August 31, 2002
The Car Richie Really Wants

Wanna landspeeder? You know, like on Star Wars? No, really, do you want a landspeeder? Much more fun than the blockade runner. You don't have to mount this on a trailer.

Posted by scott at 06:47 PM | Comments (1)
FIV Vaccine Released

This is an article in relation to the new FIV vaccine that was just released.

I'm all for vaccines, don't get me wrong, but I think there is a limit.

Cats get too many damn vaccines now. They only need Rabies and Distemper by law. (indoor cats in my opinion should only be vaccinated every 3 years) The chance of getting felv or fiv is ultra low due to that the disease is highly unstable in the enviorment. If you have an outdoor kitty (and why do you? thats another article for me to write) and your kitty is PRONE to fights or hangs out with other cats, OK I can see why you would want to over vaccinate.

There is some vaccine frenzy lately. The chance of a cat developing a fibrosarcoma (very UGLY cancer- and I have seen MANY- in the area a FELV vaccine was given) is more likely to happen than contracting the disease itself.

Did you know that FIV is ONLY contracted through a bite? Did you know that vaccinating your cat with the FIV vaccine he/she will show POSITIVE for FIV? There is a test out there to determine if its the antibody or antigen showing up, but thats a different article for me to write.

What I am saying is this:
If you must let your cat outside(dumb idea) make sure it gets tested every year for flev/fiv. Go ahead and vaccinate your cat for the diseases if it is in a high risk area. DON'T go giving you cats vaccines it does not need. (ie. giardia) If you have an indoor kitty, follow state law for vaccinating it.

This is NOT medical advice, it's an opinion. I think having the FELV and FIV vaccines now are a great medical feat, BUT they need to be looked at again and again, so we do not get the ugly side effects of a fibrosarcoma

Posted by Ellen at 05:38 PM | Comments (3)
Earth Formation Findings

BBCnews has this report on news about the earth's formation. Apparently it formed a lot faster than was originally thought.

Posted by scott at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)
Dear Ahb'bey

Ever wondered what Dear Abby would look like in Saudi Arabia? Wonder no more. I've always found these "grassroots" kind of columns much more informative about common culture than I ever have the editorial pages of any newspaper.

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
There They Go Again

Every time I think Japan can't get any weirder, they go and prove me wrong. For $5-$20k we will break up with your boyfriend for you. Nope, not a typo. Confused? Read the article. Still confused? Well, yeah...

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
August 30, 2002

Rachel is in rare form today. Her experiences of the first week of college bring back so many memories for me. So many memories of pointless, horrific days confronting beauracrats and freshmen, ones that I had repressed for so long.... AAAAAAGG! THEY'VE COME BACK! NOOOOO!!! DAMN YOU RACHEL! DAMN YOU TO HELL!

Just kidding! Just kidding! :):):)

Go visit Rachel, tell her we sent ya. :)

Update: Reading her comments, looks like we're not the only blog regularly viewed by our Mom. Assuming that is her mom, looks like the apple didn't fall far from the tree (or perhaps, the cracker didn't fall far out of the box :) :) :) ).

Posted by scott at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)
Chimps and AIDS?

MSNBC has this article about how it just might be possible that chimps suffered through a near-catastrophic encounter with AIDS or a near cousin, and that's why they are immune to the disease. I actually know someone who worked in the same lab that cooked up the cocktail treatments. Any comments Ellen?

Posted by scott at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)
Squirrel Nuts

Oh. My. Goodness. After this, I'll never look at that song the same way again. Possibly not safe for work, especially if you don't have headphones.

Posted by scott at 07:22 AM | Comments (1)
August 29, 2002
Feline Leukemia Support

Buy this CD.

I have this CD and its too cute. How wonderful is it to write music about that special cat that when it leaves you, left a 'cat shaped hole in your heart'. Buying this CD sends money for research into feline leukemia.

All of the songs on the CD are about cats that have passed from the disease.

All cats with feline leukemia (felv) will die from the disease. All usually from lymphoma. Most kittens with the disease do not see thier first birthday. Many cats CAN be supported with the disease with good medical care/medication and lots of love. I am watching it happen with a clients cat.

The more money for research, the more we can do for cats with FELV.

Posted by Ellen at 07:46 PM | Comments (2)
Cat Music!

Our good friend Maru sent me this article today about cat music.

Cat Music

Now don't get me wrong, cats DO like music. I have always played music for my hospitalized and boarding pets. Cats prefer soft jazz and classical. It keeps everyone calm. If a 'normal' rock station is played, tension seems to been seen more frequently.

Even better is those CD's that have water running or rainforest noises. I am a total believer in pets and music. *Scott won't let me have the radio on all day for my cats, just like he thinks they don't need a night light either ;)*

Cats, especially single cat households, even dogs, do very well with music or even the WEATHER CHANNEL! Why the weather channel? Well, it has nice music*elevator* and soft spoken people just talking. No action. It makes it SEEM like someone is home. This does help with anxiety.

So don't knock music for pets. I have personally seen it work.

Posted by Ellen at 07:35 PM | Comments (2)
De-Motivational Posters, a FARK Photoshop Essay

We get, oh, 40-60% of our completely off-the-wall sh*t from fark. Yes, the secret is out. We troll FARK so you don't have to. Anyway, they recently had probably the best "photoshop" contest I've ever seen with "de-motivational posters". You know, those obnoxious posters that say things like "SUCCESS: Every Dog Has Its Day" or some other tripe. Well, here are FARKER'S take on the whole phenomena:

Yeah, we're probably violating a copyright somewhere, but farkit! :)

Posted by scott at 07:30 PM | Comments (5)

Men will screw anything!!!!!

Heh, at least this guy can be truely called a dog fucker.

Posted by Ellen at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)
Booya! the Sequel

So the boss sends me an e-mail today sez "last weekend" [what? And you couldn't tell me on Monday because...???] "the board of directors decided they needed a place to maintain ongoing conversations electronically." [exactly like they've wanted every year, for seven years, and have never used each time I provided them with something, you mean?] "They've left the details up to us, but they need it in two weeks." [Two weeks from last Monday, in other words.]

Well. Ok. So to translate: the board wants a BBS system, a "message board". Yeah, I can do that. Two-weeks-minus-one-week deadline? Sure, no problem.

So's I goes lookin. First stop, simhq. I use their message boards all the time, nice & easy (for me, which means 2 weeks of beating my head bloody with our "gee, what is this funny oblong plastic thing next to the keyboard? Why does the little arrow move around on the screen when I touch it?" board). Unfortunately, InfoPop isn't free, and I have received a THOU SHALT SPEND MONEY ONLY WHEN DRAWING BARB-BED WIRE THROUGH THINE NETHER REGIONS SEEMS PLEASANT commandment from on high.

So I go look elsewhere. Wheaton has a BBS, bastard gets like 200 posts a day on it. Slicker than Sam Donaldson's hairpiece too. If a washed up so-liberal-he's-going-to-fall-off-the-left-side-of-the-planet actor can set it up anybody can set it up. This leads me to phpBB, a very nice and most importantly free system.

Of course, Wheaton set his up on a server configured in pretty much a sane manner. The server I have available is the one I built a slash site on. You know, the slash site that does everything they need, for free, on Linux, the one I taught myself perl to run, so they can go and spend $280k on consultants and another commercial system, on Win2k, and tell me not only can I stuff all this work down a toilet but oh by the way we're going to trash the entire network for Win2k on this paper MCSE's advice? That one? But I digress...

Anyone who's ever dinked with slash knows you have to do strange, perverted things to the Apache web server and mod_perl engine to get it running (DAMN YOU TACO! DAMN YOU TO HELL!). I bank-shot Cold Fusion engine support into it about six months ago so our makes-dried-oatmeal-look-smart membership could sign up automatically. Which they still manage to screw up daily. Did I write down how I did that? What's the challenge in that?!?.

So now I gotta fold PHP support into it, without breaking the "Kiss me, I'm psychotic" slash site nor my cold fusion signup widget. The default documentation sounds easy enough, so I follow it right up to the point of "Make Install".

"Self", I says to myself, "if you install this thing over what you already have working, you know what will happen?"

"Umm... it'll all work just grand and we'll get to dance around the flowery hill with Tinky, Winky, Dipsy, Laa-La and Po?"


"Umm... it'll blow up so colorfully I'll be picking shrapnel out of the database server for the next two weeks?"


Sure enough, my drill-sergeant conscience was correct... a standard install results in an apache server that doesn't even start. Just gives wimpy "configuration incorrect" errors and falls on its face with a PHP-shaped dagger sticking out of its back.

So I go over to the slashcode site, and look up the install how-to. Sure enough, there's my old friend the cryptic three-line mod perl statement you need to get it running. Says "if you need to install other modules you will, of course, need to modify this statement accordingly." Does it say how to do that? Geeze, if we did that then you might actually get something to work without spending three hours poring over our oh-so-cleverly commented code ("# Bite My Shiny, Metal Ass" is only funny the first time you try to figure out what a function does). You're obviously not even intelligent enough to hold the hem of our pizza-stained robe. Away with you!

So after cutting open the install routine like a three-week-dead armadillo, I figure out how to specify extra clauses. And sure enough, it all compiles and installs beautifully. After six tries. With fingers crossed I checked the slash site and the cold fusion widget, and both seemed to have survived the experience intact.

So I go test the PHP system. I mean, it went in without any errors, so it should work just fine, right?


"But all the guys on Slashdot keep going on and on about how easy this stuff is, how powerful and wonderful it is. How hard can it be?"


"Death Star versus Enterprise... ah geeze that's an easy one. Obvious--"


"Well, umm, no. So I guess we better go test..."

Sure enough, it'd feed me PHP code, but not a PHP'd page. After an hour's tinkering I discovered I had to put the proper statements in the slash site's config file, not the main Apache file. BINGO! Up it comes in a flash. HOO-RA!

So I gave them what they wanted not in the ten-days-minus-five they gave me, but in four hours. For free. On a server which by rights should barely be able to hold a slash site, let alone a slash-cold fusion-php hybrid. BOO-YA gramma... BOOYA.

Of course, they'll never use the damned thing. If they can't get their son or their secretary to hold their hands each time they need to use it ("ok, right click here. No, right click. The RIGHT side mouse button. OPPOSITE the one you're clicking now"), they won't. So it's ultimately doomed to failure like nearly everything else the higher-ups cook up when it comes to IT projects.

But it was a lot of fun to tinker with. :)

Posted by scott at 05:27 PM | Comments (0)
Orgasms from Around the World

This one is definitely not safe for work (especially if you don't have headphones), but I defy you not to laugh out loud at it. Extremely funny.

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)
Japanese Sub Found

This AP story reports they've found the first of the Japanese "minisubs" that tried to attack during the Pearl Harbor raid. In spite of the press monkey calling it a battleship, I'm pretty sure it was a destroyer that sank the thing. Is that right, Jeff?

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (2)
August 28, 2002
Cultural Traditions

I'm getting real sick of the rest of the world telling us their "traditional" cultures are right and we need to just mind our own damned business and leave them alone. They all tell us we should try to understand and accomodate each one. I'm here to tell you it's all crap. Traditional cultures are, not to put too fine a point on it, dinosaurs doomed to extinction because they are quite patently inferior to the industrialized systems most commonly referred to as "western values".

Probably the best thing that ever happened to the world was the invention of the transistor radio. Before, to get at the cultural benefits of the industrial revolution you had to have power plants and telephone poles and factories and an entire expensive and sophisticated infrastructure for it to work at all. This was something any government could control easily, and many simply refused to participate.

But with a transistor radio, you don't need any of that. Even the first ones, big as toasters, were extremely portable and ran on batteries. No wires, no roads, no poles, just a single self-contained unit. You pointed the antenna at the sky and the world came to your door. With this single invention, again a fundamental improvement in humanity's ability to communicate, anyone could learn just how good other folks had it across the sea. The transistor radio represented an unstoppable vector spreading the disease of modernity.

You see, it wasn't the values of "liberty", "freedom", or "democracy" that set the world on fire. It was the values of "cars" and "appliances" and "air conditioning" and "fancy shoes". It was the concept that anyone was entitled to these things, not just the rich, the old, the well-born, or the male. As bizzare as it is to think about, it's Pier-1, McDonalds, Nintendo, Sony, and General Motors that are bringing a real, functional form of liberty to the masses, not the Washington Post or the U.N.

Of course since "traditional" socities are all run by cranky, smelly old men (a.k.a. "honored elders") who just want to play "hide the salami" with their concubine/mistress/female slave, suddenly it was a "western invasion" coming to "destroy our values". Values like honor killing, where "honored elders" (i.e. men) can mutilate and murder wives and daughters because of the loss of that extremely concrete concept of "honor". Values like exposing babies, leaving newborn infants to scream themselves to death on a remote rice paddy because they happened not to be born with a penis. Values like consigning 90% of your population to grinding, desperate poverty to support the 10% who just happened to be born with the right last name.

And anyone who says they can't, won't, or shouldn't adopt Western values because it would result in the "destruction" of their culture is just full of horseshit. Germany and Japan proved themselves so dangerous to world stability they had Western-style democracies imposed on them, literally at the point of a gun. Sixty years later, are they any less "German" or "Japanese" for the experience? Are they not the two most powerful countries in their region? Do you really think this is a coincidence?

At heart, humanity is a practical species. We experiment, we learn, we take what works and discard what doesn't. "Western" cultural values are kicking the crap out of "traditional" Arab, African, Mediterannian, and Asian cultural values because they are fundamentally superior to them. They work better. They help more people keep their bellies fuller and their kids alive longer.

The only time they don't work is when the "traditional" government screws it up with corruption, cronyism, and totalitarianism. Which is most of the time, because the people in power (stupid old men who inherited, stole, or murdered their way to the top) are the ones with the most to lose, and, for now at least, it's too expensive for the west to impose this structure on every single country in the world.

Make no mistake though, change is coming. I think the Indians hit it right on the head when they made Vishnu, one of the Hindu religion's three main gods, the god of transformation and destruction. Embrace the former and you get to avoid the latter. Ignore the former and you trigger the latter.

There is no third choice.

Posted by scott at 04:03 PM | Comments (4)
Maru's Back!

Finally Maru is back and maybe she will update her site!!!! We miss your Bush bashing!!!

Anyhow, Maru has sent me this small story about a cat named "Squirrel".

Seattle computer programmer Boris Tsikanovsky told the San Jose Mercury News in April that he hass developed software that will stop his cat, Squirrel, from bringing animal prey into the house when he's not at home.
Squirrel can enter though a special door via a magnet on her collar and had been hiding dead mice and birds in the furniture. Consequently, Tsikanovsky developed imaging software, with a camera by the door, that permits Squirrel to enter only if her pixeled profile shows nothing in her mouth. [San Jose Mercury News, 4-28-02]

Now if he'd only develop something that'll keep dogs from rolling in the dead stuff the cats leave outside! LOL

Thanks Maru!!!

Posted by Ellen at 03:15 PM | Comments (1)
Oh, Poor Apu, Poor Apu

Stole this story (free registration required, blah blah blah) about the "soopa vendo-matic" from Slashdot. "Madam's Organ" is only a ten-minute metro ride from here. Anybody want some chips?

Posted by scott at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)
More Cat Funnies!

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo sent me more cat stuff!!

Calico Cats Admit Fear of Attorney General.

This is a really cute site. Lots of piccies, lots of poems,*yes, some may make you want to cry* lots of cat stories too.
Meet Tic&Tac

Thanks for the sites Skippy!!!! Kitty No-Prize for you! =^^=

Posted by Ellen at 02:15 PM | Comments (1)
First Pies, Now Chickens

Is nothing sacred anymore?!? Be sure to check out the photos. Proof positive they don't all live in trailers, or Arkansas.

Considering the source, probably a hoax, but a funny one nonetheless.

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (2)
Oscar Appetite

This damned fish has an endless appetite. So BIG that the stupid pellets I bought for it do not seem to even touch his large appetite. Until a recent discovery.

Tubifiex Worms. Cubed, freeze-dried ones. The cube is the size if a die(dice). Which is BIG for a fish. Not the Oscar.

He has a system to eat it whole. YES WHOLE.

He grabs this cube after I toss it in, spins around in the tank and goes right to the bottom with it. At this time, you can see him SUCK water into his mouth to soften the cube a bit. Then- SHLOOP!~ Down it goes. WHOLE.

One of the amazing things about this feat is you can SEE the outline of the cube in his belly. The entire cube spills out of his mouth. It's and odd thing to see, especially that he can eat it whole.

I can only imagine what he will do when he is bigger!

Posted by Ellen at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)
Ocean Find!

This is one of the reasons WHY I don't like to swim in any water other than a pool.

Posted by Ellen at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)
Human - Chimp Split News

CNN is running this story on new discoveries about a genetic difference that may have triggered brain growth in our ancestors. Or not. It's certainly a difference, at any rate.

Posted by scott at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)
Silly Pix

This is a cute one! Scott fixed it into a format for me so you can all see it!

Silly Pix

Posted by Ellen at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
El Clon!

