October 31, 2002
Last One for Awhile, I Promise!

Ok, ok, enough with the updating! Still, I just couldn't let this one go by. What happens when you combine booze, dumbass freshmen, and a bic lighter?

Give up?


It'll take a little while to download for those of you with dial-up connections, but trust me, well worth it, well worth it.

Update: If it doesn't work, visit Weirdlinks.com to see the original. Scroll down a bit, you'll find it.

Posted by scott at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)
Just Testing to See if Aaron or Jason Still Read This Site

What happens when a bunch of friends get together with a little too much booze and a digital camera? Well, they discover that black people love us!

Posted by scott at 01:19 PM | Comments (6)
Yet Another Weird Picture

Yeah, everybody heard about the 46-year old fetus removed from a woman a few weeks ago... but don't ya wanna see a picture of it? It's not the same one, but still...

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)
Kook, or Genius?

And now we have this guy wandering around trying to prove the Chinese discovered America first, as well as circumnavigated the globe, decades before Columbus. Sounds a little kooky to me, but certainly worth investigating.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)
Insert Beavis-and-Butthead Joke Here

Archeologists announced the discovery of a new set of pre-incan ruins under the surface of Lake Titicaca. Turns out the lake's surface was about 65 feet lower back then, and somebody went and built themselves a city on the shore.

Posted by scott at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)
Down and Dirty

Playing rough also means playing with peoples' heads. Got problems with fundy fanatics who think they're going to heaven? Turn the tables against 'em!

While the western press monkeys may have decided the storming of the theater was the absolute worst horror to be visited on innocent citizens since the dawn of time, the Russian media's only real criticism has been that the government didn't seem to fess up fast enough about what was used. The Post and a few other sources are trying to play up media control by the state as an excuse for this, but NPR reported yesterday an independent (whatever that means) poll showed Russian citizens giving overwhelming approval of their government's actions.

Found via ATS.

Posted by scott at 11:30 AM | Comments (1)
Vampires of Mexico

Pat brings us this story on the vampire bats of Mexico. No-prize!

I'm surprised folks don't know about these things. Vampire bats were all the rage in the mid 70s as I recall, there certainly were quite a few articles on them in the kids magazines I read way back then. Again as I recall, they're actually supposed to make pretty decent pets.

Posted by scott at 10:16 AM | Comments (3)
The Universe's Oldest Star?

A group of scientists have found the oldest star yet discovered in the universe. Nearly all stars have some small amounts of metals in them, and these give distinctive signatures to their spectra. This star has hardly a trace of metal, which strongly implies it formed when there wasn't much metal in the universe, i.e. waaaay back in time. Very interesting.

Posted by scott at 09:19 AM | Comments (1)
October 30, 2002
5 Weeks

I went to the doctor's office last week and found out that I am 5 weeks pregnant. "5 weeks???", I'm thinking. (so I look down at my piece of paper to see all the dates I have been keeping track of.. yes, I got obsessive). "Um..are you sure I'm 5 weeks?"

"Of course", the nurse says as she spins this little dial and tracks out the baby's due date. "You are due on June 27th". Me- "Um..ok". (How the hell they track the due date from the last date of your period is odd! They even turned down all the dates I wrote down that I KNOW I had sex on.) What does not come out right is that the due date is really the 35th week!?? Isn't pregnancy 40 weeks? Are they counting the 2 week left or right shift?? I don't know. It's all confusing.

"By the way, we need you to take all of your clothes off and put on this paper gown so the midwife can examine you". Great... Nice cold room, only covered in paper. I feel very vulnerable and stupid at the same time. Those gowns NEVER cover you all over. May I mention that it is a 2 piece gown? This silly makeshift top that MUST open in the front, and some dorky ass 2 foot piece of a paper blanket to cover your crotch.

So I meet a midwife who proceeds to tell me that I will meet a total of 7 different midwives and doctors at the practice. I get a midwife and doctor at the birth. Apparently the doctor just hangs out in the back unless something happens that they need to step in to help with. Me- "Um..ok". I've never done this before so I can't complain.

After having an internal exam AGAIN for the year, and basically felt up all over, I get to get dressed and go pee in a cup. First I'm peeing on sticks, and now in cups. YAY! Peeing in a cup is just as fun as peeing on a stick, just so you know. Especially if you want your hands to remain clean. And when they say they want a urine sample, they want a large amount. So you must make sure you are drinking water to the point you have to pee really bad by the time you get to the doctor's office. Peeing never felt so good after that one.

I was sent home with a slew of prenatal vitamins to try out and next visit I have to tell them what brand I want for a prescription. Choices, choices. Yeah, they have vitamins so you don't get hemmeriods (hemmeroids!!???) or constipation ( god knows we don't want that). Vitamins that I can't get the package open to them cause they are sealed too damn tight.

Then they tell me, I must have bloodwork done. Shit. I hate having blood done. ( I draw blood on cats all day, and I can't get mine done- YES, I am chicken shit when it comes to blood)

I get very nervous. Scott came with me for that at some outpatient lab. Of course I carried on, and got so nervous that all of my veins would disapear everytime I got even more upset. I will say this. The guy that drew my blood [Brian] was the nicest person. 22 years of phlembotomy experience. So no bruise for me.

So next visit Scott gets to come along. We get to hear the heartbeat and to finally make this all seem real. Maybe he won't be as freaked out then. *wink*

Posted by Ellen at 03:32 PM | Comments (15)
The Persistence of Memory

I've always thought my very, very first memory was one in which I recall being in a crib in my grandmother's house. Now research seems to indicate that one, at least, was probably just a bad dream I had later in life.

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (2)

I live in a country called the United State of America. I am an American.

I am an American. I am not a citizen of the world. The world is a chaotic, nasty, selfish place where it's every man, woman, child, dog, and cat for themselves. I believe we as a nation have every right to ensure our own peace, prosperity, and freedom in this boiling pot of thugs and bullies we call a planet. As an American, I believe that ensuring these things is something that can, should, must be given priority over the wants and needs of the rest of the world.

I am an American. I recognize that other countries have other interests that may conflict with those of my country. I believe competition with these countries and interests is good for America. I believe that when nations follow their own rules of law free from corruption such competition can be healthy for all involved and not result in the destruction or instability of anyone.

I am an American. I am not an imperialist. I have no interest in running other countries. I have no interest in sending my or any other American's children into countries solely for the purpose of making them suitable to live in by their own citizens, citizens who have already proven incapable of living together without killing each other's children. I deeply resent being expected to do so by the rest of the world.

I am an American. I am a capitalist. While I may not have interests in running other countries, I reserve the right to be interested in making money off of them. I do understand that to other countries, with other political and belief systems, this is tantamount to attempting the same thing. But there is a difference. I am not surprised that these countries howl to the world about how groups of unarmed merchants are trying to destroy them, but I do find it amazing that some of my own citizens do not see the distinction.

I am an American. I am not a fool. I realize that at times the individuals who represent me and my interests will be corrupt and cause trouble with the rest of the world. I believe nations that follow a rule of law free from corruption should have no problem catching, exposing, jailing or deporting American citizens causing trouble within their borders.

I am an American. I understand it is my responsibility to ensure the leaders of my government are not allowed to be a source of instability or destruction in the rest of the world. Fortunately, the founding fathers of my country have provided me and my fellow citizens with mechanisms to ensure the legal, orderly, but no less complete overthrow of any government I and my fellow citizens find dissatisfying to us. I find it disturbing the rest of the world and even many of those selfsame fellow citizens do not seem to grasp this single, fundamental, fact about America.

I am an American. I realize that my country is not perfect. I understand there are large numbers of people who, in spite of their citizenship, are hated, treated with disrespect, jailed, even murdered for their differences by their fellow citizens and even their own government. I find this abhorrent and detest every single incident of it, and work as hard as I can everywhere I can to prevent it. However, I find it hypocritical in the extreme that my nation's problems are used as a rallying cry inside other borders, by other citizens whose countries and cultures practice the most puerile and violent forms of discrimination on a scale that at times beggars the imagination.

I am an American. At root, I believe my country is a source of good for the world. I believe that simply by existing we have made this a better place for everyone, not just our own citizens. I believe that by making ourselves a human trash heap for "more sophisticated", "more advanced", "more civilized" countries we sucked away every singled talented, determined person out there and gave them hope, freedom, safety, and opportunity, certainly not all of them, but more than in any other nation that came before. I believe this, and this alone, is the reason America is the most powerful nation in the world. I believe there is still injustice, oppression, and discrimination in my country, but I believe that we have a real chance at overcoming these problems.

I am an American. I am sick to death of apologizing for it. I am nauseated that some of my fellow citizens continue to do so after violent attacks on our citizens, our culture, our country, and our way of life. I believe if every other citizen of every other country were to be as proud as I am of mine, they would not allow themselves to be ruled by unaccountable thugs, oppressed by greedy foreigners, and murdered by their own police.

Because I live in the greatest country on earth.

And I am an American.

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (6)
It'd Give Corky a Heart Attack

Skydiving dachsunds, anyone? Mom has one, he's now a cranky old man, but "back in the day" I'd bet he'd be up for it.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
Laser Summary

AvWeek has been covering this stuff for a couple of years now, but for those of you who don't feel like plunking $86/yr to get the thing here's a nice summary of where laser-based weapons are right now. Not laser guided, laser.

What is not reported here, but has been mentioned in AvWeek, is Israel seems to have already fielded a chem-based laser missle defense system, apparently deployed on the Syrian border (at least that's where it was last reported anyway).

Another thing not widely covered in the normal monkey media: Gulf War II will almost certainly premiere our new "directed energy" weapon systems which have quietly been brought out of the labs over the past year or so. From the (admittedly basic) descriptions given to the non-monkey press by those in the know, the systems work with microwaves to zap electronic gear. They're mounted on precision guided bodies (not bombs per-se, but probably shaped a lot like them) and are one-shot items.

The idea is superpowerful microwave radiation can fry anything with transistors in it, even stuff buried deep underground. These things deliver a burst of microwaves that fry things within a (classified) limited range. It's not clear if they can be directed or if it goes off in a sphere like a ghostly bomb.

The reason they aren't already mounting these things on F-16s and just pressing buttons is a) the range is really short right now and b) they aren't directional enough yet and would end up frying the electronics of the shooter, which would be annoying.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
Sex and Piss!

Ok, I borrowed this one from Da Goddess. Go to her site, check out the 2 latest fun home tests!

Apparently this is my sexual perversion. Errmmm....no

Well, they *are* quite the sexy ladies!

What's your sexual perversion?
Created by ptocheia

What pisses me off? This does!

Especially the ones that go off right after you've sat down, and spray your ass. Dont'cha just hate that?

What pisses you off?
Created by ptocheia

Posted by Ellen at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)
October 29, 2002

I will never ever look at eggs the same way again.

Especially the brown eggs.

Posted by Ellen at 08:38 PM | Comments (6)
Human Abnormalities

Ok, this is just plain WEIRD!

Facinated by the human body and what can go wrong with it? Check it out at that site.

More abnormalities.

Posted by Ellen at 08:17 PM | Comments (2)
The Ripper Uncovered?

Crime novelist Patricia Cornwel thinks she knows who the real Jack the Ripper is, and unlike most other "stabs" at it she has seemingly solid science behind her suspect (HA!)

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)
Top 5 Cosmic Myths

I knew the first three, but didn't know the last two cosmic myths. Do you think astronauts in space are weightless, the moon looks bigger on the horizon because air acts like a lens, seasons are caused by the Earth's distance to the sun, meteors get hot through friction with the atmosphere, and meteors are always hot when they hit the ground? Well, you're wrong, but you'll have to read the article to find out why. :)

Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome to My World, Part II

(NOTE: All names are changed. Nobody around here has a name that even begins with "Z". And this is a different Z, not the same one as last time.)

*ring* *ring*

Me: "yeah Z1?"

Z1: "I can't log in to anything, my password isn't working."

This is like calling a mechanic who you've never seen before out of the blue and saying, "my car won't start" Me: "Doesn't work at all?"

Z1: ***pause*** (I can almost hear claxons as the hamsters scramble to general quarters and start furiously running on their wheels) "Well, it's not working right now."

Me: "What are you trying to access?"

Z1: ***pause*** (a couple of hamsters have obviously grabbed onto their wheels and now are twirling away inside them)

Ah well, dartboard time again... two for two? Me: "Are you trying to access [the only system you ever work with]?"

Z1: "Yes, that's the one." How to motivate tech support part 1, section C: When a password works to log into a machine, log into an email account, and log into an intranet, but not log into a specific system, it is by definition "not working at all". Be sure to sound extra desperate because of this.

Me: "Have you checked to see if your CAPSLOCK key is on?" Watch this... 3, 2, 1...

Z1: ***PAUSE***... Two hamsters suddenly seize up from heart attacks and are flung out of their furiously spinning wheels like fuzzy stones from a chrome-plated catapult. I can almost hear them thud into the wall of the cage."My what?"

Me: "Left side of the keyboard, third from the bottom. Tap it once for me"

Heard over the phone: *TAP* *TAP*

Must... Resist... Urge... to... Pound... Head... Against... Desk...

Me: "ONCE please. Hit it one more time."


Me: "now try it."

Z1: "Hey! Wow! It's working! What went wrong?"

Oh, I don't know, sitting you in front of a computer maybe? Me: "The capslock key got turned on somehow" (I say this without the slightest trace of sarcasm, because telling the truth and saying 'you hit the capslock key by accident and didn't know how to turn it off' would've just started a 'did not, did too, did not, did too' argument).

Z1: "Gee, thanks a lot! You're the best!"

The joys of tech support...

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (7)
Who Wants to Boink a Millionaire?

Germany's most famous Playboy is offering $500,000 to the lucky woman who is the very last to have sex with him. Note he's staying with German women, because, if my own Italian is any indication, ladies of that nation would quietly ensure he had an "accident" shortly after the fact.

Men are pigs, OK? Get over it.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (4)
Food Science

My brother still tells horror stories about the MRE, the Meal Ready to Eat packages the Army now uses for combat rations. Now they're trying to make "mo betta" ones.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
October 28, 2002
Finally, a Record to Shoot For

So, all I need to do is get 239 rolls of packing tape do break this record, right? No problem! The only thing that weirds me out is the resulting tape ball ended up being only 2 feet high yet weighed over 80 lbs. Hmm... something strange going on there.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)
For the Abductee in Your Life

Tired of being dropped off in the middle of nowhere after your fourth anal probe? Sick of trying to keep your lungs inside your chest because the stupid aliens dropped you off on Mars instead of Earth? Worried that your foil hat just might not be enough to keep Them from getting you, and want some insurance? Just in time for Christmas! "Location of the Earth" dog-tags!

