March 31, 2003
27 Weeks

Ever get to the point in your pregnancy that you feel like you really do have an alien growing inside of you (Scott? Jeff? Damion? Joshua? ... heh... didn't think so)? Olivia has been moving around so much that I literally have been thinking that I really do have that critter from the movie Aliens inside of me. You know, the one that attaches to your face and puts a creepy-assed thing down your throat? The one that has like 6 legs and stuff? This baby feels like it has more legs and arms than it should have.

And you can see it happening. Through your skin.

My pregnancy calendar keeps saying (for the past 3 weeks) that I am in the 'home stretch'. Ok, the next time I hear 'home stretch' again, I am going to scream. Home stretch means you have a week to go, not nearly 3 months.

You find yourself totally involved in your pregnancy. Almost to the point it literally can consume a good portion of your day. Remember the days of daydreaming of that special guy? Or what color you're going to paint your room? Or what new bedspread you just bought and can't wait to get it on your bed? (Ok, guy translation time: Scott says, "imagine a thirty year old Sophia Loren driving up in a Ferrari and asking if you're busy tonight." Men are pigs.) Yeah, those days are gone.

You become consumed with thinking about 'how much this is really going to hurt when the baby does decide to make it's appearance.' You become consumed with what baby stuff you are going to buy (which we have not done any of yet). Baby shower? (Are those possible with less than 5 friends?)

You keep thinking about how your cats are going to act (Scott laughs out loud at this point and mumbles about "crazy cat lady in waiting"... he's sleeping on the couch tonight). One thing I'm not concerned about is if the cats will lash out aggressively at the baby. My only issue is that Ted and Ajax think of more creative ways to crap in my house.

I've given up on those restrictions of pregnancy, like watching the caffeine you drink. Ooops...guess I should make myself suffer and not drink those 40 oz. Coke slushies anymore (yeah right, take it away and lose a hand). I stopped following my doctor's (aka Santa Clause's) advice of just walking for fitness. I'm sorry, I just don't feel accomplished and apparently I was just having a bad water retention day (I must remember not to lick blocks of salt) since I am no longer ballooning up.

So I'm back to my regular exercise routine. Well, not what I normally would do. But at least there's weight training involved. Denise Austin is too goddamned perky for words. Even with a bowling ball stuck to her belly, she's so cheerful you want to drown her. Too bad my mind is so preoccupied that I actually do need to have the sound on vs. muting it and listening to the radio and just following the tape.

But like the newsletters say, I'm in the home stretch. Again. And again. And again.

June seems a long time away.

Posted by Ellen at 08:36 PM | Comments (1)
Getting the Word Out

Ok, me, I'm one of those people who have no problem whatever making immigrants register, booting ones who cause trouble, holding them in the pokey if we think they know something interesting, etc. Yeah, I know I'm an ugly American that way, but as far as I'm concerned: my house, my rules. And you know what? The vast, and I mean vast majority of other countries act just exactly this way. That's why the state department advises you to contact the US embassy or consulate of your destination whenever you travel abroad. That way they'll at least know who you are if you screw up on someone else's turf.

However, I absolutely and irretrievably draw the line at citizenship. If you're a citizen, you most definitely have rights. Even if you join the wrong side and start shooting at your fellow Americans, if we catch you I absolutely believe in your right to a trial by your own peers with a lawyer provided to you by the state. I may not shed a tear if they strap you to a gurney and give you, as Ellen puts it, the "green juice", but by god you better have had a trial beforehand.

So I just wanted you all to know we got us a concrete case of judiciary abuse going on right now, one in which a citizen is being held in prison for no damned good reason anyone can figure out. C'mon folks, let's get the system working. The whole point of a democracy is ensuring freedom by making it impossible for wacks to take away our rights for any length of time. The best way to kill a fungus like this is to shine a light on it. Let your voice be heard!

Update: Yeah, yeah, yeah, "middle eastern descent." Listen folks, you gotta work your ass off to become a citizen of this country. Takes years sometimes. We make it tough so we can be sure people who become citizens want it with all their heart. The people who become citizens are proud of it in no small part because it's tough. Far as I'm concerned, and I am not joking around here, if you're willing to go to the effort by God you're my equal in the eyes of our laws. If we can let Joe Wacknut spew his nazi-laced hate about white power and the Christian nation and give him police protection while he and his beer-belly buddies wander down main street, we can damned well leave one guy in peace to raise his family and pay his taxes and do everything else you're supposed to do to make it around here, no matter where he was born.

It sickens me to think people would believe otherwise.

Via Skippy.

Posted by scott at 04:04 PM | Comments (8)
Ah, if Only it were Peter Arnett

At least one correspondent is taking a cue from US sports broadcasting by broadcasting "live" war reports from a broom closet while reading wire dispatches. I wonder if he's got a guy standing behind him banging on stuff when he needs sound affects?

Sad thing is, his reporting was probably just as good as our own monkeys!

Posted by scott at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)
The Car-ma Sutra

I love Italy! Where else would a city set aside a parking garage specifically for making woopie?

The Tuscan town of Vinci, more commonly known for its Renaissance artist son Leonardo, is renovating a car park complete with soft lighting and special trash bins for condoms.

l'Italia lungamente in tensione!
(did that via google, so it probably is making every Italian double over in laughter... in theory it says "Long live Italy!" Correct translations welcome!)

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
Pole to Pole

The reviews I've read say "Journey to the Core" is fun as long as you don't think at it too much (not nessesarily a bad thing), but the movie certainly has brought out a lot of speculation about what's going on in the middle of our planet. BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing the most recent scientific discoveries.

Posted by scott at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)
I Always Thought "Gonna Have Kittens" was an Expression

Human nature being what it is, believing that a dog gave birth to kittens via witchcraft is much more popular than, say, a farmer looking for some attention getting kittens to nurse off a lactating dog. Makes for a good story though, unfortunately too many people will believe it.

Posted by scott at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)
What Next?

Instapundit linked up this editorial about what an arab intellectual thinks might be a good starting point for the reconstruction of Iraq. At least as interesting was his summary of why everything went so wrong in the Middle East: the puppet governments set up to protect colonial interests after WWI became self-justifying murderous oppressors founding a new dictatorial ruling caste. Fundamentalism arose as a reaction to this local phenomena, although it, too, is rapidly losing legitimacy. Fascinating stuff.

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Well, it doesn't function exactly like the "real thing", but this attempt at a for-real replica of the Delorean from Back to the Future is pretty cool nonetheless. With pictures!

Posted by scott at 11:19 AM | Comments (2)
Rock or Fossil? Take a Picture!

Slashdot featured this article detailing a new technique scientists have discovered for telling the difference between a type of fossile made by life, and one made by weird natural processes. How? They take a picture and then use a common file compression utility on the digital result. The more the file compresses, the more likely it is to have been created by life.

Posted by scott at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)
Ah, Those Quirky Japanese

Now we have Japanese cat hats. Note: Site is in Japanese, and may not show up properly at all depending on what font set you have installed. However, the pictures are cute.

Posted by scott at 09:05 AM | Comments (3)
The Island of Dr... dog?

Don't feel like dumping fido on a roadside? Worried a shelter might kill him because you don't want him anymore? Now, apparently, you can have someone else dump them on a deserted island for you.

I think these people have their heart in the right place, but it seems to be not much more than abandoning a dog, which is never good.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
March 30, 2003
Strange and Real Sex Laws

Yeah, all I can say is 'who the hell thinks of this stuff' ?

Posted by Ellen at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)
Divine Interventions

Now you can have the perfect dildo for that holy moment.

Thanks to the Reverend Heathen at The City Morgue for the *inspiration*.

Posted by Ellen at 10:28 AM | Comments (2)
The Dark Side of Toys R Us

I'm sure this happens at other stores too.

Posted by Ellen at 09:29 AM | Comments (10)
Bunny Boilers

Stories of psychopathic boyfriends and girlfriends.

Rather funny site. Check it out!

Posted by Ellen at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)
March 29, 2003
Monkey Bowling

Just like Elf Bowling, except you get to play with a monkey !

Posted by Ellen at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)
Four Handaxes and a Funeral

(Well, ok, one hand-axe, but it made a good headline) BBCnews brings us this report detailing what could be the earliest evidence of funerary rights in ancient humans ever found.

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (1)
March 28, 2003
Leon's Gun

Remember the opening scene in Blade Runner (at least I think it's the opening scene... anyway...), when the replicant is being grilled by a the psychologist? Well, turns out the weapon he used is actually a for-real gun. This is probably no surprise to anyone who's a monster-fan of BR, but it was news to me!

Posted by scott at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)
Hail Mary, Full of... Fish?

Yah know what? I can only let this one speak for itself:

A fish heading for slaughter in a New York market shouted warnings about the end of the world before it was killed, two fish cutters have claimed.
A disbelieving Mr Rosen then rushed to the back of the store, only to hear the fish identifying itself as the soul of a local Hasidic man who had died the previous year.

It instructed him to pray and study the Torah, but Mr Rosen admitted that in a state of panic he attempted to kill the fish, injuring himself in the process and ending up in hospital.

The fish was eventually killed by Mr Nivelo and sold.
Many members of the city's Jewish community are now certain that God, troubled by the prospect of war in Iraq, has revealed Himself in fish form.

Rabbi Blogman(stein), what could this possibly mean?!?

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (1)
Oldest Salamanders Found

BBCnews is carrying this summary of the discovery of a new fossil bed containing the earliest known examples of salamanders. Before, the earliest "only" went back 65 million years. These new finds go back 100 million more.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Shuttle FAQ

Always read the comments. I found this very nice Columbia FAQ trolling slashdot. Everything you wanted to know (that anyone else knows) but didn't know who to ask.

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
An Article Everyone Should Read (*PAT*)

Just in time for April Fools, we have this summary of new and used hoaxes for your prank protection. After my mom got bit by the SULFNBK.EXE hoax, I think she's a little more critical, but it never hurts to be sure.

Posted by scott at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)
WHEN Going == Tough SET tough = Shopping

You want to know about "hearts and minds?" How about handing out $100s to an Iraqi rock quarry owner so we can have some of his rocks. And note the IOU left for the guy who made clay bricks. I love this country...

Posted by scott at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)
Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Stoned

Because when they do their friends do things like wave bags of grass at uniformed cops on their way to work.

Chong: "Oh man, that sucks man. I bet he thought it was his old lady."

Cheech: "Nah, he prolly just wanted directions to da Wendys, you know?"

Posted by scott at 07:39 AM | Comments (1)
March 27, 2003
Happy Birthday Coconut!!

Today is Coconut's birthday! Hooooraaayy for Coconut!

Coconut is my first kitten that I woke up after a C-section on her mom at the Washington Animal Rescue League 6 years ago!

Coconut was toted around in a leather back pack for 6 months to and from work on the metro. She has been to the movies, out to resturants, an ice skating event and even the National Cathedral.

So everyone wish my Buddah Baby a Happy Birthday!

Posted by Ellen at 06:16 PM | Comments (4)
Catnip Attack!

It's looking like catnip may actually be a termite repellant.

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)
Peace for Oil

Found this interesting bit discussing just why France, Russia, and Germany were so vociferously apposed to the current war. Hint: it ain't because they're concerned about Iraqi civilians. The source of this argument will surprise you.

I think it's interesting to see that the old "Hobbes-ian" western attitudes still exist in this supposedly "Kant-ian" new world order. Western governments may at times act deeply concerned about the fate of the third world and be all warm and fuzzy about it, but if you scratch them, any of them, hard enough, you'll still find enough cold hard steel of pragmatisim and naked self interest to make any 19th century robber baron proud.

Article found via Instapundit and the Volokh Conspiracy.

Posted by scott at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)
Big Rock, Fall From Sky

Proof that if you saturate a country with enough cameras you'll eventually capture everything, we present this news story of a news crew who were in the right place at the right time when a meteorite did its thing. With video!

Posted by scott at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)
Beer Science

Ever wonder why the bubbles in a dark beer are a light color? Well, ok, neither did I, but some lager boy in the UK did and got this explanation as to why this happens.

Testing time!

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)
March 26, 2003
Cat Quotes

"A dog is a prose, a cat is a poem."
-- Jean Burden

"One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home."
--Pam Brown

A cat can purr its way out of anything.
-- Donna McCrohan

"As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human mind."
--Cleveland Amory

This one is for Scott:

"I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. Cat, I would lend you this book to study, but it appears you have already read it. She looks up and gives me her full gaze. Don't be ridiculous, she purrs, I wrote it.
-- from "Miao" by Dilys Laing

Posted by Ellen at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)
Battery Included

An example on what not to do with a battery and some electrodes.


Posted by Ellen at 05:53 PM | Comments (1)
Set Praise = Lord && Pass = Amunition

You go gramma! I especially liked this quote:

"I would have used a shotgun [instead of my .357 magnum], but I had just had new countertops done and I didn't want to tear up the kitchen."

See, even when defending ourselves in our own homes Americans don't want to break stuff when we don't have to.

And always remember, don't f*ck with gramma, 'cos she just might pop a cap in yer ass for bothering her.

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (2)
Guest Author: Has the administration goofed?

by Jeff Johnson


This is not a criticism of our military forces on the ground doing the actual fighting. It is instead a critical look at the administration's decisions regarding how the war is being fought.

I think there has been too much political involvement with actually fighting the war (a-la Vietnam) and I think that it's hurting our ability to prosecute the war and is dangerous to the troops who are there.

Examples: We started the war off before the military was ready by trying to get Saddam. Admittedly this was a chance to end the war before it really began, but we when it became apparent that it hadn't worked the way we wanted it to we should have waited to send in the troops until all the forces were ready.

We send in the ground troops BEFORE we soften up the Iraqi army, compare what we did this time to what we did in the Gulf War. Back in 91 we bombed the living #$#% out of their ground forces for weeks before the ground troops went in. We isolated their troops, pounded on them for weeks until they just couldn't wait to give up. (Surrendering En Mass to Helicopters, reporters, just whomever they could find)

For the first few days of this war where was the Tac Air Support for the ground forces? Where were the A-10s and F-16s etc that were supposed to be pounding on the Iraqi forces before our troops reached them? They were tied up in the so-called "Shock and Awe" campaign to bomb the various strategic targets. If you watched over the weekend it took almost 4 hours for the Marines to call in an air strike on the building in Umm Qasr where they were taking fire. This isn't the way it’s supposed to work in a well-run combined arms campaign.

It wasn't until we started running into stiff resistance that Close Support strikes started really taking place. This didn't happen in 91 because we allowed time for the strategic targets to be taken out and then went after the Tactical targets. Only after we had decided that the Iraqi army had been massively degraded did we send in our ground troops.