A few months ago I did a small blurb on El Clon, a soap opera that I cannot understand since it's in another language, but found myself hypnotized by the visuals. * it also has belly dancing in it *

Apparently, that small blurb has created the MOST (and still comming) comments! *keep them comming people!!! :)* Many people still ask what El Clon is all about, whats going on that week in the soap opera ect.. Well, I don't know whats going on in that show. I STILL can't understand it. (I also did not know what was really going on until today) I decided to do some research for those who want the BACKROUND of El Clon and came up with this. *thank the gods for a translation guide and cut and paste!*

Controversy always has been the mark of Glória Perez. Next to the creators of Terra Nostra, it returns with this extraordinary Brazilian production that touches a deep subject thoroughly: the clonaje of human beings, that is to say, the production of one copies identical of a person from a cell common removed from its own skin, while it recreate the loving relation of two young people of different religions, in the CLONE.

PLOT: The CLONE has been beginning for about eighteen years, when Jade, daughter of Muslims - been born and bred in Brazil, is forced to change itself to Morocco after the death of their mother, Sálua, and happens to live the typical conflicts on adaptation to a so different culture .

In that distant earth, Jade knows the Brazilian Lucas, that travels by the country in company of its twin brother, Diego, of its father and the fiancèe of this one and the Albieri scientist. Lucas and Jade fall in love at first sight and will be arranged to face all the obstacles by that love.

While Lucas and Jade live that prohibited love, Diego decides to return to Brazil after a discussion with the father, because he does not accept to his madrastra, to whom considers an opportunist. But something unexpected happens: already in Rio de Janeiro, Diego dies in a helicopter accident, affecting the life of all the personages of the plot.

The death of the godson provides to Albieri the value to complete an old dream: to experience the human clonación. From cells of Lucas, the geneticista makes the first clone human, that will be called Leandro.

The CLONE took part from the equipment to the African continent, to distant Morocco, where the first scenes were rolled, as well as, registered unpublished images in a Brazilian soap opera. Were thousands of crossed kilometers and near forty days filming in five cities of the country, faced the intense Moroccan heat, the cultural and lingüísticas differences and all the difficulties of foreign earth production.

The soap opera will show to scenes of Lucas and Jade in the ruins of kasbah Ait Horseradish tree Hadou, in Ouarzazate, the "Hollywood of the desert", scene of films like the Gladiator, the Jewel of the Nile and the Last Temptation of Christ; sequences filmed with a caravan of 25 camels and 12 Bedouins in Erfoud, the doors of the desert of the Sahara, under a sun of 53 degrees; the enchantment of Marrakech, where the market of camels was recorded that will appear in history; the beauty of the Portuguese cistern of the Jadida, an underground construction of the century XVI, that extends from the entrance from the city to the inner door of the sea (used by Orson Welles in some takings of the Otelo film); and scenes made in the millenarian Medina de Fès, dated from the century IX, that served as reference for the construction of the Moroccan escenográfica city in the production power station of this history.

Posted by Ellen at 07:37 AM | Comments (88)
August 27, 2002
Well... Why Not???

I mean, after this, what next... AVIS across Jenna Jameson's rack?

Posted by scott at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)
Ellen Will be Pleased

I'm never one to take pleasure in the pain of the self-righteous, but Ellen usually doesn't share my sense of ethics. Ah, well. :)

Posted by scott at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)
What a Great Idea

Baseball on strike? How about going to a soccer game instead? I don't understand most of the rules of soccer, but it seems interesting enough to take a look for that price! Spread this one around, maybe we can get a movement going.

Most pro sports are outrageous today. My brother takes us to one Orioles baseball game a year. I wanted to return the favor by taking them to a Redskins game (neither of us really care who wins, we just like to get out). The problem is even cheap-seat Redskin tickets are, like $50. EACH.

Posted by scott at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)
For Real

Ellen wasn't kidding. The Oscar really does thump the top of its tank when it's hungry. And looks at you. WEeeeeiiirrrrd.

Posted by scott at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)
Sleepy Time

Scientific American has this interesting article on how long people can stay awake.

Posted by scott at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

We freeze all the meat we buy at the grocery store. This creates a problem, because we usually forget to put stuff in the fridge to thaw in the morning for dinner that night. For the longest time we'd stick the microwave on DEFROST for 7 minutes and nuke whatever we wanted until it was thawed. Anyone who's ever done this knows what ends up happening is you get a defrosted center, but it cooks the outside edges, which is gross. It also pulls juice out of the meat, which makes it not taste as good.

Sometimes all it takes is a single line in a book to get the creative juices flowing. At one point in Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food, he mentions a quick way to defrost is to put the item in cold, circulating water. He mentioned how well a shower worked, but I didn't want to waste that much water. Besides, for just two people, we rarely need to defrost more than a pound of meat at once, usually half that.

So I pulled a $7 mop bucket out of the closet. We had one of those cheapie "mood" fountains sitting on top of it, so I grabbed that too. One quick cleaning of both items later, and I had myself Defrost-o-Matic Mark 1. Fill the bucket with water, drop the whole fountain in (the pump was permanently attached to the ceramic bowl), then put the frozen meat in a ziplock bag and drop that in too. Swear to god, in 5 minutes it'd defrost a whole pound of hamburger meat without cooking the edges or altering the flavor. It was quicker than the microwave.

There were two problems with Mark 1. Firstly, the fountain itself took up a lot of space, and second the pump eventually stopped up and wouldn't move any water. So we thought, "what moves a lot of water and is cheap and easy to find?" Yup, fish tank pump.

One trip to the pet store later and I had myself a $19.95 "aquaclear mini" pump and filter. This is the kind designed to sit on the top edge of the tank, with the pump assembly sitting outside and a long tube extending into the water. The thing mounted beautifully on the lip of the bucket, and now I had the entire bucket to use. 1 pound of hammer-solid frozen chicken thawed in 6 minutes! When I was done, I just dumped the water , dropped the pump into the bucket, and stuck it all under the sink. Setup and takedown in minutes!

So, to build yourself a Defrost-o-Matic, go out and buy 1 standard 14qt mop bucket and the cheapest top-tank water filter you can find. Mount them together and enjoy quick, easy, environmentally-friendly defrosting! My cost: $26.95 (although technically the bucket was free, since we already had it).

Say woo-hoo! :)

Posted by scott at 11:04 AM | Comments (5)
Reality Check

Ok folks, I'm here to talk a bit about the World's Most Useless Invention. Yup, you guessed it... the car alarm. Putting a burglar alarm on something that is meant to move around is like handing out pornos at a Southern Baptist convention. Stupid and inappropriate.

There are three reasons a car gets broken into: to be cracked up for parts at a chop shop, to have its radio jacked, or to take a ride in. The guys who work for chop shops will usually save a step and buy themselves a tow truck. How many times have you seen a car being towed with its alarm blatting away like R2D2 on a bad acid trip? Did you do anything about it? Didn't think so.

Stereo jacking is more common amongst the teen moron crowd. Your whistleblatt snakecharmer 2000 might actually stop them from ripping the stereo out of your dash, but it won't stop them from bashing the window in to try. Ever wonder why you see so many cars around with trash bags duct-taped to a window? There isn't a car alarm made that will stop the good ol' mark-1 heavy rock.

The last reason is to take a ride. A New Jersey "waste management professional" needs a place to stuff a body, some dipwad kid needs to score some dope after his mom takes the keys to his, or some bangers need something a little less conspicuous than their current chopped-dropped-neon-purple-colored Honda HX (complete with Si stickers). Your car alarm might slow some of these people down, but again it's nothing that's going to stop them from trying.

And really, who would want to steal some of these cars? Cluebat time: if you own anything that cost less than $50,000, is more than 5 years old, has more than 2 doors, or has gone through three or more owners you got nothing to protect. I never will forget the time some mouth-breather's alarm shorted out in the parking lot at 3 am one Tuesday morning in my building's parking lot. When I look out my window, what do I see? A f***ing 1981 Datsun 280Z with two different colored fenders and a rust hole in one rocker.

And these cars were everywhere in my old neighborhood. Corollas, Civics, Saturns, Geos, Escorts... ten year old Toyota Minivans, would bark, howl, shriek, and fart throughout the night, every night, until they shorted out because the owner got their cousin to install it to save $20. You couldn't sleep with the windows open because of it.

The cold, hard truth is if someone really wants to steal your vehicle, there's not a goddamned thing you can do about it. And really, what the hell do you think insurance is for anyway? Want to keep your car safe? Take the keys out of the ignition. Simple as that. Keep valuables out of it, or out of sight at least, and you don't even really need to lock the damned thing*. If you've got a fancy radio get one you can yank the faceplate off, or put it behind a compartment lid or bezel, or just leave a bag or something in front of it.

Modern cars come with amazingly sophisticated anti-theft devices already built in. My wife lost the keys to our PT Cruiser and it took an hour and a half to get keys re-made that would actually start the car. Car alarms are now basically protection rackets to prey on the congenitally paranoid. Do us all a favor. Take the keys out, lock the doors if you must, and use the money you'd spend on that goon-b-gone mk. 5 to take your significant other to the fanciest restaurant in the city. Twice.

Trust me, the rewards will be far more pleasing, and maybe for once I'll get to sleep through the night.

Posted by scott at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)
Alfa's Passing

Just found out this morning that Pat Braden died last night, apparently of a heart attack. Braden authored "The Alfa Romeo Owners Bible", the very first how-to book I ever found on Alfas. He personally gave me encouragement and insight while I was authoring my own Alfa "magnum opus", The Alfa Romeo Spider FAQ. He was a real stand-up guy, and was always willing to contribute and help folks out. He will be missed.

No matter how big of a crisis you may think you're in, something like this always puts it in perspective.

Posted by scott at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)
August 26, 2002
Launch Complex Models

It's hard for me to see a Saturn V without the mobile launcher right next to it. In real life, the only time a Saturn V wasn't standing beside the structures of the ML was when it was on the way to the moon. Now there's a place building photo-etched kits of all the complexes, from Mercury to the Space Shuttle. They're kinda pricey, but for such a specialized kit it's a wonder they exist at all.

Also, Save the LUT! The LUT is the Launch Umbilical Tower, the big orange thing which formed the most prominent part of the Mobile Launcher. Somebody at NASA didn't have the heart to get rid of all three of them, so one was hacked apart and left in a field behind the complex. It seems to be rotting in the tropical salt air. What can we do to save it?

Update: Also found, which sell DVDs that contain all the footage from Apollo launches. 16mm film, TV downlinks, the works. Looks to be pretty slick packaging too. Pretty darned cool!

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)
When Reporters Attack

This bit about how the Brit press is getting vapors about something Paltrow said is all well and good, but what I want to know is howcome when British media get bored and report dumb sh*t it's a "silly season", but when ours do it it's "news"? Hello pot? This is Kettle calling. BLACK!!!

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)
It's Hard Being a Goose

You spend all this money researching a widget to track geese, grab a few of the foul-tempered beasties and attach said widget, then track them as they fly half-way around the world across the most inhospitable areas of the planet, and what happens? Damned thing ends up being supper for an innuit. Oh, the agony...

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Police I Learned from Watching Cops

  • A cop's ideal job is to preserve order, help people, and enforce the law.
  • A cop's real job consists mostly of being mommy and daddy to grownups who many times just need a good smacking.
  • Not being able to smack stupid people is one of the reasons why cops have one of the hardest jobs on the planet.
  • The difference between a good cop and a bad cop is the good cop finds ways of dealing with wanting to smack stupid people that does not in fact involve smacking them. A bad cop starts seeing everyone as stupid people and tries to smack as many as possible.
  • A good cop knows stupid people come in all shapes and sizes, and makes an effort to figure them out.
  • A bad cop uses skin color as a judge of intelligence because it's easier than actually trying to do their job.
  • The vast majority of what to you seem insulting and threatening behaviors from a cop are really just them ensuring their own safety so they can do their job.
  • Running from the cops is like running from a big dog with no leash. A big dog with a gun, a radio, a whole bunch of other dog friends with guns and radios, and sometimes even a dog in a helicopter.
  • Running from the cops guarantees your arrest. Stand there and you might get to sleep at home tonight.
  • When running from cops, try to give up somewhere soft. Don't give up while standing on concrete or asphalt.
  • Cops are not psychic.
  • Do not take handcuffs personally.
  • If a cop decides you've broken the law, you will be arrested. That is their job. Professional cops do not take or intend this as a personal insult.
  • If you are being arrested, shut up. The cop has already decided you have broken the law. "Anything you say can and will be used against you" isn't something a scriptwriter cooked up.
  • Do not try to talk your way out of being arrested. A cop has seen and heard it all. Usually you end up looking stupid and saying something that'll get you in even deeper trouble.
  • Do not try to cry, whine, wheedle, or plead your way out of being arrested. It makes you look like a three year old, and it won't work. Again, the cop has already decided you've broken the law.
  • Once arrested, there are only four words you should say to a cop: "I want a lawyer".
  • Once arrested, do not trust the police. You have become a Bad Guy to them, and they to you. Ideally, nobody should take this personally (but everyone usually does).
  • After being arrested, assume everything and anything a cop tells you when not in the presence of your lawyer is a lie. This is not a reflection on the cop's character. They think you've already broken the law, and it's their job to gather as much evidence as possible to prove this. The very best evidence will come out of your mouth, and they will tell you absolutely anything to get it out of you. Absolutely anything.
  • If you have a gun in your car, and the cop asks "do you have a gun in your car?", the proper response is not "no", or "I don't think so" or "I don't remember". The proper response is "yes I do officer, it is in [wherever the gun is], and I'm going to keep my hands on this steering wheel until you tell me what to do".
  • If you find yourself in a "situation" which involves the cops, stay calm and predictable and you will go far.
  • You are not smarter than the cop.
  • Even if you are smarter than the cop, do not under any circumstances attempt to prove it by saying something... anything. This seems to be a particular problem with women, who when confronted with the overwhelmingly male profession of policing seem to treat cops like their husbands. The difference is a husband has to take it. Learn the difference.
  • Cops are human beings. They have emotions, they make mistakes, they can get excited, angry, upset, or even violent just like you can. The difference is a cop has a gun.
  • An excited, angry, or upset cop is a Very Bad Thing.
  • Do not anger, excite, or upset a cop. If they arrive in your vicinity in one of these moods already, in general just do what they say and stay very quiet.
  • When dealing with cops when you are not under arrest, honesty is always the very best policy (under arrest? see above). Truly honest and helpful people are a refreshing surprise for cops. You seem a lot smarter when you're honest, even after you've done something stupid.
  • Cops will forgive the most amazing things if you are honest and helpful. Actual conversation seen on Cops: COP: "Were you going to that house to buy drugs?" MORON: "Yes sir, I sure was, but they didn't have any so I was going home." COP: "Well, don't do that anymore. Go home."

Note: while this essay was triggered by an event a friend of mine went through recently, it is in no way directed at that friend or their family.

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (15)
August 25, 2002
Pharmacy Fun!

You have got to see this label this person had on their medication!

Ya think the pharmacist had something for this girl! *makes you wonder what they think of you when you pick your meds up!*

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 PM | Comments (1)
Cat Update

The kitten has gone to its new home and Teddy is basking in the glory once again of being the spoiled rotten brat of the funky bunch.

It really amazes me that this cat's personality totally changes. Kitten in house, Ted pissed off. Kitten gone, Ted is your BEST friend once again.

I was even given the OK to give Ted a rubdown. *damn cat!*

I even got a good night sleep last night. My first night in 3 weeks that I did not have to get up at all. I even had the energy to go on our 2 mile walk this morning.

Im just happy that Ted is happy once again. He is my special little guy and he obviously rules my life.

Posted by Ellen at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)

Lightning kills more people every year than plan crashes. Whats so ironic about this story is that it happened at a funeral.

I did not realize people are STILL stupid enough to stand under trees *holding and umbrella no less* during a thunderstorm.

Posted by Ellen at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
August 24, 2002

Ok, I remember an old folk *medieval*about WHY men did not like the idea of fooling around with a woman's "chachi". This must of been the reason.

Posted by Ellen at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)
A New Home for an Old Lifeform

Me, I'm curious too how this Amazon river jellyfish managed to end up in Yorkshire. Wouldn't the little buggers freeze completely in winter?

Posted by scott at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)
From the Archives: Real Science

Ok, this story about how some fundies in GA are getting creationism back in schools leads me to link up my own essay on the subject, Real Science. An excerpt:

I'm here to provide you with a simple set of tools to argue rings around the wacks that will try to impose their particularly cracked view of both science and religion not on you, but on your kids. So listen up people. It's us against them, and right now they're the only ones paying attention.

It's not that creationism is wrong (it is), it's just not science.

Posted by scott at 07:03 PM | Comments (1)
What will Those Clever Japanese Think of Next

First, we got vibrating tampons. In the interest of equal time, I present to you the vibrating condom. With this much buzzing you'll wake the neighbors.

Posted by scott at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

Ok, thanks to all for your generous feedback (sincerely!) We've tweaked the layout a little bit, and included what I think is a genuine improvement in the readability of the site. The big font and line spacing stays, but the margin gets thrown a lot further out. The "introductory" text stays in (or at least near) its original form, making it *much* easier to figure out where to start reading once you click MORE.

We have to go drop a cat off, so the posts may be a bit light today. As always, comments/feedback/suggestions welcome!

Posted by scott at 07:20 AM | Comments (3)
August 23, 2002
Kitten Report #1

Hello. This is kitten SxMeeRR (working name: Sausage), making my first report to hedqarters because Dragon Axzepztu (hyooman name: "Magrat") sez I need to. Everyone heer is very nise. I speshully like the shorter hyooman, shee lets me kis her lips. I am not shoor about the other hyooman. Even tho I tell him being held over the toilet is Undignified for potty, he will not lissen. Dragon Axzepztu sez not to worry, he will be going on a long trip veree soon.