Posted by scott at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)
N-1 News

The N-1 was the USSR's answer to the Saturn V. BBCnews has this report revealing previously unknown aspects of its design as well as new pictures. More than 90 of the N-1's engines were recently sold to an American company for encorporation into a new rocket. I have heard rumors that there are a lot of spare Saturn V engines as well, especially third stage engine, but because the program was in such a hurry much about their operation was never written down and now nobody knows how to safely operate them anymore.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
Ancient Storm Cycles

NYTimes (free reg required, blah blah blah) has this article on newly discovered evidence that the east coast of America may experience "storm cycles", millenia-long peaks and valleys of storm intensity. They base their evidence on sedimentary deposits in several northeast US lakes, and the conclusion is we're at the beginning of a new "intense" period, which could lead to floods many times more intense than anything experienced during historic times in this region.

And *gasp* they're not blaming it on global warming. Yet.

No-prize to Pat!

Posted by scott at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
Glacier Girl

After decades trapped deep in ice and years in restoration, Glacier Girl, the P-38 found buried under Greenland ice, flies again.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
The Joys of Not Checking Work

All of Sunday's entries were brought to you by Ellen, not Scott. I was the last one to use her computer on Friday, and neither of us checked closely enough yesterday while she was posting. All complaints/compliments/fart jokes about yesterday's entries should be directed to her. :)

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
October 27, 2002
United Way Ad

This had me peeing in my pants from looking at it.

Posted by scott at 01:21 PM | Comments (2)
Viking Cats!

Viking Cats

Of course, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo comes to the rescue again with a cat clip for me!

If you like Led Zeppelin, you will like this!

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (2)
Back from Mini-Vacation

Hello all! We are officially back from Cape May,NJ. 4 hour car ride-YUCK!

Anyway, we got lots of piccies to share, but we are going to write up an encounters with pictures on it. So it may take a few days.

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)
Redneck Neighbors

Gail sent this one to us! Apparently it's a site on a neighbor watching and writing about how 'redneck' his next door neighbor is. FUNNY!

Redneck Neighbor

No-prize goes to Gail!! Thanks!

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)
October 25, 2002
Glow in the Dark Kitties

Ellen was totally nonplussed by this, but I just can't help giggling thinking about cat poops so bad they set off an incinerator's radioactivity alarms. I mean, that's some stink!

Ellen says it's actually SOP for some kinds of treatment, but still!

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (2)
Guns Don't Kill People, Dogs Kill People

Step 1: Load shotgun
Step 2: Leave shotgun safety OFF
Step 3: Lay shotgun on ground
Step 4: Stand in front of shotgun
Step 5: Hilarity ensues

We're almost gone, but this was just too good.

Posted by scott at 10:44 AM | Comments (3)
Will the Real USS Enterprise Please Stand Up

Had to get in at least one quickie before we left. Ever wonder why Enterprise is actually named Enterprise on the TV shows & movies? Well, I can't provide a firm answer myself, but I have a very strong feeling it had something to do with the only aircraft carrier to fight in all the major battles of the pacific.

No-prize to Jeff!

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (18)
Mini Vacation

We will be out of town as of today 'till Sunday. Scott and I are going to Cape May, NJ for my cousin's wedding. So this is sort of a mini vacation for us since we have a 2 night stay.

So no posts till Sunday!!!

My cats? - well Miss Amber is going to come by 2x's per day to feed and medicate them! See! Special! They have their own personal cat sitter.

BTW- thanks for all the congrats. I appreciate it. This is a big step for us. 5 cats and a jelly belly (as my southern mama calls it) right now. :)

See you all Sunday!!! I know we will be itching all weekend to put posts up! If you still want to check us out, check the archives! :) Guaranteed to keep one busy for hours.

UPDATE: Don't forget, mom's watching, so behave yourselves --Scott

Posted by Ellen at 06:52 AM | Comments (0)
October 24, 2002
When Good Birds Do Bad Things

I don't know how many times I've looked at those change machines at car washes and wondered just how the dratted things worked. Turns out I shoulda just asked a bird.

No-prize to Jeff!

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (1)
Larry Shoots... Scores!

I gotta admit, it took me looking at this one for a second to figure out exactly what went wrong, but when I did I got a good laugh.

I mean, what do you expect? If it isn't happening in DC, NY, or LA, I mean, it's not happening anywhere to a national press monkey.

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (3)
Zahi's at it Again

Looks like Zahi is going to keep on tinkering with that pyramid shaft until they figure out just where it goes.

Posted by scott at 01:09 PM | Comments (1)
Area 51 Pics

Ellen's always been fascinated with Area 51, so I figured she and at least some of the rest of you might want to have a look at these pictures before some spook finds them and takes them down. Personally, I think it's a weird "bigEmpty", but, from accounts I've read and seen on documentaries, sitting on the hills around the site can be quite entertaining.

I wonder how they managed to enforce the "no photography" law? The Russians will happily sell you all the spysat photos you can buy of the place, but as per norm the military denies it exists.

Posted by scott at 08:48 AM | Comments (8)
Magic. On a Stick.

Long ago, Ellen decided that "we will be having a family".

"We?" I asked.

"WE! will be having a family."

"Umm... do I get a vote in this decision?"

"WE. WILL. BE. HAVING. A. FAMILY. We have purchased a home, which you agreed to. Therefore, we shall be having a family."

"Hey, waitaminute, nobody said anything to me about voting for a family at the same time as voting for more space to put sh*t in."

"LIAR! You agreed to a baby as soon as we got a house!"

"It wasn't me! I swear! I DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN!!!"

"Psha! You did so, I was there!"

That was the mandate. Me, I know my family history. Depending on who you ask, it took my parents at least three years, maybe more, to have me. It only took them eleven months more to have my brother. Likewise, it took Ellen's family awhile before they had their first child (Richie, Ellen's brother), but only took nine months for Richie's sister, my dearly beloved, to be conceived.

Yup, I had it all figgerd out. I would get to spend the next year, maybe even three, being the princess in the tower. I, being the magic holder of the semen, would be the one to be pursued by the "blingedy-bling-bling" noise of the biological clock. Free sex! For years. WOOHOO! Not a problem.

So what if she went all opera on my ass, throwing the pill case into the trash whilst singing an aria in C minor (if you're married to an Italian, this makes total sense). I was the smart one. BLOW JOBS FOR ALL! (Well, blow jobs for me you weirdo). It was only after we had the first kid that I would need to start being careful, start paying attention to calendars, and "having a headache" at the first of the months. But our first try? Our first try would just be gravy.

Then Ellen started getting sick at work.

Not dramatic "gee I didn't know I was wearing grey shoes today" while leaning over the toilet sick. Rather, just sudden "whoop-dee-do's" with the blood sugar levels. Sure, it was a little weird, being called up at eleven thirty in the morning by a panicked wife asking me to "BRING ME LUNCH. NOW!" (I'm sure her head spun around, but that was on the phone, and anyway, I'm used to that), but really, I didn't think much of it.

And then she says to me, with an impish grin and a tone of triumph, "I'm four days late!"


No way. Not this homey. I got lazy sperms (just like me, sez my wife). They sit in their lounge chairs on the beach drinking margaritas and whooping at the eggs in the string bikinis, but not actually doing anything about it. This is Ellen just being weird about kids. Again.

So I sez, being very cavalier, "why don't you just get it over with, and do the pregnancy test thing?"

Swear to god, it was like punching in numbers into the largest computer in the universe. You know, the one that spits out "42" when you ask "What, Deep Thought, is The Meaning of Life?" She went all quiet on me. A very, very bad sign.

See, I shoulda been suspicious when she said "lets get a pizza tonight!" Stupid me, I forgot the pizza place is right next door to the drug store. So I'm sitting there in the parking lot, in growing terror, as she pops out in front of the frikken drugstore.

"Why are you getting out here?" I ask.

"Why do you think, you f*cking moron?!?" (again, men married to Italian women will completely understand)

"Oh." This "oh" was said in the tone of one who has just been told to stand up and face the jury. Only, unlike OJ, I didn't have a gazillion dollars worth of lawyers to get me off. As she walked into the drugstore, I imagined a French foreign legionnaire walking up to me, handing me a cigarette, and asking "do you have any last requests?"

This part of the story is best told by The Empress:

"After we got home, all I did was open the box (we got the triple pack, because, you know, this just never happens) and read the instructions. Three times. Which consisted of, essentially:

  • Pee on stick
  • Place on flat surface
  • Wait

Two windows, preggers, one, not. It was two immediately. While I was waiting (not too goddamn long mind you) it reminded me of running a heartworm or feline leukemia test at work. When you become obsessive looking for a result. Because with those kinds of tests, it usually takes a few minutes to come up negative. Just like a bad ringworm infection, this bad boy went positive immediately.


Only at the last minute, beyond all hope of rescue, do my caveman instincts kick in. "NO! Not gonna!" See, if I don't look at it, it's not real.

"GODDAMIT," she says in that 'your empress is offended and it Will Not Go Easily For You If You Continue To Ignore Us' tone, "GET UP HERE!"

So I trudge up the stairs, feeling strangely sympathetic to Louis the XVI and Ms. Antoinette. I could almost see the scaffold above me.

"Look at this!" she says. "Is this positive?!?"


See, I've read about these things. Goddamned things are frikken infallible. If it says positive, it's positive. No ifs, ands or buts.

Two stripes.



I'm gonna be a father.

Posted by scott at 12:00 AM | Comments (15)
October 23, 2002
Wine Drinkers, Rejoice!

Well, I may end up a fat pig for it, but at least my wine habit is less likely to give me cirrhosis.

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (3)
The Rage and the Pride

Oriana Fallaci is a famous Italian writer (who doesn't want to be called a journalist anymore) who has done amazing things in her life. A teenage resistance fighter in WWII, a died-in-the-wool leftist, athiest, and perhaps even (former) communist, at one point a journalist who interviewed, and excoriated, some of the most powerful people of our time, she is now a very cranky old lady who says outrageous things in an extremely entertaining fashion (our specialty!) She's famous for throwing her chador into Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's face during an interview with him in Tehran.

Even if you've never read any long thing I've linked to on here, I want you to read The Rage and the Pride. It's important in its own right, a call to arms to westerners to stop rolling over and see that we're pandering to people (Muslims) who quite patently wish to destroy us. But also it gives a fascinating look at the Italian mind from the inside. It's what my wife is going to be like in sixty years. What she's mostly like even now.

Two choice qoutes:

So I changed tactics. I called a nice police officer who directs the security office and said to him: "My dear officer, I am not a politician. When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. I also know something about war and have certain skills. If by tomorrow you don't get that fucking tent out of here[the Piazza del Duomo, in Florence, her home town], I will burn it. I swear on my honor that I will burn it, that not even a regiment of carabinieri could stop me, and I want to be arrested for it. Taken to jail in handcuffs. That way I'll get into all the newspapers."

Sir, I'm very tied to America. I'm always arguing with it, always telling it off, but I'm still profoundly tied to it. For me America is a lover--no, a husband--to whom I will always be faithful. Assuming he doesn't sleep around on me.

Posted by scott at 01:25 PM | Comments (3)
Reality Check

Ok, this story has just taken the cake for me. There are obviously far, far too many morons out there who are scared out of their wits about this thing. I live right next door and I AM NOT AFRAID OF THE SNIPER. I'm afraid of all the rest of you twits who are too busy looking and dancing around to actually drive straight down the goddamned road.

So, to show just how dumb you all are, some relevant statistics:

Unless otherwise noted all statistics taken from The National Vital Statistics Report, 1999-2000 from the Centers for Disease Control

Cause# of people killedAveraged over 12 months
Cancer (all types)553,09146,090

And as far as worrying about kids:

Cause# of children killedAveraged over 12 months

* The lightening statistic was pulled from this website, and the sniper statistics I got from today's Washington Post.

In other words, almost 11 times as many people are killed on our nation's roads EVERY GODDAMNED DAY, 365 DAYS A YEAR than have been killed by this psycho in two weeks.

And, unlike our friendly neighborhood psycho, THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS YOU CAN DO TO KEEP FROM GETTING KILLED IN OR BY A CAR. Easy, simple things like fastening seat belts, not getting drunk, and just paying the f*ck attention to the world around you are all proven extremely effective at preventing you from being killed by something 11 times more likely to off you than some wacko with a gun.

So, if you actually live in this area and actually have done something different in your life or even thought about doing something different in your life to avoid the sniper, I want you to say this (with me, because I catch myself doing it too):

  • I'm a moron for being afraid of the sniper
  • I'm a moron for fearing for my kids because of the sniper
  • The people around me are morons for being afraid of the sniper
  • Two tons of steel hurtling down a highway at 70 miles per hour with a person combing their hair, drinking coffee, and talking on a cell phone at once as a pilot is far, far, far more dangerous to myself and my children than any single crank with a gun and a grudge.
  • Today I will be a more alert, but unfearing, driver and citizen not because of the sniper, but because being in that state of mind helps keep myself and my children out of real, ever-present dangers like drunks and morons and falling objects and other things which actually can do me and mine harm.

Say it again. Now.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (5)
"Silly" Research Yields Real Results

People, some of whom actually run this site, are constantly griping about how dinky and weird some scientific projects are, and what a waste of money they must be. Like spending good grant money to let some guys tinker with a really common kind of lake bacteria, yes? Of course, then they go and figure out how cells defend themselves against certain kinds of viral attacks.

Color me chastised.

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Pig Out!

A simple game sort of like rolling dice, but hey, it mentions razorbacks! Pig Out!

Posted by scott at 11:34 AM | Comments (16)
I Bet Mom Knows Six of Them

Well, at least in the UK a nasty doctor can get fired. Actually, from the stories my mom (who is a critical care nurse) tells, only foolish doctors mess around with the nursing staff. Not so sure about the patients though.

Posted by scott at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)
October 22, 2002
Oscar Pix!!!!!

Ok, everyone wants to see what Oscar looks like. So I went out and bought a digital cam for the soul purpose of snapping pix for the site. ( I have yet to remember HOW to get them on the site without begging for help from the computer master)

Posted by Ellen at 07:08 PM | Comments (6)
A Cogent Profile

Meryl Yourish linked up this very interesting profile of our shooter from someone who apparently did their master's thesis on the criminal behaivior of mass murderers and serial killers. Kinda long, but very interesting.