The forces we have on the ground, while enough to ensure victory, aren’t exactly overwhelming. Where's the 1st Armored? (It's in Europe) Where's the 1st Cav? (It's at Ft Hood TX right now but it's under deployment alert to the Gulf) How about a light infantry division for fighting in the cities? Where are the forces that would greatly ensure our victory with the least possible casualties, and just maybe overwhelm the Iraqi army enough so that they do surrender? We have an entire infantry division (The 4th) that was tasked for this operation sitting on their butts because their equipment hasn’t arrived yet (I don't think their equipment is supposed to make it around to Kuwait until next week.) This is the division that was supposed to go in through Turkey.

From the Pentagon's own "Modern Urban Battle Analysis and Observations (Part II)":

Force Ratio: Successful attackers most often had superior manpower and firepower. In cases where the attacker won, but was inferior in manpower and firepower, the defender violated one or more principles of war. Nevertheless, the average attacker-to-defender ratio in the 22 battles reviewed was 4:1. Another consideration for both attacker and defender is the relationship between force ratio and combat duration. Historically, the stronger the attacker, the shorter the duration of the fight.

Sources say the Republican Guards defending Baghdad have around 60,000 men. The reports today indicate that the so-called Fedayeen troops may number as many as 30,000. I don't think the 3rd Mech Division, and 101st air assault and the 1st Mef have 370,000 men in them. It is believed that the total Army presence in the region is nearly 68,000 soldiers and 16,000 Marines for a total of 84,000 fighters. This means that if you combine the count of just the Republican Guard and Fedayeen troops we are actually outnumbered.

The numbers you hear the Pentagon say about deployments in the 200,000-300,000 range include all of the support troops, sailors on the various ships in the Gulf etc. These folks, while valuable, aren’t at the sharp point of the stick. Our superiority in weapons, training, air power etc.(called force multipliers) offsets this a great deal and we are in no danger of losing the war, but why go in with numbers that are closer to even if you don't have to?

It's worth noting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a politician, has repeatedly stated that our airpower offsets any lack of ground troops in Iraq. With the sand storms and weather currently being experienced in Iraq much of our ability to provide close air support on demand to the troops have been severely degraded. I mean to @#@# with fighting fair and giving the other guy a chance let's put enough forces on the ground to not just win but pulverize the enemy.

These are several examples where political decisions are driving the military ones a-la Vietnam (at least I hope this is the case. If it's not then we really need to look at our command structure in the Gulf because they aren’t fighting smart.) I'm not bashing the Administration (I agree with what Sam Donaldson said, No matter if you were part of the people wanting to jump off the cliff, or part of the people trying to hold them back, the point is moot, we are off the cliff and falling, it's now time to work together as a group to ensure the best possible landing. ) Once the decision to go to war had been made I think the administration should have told the military, "This is what we want to happen, now go and make it happen" and then butted out. IMHO this isn't what's going on.

About the Author:

Jeff Johnson is a student of US Military History Specializing in the conflicts from WWII thru Vietnam. He served 4 years in the Army on active duty (With a tour in Korea) and 2 years in the reserves. He currently is a contractor for the US Goverment.

[He's also my brother -Scott]

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (5)

Long, long time ago I remember someone in America got momentarily famous for microsculpting. Now looks like Willard Wigan of the UK has taken up the same itsy-bitsy torch. Very neat!

Posted by scott at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)
Alzheimer's News

Another day, another no-prize for Jeff who brings us this article from Science Daily detailing a new discovery in the effort to treat Alzheimer's:

A molecule that naturally degrades a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease appears to reduce the levels of that protein by nearly 50 percent when delivered by gene therapy, researchers at the Salk Institute and UC San Diego have found in collaboration with researchers at the University of Kentucky. The findings appear in the March 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)
A Voice from "Over There"

Yourish brings us this letter from "Captain Steve", apparently an air force officer actually in the air on March 24th.

Posted by scott at 11:27 AM | Comments (1)
Black Hole Wind

BBCnews is carrying this report summarizing new discoveries about the supermassive black holes at the heart of quasars and galaxies. Turns out conditions near them create "winds" of matter streaming out sometimes at 40% the speed of light which could've played an important role in "seeding" the universe with the complex atoms needed to form things like planets & people.

Posted by scott at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)
The Power of ... Poo?

Looks like some enterprising Aussies are figuring out how to get electricity out of pig manure. In a nutshell: warm it (ewww), mix it with water, and then collect the methane and burn it. Boy, that's one generator you don't ever want to spring a leak, no?

Posted by scott at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)
But It's a Dry Heat

Wow, and I thought Arkansas summers were bad. Check out what it was like in Dayton Ohio yesterday!

Can you say software bug? I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (2)
When Beds Attack

I've got in-laws coming to visit in April. I wonder who I'm going to put on the sofa bed. Hint: rhymes with "cleaner". :)

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
Pyramid of Speed

Found this funny bit on one of my mail lists. Skip the over-wordy introduction and find out just where, or even if, you live on the pyramid of speed.

Posted by scott at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)
March 25, 2003
Cat Metal!

More crazy cat music!

Posted by Ellen at 07:29 PM | Comments (1)
Playin with Pussy

Scott thinks this kitty is being rather naughty. I told him, kitty is 'cleaning' himself. He doesn't belive me.

Posted by Ellen at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)
A New Kind of Board Game

Errm... this is kind of bizarre. I would not think this would be a family board game to play.

Thank god it's just a cartoon!

Posted by Ellen at 06:12 PM | Comments (1)
Cat Fishing

Ok, you have to check this picture out that Scott sent me.

How cute is that?

Posted by Ellen at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)
A 12-Step Program for M. Moore et. al.

Found this nice 12-step program for the liberal in your life. My mom is starting to wobble leftward to an alarming degree lately, it may be time for an intervention...

Via Drumwaster's rants.

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (3)
Gothique Internationale

Damion gets a lace-and-mascara'd no-prize for showing us this slice of Japanese gothic. As usual, they seem to have a talent for taking an idea and running with it so far they fall off the opposite edge.

Posted by scott at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)
Jamming 'em Up

All the press monkeys were in such an uproar over "GPS jamming systems". While I'm sure all the journalism majors were surprised, I wasn't when we announced their atomization.

Ok, cluebat time folks... "jamming" a radio signal works* by flooding a certain frequency with a signal stronger than the one you want to listen to. When you are driving down a highway and one radio station gradually replaces another in your car, in a sense the new radio station is "jamming" the old one.

Let's say you were really really ticked off at, say, WJFK because you hate Don and Mike, and you wanted to just completely shut them down. All you'd need to do is get a transmitter to broadcast static on the same frequency as WJFK, and have that signal be more powerful than the radio station's. When you turn your transmitter on, suddenly everyone within a certain distance to your transmitter listening to WJFK is now listening to static. You're jamming the signal.

Now, note for this to work you need a transmitter. Something that emits a signal stronger than the original. As anyone who has ever tried to pick up a ballgame on one of those portable TVs knows, most types of radio signals are directional. A jammer by definition has to be pretty powerful to work at all, so it's usually pretty trivial to triangulate the location and shut it down. If you're the FCC, you use guys in suits.

If you're the military, you use a bomb.

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
No-Stick Gum

Also from BBCnews, this story on how governments all over the world are facing what is actually becoming a kind of health problem. Bioterror? Nope. Chewing gum.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
Head... Hurting... Feeling... Small...

BBCnews is carrying this report on recent discoveries of the most distant (and therefore youngest) galaxies found to date. Gives an interesting overview of just how they figure out how far away these things are, although my brain seized up trying to get my head around it.

13 billion light years away. 13 billion years ago. I wonder what they look like now...

Posted by scott at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)
Rock On, Hamster Boy!

What do you get when you combine Norwegian (I think it's Norwegian) death rock, a video camera, and a hamster? Umm... well, actually, I'm not sure... you be the judge.

Note: Does not feature cruelty to hamsters.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

The Japanese continue to progress in robotics, with sony introducing the SDR4X II at this year's "Robodex" convention. As soon as they get one that can walk stairs and clean cat puke, I'm there baby, I'm there.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
Well, at Least They're On Our Side

I mean, really, how do you train for something like this?

A Moroccan publication accused the government Monday of providing unusual assistance to U.S. troops fighting in Iraq by offering them 2,000 monkeys trained in detonating land mines.

You'd think they'd need more than 2000. So long and thanks for all the bannanas!

Posted by scott at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)
March 24, 2003
The Prisoner

I've gone on record many times saying that the west fights wars like no other culture in existence. While history has proven without question that our methods of warfighting are superior to all others, what is not often pointed out is how idiosyncratic they can be. No place is this quirkiness thrown into a starker light than our conception of the special status of a "prisoner of war."

These perceptions originate with the ancient Greeks. No culture up to that time had ever attempted to compose its armies of relatively free and equal citizen-soldiers. Unique in all the world, a Greek soldier had the expectation of protection under law, and the ability to speak his mind without fear of arbitrary reprisal. By enshrining these beliefs in the core of their culture Greek soldiers ceased to be merely chattel and acquired an intrinsic value, became more than simply a shrieking rabble whose individuals were patently expendable simply because the general didn't like the way they smelled that morning.

The next innovation would be brought by Christianity. By instilling a core doctrine of universal love, by preaching that all human beings are intrinsically valuable, and by firmly placing the concept of a universal, immutable law to which even despots and emperors must obey at its center, Christianity allowed the definition of "value" to be spread from the soldier to the serf. Certainly these concepts would be eclipsed and ignored in brutal ways, but they were never completely forgotten, and, in this particular combination, they were powerful and unique.

Unfortunately the inheritors of the Greek traditions, the Romans, like every other culture ever to contact the near east, became seduced by the concept of god-emperor. As they adopted more and more of the trappings of absolute power the very beliefs that made them the rulers of the known world gradually corroded into dust. What the barbarians eventually destroyed in the forth century of the common era would have been unrecognizable to a senator of the third century BC, and in no small part even to Augustus himself four centuries before the collapse.

The Germanic tribesmen who swept away imperial rule in the west may have been primitive and illiterate, but they brought with them powerful and new beliefs in the supremacy and sanctity of the warrior. It was still possible, even acceptable, for a Visigoth or Merovingian chieftain to lop the head off a soldier due to incompetence, cowardice, or even insubordination, but that chieftain was then expected to compensate the soldier's family a fixed amount of gold for his fit of temper.

What gradually developed in the time between the fall of the empire and the rise of the nation-state was a unique culture that not only saw the value of the combatant at war, but also of that same combatant in surrender. By distributing land and rights to a comparatively large number of noblemen and welding this to innovative methods of finance, feudalism imbued the elite warrior with a certain kind of "equity" that made his life as valuable to his enemy as it did to his lord.

Unique in all the world this culture evolved an entire economy based on the concept of ransom. Anywhere else on the planet a knight or soldier unhorsed or disarmed was seen as merely an inconveniently (and therefore ever-so-temporarily) wriggling piece of meat. In the West, however, that selfsame helpless enemy was not seen as an impediment, but rather as an opportunity, a poker chip wrapped in a tin can valuable only as long as he lived.

Knock a knight off his horse and you were entitled to all his stuff, but if you stayed calm enough not to kill him you could offer it all back, for a price. More than one noble family got its start in the chaos of the tourney field when a freeborn boy got a lucky blow in on an unsuspecting knight, and conversely more than one literal king's ransom had to be paid because an effete nobleman decided the coincidence of birth outweighed the strength of desperation.

Elaborate rules were drawn up for ransoms, not just on the battlefield but in tournaments as well. Mercy for a surrendered foe gradually stopped being a novelty and more and more was expected of a "civilized" gentleman. Rituals were developed for the recognition of individual surrender, rules were created for what constituted proper and improper treatment, and an entire infrastructure was built up almost exclusively for the exchange of prisoners for gold.

It's important to emphasize that this culture of chivalry existed nowhere else in the world. Islam may hold itself up as the guiding light of religious tolerance, but the emirs and sultans thought nothing of slaughtering thousands of disarmed foes like livestock in a single day. In the Americas a victorious warrior could often expect a drunken, colorful, but most of all extremely short and sharp victory celebration, and in Asia a head could be separated from a set of shoulders literally at the twitch of an eye.

Of course, a peasant didn't fare all that much better in the West. After all, what good is ransoming someone who's worth less than the land they till? Mercy toward a common foot soldier developed relatively late in the west, as the concept of personal liberty and universal justice took hold in the enlightenment of the seventeenth century. Even then it was more a redrawing of the boundaries of who could benefit from chivalry rather than a transformation of the concept itself. The sense of "fair play" and "fair game" at its core survived. When Europe boiled out of its rapidly industrializing homeland for the final time in the sixteenth century, it took with it not only the unique concept of warfare as a form of cultural extermination, but also that there could actually be rules to govern this horrific idea.

The more traditional, but no less sophisticated, agrarian societies of the rest of the world were confronted with a juggernaught of unprecedented lethality and efficiency which paradoxically demanded nearly inconceivable mercies to it combatants. It was beyond surreal to such cultures that these incredibly vicious and always victorious white men expected to be spared simply because they threw down their arms. Even worse, to slaughter these devils as proscribed by tradition lead to even worse predations rained down on your head. Not only were these maniacs undefeatable, they were insane.

In a strange sort of way it's like football (US rules) or cricket... you simply have to grow up with it for it to make sense. A westerner will have no trouble understanding the distinction between a bomber crew dropping firebombs on a city being "fair game" and that selfsame crew in parachutes suddenly "off limits". That the only difference between the former and the latter is now the victims of the bombing have an extra set of mouths to feed is immaterial to a westerner. The city was, after all, being defended with anti-aircraft artillery. To be called subhuman for shooting the perpetrators of a terrifying attack simply because they're floating within easy reach beggars the imagination of most other cultures.

The rest of the world did eventually catch on, deciding that this bizarre fascination for the west's defeated and dishonored could be used against them, a chink in our armor they have been studiously prying on ever since. What they do not understand is our concern for captives is actually one of the strengths of the way we fight wars. Time and again returned prisoners insist the primary source of their strength in captivity was the knowledge that their government and their countrymen were doing everything in their power to get them out safely. Our soldiers take calculated instead of suicidal risks because of this fact. Finally, by caring humanely for our own captives we ensure that the next generation is raised with a father to teach instead of a legend to avenge.

Because you see for us, at root, to do anything less would be barbaric.

Posted by scott at 09:24 PM | Comments (2)
Tornado Deaths on the Rise

My father-in-law in Arkansas does not believe me when I tell him that mobile homes, or to be politicaly correct pre-fabricated housing, literally have a bullseye painted on the top of them.

Yeah of course one of my in-laws live in a PFH. BUT it's a hopped up one. I mean, who else has a jacuzzi on the back deck, a swimming pool 15 feet from the back door complete with a fridge with all the alcohol you will possibly need to drink while you float the day away.