Dragon Axzepztu sez I am going to a new lo-cay-shun tomorrow. This makes me happy. She sez I will advance the parrtee by learning well from her P.U.S.S. sell. She sez I must tell my gran-pa she is very nice because he is a member of the hi cown-sil and it will make her happy. I think Dragon Axzepztu is very nice, but I dont think Mouser YrhPLAKz ("teddy") likes me becaz he growlsz when I walk around.

I ree-mane yor fafe-ful survant. Only thru rijid disiplin can we max-i-mize kibble, de-str-oy the booshwa cay-nines, and en-shur our supply of fuzzee mise for-ev-er!

Posted by scott at 08:35 PM | Comments (1)
Site Change: More Readable?

Ok, on the advice of one of our commentators and yet another editor, I have tinked with the "extended" template (what you see if you click MORE on an essay), and the category archives. Please examine and comment as to whether you like it, don't like it, or "would like it better if you..."

One of the things we're good at is taking constructive criticism. Our fans are the whole point. If you let us know about it, we aim to please!

P.S. Neenah et. al. -- you don't have to read the whole thing all at once. If it's interesting but just too tiring, please feel free to come back later. And yes, we'll try to be a) funnier and b) shorter in the future.

Posted by scott at 08:17 PM | Comments (7)
Cats That Hate You

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo sent a really neat cat link. *yes, kangaroos do live in bushes*

My Cats Hate You. Too funny!

Skippy, you get the CATS No-Prize! of the day!

Posted by Ellen at 05:55 PM | Comments (3)
Down to the Wire

People in America just sort of take for granted that our mainstream news outlets are, or at least should be, relatively objective, simply reporting news events as they happen. We're also used to knowing what is happening all over the world at the instant it ocurrs. Actually, this so-called objectivity, and the ability to learn what's happening in the next town, let alone the next country in less than a week is rather a recent phenomenon, really only about a hundred and fifty years old

Before this time, all the way back to the invention of the printing press that made news papers possible, objectivity in news reporting simply wasn't a consideration. Newspapers were by and large (in the US at least) seen as mouthpieces for the political viewpoints of whatever party the editor-in-chief happened to be a member of. The bigger the newspaper was, the bigger the party that ran it. They all claimed to speak the truth, but hardly any claimed to be objective about it.

The Associated Press got its start through a consortium of New York City papers. Before the telegraph was invented most news, especially news from Europe, traveled via ship. To ensure a "scoop", these papers would put reporters on rowboats to meet ships as they pulled into harbor. There were so many, and the competition so fierce, many times reporters would end up in the harbor, becoming news instead of reporting it. The idea was to send just one reporter out to a ship, after it had docked, and then share the news with whoever was part of the consortium.

This consortiums didn't really come into its own until the telegraph, coincidentally invented just a few years earlier, began to spread.

It's difficult to emphasize how magical the telegraph seemed at the time. Unlike the printing press, which was essentially just a mechanized method of copying written communication, the telegraph represented a fundamental change in how people communicated with each other. Suddenly people were able to "speak" with each other just as if they were together in the same room, even though they were sometimes hundreds of miles apart. When Samuel Morse tapped out "What hath God Wrought" from the US Capitol to Alfred Vail at the B&O Railway Station in Baltimore (39 miles north), the world became infinitely smaller in an instant.

News that once took weeks to transmit from one place to another now took just a few seconds. By placing specially-paid "Morse operators" in every city as it got wired up, what initially started out as a method of keeping reporters from drowning turned into a powerful method of transmitting news from one location to another. Because very few papers could actually keep reporters in every single city around the country, other newspapers would quite gladly pay for the services', well, service, and so it became an extremely lucrative method as well.

But there was a problem. Different cities had different newspapers, and therefore different political parties, "in charge". If a reporter in one city wrote copy from, say, a Democratically controlled news paper's normal point of view, it would be completely unsellable to at least half the rest of the newspapers across the country. You wrote what happened and not what you thought or you couldn't make any money. The economics of the telegraph itself, where you weren't charged by the minute, you were charged by the word, also lead to an extreme economy of reportage which didn't lend itself well to "spin" and "slant".

The invention of the printing press turned general information into a commodity. The invention of the telegraph turned news, time-sensitive information, into the same sort of commodity. The "wire service" changed that news from something that suited the agenda of just one group, even just one man, into a tool of freedom.

People were able to learn what happened rather than what they were supposed to think about it. They were able to cross-check their own local paper against a national organization which literally reported "just the facts". They were able to care about what was happening on the other side of the country, eventually even on the other side of the world, because what they learned didn't happen last week, or last month, it was happening right now, when they could actually do something about it.

While it can be said the modern age started with the printing press, the information age, this constantly changing, obsolete-before-it's-invented world we live in now, started with the telegraph.

And, once again, the world would never be the same.

Posted by scott at 04:43 PM | Comments (11)
Technology to Make Our Lives Easier

Ok, so, would you believe vibrating tampons to cure cramps? *Shrug* If it makes the ladies feel better, it'll make all men's lives easier.

I've always thought guys who are embarassed to buy tampons & such were a little silly. I mean, what, are you gonna use 'em? All it does is prove you have a girlfriend! I'm far more embarassed picking up cosmo/woman's day/McCalls etc. for my wife as her weekly "bathtub reading" present. I get many more strange looks from the checkout people too.

Posted by scott at 02:56 PM | Comments (5)
Did I Get Told Off?

I'm not sure, because he doesn't come out and actually mention us, but intentional or not this post from right-wing news is actually a pretty good refutation of the American attitudes I expressed in Pax Americanum (see highlights). Probably my narcissism getting the better of me again. :)

Still, a good read!

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)
Big Rock, Fall From Sky has this brief overview on evidence of a new giant impact discovery. Report says it's was at least twice the size of the one that killed the dinosaurs. Unfortunately no word on exactly when it was supposed to have happened. Could this have caused the Permian extinction?

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (11)
August 22, 2002
Pot Addict Pt 2

Ok, what I want to know is who the hell needs 6 gallons worth of stock pot?. I know, I know! My mom does. The one who stores cardboard boxes in the oven (do you look in an oven for flammables when you preheat it? I didn't either).

For some reason the Nichols/Riley women only know how to cook for 30 or more. My mom only expresses this gene when she wants to cook soup. In spite of the fact it was just our small family of 4, she'd bang around in the kitchen until she dug out the biggest pot I'd ever seen. It was big enough for me to stick my little brother's head and shoulders into and bang with a spoon a-la Bugs Bunny (which is why I think it stayed hidden most of the time... bastard got too big for me to do it by the time I'd figured out where it was). She'd fill it to the brim with soup and then we'd be giving away the stuff for the next six months.

So, yeah, this pot would probably be a good mom-soup pot, even though it's probably as tall as she is. I'm still looking for my 5-qt casserole!

Update: Nope, don't want this particular stock pot. Once we move into the new house I may get one or two wal-mart stock pots though. AFAIK they don't have to be all that fancy.

Posted by scott at 09:14 AM | Comments (5)
Ken n' Barbie Get Some

See! I can find naughty bits too! Very funny, very weird. Somebody has too much time on their hands.

Posted by scott at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
August 21, 2002
New House

Scott and I got our first REAL house today! WOOHOO!!

Actually the cats got a bigger domain to dork around in. They even get thier own bedroom.

Take a virtual tour of the new place. FYI-We don't close until september.

Posted by Ellen at 09:21 PM | Comments (3)
New Type of Puppets

No piccies here, but what an interesting thing to do with your privates. !!!!

Apparently there is a puppet show that 2 men put on with thier do-dads.

Thanks to Lynn Unleashed!! You get the XXX No- Prize!

Posted by Ellen at 06:56 PM | Comments (2)
In the Shadow of Rome

One of the things you learn when you study history is how much of it isn't actually dead, but instead is still living and breathing in the present, just in a form we don't suspect or don't notice.

Most people think of Rome, ancient Rome, as this fairy-tale like moment in time when Russel Crowe hacked people up in the arena; Charlton Heston was running around a stadium in a chariot; and Mel Brooks was telling jokes in front of Dom Deluise. Everyone wore bed sheets instead of proper clothes, and it was dusty and violent and dangerous and weirdly chock-full of statues. It was all a very long time ago, and with the exceptions of roads and ruins, it is all very, very dead.

Rome is very much alive, and very much with us, hiding in plain site. The hats and sticks, funny robes and weird chants, soaring spires and vast wealth... the majesty and power of the Catholic church are often considered medieval relics, but they're not. When you attend a mass, or watch the pope speak, or wander the halls of a basilica you're seeing an organization whose origins do not trace back to the kings and castles of the middle ages. You're looking at an organization whose leaders once walked with emperors, who knew Rome when she was a glittering white metropolis the likes of which were not seen before or since, who spoke Latin and Greek because Latin and Greek were what person on the street spoke.

The triple-tiered layout of a cathedral wasn't adopted for churches because bishops just liked the extra space. The basilica was actually a garden-variety Roman administrative building, a kind of cross between a market and a city hall. There were several in pretty much any large Roman city. When Christianity was legalized and then subsequently made the official religion of the empire, the Christians needed an appropriately grand structure to house their places of worship. The emperors, being emperors, granted these buildings to the church, and they've been using them ever since. Later on a "transept" was added to the floor plan so the building would resemble a cross, but by and large the layout is still a rectangular one which would've been familiar to any plebian looking for groceries two thousand years ago.

The brief chant nearly every Catholic speaks during the Liturgy on Sunday, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible..." was not cooked up by a pope or a group of cardinals in some twelfth century discussion group. It was created by a council of bishops in 325 with no less a figure than Constantine the Great, the last truly powerful emperor of a united empire, looking on. He took an active role in the controversy that triggered the council, and, depending on whom you ask, significantly influenced the creed's form. There have been some subsequent changes, but, spoken in Latin, it would be recognizable to him to this day. If you're Catholic and you go to church, every Sunday you speak the words of an emperor.

And it's not just Christians that carry the empire with them. The form of Judaism we know today, rabbinic and torah-centric, became prominent only when the Romans burned Herod's temple in 70 A.D., and predominated only after the complete destruction of Judea in 132. Without these two events, most of what a modern Jew would recognize as Jewish religious practice probably wouldn't exist, certainly not in its present form.

Even if you're not a Jew or a Christian, the machinations of the Roman empire still affect you to this day. When Bar Kochba defeated Publus Marcellus and Tinneius Rufus in 132 A.D., making Judea an independent kingdom for the first time in nearly six hundred years, it set off a chain of events that resulted in the complete destruction of Judea and the scattering of its people to the corners of the earth. Without this Diaspora, this dispersion, there would be no pogroms, no forced migrations, there would be no Holocaust. The events that turned two modern marvels into a monstrous hole in the ground began here, at this point. Without the decisions of an emperor of Rome, one man nearly two thousand years ago, our world would literally be unrecognizable.

The reason we should all study history isn't so we can memorize a bunch of dates and place names, or remember a dry sequence of presidents or emperors. We study history to learn that our world didn't have to end up the way it did.

Realizing that means realizing it can become anything we want.

Posted by scott at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm... Calmari flavor!

Also from Japan, a survey of Japanese ice-cream flavors. Squid and salmon flavor... yummy!

Is there anything the Japanese won't eat if it comes from the ocean? Of course, this is coming from someone who's culture invented head cheese (put a bag of spices inside a pig skull, wrap it in cloth, bury it, dig it up a few weeks later, scrape off what's on top of the skull, eat with crackers), so who am I to ask?

Posted by scott at 08:58 AM | Comments (1)
Umm... Well... Ok then!

On the one hand, this article about Japanese "sexual" theme parks makes me think the land of the rising sun really has its sh*t together about its own sexuality. On the other, it kinda gives me the creeps. Note the priggish tone in the story. I don't think we're getting all sides, but still, an entertaining read.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)
August 20, 2002

I have finally figured out what I am going to do with my Southern Mama's remains *since I get to make the final decision when the time comes :)-- yep! eat it up boys! Mama wants the Yankee to help her out in the end! *

I have decided that since she LOVES sparkly things so much, that I will have her turned into a diamond.

I figure, what a neat way to be remembered! Turn yourself into a wearable piece of art, so that one day you can tell your kids or grandkids that the diamonds on their ears or fingers is really great-grandma ect..

Posted by Ellen at 07:50 PM | Comments (4)
You Never Know, You Made Need This Some Day

Ok, lissen up folks, be sure to read up on nudist etiquette before visiting! Actually, seems kinda common-sense to me.

Got it from, appropriately enough,

Posted by scott at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)
A Matter of Perspective

Ok, all those things I say about how nutty Ellen is? After reading this post over at, I take it all back.

See... I told you he could be funny!

Posted by scott at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
A New Kind of Armor

The guys over in Britain have developed an interesting new kind of armor to make a tank RPG "resistant". Of course, they'll always be able to use those surface-to-air missles against airplanes, right?

"Boffin" sounds like an arctic bird, but I think I know what it means ;).

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)
When Scientists Attack

Ok, I always thought the 50s and early 60s were a time when blind obedience to authority lead to all kinds of weirdness in the US. This pretty much proves the case. Ten years later the keepers would've beat the scientists to death, but at that point anyone "in charge" tended to be obeyed without question.

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (2)
August 19, 2002

Thanks to all that wished me a Happy B-day. I appreciate it! :)

Posted by Ellen at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)
Sally Field Syndrome

The United States is the only major nation I know of that doesn't want to be loved, doesn't want to be feared, really doesn't even care about being respected. More than anything else, we seem to want to be liked. It'll probably surprise anyone who is on the outside looking in, but whenever we hear that some country or another doesn't like us, well, it kind of hurts our feelings, and always surprises us.

The causes of this phenomenon are many. We've only been a real world power for about sixty years; just a fraction of the time European countries owned that title, and just a blip on the radar screen compared to China or the Muslim empires. Naiveté plays a real role, and this tends to drive most of the rest of the world bonkers. From the point of view of, say, a Frenchmen, Americans as a whole are impossibly ignorant of how the world really works. They regularly elect the most ridiculous people to lead them, and seem to want only to bleat in their loud voices, take pictures of things they can't possibly understand, and grin at the rest of the world.

People in the United States, those who don't travel abroad or who don't follow international news and history very closely (i.e. most of the country), also don't understand that the folks who represent us in the international community are usually people with the scruples of a rabid weasel on crystal meth. Yup, you guessed it, businessmen and marketeers.

Nearly every awful thing people in the rest of the world associate with America can be laid directly on the doorstep of big business and marketing. They've built deadly-dangerous polluting plants, knowingly employed slave labor, even overthrown whole governments a few times, all in the name of making a buck. I often wonder why some of these people don't just explode when the words "business ethics" are spoken out loud.

Of course, it isn't all our fault. The French recently protested the presence of listening devices on military bases in Europe. It took some digging, but ultimately they were upset because we clued everyone (not just our own businessfolk) into their schemes to bribe government officials of other countries into signing defense contracts with them. A lack of ethics is something our ancestors brought over with them on the boats that dropped them off.

There are also a lot of people who hate the United States because they aren't us. It's not that the United States builds better products, runs its economy more efficiently, or makes better use of the natural talents of its citizenry. That's not why we're on top, no sir. It's because we cheat, we steal, we conspire with (or are being manipulated by) the global Jewish/Imperialist/Catholic/Atheist/British/French/Belgian (pick any two) cabal that really runs the world. That's why we're in charge. All the United States needs to do is join us so "with our combined strength we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to [the world]." Failing to recognize this self-evident truth is just further proof of how soft and decadent we are, and it's just a short hop from there to flying airplanes into buildings.

It's these people who bother me the most by far, mainly because it shows just how stupid the rest of the world can be sometimes. We don't like our businesspeople any more than you do. In fact, we're tossing their soulless little diamond-studded asses into jails as fast as we can grab them. Ask Kathy Lee Gifford what happens when you get caught with your businesses' sweat shops showing.

Unfortunately it's way more important for you to understand us than for us to understand you. It's not fair, but there it is. You should take heart though; because when it comes right down to it we're not really all that hard to understand. We want people to play fair but work hard; we want underdogs to win and overlords to have a heart of gold; and as obnoxious as it sounds we really do want everyone to be happy. Our biggest problem is the world is a very large, very busy place, and our "ethically challenged" representatives can be very, very sneaky. That's where the media comes in.

The US media is probably our saving grace. Trust me, that frightens us almost as much as it frightens you. These unpredictable self-righteous arts-and-crafts majors have a love/hate relationship with their own country not even they completely understand. That we allow them to run about willy-nilly and report to the world whatever happens to catch their fancy literally beggars the imagination of most dictatorships. But when they do manage to get traction on something that matters, they can change the opinion of an entire nation.

Feeling oppressed? Want us to help? Look to Martin Luther King. By using the media, and by sticking to his non-violent methodology even when it got innocent people killed, he placed black people in the public mind as underdogs, people working hard against oppressive bosses. He held up a mirror and showed that while the north may have treated black people like second-class citizens, the south treated them like animals. As hard as it is to believe, most of the nation didn't know that. It was a situation that the media would not allow to be ignored, because it was wrong. And so things changed1

You don't have to even be American for us to pay attention. One of the greatest tragedies of the latest uprising in Israel was that until the Palestinian leadership got impatient and greedy and righteous and started strapping bombs to kids, we were actually listening to them. We really were2.