Posted by scott at 03:00 PM | Comments (1)
Even Rangers Like Cats

Turn this cat white, or even just a different color of stripes, and you'd have one of our two-cat wrecking crew, Ajax and/or Teddy. Although the best one of all was when I watched Coconut wedge her fat butt into a 4" x 4" christmas box, then crouch and look at us like "I dare you to say anything... dare you!"

Posted by scott at 02:45 PM | Comments (1)
New WTC Report

Jeff sends us this new report on the WTC collapse (free reg required, blah blah blah). Not exactly unbiased, since it was comissioned by the guy who owned them, but still an interesting item.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)
Snipe This, You Crazy #$@&!

Howzabout some hidden weaponry to make your commute more interesting? I'm sure the cops will become very excited if they saw this stuff in the back. Best use for an SUV yet!

Posted by scott at 01:59 PM | Comments (1)
If They'd Had This Stuff in Sunday School, I Might Still Be Going

Kids not paying attention in Sunday school? No problem, just whip out the ol' fire bible, that'll get their attention! And while I've seen jello brain and heart molds before, it never ocurred to me they'd be useful to teach bible lessons.

Can't wait to see what Larry over at ATS is gonna say about this.

Posted by scott at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)
The Mummy's Hand

Professors get the weirdest stuff in the mail. You've seen this guy on TV if you've ever watched Discovery or TLC. He's the balding, nerdy one (as apposed to the "one with glasses and a fedora" or "the one who's enthusiastic and Egyptian").

No-prize to Jeff!

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
A Country Song Ellen Might Actually Like

Apparently an oldie, but I'd never heard of it before, I present to you The Penis Song. Not quite XXX material, but if you can't listen to silly songs where you're sitting don't go near this one. :)

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)
October 21, 2002
Rack 'em Up

Wherein, our Hero Learns How to Punch 1/4" Holes into His Ceiling with Most Amusing Results

How to put up a pot rack in 44 easy steps:
(Or rather, how I put up a pot rack in 44 not-so-easy, life-and-limb-threatening steps):

  1. Wait until wife leaves for work. This is critically important step so as to maximize efficiency and minimize number of times one is called "asshat".
  2. Remove pot rack from garage.
  3. Return to garage to find pot rack instructions.
  4. Search for 20 minutes.
  5. Give up, rely instead on memory of instructions (how hard can it be?)
  6. Place rack in approximate hanging place on kitchen counter, right over kitchen sink.
  7. Play "where did my wife hide the plumb-bob?" game for 15 minutes searching for said item.
  8. Discover cats have determined plumb bob much better served by placing behind nearby box stack instead of in sack where wife helpfully placed it two days earlier.
  9. Discover that counter is a lot harder than it looks while bruising knees attempting to climb up on said counter.
  10. Boot cat A off counter in attempt to demonstrate plumb bob is not simply shiny metal mouse held in interesting spot by human slave.
  11. Use plumb bob to carefully measure where first hook needs to go by hanging said item from long string and letting plumb bob point at spot on rack where hanging hook will go.
  12. Pat self on back for remembering this bit of instruction, as it is much easier than using too-short, colorfully swearing New York Italian wife as assistant.
  13. Bump pot rack while attempting to reposition self for second of four measurements.
  14. Discover foot makes for lousy repositioning device while spending next 10 minutes ensuring pot rack mounting point is still under first mark.
  15. Measure and mark other three spots making sure not to bump rack again.
  16. Bump it twice more anyway.
  17. Smudge ceiling with grimy hands while scrabbling desperately to save life by not falling off counter and breaking neck.
  18. Make plans to clean ceiling as it is well known wife will not be sympathetic to heroic self-rescue and will instead wonder "what the f*** is all over my ceiling?!?"
  19. Screw hanging hooks into ceiling. Note Johnson luck holds well as none of four hooks actually finds joist in roof.
  20. Pat self on back for having plan B of drywall anchors, screws, and washers.
  21. Spend next 20 minutes searching for various bits required to implement plan B.
  22. Do Tim Allen imitation while using spiffy new orange cordless electric drill to place three anchors, screws, washers, and pot rack chains into ceiling.
  23. Note Johnson luck continues to hold true as fourth, and last, anchor refuses to be pushed into ceiling.
  24. Find out instructions say "do not use hammer on anchor" because said hammer collapses anchor into tiny impressionistic art statue.
  25. Carefully reposition self for maximum leverage and gorilla new anchor into place with power drill assistance.
  26. Continue cave-man methodology by forcing screw-washer-chain combo into anchor despite significant resistance.
  27. On a hunch, tug on chain to ensure security.
  28. Pull entire anchor assembly out of ceiling.
  29. Peer inside new perfectly circular, impossible-to-spackle-over, 1/4" hole in ceiling to see tiniest edge of joist on one side.
  30. Move anchor assembly 1/4" inward and set it perfectly while coming up with good story to tell about spy-camera like hole in ceiling.
  31. Remove S-hooks from bag.
  32. Drop one S-hook in water-filled, sort-of-empty, extremely fragrant catfood can helpfully placed in sink by obsessively recycle crazed wife.
  33. Place this hook securely in pocket so as not to place in mouth.
  34. Wrestle with hooks and chains for five shoulder-aching minutes while placing three hooks into rack.
  35. Drop fourth hook onto floor while attempting to fish it out of pocket.
  36. Prove it is quite possible to use the "f-word" four times in one sentence while quickly jumping down, snatching hook, and jumping back before rack has chance to fall over.
  37. Retrieve center grille for middle portion of rack.
  38. Figure out after five minutes of trying that center grille needs to go into rack before actually hanging it.
  39. Colorfully wonder out loud about the validity of organized religion while un-hanging rack, placing grille, then re-hanging rack over next fifteen minutes.
  40. Pat self on back for removing cat food can as two hooks at various points drop into sink below.
  41. Make loud proclamation questioning own parentage and heritage as another hook makes near-miraculous hole-in-one straight down disposal throat.
  42. Fish this out and finally finish hanging rack.
  43. Hang several pots, but after careful consideration leave 15-pound cast iron skillet on stove.
  44. Receive get-out-of-jail-free-for-thirty-minutes card (double normal length!) from wife when she arrives home.

Remember kids, don't try this at home!

Posted by scott at 08:45 PM | Comments (6)
Discovery of Biblical Proportions (really!)

I read about this story about the potential discovery of James's (of "he's the savior and he's my brother") ossuary, then lost the link, then got reminded of it by Jeff, then couldn't find the damned story, and finally found it via K5.

If this turns out to be true, and right now that's a really, really big "if", it's an amazing discovery. James was a hugely important figure in the early church. This is fascinating stuff.

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (5)
Earth's Gilligan?

BBCnews is reporting the discovery of Earth's first "companion orbit" object. About 100 meters wide, it has a really weird orbit that is very close to Earth's. Our very own little buddy!

Posted by scott at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)
Equal Time for Equal Wackos

We have tended to, well, call people with... extreme... religious views, things like, well, "wild eyed wackos", and "glittery eyed fanatics", and, well, other things that might be construed as being contemptuous of the entire Christian Fundamentalist community at large. In general, these sorts of thick-headed luddites (oops! there we go again!) tend to be called "right wing".

So, in the interest of equal time, we'd like to present to you this really, really choice example of a complete wacknut from the left. This guy is not, repeat not kidding, even though at times he sounds like it. While reading the replies I kept expecting the Heaven's Gate people to start pulling out Kool-aide and purple tablecloths.

Found via the Norwegian Blogger, who MST's them nicely.

Posted by scott at 02:44 PM | Comments (1)
Ellen will Owe Me $1 if She Cries

Very silly, very sappy, kinda weird, I give you The Singing Kitten.

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)
Just When You Thought They Didn't Look Any Weirder

Jeff sends us news of Boeing's revelation of the "Bird of Prey" stealth testbed. Yet another no-prize, thanks! :)

UPDATE: Looks like Meryl beat us to the punch on this one. Ah well!

Posted by scott at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)
Of Course, Ellen Should not be Surprised at the Result

Looking for Evil, but not sure where, exactly, to find it? Evilfinder is here to help!

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
October 20, 2002
Changing Water

I bought one of these today. It's called a Python Water Changer. I bought it for Oscar. Well ok, I bought it so Oscar won't go after me anymore. He is not fond of the siphon.

It is this neat gadget that will suck and spit water out and back into the tank with NO buckets involved! Imagine that!

Ok, I lied. Oscar went after me 3 times tonight. He also managed to scrape off some of his scales and get some war wounds in the process. I also am aware that Oscar DOES NOT like this scraper/planter thing I have. He attacked it.

It took Scott reading the instructions, and me hollering everytime the fish jumped at me to do a 1/3 water change.

Did I also mention that Oscar has an appetite for fine dining now? No longer does he want oscar kibbles or tubifex worms. Oscar wants chicken. Oscar wants that medium rare m-f'ing steak. Oscar wants the $3.99 mealie worms that I HAVE to keep in the fridge or they eventually turn into bugs.

I have created a monster. I have created a monster that likes to pluck the strips of steak and chicken from my fingers and watch me scream when he grabs the tips of my fingers in the process. (yeah ok, I know you are thinking, WHY Ellen! WHY! do you feed the oscar with your hands????- I don't know either. I just accept that it's mind control)

Anyway! Go get a python water changer! It makes life easier!

Posted by Ellen at 08:11 PM | Comments (7)
October 19, 2002
When Racoons Attack!

Ok, I've seen roach infestations, and rat infestations, and even wasp infestations. But racoon infestations? Now you're just being ridiculous.

Posted by scott at 07:34 PM | Comments (9)
I Needs My Shades

Yet another place I am not allowed to go. Actually, what works for me are mirrored shades. First, let's all just agree men are pigs, yes? So there I was, sitting on the beach reading a book next to my newly-minted, less-than-three-days-ago wife. I just happend to be at the top of the left page when a lady walks by in an... interesting... string bikini.

Immediately, out of the corner of my eye, I see Ellen's head SNAP rotate my direction, like a laser guided missile suddenly locking up. Her eyes narrowed and stared really hard.

Swear to God, all I could think of was "Don't move... don't move... it works on motion... it won't attack if you don't move..." Sure enough, she suddenly got this "Humpf!" face of triumph and went back to her reading.

Dodged a bullet that time!

Posted by scott at 07:30 PM | Comments (5)
October 18, 2002
Finger This!!

Want to REALLY find out how big your 'dork' is? Or rather yet, girls, check your man.

Size Does Matter

Posted by Ellen at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)
XXX Goodness!

I KNOW my ladies at the Arkansas VA will enjoy this!


Apple anyone?


Good Morning

Dear Gods NO!


Posted by Ellen at 09:09 PM | Comments (3)
Salt Container Part 2

I've been getting oodles of questions on WHERE you can find Alton Brown's salt conatiner.

This is where I found it. Crate and Barrel. The store itself, not the website. Although now that I look at the container, it DOES look like something that would hold parmesean cheese in it.

It was a total accident that we found it in the store. Scott and I were buying his 'Lodge" cooking pan, and we stumbled on it in the condiment area. Neat huh?

So for all of you that want a container like AB, go to you local Crate and Barrel.

Posted by Ellen at 08:52 PM | Comments (4)
The Perfect Steak

I'm not sure, I guess it comes from having a dad who could do amazing things with meat, fire, and spices, but I've always considered the ability to cook a steak a hallmark of being a "true guy". Being able to create something edible from a raw hunk of meat speaks to the caveman deep inside me.

It took a surprisingly long time for me to even consider trying. We grilled constantly at home, but it was always something the grownups did. When I was in college it just never occurred to me, and by the time I moved out here I didn't have access to a grill. Once I did finally get access to grills, they were these gross "common area" cheapies that couldn't cook things evenly if you dropped them in hot lava.

It was only after I got Alton Brown's book (I'm Just Here for the Food) that I discovered you didn't actually need a grill to cook a good steak. You just needed the right kind of pan.

Since then it's taken about nine months of alternating between shoe leather and something almost still mooing for me to stumble onto the right combination. It turned out to be a real b*tch for me to get "medium rare" (the only way to eat a good steak. If you haven't, try asking for "medium" just once. Guarantee you'll never go back!) with any consistency. I know there must be a million different ways to do this, and I'm sure you guys (and gals) all have different ones, but in the interest of helping other "not-quite-guys" out there, here's mine:

Note: Vegetarians or Vegans should just not click through... it gets pretty graphic in there. :)

The Perfect UnGrilled Steak Scott-style:
What you need:

  • Steak. Well, duh. It's surprisingly hard sometimes to find a good cut. We've settled on sirloin fillets, but New York strips are just as nice. If you can't find a good place to buy meat, there are always mail order places. Regardless, try to find something that isn't super-expensive, because if you're anything like me you'll probably mess it up a few times before you get it just right.
  • A 12" Lodge cast iron skillet. Well, OK, it doesn't have to be a Lodge, but they're the last remaining foundry in the US doing this sort of thing, so why not? At less than $30, it's the first, best, most useful "new" pan in my collection.
  • An oven
  • A cookie sheet or other flat metal thing you can stick inside said oven. The skillet will do (very little hurts a cast iron skillet, trust me on this), but I haven't actually tried it that way yet.
  • Kosher salt (it'll be where the sugar and stuff is)
  • A full pepper grinder
  • A baking rack. Failing this, get some chopsticks or skewers and place them across a dinner plate.
  • Kitchen tongs
  • A splatter guard (optional, but it helps keep the stove clean over time... looks like a monstrous metal flyswatter)

How I do it:

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit (~150 C) and leave it there for at least 20 minutes
  • While this is happening, take your steak out of the fridge (or FULLY THAW IT, or better yet just pull it out of the grocery sack), unpack it, pat it dry, and leave it sitting on a plate for 30 minutes. This gets the meat closer to room temperature, which makes for a better sear.
  • After it's done sitting, get a heavy pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 tablespoon) and sprinkle it on one side of the meat. Take your pepper grinder and grind out just enough pepper to completely dust the side (about 1/4 tablespoon).
  • Rub the salt and pepper into the meat until it disappears. Really rub!
  • Flip the steak over, repeat. Do it to all the slabs you have.
  • Leave the steak sitting for 5 minutes. This pulls some of the juices to the surface and again makes for a better sear.
  • Place the skillet on the large BACK burner (to better control the smoke) and pre-heat it on high for about 2 minutes, or until it just begins to smoke. It's more important that the pan is just starting to smoke than it is for 2 minutes to come or go.
  • Take the steak(s) one at a time and lay them down on the skillet gently. DO NOT MOVE THEM AFTER THEY HIT THE PAN. This interferes with searing. Be sure to place them in such a way you'll have room for all of them.
  • Leave them alone. Do not press, cut or otherwise squeeze them for two minutes. Dinking with them at this point just pushes out the juices.
  • Flip the steaks, and again leave them alone for two minutes
  • Remove the steaks from the skillet, place them on the cookie sheet, and stick them in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • At the end of 5 minutes comes the tricky part. At this point you probably still have very rare, but nicely seared, steaks. What you have to do is judge the done-ness without cutting the meat. If you cut it, the juices will all go out and you'll end up with shoe leather no matter what you do. You judge it by how firm it is. How firm is firm? After years of watching Iron Chef, I managed to get one, and one thing only, out of it (other than the fact that the Japanese eat the weirdest stuff), a guide to steak done-ness:
    • If the steak is as firm as the side of your cheek, it's rare
    • If it's as firm as the side of your nose, it's medium
    • If it's as firm as the tip of your nose, it's well done
    • If it looks like a roof shingle, it's ready for Pat and Cindy

    (well, Ok, I made that last bit up, but you get the picture). Anyway, you'll probably need to put it back in for 3-10 minutes more. I keep pulling mine out and checking every two minutes or so. This is why you leave the oven on for so long before you start... all this opening and closing makes it lose a lot of heat, and by letting it sit the walls get hot enough to help retain said heat.

