested for chemicals? Could it be today?
  • Did the Lutz's see doctors during this period? Was their blood tested?
  • Was the plumbing in the house repaired during or shortly after the Lutz's time of residence?

If my hypothesis was proven to hold up and make the transition to theory, it would in no way invalidate the Lutz's experiences... hallucinations can be terrifying, especially when unexpected. But I think it would go a long way to explaining most, if not all, of what happened without the need to invoke the supernatural.

It's not as sexy as an evil presence, but I think no less intriguing. Unfortunately since subsequent residents have never reported any "haunting", it would appear that if there was a poison of some sort, it isn't active today. We may never know.

But it's fun to think about!

Posted by scott at 10:17 AM | Comments (13)
May 24, 2002
Dirty Lil Moneky!

When stuffed animals turn naughty!~ Sock Monkey

Posted by Ellen at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)
Poor Ronald...

I'll never understand why people are afraid of clowns. I mean, it's not like Stephen King wrote a story about th... rrr... nevermind.

Posted by scott at 02:05 PM | Comments (1)
Now Why Didn't I Think of That?

Ok, so is he lying, or is he telling the truth?

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (1)
May 23, 2002
TiVo Rocks!

The New York Times has this interesting article about TIVOs and how imagination-impaired executives are getting the willies from them. Seems we all **gasp** fast forward past the commercials (pinky to mouth).

Seriously folks, if you record more than, say, 2 programs per month or have ever missed a favorite show because the network moved it around, you want one of these things. We bought ours at auction just before Christmas, and it has literally changed the way we watch TV. It's a really basic 16-hour model, but once the warranty runs out I'm popping a new IDE hard drive in it and blowing it up to, say, 60 hours or so.

Things TiVo has Done for Me:

  • Kept me out of trouble when Ellen is venting about something. Wife talking over favorite TV show? Hit PAUSE until wife is done. Listen intently. Hit PLAY to continue watching.
  • Kept me out of trouble when Mom calls. Mom calling up to freak about latest virus scare? Hit PAUSE until she is calm. Hit PLAY to continue watching.
  • Allowed me to share really cool TV moments with Ellen, because Ellen can't just sit still and watch TV, she has to do something else and listen to it. Did Jonny Knoxville just bust his ass in a particularly funny way? Hit REPLAY and then PAUSE and wait for Ellen to surface from whatever she's doing and then hit PLAY to show her.
  • Kept us from missing favorite Food TV or Cartoon Network shows that they keep moving around on us without notice.
  • Let me watch a show while it is being recorded (how cool is that!)

And all sorts of other stuff. Like I said, highly recommended.

Posted by scott at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)
May 22, 2002
BOOYA grandma... BOOYA

Ok, this will mean nothing to the non-technical readers out there, but I am a very happy sysadmin today. I finally managed to put together a rig that will scan all our e-mail for viruses and (probably) spam without having to rip out our entire network infrastructure, spend $$$, or even disrupt things all that much. This means no more KLEZ!!! No more panicked calls from my users thinking they've got this stupid thing. WOOHOO!

Not only did I get the scanning thing working, I also got the sendmail server to talk to our LDAP server to do AUTH for our mobile users. This is cool, because otherwise I would've been subject to a nightmare of support calls when all these mobile users quit working. Say YEAH!

Total cost: $250 because the scanning engine isn't free. This is way cheaper than any other solution and will result in zero disruption to the network.

Because other sysadmins might be reading this, or might be searching, here's what I did:

The first step was easy... all new RedHat Linux systems come with Sendmail already configured and running. To scan for viruses I found this extremely slick scanner for sendmail called MailScanner. I put this combo on our public web server, which runs a mail account that was getting dozens of klez messages a day, and it worked like a champ.

So, I wanted to work it such that one of these scanners would scan for all of our mail, not just from one address. The problem was that our main mail server isn't sendmail, it's Netscape's Messaging Server. I actually like the netscape product, but more importantly e-mail is second only to oxygen around this place so I didn't want to tinker with something that was otherwise working.

So I hatched a plan. I'd put up a mail server that all outside mail would go to, and this "outside" server would route mail to our "inside" server. The "outside" mail server would hold my tres slick scanner, and the "inside" server would remain what it always has been, the Netscape system. This is actually a really common setup for many organizations, it's called a "mail proxy server".

The problem is that sendmail is complicated. I mean really complicated. You know you're in trouble when the books you buy tell you "this is going to be really hard, we're sorry, but it just is". I was slowly pushing my way through the bat book when the author of the above mentioned virus scanner gave me a really elegant hack that made it all extremely easy.

To quote from his e-mail:

There is an easy solution to this problem. Say "Oh, goodie".

For outgoing mail, set the "smarthost" on the "real" server so that it sends everything out via the "mail proxy server".

For incoming mail, setup your MX records like this:
@ IN MX 10
IN MX 20
Then set up your firewall so that only "mail.proxy.server" is accessible on its SMTP port from the outside world. "real.server" must not be accessible on port 25 by any machine on the outside world.

One of the default jobs that any MX host will do is send its mail onto a better MX if it can (which "mail.proxy.server" can, as 10 is better than 20). By firewalling off the primary MX from the outside world, you force all incoming connections to back off to "mail.proxy.server", which picks up the mail and can reach "real.server".

That way all your incoming mail will be scanned :-)

Like I said, it's technical, and most of you won't understand it, but those of you that do, who didn't just automatically know about this, will be saying "wow... cool".

So that was it, but not quite...

The other problem is that I have a lot of mobile users here. Mobile users who make the proverbial "box of rocks" look like a group of Nobel laureates. They have to be able to send mail from the road out to the world using our mail server. This is called "relaying", and if you screw up relay configurations you end up opening your server to the world. Nothing like someone you don't know using your mail system to dump 100,000,000 (really!) messages on the world.

I honestly thought about just saying "you can't do it... time to learn a little bit about the computer", but then realized what a support nightmare it would be. So that's when I got extra clever...

Our current mail server uses an LDAP directory to authenticate users (it's why I like it), so it stands to reason that the Sendmail server should be able to do the same thing.

The short answer is, it does. The long answer is, it's not easy. I found this helpful post from a guy that did it 2 years ago. However, times have, as always, changed, and I found out the hard way that his method isn't exactly right today. So, for all you poor bastards that need to get sendmail talking to an LDAP directory today, here's my notes:

  • Redhat 7.2 and up already comes with everything you need installed, compiled, and configured. You do not need to re-compile sendmail (1 day wasted), or download and compile NSSLDAP or PAM LDAP (1 more day wasted). You may not even need to download and compile SASL, but I did anyway.
  • You do not use pam.conf. Instead go to /etc/pam.d and edit smtp. Remove what's in there and put this in instead:

    auth required /lib/security/ service=system-auth
    account required /lib/security/ service=system-auth
    auth sufficient /lib/security/

  • For some reason my m4 thingy isn't working right. Won't comment or uncomment features correctly. If you find you can't get sendmail to reply back with AUTH codes when you give it the ehlo command, check your file to make sure your auth options are actually turned on (1 more day wasted).
  • If you find sendmail won't answer to anything but localhost, even though you commented out the right line in, again check the .cf file. My mc file lied.
And that's it! Works fine now (for now), so tomorrow or the next day we're going to be triple-protected.

I hope someone out there finds this useful. If you have questions, let me know, I'm happy to give back to the community.

Posted by scott at 02:42 PM | Comments (4)
History's Circles

So now David Blaine is going to stand on a pole for 35 hours. Think that's good? It's nothing compared to Simeon Stylites, a man who stood on top of a pillar for most of 35 years. But the parallels are interesting, and probably not coincidental.

Of course, since Simeon probably wasn't in the press release Blaine put out, the news monkeys won't know about it. God help us all if they actually tried to do some research and present a balanced story. It might actually require them to leave the NY/DC area!

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)
Killed by a Great White... Coconut?

NOAA says don't worry, be happy, but don't walk under coconut trees. I particularly liked the note about how shark attacks drop from 12 to 2 pm because people are going to lunch.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
May 21, 2002
Like I Said, Brits are Just as Dumb as Us

Looks like someone is about to be "made redundant".

Posted by scott at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)
Best Thing that Could've Happened to It

Howsabout 45k tons of beer closing a major highway? It's not like it's Sam Adams or anything. Bet there were lots of happy possums and racoons that night.

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
The Best Excuse Ever

No explanation needed for this one, it pretty much introduces itself. :)

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
May 20, 2002
Recital Review

I did it! I didn't mess up either.( I thought I did,but everyone that saw said I looked really good). Got ooodles of piccies. Scott will have to help me scan them into the puter and we will put some up on the website in its own catagory.

Yes, I got a video of it too. Miss Amber (my trusted cat sitter) got it all videotaped for me. She will be making copies for me. *don't worry mama, she is making you one too!*

My costume turned out well. Even my makeup looked neat also (had the Cleopatra eyeliner happening)*just like the chick in El Clon* Ok, Ill even admit I did the sultry belly dance posing shots for my piccies too!

Scott was our music changer(DJ). He did very well. One of the tapes was started too soon, but hey, he had to take charge of 10 different dances. Kudos to Scott!!!

I will do the next recital also. I don't know when it will be, but I will do it again. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

My teacher, Bonita, also did her professional show after all of us. This time she wore red vs the blue las time. I got LOTS of piccies this time!