I still have not seen a tornado yet while visiting.

Posted by Ellen at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)
4 Seasons

No, this is not about Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall, it's about SEX!

Computertized sex! On condoms! That look like SIMS!

20 positions in all to click and and ogle at!

Posted by Ellen at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)
"Amazing" Ghosts

Ectoplasmic double exposures! Spiritual developer goofs! Diaphanous camera straps! Haunted old film! Freaky Photoshops! All this and more more more can be found at

Posted by scott at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)
Wang Parade!

I've actually read about the Japanese fertility celebrations in various books, but hadn't actually seen any pictures of the event. Until now.

Update: even more pics of the same parade are here. I especially like the glasses and... umm... "nose" disguise. Oh come on, I know you at least smiled at this. It's an ancient fertility ritual for f's sake. Lighten up! :)

Warning: Filed under "funny" because I think it is, and none of the pictures represent willies actually attached to a person. However, some workplaces might not agree with me. You've been warned. :)

Posted by scott at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

Instapundit leads us to this op-ed piece about the political agendas of people who count the dead.

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Maybe They Should Hire the "Plaster Caster"

Seems that India has opened its very first "sex museum", intending to instruct rather than titilate. Personally, I think it's a great idea. Kids gotta learn it somewhere, why not somewhere with all the facts?

Of course it would never fly out here, because we all know that such things "encourage" behaivior. Like learning how to wash your hands after going to the toilet "encourages" people to sit on the pot more often.

Posted by scott at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)
The Sun "Escalates" the Situation

Proving that an entire country is no match for one plucky British tabloid, the Sun is at it again, this time "attacking" a French costal patrol vessel moored near Tower Bridge on the Thames. Not to worry, as all they fired at them was a few sacks of feathers. Go Sun!

Via On the Third Hand

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)
Under Our Feet

Read this article in the Post this morning about some new theories on the Earth's core and how it functions. A "maverick" geophysicist is putting forward a theory that the core is a giant natural fission reactor, and is running out of fuel. The prediction follows that should this reactor actually stop, well, mass hysteria would result. While interesting, I think the time frame of "one hundred years to one billion years from now" is just a really fancy way of saying "I don't know".

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (2)
March 23, 2003
26 Weeks

We are officially in the home stretch. We have hit the 3rd trimester. From what I'm told, this is the worst 3 months of the entire thing. (Well, duh, you just keep getting bigger and then you have to 'produce' a small human in the end)

Every night we play baby games. Tap on my stomach to see if she taps back. She usually does. What is getting a bit weird is that she is starting to really move, to the point that one side of my stomach gets rock hard and pointy. Thick pointy. I have no clue if this a head or a butt sticking up. I KNOW it's not a foot. Feet are different. Don't ask me how, they just are.

I also finally have achieved the 'brown line', or linea nigra (if you want to be all official and medical). It's subtle, but it's there. And lopsided. Or rather, I have a lopsided belly button, since this line runs along next to the left side of it.

Scott and I have finally gotten the baby's room cleaned out, the vertical blinds torn off the walls (I DESPISE verticle blinds- they are too noisy. *CLACKITY CLACKITY CLACK!*) The room has been painted a nice lilac color and now all it needs is the wall paper border put up, which my mother will do for me in April. We'll also be doing corner moulding running down each of the walls. I still have to do kitty paw prints on her closet and bedroom doors.

Now all I really have to do is look for some curtains for the room and get the set of shutters for the window. I think I want to sleep in that room when I'm done with it! It's going to look really cute when it's done.

Scott still does the husbandly thing and points at my belly everyday and says, "Haha...your belly is bigger than mine!" Well, ok, not really, but he has noticed that my belly button ring is no longer actually in my belly button anymore. All the more for me to work on getting rid of it once Olivia arrives.

At some point next week I have to go and get my glucose tolerance test done. This is where you get to drink the 'special drink' that apparently is like drinking 5 cups of sugar with a tablespoon of water, and then get stabbed to see if your body tolerated it. I am looking foward to being stabbed again. I cannot wait. Oh how I love being stuck by lab people.

It's hard to think that in 3 months there is going to be another human in the house.

Posted by Ellen at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)
Redneck Water Fountain

I dunno man, I'm sure tushyClean is a legitimate product with many satisfied customers. Knowing me, though, Ellen would push the lever and end up in the front yard. Don't forget, comes in a variety of colors!

Posted by scott at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)
Evil Hi-Fi

Not content with graphic biblical descriptions, one Russian main has claimed to have recorded the actual sounds of hell. Warning, as noted, these are the actual sounds of the souls of the eternally damned. We cannot be responsible for those who click this link. If you have a pacemaker, high blood pressure, or a history of angina in your family, please do not click the link. Not for small children, the faint of heart, or the weak of stomach. At least one woman actually gave birth prematurely after listening to the awful, horrible sounds of millions of souls in eternal agony. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Posted by scott at 05:10 PM | Comments (2)
Look Out Woody, here Comes Stoney

When going to Hawaii, don't miss the volcanoes, the black-sand beaches, the Pearl Harbor memorial, the helicopter tours... and the giant black rock penis. No, really.

Posted by scott at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Don't you just hate it when things like this happens?

How do you clean a mess up like that?

Posted by Ellen at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)
For the ***-hole with Everything

TidyButt, when not just any enema will do. Ok, it's official, you can buy absolutely anything on the internet.

Posted by scott at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)
This Day In History

Mar 23 1989

In 1989, a 1000-foot diameter asteroid misses the Earth by only 500,000 miles.

(Astronomers did not see it until it passed.)

Posted by Ellen at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)
Welding with an Attitude

Ok Damion, I found your welding mask. You owe me a beer. :)

Posted by scott at 04:52 PM | Comments (3)
When EuroDisney Just Won't Do

Say you're an ex-member of the Soviet Union, just chock-a-block with ugly buildings, monstrous statues of your oppressors, and more guard towers and barbed wire than you can shake a stick at. What're you gonna do? Well, if you're a canned mushroom mogule (no, really!) in Lithuania, you buy it all up and turn it into Stalinworld!. According to the article: It combines the charms of a Disneyland with the worst of the Soviet gulag prison camp.

Now don't that just sound like more fun than a tree full of monkeys on meth?

Posted by scott at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)
Funny, I Thought Alcohol was Enough

Where malted marketing meets herbal managerie, we present the new power drink.

Posted by scott at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)
Smart Cat, Stupid Owner

Yeah, when you're pet's smarter than you are, it's probably time to get a rock

Posted by scott at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)
March 22, 2003
Invasion of the... Barn Snatchers?

In a bizzare kind of reverse-carpetbagging, looks like everyone else is "stealing" New England's barns. Got news for ya folks... there's nearly as many barns in upstate New York, I've seen them. Oh, sure, there's probably a ganster or two in the foundations, but whaddayagonnado?

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
Life at the Top of the Country

Found this article detailing what life is like living at 10,500 feet in Leadville, CO. Exploding potato chip bags, ice cream that bubbles out of its container, boiling water you can almost touch, and all manner of other oddities. Turns out the place is a kind of laboratory for high altitude studies.

Posted by scott at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
Well, that's One Way to Earn a Discount

I guess because it's a translation, this article doesn't make any sense to me. Seems it has something to do with baseball, and wanking, and "shooting for distance", but I'm not real sure how it ties together.

What I want to know is who did they get to go in after and measure these things?

Posted by scott at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
March 21, 2003
There's a Reason They Use Bags

Eh, he's a bank robber, the guys in a rush, right? No time to be all neat about it, just wave a gun around, grab a bunch of money, and haul ass, right? No bag? No problem! Just stick it in your pants and head on out. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)
C'mon, Tell Us What You Really Think

Jeff gets 2 no-prizes in one day for bringing the latest news about the UK's Sun and its one-paper crusade to pull some stuffing out of France's Pres. I dunno, calling him a "harlot" is probably a bit harsh.

But only a bit.

And if this wasn't just about French nationalism then please tell me why their elite is getting the vapors over a goofy British tabloid?

Posted by scott at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)
Guns, Lies, and Videotape

In yet another example of a media darling getting caught with his underoos showing, a real documentary film maker takes some time out to fact-check Michael Moore's latest film, "Bowling for Columbine". The results are startling to say the least:

The bottom line: can a film be called a documentary when the viewer cannot trust an iota of it, not only the narration, but the video?

Read it all, especially if you think you agree with Mr. Moore's views and politics, enjoy his films, or if you like reading a particularly well-done takedown of a media primadonna.

I don't like Michael Moore, but for awhile I tried. Everyone kept going on and on about "Roger & Me", his film about his attempts to interview the chief executive of General Motors after the company closed a plant in Flint MI. I didn't see the movie, although I can't tell you why I kept passing on it, but I did try and watch "TV Nation", another critic's darling, this time on network TV.

I found Moore to be obnoxious, elitist, virulently left wing, and so completely unreasonable in his attempts to "display hypocrisy" he set my teeth on edge at nearly every turn. How can anyone really expect an enlightened interview from a corporate executive when the purported "journalist" is dressed in a giant chicken outfit? Nowadays the MTV show Jackass does some of the same stuff, but at least they make no attempt to pose it as real journalism.

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)
When the Stars go Boom

Jeff gets yet another no-prize for bringing this report on a collapsing star to our attention. With picture!

Posted by scott at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)
That's My Kind of Wrong Number!

Screwing up the digits of a phone number can have interesting results, especially when it's a helpline, that gets routed to a phone sex line.

Something similar happened to my workplace awhile back. We had a 1-800 number for our helpline, and a 1-888 number so people could call the office toll-free. The president of the board was trying to get the office but instead of dialing 1-888-[office number], she dialed 1-888-[helpline number]. The results were, shall we say, colorful.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
Black Hole News

BBCnews is carrying this report on recent discoveries regarding the mass of the oldest black hole yet found. Surprisingly, it's just as massive as the ones we find today, yet was formed when the universe was only 6% of its current age.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)
March 20, 2003
Top of the Pops

Because I wanted to write about something else

What I learned while installing a new convertible top on my 1971 Alfa Romeo Spider:

  • If the book tells you to use a 1/8th drill bit to remove rivets, you will generally have the best results using a 1/8th drill bit
  • Failing that, a much larger drill bit will do.
  • Eventually.
  • Large drill bits make rivet heads spin round and round and round and round without actually removing them, but with a bit of skill (pushing), they break off anyway.
  • Looking into your tool box and finding a 1/8th drill bit two weeks later can lead to learning colorful new combinations of swear words.
  • Ziplock bags are your friends.
  • Drain holes are not.
  • When given the chance, all small, unbelievably rare fasteners will always seek out said drain holes.
  • A magnetic wand will not reach down a drain hole to rescue a fastener.
  • No matter how many times you use "f*ck" in a sentence, cursing will not levitate a fastener out of a drain hole.
  • When you plug the drain holes with foil, the fasteners will hop and dance around it trying to get in (see "glue solvent", below).
  • RIT dye will correctly dye the cloth trim of a 33 year old Italian convertible.
  • After seven coats.
  • Cats enjoy stepping in fresh dye.
  • Cats enjoy laying on freshly dyed cloth even more.
  • Dye will stain tile. And cats. And fingers. And carpet.
  • If you run from the kitchen to the garage very fast you will only drip dye on the carpet once.
  • This does not impress your wife.
  • If you use glue solvent in a small closed garage, you will not pass out.
  • If you use glue solvent in a small closed garage, you will see the walls turn interesting colors.
  • Always open the garage door before using glue solvent.
  • Having the Euro gain against the dollar just before you order parts sucks.
  • It takes two people to put a front bow gasket on correctly.
  • You learn several new and colorful ways to construct a sentence when one of those people is a short Italian yankee who is busy with her own project.
  • An awl (used to line up holes & punch through vinyl) is the most useful tool on the planet.
  • It's a bad sign when you have to pull the front of the top up at least half a foot to connect it to the rear of the car.
  • Cheap tops are cheap because they leave out about 6 inches of material over the length of the top.
  • Two small, skinny people are not enough to close a new cheap top the first time.
  • Even when one of them creates new swear words on the spot.
  • No matter how many times you use "f*ck" in a sentence, cursing will not telekinetically close a top.
  • There's a certain kind of oil filter wrench that can actually double as a top-closing tool.
  • Almost...
  • Two people, a filter wrench, colorful swear words, and about an hour of labor is barely enough to close a new, cheap top.
  • The glue used to cement portions of a convertible top is the cartoon glue Wiley Coyote tried to use to stop the road runner. Gooey, color of butterscotch, foul smell, sticks to everything? Yup, ACME glue-all (aka "pliobond").
  • A small pint-sized paint can full of ACME glue-all is awkward to use inside a car.
  • A plastic cup is much easier to manage.
  • ACME glue-all dissolves plastic cups.
  • Alfa probably didn't make the interior of this car vinyl specifically to resist giant oil-slick-like glue spills, but it did so anyway.
  • Using ACME glue-all in a tight, enclosed space will not make you pass out.
  • Using ACME glue-all in a tight, enclosed space will not make you see funny colors.
  • Using ACME glue-all in a tight, enclosed space will make you wish you hadn't eaten that big greasy burger so quickly.
  • I have an amazing ability to resist nausea.
  • Ellen does not.
  • Only wimps sketch how things are put together before they take them apart. Real men squint at diagrams and spend two days puzzling it out themselves.
  • Just because one obscurely routed, impossible-to-get-at cable is hard to pull tight doesn't mean the other one will be.
  • It is always better to check that an obscurely routed, impossible-to-get-at cable is actually attached to something before pulling it tight.
  • A very small screwdriver is very useful for rerouting cables pulled half-way out of their pockets.
  • Ziplock bags are your friend
  • There's nothing quite as satisfying as the crystal-clear back glass of a top you put on yourself.

Even if it did take three weeks.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (4)
Cat + Loud Noise =

It's not nice to scare the kitty. Not to worry, cat's fine. A little accordion-ed, but fine. Why do I know? One of our bunch does the same sort of thing about once a month, and none of them are even scratched. Their heads are only used to keep their noses from falling off.

Ellen was outraged of course, but she was laughing anyway.

Posted by scott at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)
Weebles at War

I was actually wondering how long it would take, but it seems someone's finally hooked up the Masons with the government's secret weapons programs. We really don't make this stuff up... but boy do they ever.

A bank-shot via Right Wing News.

Posted by scott at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)
Nac Mac Feegle!!!

Looks like Terry Pratchett's next book has been announced, this one titled The Wee Free Men, due out in May of this year. As with the past few books, this one takes the discworld into a new direction with a new set of characters (although we have met the Pictsies previously). From the description:

"Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back."

"Why?" said Tiffany.

"There's no one to stop them.

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, "There's me."