  • Once you think they're done, remove them from the oven and place them on your rack (real or created) for 5 minutes. This lets the meat settle and finish, and really improves the flavor.
  • Get out the sauces and serve!

Again, this is how I do it. There are probably some grill aficionados out there somewhere spitting beer over how I do it. If ya gots a better way, please put it in by commenting below. Also, if you have any neat rubs or spices you think would work well be sure to let me know about them too. I'm always up for new ideas!


Posted by scott at 05:50 PM | Comments (12)
I Want One. I Want One Bad

I'm just not sure where I'd put it. Maybe Richie or Jeff would help? Jeff's got a back yard!

Posted by scott at 04:02 PM | Comments (1)
Wouldn'tcha Know, We Just Bought a Damned Vacuum Cleaner

More useful than an aibo, more expensive than a broom, I present to you, roomba!

Posted by scott at 02:29 PM | Comments (1)
Strike Formally Ends

It's now official, Jim has called off the strike. As with all good labor disputes, both side claim victory and resume going about their business :).

Posted by scott at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)
Cat Stories

Some happy, some not so happy, Meryl Yourish has now started in on what is obviously one of this site's main concerns, cat stories! Follow the links and you'll find several good ones. If you're new here, or haven't visited the archives, be sure to check out our own cat stories, such as "Kitten Crazies" on the upper-left.

Posted by scott at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)
Halloween Truths

An oldy but a goody, this Salon article seeks to take some air out of the horror myths parents tell each other about Halloween and trick or treating.

Posted by scott at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)
Hunting for Dead Habu & B-29 News

Just when I thought the world was just too damned boring today, my ol' brother comes to the rescue. How about:

A quad-no-prize for Jeff, and thanks a bunch!

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)
Your Favorite Nerdy Tour Guide

Rick Steves is my favorite travel guide. He's a really low key nerdy looking guy from Oregon who's done travel shows for years and years. I finally got around to setting his show as a season pass on my TiVo, just in time for his new season. Here is an article on his website about what it was like filming the whole thing.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
October 17, 2002
Saturn's Prequel

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

The thing about fighter pilots, especially fighter pilots in the gung-ho cold war 50s and 60s, was they knew everything about anything. Most particularly affected were Marine pilots, who had the additional liability of being a Marine added to that of being a fighter pilot.

One of the stranger things about Marine aviation was how often they ended up staying at Air Force bases. Every time a hurricane would blow into the Gulf of Mexico the Navy would scramble all the air stations on the coasts and send their aircraft inland. One of the places they ended up was Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB), in Jacksonville Arkansas, where my dad was stationed in the early sixties.

One night during one of these "sleepovers", while everyone was gathered at the Officer's Club, it was discovered the Marine Aviators considered themselves absolute experts on their brand new F-4B Phantom jets (at the time arguably the best interceptor in the world, and one of the most successful fighter designs in history). Without question, they opined in loud voices (after partaking rather generously of the O-Club's many fine distilled liquors), the F-4B was the fastest airplane in the world. It was just such a damned shame all these "low-slow" (Marinespeak for "bomber") pilots would never be able to experience the finer points of Mach-2 flight.

Eventually one of the bomber pilots got a little upset at these proclamations. "Fastest fighter in the world, huh?"

"Absolutely. World speed record and everything!"

"Faster than anything we got here, huh?"

"Yeah, damned shame too. Mach 2 is pretty spectacular!"

"Well, I think we got something here that'll probably come pretty close to that. In fact, I think it might even be a little faster than that."

"No way. You guys drive all these low-slows. All this plodding around hoping nobody notices ya and shoots ya down. You got nothing come even close."

"Want to put a wager on that?"

Well, of course they couldn't turn down a sure thing. So it was agreed: a timed race to 20,000 feet. Loser has to buy everyone drinks that night. The Marines went to bed with visions of free booze dancing in their heads.

What the Marines didn't seem to understand was LRAFB was one of just two places in the country where a wing of B-58 Hustler bombers was stationed. A medium-sized hotrod, and possibly one of the most gorgeous bombers ever built, it was ostensibly designed to penetrate enemy air defenses through raw speed alone. In reality, it was more an expression of Convair's political clout and the bomber community's desire for something a little more exciting than the ponderous B-52.

It really was a ridiculous aircraft. The wings were just big enough to hold the four General Electric J79 jet engines (the same engines found in the Phantom) that powered it, and the fuselage was only just big enough to hold the three crew and enough gas to perform the mission. The weapon was carried externally in a giant pod underneath the center fuselage that also held extra gas and electronics. It was easily the most sophisticated aircraft built up to that time, with early examples of electronics found on aircraft to this day.

And it was fast. Really fast. Eventually it would beat several world records for speed set by the Phantom itself, and was easily capable of sustained speeds over mach 2.

Not only were they fast in and of themselves, but this bomber pilot knew one of the planes had just come out of an extensive overhaul, and did not have the weapons pod or other armaments installed yet. Heavy, draggy armaments. In other words, at that particular point this specific B-58 was a hotrod above all the other hotrods.

So the big day arrived, a beautifully clear summer morning, with the final mugginess just wearing out of the air. The Marines, being gentlemen, decided to let the Air Force guys go first. What with how goofy and spindly that B-58 was, they wanted to make sure it at least got a chance. The pilot taxied all the way to the very end of the run way, carefully lining up so that by the time they took off they'd be right in front of the flight line and their small but growing audience. For fun, everyone was counting down. "3! 2! 1! GO!!!"

What the audience saw was a tiny metal dot against the dark green of the woods surrounding the base suddenly throwing blue and orange flame out the back. It started to accelerate as if a child had kicked a ball of aluminum really, really hard. The noise from four of the most powerful jet engines made rapidly went from a low rumble to a chest-thumping, ear-splitting, eye-tearing roar, 140 decibels of ripping canvas sound that simply filled the world. At precisely the right moment the pilot yanked the stick back, hard enough the engines briefly touched their skid plates, throwing a glittering rooster tail of titanium sparks. The engines were pushing so hard they promptly blew four shallow holes in the concrete runway. As everyone dodged flying bits of concrete the B-58 pilot barrel rolled up to 20,000 feet.

The Marines didn't even bother to take off.

My dad said the officer's club was more crowded than he had ever seen it that night.


Two reasons for this one. First, I'm out of NASA stories. Why not call the old man? Well, he's deaf as a post and can't hear anything through his cellphone even with his hearing aids (they switched off their "regular" phone... no, I don't understand it either).

Secondly, I always thought this story was the funniest but least believable story he ever told. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this, a story which in broad points matches my dad's very closely. There are, of course, still some problems, most notably the pilot's story happens in Texas and my dad's happens in Arkansas. But they're close enough I get the feeling someone is mis-remembering details (myself, my dad, or even perhaps the pilot), but damned if the story itself isn't true.

Anyway, apologies for it not quite being NASA related. Hopefully it's fun enough in and of itself.

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)
This has to be Useful to Someone Out There

Ok, now I think I've seen everything. Why? How about an eggplant recipie "gauranteed" to cause labor.

Posted by scott at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)
Big Bird Ain't Always on Sesame Street

Lots of reports out of Alaska about a really big frikken eagle-like bird puttering about. Even if it has "just" an 8 foot wingspan, I'd rather not be fishing somewhere it wanted to be.

Posted by scott at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)
I Suddenly Got this Ramones Song in My Head

Well, again, turns out we're not as completely weird as we think we are. Britian's "post pet mortality" industry is growing like gangbusters too. But, like the article says, WE'RE #1!

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)
Dave Barry vs. Crestview Middle School

An 8th grade English teacher gave one of Dave Barry's columns as a reading assignment and, as they say, hilarity ensued.

Posted by scott at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)
The Other Side of the Coin

I support Israel. I think they're doing what they have to in order to survive. But when whacko settlers insist on building settlements where nobody else wants them, well, I can also see why Palestinians are pissed off. However, it looks like the Sharon government is finally doing something about it. Of course, he won't get any credit for it, but it is a positive move.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
October 16, 2002
Cruiser PIX!!!!

Finally!!!! the pictures I have promised you! Kodak programming sucks ass!! It took Scott 3 days to compile something new for us to get pictures up. Thank the Gods for Microsoft (EEEKK!!! did I say that!?? Slap me!)Picture It.

Enjoy! and COMMENT!!!! BTW- your asses better be off the picket line now!


In case you are wondering "what the hell is on that car?", I'll tell you. For all of you that know me, I am a cat nut. Cats are a fetish of mine. Soo...you see, it's a skeletal cat, chasing a skeletal rat. Why skeletons? Why not? I mean, if you got teased all the time saying your car looked like a mini hearse wouldn't you do something as unique as this?

Like what you see? Interested in something like it but don't want to go gothic? Well you can do 2 things. Either get the people I did at Demon Wurkz or get someone else to do it. I suggest you contact the former. Don't worry, they won't sacrifice any sheep over your vehicle first to honor the car decal gods.

Thanks again to Kris and Damion at Demon Wurkz. They ROCK!

Posted by Ellen at 07:43 PM | Comments (8)
Live Nude Cats!

That's right, you heard it correctly, it's time for...

Kitty Porn!

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
En Memorium

This article, sent by Pat, finally triggered me to act on something. I just wanted to take some time out to let you all know that Australia in particular is taking the Bali incident really hard. I mean really hard. See Tim Blair's blog for a look at what it's like near their own "ground zero". Should look familiar.

It's a damned shame that the US has got a maniac running loose next to the second-largest concentration of journalists in the country (if he were doing this in Debuke we probably wouldn't even be hearing about it), because it makes us look like we don't care. Not true, not true at all. It's just that when people start shooting at places where pressmonkies actually live, well, they get distracted.

Just wanted to say that we here over at AMCGLTD are behind you guys all the way, and wish to send you our deepest condolences. Tell us what we can do to help and we'll be there with twice as much. We're funny that way.

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)
The Real Europe

It took me reading this excellent piece to remember the only reason Europeans get along with each other is everyone else took away their guns. Well, most of their guns.

Americans may have a race problem, but at least we f'ing talk about it sometimes.

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)
Weird and Wonderful

I present to you, The Voice of Zod.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
Ellen Will be Pleased

Sifl n' Olly continue Elvis-like to release new material after their demise. A whole season never aired is now available on DVD (and if that's not a use to stretch the medium I don't know what is), and a bunch of other things too!

Posted by scott at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)
Genetically Engineered... Bluejeans?

Well, now they've figured out how to make blue jean dye from bacteria. "Like making beer". GASP! YOU SHOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING BUT MAKE BEER!

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
Where's My Checkbook?

Well, I know where I want to move next. Anybody got a spare, oh, 5 million just lying around?

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (1)
October 15, 2002
The Thing in the Closet (fiction)

We've all seen or heard them at one point or another, I'm convinced of it. You open your eyes at night and see a shadow move across the doorway, you hear footsteps walking around your bed but can't wake up enough to do anything about it, or something pulls away just as you round the corner of your stairwell. In each case, of course, there's nothing there when you actually focus, or wake up, or walk a little faster into the room. Just nerves. That's what I thought, anyway.

I just happened to be wrong.

I really was having fun being a big girl, alone in a new house while the husband was dragged away on a business trip (bastard! I bet he arranged it on purpose too!) I got to play all the music he didn't like as loud as I pleased, talked on the phone to my girlfriends as long as I wanted, ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting, danced around the house in my underwear like a moron, the works. The house creaked a bit sometimes, and occasionally I thought I saw movement, but after turning on every light in the house and not finding a thing for the third time, well, I figured I was just being stupid.

Unfortunately it was a pretty cold night, the first cold snap of the year, and I'd forgotten to turn on the heat. Since my favorite blanket warmer was six states away things started getting chilly. I finally decided blue feet weren't sexy and got up to root out a blanket from the walk-in bedroom closet.

A streetlight outside provided just enough illumination for me to find my way around the bed without needing to turn on a light. I knew I'd tossed the big comforter on the floor in there somewhere, so while I couldn't see into the closet proper I decided to just feel around with my foot rather than flick the closet light on. I was just muzzily surprised at first when my foot hit something hard and stiff, shaped like the leg of a clawfoot table. I was puzzling over what the hell a table was doing in my closet when something surprising happened.

The goddamned clawfoot moved.

I jumped back a bit and was getting ready to scream when suddenly something big and powerful came shrieking out of the hanging clothes, scattering shirts and pants like a hand grenade detonating in a leaf pile. Off balance, it bounced me off the opposite wall and then landed on top of me on the floor. It was all happening way too fast, wrestling and punching and grabbing. Absurdly, the first thing that came into my mind was how its skin felt like the bark of a maple tree... hard and rough and jointed, but cold. I caught impressions of glittering eyes and a dog-like snout and the brilliant glint of razor teeth when all of a sudden I put a knee in something soft and threw the thing into the back of the closet as hard as I could.

At that point I wasn't thinking, I was just trying to get as far away from that thing as I could. I ran straight out of the closet and banged my shins hard against the bed frame (DAMMIT! WHO PUT A BED THERE?!?), fell face-first with a scream and then rolled as fast as I could to the opposite floor, promptly wrapping the sheets around my ankles. I landed with a thud on the opposite side and wrestled with my goddamned feet while my heart did an incredibly convincing imitation of a bongo drummer after his sixth espresso. I rolled over and scrabbled against the rough nylon of the carpet until my back literally hit the wall.