So lots of thanks to my teacher for teaching me somthing new, and getting me out of the house every monday night. I really look foward to each class. I've met lots of great people so far in my class. Everyone is super friendly and supportive. I have found somthing that makes me happy.

Posted by Ellen at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)
China to the Moon

This BBC article details China's latest press release announcing plans to go to the moon. Probably vaporware. They haven't launched their first manned mission yet. As far as I know, there's only one existing rocket system with enough cajones to get manned stuff to the moon (Energia), and it isn't used all that much. We'll see...

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
May 19, 2002

Yeah, ok, I'm NeRvOuS~ I know I'll do ok. Iv'e practiced several times with the girls. Hopefully we will get it all right.

Scott is our DJ tonight. He has to change all of the music for the performances. Yes, I'll take piccies and post them up on the site. (got to get scanner out)

We will post an after show blerb. Just so you all know how it went. Piccies will be up prolly next week.

Posted by Ellen at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)

Historians do the entire period between 1935 and 1960 a complete disservice by exclusively segmenting it into discreet "prewar, war, postwar" segments. Our western penchant for wedging everything into triptychs of "beginning, middle, end" has lead us to completely ignore the transformations that people went through at this time. It has lead us to be completely disconnected from our own past, and caused no end of boomer identity-crises angst.

What I find remarkable about this period is that Henry Fonda's Tom Joad, Tom Hank's Capt. John Miller, and Gregory Peck's Tom Rath can, and by and large do, represent the experiences of a single person.

And what a transformation... a generation of young people universally characterized as idealistic, hardworking, rural, and, largely, poorly educated would turn into the astroturfed suburban college grads that straightjacketted an entire decade in Ozzie and Harriet style.

At no other time before or since has an entire nation of people had its clocks synchronized in quite the same way that December 7th, 1941 did to the generation born 18 years before. The whole country went through nearly a decade of common experience from that point forward... from draft boards to boot camps, farm life to factory work, housewife to riveter, store clerk to soldier. Parents learned what it was like to put a boy on a train only to receive a man in a box. Wives learned to run not only the inside of a household, which they'd grown up watching their mom do, but also the outside of the household, which they hadn't. Husbands were given a whole set of skills that were in general useless to them for anything other than staying alive and killing, and a set of experiences impossible to share with anyone who didn't live through it all. And they did it all at the same time.

The idealism so remarked on in the "pre-war" generation didn't really go away. Instead it got twisted and darkened and blinkered. This now "post-war" generation was trained to accept a command structure without question and thereby was manipulated into the grossest excesses imaginable. You see, there were actually two generations at work... the youth who fought the war and the grownups who engineered it, and retained power in its aftermath.

The 50s were not about leather jackets and poodle skirts and shiny cars and funny movies. They were about governments that demanded unquestioning trust and repaid that trust with nuclear brinksmanship and pointless, expensive hot and cold wars. They were about businessmen who asked for and received government assistance to overthrow democratically elected governments because they threatened the price of bananas. They were about sexual, cultural, and racial repressions so brutal that it took television holding up a mirror to the ugliness before action started to be taken.

Our particularly warped view of the 50s came about because, in a completely bizarre twist of fait, the generation that wrote that history was not the one that lived it as adults, but instead was written by the generation that grew up in it. It looks like a kiddyland because it has been chronicled by the kids.

The lid was screwed down so tight that it took the death of the generation that engineered the war before the generation that fought it could start fixing things. In spite of the narcissistic claims of the boomers, they were not directly responsible for everything good in the sixties. Do you really think a bunch of pothead kids with no jobs singing peace songs could make that much of a difference? You weren't watching youth become king, you were watching the iceberg tip, the edges, of a vast battle for power as the generation that bled for freedom wrested power from the dying hands of those who took advantage of it.

We've missed this point because, again, the people that are writing these histories are the children of the people who actually made things happen. This point in particular puzzles me the most. It is as if all those kids that walked into the soda bar at the corner drug store on that Sunday afternoon, who then walked out and literally changed the world, decided to quietly indulge their children one last time by letting their kids tell their stories.

Considering what they believed, what they lived through, what they accomplished, and what they were manipulated into doing, this is completely in their character.

And it is completely within the character of their children not to have the good graces to acknowledge it.

Posted by scott at 01:28 PM | Comments (3)
May 17, 2002
El Clon

OK, this is a new soap opera I watch on monday nights on Telemundo. NO I don't speak spanish, but this show is still fun to watch!

The Clone

Now, this show is shot in Brazil, but re dubbed into spanish. WHY do I watch it? It has Belly Dancing in it! Thats why...duh! You have to read the article to understand what it is. Its quite bizzare. ( or how Scott THINKS I say it "bizzah")

Only if it was dubbed in english *sigh* OR better yet, I should learn spanish.

Posted by Ellen at 06:39 PM | Comments (76)
Belly Dance!

Kudos to these ladies who I recenlty purchased a new hip scarf from on Ebay. Now I acutally have a hip scarf that accents and compliments my fuchia skirt and top for my recital on sunday. South Florida Belly Dancers

In case you wanted to know more details. I got a purple irridecent hip scarf with gold coins on it. It looks really really good with the skirt.

Thanks ladies!

Posted by Ellen at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)
More Madness

Purple Carrots! Purple! Carrots! What is wrong with you people?!?

Posted by scott at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
May 16, 2002
I Want One. I Want it Bad

I actually have used a LART before, but not one as satisfying as described. To elaborate:

Background: in my day job I'm a sysadmin for a medium sized non-profit composed mostly of social work majors. One of these days I'll explain the implications of this.

Everyone that arrives at my workplace is given a paper document that in big, bold letters says not to use the C: drive (the storage area on the local computer) and to use the networked F: drive instead. The advantages are many but too obscure to detail here (you don't have an F: drive mom, don't even start). Inevitably this document is never read and all sorts of important stuff starts accumulating on the C: drive.

Because employees fall from the sky around here with, typically, less than 24 hours notice that they're coming, they nearly always end up with temporary computers. Once their "real" computers arrive I get to see whether or not the shiny new penny actually has a brain between their ears. If I find stuff on the C: drive (assuming I bother to look), it's LART time.

Now, I'm not that nasty. I basically just move all their files to the F: drive where they're supposed to go. Of course, I leave the C: drive on the new computer empty, so when the "luser" comes back "oh my god! All my files are gone!". That's the LART. Usually one good scare is all it takes to get them using the F: drive.

I have other LARTs. If Kathryn is still reading this she probably knows of one or two, if only through stories (Kathryn is the only person in this entire flying circus that deserves the term hacker in the purest sense. I don't have to LART Kathryn very much, usually only when she drives up some blind alley. There are others that I've simply never needed to LART. Too few, unfortunately.)

My brother's LARTs are far less subtle, but probably more effective. Fortunately for his users he isn't in a position to regularly enforce them (he once made one lady cry though). To this day he rants that I mollycoddle my users. Sometimes I think he's probably right.

Of course, the most satisfying times are when users LART themselves. People who insist on using Outlook and then mail viruses to everyone in their address book, folks that start using the C: drive again and have a failure eat all their files, people that don't save their work, etc.

Do I know everything? Oh good god no! I'm basically writing this to avoid trying to figure out sendmail. I'm quite famous for rushing where angels fear to tread, and have more than once ruined otherwise happy, stable systems by tinkering with them one time too many.

But the network here runs smoothly for a reason, and in these parts you ignore my advice at your peril.

Posted by scott at 03:02 PM | Comments (1)
Eagle Nebula Revisited

Here's an interesting story about how scientists are re-evaluating the Eagle Nebula. This is the nebula in that really amazing picture the Hubble took a few years back. Turns out it may not be much of a stellar nursery after all. It's still pretty to look at.

The site took a long time to load for me, so patience may be needed.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
Anything to Avoid Working on

Ok, now that I've read this, shoplifting doesn't sound anywhere near as awful as they make it sound in the Target restroom sign. :)

A certain very prominent biological supply company has always had dark rumors surrounding how it aquired human specimens. Sounds kind of like this.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (2)
When Cars Are Outlawed, Only Ducks Will Speed

Here's a nifty shot of a duck caught speeding. Yes, a duck.

Posted by scott at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
Every Teenage Boy's Fantasy

Ok, this is pretty peculiar, wouldn'tcha say?

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (3)
Matrix Reload

The new Matrix movie's trailer has been released online. The first movie was beyond cool, hopefully the next will be just as good.

Note to family/friends: come to my house to watch this one. I'll give you the volume knob (otherwise everyone screams that it's too loud). This one is a helluva demonstration of Dolby Digital.

Get up Trinity... get up...

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (3)
May 15, 2002

I am a car racing fan. I enjoy the competition, the technology, the excitement, and when it gets right down to it, I also enjoy the wrecks, but not in the way you probably expect.

Often "you only watch racing to see the accidents" is used as a slur against the sport and its fans. Racing has been compared to gladiatorial contests, implying that death is the ultimate goal and spectacle is only entertaining when soaked in blood. But that's just because people are dumb, or think "real" sport always involves a ball. Just what do you think that ball really represents anyway?