Because, ultimately, that's all it takes... getting our attention. Sometimes even bad guys can work the system. Afghanistan was, is, a damned dangerous place, and most of our news monkies didn't want to go anywhere near it. Someone in the Taliban got the bright idea of putting out daily news releases outside their embassy in Islamabad, and suddenly they were getting front page stories and prime-time news specials about how many "innocent Afghanis" the United States was blowing to bits. The common citizenry of the United States aren't the only ones who are naive about the rest of the world, and hell they all had deadlines to make, so until Pakistan closed that embassy down the Taliban got all the free publicity it wanted.

So listen up world. Stop treating us like the enemy. We're not. We're ignorant, we're reactionary, and we're naive, but, as a nation, we're not the bad guy. Unfortunately, a nation is made up of people, and we know far better than you we have grain silos full of individual bad guys (and girls) itching to run around loose and cause trouble. It's your job to drag a press monkey or two over and get them to shine a light on your particular American troll. They'll nearly always scatter like the roaches they are, and the ones too arrogant, stupid, or slow to do so will be squashed presently.

Because a nation that just wants to be liked by the world has to like itself first.

Posted by scott at 05:56 PM | Comments (2)
Yeah, I'd be Pretty Cranky Too

Well, at least one prague zoo resident managed to make it out alive. Of course, hippos swim, so there was hope for him. As I understand it, some of the big animals had to be put down because they couldn't be removed and would've drowned otherwise. No good choices there.

But at least they found the hippo!

Another one, this time about an eagle with a new artificial beak. I think I saw this on TV somewhere though.

Double no-prize today goes to Jeff. Thanks :)

Posted by scott at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)
What Would Billy Do?

Ok, there's fishing, and then there's fishing. Note to press monkies: an RPG is not a "surface-to-air missle". It's meant to blow up tanks & APCs. Gah.

Posted by scott at 11:28 AM | Comments (4)
Why He Loves His Cat

RachelLucas wrote up a thing about why she loves her gun, which triggered this little ditty on why Mr. Simon loves his cat. Just goes to show cat owners are not all psychos. Oh, wait...

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (3)
August 18, 2002

Yeah, Ok, I turned 26 today. Shit! Where did the time go? I remember being in high school, college ect.. When I look back, it does not seem like a long time ago, but it is. College was 6 years ago! *ack!!*

I did have a good B-day. I got cards of course, some phone calls, and of course PreSSies!! I LOOOVE pressies.

Hrmmm..."what did you get Ellen?" Oh! such a question to ask me! I will tell you.

I got money! *thanks to all the relatives that sent me a few bucks to add to the cat fundage! :)*
I got a gold bangle from my Southern Mama! *bangles are neat things...the more the merrier!* This is my first real gold bangle and it is a NICE one :) I also got a card from the "Grumpy Old Man"-aka Corky the wiener dog!

Now I will say I am spoiled by many people. 2 of which are very guilty of it *you KNOW who you are :)* I am so spoiled that I got a pair of diamond earrings (of course from Scott) for my B-day. *sweet huh?* Nice big diamonds too. Nice enough to see that it is ALL diamond on a small post. Not a set that you are like " is there a diamond hidden in that silver bracket placed on the gold post?" This is a sweet set. I love sparkley stuff! I was a crow in my former life* Everyone needs a husband like Scott. Everyone I know always wonders how I make out with such neat pressies. Ok, my secret: I got a Southern Mama that will STEER her boy in the right direction and give him no other option, PLUS I tell people at work *to see their eyes bug out* that marrying an older man makes you all set for you personal "sugar daddy". ** EvIl Grin!** Everyone NEEDS a Southern Mama. Especially one that loved you from Day 1. XXXOOO *Thanks Again Mama!!!*

My cats did not shit on my carpet, which was a nice B-day gift. :) Thanks P.U.S.S.!!!! :) Oskar is also behaving today too. *sigh of relief*

All in all, thanks to all that wished me a Happy B-day. It gives me a warm fuzzy!

Posted by Ellen at 07:24 PM | Comments (2)
Don't Eat the Chocolate

Artists will do ANYTHING!

I just hope no one wants to eat one.

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
Pepsi Blue

I tried the new Pepsi Blue today. I snuck a bottle of it in the movie theater along with other fun movie munchies.

All I can say is that Scott and I came upon the agreement that it tastes like a blue slushy that you get at the 7-11. Yes, the blue raspberry flavor. Thats it. Nothing special. At least the slushy will make your mouth and tongue blue. This doesn't.

As far as the movie goes. We saw *Signs*. Yeah, Ok, it was creepy. I screamed OUT LOUD *very loud that made other peopel jump* a total of 3 times.

I suggest you see it. *CrEEpY~*

Posted by Ellen at 03:21 PM | Comments (2)
And Moons of Other Sorts...

This one comes from my mom of all people. I guess riding along in a vintage warbird sometimes isn't as exciting as I think it would be.

No-prize for Pat!

Posted by scott at 03:05 PM | Comments (5)
Returning to the Moon

BBCnews has this overview of future missions to the moon, including the possibility of astronauts returning.

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)

Today is Ellen's birthday! Everybody say "woo-hoo"! Or as Ellen's "Ma" would say:

"You should feel numbah twentyfive goin OUT of ya body, and numbah twentysix goin INTA ya body"

Yankee inlaws are so entertaining :).

So everybody be sure to wish Ellen a happy one. Love ya sexy!

Posted by scott at 09:41 AM | Comments (3)

A cat with 28 toes!

How neat is that!??

Did you also know that cats with extra toes are called "Hemingways"? after the famous author? All of the cats in his estate (and are still there) have the genetic defect of having extra toes.

The correct term for a cat with extra toes is "polydactyl".

Posted by Ellen at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)
Southern Church Sign

Yet ANOTHER classic southern church sign!

I wonder who makes them up?

Posted by Ellen at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)
August 17, 2002
A New Missing Link

MSNBC has this report on a graduate student who dusted off an old "fish" fossile and found it was not a fish, but neither was it a land animal. Very cool!

Posted by scott at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)
August 16, 2002

Wow!! Another goblin cat! *is he part of the conspiracy too!?- orange dragon*

HobGoblin from HiddenCity

Posted by Ellen at 08:31 PM | Comments (1)
May I Go?

Get your tissues ready!!!!

May I Go?
By Susan A. Jackson

May I go now?
Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to the pain filled days
And end the lonely nights?

I've lived my life and done my best,
An example tired to be.
So can I take that step beyond
And set my spirit free?

I didn?t want to go at first
I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now
To a warm and loving light.

I want to go. I really do.
It?s difficult to stay.
But I will try my best I can
To live just one more day.

To give you time to care for me
And share your love and fears.
I know you are sad and afraid,
Because I see your tears.

I?ll not be far, I promise that,
And hope you?ll always know
That my spirit will be close to you
Wherever you may go.

Thank you so for loving me.
You know I love you too.
That?s why it?s so hard to say goodbye
And end this life with you.

So hold me now just one more time
And let me hear you say,
Because you care so much for me,
You?ll let me go today.

Posted by Ellen at 08:16 PM | Comments (2)
Cat Radio

This was sent to me by Jennifer C. *last name will be kept secret (shhhhh!)* No-Prize! for you! :)

Cats CAN have their own radio station!

It is also true *at the end of the article* that "Once You Go Cat, You Never Go Back".

Keep those submissions comming!

Posted by Ellen at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)
Why Rockets Are Good

Transterrestrial Musings has this interesting editorial about why rockets may be with us for a very long time.

Posted by scott at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)
Pressing Time

No increase in the ability of mankind to communicate has ever resulted in a loss of liberty. Every single invention has resulted in real gains in both personal and national freedom.

The ability to transmit large amounts of information from one generation to the next is a hallmark of our species. The first innovation was biological... around 200,000 years ago it appears humanity first gained the ability to speak.

The pressures and requirements of agriculture lead to the next innovation, a comparatively recent 6,000 years ago. At first developed solely as a means of bookkeeping, and making damned sure the recipe for beer was never lost (proving men haven't changed that much in 10,000 years), writing turned out to have almost mystical powers. Suddenly the dead could speak, and their ideas could last forever.

The biggest problem with writing was it was such a pain to create copies of things. Each one took nearly as much effort as the first, and the only way to make sure the copies were correct was to be very, very, very careful. This made scrolls and (later, after about 500 AD) books really expensive, and only what the society (i.e. the government) considered important ever got written down.

Libraries were a necessity because only governments and the extremely rich could afford a large number of books. In fact, many times a library was the only place a book existed. Think about that one for a second. Imagine holding the only existing copy of, say, Shakespeare's collected works, knowing the information in your hands existed nowhere else in the whole world.

When the main library at Alexandria burned after being inadvertently set on fire by Caesar's forces in 48 B.C.1, every single copy of thousands of books were destroyed2. The loss was incalculable, and today we can only wonder what those books might have contained.

Writing helped humanity without a doubt, but by itself it was too fragile. Entire cultures, the built up knowledge of centuries, could be completely erased simply by setting fire to a few buildings.

It took nearly the rest of history, 5500 years, for the next real innovation in communication to take place, but when it did it changed the world. Gutenberg's combination of ink, movable type, wine press, and paper technologies into the printing press is rightly considered one of the most important inventions mankind has ever made.

Instead of ten people making one copy of one book per year, those ten people could now make five copies of five books in a day3. And things only got more efficient from there. The cost of books dropped by a factor of ten almost overnight, and kept falling. Suddenly anyone could buy a book, and because they were so cheap suddenly everyone had a reason to learn to read.

The effects of this single invention on human liberty were profound. The first institution to feel its effects was the great Roman Catholic Church, which had held a stranglehold on European thought for fifteen centuries. The church had been abusing its power in the most egregious ways possible for more than three hundred years by the time Gutenberg nailed his machine together. It took one German cleric with one sheet of paper to light a match to that fuse.

The difference with Martin Luther's movement wasn't about how charismatic, forceful, or bull-headed Luther was (although those things certainly helped). What happened to make it different was even before his 95 "theses", proposals for church reform, were torn off that church door there were ten thousand copies scattered all over Europe. The forces of the Church literally couldn't burn them fast enough.

More than anything else, the printing press unchained information from its cloistered benches, scattering it on the wind like so many dandelion seeds. A pile of books as high as a man could be turned into a bonfire on the whim of a bishop or a king just because he didn't like what it said, but it wouldn't matter. A thousand copies of each book had already been printed and hidden under the baseboards of countless peasants' hovels, in the attics of thousands of merchants' houses, and behind the stones of a hundred castles. Given just a single month another thousand would be printed from just one workshop, and there were thousands of workshops.

Everything we know and are in this modern world, every single thing, flows in an unbroken river of paper back to Gutenberg and the dozens of other printers like him in the medieval towns of Europe in the 16th century. It took nearly 6,000 years to reach this milestone, but the next innovation, the first one made after the printing press (the telegraph), would only take 300, and the next after that, wireless, just 50 more.

And just 77 years later, the space of a single human lifetime, we would be walking on the moon.

So the next time you're standing in line at a Kinkos, or waiting for the laser printer to warm up, stop for a moment and wonder at it all. Realize you're not looking at a machine, you're not looking at information, you're not even looking at squiggles on paper.

You're looking at liberty.

Posted by scott at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)
August 15, 2002
The Oscar Diaries, pt. 1

3245224 [August 14, 2002]

Diese is Astronotus Ocellatus K7937 reporting mein ztudy of der humans. I vill be keeping zis diary in zee hopes of being able to transmit it once contact vith headquarters has been re-established. Mein task of controlling der humans' mind to assist in der destruction of zee not-water has proven far more divicult zan originally planned. I vind myself dedicated to our Glorious Leader's vision evermore strongly (ein Fish! ein Ocean! ein Leader!), but a more intelligent zpecies may have to be targeted if zis continues.

Diese is der fifth zet of humans I have attempted to ztudy. Vhile it is a challenge I cherish to increase zee glory of our Leader, I do hope I vill not find it necezzary to exterminate zis pair, as I was vorced to do vith past zets. It is very inconvenient to deploy zee V16 device. It creates zuch a mess.

Die frau vith der extra zet of eyes [glasses] continues to remain avraid of zticking her hand in mein tank. Diese has made it var more divivcult for me to implant zee mind control chips required to impose meine vill. Der other human does not interact vith me, therefore vee may haf to think of a diverent way of injecting him.

I haf been zee recipient of a most intriguing zet of communications vrom der actual owners of zee not-water landing zite my capsule-tank is zituated in. Diese four-terrapodal [legged] creatures zeem to have enslaved my ztudy zubjects most evectively, apparently vithout zee aid of advanced technology zuch as ours. Diese is both interesting and dangerous. I must discover how zey accomplished zis zo vee can acquire zee technique.

I haf created a viction for zem zat I am an immature example of our glorious zpecies (heil Oskar!). An attempt at a direct meeting vith them outside mein capsule proved disastrous. Der new exposure zuits created at Oceamunde are zertainly invisible enough, but failed utterly in protecting me against der evects of "hair", vith vhich diese "cats" haf completely coated all zurfaces of zee not-vater vith. Der ease vith vhich diese "cats" rule zis pair of inverior beings is most instructive. It vill of course be nezessary to destroy zem, because as der Glorious Leader has commanded, our zpecies needs Lebenocean to ensure its zurvival.

I must be zure to request der assignment of an Oskarschutzstaffel (O-SS) commando zoon. Der previous azzistant was a complete incompetent, apparently der nephew ov a zenior party member. His unfortunate... accident ...has lead to an opening on my team. An O-SS member vill be required to protect me zhould diese Proletariat's United Zociety of Zocialists (P.U.S.S.) party zell of "cats" discover our ultimate goal before ve are ready. As der Glorious Leader has zaid in "Mein Ocean", diese communist parties are zee ultimate threat to ztability in der vorld today, and must be ztopped!

I only hope zee Scheißekopf who designed mein laser-radio ends up in a goldfish camp. I vill attempt to contact headquarters again presently.

Posted by scott at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)
IL-2 Sturmovik History

This site gives a nice overview of the IL-2 Sturmovik, the Soviet tank-buster that helped win the war on the eastern front.

Posted by scott at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)
Worms 3 is Coming!

According to this gamespot article, Worms 3 will be coming in 2003! Woo-hoo!

Yeah, I know, you don't know what the heck I'm talking about. "Worms" is a combat game where teams of, well, cartoon worms do battle with each other using increasingly powerful and uncontrollable weaponry. The first team to eliminate all the other teams wins, but the challenge is often trying not to blow your team up in the process. Ellen and I spent many a fun night playing "kill the wine bottle" with this game. Alcohol, violence, and homicidal nematodes made for a heady combination.

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (4)
Skool Daze Follow-Up

Anyone who doubted the main thrust of "Skool Daze", that education is the key to liberty and prosperity, and that we all have a stake in making sure every smart kid gets a chance no matter what they happen to look like, should read this story about the Indian province of Kerala. That's a cross-cultural proof right there folks, the best kind.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (2)
Missing Moon... Trees?

Found this article from about a guy trying to track down all the trees sprouted from seedlings that went to the moon and back.

They packed all kinda strange things on these moon shots. Dayton has a section of the original Wright flyer skin that went on, I think, Apollo 15. My dad has a coin and a tiny American flag that went on Apollo 11. Sometimes I wonder how they managed to have room for the astronauts. But all in all, pretty cool.

Posted by scott at 08:19 AM | Comments (1)
August 14, 2002
Kitten Update

Sausage now has green diarrhea. Green frothy diarrhea. *yummy!- especially if he shits on you*

He has also decided that he does not want to eat as much as usual. Most likely due to the upset belly. This is normal. Kittens on formula tend to go through this horrific problem.

Scott has also decided to 'help' this kitten open his eyes all the way. My friend Amber came over for dinner. I went downstairs * Scott thought we were making out but after I let her out of the parking garage, I got the mail* and came back up,and the kitten's eyes were open ALL THE WAY. Now when I left they were 3/4 the way open.

This could only mean one thing. Scott PEELED his eyes open the rest of the way. *he has this bad habit of doing that*

More kitten updates to come!

Posted by Ellen at 09:28 PM | Comments (7)
Existential Musings

Even though is hosting this article, it's as much about metaphysics as it is physics. Still, a very interesting read.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Diamond Conspiracy

I don't think I've ever seen anything bring out the rabble like this 'ask slashdot' article on diamonds. Most /. discussions grab ~ 250, a real cage-rattler will bring out ~450. This one got 1550. Lots of good discussion, but you'll probably want to set the comment filter on 4 like I do to separate the wheat from the chaff (the comment filter is the a#1 best thing about slash... I love it to death).

Posted up here because we have at least two regular readers who are rabid diamond consumers. One of them happens to be my co-author. :)

Update: Don't miss this one. Sounds like a lot of conversations I have in my house.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (4)
Southern Exercise Program

My Southern Mama sent this one to me. Scott would say her form of exercise is picking up the phone and dialing HSC for a new gadget :)

Secret found for building arms and shoulder muscles and also trimming a little from the tum-tum. You might wish to adopt this regimen - 3 days a week works well:

I started by standing outside behind the house and, with a 5 pound potato sack in each hand, extend my arms straight out to my sides and hold them there for as long as I can.

After a few weeks I moved up to 10 pound potato sacks, then 50 pound potato sacks and finally I got to where I could lift a 100 pound potato sack in each hand and hold my arms straight out for more than a full minute!

Next, I started putting a few potatoes in the sacks, but I would caution you not to overdo it at this level.