For whatever reason, when I finally looked up I didn't see it standing over me like I expected. I wasn't completely sure it had actually happened until I peered over the bed and saw the two gleaming dots of reflected streetlight gleaming back at me from deep inside the closet. It was at this point I realized I had a problem (well, in addition to the weird freaky thing sitting in the back of my closet, I mean).

I'd just wanted to get away from it, but inadvertently ended up on the side of the room opposite the bedroom door. Every time I tried to move past the bed I'd hear it start to growl, a low, rumbling noise like the lid of a crypt being pushed sideways. I always used to bitch about movies who had dumb heroes, ones that didn't do the obviously right thing and just got themselves deeper in trouble, and damned if I didn't end up choosing the moron option myself. I'd picked this place for its beautiful staircases as much as anything else, but now I was stuck at the top floor of a pretty three story brownstone with two brilliant, close-set diamonds gleaming back at me, and they were closer to the door than I was.

As seems to be typical in these situations (what? doesn't everyone have one of these things in their house? Are you sure?), I'd left my primary self-defense weapon, a genuine Louisville Slugger baseball bat I'd got when I'd visited their factory years ago, downstairs next to the front door. All I had was a set of old slats from the bed... planks an inch thick, three inches wide, and probably four feet long, stacked against the wall next to the dresser. Well, I guess I can lance it with one of these. I levered myself up with one of them, absurdly careful lest I get a splinter from it, and looked straight into those metal buttons still staring at me from the back of the closet. "C'mon you sonofabitch", I whispered to it quietly, "I'm ready now... come and get it..."

The two tiny lights in the closet went out.

Oh my god. It's moving.

Posted by scott at 12:34 PM | Comments (10)
Why You Shouldn't Go Through Someone Else's Attic

More proof the British are just as weird as we are. A preserved body of a homeless person who died in 1984 was found in the studio of a British artist. Not a murder, just a very, very weird person.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)
Wallace and Gromit Return!

Your favorite claymation duo, Wallace and Gromit, have returned according to this BBCnews article! Woo-hoo! :)

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)
Modern Parenting

What do you do when your dumbass teenage son gets a DUI just before you give him a really nice Jeep? Sell it on ebay!

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (2)
October 14, 2002
MSTing the Aussie Pundit

The Norwegian Blogger is in fine form with this Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on yet another nihilistic wacknut lefty simultaneously declaring the US's imminent fall alongside it's imminent conquest of the world. Has the same gist as Decline and Fall, but is a lot funnier.

NOTE: If you don't have any idea what Mystery Science Theater 3000 is, imagine instead that there are three guys sitting on a couch watching TV and talking about what they see. Sort of. Well, read it anyway, I promise it will eventually start making sense.

Posted by scott at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)
HIV as Therapy?

I'd read about something like this long, long ago in a science fiction novel (Greg Bear, I think, can't remember the title). I really think that instead of developing fancy nanomachines or creating super vaccines, we'll eventually learn to harness our own immune systems and have them do all the delicate work. They are spectacularly sophisticated and subtle.

Posted by scott at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)
Sale! Sale! Sale!

Cafepress is having a sale to mark its three year annivesary, so over at our store you can now get t-shirts, mugs, and mouse pads at $3 off! WHATABARGAIN! So don't just stand there, buy something!

Posted by scott at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)
Ellen Won't Care as Long as It's not Cats

See, one of the main differences between Iranian religious wackos and American ones is, for the most part, American ones aren't in charge. And Americans aren't the only ones who pick a stupid easy "problem" to "solve" instead of fixing real problems like poverty and hunger.

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)
This Just Pegged My Bullsh*t Meter

While the ultimate thrust of this article, that DVD-Audio and SACDs are new formats beginning to catch on in the audio world, is probably true, a whole raft of assertions are a really pure example of what happens when a marketroid and a particularly clueless press monkey get together to hatch a story.

So, being the resident audiophile here at AMCGLTD (I know Jim is probably at least as knowledgeable, but he has his own site to run), I'm here to separate the facts from the horse-hockey:

  • I remember when CDs came out. The only people who fussed about the sound quality compared to vinyl were pop artists. You know, the people who multichannel and overproduce the hell out of everything? Want to know why? In the 1980s, when these things came out, all the pop recording studios were still analog from end-to-end. Analog mics, analog mixers, analog tapes, geared toward an analog medium. So it was no surprise they thought their stuff sounded bad, because the CD showed every little screwup, cheat, and limitation in their very expensive but completely obsolete equipment.
  • The folks who really cared about recording actual performances, mostly classical guys (is Telarc even still in business any more?) had been making digital recordings for several years when CDs came out. Digital mics, digital mixers, digital tape recorders, and the skills to use them. Unfortunately at first they had to mix this all down into an analog medium, the album (cassette tapes sounded too crappy to be worthwhile. No surprise most pop music was sold on cassette by this point). When the CD came out these people could give you exactly what they recorded. No surprise the classical music world switched to CD and never, ever looked back.
  • Lots, and I mean lots, of people have home theater rigs nowadays, and more are adding them every day. Now that you can get an AC3 receiver for less than $300, you have very little reason not to. CDs don't have the ability to take advantage of these new developments because of the way their standards were written back in the late 70s. DVD-Audio lets you leverage your existing home theater investment.
  • Because of this, Sony's attempt to set yet another standard will fail just like Beta and those minidisc recorders.
  • "A good vinyl setup will get you a little better to the real performance than a compact disc set up". What a buttmunch. Aside from the clicks and pops, which were of course present in the original recording, the specs of the CD standard are far and away better than what vinyl will ever be able to produce. This is like someone saying a painted portrait of a person is a much more accurate representation than a photograph. Easy to say when commissioning a $10,000 portrait is in your price range (or a $50,000 stereo rig, which is what he means when he says "good"), but the result will still be an interpretation, an interpolation through a medium with clear limitations on just what can be represented. Mere mortals are quite happy with crystal clear photographs, which for all their bourgeois tackiness are still an actual, and perfect, image.
  • "if you're working around the house, then it (the enhanced sound) doesn't really matter." More buttmunch goodness. File this one under "duh". The enhanced sound of CDs didn't make much difference over a cassette tape either. No surprise that they stayed a stero rig-only device until they got so cheap and so small you could nearly give them away. DVD players cost $1500 when the came out, $500 three years later, and now can be found for $150. I give them three years until they are every bit as ubiquitous as the CD before them.
  • Record companies are still completely out of touch with their own customer base. DVD audio costs more than CD audio?!? When you can already buy DVD movies for less than their CD soundtracks?!? I'll stick to DVDs thank you. They're more fun and don't cost as much.

I've already decided to start my own little one-man boycott of the recording industry until someone figures out a way to force them to charge realistic prices for music. If they were $8 each I'd buy two a week. The ones I want are usually $18, and I think I've bought two in six years. This from a guy with a mid-four figure stereo system sitting in his living room!

So for now if I want music I listen to the radio. It may not sound very good, but at least it's free.

Posted by scott at 12:36 PM | Comments (3)
Paint it. White.

Dug around and found this interesting article over at space.com about a possible new technique for altering the course of asteriods and meteors on a collision course with earth. Huckleberry Finn would be proud!

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (1)
Tummy Cam

I wonder how long it'll take them to stick little motors and wings on one of these things? Can Innerspace or Fantastic Voyage be far behind? Can I get a ride with Raquel?

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (2)
October 13, 2002
Fucking POS Digital Cam Software

Yeah ok no piccies tonight. Can't say we did not try though.

We followed all the instructions in the book for the cam and docking station, still no piccies. Software installed, yet the computer does not recognize the docking station and cam. Good thing Scott is off tomorrow and can mess around with it. *HINT HINT*

So all of you people on strike can continue to picket outside ect... We will attempt this picture thing again.

Posted by Ellen at 09:36 PM | Comments (3)
Masturbation is BAD!!! Mkay?

Don't masturbate!! If you do you will it kill a kitten.

Remember Cliche Kitty??? Ya know...ZZZOOOMMMMM!!!!!

This time Cliche is being chased by the terrible Masturbation Monsters!!(aka-Domo-Kun).

RUN CLICHE!! RUN!!!!!!!!

Posted by Ellen at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
Ellen will Waste Hours with This One

KITTY FLIPS! These kinds of games always make me insane. Ellen will love it.

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (1)
Incan Burials & Talking Giraffes

Pat gets a double no-prize for bringing a new Incan archeological discovery and showing us the link to this cool giraffe story we saw on TV a few days ago. Thanks! :)

Posted by scott at 11:28 AM | Comments (1)
October 12, 2002
Fun with Telescopes

BBCnews is carrying this story about a guy who used an 8" reflector and a webcam to take some pretty decent photos of the ISS.

When I was a kid I had one of those classic 3.5" refractor telescopes. As I recall it was $55 from Sears (in 1978 no small sum), a classic style you pointed one end at a star and looked through the other end.

I could never use it to look at stars because:

  • In the summer, when it was warm enough to stay out, giant man-eating mosquitos the size of my head could be heard discussing the best way to completely drain the small pink thing in the middle of the yard.
  • In the winter, it was too much of a b*tch manipulating the telescope with mittens on. Mom would also yell at me to come inside most of the time.
  • There was only one telescope, which meant instant battle-to-the-death competition with my brother. It's hard to look through a telescope when you're in a wrestling match.
  • It's quite a bit harder than it looks to get the thing pointed at anything interesting. A star through a telescope is still pretty much just a bright light.

So instead I used it to track airplanes. I'd scan the fall and spring sky for contrails all the time, and when I spotted one I'd snatch the scope out, follow the contrail up, then see what was making it. Most of the time it was some boring Delta flight or another, but I did also see a B-52, a Quantas jet, and what had to be either a Russian or British airliner (four jet engines mounted on the tail). So I did have fun with it after all.

We used to live so close to DC you didn't get much of a night sky. In all honesty we haven't had time to see what the sky looks like out here. Maybe we'll get another telescope some day.

Posted by scott at 01:21 PM | Comments (1)
More Wacky Websites

Yet another example of what happens when someone with a serious mental illness goes off their meds. Looks like they're based in the UK this time. Classic manic fugue.

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)
October 11, 2002
Digital Camera Goodness

Ok, Scott says I must mention how awsome he is. ( ALL HAIL SCOTT!! For he is good to us cats!)

We bought a digital camera today. So piccies of the car WILL be up this weekend. It's just shitty outside at the moment and the pictures will not look good. Oh yeah, got to learn how to use the camera too. 4.0 mp I may add.

So I PROMISE, piccies of the car will be up by sunday night.

Now get off strike Jimspot. :p

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)
How to Talk to Tech Support

  • Do not tell us you are bad with computers. Do not tell us you are good with computers. We'll be able to figure it out for ourselves very quickly.
  • Be specific. Do not start your conversation with: "my... um... well, you see, when I do something to it... well... it doesn't... do" or "I'm trying to do this thing and it's not letting me" or any such thing along these lines. We are not psychic. Assume we know n-o-t-h-i-n-g about your problem, because we don't.
  • Error messages are useful. Write them down exactly as they appear on the screen.
  • Restart the computer before you call. Trust us, just do it.
  • Do not restart the computer more than once. This isn't a loose wire. Restarting multiple times won't make it "get closer" to being fixed.
  • Yes, yes, we know you've already done what we're telling you to do, perhaps more than once. We're orienting ourselves within your system, and we're making sure you actually did do these things.
  • Tell us what it is doing, don't tell us what you think is wrong. If you already know what's wrong, why are you calling us?
  • See if you can make the problem happen somehow. Regular, traceable bugs are dead bugs. Irregular bugs live forever.
  • Be polite, be civil, be professional. The person you're talking to had little or nothing to do with the creation of your system, and even less to do with what's making it go wrong.
  • Yelling, swearing, insulting, or being snide just makes you sound like a childish moron and guarantees you and your call will end up being ridiculed by the entire staff.
  • We are well aware that this problem is important to you, that the very existence of our city, our country, our civilization, the entire universe depends on whether or not you get your document to print in the next two minutes (and yes, you really do sound like this). Explicitly reminding us, several times, just pisses us off.
  • Do what we tell you to, as we tell you to do it. DO NOT assume you know what the next step is and then do it. Your computer is broken. This means we're going to be doing both expected and unexpected things to try and fix it.
  • Try to do some research. Go onto google and search using the text of your error message. Go onto our website and search through our tech documents doing the same thing. The answer is almost always there already.
  • Read the manual. READ. THE. MANUAL.
  • Do not call us because you do not feel like doing the two steps above, or because you think calling us is faster than doing the two steps above. We're trying to help people with problems, not hold the hands of lazy buffoons.
  • There's a pretty good chance the person on the other end of the line doesn't have any more of a clue than you do. Most first-line techs are reading from scripts. NONE of them will be the person who created the computer or the program causing trouble. Adjust your attitude and expectations accordingly.
  • If you have a friend or relative or spouse who does all your tech support, it's always an extremely good idea to, without any prompting from us at all, provide cases of good beer, bottles of nice wine, or gift certificates to pleasant restaurants as a reward if we manage to fix a problem for you. You don't have to, but it's nice.
Posted by scott at 01:33 PM | Comments (6)
What Your Cat Dreams About at Night

Sometimes one of them gets this look, and you know, you know they're thinking... "If I weighed 300 lbs things would change around here for sure" Of course, then they take a header off the cabinets, and you realize what doofuses they are.

Posted by scott at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)
Oldest Plaque in London Found

A Roman excavation in London has revealed the oldest inscription of the city's name yet found.

Posted by scott at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)
Feline Hitch Hiker

Goblin, our emergency auxillary black cat (NOTE: If Primary Black Cat is Unavailable or Incapacitated, Immediately Remove Emergency Auxillary Black Cat and Pet Vigorously), used to barrel out the front door of our old apartment every chance she got, but at least she didn't hop in a car.

Posted by scott at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)
October 10, 2002
Hairy Toes and The Lemonade Rhino

Joanie is one funny chick!

I came across her site via Jimspot our good blogger buddy who is harassing me about getting piccies up of my cruiser. (Down boy! Down!!! Pictures soon!)

Anyway, you HAVE to check Joanie out. Especially since she has recently trimmed her bush.

Posted by Ellen at 08:09 PM | Comments (4)
Wacky Cat Widgets

Fark squished it out of existence earlier today, but hopefully by now you'll be able to see all these funny cat devices. Feline emergency ejection packs, etc. :)

Posted by scott at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)
Saturn V on DVD

Spacecraft Films just released a 3 DVD set exclusively on the Saturn V. As I understand it, it's a compilation of all the raw footage along with features and interviews. Maybe I'll finally spot my dad on one of those things...