Racing is much more analogous to a different group of ancient Romans... the bestiarii. The bestiarii were a group of specialists dedicated not to fighting men, but instead to fighting animals. As with all such contests, the ultimate goal was death, but more the death of the animal than the man. It was cruel, sometimes unbelievably so to our eyes. But there was a purpose.

The bestarii symbolized Rome's mastery of the natural world, as the gladiators symbolized its mastery of the peoples of the world. Cruelty was the only universally accepted way of getting these points across, and as the masters of (what they saw as) the most powerful civilization in history, the Romans perforce had to also be the most brutal and cruel in history. The Romans did not root for the animals... they rooted for the men. An animal killing a bestiarii represented a symbolic defeat for the Roman people, while the death of an animal represented victory.

Cruelty continued to be used this way, albeit in less spectacular fashion, right up until the industrialized age. In many parts of the world it still is seen as the only way to maintain the discipline of the mob.

Fortunately, for the rest of Eurasia’s and Africa's wildlife at least, Roman civilization collapsed in the west and got busy just trying to stay alive in the east, and gladiatorial celebrations sort of faded away. Nothing even came close until the industrial era clanked and steamed onto the world's stage more than a thousand years later.

By that time any idiot with a rifle could bring down a lion, so mastery over beasts wasn't really all that amazing. Mastery over machines, however, was a right good trick and guaranteed to impress. And so machine racing, at first with trains and boats, but later with cars and airplanes and pretty much anything else with an engine and the ability to move, was born.

It's amazing to think about, but at first mortal danger was considered an acceptable risk by all parties involved. Spectators, passengers, and participants; men, women, and children, all accepted ridiculous risks that could and regularly did kill large numbers of them just so they could prove their mastery over these mysterious, monstrous machines. All you have to do to see how far we've come is to watch films of old car races like the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans, or Monza. You regularly see men wearing t-shirts and leather helmets exceeding 100 miles per hour (160 kph) rocketing past spectators that are standing on the track.

It took many, many horrific accidents over decades of time before safety even became an issue, and it took the sea change in social mores of the 1960s before the industrialized world turned it into a science. Nowadays deaths in racing events are quite rare, and each one sparks long, serious investigations that result in substantial improvements in survivability not only for drivers, but for spectators as well. It is very common to watch a vehicle completely disintegrate into thousands of pieces only to have the driver promptly walk away after the dust has settled.

What you're looking at when you see a race car crash and the driver walk away is not some garish orgy of blood and destruction narrowly avoided. It is a symbolic demonstration of our mastery over machines, the beasts of our modern era. The drivers are our bestiarii.

At these events a single person is driving a machine to such extremes that it is no exaggeration to say it is actively attempting to kill him or her at all times. At the moment of impact in a race crash, on a basic, almost subconscious level, you are watching a wild animal attempting to kill a human being. The bestiarii has lost control, and the panther is leaping at his throat. As a race fan for nearly 20 years I can state with absolute certainty that no one is celebrating that moment. It is only when the driver exits the car, or rather what is left of it, and waves to the crowd that celebrations begin. At that point we all know that the beast's attempt to kill the human has only resulted in its own destruction, something well worth celebrating.

Injury and death are never celebrated. The beast has won then, has proven to be our master. It is only when the mainstream "popular" media get their hands on something like this that it turns into a circus, because to the mainstream media nothing sells advertising quite as well as spectacular death. To them it's coincidental that it happened at a race.

And before you roll your eyes and sneer cynically about "men and boys", please realize that all sports are either symbolic wars (football, basketball, baseball, etc., with no less than a stylized severed human head as the point of contention), or symbolic demonstrations of absolute mastery over the environment, an animal, a machine, or one's self. When it comes down to brass tacks, it really isn't about the points at all, and never was.

Gladiator and bestiarii contests were about real death and destruction on titanic scales because the common people were so superstitious, ignorant, and violent that it was the only thing they really understood. And those were the civilized ones. To try and equate a modern sport of any sort, be it racing, football, or even the abstracted kabuki of professional wrestling to them is to at best publicly display a particularly onerous form of ignorance. Such attempts almost willfully ignore the billions of dollars and man-years of labor that are spent every year making each and every sport as safe as possible. It ignores the sophistication of the common people of industrialized nations, who simply will not tolerate the blood and death of human beings, and increasingly of animals, as sport in any nation. It ignores the fact that modern professional athletics today not only requires someone to have pure athletic ability, but frequently college-level education and cutthroat business savvy to be truly successful.

Compared to these modern athletes, a gladiator or bestiarii is just a thug with a sharp stick. And we have all come a long, long way from the roaring mob of the coliseum. Survival is what impresses us modern folk the most, not an artful death. Conquering machines of our own making is far more important than killing some poor unlucky bastard of a lion. Getting everyone off the field at the end of the game is far better than making sure we kill a few more before we're done.

And that makes us better than them, even if we do all have the same brains.

Posted by scott at 04:57 PM | Comments (3)
Sounds Like Something Ellen's Brother Would Try

What do you get when you combine a Star Wars nut with money, friends, and a back yard? Click here to find out.

I think Richie would probably want to live in it.

Posted by scott at 01:43 PM | Comments (3)
May 14, 2002
Army of Lovers

Scott thinks this group is just ODD~ I'm addicted to the music.

It's impossible to describe them in a nutshell, but the music does make you think of ABBA. Check these sites out for more information.

Army of Lovers

Army of Lovers- russian link

Right now they have currently taken place in my car's stereo system. YES! I get to torture Scott! WOOHOOO!

Posted by Ellen at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

How can anyone not like this! ---> Watermelon!

From martinis to bread to just munching it off the rind, watermelon is just one of those items that totally brings you back to a hot summer day. Not to mention with those friggin bees buzzing around your head for a taste of the goods you have.

Watermelon is one of those things you can just sit and eat and eat and eat. A small 7 pound watermelon with last me 2 days tops. When I was in NY this week, I bought 2 of them. I'm almost done with one of them ( I started eating it last night)

I will tell you a secret of mine. Watermelon gives me the same type of squiffies that ChOcOlAtE does. Yuppers! What a relaxant, not to mention a laxative if you eat too much in one sitting. ( but hey, makes you look thinner in the end right?)

From pink to yellow and now SQUARE watermelons! Cubic Watermelon (scroll down to 3/4 of the page to see a pix and how much they cost. $82 bucks american~ YEOOOWCH!)

I'm running out of stuff to type about watermelon. Mainly cause I have to pee from eating too much of it an hour ago.

Posted by Ellen at 10:05 PM | Comments (3)
Speaking Of Calvin

Want to know what it felt like to be a geeky kid playing little league in the south? You know, where victory in sports is second only to getting a front row seat to the apocalypse so you can fling boogers at all the sinning yankees? This is sort of what it felt like.

Can't blame my parents for this one. I put myself through two, three years of athletics hell. I sat out baseball season during the summer after 3rd grade because I thought sitting in my room building model airplanes was a lot more fun. I'd get drug out to the pool or the river by my family, but mostly I wanted to just be left alone to build my airplanes and my fantasies all at once.

When I came back for the 4th grade, on the first day I was the victim of being "dogged" by all the other kids. "Dogging" someone was southern-white-redneckspeak for "juvenile insult", and I was defenseless against the onslaught. It was a miserable first few months of school.

The only thing I could think of that was different from the summer previous was that I had sat out baseball season. So you can bet the next summer that came around I went out for baseball even though I was miserable at it and miserable doing it. My dad tried to coach us the first time through, but he had this bizzare idea that kids baseball should be more about fun than about winning. We were the worst team in the league that year, although we did get to savor beating the pricks-of-the-western-world #1 team on a technicality, their only loss of the season.

And guess what... the first day of school in the 5th grade was much more tolerable. I suppose it was something like how diseases worked when the Spaniards encountered the Indians... having no natural immunity to "dogging" (in the 4th grade), I was prostrate before its powers. But by "immunizing" myself against it by slowly building up immunity over the summer, I was "resistant" by school time.

And so it went throughout grade school. For some reason I always ended up on winning teams after that. I think this was due in no small part because my brother, who was much much better at all of this than I was, was playing in the same league as me and the really good teams would pick him and then pick me, I guess as part of the package. I never got a hit, but for some reason kept getting beaned on the noggin (thank god for helmets), and therefore got on base more than once.

But it wasn't always awful, especially when your team won, even if you didn't have much to do with it. To this day the sound of Abba, the smell of Deep Woods Off, or the feel of a hot, humid night take me back to 1978, ten years old, and the unbearable Charlie-Brownish doomed-but-still-trying-anyway excitement of stepping up to the plate.

Posted by scott at 07:57 PM | Comments (4)
Son Of Hubble

This thing was pitched as a hubble replacement by Aviation Week & Space Technology last summer, but the CNN article seems to imply they've changed the focus. Or the people that wrote this press release were different from the ones that are actually working on the project (AW&ST tends not to report as much from raw press releases as the "mainline" news orgs).

Regardless, it's tres cool. Although, to (sort of) quote Calvin:

"Sometimes I think the surest sign of intelligent life in the universe is the fact that we can't find it"

Posted by scott at 07:50 PM | Comments (0)
Vice Principal Replies: Panties = Safety

Ok, got a follow up to this story I put up a few weeks ago. Now the lady says she did it for the public good. Ah hell, as far as I'm concerned, everybody lies, so I don't know who to believe anymore. Not particularly sure I care either, but there's just something funny about this one.