If you haven't read Pratchett before you're really missing out on some funny stuff. Our Goth friends in particular should get an enormous hoot out of:

  • Mort, wherein Death takes a holiday.
  • Witches Abroad, detailing the (mis)adventures of three witches who end up trapped in the machinations of a fairy tale gone wrong (stars my wife's hero, Granny Weatherwax).
  • Reaper Man, wherein the Grim Reaper gets existential and opts for early retirement.

There are dozens more, all are very good, but these were our particular favorites. Enjoy!

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (2)
From the Inside

I was surprised to discover that Salaam Pax is still "on the air" in the blogosphere. Read him while you still can for a look at what it's really like over there.

Here's to hoping we get all kinds of interesting updates from him now and far into the future.

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (1)
The Next "Walking With..." Show

We've watched every single one of the "Walking with" shows the day they've aired on Discovery, even when it meant a six hour marathon busily poking each other to stay away (we tend not to stay up much past 10 around here). As usual, the Brits will get to see it first, but it looks like the next "Walking with" show will be about human evolution. Should provide a nice overview of current thought on human origins.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
March 19, 2003
A Prescription to Relax

Today just blows big time. We're talking serious, cover-your-head-in-black-and-make-afghanis-say-,"wow, that chick is depressed"-sort-of-thing.

I got a 'restriction' from my doctor. I am not allowed to do my normal aerobic routine anymore. No more jumping up and down. No more laughing at the Austrailian chicks with weights going "poored concrete... in the laygs... bend ya knees pick ya bah up." No more brow beating the husband because he's a lazy lush. I have a free pass to park my ass and it's killing me.

I am only allowed to go for walks now. I did manage not to gain any weight this time around. WOOHOO! Only a 20 pound weight gain so far! On target!

This is all due to some incredible edema that occured in my ankles and knees this past week. Ankles that blew to the size of my calves ("it's because your ancestors needed to flee from the base of that volcano." says the soon-to-be-disappeared-husband) and hurt when I bend them.

I am not retaining water all over, just in my ankles, knees and fingers. Edema... it looks more like a really bad case of cellulitis (especially at 6 pm) and is rather uncomfortable.

No, they are not concerned with preclampsia. I have a normal blood pressure and am not showing any other symptoms of it. They are concerned that I am on my feet most of the day and am not able to lay down at some point to take the pressure off my feet. (Who the hell lays down at work?) I did mention that I sit down frequently, but that was quickly brushed off as that not being good enough.

I'll just have to seek out the stickiest pair of panty hose yet! Scott thinks the hose I have now could stop bullets. He ain't seen nothin' yet. I got to call A up since she works at a pharmacy for some pressure stockings! They may take 15 minutes to put on, but by god I will have ankles again, oh yes I will!

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)
Why You Should Always Read the Packaging

Because you may find out you're not eating what you think you're eating.

Posted by scott at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)
Finally, a Kit that Does Some Good

What with Iraqi soldiers surrendering weeks in advance of any actual hostilities, having something white to wave at an ROV or an unsuspecting foreign journalist might be a problem. Not to worry, the folks over at Slycraft novelties have come up with this convenient surrender kit that you can mail to Iraq to help with the cause! From the site:

American Citizens... Do Your DUTY!

Update: And don't forget to order your set of genuine american brass balls. Mail 'em to your French friends, so at least they'll know what real ones look like.

Update 2: Also not to be missed: the Gulf War drinking game (via The Lex Files).

Posted by scott at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)
Well, You Gotta Buy This Stuff Somewhere

For the rural fetishist in your life, the one who can't just toodle down to a local store because one doesn't exist, or who's just wants to convenience of home delivery, we're happy to present to you The Fetish-Factory, an apparently very large on-line store for absolutely everything fetish.

Apologes to the crew at TCM if they already knew all about this place and/or actually featured it in their mag at some point. I'm old and forget things sometimes.

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)
Ok, They Were New to Me

I'd never heard of the complete, unrepentant, spiral-eyed wackos also known as the "Westboro Baptist Church" until weirdlinks featured their oh-so savory notice about how Mr. Rogers is now burning in hell. But apparently lots of other folks have, as this nice ADL write up shows. Reading their FAQ simply proves once again that you can be well educated and remain utterly insane. I'd compare them with Nazi's but they'd just think it a compliment.

At least they're not in Arkansas.

Posted by scott at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)
Spanish Fly, Meet Spanish Panties

Definitely one of those things someone should've thought of sooner. A set of "specially configured" ladies underwear that is designed to stimulate... umm... well, you know. This just changed the entire complexion of next years' valentines day!

Posted by scott at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)
Umm... ouch?

And people thought BB guns were dangerous:

THIS astonishing X-ray reveals how a boy cheated death by a millimetre when he was shot in the face with a harpoon.
Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)
Descrambler FYI

MSNBC has this article on just how, exactly, those $10 "free pay per view" descramblers actually work. Hint: They don't, not really. They just block your box's ability to talk to the home office. Eventually the home office notices this, and then tells the box to shut off. Worse, the box logs all the PPV stuff, so when communications is restored you get a big honking bill for all your "freebies".

C'mon people, the cable company designed the digital cable system to be as tamper-free as possible. Analog boxes were easy to snark because they were just a bunch of circuits and wires. These new boxes are computerized way beyond anything before. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a little peephole camera that took pictures of you wanking to the "Girls Gone Gaga" video you ordered.

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (2)
March 18, 2003
An Interview with the Head of the FW-190 Factory

Yup, I said factory! You did know about the Fw-190 factory, right? Well, recently published this interview with the president of the factory. Let's see, that makes, what, three or four different kinds of WWII fighter craft you can purchase new from some factory or another. Sometimes the world is a very cool place.

Posted by scott at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)
Weeble + PhD = ?

Proof that just because you're well educated doesn't mean you can't be a complete spiral-eyed looney, we bring you the real reason the Bush administration wants to go to war with Iraq. Freedom? No. Oil? No. Terrorism? Nope. As should be obvious to anyone by now, the real reason is to aquire ancient extraterrestrial technology buried in the remains of Iraq's ancient city-states.

Yup. We're invading Iraq to capture E.T.'s phone. You heard it here first!

A bank-shot via NakedWriting.

Posted by scott at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)
For the Nerd Who has Everything

I dunno. I think we're just going to let the Instant Girlfriend Kit speak for itself.

What I find kinda scary is it went for 44 bucks.

Posted by scott at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)
Oh, to Have Michael Moore's Address...

I don't think I'll be ordering, mainly because I'm saving up for car parts, but I sure do think Star Spangled Ice Cream is a clever site. I especially like the graphic for the "Nutty Environmentalist" flavor!

Found via Emperor Misha.

Posted by scott at 11:25 AM | Comments (33)
A "Gone Wild" Video Ellen will Want

See wild interspecies love fests!

See sexy kitties drunk off their asses!

Satisfy your cat fancy!

All this and more can be found at Kitties Gone Wild!!!

Posted by scott at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)
When You're Glad It Got Away

Nina should be sure to show Billy (the veteran fisherman in Ellen's family) this pic of, as the article says, "the hammerhead that got nailed". Warning: somewhat graphic. Apparently some gents hooked a 15 foot hammerhead on a drag line. While reeling it in, a much bigger tiger shark decided to turn the hammerhead into a hammersnack. The pic shows what was left (head).

If I ever visit Australia I think I'm just going to look at the beach from my hotel room... much safer that way!

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (1)
Triumph of Idiocy?

I dunno, I started out wanting to hammer a company putting a naked 80-something in their annual report as a demonstration of their "transparency". But really, when's the last time you ever heard of an executive board with a sense of humor? I mean, its obvious they're no good at it, but they're trying.

Posted by scott at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
New Mummies Found

BBCnews is carrying this piece about the discovery of the first mummies every found in the UK. Weirdly, seem to have died fully 600 years before they were buried.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (8)
Beach Ball Astronomy

Found this article about new discoveries regarding the crab nebula pulsar. Seems they're now detecting "minipulses" on the order of 2 nanoseconds. The only thing they can figure out might be generating them is some sort of weird plasma ball formed by the monstrous magnetic field. They figure whatever is generating them is only about 2 feet across, roughly the size of a beach ball.

Posted by scott at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

Just thought you all should know, horses and swimming pools don't mix. Not to worry, everything turned out OK at the end. Some horses got loose and started wandering around, eventually one of them stumbled into a swimming pool. I especially like the fact that the trapped horse's buddies stood around and stared at her the whole time.

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)
March 17, 2003
Equal Time

My ol' "Sounds-Fishy-o'-meter" was pinging like crazy when I read about Rachel Corrie getting run over by a bulldozer. The Post, like nearly all the mainstream outlets, were just being their ol' monkey selves by concentrating on the grizly details of the incident and assuming anyone in a bulldozer is automatically a bad guy.

I didn't want to crow about it, because someone (however annoying, naive, and infantile) died. If she'd gotten bashed in the head and sent home wrapped in bandages I'd have crowed to the roof about it.

However, Bigwig over at Silflay wrote this piece up to show that, while tragic, we are most definitely not hearing all there is to know about Ms. Corrie.

Oh, and I especially liked this lovely quote:

"It's possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked," Thom Saffold, a founder and organizer of the International Solidarity Movement, said in a telephone interview from the group's base in Ann Arbor, Mich. "But we're like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die." [emphasis added]

This from the kind of group that says a single civilian killed in Iraq is a war crime worthy of indicting an entire nation.

Follow the money and I don't doubt you'll find this... thing... supported by rich Arab "charities" funded by erstwhile allies (hint: rhymes with "pouty"). I can only hope this particular useful idiot was unaware of how cynically she was being used.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Finally, Proverbs You Can Use

Ever wonder what "couch bombing" was? What exactly was involved in a "Rear Admiral"? Have a feeling that sometimes a "snowball" wasn't just a lump of frozen water?

Well, ok, neither did I. But this collection of dirty proverbs was funny nonetheless. Amuse your friends! Scandalize the neighbors! Make mom and dad wonder what the hell you're talking about (again)!

Posted by scott at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)
How To: Cold Reading

We've covered this once or twice before, but it's always good to give refreshers. Ever wonder how John Edward et. al. do it? Hint: It's not because they talk to dead people, it's because they're really good at "cold reading". And separating you from your money, of course.

Posted by scott at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)
Yet Another Reason not to

Feeling like getting your tongue pierced? Be sure to read about the brain abscess connection.

Posted by scott at 01:28 PM | Comments (1)
For the Girl Who has Everything

It's the Camel Toe Cup! Amaze your friends!

Posted by scott at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)
When Onesies Attack!

One of the things always put forward about why humans like cats is that they're roughly the same size as a human baby (and all this time I thought it was because they yakked in such interesting and amusing places). Well, turns out that's probably true, as was involuntarily demonstrated by Cassie, Damion & Kris's cat. We'd given them a "onesie" to use as a pattern and base for their "make your toes curl" going home outfit. Tiny little outfit + small unsuspecting cat leads us to:

When Onesies Attack!

Must... maintain... dignity...

For this, impudent human, I will widdle on your Game Cube

Even in pink, the mind control works. Treats may cause me to be merciful to you.

Notice to all feline comrades: This human is dangerous to dignity when bored!

Some strange people who crashed a party awhile ago

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (3)
The DARPA Grand Challenge

Slashdot posted a note about the latest, greatest scientific contest, the DARPA grand challenge. The goal is to get a vehicle to drive autonomously across a 250 mile course in and around Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

I'll bet you a quarter it takes exactly 20 minutes for some liberal left-wing-nut to start crowing about how DARPA is part of the military, and we're all just being sheep manipulated into figuring out how to help the army prosecute "mass genocide". Bullsh*t. Getting a robot car to drive all over the place is just plain cool.

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)
Hoax, well, "Uncovered"

Many of you by now have probably read about the Japanese "see through skirt" fad. Just wanted you to know it has been proven a fake. Be sure to check out that second link, because it has great pics of the "boobie scarf" which is not fake, and (to me) is a lot weirder.

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

Strongbad can't answer e-mails today because he's playing a new video game. Rember: you must stomp 10 peasants to achieve BURNINATION!!!

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
March 16, 2003
25 Weeks

Ok, I'm done being pregnant. This is not happening fast enough. Yeah ok, I know, I should be enjoying this, but I'm getting annoyed with my body.

Bending over (or rather bending at the knees and squatting) to pick something up is rather uncomfortable. Rather uncomfortable like trying to cram a bowling ball up ... well, you know ... is uncomfortable. This basketball that I apparently swallowed has gotten in the way to the point that I can't even put panty hose on correctly. Or socks. Or shoes. Or pants. And it's only going to get worse.

Now I get looks from Scott like: "Dear god, could you get any bigger?!? No no... please, don't stand up... no really, I was just leaving, no no... please..." [bZZZZAp!!]. I look at myself in the mirror getting dressed, "Yeah, I am, aren't I? It's quite a bit larger today. DAYMN!" Then trying to get the clothes on that fit you last week this week is a new chore.

I'm also finding out that talking on 'pregnancy chat' rooms is NOT a good idea. To sit back and watch is fun, but to participate is like feeding yourself to the wolves.


Mom0f50ScreamingAngels: My labor was so easy that I did not even know I was in labor. I was cooking dinner and it slid right out on the floor. You know what I did? I just put it in the sink for a moment and finished carving the roast, served it (the roast, but I did have to look) and then tended to my new darling.

TwinboysandaTwoYearOld: Oh yeah? My labor was so intense... my left leg fell off! I sewed it back on without anesthesia while I was breastfeeding.

There's always an "oooo" or "poor dear" comments being made for stuff like that.

I just sit back and wonder what the hell is wrong with these people. If they are like that online, who knows what they are like in real life! Are these the same women who put their 3 week old embryo into the ultra-expensive schools?!? Are these the same women who compare how 'advanced' their kids are compared to other children?!? Could this be me?!?

Nah. I gave a "onesie" to my goth friends so they could make a going home outfit out of spikes, leather, and PVC pipe. I fully plan to be the soccer mom from hell. Watch the f*ck out, little miss Susie Minivan!

Posted by Ellen at 09:19 PM | Comments (8)
March 15, 2003
The Cat and the Fish

Not safe for work due to the porn pop up ads!

This is a cute video of a cat and his fish.

Posted by Ellen at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)
Coolest. Toy. Ever.

When gizmologists get busy, we proudly present to you the 1/5th scale Sherman Tank project. Complete with working potato cannon! Yes, I want to build one. No, Ellen won't let me. :)

And Kris, be sure to have towels handy to wipe up the drool when D sees this.