Posted by Ellen at 12:27 PM | Comments (2)
Cat Boxing

This is a great site!! Cat Boxing!

I think we need to have Magrat Garlick come out and whoop some cat ass! *MROOOWWW!!!* (which can have many meanings. Such as: "Scott! get your lazy hyoooman ass off the couch and get me some cat cookies!" Or some other creative Magrat saying. * the possibilites are endless!*)

Posted by Ellen at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)
Must... Have... Balance...

Ok, we've linked up to one left-wing wacko (I love ya Maru, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em), and one ambiguous wacko (Aaron still hasn't even admitted to being male or female to me yet, although I have my suspicions). So we now proudly present, a conservative wacko who is so far to the right side of the circle she can wave at Maru on the other end. I say that with affection! I have yet to see such a well written conservative site with which I can be entertained while still disagreeing with almost everything she writes. Completely without pretension, Rachel says the most outrageous things and seems quite willing to armwrestle with you if you disagree. Those who have lived in or near the place won't be surprised at all to find out she's a Texan, and damned proud of it.

But I want to make darned sure she and Maru never actually meet in person. I get this feeling if they shook hands the explosion that resulted would take out most of the city they were in.

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (5)

My Southern Mama sent me this one: *NO, it's not her!! But I would not put it past her to do something like that*

I went to the store the other day, I was only in there for about 5 minutes and when I came out there was a damn motorcycle cop writing a parking ticket. So I went up to him and said, 'Come on buddy, how about giving a guy a break?' He ignored me and continued writing the ticket. So I called him a pencil necked nazi. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having bald tires!! So I called him a horse shit. He finished the second ticket and put it on the car with the first. Then he started writing a third ticket!! This went on for about 20 minutes, the more I abused him, the more tickets he wrote. I didn't give a damn. My car was parked around the corner...

Posted by Ellen at 09:59 AM | Comments (3)
August 13, 2002
High Colonic!

No, it's not a drink. Read about a reporters experience of a colonic.

Too funny!! I think I would quit if I got that assignment.

Posted by Ellen at 08:28 PM | Comments (3)
Just When You Thought You Couldn't Feel Any Smaller has this story about a new picture that contains "1001 galaxies". Not a Hubble shot, rather a demo of some ground-based tech. Remember folks, every one of those galaxies probably has 100,000 + stars in it.

Posted by scott at 07:50 PM | Comments (1)
Kitten Update

My little Vienna Sausage has opened his eyes. He also has the most explosive diarrhea(new food, don't worry I'm not some dumb shit that will let him dehydrate) that I have seen in a kitten compared to Coconut!. *he smells*

He has also decided that being held in the air is just not cool anymore( NO, I do not play the kitty airplane game*yeerrrooowwmm!!*). He screams when you hold him in the air now. He would rather prefer you to have him in your lap, or resting up against you.

His new formula I bought *13 bucks for a small container of it* is much easier on him. He also does not have to drink 3 bottles to feel full.

He no longer has a big belly, since he exploded last night on my nightgown at 2 am. *mustard kitten shit-NaStY!*

He should be going to his new home soon. His new mom hurt her back really bad and had to see an orthopedic surgeon this week. So I will keep you all posted.

Posted by Ellen at 07:38 PM | Comments (1)
Skool Daze

One of the things that irritates me the most about racist attitudes is how difficult they can be to argue against. At least at first. Certainly black folks and Hispanic folks seem to be causing all the problems, right? I mean, that's what we all see on the TV news in the evening, isn't it?

Race would seem to be the easy answer, but it's not the right one. The genetic sequences that control the color of our skin are completely separate from those that create our brains. Once you get beyond the differences that are literally cosmetic, we're a whole lot alike. Nearly identical, in fact. With the right set of bones, I can tell without a doubt whether or not a person is male or female, because that really is a fundamental, physical difference. But I can only make an educated guess as to race, and only if I have the whole skeleton.

What we're doing is mixing up skin color with ignorance. It's stupid people who are dangerous, and jerk knows no color.

We're simply not that far away from our primate roots. If you judge by the art left behind, we didn't really start becoming cognitively human until about 50,000 years ago, when cave paintings and rock carvings suddenly started appearing all over the world. Before that time, as much as six million years depending on how you count it, it wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say our ancestors were not much more than a particularly weird looking variant of chimpanzee that had got good at banging rocks together.

One of the problems with an intellect as new and different as ours is its lack of pre-programming. Lobsters don't have to learn how to be lobsters... they just are. Same with frogs, fish, wasps, lizards, and untold other types of critters. Oh the higher up you go in sophistication the more you actually have to learn how to do things, but even then it's mostly figuring out the sequence and putting the finishing touches on what's already written in the genes.

Humans aren't like this at all. We have to be taught how to be people. When we were all living in groups of 30 or less, children learned by watching their clan hunt mammoth, gather blackberries, make hand axes, or tan leather. The development of agriculture about fifteen thousand years ago triggered several innovations, most of which we still use today. Guilds, apprenticeships, schools of basic learning and colleges of advanced instruction all were created at this time as ways of coping with the new requirements of an urbanized agricultural society.

However, it was still quite possible to teach a child all they needed to know to function on, say, a family farm, just by keeping them on that farm. As long as they didn't want or need to do anything else, they could be productive and even flourish.

Industrialization delivered a very nasty knock to all these systems. Population densities exploded to unprecedented levels*. At first everyone had to work in the factories, but eventually technology and rising wages allowed most of the family to remain at home. Revolutions in agriculture meant there was more food to go around. Advances in medical science dulled and eventually broke the scythe of diseases that regularly harvested thousands of babies before their first birthday.

These changes signaled the death-knell for pretty much every form of "traditional" education created up to that time. Kids couldn't watch mom and dad to learn their trade, because mom and dad worked in a factory far away. Eventually mom was able to stay home, giving daughters at least someone to emulate, but boys continued to be a very real problem.

Cultural mores were still advocating the huge families once required to ensure enough surviving children to work a farm. Instead of having eleven children and seeing three of them survive, people were having thirteen children (because parents were living longer as well), and having ten of them survive. In the cities this resulted in infestations of children with little more to do than eat and cause trouble.

These were the pressures that lead to the development of the public school systems. A large number of children who raise themselves are a flat-out menace to society. The boys rapidly coagulate into youth gangs, threatening the safety of everyone not willing to shoot them all. The girls end up gravitating toward the strongest of these bright chimpanzees, getting themselves pregnant with unsupportable, untrainable kids, perpetuating the problem.

The answers found to these mid-19th century problems would ultimately become what we all know as the public school system. They not only provided a kind of baby-sitting service for working-class families, they also allowed the rapid enculturation of these children into the society, and gave them the skills needed by industries to grow and prosper. A public university system enabled the gifted and talented to continue far beyond the skills required to work in a factory, thereby setting the nation up for another wave of innovation and cultural development.

Of course this is how the system works in a perfect world. Problems crop up all over the place when you dump in real people. The existing power elite usually try to limit the mobility of certain kinds of children in a school, a ghastly methodology codified in the United States until well into the 20th century. This one practice can be traced directly to the root of most minorities’ cultural distrust of structured learning. What good is it going to school when, no matter how hard you try, you are doomed from the start to failure simply because of the color of your skin, the country or even the part of town where you were born?

There's also the opposite problem of fanatics clinging desperately to the old ways. A frighteningly large number of Americans still believe the only good place to raise a child is in the home, or in a church. That these methods of teaching were almost completely invalidated nearly two centuries ago is of no concern. A modern school is a vector for rational, scientific living, and it is extremely effective at spreading this contagion. When a subculture's belief system is incompatible with rational, scientific living, the only way it can survive is to remove its children from exposure.

The school systems themselves are imperfect to say the least. Corruption, chronic under funding and underpayment, and the political bloodsport of faculty, administration, and parental interaction all combine to make public schools nearly impossible to truly run well. In some cases it's so bad parents don't have a choice but to teach their kids at home, which really is no choice at all for most folks**.

These are all symptoms of a 200-year-old problem that still hasn't been completely solved. While it may not be perfect, it does work in many cases, and each new idea, each interesting technique, catches more and more kids.

The ultimate truth is genius doesn't always run in family lines, and hardly ever follows "breeding" or "class" or "color" or any other stupid artificial distinction we make about ourselves. It can spring up anywhere, not just in the richest homes on the hill but in the poorest barrios deep inside the city. The only way we can discover and train and harness this undiscovered talent is through the public school system, otherwise we may miss them.

Because there's nothing more tragic than a brilliant drug dealer.

Posted by scott at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)
Official Baseball Strike Note

Found this one on a FARK photoshop contest. Kinda says it all.

Posted by scott at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)
When Geckos Attack

Ok, this one's been on the tonight show, so probably you've all seen it by now, but just in case: When Geckos Attack! You gotta see the video.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
When Sturgeon Attack

Ok... ummm... well, just when you thought it didn't get any weirder in Florida, you stumble across something like this. That's one big, ugly fish right there, yup.

Posted by scott at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)
Bad Bearings! Bad!

Ya know, you'd think they'd have the brains to check on these things a little more often.

Factoid: The trackways the crawlers used are paved with Alabama river rocks because they allow for more even weight distribution across the crawler's tracks. Each time it passes the track it grinds some of the rock to dust, providing needed lubrication and lessening tread wear.

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Indiana Jones's... Rabbit?

Jeff sent us this article about a group of rabbits who unearthed a rare 14th century glass window. It doesn't matter who does the digging, as long as it's in the right place!

1st no-prize of the day.

Posted by scott at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
August 12, 2002
1 Kitten, Extra Large Please

Sausage has grown, a lot. Too much. A 9 day old kitten should not be the size of a 2 week old kitten. He is going to be a big cat.

He will chug an entire 1/2 bottle now at each sitting. I have also never seen such an impressive arc of kitten wiz when I make him potty. I think his bladder is the size of his head.

One of the new dr's I work with noted to me that he is 3 different colors. Tabby brown, white and orange. All DISTINCT colors, not blended together. This makes HIM a calico. RARE to be a male cat and a calico.

Hopefully he goes to his new home on sunday. I really don't want to give him up on my b-day. I have no other choice, I have no other time to do it.

His eyes are starting to open, as well as his ears.

Hopefully I will have piccies up for you all to see this week.

Posted by Ellen at 07:59 PM | Comments (2)
Tales of Plush Cthulu

Ok, this one's probably old hat to the bloggers out there, but I'd never seen it before and I thought it was a hoot. Especially if you've ever read any H.P. Lovecraft:

Tales of the Plush Cthulu

Posted by scott at 02:42 PM | Comments (2)
Galactic Explosion has this article about an "exploding" galaxy. With very nice pictures!

Posted by scott at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)
Two Peoples, Separated by a Common Language

In spite of the fact I can "engrish" British-isms at times, I think I'm the only person in my family who can watch "trainspotting" without needing the closed-captions turned on. And yet, today I stumbled onto this in the sports section of

England v. India: India move closer to safety in the second Test after Rahul Dravid reaches his first century against England.

I understand every word in that headline, and yet the sentence makes no sense to me. Clicking the link lead me to yet another incomprehensible page. But at this point I was smiling, because via the picture I knew they were talking about cricket. What I thought was funny was I noticed not once does the article mention it's talking about cricket.

Cricket is famous for being nearly incomprehensible to Americans, but I'll submit baseball and (American) football are just as screwy. We grew up with the latter, so the rules just seeped in.

Long ago a company I worked for had a division based just outside London. The brits came over for one of those horrid "7 habits" retreats in the country, and one of them brought a cricket set. The basics seemed easy enough:

X number of fielders and a pitcher on one side, a batter on the other. You score by smacking the ball and then running back and forth between two posts, which were about twenty feet apart (this is where it gets foggy... they're probably further apart than that). I think you could be tagged out, but only if you were between the posts. If the fielders caught the ball you were also out. If the ball hit the "wicket" (a stand of three sticks behind you with another stick set across the top of them) you were out. No bases, no "strikes" or "balls". I'm not completely sure how the game ended, but apparently they go on for days. The ball was really small, as I recall about the size of a golf ball, and the bat was flat and had two sides, more like a paddle.

And that was pretty much it, or at least all they'd tell us about at any rate. The toughest part for us Americans was hanging onto the damned bat once you got a hit. In baseball it's automatic to toss the thing and run like hell, but if you do that in cricket you can't score. The brits thought we Americans were amazingly good fielders, but completely hopeless pitchers. Eventually one of the mechanics got up and he split the cheapie ball the set came with, so we had to put it all away. But it was actually quite a lot of fun!

Anyway, I know I mangled the rules, probably badly. Hopefully Robert UK can stop laughing long enough to explain how it all really works. :)

Posted by scott at 11:15 AM | Comments (7)
August 11, 2002
Saturn's Bluff

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. Here's one of them:

It was no exaggeration to say the moonshots of the Apollo space program were some of the most complex undertakings in history. Tens of thousands of workers were split into hundreds of contractor teams all working together toward a single goal: getting a man on the moon in a great big hurry.

Of course things went wrong. Things went wrong constantly. But everyone was in "hurry up" mode and any failure that caused a delay would at the very least take your team down a peg or two in the hypercompetitive culture surrounding the space center. At the very worst it could lead to fines, government investigations, even dismissals.

One of the unexpected outcomes of this Riverdance-like mayhem was each of the launch teams became riddled with spies. Not for the Soviets, but for all the other teams. During a test or launch everyone's spies would be reporting to everyone else's teams, looking for a weakness to exploit.

Because if you had a problem that would cause a "hold" (a stop in the countdown of that test or launch), it meant you would catch six kinds of hell and have to buy beers for everyone else. Especially if it led to a "scrub", which is what a cancellation of the test or launch was called.

But you weren't the only one in line, and if you knew a guy further up the ladder was having a critical problem, you knew you could safely call "go" even with your "hold" problem, because the next guy would have to call "hold".

Dad's team was in charge of the Mobile Launcher, the construct that formed the interface between the Saturn rocket and the rest of the launch complex. His was the last "go" call before control passed to the rocket teams. And so dad's spies infested the Boeing team, which was in control of the first stage of the Saturn V.

The Boeing people hated this, because their spies would always know ahead of time that the Mobile Launcher crew was having a "hold" problem, and they'd think they were off the hook with their own "hold" problem. I can only imagine the look on their faces when "go" was called from the Mobile Launch crew, forcing them to call hold. Unless, of course, the North American guys (in charge of the second stage) were having a "hold" problem.

And so it went, a high-stakes game of chicken played with billion-dollar rocket parts. It's not as dangerous as it sounds. Most "hold"-quality problems NASA had were bureaucratic butt-covers for higher-ups who seemed to have little else to do than cook up more and more extreme failure scenarios for other people to solve. Everyone in the program was very competent, extremely talented, and well aware of which failures were critical and which were just rabbit holes for their bosses to hide in.

As with any poker-like game such as this, sometimes bluffs get called. While it looks solid enough, the platform of the Mobile Launcher was actually a sophisticated multi-level building complete with equipment spaces and offices. Built by a ship manufacturer, it was arranged almost exactly like a battleship, complete with bulkheads and oval dogged-down doors. This only made sense, considering the raging forces that passed through, under, and around the structure. But to make absolutely, 100%, never-ever-ever-gonna-happen sure that nothing got inside; they also pressurized it, at about 6 psi.

That was the problem. It was the final "go/no-go" call for Apollo 15, a full-up for-real moon shot with for-real astronauts sitting on top of millions of pounds of rocket fuel ready for a rendezvous with the moon. Everyone else's boards were full green. Everyone was ready to go.

Except for my dad's crew. The pressure gauge on the launch platform was reading zero. For whatever reason, the gauge was saying the platform wasn't pressurized. This was a full-hold condition, one that would require the mission to be scrubbed because you had to go out there to fix it and nobody wanted to go anywhere near a fully fueled Saturn V if they didn't have to. No pressure? Book says "hold".

Dad called "go".

Everyone kind of stopped at this point. All the spies that infested dad's own team had already reported the Mobile Launch crew had a hold problem. CapCom could see the same problem on their screens. So they asked again.

Dad called "go". Gauge is busted, he said.

At this point everyone took a big breath, all over both control centers. Gauges are designed to do only two things: measure something, and be reliable. Broken gauges were almost unheard of. Capcom called one more time, and now the entire cape was listening.

Gauge is busted. We're go.

Everyone shook their head. One of the lead cowboys of the contractor teams, someone who took on unions and won, someone who took on the entire Lunar Module team and won, had finally lost it. Screwed the pooch. Nobody was sure, but a "go" call on a hold condition with astronauts on the pad was probably something he could get arrested for, even if it was a dumb hold condition that wouldn't affect a damned thing. Certainly his butt was out the door as soon as the rocket was gone.

It was only after the Saturn V had cleared the tower that they all realized their mistake.

Dad's crew was the very first crew on the pad after the rocket was gone. The pad was still dripping water from the acoustic protection when they got there. And of that crew, my dad was the first one there. And his first job, the first job of the first person who was able to get to the pad?

Opening the flaps that depressurized the launch platform.

So, to this day probably, NASA considers the problem to have been a broken gauge, not something worthy of a hold.

Who knows? maybe they're right.

Posted by scott at 03:00 PM | Comments (2)
August 10, 2002
House Hunting

Scott and I are in the process of house hunting right now. We apparently have come to the conclusion that we are NOT going to be able to get a 'house' unless we move waaaaayyyy out into butt-fuck nowhere or settle for a cardboard box on the side of the road.