Posted by scott at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)
Loverly Quote

I love this quote:

People think Microsoft is the answer. Microsoft is just the question, "No" is the answer.

Too bad my brother's already been assimilated. They're going to force me to put an exchange server on my network, so you guys all got to pray for me or I'll get assimilated too!

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (2)
Apples & Oranges

I think I'll get one of these, if nothing else just to make my brother twitch.

It Burrnnsss ussssss... it burnssssss!!!

Posted by scott at 03:12 PM | Comments (3)
Buggre Alle This

As per normal when I am gone for more than 8 hours at a time from here, stupid people and stupid things come out of the woodwork, and they've usually hired 1-3 new people. So, a quote to give you an idea of how I'm feeling:

Setup: This was found inside Ezekiel, chapter 48 in a 17th century printed English bible:

(This is fiction, but things like this really did happen, especially in the margins)

4. And bye the border of Naphtali, from the east fide untoe the west fide, a portion for Manaffeh.
5. Buggre Alle this for a Larke. I amme sick to mye hart of typefettinge. Master Biltonn if no Gentelmann, and master Scagges noe more than a tighte fisted Southwarke Knobbefticke. I telle you, onn a daye laike thif Ennywone withe half an oz. of Sense shoulde bee oute in the Sunneshain, ane nott Stucke here alle the liue-long daie inn thif mowldey olde By-Our-Lady Workefhoppe.
6. And bye the border of Phraim, from the east fide even untoe the west fide, a portion for Reuben.

--Good Omens, Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman.

An extremely good read, BTW.

Updates: Put it in a different font for "old eyes". Also, on reading the quote it becomes apparent that this was not a monk but a typsetter in early (probably protestant) England, when operating a press was mostly manual labor. Again, fiction but very close to the truth. The original biblical passage can be found here

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (3)
May 13, 2002
Terrible Horrible NO GOOD Weekend!

I hate weddings. Thats why I technically eloped. I hate planning them, I hate going to them, I hate being in them. I HATE weddings.

Brides forget things, important things. ( I'll leave it at that). Brides also fail to tell the girls in the wedding party that the hairdresser does NOT accept credit cards, nor do they remember to tell the makeup artist that one person from Virginia is comming up and that she has to get colors ready for her too. Not to mention getting up at 4am is not a good thing.

I got my husband to dance at least. (yes, Scott actually danced! and slow ones too!- I was IMPRESSED) My mother made me dance just about everyother dance with her. Put it this way, my feet f*&ckin hurt! Dancing in heels all day is hard on your feet. -but I will admit I had some bad ass neat looking shoes. (My alter-ego, LOLA picked them out- OH JHEA!!!)

I got to visit with my grandmother. She is a complete character in her own right, and is deaf as a post. My mother's cat Lovie, was entranced by her. Absoloutly in love. The cat never left her side the entire weekend. I also visited my dad and grandfather. It was also my younger brother's Holy Communion. (same day as the wedding, so you can imagine how tired we were)

We came home today. I got a good night sleep last night, but this is how tired I was. I went through the WRONG toll booth. Scott had to get out and walk to the toll building to get me a ticket for the Jesery Parkway. Its not over, get this. I then go down the WRONG exit! YES! I head NORTH again instead of SOUTH. Scott did not say a word, he just noticed he never saw that factory before. I was sitting there going, "How the F*&ck did I end up at exit 13?" Needless to say, I had to turn around and head south. Then I missed getting off at a rest area. Had to travel another 23 miles before the next one. Then (thank the gods) Scott took over driving.

I told you it was a bad weekend. To top it off, I still have to go to dance class tonight. There is severe weather warnings now until late tonight. Yeppers, we are in tornado watches again.( WEATHER UPDATE: good thing we are NOT on the road, Rockville just had a tornado touchdown and is now heading to Baltimore-I am glad I am not on the road right now getting caught in some rain and NOT have my camera)

I am home, thats all that matters. My cats missed me. I still have to do laundry and unpack. BLEH!

Posted by Ellen at 02:54 PM | Comments (4)
May 12, 2002
More Stupidity!!- Just when you thought it would stop!

Ok, I really think these people are stupid for many reasons.

1. How dumb are you to cross a damn desert to get into the US illegally.

2. I'm glad if you die of dehydration, because whats the fun of you getting here illegally w/out some sort of challenge? Come prepared moron!

3. I think its funny that you are trying to sue the US govenrment for not giving you water stations to cheat your way in!

For the full story: Stupid Illegal Immigrants

Posted by Ellen at 09:52 AM | Comments (1)
May 11, 2002
Happy M-Day!

Happy Mother's day to all mothers out there! Sure, it's mostly just a commercial ploy, but god help you if you forget. Don't mess with mom. Head over to or right now!

Today is also "MARRIAGE" day... the bloody friends' wedding is finally here. Not sure if we'll have too many updates because of that, but we'll see how it goes.


Update: Ok, ok, ok. Today is not Sunday, it's Saturday. Mother's day is Sunday moron, not Saturday. This existential chronological excursion brought to you by: a wedding-crazed wife!

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)
May 10, 2002
Saturn's Children

My dad used to work on the Apollo space program. He has any number of stories, all of them funny. Some of them may actually be true. But this isn't one of them.

The first six years of my life coincided roughly with the manned Saturn V missions. While my mother insists it's not possible, I am convinced one of my earliest memories is of the Apollo 11 launch. Now, considering I was only 15 months old, it's not much of a memory. What I recall is a bright, sunlit day. Our TV, a huge set, probably at least 24 inches, and one of the biggest pieces of furniture in the house, was set up in the corner of the den. It was a sunken den (a big thing in the 60s), with a wrought-iron railing at the end with the step. At the opposite end of the house, past the kitchen on the left and the "green" bathroom on the right, was my parent's bedroom, complete with a king size bed and a blue bedspread.

In the bedroom was a device I was completely fascinated with... one of those "flippy" digital clock radios. You know, the kind where all the numbers are on rolodex-like spools that "flop" down as the time changes. I loved this thing, and later on when I was more co-coordinated got into trouble because I kept re-setting it just to get the numbers to flop down.

Anyway, what I remember quite clearly is this very bright sunny day and my mom being very excited. What I thought was most remarkable was that there was a rocket on the TV and, if I ran down the hall, what was on the TV was playing on the clock radio!!! The exact same thing! This so completely tripped me out that I remember running back and forth down the hall screaming about it. Eventually my mom got tired of it and told me to settle down. This is where the memory pretty much ends.

The next one I think I remember, again this is pretty foggy, is Apollo 12. I know it was Apollo 12 because there was a storm blowing in, and storms kept me from playing outside. All I remember of this one is my dad coming home very angry, yelling about stuff and saying "astronauts" and "lightening" a lot. Apollo 12 was the one that got hit by lightening because NASA wanted to get it off before a storm closed the cape in completely.

The next time a Saturn V entered my life was Christmas of 1969 or 1970. Santa brought me one of the most completely inappropriate but perfectly memorable gifts I have ever received for Christmas... a 1/96th scale model of a Saturn V. It was nearly four feet tall (at least a foot taller than I was) and it dominated my grandparent's parlor room, where the Christmas tree was. I can still see it sitting on the white carpet (none of the grandchildren were ever allowed in this room unsupervised), surrounded by other presents. It was spectacular.

I remember running to it, lifting it up, and toting it out the room (I couldn't have been more than 2 and a half years old, so this may not have happened in sequence). I loved my "big white rocket", but what happened next did not bode well for its survival... I whacked the top of it on the door jamb and knocked the escape tower off.

The next thing that I remember is one of my #1 cherished memories, because we had a meal at my great grandparent's house that day. I remember my great grandmother as a very tall, somewhat scary lady with big glasses and a walker. I toted my rocket all the way there (they lived about two doors down), and danced around it in my great grandmother's house.

I am the only one of my generation of the family with memories of my great grandmother, and that is the memory of her that is most clear.

Unfortunately the big white rocket didn't last all that long. By summertime I'd lost all of the small pieces, and most of the big ones. Eventually all that was left was the top of the first stage... a circular piece of plastic no more than 6 inches across and maybe 1 inch thick, which got thrown away when I was 8. I obsessed over big white rocket model kits for the rest of the 70s and some of the 80s. Revell eventually re-issued it in the late 90s, and I am now again the proud owner of a big white (albeit unassembled) rocket.

I don't have any more specific Saturn V memories for awhile after this. The launches were going on, and I do remember pointing at the rockets on television and asking kid questions about what I saw. My dad says that I was an absolute encyclopedia of rocket lore, not just "big white rocket" but specific stuff like launch schedules and how the thing got set up. He says I used to talk rings around barbers and other grown ups that were dumb enough to ask me if I knew what the picture of the rocket on the wall was.

I do remember being brought outside at night for some sort of satellite launch, perhaps more than once. I was small enough that one of my parents picked me up so I could get a better look. Rockets are loud and bright and beyond cool. I remember waving and saying "bye bye rocket".

I also remember visiting the space center during some sort of open house. I remember the titanic VAB. I think I fell over looking at the ceiling over 500 feet above me. I was completely terrified by someone in a space suit. I remember seeing the hulking shape of the crawler my dad was in charge of, framed by the doors of the building. We couldn't, or at any rate didn't, go closer, as I recall because it was pouring down rain.