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Another Site Ellen will Love

What's your most embarassing moment?

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)
Let's Make an Astronaut?

Gotta hand it to the Russkies, they're always trying new stuff. One of these days they may actually figure out how to make a ton of money in manned spaceflight, and if they do it'll shut NASA out completely. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

Posted by scott at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
Ghostly Noises

Maybe your haunted house is just kind of rumbly. Of course, if it's rumbling "GET OUT", maybe you aught to test it from a distance!

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (4)
October 09, 2002
Break Like the Wind

One of the disadvantages of being a short chick is that when you spoon your husband, his ass is way too fucking close to your head. It's not like you get this great ripping whomp noise, like a Mexican riceburner on a bad day after Paco's brother forgot to tighten up the muffler brackets on that "gives you extra 50 horsepower" coffee can muffler. It's more of this silent, yet deadly, effect, like the hiss of a mustard gas canister into a muddy trench after you've loaned your gasmask to the guy who went over the side and never came back.

I'm sure all you wives and/or girlfriends know about this horrible experience. You're at the verge of falling into a deep, dark sleep, when suddenly you feel his body tense, and then "it" comes out. Only rarely is there enough of a warning noise to let you know you must roll over now or face the consequences. Most of the time, most of the time, it's this deadly, silent hiss. A smell so bad, so foul, you don't even have time to hold your breath. So bad I don't normally have to go to the salon to have my eyebrows waxed. Usually the offending, and I mean offending, party, is so sound asleep they haven't even stopped snoring.

Normally, the rule in our house is "if thou must pass gas, thou shalt hang thine ass out of thine covers". But when it's three in the morning, and you're so tired you can't tell if it's just a bad dream, well, more drastic measures have to be taken.

Actually, the least effective action is to punch the offending party a few times saying, "you just farted on my face you fucking ass, what the fuck is wrong with you?!?" This does not work because all the offending party does is snort a few times, roll over, and attempt to hug you to make you "all better". Of course, this does not get your eyebrows back. Sometimes it scares the cats away.

Far more effective is to simply get up and grab your can of lysol (you do have a can of lysol next to the bed, yes? If not, you're obviously not married yet) immediately yank the covers away, and spray at point blank range. That's right girls, aim for the red eye! If you play you cards right, you'll get an extremely satisfying snort!!! as the hypercold mist encounters an ever-so-sensitive region of their anatomy.

Unfortunately, I'm sure every female who's ever slept with one knows this, the male species's exhaust seems to have an almost velcro-like quality upon everything it happens to touch. It's simply not good enough to spray his ass. You must also spray the air, the comforter, the sheets, the body pillow, the nightgown, and occasionally the cats. Never forget to loudly exclaim, "goddamit motherfucker what the fuck is wrong with you?!? Does your digestive tract pass Love Canal?!? I'd rather change litter boxes all day than deal with this shit!!!" Be sure to open the window and gasp theatrically at the screen. Make sure you open it good and wide because the cats will be joining you.

Not only does Scott fall into category of "silent, yet deadly", he also has "rips the sheets apart" mode as well. Something we both still laugh at is the time he crawled into bed, snuggled up really nice and romantically to me, and then pulled the lanyard on the Titanic's horn. I jumped almost vertically a good six inches off the mattress, and went rigid enough to throw no fewer than two cats off the bed.

At least he had the decency to get me flowers the next day. What category does your man fall into?

Posted by Ellen at 07:40 PM | Comments (21)
XXX Bonanza!

I have been neglecting you all. The house has obviously taken up so much of my time that I have not been able to put up a XXX quickie in a while (heh, get it? quickie?) Nevermind.

I have decided to give you all a BUNCH of them this time around. ENJOY!

Hot Dog
This is just wrong
Spider Ass
Hand Warmers

Of course they are from my most favorite sick ass site. :)

Posted by Ellen at 06:35 PM | Comments (1)
Advertising Works

We have the URL to our website on the back of our car and darned if it didn't convince an unwary traveler to visit our site! Welcome Paul C. !

Those of you wanting to see what our car actually looks like still need to bug Ellen (and/or Battie & Skully, who actually have digital photos of it but haven't got around to e-mailing them to us yet *hint* *hint*) :) :) :)

Posted by scott at 04:02 PM | Comments (2)
Final Moving Day

Today is final moving day! All the big stuff goes out today (we're paying movers... don't want to shlepp big stuff up 3 flights of stairs), and this should be the last time we need to haul stuff out of the place. We'll finally be able to put the back seats in the cruiser again!

Updates may be a little light today, so behave yourselves. :)

Posted by scott at 07:15 AM | Comments (1)
October 08, 2002
Sponge Bob

This article says it all.

My sister will be upset.

Posted by Ellen at 05:55 PM | Comments (2)
Stalingrad Resources

WWII day today I guess. Found this interesting resource on the battle of Stalingrad. Includes photos from people who have toured the place recently.

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)
Excerpts from a Kamikaze Manual

Follow-up to yesterday's post:

Jeff found us this article that contains excerpts from the actual kamikaze manual. This is the training book given to the pilots to help them "learn" how to defend their country. Some highlights:

Keep your health in the very best condition. If you are not in top physical condition, you will not be able to achieve an ideal hit by tai-atari (body-crashing).

[In case of bad weather, return to base.] When turning back and landing at the base, discard the bomb at the area designated by the commanding officer. Fly in circles over the airfield. Observe conditions of the airstrip carefully. If you feel nervous, piss.

You have lived for 20 years or more. You must exert your full might for the last time in your life. Exert supernatural strength.

Just when you thought it didn't get any weirder...

Yet another no-prize to Jeff!

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
Ancient Bast

I'm pretty sure Ellen has seen at least one cat as old as this one, or near to it. Kind of like people, the vast majority keel over well before this age, but the ones who make it that far seem immortal.

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (2)
October 07, 2002
Picking Paint

We painted the main living room Sunday night and today. Well, I painted it. Scott unscrewed light plates and such.

We have painted the main living room a green color. Moss green, Grey green ect., however you see it. Scott made fun of me 'cause I was like the lady in the *Sandy beach or Sahara* paint commercial. If you have not seen it, it is a lady that is literally holding up the same or very close to the same color paint chip up to a wall and can't make up her mind. That was me. Do I go mauve, green, white ect... ARGGHH!!! Then you have to pick the SHADE! GAHH!!!!!!

I also have a lot of trim in this place. Not just trim at the bottom of the walls, but fancy crown molding. Got to paint that too. I picked the whitest of white. Yeah apparently there is an ultra white out there.

This house also has a chair rail in the dining area. One problem-- it only goes around 2 of the walls. We have a funky half wall with a column on it to brace the ceiling. PLUS, who the hell thought of the idea to make one part of the chair rail on the 3rd wall facing the kitchen and under the bar 12 inches long!? How the fuck do I paint that? Do I paint the wall the green or Kitten white?

I didn't. I yanked that bastard of a chair rail off the wall and got out the trusty spackle can. I am a professional with spackle. Give me a hole any size and I can fix it with spackle and other handy stuff.

Ok, so decided to paint under the chair rail and the half wall and the area under the bar a color called "Kitten White". Yes, that's the color. Kind of a dirty grey white.

Oh yeah, the chair rail will be the ultra white too.

So now I have a sophisticated living/dining area that is functional, yet a good area for having guests over.

We finally get the furniture on 10/9. YAY, a couch! A dresser for our clothes! We are currently living out of bags. I can't find half of my clothes.

One day we will have this place fixed up nice enough to have people over.

Posted by Ellen at 08:32 PM | Comments (8)
The Decline and Fall of the United States of America

Rome's shadow is long and black, and casts itself over surprisingly subtle places in our culture. Ever since western civilization bettered Rome in every way (between 1650 and 1800 A.D., depending on who you ask) it has been expected to fail. Countless authors for nearly two centuries have at one point or another predicted the decline, overthrow, or dystopian transformation of western civilization. All either explicitly or implicitly draw parallels with the last, greatest ancient western civilization, Rome, as an example of the seeming inevitability of their predictions.

Today it's even more in fashion to predict the imminent decline of western civilization, especially the collapse of its most powerful national example, the United States of America. The Internet especially is chock-full of self-appointed pundits who almost hourly decry the imminent dissolution of our country into at best a Stalinist police state, complete with barbed wire fences, secret police, and German Shepherds patrolling the borders.

It's all crap. What's more, the most recent predictions are moronic crap, cooked up by Marxist ex-hippies and college sophomores with too much time on their hands and too few thoughts in their heads.

Those of you who think Rome is a good model predicting the inevitability of a sophisticated society's collapse haven't studied Rome very closely. First, the economy of any agricultural-based society is so fundamentally different from a modern industrialized nation it might as well be from a different planet. It's hard to emphasize how important this is. In ancient agricultural societies, the middle class did not exist. You were either filthy stinking rich, or you were so poor you thought dirt looked tasty. There was no middle ground.

Most of the roles we think of as "middle class", merchants, scribes, laborers, teachers, and the like were actually filled by the poor, or even slaves, and those occupations were therefore considered the lowest of the low. Slavery in particular represented a lynchpin of Rome's economy, and it guaranteed a certain level of instability would be built into their society.

Because of these factors, there were large numbers, large numbers, of people who simply had no stake in Roman society. Why actively work toward success when that success would simply be taken away from you via taxes, theft, or outright murder? Why innovate when you can simply buy a slave to do the work for you? Why worry whether the ruling classes are running things into the ground when you can't even read their pronouncements?

When combined with a military differentiated more by training than technology and a bureaucracy that didn't even answer to the emperor himself, it's no mystery that the empire fell... it's a mystery it survived as long as it did.

Industrialization represents a fundamental break with these traditions. It's difficult to overemphasize just how utterly different our lifeways are from those of the ancients. For one thing a capital-based economy, an economy running on money and the fruits of labor and not on land and the fruits of the earth, is a far more flexible thing (see Economicon for a complete development of this idea). A few bad harvests will crush an agrarian society, but an industrial one simply purchases food from somewhere else.

The creation of a middle class, a hallmark of industrialization, geometrically increases the number of people with a stake in a society. What is going on in the country matters a lot more when it's your house and your job and your money that might get blown up because some windbag of an old man decides to raise taxes just to pay for a new war he feels like having for himself. The essentially complete rejection of slavery also greatly increases the overall stability of an industrial society. When everyone gets paid to do a job, suddenly everyone has a reason to work.

One of the signatures of western industrialization is its distinctively practical nature. Everyone's ideas, no matter what family they belong to, who they know, or what their title happens to be, must be tried out in the hard-knock-life of the real world. A stupid idea coming from a dictator can destroy a country, whereas a stupid idea coming from a businessman usually just puts him on a breadline.

The United States in particular brings several important innovations to the basic industrialized model. Democracy, a form of government considered basically unworkable by most power brokers of 18th century, ends up giving anyone with the ability to vote an immediate stake in the government, and therefore the society. While at root an inefficient method of ruling a country, it provides powerful mechanisms for self-correction, especially over long periods of time.

A legally unfettered press, enshrined in the very core documents of the United States, is a feature rare even in many other industrialized nations. In spite of its tendency to be more interested in the latest gruesome celebrity murder than in legislative or business developments, a free press provides an extremely powerful counterweight against the interests of the rich and powerful minorities who normally run national governments.

Taken together, a government designed to be changed and a fifth column of rabble-rousing commoners whose sole purpose in life is to ensure it gets changed, these two forces represent most, if not all, of what makes and keeps the United States the most powerful nation in world history.

Finally, it's becoming less and less clear that collapse on the order of what the west experienced between 450 and 1050 A.D. is even possible. Charismatic maniacs who could once have built an army of hundreds of thousands able to threaten the stability of entire continents are now instead forced into pitiful (no matter how psychologically horrifying) stunts. The ability to reduce two buildings to rubble and punch a hole in a third after some five years of careful planning is nothing compared to the United States's proven ability to dismantle an entire country using just our special forces in less than nine months.

Further, unlike a traditional ancient culture or even a modern totalitarian regime, our system of government is, in essence, in a state of perpetual overthrow. Every two years roughly 60% of our federal government can be legally overthrown at will, and every four years the percentage rises to perhaps 85%. Rules and regulations, even within our core documents, can be legally invalidated without requiring insurrection or civil war. Basically, it really doesn't make much difference if a politician "steals" an election, even a very important one, because in less than half a decade that same politician will have to face being overthrown his or her self.

This should in no way be taken as saying the United States is a perfect country. Even the Chicken-Littles who run around endlessly shrieking about police states and fascist Attorneys General have their place. But in a world populated by human beings, ones who have over time proven themselves capable only of "least-worst" methods of government, and even then only rarely, the United States stands strongest, and for good reasons.

It may represent a great disappointment, even a surprise, to tinpot dictators, wild-eyed charismatics, and pot-smoking Marxists everywhere, but the United States isn't going anywhere any time soon, and anyone who thinks differently is in for an ugly surprise.

Posted by scott at 05:22 PM | Comments (38)
A Weighty Subject

Got a gearhead in your life? Then they'll probably find this massive table of engine and transmission weights very interesting. From Alfa to Yamaha, Allison to Wright, it's all in there.

Posted by scott at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)
New Solar System Object Found

Not quite a planet, not quite a comet, Quaoar is a planetoid about half the size of Pluto orbiting even further out in the Kuiper belt. At least some scientists are claiming this is a serious dent in Pluto's planetary status.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Found this interesting summary of the Japanese Kamikazes over at BBCnews.com.

I firmly believe that most organized industrial nations would in fact resort to suicide tactics of this sort if they were pushed against the wall as hard as Japan was. I don't really think we'd go quite as far as Japan did, but the Alamo figures large enough in certain segments of our population to make it a factor. Something to think about.

Posted by scott at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)
October 06, 2002
Nuclear Space

Found this interesting article detailing the fates of various nuclear reactors launched into space over the past forty years.

Posted by scott at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)
Why Me?

We held our annual veterinary tech program for the group I belong to here in VA yesterday. The whole thing was a FUBAR from beginning to end. Many of us thought it should be cancelled, but we did it despite the goings on. (this is why we need committees for handling this, not one person)

Of course I get stuck helping out in registration. Yay. This is probably the worst area to get assigned to. You never know if they are on the list, have they sent in their money on time, what is their license number ect.. People get ugly.