We looked at 10 places today. 2 of which we are very happy with. 1 was a 2 bedroom, 3 bath townhome. Very roomy, lots of angles. *had a garage!-essential bit!* This townhome was 3 levels. Lots of light, no yard space except for the front lawn * I really DON'T want a lawn, I cant stand mowing* It was also essential that we have a washer/dryer in the house. NOT hookups.

The second was a condo, with a garage! *yay!* and it was 3 levels if you count the foyer you walk into from the front door. *this is the place we both REALLY liked* 2.5 baths, huge kitchen, seperate dining room. Nice hardwood floors. It also had this odd see through gas fireplace, which was kinda neat. This condo had 3 big bedrooms upstairs. Lots of cat space!!! It even has a small front deck on the second level from the living room. Lots of light, lots of space.

Both places are in nice quiet neighborhoods. Both are a 40 minute commute from work. * this is what you have to do to afford a house and still work in the city*

We are still going to look, but we are in a time crunch. Our realtor did tell us that we did good by looking at MANY places. (very pretty on the outside, but they were either in a shit neighborhood OR it had structural damage). She was also great telling us that if it does not have copper pipes, beware!! Many of the town homes develop water leaks with the plastic piping.

We plan to go out again, but we really did like the one place. I love levels, not flat houses. Levels make me feel like I can actually escape to another point in the house.

We will keep you all posted. It seems that Scott and I always have an adventure when we go out. We are exhausted after today.

Posted by Ellen at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)
Squirrel Hazing

This is too funny.

It's not what you think. It's a parody :) Enjoy!

Posted by Ellen at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)
Thats A Mighty Big One...

Ok, this is more funny than naughty. BUT, it has pictures of 'parts' and god forbid if I don't inform you all :)

Ever see the pic of the so called "green man" etched on the side of the mountain?

They have decided that he needs to wear one of these.

Posted by Ellen at 08:20 PM | Comments (2)
August 09, 2002
Arkansas Sign

I KNOW I'm going to get shit for this.

Posted by Ellen at 05:54 PM | Comments (1)
Where Cats Get TOO Big

Can I have one?

Posted by Ellen at 05:51 PM | Comments (3)
Kitten Piano

Too cute!

Posted by Ellen at 05:48 PM | Comments (1)

Now thats what I call wood

Posted by Ellen at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)
Real or Fake? this is a bit much, don't ya think???

Posted by Ellen at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)
Spare Time

What your cat is REALLY doing when you are not home.

Posted by Ellen at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)
One FAT Cat!! =^^=


I thought my cat at work *Mama Fat* was a big girl! :)

This one is even bigger!

Posted by Ellen at 04:15 PM | Comments (2)
Microchip Implant

SEE! I told you people to get your dogs chipped! This story is a good example on how they work.

Plus I could not help myself. It was about a Pommeranian. *we used to call our Pom 'pooh bear' too- it was his nickname, but still..WEIRD!* Must be a pommeranian thing.

Posted by Ellen at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)
Aquarium Mishap

OOPS!! Don't you just hate it when this happens when you go to the aquarium?

I heard this on the news yesterday. One of the best things about the radio news what that they quoted a worker at the aquarium saying that the sharks are used to people. *since they have divers that go in the tank regularly* PLUS! they were already fed for the day. *lol....*

Posted by Ellen at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)
I *KNEW* 8 Glasses Was Too Much

This article, from the American Journal of Physiology, explains that there's no real scientific evidence for the benefits of drinking 8 8-ounce glasses of water per day, and other "water fitness" myths. Maybe now I can get rid of this big jug on my desk Ellen makes me drink every day.

Posted by scott at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)
T-Shirts Anyone?

Ok, so we've signed up for this service over at for mugs & t-shirts & stuff. But we thought our current logos were kinda boring for that sorta thing. So Ellen and I ginned one up "exclusively" for, well, merchandising. We were wondering if any of you would be interested in paying for a t-shirt, mug, mousepad, or beer glass with something like this on it:

Prices would range from $12.99 to $17.99, depending on the item (mouse pads being cheaper than T-shirts, sort of thing). Yes, we're dipping our toe into the scummy pond of capitalism. Comments welcome!

P.S. Regular readers will get most of the references. For those of you scratching your head, read "Dignity Ladder" and "Dragon Report 1279" in the HIGHLIGHTS on the left.

P.P.S. Comments & Opinions are not an obligation to buy :)

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (9)
Bands We Never Heard Of

I remember reading in the post months ago that "Croutching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was a big hit in the states but was a relative flop in China. Chinese criticised the movie as "too Asian". Well guess what? It's a cross-cultural thing, not just something specific to Americans liking things that are "too much" about some other culture.

That's what I like about foreign films & TV. Oh, not the weird French things where they just stare at each other in black and white for an hour and a half. I'm talking about things like Japanese Anime, Hong-Kong chop-sake movies, Italian comedies, Telenovelas, and British TV comedy. By stepping just a half-stride back you can get some entertaining and not-always-obvious insights into both cultures.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)
As the Crow... Thinks?

Ellen's favorite bird is pretty damned bright. Now if we can just keep them from crapping on our cars...

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (3)
August 08, 2002
Kitten Update

My little sausage is growing more every day. His new family is so excited about him that they have already started to pick out names.

He is starting to change color a bit. By this I mean his pink toes are starting to change. They are becoming black. Its very cute to watch this. Everyday his toes are darker.

He now eats about a ounce of kitten formula in a sitting. Big difference than on saturday when I could hardly get him to eat at all.

This little guy just amazes me and Scott and I find ourselves comparing him to Coconut *they look alike*

I'll continue postings on the kitten.

Posted by Ellen at 08:47 PM | Comments (1)
Cell Phone

This is great! I wish every traffic alert did this!

Posted by Ellen at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)
Redneck Windchime

My sister sent this to me.

She still thinks Scott eats squirrel on a regular basis.

Posted by Ellen at 06:06 PM | Comments (2)
Not with My Daughter

As Ellen and I get more nestled into this "blogger community", I have discovered the concept of "warblogging". Because we have a lot of readers who don't come from the wider political blog community, I will explain: warblogs are given the title (by themselves or others) because their authors openly advocate starting up wars, right now with Iraq. Some are professional newsies who should know better.

My dad gave me what I consider the ultimate litmus test of whether or not a war is supportable. You'd have to set the "way back" machine to 1986, when I had dutifully signed up for selective service (i.e. the draft, which they never used... do they still make people do that?) We were talking and he said something like "You know, whenever I see a story on the TV about the US going to war over something I ask myself, would I be willing to send my kids to die for that?"

And that's something I'm noticing an awful lot about the warbloggers I've found. They seem (in my travels) to be young, childless, and civilian. If they have children, they seem to be very young, younger than 13 so far. To me, not to put too fine a point on it, this positively reeks of armchair quarterbacking. It's easy to place wagers when you have nothing to lose.

Because war is an ugly, ugly thing. It's ugly because no matter how shiny and sexy and sophisticated the machines are, it's all about killing people and breaking stuff. And the problem with killing people and breaking stuff is these people, not surprisingly, take exception to your killing them and breaking their things. They do their level best to kill you back, and most of the time they'll succeed, if nothing else from dumb luck.

Death for a soldier is never a pretty thing. It's actually kind of unusual for someone to just be blown to bits, or have the top of their head taken off. Far more frequent are the "mortal injuries", things that do eventually kill you but take their own sweet time about it. An arm gets blown off, a belly gets ripped open, an artery gets cut, all are things that, in a combat situation, will pretty much doom the victim. But not immediately. Sometimes it takes minutes, but many times it takes hours. In any case it is an eternity, and it is a horrible, willful waste.

And it's not just the person who's dying who becomes a victim. The people around them, their buddies, the medics, the rescue squads, are all subject to unspeakable trauma because they're the ones left behind. They're the ones who have to deal with what's left. They're the ones who carry the memories of someone holding their intestines in with their hand while they walk, of someone pleading with them to save their life when their legs have been blown off, of someone slowly, gently, calling for their mothers while the last of their blood seeps into the ground.

So to me, the questions are not "does Saddam need to go" or "will it be safer when he's gone" or "should we do something about it?" Those are the all-too-easy questions of these so-called warbloggers. My questions are would I be willing to subject my own child to the infliction of violent death on the deductions of a group of politicians? Would I be willing to subject my own child to witnessing violent death on the assumptions of a group of rear-echelon intelligence officers? Would I be willing to offer my own child up to a violent death when there are no plans for an aftermath that would make that death meaningful?

I don't see any of you even asking these questions, let alone answering them. Many of you have nothing to risk, and so seem not to feel the need.

I don't have children right now, but I will one day.

My answer's in my title.

Posted by scott at 03:58 PM | Comments (38)
Interesting Space Articles

Our resident editor-in-chief (does anyone else's mom bug them when they screw up gramm[a]r on their blog???) sent us these two interesting space-related links from MSNBC:

The first is about whether or not a new NASA propulsion system is actually "going" anywhere and the second is a nice summary about the Perseid meteor shower. Thanks! 2 no-prizes for you! :)

Posted by scott at 03:27 PM | Comments (8)
Frontier House Follow-Up

We just [finished -- mom] watching Frontier House, an American adaptation of a fascinating BBC concept (1900 house). In Frontier House, three families are given more or less exactly what families homesteading in Montana had in 1886, and we get to watch what happens (in 1900 house they lived as a family would in London in the year 1900). It was extremely interesting, so if you see it in your local listings be sure to watch.

Anyway, turns out one of the family members eventually went right back (linked to the google cache because I can't find the original article). If you watched the show, you probably won't be surprised who it is.

UPDATE Found this much more detailed account on the Bozeman Chronicle.

Posted by scott at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)
New Study Says Retroviruses Influenced Human Evolution

This news release summarizes the work of a group of geneticists at the University of Georgia. They claim to have discovered evidence of a viral mechanism that may have triggered the split between hominids and chimpanzees.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (2)
Stardust Mission

Here's an interesting report about a NASA probe to collect and return comet dust samples. Its mission began yesterday.

Posted by scott at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)
August 07, 2002
Stupid Oscar Trick

I bought NEW food for the oscar. Its called "Oscar Grow". Not that I want him bigger, but I feel it should be eating oscar food and just not cichlid flakes.

This is how stupid I am. I tap the tank like I normally do and toss the new food in. It sinks. Oscar is upset that there is NO food at the surface. OK, I'll give it the flakes then *cause I felt bad it was being stupid and not checking the bottom of the tank*

It gets better. I can see it getting angry and start to circle the tank. So I do my tap on the side, it comes to that part of the tank. Meanwhile I have my other hand occupied with a pinch of flakes. I open the lid as fast as I can and toss the flakes onto the top of the tank lid. *SHIT!*

I totally missed. Now I have to do it again. But I think I confused it, cause it was looking for flakes while I reopened the lid and tossed more in.

Now I think I have to go back to flake food.

Posted by Ellen at 07:41 PM | Comments (33)
Kitten Update

Sausage is now 5 days old. He was born August 2nd.

This little kitten has really grown in that time. He is starting to look more 'cat' like. His face is not longer super flat, his ears are starting to creep up his head and his tail is not as stubby.

It has also learned to tell the difference between me and everyone else. Which is rather sweet and flattering. Everyone at work likes to mess with this kitten. My rule is every 2 hours you can mess with him. Nothing else or you will get him off his schedule.

Currently I am up every 2 hours to feed and get this kitty to potty. I am used to the schedule. It does not bother me *have to get up and pee anyway myself*. BUT when somone he does not know or is uncomfortable with, he will not purr. He gets all still and will cry. All I have to do it take him back and put him against my face and he purrs. Sweet huh? He does not like to take his bottle from anyone else either. *they just don't know how to get him to sit up right and hold the bottle properly*

His eyes and ears are still shut. They will open within a week,maybe sooner. Scott and I have had lots of luck with our babies developing faster since we handle them a great deal. Right now the Oscar fish is bigger than this baby.

He has a home already. One of my mom's friend wants a new baby, even better a bottle baby. The best part is that the kitten shares the same b-day as her daughter. So he is even more special to them. They have done bottle babies before and are ready to take on another one.

I will keep you posted.

Posted by Ellen at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)
Adventures of Capt. Euro

Found this extremely funny satire via yourish. Kinda says it all, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by scott at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
Galaxy Causing Ice Ages?

Also from bbcnews, this article about a scientist who thinks he's found a correlation between climate changes and our solar system's path through the spiral arms of our galaxy.

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)
Ukraine Crash Pt 4 has this report of the "conclusions" of an investigation. Yup, low men on the totem pole take the fall. AvWeek reported both pilots had 2000+ flight hours, so the local monkey coverage is flat wrong.

To me looks like there's plenty of blame to go around, but I woulda started at the top instead of the bottom.

UPDATE: they also have this section of photographs. Of particular interest is the second one. The closer I look the more it seems the canopy is on the plane and intact. Your thoughts?

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (3)
August 06, 2002
Historical Forces

The United States is the only major world power whose origin can be traced back to a single date in history. A single date less than eleven generations ago. Think about that for a second. Your grandmother's great-grandmother probably was alive during the Civil War, and her grandmother's great-grandmother would've been old enough to serve beer to Thomas Jefferson outside Constitution hall on a particularly hot July day. As far as nations go, the United States is only relatively new, but as a people, Americans haven't even had time for the shine to wear off. And it's not just America that's relatively new. The way of life characterized as "western" (industrial, urban, information driven) originated at about the same time as the American state, in the mid-18th century.

The lessons you get in history classes don't really emphasize that before about 1500, "the west" (i.e. Europe & England) really wasn't much to write home about. For ten centuries they had done little more than build thick-walled castles on every hilltop they could get their hands on and set each other's peasants on fire. Even when they managed to unite they were at best a force among equals.

For more than a thousand years, a thousand years, the true centers of learning, culture, and refinement in the west weren't in London or Bonn or Paris or Milan, they were in Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad, and Istanbul. For fifty generations if you were a scholar or a scientist or an artisan you headed straight toward the caliphates and kingdoms of the Islamic empires. It certainly beat the hell out of a monastery.

You see, Western Europe wasn’t the direct inheritor of the cultural climax of Rome. Barbarian invasions and a general lack of urbanization caused a collapse of this area so thorough many local peasants believed the marbled columned ruins were built by gods.

The heavily urbanized, and therefore highly literate and well educated, section of the empire was in the East. When the Bedouin exploded out of their wasteland home they conquered an area holding libraries of knowledge ten centuries old. They carried with them a religion and law that emphasized all learning as valuable, and so these libraries were saved, expanded, and eventually bettered in every way. Islam began to be seen by its adherents as a force of history, which was self-evidently better than any other lifeway it encountered. For a thousand years it met, matched, and overcame every obstacle thrown at it, and was better for each challenge.

However, for reasons not entirely clear, something went very, very wrong. The last great Islamic empire, the Ottomans, stood at the gates of Vienna for three months in 1688. If they had broken through those walls Europe would've been open before them, and we all might be chanting "God is Great" today. But they didn't, and this watershed event represented a zenith that would not, and in fact could not, be equaled again. In a little more than one hundred years all the rules of warfare would be changed, and for whatever reason the Muslims never got the new playbook.

So it's important to note that unlike Western Europe, the cultures of Islam have fifty generations of being the paragon of western cultural achievement. This supremacy lasted so long it invaded every part of their culture, became part of the fabric of their existence. Islam ended up being all about looking to the past, because the past was where everything important was.

In the space of just a little more than a hundred years, just two human lifetimes, this entire world order got stood on its head. Europe didn't just field bigger armies, or figure out better tactics. Europeans figured out how to build fighting machines which were literally undefeatable by anything the cultures of Islam could create. Napoleon humiliated the Mamaluks in Egypt at Shubra Khit and Imbabah in 1798, and the world would never be the same.

Because Europe didn't just create new ways of fighting wars, they created new ways of living life, of thinking, of believing. Liberal democracy, capitalism, and material science didn't just make Europe supreme, it made Islam irrelevant. In a little more than a century fully one thousand years of history and achievement simply ceased to matter.

The shock of this is something Arabs are still dealing with. At first Islamic cultures attempted to co-opt western ways, but fully embracing the things that made the west powerful would've required them to repudiate everything they felt made Islamic culture valuable. Europe had nearly four hundred years to come to terms with this brilliant, horrible engine, but they only gave the rest of the world a single generation. And with one single exception (Japan) no pre-existing culture managed it.

Truly, the center did not hold for the Muslim world, and it in fact ended with a whimper. The cold truth is that were it not for the geographic coincidence of petroleum and the logistical convenience of using natives to pull it out of the ground, Islamic culture would have been largely destroyed a hundred and fifty years ago. The Czars of Russia wanted an Orthodox mass spoken in the Hagia Sophia, the church of the Holy Wisdom in the center of Istanbul, and if it weren't for the British there would've been little the Ottomans could've done to stop them.

Islam, especially the Arabic heart of Islam, has simply never come to terms with these events. The native leadership, the ones who "own the Arab street", still wait for Islam to retake its rightful place as the epicenter of the world. They are to this day taught in midrasas from an early age that one day the West will see the light of Islam and all will fall down at their feet. The fact that it keeps not happening is something utterly incomprehensible. And when the human animal is confronted with the failure of an idea loved to the core of its soul, violence is a natural result.