The final Saturn V memory I have is much clearer, as by 1972 my now nearly five year old brain was much better wired. My brother, myself, and I think some other kids (Scottie and Lodie? two friends's kids) were loaded up into my mom's big ugly red 70s station wagon one night. I don't think it was made completely clear to us what was going to happen, or if it was I don't think we completely understood. I do remember parking near some interesting looking buildings (it may have been the VAB... I was told later it was a special VIP area), and getting put up on the roof of the wagon. I think we were all starting to get a little cranky because it was getting late for us. I remember being fascinated that I could push my hand down and make the roof of the wagon dimple a little, and that dew was beginning to form.

Eventually however a countdown was read out and when it reached zero one of the most spectacular things in my life happened... a Saturn V was launched in complete darkness. The roar of the engines was simply inconceivable. It was sound made solid, hitting you in the face like a wooden box. The sky lit up with a blinding torch, but by straining and looking very closely I could just make out the big white rocket shape I had got so familiar with over the few years of my life. It was bright enough that you could read a newspaper by the light in Miami. To this day my dad insists NASA did it just to see what would happen.

That was the last of the moon shots, and the last Saturn V launch I would be able to see. The last Saturn V launch of all was when they lofted Skylab up the next year, by which time my family had moved to Arkansas. The giant that dominated my imagination for my entire life left the world's stage with a roar, never to be seen again. I have missed it at least a little ever since.

For a long, long time it simply never occurred to me how special all of it was... didn't everyone have a dad that worked with rockets and astronauts? It wasn't until I was a teenager and the shuttle started going up that it really sank in and not until college that I realized how valuable the whole experience was, if nothing else than to get a girl to talk to me for more than a few seconds. I now write and share them with the world via this website, because my dad's getting on up there and if someone doesn't write all this down then one day it'll vanish into the sky like that last big rocket.

My parents have clearer memories, my dad has much funnier ones, probably anyone over 35 has different ones, but these...

These are mine.

Posted by scott at 07:51 PM | Comments (7)
That's a Lot of Daqueris

Another big frikken iceberg has broken off antartica. And no, I'm not at all sure I spelled "daqueris" right. I couldn't remember how to spell marguerita either. Gak. ;)

Posted by scott at 05:57 PM | Comments (1)
SIDS update

Two weeks ago I put up this story about Robert X. Cringley's appeal for help to support his new SIDS foundation. He's now posted this update. Soon will be "live". I'll be sure to link to it, if nothing else to up its standings in Google (Google judges how well a site "fits" in a search not only by the wording of the site, but by how many other sites link to it).

Posted by scott at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)
Blue Birds

My family is very proud of a family of Blue Birds they got to nest in this very special bird box in the back yard. So proud, they asked me if I wanted to look in the box to see the eggs. "Sure", I said. Billy goes and pops the top off of this bird box, I look in. "Billy, there are no eggs. " "WHAT!" *eyes pop out of head in a very dramatic way.

Apparently some other birds, (Wrens) like to wreck Blue Bird nests and then use them for themselves. We knew the Wrens did it. All the Blue Bird eggs were in the grass broken and there were some thick twigs in the bird box.

Billy pulled the old nest out, for the birds to start a new one.

Posted by Ellen at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Art Imitates Life?

Here's an interesting story about a guy who decided to help LA traffic all by himself. What I think is goofy is how they managed to dredge up art critics to gush about it all. I mean, there were guys I knew in college doing this to make fake IDs for freshmen. You stood in front of a huge, perfect painting of a driver's license that some art student had cooked up. The results were darned impressive.

Posted by scott at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)
Attack of the Clones Reviews

Slashdot is reporting two reviews of the upcoming Star Wars film, one from the BBC and one from The New York Times. Variety magazine reports here what I've already heard, that the buzz is good, this one should be fun. Of course we're going to go see it, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed this time.

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)
May 09, 2002
Microsoft to States: Settlement Could Lead to Dancing

Don't make us settle! If we do, hackers will suddenly be able to attack our products. Because of course we all know they can't do that at all right now. Reminds me of Bill Murray on Ghostbusters... "Cats and Dogs, sleeping together, MASS HYSTERIA!

Posted by scott at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)
Neolithic HiFi

I found out last night that not only had Ellen never used a record changer or 8-track tape, she'd never even heard of a record changer, and had never seen an 8 track tape player in action. When I look out on the internet, I can't find any real pictures of either thing (if anyone else can, please post links in the comments). Seems like everyone just assumed you'd know about this stuff, so nobody has bothered to record it.

I believe this is why we don't know how the pyramids were built. Everyone knew how they were built, so nobody bothered to write down how it was done. Gradually people died off without passing on this knowledge, and suddenly nobody knew how it was done. So, in my own personal effort to keep some of this "70s tech" alive in the memories of man, here's how it worked:

Record Changer

Imagine a turntable with a really tall spindle in the middle, say, about 4 inches (10 cm) tall. There were two thin, flat pieces of metal sticking out the spindle about 1/8 of an inch on one side. Imagine a triangle stuck to the side of this spindle, with a really long base and a really short "top point" offset toward the top of the spindle, split at the peak. It reminded me of a bird's beak, with a really short "top" and a really long "chin". If you've ever seen Mystery Science Theater 3000, think of Tom Servo's head stretched really thin. Anyway, the top part of the "beak" was free-sliding, but the bottom part wasn't.

You took about four or five LPs (or 45s... it was originally created for 45s and 78s, when otherwise you'd be getting up every 5 minutes to change the record) and stacked them on the spindle. The lower part of the "beak" held the records up in the air. An L-shaped "arm" was then locked over the top of the records, I guess to hold them in place. You'd push a button or pull a lever on the turntable, and then magic happened.

The bottom part of the "beak" would pull inward just slightly, causing the first record to fall on the turntable with a "PLOP". As I recall, the whole stack didn't fall down because the lower part of the "beak" actually moved through the spindle to the other side, allowing the first record to fall but "catching" the rest. The tone arm (the part that holds the needle) would then magically levitate off of its holder, move just far enough to be at the beginning of the record, and then gently sink onto the surface. Music would then begin to play.

After the record was over, more magic happened. Suddenly with clicking whirrs the tone arm would levitate, move completely out of the way, another record would PLOP into place, the tone arm would move back to the start, and then sink again to the surface of the record. The top "brace" arm must have had some sort of sensor on it that could tell if there were more records waiting to fall. If there weren't, the tone arm would sink back to its holder and the system would shut off.

I used to watch my own record player do this for hours as a kid, trying to figure the whole mechanism out. In the 70s, double albums often would arrive with sides 1 and 4 on one disk, and sides 2 and 3 on the other. This was a huge pain until you realized that by stacking the two disks on top of each other on one of these changers, you could hear two sides of an album without getting up to switch the disks (think about it). The original Star Wars soundtrack was like this.

8-Track Tapes

8 Track is a ubiquitous sign of the 70s, but do you remember how they were used? You had tape in a big cartridge, say about 6 inches long by about 4 inches wide by about 1 inch thick (15.25 cm x 10 cm x 2.5 cm). The tape itself was about 1/4th of an inch wide as I recall. The front of the cartridge was where the tape came out and ran past the tape heads, but there were no spindles. Other than the opening at the front, the box was smooth. You got it to play by pushing the tape most of the way into a slot. Eventually you'd push it past something solid and you'd hear and feel a thunk, and then it would begin to play. You could, and lots of people did, stick an 8 track tape in a player and have it run all night. 8-tracks could hold more music than albums, so there were lots of cases where you had a double album but only one 8-track tape.

Unfortunately you couldn't fast forward or rewind the things. There wasn't anything to grab on to. Instead, the tape was segmented into 4 sections (with 2 stereo channels, hence "8 track"). Each section was underneath the section before it. As the tape ran completely through its loop, a metal strip would pass under the tape heads, closing a switch which moved the tape head down to the next track, which would then begin to play. At the end of the 4th track, the tape head would move up to the first and the whole thing would start again.

You could also force the player to go to the next track, typically by pushing a button on the player. In fact, this was usually all there was to an 8-track player... a slot, a volume control, and a big button labeled TRACK. After you'd played a tape through a few times, you got a feel for where each song was on each track, and how they related to each other. The manual TRACK button could then be used as a kind of primitive fast-forward. For example, when Doobie Wah was playing on track 1 of your favorite Frampton tape, you knew Do You Feel Like We Do was on track 4 and Baby I Love Your Way was on track 3 at roughly the same time. When you got really good at it, you could play DJ and mix your own tape.

The #1 advantage to an 8-track tape player was it would fit in your car. Before then, you had radio, or you had nothing at all. But there were lots of disadvantages too. You couldn't record on 8-track (at least I don't think you could, I don't remember anyone owning an 8-track recorder), and not being able to fast forward or rewind was a bummer. They were big, easily 3 times bigger than the slightly later cassette tape. If your tape or your player got misaligned, you got "crossover" and could hear other tracks while the main track was playing. Finally, the lubricants used to keep the tape running smoothly would eventually wear out, and then your tape was no good.

What Happened?

