December 31, 2003
Workin' Out

I found this interesting work-out tip sheet over at a slashdot survey of "New Year's resolutions." Good common-sense stuff that everyone should pay attention to. I'm sure our resident workout dominatrix will have more to say.

When we were members of a gym, the two weeks after January 1st were always "vacation from gym" weeks, because the place would be packed with huffing, wheezing "resolutioners." After fourteen days they'd all be gone, and we could get back to business.

But personally I like this resoultion:

Crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women.

A no-prize to the first person who can provide the most common source of the quote, and a double-dog no-prize to whoever can give the "real story" behind it.

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (5)

Wanna find out just how much junk is in that junk food? Use the McCalculator!

Actually, my standard order of a Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese, small fries and coke isn't awful (at 640 calories and 31 grams of fat, it's not that great either). The blasted grilled chicken sandwich (which is, by the way, bloody awful IMO) has more fat!

Now, loading up a large shake, a Big Mac, large fries, and one of those McFlurry things gives a much more impressive 100 grams of fat and a whopping 2340 calories. Now I think I understand at least one way monstrously fat people can manage to get that way.

Personally, I like Quiznos better, and it's probably better for me. But sometimes you just gotta have some fries.

Posted by scott at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
Snow Days

So, just what, exactly, makes a snowflake? Glad you asked! :)

Posted by scott at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)
Brew or Bust

Fark linked up this interesting overview of the microbrew industry. Seems all is not "hops and malt" now that the big breweries are coming after them with their own specialty brands. Still, I just got a six of Sam Adams Vienna Lager, and it's good.

Posted by scott at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)
December 30, 2003
Creamed Spinach... It's the Anti-Food

Now, I'm all for variety, especially when I don't have to eat it. So every time I go to the grocery store, I pick up something unsual for "the baby 'O'".

This time around it was creamed spinach. Now, those of you who don't have children will go, "yeah, so?", while those who do will go, "HA-ha!"

You see, the stuff that comes out of the back end of your child (well, our child) is a dark olive drab, about the consistency of cake icing. It even forms little peaks! You're haunted with nightmares about spatulas, baby bottoms, and odors that peel paint.

Creamed spinach, we only just now discovered, is a dark olive drab, smells like three-day-old-grass, and has the consistency of tapioca pudding. The thing is, she likes it. A lot.

So there Ellen sat, spooning in what for all the world looked like what comes out. She was getting loud complaints because she wasn't spooning it fast enough. Meanwhile I'm watching her turn pale, and my own fingers curling into claws. There's just something wrong about thinking, "I just got done scraping this off your ass" while you clean their face.

Ok, nothing against Gerber, nothing against Spinach, but let's just say we won't be buying that particular flavor again any time soon.

Much to Olivia's disappointment. *shudder*

Posted by scott at 09:10 PM | Comments (2)
More "Stories"

This time we're doing pizza delivery.

Well, this at least I can relate to. In college, I did pizza delivery for two years in a beat-up twenty-five-year-old Italian sports car. It had a rust hole in the floorboard big enough to shove an orange through and leaked water by the bucketfull into your lap when it rained. I miss it to this day.

Those stories you read in Penthouse about naked people answering the door and offering... services... in exchange for pizza? Myths. Never did have an even partially clothed person answering the door. Well, at least one I wanted to see. What I did have was:

  • Two single twenty-something sisters who ordered the exact same thing (two Italian sandwiches and a salad, as I recall) every Thursday, and tipped $3 on a $10.00 bill, as long as you didn't mind the large, scary dog that answered the door. We didn't, and fought over who delivered that ticket.
  • Backing out of a blacked-out gravel driveway into a six foot deep, two foot wide ditch. The resulting impact bounced everything in the car off the roof twice. I managed to drive the car back off the edge. The moment I opened the door and heard fluid hitting the ground I knew I'd shattered the axle. It was only after noticing axle fluid smelled a lot like gasoline that I realized I'd just pulled the fuel line out of the tank.
  • Driving around in circles for an hour trying to find a house in what I later learned was the "delivery triangle", a development seemingly purpose-built, out of wandering corners and poorly lit houses, to hopelessly confuse drivers.
  • Learning that a) people really do order pizza delivery to "seat A13, section 4" just before a major college basketball game, and b) all you actually need to sneak into a sold-out game is a delivery uniform and an empty box. The security guards never even looked twice at me.
  • Learning how to drive in a night blacker than a magician's sack with rain hammering sideways like a firehose across flooded streets in a car fogged up tigher than a drum. Small wonder I think "I hate driving when it's dark" is a piss-poor excuse for staying home.