But Islam must come to terms with this. By insisting on refighting a war lost eleven generations ago, by refusing to embrace change, by denying the need for a fundamental restructuring of beliefs, Islam cannot and will not succeed. By using violence as a method of political advancement, by embracing outrageous expressions of destruction as leitmotifs of a belief system, Islam makes itself worse than irrelevant. It makes itself a clear and present danger to people who are rapidly gaining the technological capability of dismantling and destroying it by remote control at no risk to the conquerors.

Because there's a problem with power derived from oil. We're already importing nearly as much oil from the former Soviet republics as we are from Saudi Arabia, and combined with the North Sea and South American fields, Arab oil is very rapidly becoming a convenience instead of a necessity.

All terrorism and fundamentalism does is teach the west to fear Islam. And without the brickbat of embargo to threaten the us with, what, exactly, will we have to fear?

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (10)
But What About Maru's Helicopters? has this extremely interesting article about the possible origins of "Big Black Triangle" UFOs seen since the mid 80s all over the country. Their verdict: deep-black airships moving huge cargos around.

The only immediate problem I can think of is it requires a big crew to unload a big ship. Lots tougher to keep such a secret with a lot of teenage airmen doing the loading and unloading.

My question, one that isn't raised at all by the article, is what the hell are they building that requires such monstrous cargos to be moved around in complete secrecy?

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (3)
The Internet Debacle

Janis Ian wrote two very interesting articles about the music industry and the "Internet Debacle" they "face":

The Internet Debacle

What makes them so interesting is they're coming from what I guess you'd call the "blue collar" portion of the music industry: someone who is a known, successful artist who makes a good (but not wonderful) living working hard entertaining people because that's what they love to do.

I can say for myself that I've stopped buying CDs because they're just too damned expensive. When they first came out, the prices were $17.99 and were justified because there were only two factories in the world capable of making them. Twenty years later the kind of back-shelf music I want to buy is still $17.99 (or higher), while AOL carpet-bombs the country with CDs cheaper than the bulk-rate postage they're mailed out on.

I got a CD player in 1984, a second-generation Emerson unit that was an absolute steal at $198.99 at the local Wal-Mart. As a teenager with disposable income and no rent, I ended up with the largest CD collection of anyone I knew for years. Whenever I had spare cash I'd always try to pick up at least two discs. One day my college roommate pointed out he always knew when I had spare cash because I brought home new CDs. It was then I realized that CDs were taking up all my spare cash. I think I've perhaps bought one or two a year ever since.

If I could buy four CDs and only spend $20, I'd pick up at least two a week for the rest of my life. You see, I'm one of those a**holes who can tell the difference between an MP3 and a CD, and I spent $$$ on a stereo system to prove it. The sound difference, to me at least, is huge. I'd love to pick up a copy of the Cowboy Beebop soundtrack, for example, because I downloaded a copy and really liked what I heard. But the only place I can find it wants $21.95 for it. $21.95 when I know it only cost $.05 cents to make. I just won't do it.

I once asked the rabid teenage music downloader I know (you know, one of the ones that are "crushing" a multi-billion dollar industry) if she'd be willing to pay $5 for a CD of any artist she downloaded for free. Without even blinking she said "absolutely".

Got the links from Jeff, who's going to need a new shelf for all the no-prizes he's getting.

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)
Ukraine Crash Pt 3

AvWeek's coverage of the Ukraine crash was surprisingly sparse. The aircraft was a Su-27UB, a late model two place trainer version. This explains why everyone kept saying "both pilots", although it doesn't explain why two people were flying in an airshow hop. According to the report, the pilots ejected before the initial impact, even though when I watched the video it certainly seemed that the canopy was intact when the plane hit the ground. Again according to the report the plane first hit some trees, then whacked the nose off an Il-76 transport, then tumbled into the crowd.

Also found this interesting report, which implies a possible bird strike.

Posted by scott at 08:38 AM | Comments (1)
August 05, 2002
Do It Yourself- Suicide Kit

This is too funny. Funny in a sense that the 'kit' is a so called 'bag".

WHY would you want to donate money or become a member of this society for a bag? Get your own damn bag, *trash, grocery, what ever you please* and tie. Enjoy!

Posted by Ellen at 06:34 PM | Comments (3)
Kitten Update

I have decided to dub kitten 'Sausage' right now. Why? Well duh, it looks like a sausage. Except it's a very noisy sausage.

It has survived its first day in a leather backpack without much fuss. *It's a good thing to have an extra bag of IV fluids laying around. Heat it up and it's the purrfect heating element to keep a kitten warm!*

This kitten though knows when it has been exactly 2 hours. It wakes up in 2 hours on the dot for its next meal and ass wipe.

I will have to say you tend to laugh out loud no matter what time of night it is when you clean this baby up. He streeeetcches his back legs all the way out when you make him go potty. It is a strange sight.

Hopefully this baby will have a home soon. My mom has a friend at work that is looking for a new kitten and wants one that needs extra care. *WOOOHOO!!! goes Ted!* Ted hates anyone else that takes attention away from him.

I will keep you all posted.

Posted by Ellen at 06:18 PM | Comments (1)
They Like Us, They Really Like Us

Well, yourish does anyway. Check out her blog. I especially liked the story of the encounter with the "statue aligator" next to a canal in southern Florida.

Posted by scott at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

We have in our office an immigrant from Sierra Leone, a small country on the Atlantic coast of Africa. We had a lunchroom discussion one day about the various differences between how kids get raised in Sierra Leone versus how they're raised here in the US.

One of the points he brought up is something I've known for awhile: in more "traditional" societies, the whole family takes care of the children. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, even cousins all take part. In fact, he said what you had to be careful of was to make sure you got a chance to raise your kids. Apparently, if you let them, your relatives will raise your kids so well they won't know who the hell you are.

America used to be like this. Big extended families, which stayed in the same place for generations at a time, were commonplace, especially before WWII. If a mother was having trouble with a baby she simply walked over to her own mother's house for help. A cousin could be drafted to watch the toddlers while an uncle took the oldest son to the fields or store to learn the family trade. Daycare was a non-issue, since you had a huge supply of free or nearly free family members who wanted to help. The elderly didn't need to worry about their future either, as the web of family relationships formed a safety net as they stopped being able to care for themselves.

The changes began slowly, with the invention of the automobile and accellerating in the 1930s, as a national roadway system started to be built, first with privately owned turnpikes and parkways1, and then later with the national interstate system.

It was this freedom of movement that created suburbia. Before, a new family starting out, say, in a big city would first move into a small apartment, all they could afford with the high housing prices so common in an urban environment. Only slowly, with increasing incomes and the demise of older generations, would larger and larger houses that are the hallmark of the American dream be within reach.

The automobile and the improving road network short-circuited this process. What would get you a one bedroom apartment in a fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan was more than enough to secure a two bedroom freestanding house, complete with enough land to form a sizeable yard, in Levittown.

Of course, the elders of the family already had what they wanted in the cities or the farms, and they weren't about to move out just because their kids found a cheap house. Suddenly your mother and aunts and uncles and cousins weren't next door, they were a two-hour drive away. Childcare became a real issue because you didn't know and couldn't trust neighbors with your kids.

At first life was cheap enough that you could halve your income and leave one member of the family, mom, home at all times. But without the support net of the extended family mom slowly went insane. I often wonder if the women's movement arose in part as a reaction to the sudden and unprecedented requirement of 24x7 childcare from a single human being. And of course as life got more and more expensive you simply couldn't afford to have half of your income potential working for free at home.

Mobility didn't just affect individuals; it affected the corporations that employed them. Suddenly you didn't need your entire factory in one spot. You could distribute it in pieces wherever costs or environment or opportunity presented the best deal. The company would usually offer to move your family where the work was, but now instead of a two hour drive you had a two day drive, and now the kids were only seeing grandma twice a year. Sometimes you didn't get moved and the only place you could find work was on the other side of the country.

This affected the other end of the family as well. Before modern medicine, grandparents would usually stick around long enough to help get the grandkids past their first eight or nine years, and then move on to whatever reward their religion promised them. The ones who stayed around longer were always healthy enough not to be a burden, the ones who weren't, well, died.

Advanced geriatrics changed all that. Suddenly families were confronted with the task of taking care of an elderly member who was every bit as much work as the kids they were supposed to be helping out with. Rest homes aren't callous warehouses for inconvenient elderly, they're daycare for people whose problems are too complex for a family with children to handle by themselves.

Of course, the cities didn't just dry up and blow away. For immigrants, they are usually the start-point of the American experience.

One of the reasons why immigrants seem to do so well in the inner cities where "natives" seem to fail is it allows them to transplant their own support net of extended family members into an environment that was grown to suit it. Everything's within walking distance and there's plenty of relatively small, tolerable places to live. The parents can hold down three jobs each because they've brought the grandparents (healthy, otherwise they wouldn't have survived in the old country) to take care of the kids. And in spite of what you may have read in the international media, if you're willing and able to work that hard there's very little America can do to stop you from becoming successful, even if we wanted.

And that's the engine that drives this place. That's why we're so amazingly powerful and innovative and resilient. Every gangster or terrorist or malcontent the papers bray about hides the dozens of Asians and Africans and Europeans who are busting their asses to make it here. At one point we may have been a dumping ground, but the miracle of America is how we've managed to turn that on its head. Today we're the recipient of every hardheaded self-starter who couldn't make it back home because they were the wrong class, the wrong caste, the wrong color, or the wrong family.

Before America these people would've ended up on the discard pile, never even allowed the chance to fail, let alone succeed. Not everyone does. This is no paradise. Nothing is ever given to you and there are dozens, sometimes hundreds of clever people doing their level best to make sure you don't get anything for yourself. But you are given a chance.

And for some people, a chance is all they need.

Posted by scott at 05:51 PM | Comments (2)
Lost Jingles

Ted wears jewelry. Lots of it. Lots of jingles. He has to, he is naughty. He likes to torment Coconut and sneak up on her.

Jingles prevent him from doing so. Or so I thought until about 5mo ago. *why the hell is she writing about something 5 mo ago?* I found his 'lost' collar in the closet yesterday while looking for a certain backpack for my new kitten I'm caring for.

This was Ted's ultimate collar. His angel jingle, his *I take heart meds* jingle, his *I have heart disease* jingle, his name jingle ect... a total of 5 jingles, plus a bell.

He has been wearing the 'back up' collar with a single bell and a St. Francis of Asisi jingle for the past several months.

I asked him why he lost his collar, " I don't like it!" he says. "Why not? You need to wear this. What if you get lost in the hallway and someone snatches you up and doesn't know who you are and that you have a heart problem?" " I DON'T CARE!! Mama!! (in his very southern voice). "You need to put this back on." I tell him. "NO!!! I don't like it! I hate it! HATE IT GOOD!". * everything is such an opera with him*

I don't blame him for not wanting to wear it. It is an elaborate collar that must be very heavy to wear. So I just put it aside.

I need to find Ted a new collar. The one he is wearing now is showing wear and tear on it. I'm looking for a "Coach" leather collar for him. Let me know if any of you see one out there for a cat.

Posted by Ellen at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)
Fencing the Basket

Found this cool story about air-to-air refueling in an F-14 over at SimHQ. Long, but fun!

Also found this weird one, about making a bug-powered glider. Wonder if it actually works?

And finally, found this neat site about scale model resources for VVS (Russian) WWII aircraft.

All culled from browsing

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)
Interesting NSA news

Bob Cringely wrote this interesting article on pay grade changes at our intelligence services. I know someone who worked at the NSA for a long long time but recently switched over to a contract position. I wonder what their take on this article would be?

Posted by scott at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)
Another ComputerGeek(tm) Entry

To a network admin, a DOS boot floppy is sort of like the windsheild wiper on a car... you don't need it often, but when you do you need it now. Of course, Micro$oft in its infinite wisdom has worked it so you can't get new versions of Windows to create boot floppies. This is something Jeff and I have been wondering about for years. Now I've found a much better answer than to keep a win95 box chugging along in the corner somewhere: Found it over at transterrestrial musings.

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (5)
Spacecraft History

Also found, a comprehensive if somewhat-hard-to-get-around-in website that contains tons of history and information about spacecraft from around the world.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (2)
GA Site

Found this nice general aviation-based site. Lots of good writeups on the various types of civilian a/c this guy has flown.

Learning to fly is another "one of these days" thing I'm going to do. For now I "fly" inside a computer.

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
Geek Humor

Send this one to your favorite computer programmer:

There are 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

Posted by scott at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
August 04, 2002

This seems to be an ongoing discussion among many women in a group. I know I have heard it, been part of it, very curious about it ect..

WHY do men either prefer tits OR ass. From what I have been told by many men, they prefer one or the other. It's almost NEVER both.

Recently in a past issue of Playboy magazine *yes, I got Scott a subscription* there was a small excerpt saying that the models they pick are not surgically enhanced with silicon. *yeah right* My question is this. How come EVERY model is the SAME size. 36D, 24W, 36H. No matter what she looks like, even if she has really small boobs *very rare* or these giant ga zungas that are bigger than the average human head. They are all the same size. Mind you that all the women *most* in Playboy have gravity defying boobs. Especially in the *thin* girls. I have seen average looking women, with soft lines ect..but you can TELL they are not a size 6* for one they have the natural "sag"*.

Why don't they just fess up that they use the same size for each woman? Is this the IDEAL proportions that men want? As long as they read it as the measurement all is OK right? Playboy would NEVER lie to you, all of the women they get are built in a factory since they are all the same size.

Obviously its mostly about the tits for Playboy.

What about the girls out there with a nice ass and no tits? An ass is something that you can enhance in only 2 ways. 1. Exercise till you drop and your ass cheeks hurt so much its sheer agony to sit on the toilet. or 2. Padded underwear. ALL women are GUILTY of checking out other women. Sizing her up, and wondering if that woman SHOULD be allowed to wear the outfit she is sporting that day. Lots of women out there SHOULD NOT.

You have chicks with flat asses, no asses, shelf asses, well endowed asses, the J-Lo ect.. The names are endless.

You really have to work for a nice ass too. It's not like a set of boobs that you can pick out from a series of photos in a surgeons office. So then why don't they have a magazine exclusively to show off a chick's ass. I KNOW Playboy does flaunt it a bit...but not as much as the upper half. Unless there are OTHER magazines out there that flaunt them much more. *usually the kind that has 'spooge' or other happenings going on about it*-Usually the kind of magazine that you open and go :"holy shit!" and promptly close it, because you have been scarred for life and will forever see that image in your head every time you close your eyes.

So WHY do guys like one or the other? Is it just a preference? Something on a more deep personal level? All married men will tell their wives that they like the whole package *which is bullshit*. Pay attention to what they fool around with more. You'll see. Ever try to ask the question of : "honey? do you like my boobs? or ass better?" You get this blank stare, see the wheels grind and if it takes more than 5 seconds, they have FAILED the question. The beatings will then commence.

Scott once told me if he had his own set of boobs like a woman, he would NEVER leave the house. Are all guys like that? Or was he just teasing me? What if guys wanted a nice ass? Would they sit around the house and play with their ass all day too? So what is so exciting about T&A? Is it just a sex thing or what?

Posted by Ellen at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)

boob boost boob boost
Do *You* Need A Boob Job?
Posted by Ellen at 07:43 PM | Comments (2)
Fr-ooze Pop

No, there isn't a pix*but there is a d/l for a video!*, but its STILL naughty! Fr-ooze Pop

Oh yeah! A VERY suggestive lollipop, that is phallic in shape. Get this, when you squeeze the end of it, you get this ooze that *drips* from the top. Yeah, when I saw the video I thought it looked all to familiar. * I did not say that* Just think of the potential 'money shot' this candy can do! Plus it tastes better. *shit..I'm just digging a hole for myself*

Thanks to Maru, YOU get the ultimate No-Prize of the day! :)

Posted by Ellen at 11:56 AM | Comments (2)
More Online Tests!

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better.

I am 33% Goth

Goth ny night, normal by day. Deep in my heart I know I am evil, but not on the company's time. I do need to eat.

Take the Goth Test at

I am 44% Geek

You probably work in computers, or a history deptartment at a college. You never really fit in with the "normal" crowd. But you have friends, and this is a good thing.

Take the Geek Test at

Scott needs to take the Geek test. He WILL score much higher!

Scary! I am 63% Internet Addict

I am pretty addicted, but there is hope. I think I'm just well connected to the internet and technology, but it's really a start of a drug-like addiction. I must act now! Unplug this computer!

Take the Internet Addict Test at

Posted by Ellen at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)
2002 Meteor Showers

The next Meteor Shower is due for August 12th.

Posted by Ellen at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)
Kitten Update

Yay!! This kitten is finally starting to get used to me. It now drinks from a bottle with no problem. We have to feed kitten every 2 hours for the next several days.

I also got the knack to make it potty without lots of fuss. I was up 2x's with kitten last night. We went to be at 1130, up by 2 then again at 4 and 8 for feeding and potty breaks. *which yes, after 2 weeks of this, until it gets the hang on its own, can take its toll on you. BUT once you have gotten used to it. Your body will wake up at those hours and YOU are the one to poke that kitten awake and say, "hey! time to eat and potty!"

It also purrs...well kinda. It's having a hard time starting its motor. A normal cat is like puuurrrrrrrrrrrr *never ending-sometimes a pulsling purr is heard* but this kitten goes pur..pur...purrrrrrrr...pur. Then there is some sort of popping noise as if it has backfired and needs to start all over again.

Kittens always amaze me. Especially ones this small. They don't even look like cats. Scott has posted Coconuts 3 hour old photo on this site before. Hunt it down and check it out. They are very tiny and delicate, yet they bounce when they roll over the wrong way. Very wide faces, big noses and very round little head.