Yes, I ran into 2 problems. But they were rather funny. Funny to the point I had to turn around and do the silent laugh and then regain my composure and start again:

A group shows up for the conference and they are NOT on the list. What does one girl do? She literally STOMPS her foot and spins around with her arms in the air yelling " I KNEW IT!! I KNEW IT!!" Me? I raised an eyebrow and told her to calm down and attempted to look through other papers for a reciept of some sort. PLUS I told her that her group just might get in for free so CHILL! (did I mention I was not in charge of all of this? I just got stuck helping out in that area)

The girl proceeds to cross her arms and tap her foot as if the world had ended (this is where I start to lose it). I turn to the other tech at the table with me and tell her the situation. Her eyes got real big and then she says, "I know who they are!! Hang on! I have their folders! They're just not on the list." (phew)

Now what made me laugh at this situation is that I could not take the girl seriously. Why? She had a moustache like Scott. Only it was so thick in the middle of her lip, right under her nose that I caught myself wanting to stare. Then I felt rather ill after. Um... ever hear of waxing? Elase? Bic? Yeah, she was probably from a remote area of VA. *shudders* Or a least the missing link.

My second encounter was 5 people behind this group. An older gentleman come up to the table and I hand him his folder. He looks at his folder and with an irritated voice goes: "My last name is spelled wrong. It only has ONE 'M'".

"Um, ok, that's nice", I say.

"YOU need to fix it", he says. So I take his folder from him and scribble out one of the "M"s and hand it back to him. "All fixed!" Big smile from me. "Enjoy the conference!" (grin)

People just get to me that are like that. But yesterday, I could not help myself but look past it and laugh.

Posted by Ellen at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)
October 05, 2002

Found this on the CLIX thing. Its a Sex Blog.

Got a question about sex? Ask the sex advice expert- NINA!

Yeah ok, it's an 'adult themed' site, run by a character by the name "Neo".

No, I looked over it, it's just not porn. There is more to it. Hey! You can learn modeling tips! Music to screw by, ect..

Check it out.

Posted by Ellen at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)

Ever since I lived in Fayetteville Arkansas I've wanted a programmable thermostat. I know they save money.

Everyone always said to me you should leave the AC on while you're gone, because you'll use more energy cooling a hot house than keeping a cool house. This never made any damned sense to me, because I knew a modern HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) system could cool a house in less than an hour, and I was gone for eight hours at work.

So one year I listened to everybody else and left the AC on while nobody was at home. I ended up with huge electric bills... something like $120 a month at one point (Arkansas can have weeks of 100+ degree temps, and this was an older house). The next year I set up box fans in the upper-story windows, and turned the damned thing off when I left. The bills never exceeded $85, and were usually around $75.

But it did mean I had to sit in a hot house for an hour, and sometimes I'd forget and leave it on all day anyway. There was bound to be a better way. Enter the programmable thermostat, which is designed to turn off around the time you leave, and turn back on an hour before you come home. Now that I have my own house, I decided it was time I actually went and got one.

"Have you ever installed a thermostat?" Ellen asked me in that 'oh-god-he's-gonna-blow-the-house-up' voice she uses when I get a project in my head.

"No, but I never installed a kitchen faucet before, and that turned out OK didn't it?"

"It took three hours and four trips to Home Depot, and you still got water all over the place."

"But you got your fancy faucet, dincha dear?" I said with a smirk.

"Yes, but..."

"Look, my dad used to work on air conditioning systems in Houston (which was true), I'll just wait until he comes out to visit us before I put it in (which wasn't), mmkay?"

"Swear ta gwod," she said... she always gets New York on me when she Lays Down the Law, "if you goiys burn down my house, I'll kick ya 'til ya dead, unduhstand?"

"Your house?"


I picked out a Lux 9000 Series Smart Temp Electronic Thermostat, a 7-day programmable model recommended as a "Best Buy" by Consumer Reports. Found it, after some searching, at Home Depot for $54. "It's a bargain!" I exclaimed to Ellen, who was giving me her patented Lizard Blink... a diamond-hard stare she shares with most alligators and crocodiles (she lacks only the 3rd eyelid. I think.) "The next one they recommended cost $180!" Think fast... think fast... "It's almost like it was on sale."

Yeah, it was lame, but after proving my love by sitting through the "Sahara... Sandy Beach... Sahara... Sandy Beach... Sahara... Sandy Beach..." routine looking at paint chips, I was permitted to make the purchase.

Now, I really hadn't installed anything like this before, but how hard could it be? The instructions were pretty clear, and I only found one message on the Internet complaining how a guy couldn't stop breakers from throwing in his house after he'd installed one. Piece o' cake!

So I waited until Saturday, when Ellen would be gone all day, to tinker with my new toy.

The house came with a standard rectangular thermostat. If you don't have one in your own house I'm sure you've seen them. They're completely mechanical, as far as I can tell anyway, with a bimetallic spring and two mercury switches to turn the AC (or heat) on and off.

I knew how to take the faceplate off. I'd learned how years ago when I made a bet with my brother that the marker inside was actually a thermometer. How to prove it? Nine year old me: "Well, microwaves heat things up fast, right?" Seven year old Jeff, sensing an opportunity to get me in trouble: "Uh, sure! Sure! Let's try that before mom and dad wake up!"

Well, how were we to know the blasted thing was full of metal? It did make a lot of pretty sparks! But I digress...

Anyway, I didn't know how to get the rest of it apart. This is where patience and a little detective work, along with a bit of judicious prying and swearing, paid off. I pretty quickly had the thing down to its mounting screws and connecting wires.

"Self", I said to myself, "I bet there's a good bit of voltage in there, whatcha think?"

"Well, not a whole lot... the instructions say 24 volts... that can't be too bad can it?"

At this point I got one of those dramatic voice-over flashbacks, you know, the kind where the guy looks up at the corner of the screen and a disembodied voice rings out from the past?

Mine said "DEAD!"

So I trooped downstairs like a good boy and opened the breaker box. There were breakers labeled AC, but none labeled THERMOSTAT. Well, I figured if the AC breaker is thrown I can't damage that, so I turned it to OFF and headed back.

It was only a short while later I found out that 24 volts is just enough to give you that "not-so-safe" feeling when it tingles your fingertips like a few passes with 80-grit sandpaper. Back downstairs I went. Hmm... lots of breakers labeled "lights"... it'll probably be one of those. But to find out which one I gotta do the sandpaper-on-fingertips thing a couple of times. So I did the manly, subtle thing.

I threw the main breaker.

The now safely "cold" thermostat (in a rapidly warming house) was pretty easy to remove. And you know what? It really isn't that hard to hook up. Or rather, mine wasn't that hard to hook up. All the wires are colored, and the first letter of the color is stamped on the screw you tighten it down on. I moved very slowly so it took a little longer than it probably had to, but in about 30 minutes I had that bad boy hooked up.

Then my next stumbling block rose up and stubbed my project's toe... batteries. The thermostat runs on AA batteries, which I knew I saw somewhere, but couldn't find. I went through every drawer and every cabinet, no luck. Ellen had the car, so I couldn't just go to the store to get some. I was not going to get this close and then be stuck with no AC for the next six hours. Luckily, while tearing through boxes I did come across an... um... "personal relaxation device" (that's what it said in the catalog she ordered it from anyway). That ran on AA batteries.

So back downstairs I went, plugged the batteries in, and put the whole thing together. I went over to the breaker box, said a little prayer, and threw the breaker on (with my eyes closed).

Seconds passed.

The A/C kicked on.

The breaker did not throw! Woo-hoo!

After a few minutes of programming I had myself a fully-functional hi-tech thermostat of my very own!

So if you're thinking about something like this, and have an HVAC system that's relatively new (or even if you don't... the instructions cover a bunch of different configurations), I highly recommend it. It really wasn't that difficult.

Now I just have to find another set of AA's before she gets home...

Posted by scott at 12:27 PM | Comments (11)
October 04, 2002

Most of us are given the impression in our history classes that first there was Egypt, then there was GreeceRome, then something in the middle happened with knights and popes and kings, then the pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and George Washington was born. At that point you get a lot of "flashback" lessons about how GreeceRome and the Magna Carta were sort of mixed together by the founding fathers and out came the Constitution like some sort of democratic poptart.

Even folks who follow history more closely tend to get the impression that the real ancestors of our modern western cultures were Greece and Rome (which do become separated when you study them for awhile), and the middle ages was when it all sort of marked time until they scrabbled their way back from the abyss the barbarians had tossed them in.

Unfortunately this impression is flat wrong. We did not inherit our western culture from Rome or Greece. For a thousand years and more those legacies were lost to the west like a box of old books left behind after a move. While we did eventually rediscover some of this knowledge, it is really just a veneer covering the core of what we in the west think most about what we are. That core, the column that holds up the roof of our modern culture, was built in the time between 500 A.D. and 1450 A.D. The dates are, of course, approximate and highly contested, but they represent the essence of the Middle Ages.

In 480 A.D. Julius Nepos, the last legitimate western Roman emperor, was assassinated in an abortive bid to wrest control of the city of Rome from the Germanic barbarian Odovacar. While this and surrounding events are usually seen as the end of the Roman empire, the heart of imperial power had long since moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul, in modern Turkey) where it continued to beat for nearly a thousand years more.

Justinian I actually did restore a large part of the western empire, but only briefly, in the sixth century. Weakend by plague and bankrupted by conquest, they were soon forced back by a fresh wave of barbarian invaders. What remaining influence Constantinople had on its putative western territories effectively ended when Islam bisected the Mediterranean basin in the eighth century. They got far too busy keeping their own skins intact to really worry much when the Bishop of Rome made an illiterate Germanic warlord the "Holy" Roman Emperor.

These two events, far more than the barbarian invasions from the steppe three centuries earlier, were in fact what ended the influence of Rome on the west. They put a period on the end of an era stretching back some twelve hundred years. There was of course some trade with other empires, other cultures, but for nearly a thousand years this represented more a fizzing on the edges rather than anything that affected the interior of the land.

Once the barbarians finally quit hanging the heads of monks on their monastic towers things did finally turn around, and in a surprisingly short period of time. But, while certainly not Roman, these people weren't that much different than the ones who surrounded them. They were still using swords and horses, steel armor and wooden bows, iron plows and feather pens, leather and flax. But there were important, and subtle, differences.

Europe had essentially jettisoned the ancient idea of slavery, and while serfdom looked an awful lot like it, the lord didn't own the peasant in the same way that, say, a sultan owned his servants. Certainly armies of slaves were unheard of by this time. There was also a decidedly practical bent to what the people of Europe were trying to accomplish.

It wasn't just about how to unscrew an enemy's head faster or more efficiently. Nearly everyone everywhere was interested in that. It was about things like how to turn grain into flour faster, grow more and better crops, and tell time accurately and automatically so you didn't go to hell just because you'd overslept Matins.

Medieval innovation wasn't just about creating things either. Adaptation played a big role as well. Precisely because one of the primary pastimes of anyone living in Europe was figuring out new and efficient ways of stealing someone else's cattle, land, peasants, castles, towns, coasts, and anything else that happened to strike their fancy, they would eagerly adapt any technologies that promised to make that job easier, no matter what god the originator happened to worship.

Had history been allowed to continue disturbed only by man's inhumanity to man, Europeans may have remained not all that much different from their neighbors. But history didn't turn out that way.

It took just one ship sailing with the tide on a warm October morning in Sicily to change the course of European history, and therefore that of the world. Because the morning was in October 1347, the ship was a Genoese cargo vessel, and its crew was carrying the Black Death.

The first great bubonic plagues of the fourteenth century didn't just kill a third of Europe. Scattered documentation continues to reveal this great pulse of horrific death affected the entire developed world of the time. From the coast of the South China Sea to the Indus River through the Caliphates of Islam all the way to Ireland it scythed a swath that was as ugly as it was random.

What made Europe unique was not the way it suffered the Death, but the way it recovered. The technological and economic innovations that are generally considered to mark the Renaissance were triggered in no small part by the catastrophic loss of both skilled and unskilled labor that occurred here, in the heart of the Middle Ages. The philosophical and religious innovations that were to tear Europe apart in just a few generations were seeded by the question, "If God let this happen..."

But even with these pressures, were it not for the innovations and developments of the Middle Ages, unique developments found only in Europe, the Black Death would've been just another catastrophe wrought by God. Eventually life would have returned to the regularly scheduled fragfest it was before.

But it didn't. The Renaissance didn't explode onto the world's stage because people suddenly began reading their classics. It was brought about because the innovations of the Middle Ages made it possible. The Black Death merely lit the fuse on a keg of powder that had been filling with explosive innovations for at least five hundred years.

These are the people who made our modern world possible, not some effete senator deploring the blood of the arena, nor some cranky old philosopher ranting about how he knew nothing at all. The re-discovery of the ancient teachings of Plato, Socrates, Galen, Pythagoras, and other ancients like them certainly helped shape what was to happen, but it did not trigger it.

It's just a damned shame we've been taught in our schools to see Romans and Greeks when we look behind us. Because to do that we have to ignore the forest of medievals standing in front of them.

Posted by scott at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)
Insert Obligatory Potty Joke Here

Seems like they've found a new moon orbiting Uranus. Nuff said.

Posted by scott at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)
When Tenure Attacks

Want to know what the tenured professors of your college are doing when they stop worrying about being fired? Look no further than the IgNobel awards.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (1)
October 03, 2002
Welcome, Kuro5hin Readers

I found Kuro5hin via, I think ATS (who neglegted to mention how awesome we are on his little mini-review of his 'best of the best'... *sniff*). It's a different sort of community-driven website. Unlike slashdot, the whole thing is run by the readers, not just the comments. And so you get a lot more, and different, types of stories posted up to it. But, as far as I can tell, it's damned near as big as slashdot.

So on a lark I took what you guys seemed to consider was one of the best things we've put up on here, "Historical Forces", cleaned it up, and submitted it. The K5 people are right... their "pundit to troll" ratio is really high. Most, albeit not all, of the critiques were very helpful, and danged if the thing didn't end up on their front frikken page just a few hours after I posted it.

Really, I did it mostly as a stunt to promote our site. I didn't expect the essay to go anywhere at all. We're deeply complimented over here that the K5 community thought enough of it to not only post it, but post it to the main page, from an author fresh out of the box. It gave us a much needed ego boost after the asshats over at FARK were done with us (we bought an ad over there). Maybe now our next big hurdle, instapundit, is finally within sight!? :)

Thank you, regulars, for picking out the essay for us, and welcome K5s and Farkers... hope you like our show!

Posted by scott at 10:01 PM | Comments (4)
Need I Say More?