Oh I got a million of 'em. Fortunately, I've suppressed nearly all of them. I always tip the driver, even though it's probably not enough nowadays.

Posted by scott at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)
And You People Think I'm Extreme

Ok, the yellow-dog peanut gallery should take note, there's lots more room to the right of my chair thank you very much:

Hark! the Herald Leader sings,
"Glory to the new found Dean,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and commies reconciled!"
Joyful, Euro nations rise,
join the whining of his cries;
which Elf/Fina notes proclaim
"Chirac was bought out by Hussein!"
Hark! the Herald Leader sings,
"Glory to the new found Dean!"

Now, take two P.J. O'Rourke columns and call me in the morning...

Posted by scott at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)
Personally, I Blame the Democrats

Fark linked up this story noting that for the past five years scientists haven't needed to add a "leap second" to keep hyper-precise atomic clocks in synch with the earth's orbit. They needed to do it for more than twenty years, then suddenly stopped. Nobody knows why.

Posted by scott at 01:26 PM | Comments (3)
Luck Be a Lady

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing one man's research into why lucky people feel lucky and why unlucky ones don't. The results, not surprisingly, are all in their heads. Includes a tip sheet for increasing your own luck, but I wouldn't hit the slot machines right away if I were you.

Posted by scott at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)
Spinning the "Breakdown"

Well, it took long enough for them to notice, but it would finally seem someone in big media has finally clued in to the problem of training 85,000 police in a single year:

As the U.S.-led governing authority in Iraq attempts to build a security force of 220,000 in the next few months, the competing priorities of speed and thoroughness have prompted shortcuts in the recruiting and training process. The consequences are starting to become apparent.

Personally, I'm amazed it's going as well as it seems to be. All the Iraqi bloggers, even Riverbend (who hates everything), say nothing but good things about the new Iraqi police force*. Can you imagine the chaos if, say, New York City had to rebuild its entire police force from scratch in just six months? It'd probably look a lot like, well, a lot like Baghdad actually.

But in spite of the constant negative spin of the article, I find a lot of positive things:

According to investigations over the past four months by a newly formed internal affairs unit at the Interior Ministry, more than 200 Iraqi policemen in Baghdad have been dismissed and dozens of others have had their pay slashed for crimes ranging from pawning government equipment to extortion and kidnapping.

In other words, a brand new ministry formed a brand new investigative unit that immediately started to function, investigating security forces no less.

200 may sound like a lot, but, for comparison, New York City’s police department terminated 66 officers between June 2000 and August 2001 for perjury, other forms of false testimony, fraud, and falsifying records. An additional 33 officers were terminated during the same period for off-duty incidents relating to “narcotics possession, domestic incidents, alcohol-related incidents, and the failure to safeguard a firearm” (citation).

In the largest U.S. cities, about 1 applicant in 100 makes it through the process. In Baghdad, about one-third of applicants are being accepted.

66% are still being turned away. I was worried they were letting anyone in who could sign an "X" on the application and didn't have "Saddam Rules!" tatooed on their arm.

With salaries of $154 a month -- after a hazard raise last week because of the recent bombings of police stations -- the force assures a comfortable living.

This is critical, and therefore is of course buried deep inside the article. One of the tricks to efficient and effective law enforcement is to ensure each level of the system (police, lawyers, judiciary) sees that system as important and valuable, and not just a convenient way of financing their next trip to a Caspian Sea beach resort. It's hard to be incorruptible when you can't feed your kids.

Anyone with half a brain can figure out that hiring tens of thousands of people to become police in less than a year will create opportunities for chaos and corruption. That it took some six months for a primary big media outlet to do so is outrageous. That the resulting report spins faster than my daughter’s pinwheel is disappointing but completely unsurprising.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
Have Camera, Will Travel

Also from slashdot, this nifty report on aerial photography using digital cameras and large (6 foot+) kites. With, of course, pictures!

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)
Rovin' Rovin' Rovin'

Yup, it's confirmed, the next lander is due on Saturday. If these next to probes fail too I'm going to start thinking Tatterdemalian's speculation may have something to it.