The cassette tape we all know and love/hate was invented by Phillips in the early 70s (1974, as I recall). It could do everything an 8-track could do (play music in cars), plus you could fast forward and rewind it, as well as record. Of course, the music industry threw itself a hissy precisely because you could record, as it was quite patently obvious to anyone with half a brain that cassette tapes would herald the utter destruction of the music industry and therefore the whole US's, if not the world's, economy (sound familiar?) It took putting a tax on all blank tapes sold (4 cents, I think) with the proceeds going straight to the record companies, before they'd all shut up about it. We still pay the tax to this day. In spite of the hissy fit, cassette tapes took off and 8-tracks were rapidly delegated to the dustbin.

Record players held out quite a bit longer. Cassette tapes sounded bad, really bad at first. Lots of hiss, no real dynamic range, and all kinds of artifacts from the transport mechanism. An LP record was much quieter, even with all the pops and clicks, and had greater dynamic range. Lots of people (myself included) chose instead to purchase albums and then record them onto tapes to put in our cars. This, of course, triggered another hissy fit from the record industry, and it took a supreme court ruling this time to shut them up (do a search for "fair use" on the internet). Cassette tapes eventually got better, but never as good as a really good vinyl press on a high-quality turntable.

But of course records were fragile, a real pain to keep clean, and still had lots of pops and ticks to annoy you. Phillips and Sony came out with the Digital Compact Disk in 1983, solving all these problems and more, and albums followed 8-tracks into the trashcan of history.

Of course, albums are now making a comeback of a sort, but this time as a musical instrument rather than a method of playback. I know that one day my kids will look at me slack-jawed while I explain to them that yes, I once owned a turntable, but I used it to play music instead of make music.

And of course by then we'll all be hearing about how the latest holographic crystal recording technology will herald an apocalypse for the music industry that could threaten the entire planetary economy with complete collapse.

Some things will never change.

Posted by scott at 03:57 PM | Comments (5)
May 08, 2002
Ok, That's Pretty Darned Strange Right There Yup

I remember a funky gameshow from the 70s but I can't remember what it was called. People and celebrities did all kinds of outrageous and silly stuff like running over greased (padded) poles and things like that. American Gladiators took the basic concept and turned it into an athletic competition. Now Look what the Japanese have done with it. Can anyone remember what the game show in the US was called?

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (1)
And Then They Took My Soda, and There Was No-One to Speak for Me

First green ketchup, then purple ketchup, then M&Ms comes out with new colors, then they put Doritos in a juice bottle, now this??? Stop the madness!!!

Oh, and Coke owns Jesus too.

Snagged from Shacknews.

Posted by scott at 01:07 PM | Comments (1)
Boobies + Smoke = ?

Well, I guess if you take this and this together, well, I'm not sure it means anything at all actually, I just wanted to put "boobies" in a subject line.

Heheheheheh ... ehehehheheheh ... you said boobies... heheheheheh

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)
Now that Sure as Hell Ain't Kansas

Ok, now we've got this guy who wants to secede from Germany and form "the kingdom of Dracula". Think that's wierd and unique? It's not anywhere near as strange as Sealand, a country literally perched on top of an old artillery platform. Really!

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)
Cool Furniture

How'd you like this as your dinner table? See! Geeks can be handy!

Posted by scott at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)
New Feature: Email!

After consulting scriptygodess, who pointed me to, which lead me to this entry, I finally managed to get an "email this entry" widget working for the main page. Please test & enjoy!

Posted by scott at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
May 07, 2002

Bonita Proudly Presents
East Meets West Belly Dance Recital

Please join us for a scrumptious Moroccan Buffet, savored in a Festive atmosphere featuring Entertainment by talented student dancers and Bonita.

Sunday, 19 May, 6-9 PM
Casablanca Restaurant
1504 King St, Alexandria, VA
Reservations for Bonita's Recital
Call (703) 549-6464
Buffet Price: $15.00

Children Under 10- $10.00, Under 5- $7.50
Drinks, tax, tip not included
Any information other than reservations call Bonita
(703) 569-8506

Posted by Ellen at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

OK, I've told you all I have a dance recital comming up next week. One of the dances the more advanced girls are going to do is by a turkish artist called "Tarkan". Can u say "HOTTIE"? Good. This is a dance I am currently learning (its fucking hard!!)

The song they are going to is called "Sikidim". Otherwise translated to "Dirty Dancing-Is this all yours?"

But you have to listen to the music! I won't tell you the lyrics! :)

The ENTRIE album is great! Especially if you are looking for some bad ass dance music. ENJOY!~

Posted by Ellen at 06:31 PM | Comments (1)
I Don't Want To Be In This.

I am in a friends wedding in NY this saturday. I don't want to be in it, but I am her friend. I got stuck being a brides maid. My dress cost $180 bucks (isnt the bride supposed to swing the cost on it?) The altering cost another $100. Shoes $24, matching purse $12, Jewelry $15. I BETTER look good, no I better look GREAT.

I have to be up at 5 am on saturday and go to the hairdressers to get my squirrels nest worked on. All I have to say is, she better not fuck up my curls. Most likely she will make them absoloutly stunning to the point I won't be able to replicate the look EVER AGAIN.

I am also paired up with someone who is over 6 feet tall. I'm only 5'2. Thats a good difference. I just hope I don't trip, since its a horrible habit I have especially on carpet.

Not only do I have to be in a wedding on saturday, but my younger brother is having his First Holy Communion. I HAVE to be there.

All I have to say is that its going to be a busy weekend. THEN I have a belly dance recital on the 19th from 6-9pm. BUSY BUSY BUSY. My costume is kewl though.

I'll keep ya posted

Posted by Ellen at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)
We're #1!

Ok, Aussies are cool, even the ones in the sex industry. Whatacountry.

Posted by scott at 03:54 PM | Comments (4)

Ok. Now that we're actually past 200 entries I've given the archives a little bit of structure by filing them into categories. I've also added a "highlights" section that features what we consider the best of the best of what's on the site right now. There's a little bit of funny, a little bit of serious, and a little bit of rant over there.

Ellen doesn't have anything over there right this second because she's not around right now. I'm sure that'll change. I also want to add a "mail this link" thingy like scriptygoddess has, but it's turning out to be kind of a booger to get it working.

And of course there's a re-work of the whole site in the offing, I just have to find the uninterrupted time required to get it going. Maybe I can recruit my artist cousin. Hey Adam, you out there? Wanna help yer freeloadin' cuz make his website pretty? :)

As always, enjoy!

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (1)
An oldie, but a goodie

This has been around awhile, but it still makes me laugh out loud.

Today my office is a revolving door moronathon, so I may not be able to do too many updates. I'm also getting tired of the layout here, I think it's kinda lame having (IMHO) kick-ass content with a box-stock MT template. I just have to get up the gumption to change it. More as things develop.

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (2)
Woo Hoo! 2.11!

Just upgraded the movable type system to 2.11, the latest version. You folks won't see much (at first), but boy does it look different from here. I'm going to try to give the whole thing a facelift in the next few days, so look out for major changes.

Upgrade was, as always, a booger, but it seems stable enough now. No promises though!

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)
May 06, 2002
Anybody got DIY TV?

This is just way too cool, and predictably we don't get DIY network on our basic cable system. Anybody else out there have it? Got a VCR? Need a tape?

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)
Fight the Good Fight III

Do you really want TV to be completely pay-per-view? Do you like paying $13.99 for a CD that cost the record company $.0002 to manufacture? Do you understand that there is pressure building for legislation that will make it illegal to fast forward through commercials? Then do something about it!

It gets pretty technical toward the end, but the intro is really good. We love our TiVo, but congress-critters keep listening to the RIAA and the MPAA and others like them, and there's a real chance such things will be made illegal when HDTV gets popular.

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
New Pyramids

I think Ellen mentioned this to me a day or two ago, but there it is anyway for those who may not have heard. Zahi Hawass is everywhere when it comes to Egyptian archeology. There only seem to be about seven Egyptologists in the English-speaking world, you'll see them all the time on documentaries, but Zahi seems to be in every single one of them as well.

(By contrast, there seem to be about nine Roman historians. I especially like the guy that narrarates in black leather.)

Anyway, if you've ever seen anything on Egypt in the past, say, six or seven years, you've seen this guy. He's got his own web site (which I can't get to right now). A nice brief bio is here. I can't claim to know the man, but I did see him get victimized by network TV once during a live "digging in Egypt" special. He seemed to handle the enthusiastic if clueless talking heads pretty well (I seem to recall it was Maury Povich's bunch, perhaps on Fox?), only getting impatient with them once or twice. He seemed to have boundless energy and tended to talk too quickly and too intelligently for the newsreaders to really follow along.

Everyone knows the pyramids are old, but it takes awhile to get some perspective on what that really means. A quick one: In America, depending on where you're from, an old building is between one and three hundred years old. Most of the rest of the world quietly chuckles at this, but even in places like England an old building is about a thousand years old, and in Italy and Greece old buildings can be as much as twenty five hundred years old.

The pyramids were already more than two thousand five hundred years old when Cleopatra unrolled herself at the feet of Julius Ceasar. To put that event in perspective, Jules and Cleo ran through their little drama some forty years before Jesus made his dramatic entrance.


Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)
Women + Comics

Well, it looks like at least some comic store owners are trying to double their clientele. Making guy-dominated places more girl-friendly would seem to me a complete no brainer. It's a business guys. Run it like an ego parlor and you'll run it into the ground.