Posted by scott at 10:44 AM | Comments (3)
March 14, 2003
Warp and Wend

I came to my study of Christianity relatively late in life, shortly after I graduated college in my mid 20s. Before that time I was, at various points, atheistic (no god), agnostic (prove it), or deist (yeah, ok, God, but boy are His religions f'd up or what?) So for the vast majority of my life up to that point I had no real conception of just how deeply ingrained Christianity is on western societies, not just in America but everywhere considered "western". Most shocking of all to me was the discovery that Christianity in no small part created the secular and scientific society I loved and my "evangelical" associates hated. I had discovered that the belief system whose most vocal adherents literally made my toes curl in their ignorance was actually what made my way of life possible. How did that happen?

By melding the philosophical practicality of the Greeks with the organizational skill of the Romans, the early Christians created a powerful system to allow people to reason their way to faith. The works of men like Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian and others instilled a tradition of logical criticism heretofore the exclusive pervue of the Grecian Jewish communities like that in Alexandria.

Of equal importance was Christianity's emphasis (again, copied from earlier Jewish communities) on monasticism. When the tides of Germanic and Nordic tribesmen finally overwhelmed the battlements of Europe and washed away the crumbling supports of the classic western world, the monasteries remained like rocks on a storm-swept beach. They remained not just as repositories for books that would otherwise be used to wipe the backside of a nose-picking Viking, but also as islands preserving the tradition of men (and, far too infrequently, women) dedicating their lives to learning for its own sake, indeed for the sake of their eternal soul.

European thought seemed to take a nosedive into the "dark ages" not because of a disdain for knowledge in and of itself, but because the instability of the countryside made it too dangerous to travel outside the walls of a monastery. Even when it was safe to travel there really wasn't anywhere to go. Largely rural even at the height of Roman power, Western Europe simply didn't have libraries on the scale of Alexandria or Antioch. Certainly the Muslims, who simply had the dumb luck of invading the most ancient and literate section of the planet west of the Himalayas, were in no hurry to share the hoards of knowledge they'd inherited, stolen, from the Infidel.

So the engine of Christian thought was forced to sit idle not from a breakdown of its parts, but from a lack of fuel to fire the boiler. It would take most of eight centuries for that fuel to be found, rediscovered, as crusaders brought back crates of books from both Spain and the holy land, and bilingual Jews made themselves available for their translation. The tank was filled, the parts were cleaned and oiled. It would only take someone turning the key to start the machine wheezing and chuffing back into motion.

That someone would be Thomas Aquinas, a brilliant thirteenth century thinker who set about harmonizing the spiritual world of developed medieval Christianity with the hard-nosed philosophy of the "rediscovered ancients". He did so with such insight that some of his arguments are still used today, eight centuries later. However, by even making the attempt he, and hundreds, thousands, of his monastic compatriots set a powerful precedent... Christianity would forever after be seen as a religion that both invited and paid attention to criticism not just from theological grounds, but from more secular "philosophical" ones.

Less than 75 years later the Death came and changed everything. By culling perhaps as much as one third to one half of Europe's population, the great plagues of the fourteenth century transformed nearly every aspect of European culture. The scarcity of labor forced a reliance on technology, which in turn created a practical market for the exchange of ideas that worked, not through the esoteric assertion of a monastic propeller-head, but through the school of hard-knock reality.

It was at this point that the engine lit by Aquinas was routed onto a side rail that took both its passengers and its purported engineers down the track to our modern world. The man who pulled that switch was named Galileo Galilee.

A brilliant, practical man with a tendency to speak the truth as it was proven instead of as it was given, Galileo was at first actually supported by the gigantic enveloping power that the Christian Church had become. Were it not for the movement founded by a truely meddlesome and hard-headed monk and the utter intransigence of a woman who refused to recognize she had no business ruling a country, let alone a church, Galileo's teachings would probably have been embraced outright.

Of course, it didn't work out that way, but through a series of technological and political coincidences, it didn't need to. The development of the printing press allowed Galileo's theories, and more importantly his techniques, to be spread literally faster than they could be burned. The rise of Protestantism allowed the nascent practicality of science to survive not because of any innate value, but because anything the pope hated was by definition something of value.

The fact that any nation that utilized the discoveries of these scientists almost automatically became a military and economic power was not lost on anyone paying attention. If that meant ignoring the growing number of increasingly uncomfortable theological questions their research was rapidly uncovering, well, as long as it meant our cannons blew the heads off of those who chose not to ignore them better and faster that was just fine.

Eventually though, the discoveries were so obvious, so powerful, and so revolutionary they could not be ignored. Science was proving that at nearly every point the Bible touched the natural world, it was getting it wrong. The child of reason, so carefully nurtured at the very heart of the religion that protected it for so long, had returned unrecognizable, seemingly intent on consuming the parent.

At this point, occurring roughly everywhere around the late nineteenth century, western civilization suffered a sort of nervous breakdown. Faith, still a core requirement for a well-rounded human being, became far harder to realize in a world where one could not relax comfortably in the warm pages of the inerrant book of one's ancestors. It suddenly had to be found through serious inquiry, long and hard quests for both internal and external knowledge, commitments people from western cultures many times simply found too hard or too frightening or just too much work to accomplish.

Two avenues were chosen, neither worked very well. Europe slid into a cold steel hell of nihilism, fascism, and communism, ultimately resulting in millions of its own citizens murdered in mechanized meat grinders so efficient we simply have no clue as to exactly how many were shoved in. The United States suffered a flat failure of nerve, with large sections of its society choosing to ignore and deny and fight any knowledge, any fact, that might upset the grand illusion that allowed them to accept the results of knowledge while repudiating its implications. The result was a citizenry often breathtakingly ignorant of the workings of the modern world, coming all too close in word and deed to the amber-frozen medieval Muslim fanatics they ridiculed from their own pulpits.

It would be tempting to think this leaves us at a crossroads today, but this is merely the narcissistic conceit of a culture still unable to come to terms with the universal truths of morality and mortality. We are instead still barreling across this dark and dangerous plane, riding an engine going so fast it broke the sound barrier long ago. It is badly dinged and worn in spots, and burns the unwary who touch it in the wrong places or at the wrong times. But its lights have guided us forward, steered us clear of the abyss of fanatacism and the cliff face of nihilism, even if it occasionally teetered or banged into each, hurling the willfully ignorant into one or the other at each turn.

And painted on its side, covered with decorations from a billion hands, intertwined with the symbols of a million beliefs and a thousand formulas, defining the debates even of those who utterly repudiate it, is the unmistakable symbol of the cross.

Posted by scott at 10:36 PM | Comments (4)
A Whole New Meaning to the Phrase, Shitty Job

Me, I'd leave the damned thing where it ended up, but according to this report, three guys died trying to fish a mobile phone out of an open-pit latrine in Kenya. There's something seriously scary when someone climbs down into a muck-filled pit and simply never climbs back out. I don't care how much money they were offering.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
You Want to Wrap Me in What?!?

Ok, we all make fun of our "dubya", but at least he doesn't want to be wrapped in toilet paper when he gets a headache. And no, mom, that isn't because he just hadn't heard of it before.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)
Vatican Discoveries

Our favorite crazy auntie in the attic leads us to this news about a recent archeological discovery in Vatican City. As noted in the article, the entire mediterranean basin is one enormous archeology site, which makes any kind of large-scale urban renewal challenging to say the least. It becomes a real pain, because many countries simply don't have a place to put all the stuff people find. The stories about families reburying classic statues they dug out of their own basement simply to avoid the red tape has more than a grain of truth to it.

Posted by scott at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
The Dog's Life

Aaron is learning valuable lessons about a girl and her dog (see the March 7th entry of Heather's journal [you'll need to scroll down, site is not particularly safe for work]). Thing is, all you have to do is change each ocurrance of "dog" into "cat" and you have a frighteningly close accounting of my own life. Times five, of course. Plus vomit.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Someone Must've Left the Cap off the Bottle

This spaceflightnow article details the recent discovery of a planet that is actually evaporating as it orbits its star. One of those super-giant "hot Jupiters", it is thought it will eventually lose most if not all of its atmosphere and leave just the core.

The universe can be a very, very strange place.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
March 13, 2003
A Drinking Game

Remember the Sunday Night Sex Show I talked about one time?

Apparently, someone has come up with a drinking game to play during the show!

Get all your friends together, watch, drink, be merry. Maybe someone would get lucky after the show.

Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)
Happy Tree Friends

Scott sent me this today.

I'm opening up my email, and see this link, I click and there are cute fuzzy bunnies on the screen. Woohoo! New E-card thing! Nope. Cute movies!? Nope.

No really, it's not what you think it is at all. Watch the movies.

Posted by Ellen at 06:40 PM | Comments (3)
The Messy Part of Assimilation

I giggle at this collection of funny (but real!) Microsoft support error messages, but then I realize a bunch of them come from having to tell users exactly what to do. Twice. After their third call.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
Tales of Future's Past

Victor Davis Hanson gives us a look into the press monkey crystal ball with this prescient piece about what a press conference in April might look like. It's never pretty when a room full of journalism majors start preening and pretending they're suddenly military experts.

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
Footprints in the Sand

Also from BBCnews, this report summarizing the discovery of the oldest set of fully human footprints found to date. Made in the ashes of an ancient volcano in Italy, the tracks appear to have been made as people were walking down the slope of the volcano.

Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)
Martian Tears

BBCnews is reporting new findings that seem to indicate liquid water is currently flowing on parts of the Martian surface. Of equal interest, although not emphasised in the report, is that this may be an indication of volcanic activity. Mars has for decades been thought to be an utterly dead planet tectonically.

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
We Can Rebuild Him... We Have the Technology

Also from slashdot, this New Scientist article detailing the development of the world's first "brain prosthesis", an artificial hippocampus. Only now entering preliminary tests, if it works (big if), it could provide a boon to stroke, alzheimers, and injury victims.

Of course all the weenies started jumping up and down about programming. Listen up folks, I saw the effects of alzheimers up close when my grandad dissolved from the disease. If it takes a chip to cure that, sign me up!

Posted by scott at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)
My God, It's Full of... Spots?

Slashdot linked up this article detailing the discovery of a "great dark spot" on Jupiter's north pole. The article also has some neat pictures of the "great red spot" and Jupiter's aurora.

Posted by scott at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)
How'd You Like to See Their Basement?

Looks like Sid & Marty Croft are having the mother of all garage sales. One of my earliest memories of TV is watching H&R Puffinstuff on the TV. Let me tell you, to a 4 year old a giant yellow cloth dragon is surreal

Posted by scott at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)
March 12, 2003
Color and Shape

I've always been fascinated by history, I'm not sure why. For me, it's always been amazing that things haven't always been like This. There weren't always TVs, there weren't always cars, and people once used to crank a pump to get gas and a spin a propeller to fly through the air. Clothes were different, houses were different, even the very words we used would change over time.

But, deep down, to me it was all very abstract. Oh I understood on an intellectual level that the events and transformations I was reading about in history books and watching on TV actually happened, but if I didn't witness it personally, on some subconscious level it was as if it occurred in some other abstract place. It took me a long, long time to realize these were not just words on a page, not simply images on a screen.

I think nearly everyone makes this mistake, at least at first. The miracle of learning by language is that it allows someone else's memories, someone else's knowledge, to become yours. But of course this knowledge, this history, "feels" very different from what we experience with our own senses. The ability to remember words has been with us only perhaps a quarter of a million years, but the ability to remember sight, sound, taste, and smell has been part of our genome for more than half a billion.

Technology both increased and decreased this cognitive dissonance. The development of writing meant you didn't need Plato standing there telling you about his Republic, but it also meant you couldn't ask him a question if (when) you got confused. The telegraph caused an entire generation to absorb certain experiences as rhythmic beeps, clicks, and taps. A later group would remember only disembodied voices coming from a dark wooden box. Movies allowed us to see things as they might have been, and later television would allow us to watch them as they happened, but only through a prism that removed all color, or softened the shape and texture of what we saw.

And so that's how most of us remember what we are taught, by remembering how it was taught. Aquinas and Caesar are flat on the page, disembodied voices denied even the reality of actual sound. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas are wax-figure stiff and gray and weirdly alien in high-contrast monochrome. Lucy and Desi move through our imagination in two-dimensional black and white, as do Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill. Vietnam happened in sienna tinted color, soft on the edges and low in contrast.

I'm not sure when I stepped back from it all and realized just how disconnected my perception of history had become from its actuality. I think perhaps it was when I started noticing things I clearly remember happening in my own life beginning to go yellow and curly at the edges. Commercials that were completely clear when first run are now muddy with wonky color balance. Live news events replayed on videotape look too bright and clangy, all burn throughs and shadows. Color photo albums bleed to pastel while the images in my head remain as vivid as a razor cut, as solid as a hand on hot metal.

This existential bit of amusement may have been triggered at first by the clanging sledgehammer blow of being called "Mister" by a strange kid for the first time, but it eventually has lead me to understand much, much more. History is not about stale numbers and dates, names and places, events and occurrences. History is about people, people exactly like me and yet completely different from me in weird and wonderful ways. I have found I can take the common experiences everyone goes through and place them on the shoulders of the people whom I read about. In that way I find a grounding, a crossbeam from my world to theirs which allows me a far more vivid appreciation not only of what we have in common, but of what makes us different.

When I look up into the sky in the middle of a hot day I know I feel the heat of the same sun Constantine blinked at when he saw a cross in the sky and changed the world. The cold cotton smell of spring mist as I walk out the door in the morning gives me a base to imagine what it might have felt like to walk Ann Boleyn out into the courtyard and watch the crystal clear three-dimensional reality of her ascending the scaffold. The match-crack snap of a broken twig in the cold dark woods of a night hike gives me just enough of a taste to imagine the stomach-churning fear of a soldier on patrol in the black woods of Germany.

For me, when I do this, history ceases to be dried bones dusting the pages of endless black ink words and instead becomes real, as real as the crunching gravel under my feet (on the road to Damascus), the smell of rotted mud (in a trench near Verdun), and the sound of surf on a beach (when everything that lived was in the ocean). It helps me realize these were people, people who had to eat and go to the bathroom, people who marveled at birth and mourned at death, people who had no more idea how it was all going to turn out than I do today.

Does it actually put me in these places? No, not really. History is different if for no other reason than I know how it turned out and they didn't. But by stepping outside the dry words of a book, by allowing color to leech into gray combat footage, by putting the very real sites, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations of my own life into the lives of those I learn about, I don't just allow these people to become real again. I allow them, for however brief a moment, to live inside of me.

Posted by scott at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)

This was brought to our attention by My Daily Conundrum, who basically sent me a message that said this: "Hey, guys. I love your site. Here's a f'd up story you might be interested in. Yuck!"

Yuck is right! What would YOU do for a ticket to a game?

No Prize!

Posted by Ellen at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)
Old School

Damion gets a chrome-plated big-block no-prize for bringing this monstrous thing to our attention. "For Jeff", he says, and we know it must've singed his fingers a bit to type the URL.