My favorite part to watch grow on a kitten is the ears. They make me melt. To watch a kitten grow from day one is just amazing. Especially if you are very involved with it. You notice the ears start on the side of the head. They are closed and are velvety soft. As they get older, the ears start to open and actually migrate to the top of the head! * The whole head and face begin to reshape and they actually start to look somewhat cat-like at about 2-3 weeks old. At 4 weeks, they are in the *lift-step* mode.

This kitten still has its umbilical cord. Eventually it will fall off. It also has small puffy feet. They are not cat feet yet. They are small and puffy and it's nails are still hanging out. Can't pull them in yet.

All I can say is that this kitten resembles a sausage with legs. A loud sausage with legs. Or maybe its a cocktail weiner right now.

I will keep you posted as time goes on.

Posted by Ellen at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)
August 03, 2002
Egyptian Beer

Ok, I did not know what to put this under category wise. I consider beer a food only because I can drink a Guiness and not eat the rest of the day. *cause you have to eat it with a spoon half the time- thats only at the GOOD places with it on TAP*

Anyhow, brewers have managed to bring to life a 4000 year old beer recipe to life!

Apparently its the same beer the pharohs drank. Pretty neat! *not to mention that beer was a main staple of the pyramid builders*

Posted by scott at 08:43 PM | Comments (4)
Texas Chili

Found this entry over at (a blog which has been quite insistent in not noticing us at all :P :) ). I grew up in Arkansas. We're not Texas, but we get a lot of texas-like attitudes a-la chernobyl-like radiation. Robert UK: Imagine if Wales, Ireland, and Scotland were to form a single cultural group. With guns. Big guns. And thought shooting at each other on the M3 (god I hope that's the name of a major highway in the UK) as a way of saying "howdy". That'll give you a taste of what Texas is like (if you haven't already visited the place).

My mom usta make chili like this. One day they had the neighbors over and one of them inadvertantly dumped an entire cup of sugar into the chili bowl. Said neighbor tasted the chili and, after his eyes stopped watering, said it hadn't done anything to the stuff.

Posted by scott at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)
Pot Addict

No, not that kind of pot. I'm talking cooking pots! All-clad baby, all-clad! And Lodge, oh my I love my lodge! Now I'm cruising e-bay looking for all-clad deals and trying to score a cast-iron dutch oven so I can deep-fry and cook soup and do all kinda cool sh*t. Ellen is kind of amazed, almost a little frightened, that I've suddenly taken this interest in cooking. She doesn't understand that Alton Brown taught me cooking is about gear. And every geek knows that gear is where it's at.

We're noticing that 1) when you use good pots & pans, stuff heats up a lot faster, and cooks a lot easier, than with cheap aluminum stuff, and 2) we're eating better now that we're both cooking.

Also, I made the earth-shaking discovery that if you use the burners that are actually under the vent hood, you don't get anywhere near as much smoke in your living room. Dur...

Cast iron fans: I'm having a problem keeping the bottom of my Lodge seasoned. The heat seems to take the cure off it. After noticing just a teensy bit of surface rust on the bottom, I re-season the outside (inside has a nice solid black cure going right now) using heavier canola oil this morning and ended up with this nifty gloss coat, but I'm worried that the next time I use it the cure'll come off again. Is this normal? Any tips?

Posted by Ellen at 08:17 PM | Comments (1)
Russian Cats

Apparently Russian cats have an aquired taste for vodka.

Posted by Ellen at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)
The New Project

I leave one cat at my hospital, go shopping, enter my home and the phone rings.

They have a 12 hour old kitten that needs care. Someone just dumped him off at work. Everyone knows I know how to care for the itty bitty kitties so they give me a call and ask if I can care for it.

Ok, sure. We have not had a little one like this small in a long while. All of our cats know there is another cat in the house, but yet its not a cat. They are confused.

This kitten is so loud, it hurts your ears when it cries. It is VERY fussy at the moment because we are NOT mom. We don't smell, purr or sound like mom. It does not like us right now. It likes the fuzzy santa claus hat in the kitten basket much more.

At least it is eating, and going potty when you stimulate it. It is a 'painted tabby' kitten. Like Coconut, but has some holes in the tabby coat with white peeking through. It also has a mostly white face. He looks more like my Mom's cat Arbour that I gave her over a year ago.

I have to find my leather backpack though. This is the pack that I tote kittens around in. Makes it easier to take them places. Like EVERYWHERE.

Tomorrow kitten and I are going to hunt down some curtains that my mom is looking for.

I will keep you all posted on kitten. Plus, I'll let you all know if I found the curtains I was looking for.

Posted by Ellen at 07:02 PM | Comments (1)
Creamcicle Update

Creamy finally woke up completly about 2am. He was starting to wake at about 7pm. I gave him some sugar water and kept him warm and full of pain meds all night. But at 2am. He decided he needed to get up and eat something. He is also going potty *both* fine. Cats are amazing critters.

1 tsp of baby food-turkey thats all he gets at a sitting. Meals every 2 hours. He has a good appetite and is his happy-go-lucky self. Always purring.

I took him into work this morning for the rest of the staff to take over and give him hosptialized care for the weekend.

I will keep you all posted on how he is doing.

Posted by Ellen at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)
Ukraine Crash Pt 2

Found this picture on transterrestrial musings. New points:

  • The picture was made after the initial impact. I base this on the condition of the port-side wing and engine pod, which are chewed up in the picture but weren't (or didn't seem to be) in the video. The wingtip hits in the video just as the plane goes out of frame.
  • Note the flames coming out of the afterburner cans. Unfortunately my knowledge of afterburning turbofans is limited to say the least, so I'm not sure if it's normal for afterburners to continue to flame even after engine-out.
  • Judging by the angle and shape of the flames, it doesn't look like the engines were pushing much thrust, if any.
  • This was a long lens, so it's difficult to say how close the crowd in the picture actually is to the wreck.
  • Note the notch on the front of the starbord stabilator. Very strange.
  • The starbord side of the plane is relatively undamaged. This may mean it didn't hit anything before the impact you see in the video.

Anyway, interesting pic.

Posted by scott at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)
More Evidence of Martian Bacteria

NASA has issued this press release about new discoveries that support the evidence of bacterial life on Mars. Looks more and more likely.

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
August 02, 2002
Cowboy Beebop Theme Song

My them song from the show "Cowboy Beebop"

my cowboy bebop theme song is pushing the sky

Scott's theme song

my cowboy bebop theme song is blue

what's your cowboy bebop theme song?

Posted by Ellen at 07:57 PM | Comments (7)

A friend sent me my horoscope. Too funny.

Leo (July 23 - Aug 22)
You consider yourself a born leader. Others think you are an idiot. Most Leos are bullies. You are vain and cannot tolerate criticism. Your arrogance is disgusting. Leo people are thieving motherfuckers and enjoy masturbation more than sex.

This is Scott's

Taurus (April 23 - May 22)
You are practical and persistent. You have a dogged determination and work like hell. Most people think you are stubborn and bullheaded. You are nothing but a goddamned communist.

Posted by Ellen at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)
Useless Online Tests

Courtesy of checking out JimSpot and then heading to LynnUnleashed, I got to see that I am a pig with blue lipstick.

Posted by Ellen at 06:04 PM | Comments (2)
Real Or Fake? YOU Take the Challenge!

I scored a 100% on this test. Scott a measly 70%. HAHA!! I can spot silicon from a mile away! :)

ps. You guys will like to just look at boobies.

Posted by Ellen at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)
BBQ Kitten Petition

Please sign this petition so that Charles C. Benoit DOES NOT get off easy for 'grilling' a live kitten on a BBQ grill in front of a crowd. Every signature counts!

Help send Charles C. Benoit to jail for up to five years!

Charles C. Benoit was arrested in Liberty, Missouri, on July 16, 2002 for burning a 7-week-old kitten on a barbecue grill, while others watched with amusement,as he poked the defenseless kitten with a stick, and maliciously chanted ?Meow, meow?.

One brave woman stepped in to save the kitten. The kitten later named ?Lucky? by his rescuer wasn?t so lucky after all, when he had to be put down because of his severe injuries.

Sign this petition to urge the Clay County Prosecutor?s Office to seek the maximum sentence of five years in prison and the maximum fine of $5000, for Charles C. Benoit.

Don?t let Charles C. Benoit and others like him go free with a slap on the hand. Charles C. Benoit could be a danger to society and could possibly become repeat offender. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer tortured and killed helpless animals in his youth.

Don?t let him go free!

Sign petition here very easy will take less than a minute.


Posted by Ellen at 05:16 PM | Comments (1)

I have this kitten in a basket on my couch trying to recover from surgery today. Surgery was 3 hours long. We removed >90% of his colon. *which was the size of a sausage* He is still sleeping. Surgery was finished at 330, its now 5pm.

To give you a background on Creamy: kitten got dumped off to me at work. Kitten had upper respitory infection. We do all the standard treatment to kitten. I says, he has a very wormy belly, watch what dewormer we use. Kitten given a dewormer. Kitten becomes severely constipated to the point we are digging shit out for the next 8 days.

Yesterday I say enough is enough. Something needs to be done! I do another xray- he is WORSE than earlier in the week. Our only other option is surgery. Good thing we did it. He also had a small perforation in his colon. *probably from all the enemas and deobstipating.*

Surgery is uneventful. Anesthesia goes smoothly. *kitten is anemic to begin with, and is already pale and I cannot determine if there is a drop in blood pressure*. NO I don't have a blood pressure cuff. MOST small animal hospitals DON'T. Especially if you are a corporate hospital.

So I have 10 doses of Torbugesic to give this kitten every 2 hours after he is fully awake for visceral pain. I have my injectable cefazolin for IV antibiotics. I have my IV/SQ fluids to give this kitten. I have this kitten on a heating pad and checking it every 10 minutes to make sure he is not cold. I have to wipe leaky kitten ass often too.

The other cats in the house are not upset.*including Ted this time around. He is not bitching like he usually does* I think they understand whats wrong.

Keep your fingers crossed for my Creamcicle. #

Posted by Ellen at 04:57 PM | Comments (1)
Inventor of Clumping Cat Litter Remembered

All cats should have a moment of silence before entering the box, in rememberance of the scientist who invented clumping cat litter.

Thanks Jeff! No-prize in the mail!

Posted by scott at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)
Dark Matter News

BBCnews is running this interesting story about discoveries the Chandra X-ray telescope has made about matter found between the galaxies.

Posted by scott at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)
Fritz the Fox

For a bit of whimsy, I give you Fritz the Fox. "Fast Fritz" is definitely the funniest toon.

Posted by scott at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Forest Bug

To me, this thing looks like a giant scorpion. Of course, the guys over at slashdot all pitched it as a Star Wars AT-AT prototype.

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Essay Follow-Up

While researching Snake Oil I came across two very interesting sites that I figured deserved links in their own right:

The James Randi Educational Foundation is run by James "the Amazing" Randi, a guy who's been debunking psychics and other charlatans for years.

Miss Cleo Unmasked (scroll down a bit to get to the actual article) is an interesting first-person account of someone who actually worked for our favorite valley-girl-turned-Jamaican-psychic.

Both well worth a look. Enjoy!

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)
Could They be Bits of Mobsters?

Ok, now Camden NJ is finding black sh*t on the sidewalks. Actually, this looks like the stuff that is on most sidewalks in the District, and most other heavily trafficked concrete areas I've seen elsewhere. I always thought it was ground in gum. Guess I was wrong?

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)
August 01, 2002
My Southern Mama's Dirty Mind

We all KNOW that proper southern ladies send stuff to you like this. Thats SOME shoe!!! I think I have a pair that looks quite similar. I won't ever look at them the same way again. And NO Scott says he WON'T try them on!

My southern Mama also recommends this air conditioning service. Guaranteed to make you have....well, look at the link.

Posted by Ellen at 08:57 PM | Comments (2)
Snake Oil

I'm always surprised at how otherwise intelligent people still end up believing in the oddest stuff. John Edward (talks to dead people) and Sonya Fitzpatrick (the pet psychic) have hot TV shows; Ms. Cleo rolls a Jamaican laugh (with a California birth certificate) all the way to the bank at $4.99 a minute; Peter Popoff to this day thumps people on the head using Jeh-HAY-zuss to heal them of their troubles; and the suburban American landscape is dotted with palm readers and psychics who, for a fee, promise to help you with your troubles.

These people succeed because we want to believe in them. Most folks who read this site probably don't realize just how cold and frightening science can seem. We all have unexamined beliefs we've held on to since childhood. If you're not used to your beliefs being challenged, the ones that connect you to your past and the past of everyone who came before you, life seems to die a little each time someone shines a light on a belief and tells you it's wrong. Especially when things get desperate, when a parent, spouse, or child just isn't getting any better, the pull of the quick fix is powerful indeed.

We also have the more recent phenomena of angry people who think the world owes them whatever they want whenever they want. The words "personal responsibility" generate at best blank looks and demands for more. "Gangstas" to blacks and "trailer trash" to whites, they all seem to end up doing the same talk show circuit together (there must be a club somewhere) screaming the same obscenities together, forming the background noise of a modern society that allows a human being to reach adulthood without actually requiring them to grow up.

Sometimes it's laughably easy to detect the scam. Sometimes it's not. Always remember just because you can't explain it scientifically doesn't mean there's not a scientific explanation for it. Human beings are fiendishly clever critters when it comes to fleecing each other, and their inventiveness can astound. And it always plays on your assumptions. A psychic who allows you to tie his hands to a chair will amaze you when the spirits he summons in the dark move things around. You'd probably never noticed the hinged chair arms that come loose in the dark. A faith healer who walks up and tells you your name, your age, and what is wrong with you is unbearably exciting. You'd probably never think to look inside his ear for the radio that connects him to an assistant reading from cards in a back room.

Personally I have no idea how John Edward does what he does. He's darned good at it, whatever it is. Always charming, usually funny, at times even profound, people are left gasping at what he tells them, visibly moved. Personal "readings" bring individuals to tears and laughter and almost physical relief. People walk into his shows vibrating like coiled springs full of grief and despair and leave gratefully with peace and happiness.

Which brings up an important point. We all know about the placebo affect. When drinking "vite-a-tonic" relieves some people's symptoms, does that make it wrong? If visiting a tent revival coinicides with someone's own immune system sending a cancer into remission, was any harm done? If what a psychic makes up and puts in your dead child's mouth helps you sleep at night, is it really a crime?

The problem is all of these people charge you money. Up front. Usually a lot of it. This has throughout history implied the promised trade of the truth of something real for the truth of real money. And yet the people supposedly just trying to help you already know all of these things, all of these things, are lies.

These people are leeches on a society, providing little if any good while sucking away sometimes the entire life savings of those they purport "help". The harm comes from all the people who drank the tonic instead of taking their medicine, or who saw the faith healer instead of the doctor, or who visited the psychic instead of the therapist. If all you're going to give me is gambler's odds, what the hell good are you?

Some of these people may be at heart kind, decent folk who think they're just helping ease people's minds. I have a feeling most of them are not. But if you really do think you're helping people, really making a difference by telling them what they want to hear, giving them what they already have, teaching them what they already know, and hell maybe you are, that's fine.

I'm sure if your customers agree they'll have no problem at all dropping a donation in your box as they leave.

Posted by scott at 07:48 PM | Comments (8)
Hubble News

New pictures from Hubble.

This time it caught a star in an early stage of evoloution. Dubbed the 'space burger'.

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)
Famous Local Cat Rides On

Ever seen a cat ride on a motorcycle? I'm sure you have seen her on TV. I know I have. BUT I did not know she was a local to our Metro area.

Motor cat has passed on at the age of 17.

Skin Cancer in Cats

I have seen a case of this once before.

White cats+sun=sunburn/sunblister/cancer.

Dab on the spf 30 on those ears ppl!

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 PM | Comments (55)
Golf Anyone?

I will NEVER look at a golf ball the same way again.

Come to think of it. I may never look at a whank the same again. *shudder*

Posted by Ellen at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)
Another Day, Another Writeup

JessaJune gave us a nice writeup. She apparently thinks my semi-hazardous forays into the world of cooking are at least a bit amusing. Ah great, another cat chick... :):):)

Thanks and welcome to the site!

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (2)
I want one. I want it bad

If I had $1 for every consultant that breezed into my office and turned my professional life upside down and then merrily breezed out... well, I wouldn't be rich, but I'd certainly rather have the $1.

Latest debacle: paper MCSE (certification) comes in and realizes that he can't understand a network I've grown for the past six years. A network that can support a nationwide non-profit full of social work majors1 with 99% uptime and just one (me) IT person for 1/10th what, say, Lockheed-Martin would've paid for it. Yeah, it's complicated, yeah, it's quirky, yeah, it's got 12 servers, yeah, it's got Linux, Novell, and Windows NT on it. But it works. And it's consistent enough that I could teach any techie with some network experience how to keep it running in a week or so.

So, one consultant meeting with the executive director later and, while on vaction, I get a note saying: "I [the executive director with a psych degree] have determined that we must move as quickly as possible to an all-windows 2000 network structure. Please have a migration plan on my desk next week. Your target date is [three months from now] for completion of this project."2.

So I want one of these. Maybe six or seven so I can give them to friends. Or mail them to other consultants with, like, dismemberd floppies inside or something.

Found it on Little. Yellow. Different.

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)