Side note: Note where the citations come from. Yup, DC, Maryland, New York, Virginia. Another case of a DC bureau having a reporter with nothing to do. I'll bet the NY citation is someone from the NY bureau office. Don't you people ever leave the house?!?

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (2)
May 05, 2002
Tornado Facts

Ok, most of you southern people are so used to this shit by now its like another rainy day to you :) BUT, this is still some cool facts about tornados, epecially since we had an F5 hit our area this past week.

Tornados are graded by the Fujita Scale. This is a combination of strength of wind, and damage done to property and surrounding areas. Fujita Scale

If you are the kind of person that likes to be prepared in case of an event like this, check this out. Tornado Safety Tip Brochure

Or, you can just check out this site. Tornado FAQ

Iv'e always wanted to do this! --> Tornado Chasing Yeah, I have the parental inlaws in Arkansas, but I have YET to see a tornado there. So far here in Va, we have been through 3 now. 3 year ago this May, Scott and I were in Jamaica when dozens of tornados touched down in tornado alley. I remember watching Jamaica TV and them showing the broadcast of what was going on. I MISSED IT YET AGAIN! I think its a trend now. Kinda like every time I wash my car it rains. Except this time, it was really dirty and it decided to F5 the next day. So much for my luck.

Posted by Ellen at 06:19 PM | Comments (18)
And Another Thing

Another thing about comic books... they're what Saturday morning cartoons would really look like if kids were allowed to watch what they wanted instead of what their parents wanted. They are violent, racy, and contain grown up characters and grown up themes. The reason? Only kids read the comics.

Is it right? Oh, probably not.

Posted by scott at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)
Beyond Bizzare

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't after you.

Posted by scott at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

Go see Spider Man! It's pretty darned cool. Spidey was/is/always has been one of my favorite all-time comic book characters. He's a nerdy smart-mouth that gets the job done but still Has Problems. As I recall, he was the first "real life" superhero... he wasn't a godlike alien nobleman (Superman) or a super-rich wacko business man (Batman). He still had to worry about paying rent and holding down a job.

I thought the movie was a little long (120-something minutes), but was still great. Ellen thought it was great period. Richie, Ellen's brother, says that must mean the thing is god-awesome because, according to him, we're the pickiest movie people on the planet. Sam Raimi, who is not Harold Ramus (DOH!), used his characteristic cameraman-on-crack style to very good effect. In fact, I think he may have toned it down a bit just because he was under so much pressure.

We saw Metropolis on DVD. It was weird. Not quite as weird as Akira, which was pretty but didn't make any damned sense, but close. Metropolis was unusual to me because it didn't much look like standard anime. Reminded me very much of Ralph Bakshi's later stuff.

Is it just me, or does 75% of anime dialog consist of the characters screaming out each other's names? TETSUOOOOOOO!!!!

We also rented The Iron Monkey, a Hong Kong Kung-Fu movie. It was great, especially if you like Jackie Chan or Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon. It's a much more "authentic" Asian movie, with this almost schizophrenic combination of slapstick, drama, and action. Crouching Tiger wasn't like this, and didn't do very well in China because it was considered "too Asian". The fight scene with wooden posts on fire has to be seen to be believed.

It's kind of funny. I'm always horrified that people use American movies to judge our culture, yet I like Asian movies in no small part because I feel it gives me an insight into their culture.

Japanese films are really big on in media res, almost to a fault. The main characters often have a tendency to ignore big things that go on around them, and the story does too. A stadium explodes in the background at one point in Akira, and while the characters do react, the narrative continues almost as if it didn't occur. At best, this can be disorienting but challenging, at worst it can leave you stranded in a sea of pretty pictures.

Watching anime gives you the impression that the Japanese are an extremely frenetic people with a very quick, dry sense of humor and a deep fascination with explosions, "hardware" (in the "I like Star Wars because of all the hardware" kind of way), and robots. I've read at least some other stuff (3 different links in there people... pay attention) on Japanese culture, but almost certainly not enough, and probably not the right stuff (anyone with suggestions? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?). I'm not sure I'd enjoy visiting Japan, because I think I might try too hard to be a super polite guest and not actually learn anything. Still, it's a very interesting place, and people.

I haven't seen anywhere near as much Chinese cinema, but what I have seen has a distinctly different flavor than Japanese films have. Chinese films seem more slapstick (this is not a bad thing, I like slapstick), more laid back in plot but more frenetic in characterization, and in general have a much stronger narrative thread, perhaps because there isn't as much assumed cultural context. I also haven't studied China anywhere near as much, mostly only their ancient history. Again, book recommendations are always welcome!

Of course, there's more to Asia than China and Japan. Southeast Asia seems an exotic brew of hard-headed Vietnamese, abstractly spiritual Cambodians, Big-Brother-ly Singaporese, as well as the Quixotic Muslim m?lange of Malaysia. And that's just the start! Asia is big. Trying to stuff all Asians into one or two boxes is like trying to say New Yorkers are part of New England. It just ain't so.

But all of you in the world, I want you to think about this: Would you want other people to judge your culture by your movies? Would that give someone who didn't know anything else about you a really accurate impression? Keep this in mind the next time you see an American movie. We don't much like the way Hollywood portrays us. It's no wonder you don't.

Posted by scott at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)
Busy Day

Saturday was our best day so far, with 145 people visiting the site. The clix stuff is really starting to pay off (HI CLIX FOLKS!), and I managed to get a comment over on slashdot modded up to 5.

I'm not sure why we're so interested in growing this site... it's not like we're making money, or have careers that need restarting (more power to him, btw). We're mostly just interested in entertaining you for a few minutes every day.

Of course, you could talk back more, ya know. We have two or three regulars right now, who I'm grateful for. Let's get the discussions going! :)

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
May 03, 2002

I loved these things when I was a kid, but my parents hated them because they came apart into all these little pieces that got scattered all over the house. I have a battlecruiser on my desk at work that I got on E-bay. It's pretty darned snazzy, even after all these years.

The comics were cool too. Princess Mari (scroll down to see the picture) was the first time I remember noticing that women were more than just irritatingly tall girls.

I was just 12 at the time Ellen. You can't get jealous of a comic book character I admired when you were 4. Or can you?

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)
Sounds Like a Simpsons Episode to Me

Ok, I now think that the British are every bit as weird as we are, but they have a better sense of humor.

Posted by scott at 02:54 PM | Comments (1)

Not real sure what to make of this, but it looks pretty interesting in an estrogen-ladened way. And before my mom gets all Victorian southern on us, NO, it's not a porn site (at least I don't think it is).

Found it via, another site I'm not quite sure what to make of.

Posted by scott at 02:04 PM | Comments (2)
How Not to be a Pirate

You get all yer buds together, then make sure everyone has a powerboat, then light out for the middle of the gulf to make some quick cash and what do you end up doing? Picking on a Navy ship. A .50 caliber machine gun may sound smallish, but the rounds it fires are something like 5" long when you include the brass and .5" across. It's a little on the noisy side too.

I fully believe most people turn to a life of crime because they're too stupid to do anything else.

Courtesy of Jeff.

Posted by scott at 01:59 PM | Comments (1)
Onion Layers

Carl Sagan pointed out in his excellent book Broca's Brain that our brains weren't planned, they grew, with each layer being added onto and integrated with the previous one. My own research and experience leads me to believe that this layering reaches into many more places of our consciousness.

For instance, it's one thing to read about short term and long term memory, and how they're discreet and different, but it's a whole other thing to actually experience the separation. I distinctly remember a time in college when friends were staying up late playing cards. I was spending most of my time studying (yes, I did study, if only occasionally), and so decided to "rest my eyes" for a bit. At no point did I consider myself asleep, as I was quite aware of the conversations going on around me, and had an internal dialogue going about what was happening. Suddenly everything stopped and people were yelling at me "Scott, wake up you loser, we gotta go!"

"I am awake, I just had my eyes closed!"

"Nah, you were asleep dude. Totally gone."

"Was not."

"What were we talking about then?"

And then I realized that I couldn't tell them what they were talking about. It was just gone, evaporated like dry ice. I could remember listening, but I couldn't remember what was said.

Ellen thought this was just another weird thing that being married to me came with, up until it happened to her. We were driving to New York one night and, as she tends to do when forced to sit still for any length of time, Ellen fell asleep. I was listening to "All Things Considered", a talk-radio show on NPR. I poked Ellen eventually to wake her up so I wouldn't fall asleep, and received the normal snarl, "I'm not asleep, leave me alone!"

"You were too, you were out cold."

"No I wasn't, I was listening to your stupid NPR thing."

"Really? What was it about?"


She'd had the same experience. It seems to me that we have different, and at least somewhat independent, mechanisms for perception. As you fall asleep, these mechanisms shut down, but not all at once. In our cases, the mechanism that hooked short term and long term memory together had turned off, but the short term stuff was still running, and the long term stuff just kept writing "listening, listening, listening" into memory without actually inputting anything useful. Sort of like a night watchmen looking at security cameras but not realizing the tape machine had gotten disconnected.

Probably all of us have had the experience as children of trying to very, very carefully and very, very quietly change the TV channel from boring grownup TV to cool cartoons. After all, our parents were quite patently asleep and not watching anything. No matter how quiet, subtle, or careful we were, we'd only have them snort awake and yell "get away from that! Put that back! I was watching that!" They really did think they were at least listening, but we always knew they weren't. Since we were kids we didn't count and back went the boring grownup TV.