Posted by scott at 04:29 PM | Comments (1)
Comment Change

Ok. I figure we've got enough commentors out there who use names & links & such that turning off "anonymous" won't scare away won't make the blog go all crickity-quiet. From this point on you'll have to put a name and an e-mail address in the blanks to get a comment to go up.

Please note you don't have to use a real name or e-mail address. Feel free to make one up if you like, or if you must. If possible, though, please be consistent so we'll know who you are.

Posted by scott at 04:25 PM | Comments (5)
And People Say I have Too Much Time on My Hands

Problem: Beer is warm, don't want to wait for the fridge.

Solution: Build a gas turbine (i.e. jet engine) to cool your beer in the garage.

Sometimes when women say men are weird, I think they're full of it. Sometimes though, I'm not so sure.

But then, of course, I realize this guy has a working jet engine in his garage that he built himself and all I can say is, cool

Oook ook ook.

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome Back, 1917

In a reprise of one of the less savory parts of our national history, looks like the practice of renaming food because we're p-o'd at a country is spreading. Not too surprised Congress started up with this one. They even got my girl's favorite breakfast food this time! "Freedom" toast just doesn't sound right to me.

Look, I'm as pissed off at France as the rest of you, but the naming thing is just dumb. We could call them "booger fries" for all the French would notice. Far better is to boycott everything and anything carrying "made in France" on it, and contacting the importers of said products notifying them of this fact. That'll hit them in the pocketbook, and it will get noticed.

Me, I buy Italian wines. They're better, cheaper, and, as far as I know, don't ever contain anything other than grape juice and yeast.

Posted by scott at 12:32 PM | Comments (3)
And the Cat Goes... Whirl Whirl Whirl?

Why you should never hang sh*t off your ceiling fan

NOTE: It's fake Ellen. Fake fake fake. We're talking bonsai kitten fake. CGI is a wonderful thing. Calm down, watch, and laugh.

Via linkswarm.

Posted by scott at 12:04 PM | Comments (9)
B.E.M. Update

Wired (are they dead yet?) is carrying this update on SETI@home's progress. Looks like they're getting ready to go back to Arecibo soon to examine a few hundred of the best candidates culled so far.

(B.E.M. = Bug Eyed Monster)

Posted by scott at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

Philadelphia Times via Knight Ridder is carrying video of the 21,000 pound bomb test. Actually, I was a little underwhelmed at first, until I realized how far away the camera must've been.

Posted by scott at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)
Stoners is as Stoners Does

In yet another example of someone turning to crime because they're too stupid to do anything else, we have one Nolberto Salinas, who decided to see just how fast a Ford Escort could go with 300 pound of pot in the back.

We used to get this all the time back in Arkansas. The troopers who patrolled I-40, a major east-west national route, were very cautious most of the time because a notable percentage of the speeders they caught were moronic drug trafficers capable of anything. It made getting stopped for expired tags a pretty intense experience, I can tell you.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
You Paid How Much?

Ever wonder just how much your car would cost in "today's" dollars? Wonder no more! I found this nifty little CPI calculator off one of my alfa lists. According to it, my car would cost ~$21,000. I wonder how much my grandad's first car would cost today...

Posted by scott at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)
March 11, 2003
The More Things Change

Well, this little ditty over at Little. Yellow. Different. proves to me that no matter where they are, where they come from, or what language they speak, mothers are all the same. I have had nearly this exact same conversation in southern-tanged English every time I've gotten sick. Except for the "bastardized American" part. Mom normally says "stupid male" at that point.

Posted by scott at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

Yeah, I know, it's really long, but this essay represents an extremely good analysis of the tasks we have before us as a nation, as a world.

Just one of the points is enough, to wit: the reason Middle Eastern Islamic countries seem so unrealistic is they have been given power without consequence. Imagine Michael Jackson, a person twisted beyond recognition by unlimited access to funds since childhood by doing something he would have done for free. Now imagine Michael Jackson with a nuke at his disposal.

This essay is highly recommended.

Posted by scott at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)
Blame Canada!

See, thing is, I think there are a lot of Canadians who'd vote for at least some of the stuff on this list of the worst things about Canada. Especially the part about Brian Adams. Gah. Go do it for someone else man...

In the interest of equal time, things I like about our nothr'n neighbor:

  1. Molson. Duh.
  2. Toronto. I've never seen it, but anyplace they film the X-files has to have something cool going on.
  3. Quebec. Provides a much more local group of Frenchies to make fun of (oh stop it, I know you make fun of them too).
  4. Reminds me to smile when people around here start freaking out over 3" of snow.
  5. Backbacon... mmmm...
  6. Seargent Preston of the Ukon, a show I used to get up at 5:00 am every morning to watch in syndication. Although I have a feeling it wasn't produced by Canadians.
  7. Sue Johansen. Boy, you Canadians sure are fascinated with, as she calls it, "bum sex". Seems like every 3rd call she takes is about the "no-no" place.

Oh, I'm sure there's more. What's your list look like?

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (9)
Old Subs, New Tasks

Always read the comments. Found this interesting story about the navy's plans to re-task four boomers (SSBN... nuclear missle submarines) into cruise missle boats. The new boats would be able to carry 154 cruise missles. I love the understatement of the quote, "a significant increase in capacity as compared to other platforms." I think the biggest thing we ever had to carry cruise missles was the old BBs (battleships) and they carried only a few dozen I think. Jeff? Any stats at yer fingertips on what kind of guided poo our navy can fling at people right now?

Posted by scott at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)
Ook ook ook

Ok, I'm a guy. I like things that go "bang!" The bigger, the better. So pardon me while I savor the thought of the Air Force testing a new 21,000 pound bomb. No, that's not a typo... 21,000 pounds.

It appears to be a development of the old 15,000 pound BLU-82 "daisy cutter", which was originally developed during Vietnam to (VERY QUICKLY) clear chunks of jungle for helicopter landings. Having made more than they could use, the -82 ended up being a bomb in search of a mission. See, the -82 isn't really a general purpose weapon.

In spite of its massive size, these kinds of weapons really aren't capable of the same kind of damage that, say, a general purpose (GP) or cluster bomb (CB) is. The GP bomb does much of its damage via the fragmentation of its casing, while the CB uses a variety of methods including fragmentation and "shaped charges".

The -82 and (presumably) this new device works via raw "overpressure". Imaging sticking a pin in a filled balloon very close to your face... the "POW!" you feel when it pops is overpressure. Now, this can be nasty, especially if a lot of flying debris is involved. However, as long as you're in an enclosure that can withstand this pressure (i.e. a tank, a bunker, an APC) you'll be deaf, but you won't be dead.

In spite of what the radical lefties and protestors like to shriek about, a bomb that can't take out military targets isn't much use to the armed forces. So the -82 was warehoused and other more potentially potent designs were shelved. At first, their use in the gulf war was at least as much about freeing up warehouse space (each -82 is about 5x5x5 feet in size) as it was about any real tactical use.

However, it was discovered this massive overpressure was extremely useful for setting off mines. Roll one of these things out the back of a C-130 (it's too damned big and heavy to fit in anything else) and huge paths could be blown through minefields in seconds. Since most tinpot third-world armies treat mines like grass seed, suddenly the monster had a purpose again. They also used them in Afghanistan to close up cave entrances and trigger landslides.

More overpressure = more dead mines, so in this case bigger is most definitely better. I have a feeling the introduction of the C-17, which can haul more stuff than the much older C-130 but fit on the same airfields, had an influence.

Again, want to emphasize that this is not a monstrous general-purpose weapon. It is not for use on civilian areas, or as a way to kill more people faster. It is an extremely specialized system designed to be used in very specific situations. Any protestor who tells you differently is either stupid, ignorant, or pushing an agenda.

Update: Found this picture of a BLU-82 on the FARK comments. Ok, so it's quite a bit bigger than 5x5x5. Never was any damned good at measurements.

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)
And I Thought the Industrial Scene was Quirky

Ya know, I consider myself pretty liberal in the ol' music department. I grew up with Ozzy Ozbourne's prediliction for consuming small animals and Prince singing about chicks "doing things" with magazine, then watched the rise of the "gangstas" and groups like Insane Clown Posse when I was in college. I may not listen to it, but I sure don't care if you do.

However, I think there's a line being crossed somewhere when a group starts butchering dead sheep on stage as part of their stage act. Especially when they start flinging the parts out into the crowd. Sad to say, I'm pretty sure I'd have to be a hard ass and prevent any kid of mine from going to a show like that. I guess that means I'm becoming socially conservative. Whodathunkit?

Oh, and this gets my vote for choice quote of the week: My relationship to sheep is a bit ambivalent now. I like them, but not when they come flying through the air.

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (1)
Alfa News!

I found this nice update on Alfa's return to the US. The good news:

  • They're still talking about returning. It was beginning to look like it would be one of those "we'll do it next year, ok the year after that, ok the year after that, ok maybe never" kind of things.
  • They're going to try and set up their own dealers, or dealers who already work with Italian cars (Maserati, Ferrari).
  • They're bringing a more complete line of cars over. At the end in 1995 Alfa was only bringing one model over, the 164 sports sedan.

The bad news:

  • They're not coming over until 2007.
  • They're probably going to be expensive.

Still, some progress is better than no progress at all!

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)
March 10, 2003
When Only the B.O.S.S. will Do

For the security guard in your life who's tired of cramming his fingers up the rear ends of inmates in the search of shanks, we present the Body Orifice Security Scanner. Also useful for when you're missing a tube of lipstick and the 3 year old is looking guilty.

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

Not sure if this is a joke or not, but BBCnews is reporting a new reality-based internet show in which "contestants" get to play on a virtual Noah's ark. The whole article is a little hazy, but it seems 12 people will be put in charge of caring for X number of animals and one gets voted off every week. Weird.

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
Alfa SUV

Well, not exactly an SUV, the Kamal is apparently a "crossover" car, a-la Subaru Outback. Assuming they ever do make it back to the US, this will probably be one of the models they lead with. Ceratinly the prettiest SUV-like-thing I've seen in awhile (although you might call me biased).

Posted by scott at 11:34 AM | Comments (2)
Just When You Thought You had it Figured Out

Ok, we have UK readers out there, so what I want to know is: do you actually have to buy a license to own a TV in Britain? Why would I ask such a weird question? This story:

The Daily Telegraph said Richard Butler-Stoney, owner of the Norman-era Mileham Castle in Norfolk had received two demands for payment of 1,000 pounds for having failed to buy a licence to watch BBC television.

Well, ok, maybe not have a TV, but watch TV? Isn't BBC free?

No accusations or implications, just a confused Yankee (oh be quiet... anyone not from the US thinks we're all Yankees) trying to puzzle it out.

Posted by scott at 11:01 AM | Comments (5)
There but for the Grace of God...

Probably the only reason I didn't end up with tigers in my wedding party is 'cos Ellen didn't think of it. If we'd had it in NY or VA instead of Jamaica I betcha I would've had a feline ring bearer. Even if the cat ate the ring it'd be no problem, as ours do an "Exorcist" imitation almost on cue.

Posted by scott at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

Second in popularity only to actually observing stars, astronomers are once again debating what, exactly, a planet is. Depending on which way the argument goes this time, we might "lose" Pluto or "gain" Ceres, Quaoar, and Varuna.

One of the things that has always struck me about Pluto is how different its orbit is compared to the rest of the planets. All the others orbit in essentially the same plane, with (as I recall) less than 5 degrees difference. Pluto's is inclined very steeply, with its apogee well "above" the other planets.

Posted by scott at 09:20 AM | Comments (3)
Another Box for Damion

Looks like rumors about Playstation 3 are heating up. I always end up with sore thumbs when I mess with these games...

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)
March 09, 2003
Canadian Fireworks

Just when you thought Canada wasn't weird enough.

Posted by Ellen at 06:49 PM | Comments (3)

My new addiction. I have to say, they are more satisfying than chocolate and or icecream.

Especially the Coca-cola flavored one.

The Slurpee Commandments

Posted by Ellen at 06:07 PM | Comments (2)
How to Get a Pet Passport

This is some reallly cool information.

Get your pet passport! Travel the world with Fluffy!

Posted by Ellen at 07:54 AM | Comments (11)
Pet Passport Information

Apparently Great Britian is freaking out again about the pet passports just adopted to make moving pets to their country easier.

Now they are freaking out over tick- born disease.

The thing is this, in order for the disease to potentially spread, you have to bring the tick with you. By the time the animal is infected, the parasite is dead, or dropped off the animal. An EASY way to prevent this problem is to make sure the animal is on some sort of flea/tick control like Frontline- Top Spot several months before and after the pet moves to the UK.

The last cat I had move to the UK, was an old clinic cat named Prissy (new name- Charlotte) with a client. The cat had severe liver disease, but was still allowed in as long as she went through the quarantine procedure. The cat did very well. The one thing that the UK is great about is the quarantine faciltities. Needless to say, Charlotte lived one year after her transfer to the UK, which is more than all of us thought she would do.

Posted by Ellen at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)
March 08, 2003
Subliminal Message


Posted by Ellen at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)
Football Kitty

One very cute pix of a cat in a football helmet!

Posted by Ellen at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)
For Melbernai

It's not XXX, BUT it has boobies on it!! So all men should rush to this site and LOOK!

This has been an old joke between me and Mellie for a long time.

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)
Violet Wand

I remember seeing this 'toy' on a Real Sex episode on HBO.


Posted by Ellen at 08:10 PM | Comments (2)
Naughty Bunny!

How cute is this ?

Though, I don't know if I could use this as a vibrator or a cat toy?

Posted by Ellen at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)
24 weeks

24 weeks seems to be the time that most magazines use as the halfway marker for pregnancy. Why 24 weeks? I dunno. But all of the magazine that I read have pictures of pregnant chicks centering around 8, 12, 24 and 36 weeks pregnant.

Are those the weeks you're supposed to feel glamorous for pictures? Or is it that they're nice round numbers that represent the best areas of pregnancy to look at. Kind of like the anthropological scale of man. You know, the one that starts with an ape then goes to modern man? Only I have a bowling ball slung around my gut.

Scott and I are noticing more changes about me daily. Mostly that we wake up in the morning and I look significantly larger than the day before, and that evening I seem even a bit bigger. I've got a rather round belly that when you thump correctly sounds like a ripe melon. *Thoomp!*

Everyone seems to like to rub the belly too. Which I do not mind. It's human curiosity. Plus it's rather fun to watch their faces when they feel just how hard a stomach can be. I have read in magazines and online how insulted women get when someone does not ask to touch them. Yeah ok, extra sensitive person, space being invaded, yadda yadda yadda... YET, they expect to be treated special, but not really be noticed as being pregnant. You must ask permission to touch otherwise. I look at the belly pat as a handshake or a hug now. Friends say hello to my face then get in that lucky rub.