Typical Arkansas weirdness.

Look close to see the problem.

Posted by Ellen at 09:50 PM | Comments (3)
Much Ado...

Ya know, I do my level best to maintain a positive outlook on the human race. I really do want to think there's a genius in every one of us, if we'd only just try harder. Then I read something like this, and I realize 400 years of rationalism is nothing compared to ten thousand years of superstition.

Most "reborn" fundamentalist Christians in the US really do just want you all to share in the ecstatic warmth, confidence, and empowerment they felt when they "found Jesus". Like fanatics everywhere, the vast majority of them are genuinely surprised, and then alarmed, when the rest of the world doesn't see the obvious truth in their message.

If all your faith does is make you feel comfortable, make you feel loved, make you feel like you belong, I'm here to tell you your faith is weak and worthless. If you're really paying attention to your religion, thinking about it critically and not just listening to charmingly mad preachermen froth and spit, it should challenge you at every moment, puzzle and confound you in ways that make you question every assumption, think about every decision, and break you out of habits of hate, greed, and lazy ignorance that mark all our lives.

Real religion is hard. Want to know how hard? If the god you worship is love, if you are a true Christian, why do you support the death penalty? Why do you pass by beggars on the street? Why do you support war? Why do quest for big houses and fancy cars instead of using that money to help the poor? Why are you not using all your money to help the poor?

These are hard questions, yes. Some don't have good answers; others don't have any. But, as a Christian, they should be questions you ask yourself every day. It sickens me to see enormous churches so new they sparkle in a muggy Sunday dawn next to parking lots filled to overflowing with colorful metal waterbugs with names like Cadillac, Lincoln, and BMW. Whenever I drive by one of these places I'm always reminded "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money - not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."


Posted by scott at 01:29 PM | Comments (2)
Objects in Mirror...

Just because they look close in the telescope don't mean they actually are close in real life.

Posted by scott at 11:31 AM | Comments (5)
Maru Does not Get to Jiggle His Elbow Either

There's lots of shrub-haters who would like to see this happen, even if they do hate Iraq.

Via Jeff, who gets yet another no-prize. :)

Posted by scott at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)
Yet Another Thing to Get Put on the Couch For

C'mon guys... you know you've all done this once in awhile.

Gah, we got no couch right now. Garage time I guess.

Found via SiflayHraka

Posted by scott at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)
Ocular Implants

Steve Austin it ain't, but this new development in microchip implants could help blind folks to read and get around the house. Sounds like a plan to me.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
October 02, 2002
36 Gallons and 1 Fish

Oscar has finally come out of hiding. He is also A LOT bigger than I really thought he was, so he was rather overdue on a new tank.

He has also discovered that he gets to eat more now. We were kinda not feeding him too much in fear that we would have a fish in too small of a tank and he would not be able to swim around. Now he is free to grow to the size of a football and won't have any problems.

One weird thing about this fish is you can HEAR him chomping on his oscar biscuits. Yeah, oscar biscuits. They are nearly the size of kix cereal. He swallows them whole and you can hear him breaking it apart in his mouth.

He has also discovered that the love of his life (me) has not left him. This fish will come up to the side of the tank now. If he sees me walk into the kitchen, (yeah, that is where his tank is) he comes out to greet me. You can actually get a decent look at him now too. He has also been on his best behavior so far. (Note: I said SO FAR) That means no jumping out of the tank yet. Yet...

Posted by Ellen at 06:28 PM | Comments (1)
Punk Kitties

This was sent to us from Kris and Damion over at Demon Wurkz.

You have to watch the ENTIRE thing!!!!

Posted by Ellen at 05:52 PM | Comments (4)
Top Five Lists

Top 5 Reasons Conservatives are Morons:

  1. The world is not made up of white people
  2. Deregulation actually means "letting rich people make more money, faster"
  3. If guns were banned, nobody would have guns. That's the point.
  4. The USA is not a "Christian Nation", and it never was.
  5. Just because it shocks and offends you doesn't mean you get to keep me from seeing it

Top 5 Reasons Liberals are Morons:

  1. Rich white people are not out to get you
  2. Sometimes the poor are poor because they're stupid
  3. If we really did stop "wasting" money on weapons and spending it on head start we'd eventually end up a bunch of really well fed slaves.
  4. Al Gore is a boring stuffed shirt. At least Bush is funny.
  5. There's a reason "traditional" cultures are usually in poor countries, and it has nothing to do with colonialism.

Top 5 Reasons the Media are Morons:

  1. A BA in Journalism doesn't make you any damned smarter than anyone else
  2. We're not all sheep just because we aren't interested in what you think is important
  3. Nobody watches Meet the Press except your friends
  4. We're interested in what actually happened, not what you think it means
  5. A microphone in your hand doesn't mean you automatically have something interesting to say

Top 5 Reasons Europeans are Morons:

  1. If it weren't for the US, Stalin really would've made sure you were all speaking Russian before 1950.
  2. The reason why negotiations worked so well at creating peace in Europe is because everyone else took away your guns.
  3. FRANCE: Get over it. Nobody cares what you think anymore.
  4. BELGIUM: Stop being so shocked that the rest of Europe hates the EU.
  5. GERMANY: Tree huggers have no damned business running the most powerful country in Europe.

Top 5 Reasons Arabs are Morons:

  1. If there really is a global Jewish conspiracy, why the hell are they headquartered in Palestine?
  2. Islam isn't going to conquer the world.
  3. Sticking half your population in bedsheets and keeping them locked in a closet will not help pave the road to prosperity
  4. The Crusades happened 700 years ago. It's time to move on.
  5. If Allah really did think martyrdom was a path for the righteous, why aren't there instructions for explosives in the Koran?

Top 5 Reasons Israelis are Morons:

  1. Putting 50 well armed wacks in the middle of 20,000 pissed off Palestinians does not create a "fact on the ground"
  2. An Apache gunship is a crappy tool for assassination
  3. Making their homeland unlivable doesn't make people want to move. It pisses them off.
  4. A cabinet member who resigned over his involvement in a Palestinian refugee massacre is not the person you want to be touring the third holiest shrine of Islam, or put in charge
  5. It isn't all the Arabs' fault

Somebody stop me...

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (17)
It's 9 and 1/2... Why do You Ask?

Yeah, I know everyone and their uncle linked to this story just a few days ago, but I finally thought up a goofy headline and didn't want to waste it.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (3)
Like a Baseball, Only Bigger

BBcnews has this story on new research into the earth's core is revealing what is perhaps another, "inner" core.

Posted by scott at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)
Making a Geek

There's an episode of Happy Days I remember that reminds me a lot of the way I deal with computers. This was toward the end of the series run, well after they'd "jumped the shark". Fonze decided he'd become a teacher, complete with (as I recall... I only saw the episode once, when it was first run, which makes it... gawd... more than twenty years ago) beard and sports jacket. He was teaching auto mechanics, and decided the way he learned was the way everyone should learn. Unfortunately the way he learned was by being shown how to, say, rebuild a carburetor just once by a master mechanic, and then he knew how. Of course, nobody in class was able to do it this way and so, as they say, "hilarity ensues".

Working with computers has always been nearly that easy for me. Yet it's quite patently not that easy for most of the rest of America, perhaps the world. And, like ol' Fonze, I have a real hard time understanding why everyone else out there has such a damned hard time with them.

It would be tempting to think I'm just a helluva lot smarter than most people. Certainly a really huge number of computer "techies" do just that. But anyone who's read about my forays into the world of cooking should quickly realize I can be just as dumb as the next doorknob.

So what is it about me that makes working with computers easier than, say, pressure cooking chili? What do I do differently that lets me get computers to do what I want, when vast numbers of people can barely turn them on? After thinking about it for a really long time, this is what I've managed to come up with:

How to Become a Computer Geek in Thirty-Four Years or Less:

  • Take to heart first of all that you can actually understand this stuff. Really! The vast majority of vaporlock computer morons I deal with sit in front of their systems without ever even attempting to figure out what is going wrong. It's this attitude alone that causes people like me to think they're smarter than people like you. Prove us wrong.
  • You can do it, but it's hard. Resist the temptation to call on someone technical you know just because you think they already know the answer. This yet another variation of "give someone a fish, and feed them for a day, teach them to fish, and feed them for a lifetime". Learn to research your problems and you will come to understand how to fix most of them yourself.
  • Read the damned directions. READ THE DAMNED DIRECTIONS, PEOPLE. My first encounter with electronics was stereo gear. Everyone, from the hi-fi shop to my high school band room to my parent's house, treated hi-fi like it was some sort of crystalline time bomb... one wrong move and it'd either blow up or shatter completely. I never understood this attitude because every knob, switch, and plug was clearly labeled. If it's not painted on the front of whatever you're using, it's in the instructions. Half of my "talent" comes from just carefully reading the manuals.

    Not just directions, but computer magazines, concept books, "how-to" books, "Dummies" books if you really must. Learn how to apply what you've read, and stop relying on someone else to show you. A book is far, far cheaper than a class, and is more convenient and easier to schedule around. I know there are a lot of you who are completely uncomfortable with this approach to learning, but until you get comfortable with it learning how to do anything with a computer will probably remain forever out of your reach. Not because you're stupid, but because you're poor and have better things to do than attend hours-long classes.

  • Don't fear the experiment. This is the last, and probably the most important, aspect of dealing with computers. Want to know why your kids are so damned good with computers and you're not? They're not afraid of breaking it, and you shouldn't be either. Do your level best to make sure you can un-do whatever you're about to do, or failing that take notes about what you've done so if you get in really deep someone can help you get out, but do something. Don't get frustrated if your experiment fails. Experiments are supposed to fail. Learn from each failure and you will eventually find success.

And really, that's all there is to it.

Or you can always pay (or, in the case of Ellen, yell at) me to do it for you. Will I.T. for beer!

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)
Improve Your Console

Nearly all my gaming is done on a PC, but I know a lot (well, at least two) of our readers do most of their gaming on consoles. Thought you might find this guide to improving your console's TV picture interesting. Enjoy!

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
A Lamp All Men Like to Rub

Well, I know what I'm gonna be rubbing tonight.

Oh get over yourself. Men are pigs, you haven't figured this out yet?

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)
Dumb Blond Joke

In yet another example of our oh-so-on-the-ball press simply regurgitating whatever shows up on their fax machines on Monday, turns out blonds are not going extinct. Swear to God, media people must have the easiest job on the planet. Paraphrasing news releases is just not that hard, and that seems to be all most of them ever do.

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)
October 01, 2002

My car got done this Saturday. It is too friggin cool for words! I have gotten lots of compliments, lots of questions on how it was done. We just say, it was a lot of work involved physically and several weeks (months maybe?) for the design alone.

Who did my car? Demon Wurkz did. 2 very original people that put 100% into their work. Plus they are pretty damned cool to hang out with too.

What I had done: 2 very large skeletal cats stalking a skeletal rat on each side of the car. The rat alone was 28 inches long so you can get a scale on how big this design actually is. The cat? The cat covers from the front door all the way around the back of the car on each side. Yes, the hood design previously placed up is on the car too. And of course, we had to advertise AMCGLTD.

The cost? A lot :) But well worth it in my eyes. I have an ORIGIONAL design on my miniature hearse-like car and it makes me smile every time I look at it now. No one else has a cruiser like mine.

Pictures? Yeah, well we are working on that. We just bought a house, and getting a digital camera is the last thing on our minds. Hopefully pictures will be up soon on our site and of course Demon Wurks will place it up on theirs to show off their work.

Should I also be telling you that I have paid in advance for my tattoo design by them too? Hrm...perhaps get my car design on my arm? Tempting ya know.

Thanks to Damion and Kris, my car is totally bitchin now.


Posted by scott at 07:30 PM | Comments (2)
Snowbird of Death

My mom went through this recently with my grandad. It took him wrapping his car around an 18-wheeler before they finally managed to get him off the road.

Posted by scott at 03:05 PM | Comments (1)
Wireless 101

Got some back-channel questions about the ol' wireless network I've set up, and after doing a little research found this nice site which gives a techie-friendly summary of what all is out there. Because the Tivo got set up nowhere near a phone jack, I'm seriously considering one of those wireless ethernet widgets for it so it can pick up program data from our internet connection. Maybe from folks like these?

Anyway, "will IT for beer!" I'm always happy to answer technical questions and have very reasonable beer-unit rates for actual IT work if anyone is interested. You know, 1 page website = 6 pack of beer, etc. ;)

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
PayPal Scam Alert

Yeah, I know you're too smart to fall for this, but it never hurts to spread the news.

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)
Blog Elder Turns 5

Happy Birthday Slashdot! The site you love to hate (or barely understand at all), where News for Nerds gathered a group of erudite anarchists and elitist hacker wannabees and molded them into one of the first, best sources of sci-tech news on the planet. The moderation system on comments is to this day one of the most innovative and effective solutions I've ever seen for the "chaff vs. wheat" problem of community management. They're one of our "blog parents", even though they (*sniff*, *sniff*) never call anymore.

They even managed to keep Katz quiet for, what, nearly six months now! Woo-hoo!

Update: Turns out yesterday was mellie's blog's birthday. Melbernai was the first blog to link to ours, an old friend from on-line days. Happy blog-day all!

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
Why I'm Such a Video Snob

Starwars.com is carring this really nice article on why you should buy letterbox videos.

Everyone has a favorite movie or movies, ones they essentially memorized by watching over and over again on TV or video. Mine were the Star Wars trilogy, Ellen's was The King and I. I'm sure you have one too, some big sweeping classic you haven't seen on the big screen in years, if ever.

Go out and buy the letterbox version of this film on DVD and give it a quick viewing. I gaurantee that within fifteen minutes you'll spot countless details you simply didn't know existed. In some cases, entire scenes will seem different, and overall it'll be like watching a new movie.

Unless you're my mom, who refuses to buy a DVD player because she doesn't have any DVDs. And no, she doesn't see the logical contradiction. :)

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (9)
Muscular Dysmorphia

I knew eventually they'd find the male counterpart to eating disorders, and it seems that now they have. I saw a Discovery show on this awhile back. Guys will go through the most extreme training regiments imaginable and will still think they don't look right. Most of them are eventually forced to stop because they injure themselves.

It all seems to boil down to a variant of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Hopefully we won't get "pro dysmorphia" sites like we do with the lunatic eating disorder fringe. HELLO PEOPLE they call it a disorder for a reason!

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)
Water Everywhere?

BBCnews is carrying this article on a new paper being presented which claims liquid water may be far more prevalent in the solar system than was previously thought.

Posted by scott at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)