Abstract reasoning and elaborate memory structures are a new "layer" to the human psyche, from most indications one that didn't exist until about 35,000 years ago. And, as our history of believing charismatic people instead of smart ones, and survey after survey show, we're still not all that comfortable with it. Our sense of "self" and the sense that the thing sitting next to "self" at the dinner table that just belched impressively is another, different, but co-equal "self" called "wife" doesn't seem to have been around more than 250,000 years or so. Our tendency to turn other people into "things" that can, and even should, be killed shows that we're not completely comfortable with that layer either.

If you spend any time studying chimpanzees, you'll realize that we are still influenced a lot by layers that we're not even all that aware of. I once saw a really impressive chimp colony at the Tulsa Oklahoma zoo. They had a huge enclosure with a gigantic "jungle gym" in the center. There were individuals of all ages, with the young ones ripping around the play set and their elders sitting around the edges grooming each other, eating, or simply watching the juveniles play. I sat and watched them all for hours.

The similarities were more than a little striking when I visited a local mall. From the upper level, I could see on the lower level a huge carpeted area. In the center was a colorful jungle gym, with benches around the edges for adults. The kids were screaming and chasing each other around, while the adults mostly sat and talked with each other, ate, or just tiredly watched the kids go by. From that distance you literally could not see any real difference in the behavior of the two groups.

Nearly everyone has known of a dog or a cat that was terrified of something strange. I've known ones that were afraid of men, very loud noises, and metal rulers (albeit not in the same critter). Nearly always you'll find that the animal was traumatized in some way that could directly associate that trauma with whatever they're now afraid of. In evolution, this is a Good Thing, as it provides a handy way of keeping critters out of trouble without having to build this huge, unreliable cognitive structure. An emphatic, non-verbal association of "FIRE=PAIN=RUN!" is much more efficient at keeping you from getting burned than the internal dialog of "There's a candle burning on the table so I better be careful and not touch it." As with most things that evolution has cooked up, false alarms are considered preferable to screwing it up the one time it mattered.

But before you write this off as just animals being stupid, realize that you know people in your everyday life that act this way. I nearly always flinch when I have to stop quickly on a road because I was rear-ended years ago. Ellen will reflexively yell and grab things when she sees a car stopped and our car is still moving toward it because we got in an accident that way once. I've known people who were afraid of dogs after an attack, people who feared dark places after a mugging, or who become physically ill when smelling smoke after their house had burned down. These are all reflexive, and wrong nearly all of the time, but we do them anyway without even thinking. And therein, I believe, lies a valuable key to understanding the true internal workings of not only the animals around us, but also people who have, through injury or disease, "lost" the upper layers of their, well, onion.

As an experiment, the next time you have one of these reflexive reactions to something, stop for a second. Think about how you felt when that happened, what went through your mind, how you were perceiving things. The next time you see your cat or dog do something like that, realize that they are probably experiencing the same thing inside their head. Imagine living you're whole life in that place and I think you'll come really, really close to what it's actually like being a cat, or a dog, or a deer, or a skunk, or any other mammal at least.

And did you really become any less "you" when you had that reflexive reaction? Did "you" stop just because some other part of your conscious was running the show at that moment?

All of us have been really, really tired and confused at points in our life and simply stopped making sense to the people around us. The next time that happens, try to stop and think about it. Did you stop being "you" at that moment? Did "you" disappear because your cognitive layers had decided to take a breather and let the animal pieces run the show for awhile? I believe that it is during these moments that we come closest to what it feels like to, say, have Alzheimer?s Disease, or Down's Syndrome, or experience a brain injury.

And in a funny sort of way I take comfort in this, because I know that the "you" that is me didn't cease to exist simply because I was acting reflexively, or had gotten cognitively out of synch with the rest of the world. Thinking about these things really brought home to me the true meaning of the Buddhist maxim, "Your perceived self and your real self are like clouds passing over a mirror." Just because the clouds change shape, or get darker, or make it more difficult to see the mirror, doesn't mean the mirror isn't there. And it doesn't mean we can't appreciate the new clouds any less than we could the ones there before. They're always changing anyway.

Posted by scott at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)
May 02, 2002
Ask, and Ye Shall Receive

Well, it looks like there's at least one dumb person in the UK. No smarmy "stupid man" jokes either, mom.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
Stupid Redneck Tricks

Oh joy! Dumb people from Arkansas! Ellen will be so pleased. :)

I remember something vaguely similar happening when I was in college. A bunch of redneck college frat boys got drunk one night and decided to turn a local movie theater into a drive in. They did this by taking their 4wd pickup truck (of course) and driving it through the lobby. Through the big plate glass window-wall, around the concession stand three times, and then out the other wall and they were gone. Of course, they didn't think to bother with the security cams, so they were arrested the next day.

And then there was the time a high school athletic teacher had a party with a bunch of his high school senior students. Seems the fun game was to play real-life William Tell with a revolver and a budweiser can. As expected, the coach aimed a little too low. The thing was, you had a hard time deciding which end of the gun the moron was on.

Is it just America that has stupid people? We have the occasional international user come through here... anyone got stupid stories from around the world?

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (1)
Just When You Thought School Admins Couldn't Get Any Dumber

Ya know, sometimes you just have to let the story do the talking.

Not only does power corrupt, it also attracts the corruptible. Of course, my mom would say this is the direct consequence of filling school administration with athletic coaches. Or is that just a southern thing? Didn't everyone call their principle "coach"?

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)
May 01, 2002
A Whole New Critter-Cam

I'm not sure if I should be intrigued by this or upset by it. Your tax dollars at work!

Posted by scott at 04:47 PM | Comments (2)
Gotta Love That Hubble

CNBC has much better quality pics of this than the Post did this morning. This thing cost a zillion bucks, but I'd rather spend money for this than to keep Farmer Ted's billion dollar cotton farm in the black.

Always remember the universe is bigger than you think it is.

Posted by scott at 04:12 PM | Comments (4)
Getting in the Spirit

Ellen is in a wedding in the next few weeks, so I figured this site would be an appropriate one for the occasion. I especially like the code of honor. :)

Snagged this one from

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Happy May Day!

Today is "May Day", labor day for most of the rest of the world, and a day of remembrance and celebration for communists in particular. On this day in 1886, nationwide strikes in Canada and the United States were called to protest the lack of a mandated 8 hour workday. In Chicago police killed six protestors trying to break up the strike. The next day seven police were killed in a bomb explosion. Eight "anarchist trade unionists" (establishment-speak for "noisy, effective leaders") were arrested, but it has never been conclusively established who was to blame. In spite of this, the men were tried and executed in what nearly everyone now admits was a kangaroo court of the worst sort. A more detailed account of what happened is here.

Communism is a very poorly understood system in the US. Because those who hold the reigns of power over here are pretty much by definition capitalists, and because labor drives capitalism, it isn't in powerful people's best interest for anyone to think any good of communism, which at its roots seeks to empower labor against management. Historically communism has proven quite good at this, at least in the short term. Nothing shakes a rich, powerful man (and they're almost all men) quite like threatening his money, and so communism became demonized like really no other idea in history. The origins of WWII are rooted in the fact that the west feared the Soviet Union far more than they feared the Nazis.

The reasons for the failure of communism are many and varied, but the basic concept is actually a lot simpler than you're lead to believe in your high school history courses. Instead of learning about Karl Marx, "owning the means of production", or, *shudder*, actually trying to read Das Kapital, communism can actually be summed up in a simple sentence:

In a true communist system, everyone owns everything.

So what would living in a true communist society be like? Well, you wouldn't need to buy a house, you'd just need to move into an empty one. And it wouldn't be empty either, because it would've already been filled with furniture. You don't have to buy a car, because there's dozens of them parked in the lot with the keys inside, just waiting to be driven. Need new clothes? Just go to the clothing outlet and grab some shirts. Hungry? Walk up to a counter and grab a sandwich. Need something to do? Find an empty space on a factory line and pitch in.

Of course, there are really obvious problems with this, mostly to do with human nature rather than any real flaw in the idea of communism. I sometimes think that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles typify the axiom that some ideas are so wrong that only an intellectual will believe in them. Communism gives "gamers" so many seams to exploit that they're just overwhelmed. This was proven to be true when good ol' Uncle Joe (Stalin) clawed his way to power and transformed the workers paradise into an old fashioned dictatorship in just a few years. Pretty much every other attempt at this ideal has run into the same wall of cheaters and sheer human laziness.

The only really fundamental flaw I can see in communism is that, to really work, it requires free energy and robot labor. If it doesn't cost anything to make stuff, then stuff can be free. If it doesn't take people to make stuff, then stuff can be free. Ironically, capitalism's constant striving for more and more efficiency and cheaper and cheaper labor could end up delivering us to the communist state.

But really, that's all there is to communism. No attempts on the "american way of life", no "institution of athiests", no "evil empire"... just a bunch of idealists with a really bad understanding of how real people tick. To quote a favorite movie of mine, "anyone that tells you differently is selling something."

So today be sure to lift up a glass to the poor bastards who took a bullet for your 8 hour work day. But stay the hell away from my car.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)