Many people I know (friends and family) are surprised that I'm pregnant. For the longest time I can remember I didn't want children. I looked at them as being dirty, nasty, walking petri dishes. Yeah ok, occasionally I'll see some of them that remind me of that to this day. I still shudder at the "ape pit" in the mall, with all the kids running around and screaming while the tired parents wear that "thousand mile stare" from the benches.

What happened to change my mind? I have no damn clue.

I am enjoying my pregnancy, at least for now. I like to see how everything is developing month by month. I like feeling the baby and look forward to the thumping at the times I know she will be up. I find it funny when Scott says my belly is bigger than Coconut's belly (aka-Buddah- yes it's one of the cats)

What I don't like is the edema that occurs in my ankles. Socks are my enemy. No matter what socks I wear, I get sock imprints. I don't like that when I sneeze, I have to cross my legs to prevent myself from peeing. (Yes, I have been doing kegals. So much so that I think I can crack a walnut up there.) I don't like how your skin pigment changes, your hair gets oily and you get winded easy going up and down stairs.

Am I complaining enough yet? *laughs* But really, it's not as bad as many people make it out to be. They are small annoyances. Most days go by that I forget I am pregnant until I look down and see my belly, or feel the baby move. My body is adjusting well.

According to my baby center on line at, this is what's going on this week.

How your baby's growing: Your baby's growing steadily, gaining about a quarter pound since last week. His skin is thin and fragile, but his body is filling out proportionally and taking up more room in your uterus.

How your life is changing: You may notice faint red streaks — otherwise known as striae or stretch marks — on your abdomen, hips, and breasts. Creams won't really make them go away, but wearing a supportive bra may help prevent or minimize those on your breasts. Stretch marks are typical at this stage of pregnancy and will fade to silvery white marks after you give birth. Also, your eyes may be sensitive to light and feel gritty and dry. This is a perfectly normal pregnancy symptom known as dry-eye. To ease your discomfort, use an artificial tears solution to add moisture.

24 weeks in, 16 to go...

Posted by Ellen at 07:36 PM | Comments (15)
Agony, Sweet Agony

Found this set of highlight pictures from the recent Geneva Auto Show. I think we might see one or two of these cars in the US some day. Regulations suck.

Here's one person supporting the World Trade Organization, because they're working on treaties that will cross-certify various nations' safety and emissions regulations (Europe and the US are apparently nearly identical according to a Ford emissions engineer who talks on one of my Alfa boards). Once that happens you can just buy whatever you like and boat it over here if you have to.

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)
Detachable Penis..well a fractured one anyway.

Men, it CAN happen to you!

Posted by Ellen at 09:04 AM | Comments (2)
Dog Shit

This is an obvious thing that may happen to you when you walk into a PetsMart or a Petco. You encounter dog shit. *Clean up in aisle 4 * Since I worked in a Banfield animal hospital inside a PetsMart, it really does not surprise me that something like this actually happened.

Many people who take their dogs into the pet stores pretend to not notice what their dog is doing. We used to have a food display next to the wall in front of our front desk and watch people LET their dogs take a big long piss on the bags of prescription food and then watch them look down, look around and pretend it did not happen.

Not with me around.

"Excuse me!?? Your dog just urinated on that bag of food."

"Oh? He did?", person looks very surprised. Person tries to walk away.

*Intercom to entire store turns on* " Clean up at food counter by Banfield! I have a code yellow! Can I have a manager for assistance!" *note, there is no ? mark, it means they need to come and assist* Don't forget that I insterted the evil smile back at the owner.

What usually happens next is the manager comes over and makes the person purchase the bag of food. Which they should.

The best is when they let their dogs take a massive shit on the floors,and just look around, make sure no one saw it, and walk away. They DO have those little baggie centers with a small trash can for you to clean up after your pet. Do they use them? Many do, the majority don't. *Many of these people have no idea that the offices are watching everything on the security video- thats how you can tell if something was really an accident or something deliberatly left behind*

Remember, you are there to shop for pet supplies and have a good time with your dog. It's not an outdoor park for your dogs to take a shit and piss in and make a cashier clean up after the pooch. Consider it a privilage for once to take your pet shopping. Most small, private owned pet shops still won't allow pets on a leash in the shops due to this problem.

Posted by Ellen at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)
March 07, 2003
Fire and Noise

I'm a car guy. Well, actually, I'm a machine guy. Cars just happen to be the most accessible complex machine I can get my hands on easily. There's pretty much nothing about a car I haven't tinkered with or thought about tinkering with or broke when I shouldn't have been tinkering with. I'm not alone, but I'm definitely in a minority.

To most people, cars are simply convenient lumps of metal useful for, even critical to, getting around in our daily lives. Oh there's definitely style involved, and competition. It does have to be pretty, even better when it's fancier than the neighbor's next door. Few know, or even care, what makes it tick, how it moves, why it works the way it does. If it breaks, they take it to get it fixed, and if it does so too often they get rid of it and buy a new one. What makes me so different? What makes car guys (or girls) tick?

I wasn't always this way. The first fifteen years of my life weren't dominated by cars, they were dominated by spaceships and airplanes. If it flew in the air or went into space, I was all over it like an octopus on a lobster. Cars were things that took me to places I could see airplanes.

1983 was when it all changed. Reagan was president, Michael Jackson's nose was still attached (we only thought he was weird looking back then), and Duran Duran was climbing the charts. 1983 was also the year the "4th Generation" Corvette premiered, and I was never the same again.

I lived Corvettes, I breathed Corvettes. I ate Chevy small blocks for breakfast and fiberglass bodywork for supper. I drove my parents insane with constant chatter about one feature or another of this amazing automobile. To this day I can tell the difference between a 58 Corvette and a 59 from a hundred paces. At $22,000 it was cheap for what it was (just as at $55,000 it's cheap for what it is today), but it was more than I could pull at $3.35 an hour, let alone what the insurance would've been.

But a funny thing happened on the way to fiberglass dreamland. The car magazines I poured through constantly didn't just talk about Corvettes. 1983 was the dawn of the age of emissions performance, when car companies were finally coming to terms with the odious (if necessary) tailpipe and safety regulations that nearly destroyed the car culture that came before.

Every month new and interesting cars were reviewed. They talked about what things did, and where they went, how they could be improved and what might be done if they were broken. They talked about new cars I could never afford and used cars I might have a shot at. They even talked a bit about the prettiest little Italian convertible I'd ever seen, and how anyone could own one if they just knew where to look.

Most of all they talked about how cars Worked. What made them tick, what each piece did, and how it fit in the whole. Turned out cars were every bit as interesting as airplanes, damned near as complex, and unlike airplanes all I had to do was walk into the garage to see one. Eventually people started asking me for car advice. Sometimes what I gave was even right.

I learned to appreciate that cars were in many ways rolling works of art. Some came off the factory floor that way, remarkable because of the passion and precision invested in their design from the outset. Others were transformed by their owners from cookie cutter transportation with all the character of a stale saltine to something utterly unique, literally like no other, sculpted according their will and wishes.

I learned there were posers and provocateurs, people who thought if it looked fast it must therefore be fast, or that if it got you envy or lust or power bedamned with whatever soul its designers gave it. I've seen countless innocuous Hondas transformed into booming, wheezing clown cars and innumerable BMWs treated like appliances because of these people.

Less contemptible but more numerous were the mundanes, people who would look at me and shake their heads at my lack of common sense. "What is wrong with you?", they would ask.

"Just get rid of it and get another one."

"You know, one of these days you're going to have to grow up and get something reliable."

"Do you have any idea what you just did to the resale value of that?"

"You know, with what you just spent you could probably have bought [something ugly, stupid, and boring]"

And on and on and on. In spite of their irritation, I have to pity them, because they just don't get it.

They think because they sometimes feel a little warm and fuzzy about their cars that I, we, all my fellow car nuts, simply magnify that emotion and turn our vehicles into surrogate metal children. They do not understand that we know quite well these things are machines, that, no matter how full of character they are or may become, they are still just metal and plastic. That, far more than they, we know these machines are neither warm nor fuzzy and are quite capable of inflicting pain, injury, or even death if abused, ignored, or neglected.

They do not understand that what we seek is extension, to become ourselves yet more... better. What we all reach out for, either through purchase or transformation (at times even both) is something that fits us like a second skin. Something that becomes transparent in our minds, melding and melting until, in that perfect moment, we feel the road under our tires, we sense the weight balance to get us through the next curve, we know exactly what it will take to shut down the challenger in the next lane, even when, because of, family members crying out from the back seat to stop us.

We cherish these vehicles not because we have made some infantile substitution for pets or children, but because they are Tools. Our very genes are stitched with the understanding of the power of tools, and these allow us to do things our ancestors could never dream of. With feet and hands we are able to run faster than the fastest horse, span distances in minutes that once took days, turn more quickly and with more precision than the most powerful leopard ever conceived. These are our chariots, and by controlling, maintaining, improving them we do, however briefly, become like unto gods.

If all this makes you sit back and sneer because we're arrogant or stupid or unrealistic I'm still going to feel sorry for you because you still don't get it. Just like you we know there are mortgages, and bills, and kids, and families, and responsibilities enough to crush Atlas to dust. Unlike you, we know with the turn of a key, the motion of a foot, the flick of a wrist, and the tool we picked or made for ourselves we become, however briefly, so much more.

You can still sit there, but if you do you'll never know what it's like to have the canvas thump of warm summer morning air on your face, decorated with the smell of fresh cut grass and dew, dancing with hands and feet to balance yourself and your vehicle, hearing the song of cams and chains and fire and noise all under your control as you swirl clippings in your wake, disappearing over the horizon with a roar and a shriek that echos through the empty mountains.

Go on. I dare you.

Turn the key and dance...

Dedicated to K & D, for both inspiring this essay and teaching me that just because it looks like a box and acts like a video game, doesn't mean it can't have a soul.

Posted by scott at 08:16 PM | Comments (21)
As We Go / Grifting Merrily Along

The #1 rule of grifting is to con the mark in such a way that they don't want to turn you in. Like when a stranger walks up and offers to sell electronics to you on the street. Of course there's always one who's too dumb to understand it's at least half their own fault and calls the cops anyway, and ruins it, but what's a crook to do?

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (3)
Cowboy Bebop News

Huzza! Cowboy Bebop premieres April 4th. Ok 3, 2, 1 let's jam...

Posted by scott at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
Finally, a List of 7 Useful Things

Found this cool list of 7 "rules of thumb" to tell pseudoscience from the real thing over on slashdot. Bite me, Steven Covey.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (2)
Crater Pic

In 2000 NASA flew a special hi-res SA radar and used it to make an extremely high resolution elevation map of something like 80% of the surface of the earth. One of the things it allowed them to do was get a really good picture of the crater that offed the dinosaurs.

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (1)
March 06, 2003
Puff the Magic P...

Thanks to Damion for the great title!

Tattoo this!

Posted by Ellen at 08:34 PM | Comments (3)
More Voices from Weeble-Town

While I know it's not good to root for people to go off their meds in front of a computer, if they didn't we wouldn't have things like UFOs and Art, wherein we find gems like:

THE HAARPO BROTHERS PROJECT BLUE BEAM AND THE FLYING NAZI TWINS... so now we now why they have been spraying us with barium and aluminum and poisoning our brains etc..




You just can't make stuff like this up without some serious chemical imbalances going.

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (4)
Insert Obligatory Irish Joke Here

See, I'd always heard rumors about yankee weddings, because they have open bars that [whisper]serve alcohol[/whisper]. I've attended several now, and have been roundly disappointed by the friendliness, openness, and general fun-ness of the people attending. Where were the brawls? Where were the rude people? Turns out I just wasn't going to the right wedding!

No more making fun of trailer trash weddings now, mmkay?

Posted by scott at 03:14 PM | Comments (3)
Because You Know 4 is Really Close to 9, Man

CHEECH: "Heey man, I got da", ssswwwpp, "munchies man. I wanna order some pizza."

CHONG: "Cool dude! I want, like, pie on mine."

"Pie?!? Dude, what are you talking about?"

"Well man, I always heard everyone talking about this, like," fwwwwppp, "great pizza pie man, and, like, I wanted to, you know man, try it. Or something."

*Giggle* "Dude, it's a pizza pie," sssswwppp, "not a pizza with pie."

"Nah man, I know I saw one, with, like, pineapple on it." fffwwwwwp. "That shit looked good, man."

"Ok, ok, that's cool that's cool, pineapple it is. Hey dude, what's the number to da Pizza place anyway?"

"Dude, I don't know man," fffwwwwwwp, "why don't you just, like, dial information?"

Posted by scott at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
The Ultimate Insurance

Since my mom's a critical-care nurse I know that many times a DNR (do not resuscitate) order is ignored by doctors more interested in playing with the cool toys than obeying a patient's wishes. It came as no surprise to me that a lady getting "DO NOT RESUSCITATE" tatooed on her chest was also a nurse.

I was always given explicit instructions that it was OK to treat doctors like jerks because most of them are, but to treat nurses like goddesses because they're the ones who keep the doctors from killing you.

Posted by scott at 11:09 AM | Comments (7)
Smilies Smilies Everywhere!

Nina gets a big grinning no-prize for bringing this AIM super-smiley site to our attention. Now you can annoy your enemies and entertain your friends in dozens of colorful new ways!

Posted by scott at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)
It's a Skin Cream! No! It's a Motor Fuel!

From New Scientist we have this interesting tidbit about a possible diesel fuel replacement... Jojoba oil. No, I didn't know what it was either.

Turns out it's a desert plant whose nuts (ouch!) can yeild half their weight in oil. This oil, more commonly used in cosmetics of all things, apparently is stable at very hight tempratures and gives off a lot of energy when burned. We are America. Our cars run on skin cream. Fear us.

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)
Ummm.... huh?

When reindexing attacks... check out Wal Mart's description of The Hobbit. Wow. Someone finally "outed" Bilbo.

Update: Yeah, they fixed it, but we still have the screen shot!

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (4)
Just Don't Call Them Goths

I know at least a few of our readers (well, one) will be interested in The Vampire Church, which appears to be what it says. A little weirdness to brighten up your morning!

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (3)
March 05, 2003
Husband 1.0

Everyone by now has probably heard the "Wife 1.0" joke (if you haven't do a google search on that, it'll pop right up). What I hadn't seen before was the Husband 1.0 bank-shot. Found via gutrumbles, who for all I know composed it.

All girls considering upgrading BoyFriend vX.X take note!

Posted by scott at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)
The Bunny Tests

Great for a silly little laugh, this set of not-quite-science tests were performed on a variant of Ellen's favorite eastertime food... marshmallow bunnies!

SEE them bravely face the laser test
WATCH them get dropped attached to bricks
OBSERVE them bravely giving up their squishy little lives in the name of pseudo-science!

All this and more, more, MORE, discovered for you by the kindly wackos at AMCGLTD!

Update: Yeah, ok, seems to be pretty old (1997!), but it was new to us! Be sure not to miss the sequel, Bunnies Strike Back.

Posted by scott at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)
Cameron Does IMAX

I first heard about Jim Cameron doing an IMAX film on the Titanic on slashdot about a year ago. Seems he and his brother had come up with some amazing new ROVs exclusively to produce vivid images of deep-sea wrecks. These ROVs used a revolutionary fiber-optic cable system that would allow them to go inside wrecks without endangering themselves or humans.

About six months later I got to see this tech in action with Cameron's Discovery show on the Bismark. It was even more impressive in real life than what I'd imagined. But what about Titanic? What had happened to that?

Well, turns out he's just not finished with that one yet. Looks like it will premiere in England (lucky bastards), but will eventually come to the new Air & Space annex over at Dulles. Mark your calendars, and keep your eyes open. This one's gonna be amazing.

Posted by scott at 02:34 PM | Comments (5)

"AMCGLTD", we hear you ask, "I want to protect my self from Osama and his cronies, but I'm a lazy bastard. What am I to do?"

Well, you've come to the right place, because we've found a company that can build you a bomb shelter you put together with simple hand tools! From the story:

Forget buying a new shed this weekend, a flat-pack bomb shelter has been launched that slots together in hours and can protect against a terrorist blast.


Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
When Turkeys Attack

Ellen only thought crows were a pain in the rear. Imagine having the same sorts of problems with turkeys.

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
Doogie Does Drag

Remember Doogie Howser, that ridiculous but somehow still watchable show about a preteen genius who becomes a doctor? Well, look what Neil Patrick Harris (who played Doogie) looks like in his latest role (scroll down to the 2nd picture)! Cabaret everyone!

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
Rent-a-Cop, Meet Rent-a-Lawsuit

Of course, not to be outdone, the right occasionaly does things like arrest people over what is on their T-shirts. Actually, reading between the lines, I get the feeling what happend was the rent-a-cops at the mall started it by asking the guy to leave because they disagreed with his politics. The guy then returned the favor by refusing to do so. This is what the cops arrested him for (as far as I know handcuffs are required when someone is actually under arrest, no matter what the offense).

What makes this so delicious is I'll wager these two rent-a-cops were pretty tin-badge heavy and had transformed themselves into food court stormtroopers. I've seen it happen before, and I'll wager you have too. I imagine they had no idea the guy they were picking on this time happened to be a lawyer working for the state. Dogs chase cars because it's fun, but sometimes the car stops and the guy who steps out is holding a bat.

Karma is funny that way, sometimes.

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)
Attack of the Weebles

I'm sure this one will be picked up by the blogosphere quickly enough, but that's never stopped me before.

In yet another fine example of a completely whack leftie wobbling off their meds in front of a reporter, we have a woman in New Zealand offering to have herself crucified, by Bush, if he'll promise not to command US forces into a war with Iraq. People like this set my teeth on edge, because they think this kind of stunt is perfectly OK but will come completely unhinged if, say, a radio talk show proposes to march all the Arabs into the sea.

And kudos to the NZ press, and the wire services, for picking this thing up and giving it a worldwide audience (present company included, of course). Every editor out there knows that if someone were to actually come at this nutjob with a hammer and some nails she'd be out the door so fast it would come off its hinges.

It's one thing to be a coward by staying silent. It's quite another to spew yellow from your mouth and call it bravery.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Well, I Don't Think It Ever Bluescreened

The 1980s hearalded the invention of the first "computerized learning tools" (CLT), dinky little devices with LED screens that were supposed to channel a kid's natural yearning to play video games into something that wouldn't rot their brain. Of course it didn't work, because learning spelling and arithmetic has never been fun for anyone.

Well, someone with a creative streak has gone and put a completely functioning "speak-and-spell" on the internet. This was the end-all, be-all of 1st gen CLTs, because it... wait for it... TALKED BACK! Yes, kiddies, at one point a computer going "TEE. AYE. ELL. KAY... TALK" in a robby-the-robot singsong was enough to stop people in their tracks and make them marvel.

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
March 04, 2003
Great, Now Ellen will Want to Move to Germany

Because apparently you you can get your insurance company to pay for boobies and other forms of plastic surgery there. I'm deeply conflicted about the US's health policies. I feel very uncomfortable about industries figuring out how to make a profit on people's health. Yet I also believe our comparative lack of "socialized medicine" and the use of competition has been a factor in our economy's flexibility. I also know the entire issue is so complicated there's not one person on the planet with the answer to all the problems, or even a particularly large chunk of them. I sure as heck don't, and neither do you.

But hey, any country that'll pay for boobies has to be doing something right!

oink oink oink

Posted by scott at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)
The Edge of the Universe

BBCnews has this report detailing how a scientist used new data to create the clearest map of the universe's CBR (cosmic background radiation) made to date. The CBR marks the farthest point back in time which we can see... before that the universe was opaque from the heat of the plasma that made it up. This new map seems to show puzzling symmetries, the meanings of which still are not very clear.

Posted by scott at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)
Geeks + Spare Time + Beer =

The Great Goose Egg Experiment, wherin our ... well, ok, "heroes" ... attempt to cook an egg with a hairdryer. No, I'm not real clear why either, but it made for an interesting experiment.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
Well, at Least They Didn't Use My Tax Dollars

But they did use Pam's. A British Columbian scientist has put forward this new theory about the design of stonehenge, claiming it is based on an abtraction of the female anatomy. Interesting in and of itself, but with quotes like:

Thinking how estrogen causes a woman's skin to be smoother than a man's, the observation led Perks to further analyze [Stonehenge] in anatomical terms.

I gotta wonder if perhaps the ol' professor was partaking of recreational herbs at the time.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
March 03, 2003
Explosive Cats

Scott and I walked into the house today to 2 cats that'd detonated like a pair of wet adobe hand grenades.

Wet adobe that you have to soak with club soda first to get it up out of the carpet and then carpet shampoo to clean the rest of it out. Think dried brown asphalt. At the last place we lived, we had a carpet cleaning machine we used so much we killed the thing. Because you see when it isn't coming out one end, it comes out the other. Scott says he used to think cats were neat elegant things that were more like self-propelled china than actual animals. Now he knows they're all just an infection away from hiccuping once, giving you a cross-eyed look, and then blasting partially digested cat food in all directions.

Now Teddy is sick. I was wondering why he hasn't been wanting his pills for the past 2 days. I had to sit on him and shove them down his throat. Now I know he's sick too. He has the dreaded poopie tail syndrome just like Ajax.

2 cats with diarrhea that LOOK like they don't feel well. 2 cats with heart disease and diarrhea that obviously are a bit dehydrated and I can't give too much subcutaneous fluids to in case it overloads their hearts.

BOTH are going back to work tomorrow for more diagnostics, meds, and some fluid therapy.

Keep your fingers crossed for my cats!

Posted by Ellen at 08:51 PM | Comments (6)
I am in the Wrong Business

It's just not fair that someone can get paid to create the Camel Toe museum (probably safe for work, not safe for mom, who thinks all men are pigs anyway). Does anyone get the "Bob and Tom radio show" out there? They look to be a version of our own Don and Mike show... a couple of smart-asses

Posted by scott at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)
Jewelry only a Man Would Love

Having a mom who is obsessed with jewelry has its uses. Because of this, I know that these toilets can't possibly be solid 24 karat gold, because pure gold is too soft. Way too soft. As I recall, gold that pure is almost as soft as clay. You'd end up leaving butt prints on the seat.

God only knows how much the whole thing weighs. It'll be heavier than lead.

Posted by scott at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)
Europa Discoveries

Slashdot featured this UPI news story about recent Europa discoveries made by the Cassini probe is both interesting and puzzling at the same time.

In summary: the Cassini probe discovered a torus of heavily ionized gas in the same orbit as Europa, which is assumed to be the remains of water molecules which were ripped apart by the bombardment of ion radiation on the surface from Jupiter.

The interesting part is it shows just how nasty the environs around our solar system's largest planet can be. Radiation so strong it can interact with solid matter on that scale is pretty darned impressive (as far as I understand it, which isn't very).

The puzzling part is how this might dim "Europa life prospects". The article simply doesn't address why this is the case, leading me to believe they're probably just parroting a press release that includes this one line without explanation. As I understand it, water, especially a *lot* of water, is actually a pretty darned good radiation shield. This is why radioactive wastes are always kept at the bottom of really deep pools (I once saw a film of them moving some of those piles around... you could see a weird blue glow around the spent rods).

Still, very interesting. Cassini's still on its way to Saturn. Can't wait to see what the little Huygens probe tells us about Titan.

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)
A Look at Japanese "Reality"

This report about yarase, the Japanese media's practice of "enhancing" reality to make their own reality programs more interesting is intriguing on a number of levels:

  • It provides proof that the common accusation that our own media "manipulate" reality should be seen more as a human condition rather than some sort of dark manipulation exclusively found in America
  • It illustrates the uniquely Japanese proclivity for "managing" reality, and not understanding that the perception of reality being different from its actuality is a bad thing.
  • It means one part of the Japanese System is having a problem with another part of it. Very little in Japan happens for obvious reasons. The back-room power brokers who actually run the place typically couch their grabs and maneuvering in layer upon layer of subtlety and deception. The lack of attribution is especially telling here.

The Enigma of Japanese Power, which took me probably three months to read, was an amazingly informative book. Before, I would've simply accepted this story as proof their media was just as screwed up as ours. Now, I can see that not only is their media just as screwed up as ours on the face of it, there are several subtexts and layers that are even more screwed up than I could've possibly imagined.

Posted by scott at 02:04 PM | Comments (1)
A New Pidgin

Pidgin as in language, not bird. this Reuters article detailing how a 13 year-old girl "shocked" her teacher by submitting an essay in a variant of "l33t"-speak was amusing on a number of levels:

  • A teacher who thinks alphanumeric characters in a funny arrangement equal "heiroglyphics".
  • A 13 year-old wankette who thought it would be cute to get an F for a unique reason. Hint: it's still an F, dumbass.
  • A press monkey who thought this was all so very interesting it was worth turning into a national news article.

Several years ago I watch my sister-in-law, who at the time was about this kid's age, have probably an hour's conversation using just this sort of shorthand. It was fascinating to me because I was watching someone use a completely new dialect of English, one meant exclusively to be printed and never spoken out loud.

As far as I know (AFAIK!), she still types this way to at least some of her friends.

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (2)
March 02, 2003

Ajax has some weird infection. Thursday night we come home from work and we have a white cat that is *covered- and I mean covered* in what seems to be mud, but it's not. We also find several cat cookies that have been tossed in various spots in the house.

After a bath with rinse and repeats with some shampoo, we thought all was well. Or so we thought.

Friday morning, no Ajax for breakfast. Shit, my cat is dead in the house somewhere I am thinking. No, he is hiding under the bed. He looks sick, and is acting sick. Great. My nice cat is ill. (I had this ugly feeling that one of them would fall apart before the baby came along)

So I take him to work with me and do the routine diagnostics for vomiting and diarrhea in cats, and start with some strong meds(everyone at the cat hospital thought Ajax was very handsome and sweet) to cool his digestive tract off along with some electrolyte replacement.

I get the bloodwork back on saturday and my sweet cat has very high liver enzymes, along with an elevated white cell count. Shit. Why the white cat!?

My poor kitty is on Denosyl (aka- SAM-E), metronidazole, Baytril and atenolol. I have to recheck his bloodwork in 2 weeks to make sure everythingis working well. If he does not eat, he gets a stomach tube.

So every kitty lover out there, say a prayer for my sweet white boy!

Posted by Ellen at 07:49 PM | Comments (5)
Naughty Stuff!

This is for the nurses that have requested more naughty stuff from AMCGLTD.

Whale Sex

Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to and fro...

One night at band camp...


Posted by Ellen at 07:19 PM | Comments (1)
23 Weeks

23 Weeks!? Already!? We've only got 17 weeks to go!

We have already begun to work on Olivia's room. Of course, it's going to be a shade of something girly. I don't know 100% if it's going to be a shade of pink or purple. I do have the wall paper border picked out. I wanted to do her room in cats (just like the rest of the house) but needed to find something really cute and kid like. So I found this one. I fell in love with it immediately! Scott also thinks it's rather cute (heh... like he had a choice).

My mother is coming down in April to do the wall paper for me. She's got a very detailed method of getting the wall paper to match all the way around without making it look like you have cut the paper.

I also have a stencil of kitty paws that I will be doing *in pink* on her closet doors. Make it appear as if a kitty walked across the front of the door is the look I'm going for. When my mother comes down, I will most likely pick out the curtains for her room too.

I know what you're thinking... the room is going to look like a monstrous Pepto-Bismol bottle blew up in it. Yeah no, it won't happen. It's going to be a pretty slick room when I'm done with it. All I have to do is have the room painted, and my mother will help me with the rest in one weekend.

What's happening this week? From
Your baby now weighs a little over a pound. Her hearing is well established, and she can make out a distorted version of your voice, the beating of your heart, and your stomach rumblings. Loud noises often heard in utero, such as the barking of a dog next door or the roar of a vacuum cleaner, probably won't faze your child when she hears them outside the womb. Numerous studies seem to indicate that the unborn prefer classical music, especially Vivaldi. Play "The Four Seasons" for your child, and pay attention to her movements. Does she quiet down during adagio sections, and speed up for the allegro portions? You may have a budding conductor in your womb.

Those dainty fetal movements have progressed to karate kicks. If you watch long enough, you may see your baby squirm underneath your clothing.

Olivia is REALLY starting to move now. Somethimes it can take you by surprise how weird one movement will feel from another (especially when you get kicked in the crotch from the inside out). Scott got to feel her do some sommersaults the other night and thought it was very odd to feel more than just a 'thump' like she normally does.

June is right around the corner!

Posted by Ellen at 06:55 PM | Comments (3)
Dust in the [Solar] Wind

The lead-in to this BBCnews science article says it all:

For the first time, scientists have identified and analysed single grains of silicate dust formed in ancient stars from before our Solar System was created.

To this day it weirds me out a little bit to realize that everything more complex than Hydrogen and Helium was created inside a star. Everything you see around you, everything that makes you up, everything your kids are comes from star stuff.

Posted by scott at 05:00 PM | Comments (2)
See ya!

Seems like being a human shield is only fun when they're not shooting at you. The whole article is filled with "no-shit-isms", a choice one being Some peace activists [feared] that they could be stationed at non-civilian sites [during a conflict].

Sometimes I think the line out of Mel Brooks's "Space Balls" is all too true:

Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb

Posted by scott at 10:48 AM | Comments (1)