Update: Always read the comments, wherein I found a little note from someone who actually works on the NASA project.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (1)
December 29, 2003
Now Why Didn't We Think of That?!?

Terrorists shmerrorists... some people know the real reasons behind the latest "orange" alert:

Was the timing of Code Orange and activation of HAARP genuinely a result of concern from possible terrorist attack, or were these events timed to prevent another contingency altogether? More specifically, were the Code Orange alert and HAARP activation timed to prevent a mass First Contact event by extraterrestrial races responding to a grass roots initiative for extraterrestrials to 'Show Up'?

Via Site-Essential

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)
Debt Ownership

Awhile back my brother and I got into one of our (sometimes seemingly endless) debates about various aspects of politics and war. He was quite incensed (understandably) that the federal deficit had ballooned recently. I quickly asked him, "well, who do you think owns all that debt?" My contention was the American people actually own it, his was that the Japanese did, and challenged me to prove otherwise.

Well, I've found at least a partial proof:

Approximately 55% of the national debt ($3.25 trillion) is owned by private investors ... About one third of the privately held debt (approximately 22% of the total debt) is held by foreign investors.
The remaining $2.45 trillion is held the Federal Reserve and other "federal government accounts."

So, in actual fact, we do own most of our own debt. We are, in effect, loaning our own government money voluntarily instead of having it taken from us via taxes. We are then getting paid interest that comes out of tax revenue, which is taken from us. A sort of green-backed oroborus, if you will.

The article cited then goes on to explain the largest federal holder of debt is the Social Security Administration, and rings some dire notes that give the impression Congress has raided that particular cupboard bare to pay for things like F-22 Raptors and the University of Arkansas Chicken Research Station (I am not making this up.)

While genuinely worrisome, it is not quite the whole truth. The Social Security system has been funded with a surplus for some time now, since the mid-80s I believe (due to an act of Congress), to ensure homeless elderly boomers do not in fact end up camped out on their children's front yard*.

However, federal agencies aren't allowed to maintain surpluses on the books... they must put the money somewhere. Since they are prohibited from investing it in the private sector (a "great idea" that should sound familiar to anyone in Poland, Russia, what used to be Czechoslovakia, Hungary, etc.), they loan it back to the general treasury. Which is, of course, controlled by that paragon of fiscal virtue, the Congress.

At least, that's how it all works according to P.J. O'Rourke. And if you can't trust a journalist to get the details right...

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
Little Lost Dog

Looks like the Beagle probe didn't make it after all. Which sucks rusty-red Martian rocks if you ask me. However, NASA's two probes seem to be on schedule, with the first touch-down this Saturday. We hope.

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)
Heebie, Meet Geebie

Jeff gets another no-prize for bringing us news of potentially the largest snake ever caught:

Indonesian villagers claim to have captured a python that is almost 49.21 feet (15 meters) long and weighs nearly 992.07 pounds (450 kilograms), a local official said Monday.

Of course, they're saying it's that big. Without more concrete proof, this could just be a way for wiley villagers to separate credulous tourists from their money.

Posted by scott at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)
To the Ground

BBCnews is carrying this amazing before-and-after sequence of photographs of the city of Bam, which was leveled last week in a massive earthquake. Am glad to hear we're already sending tons of aid their way, lets hope it makes a difference.

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
Fast, Expensive... Blue?

Jeff gets a supercharged no-prize for bringing us this news about recent Corvette rumors. 427 cu. in. engines (7.0L for you furriner fanciers), superchargers, carbon fiber... wha'ts not to love? Well, the $100k+ price tag for sure, but it's fun to think about.

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
December 28, 2003
Olivia the Pig

One of the many presents Olivia got for Christmas!

The series of Oliva the Pig.

Posted by Ellen at 08:11 PM | Comments (10)
December 27, 2003
Dude! You're Gettin' An Orgasm!

All at the touch of your finger! The vibe requires no batteries, as it runs off the user's computer. A USB cable to connect the vibe to your computer is included, no software is needed for the device to run.

Wait!! Don't forget to read the consumer reviews!

I was so surprised when we plugged it into my laptop. It’s great! The different vibration settings mean I can change the buzz it gives my button in a flash.

I came and came and came.

Get your BlissBox today!
Posted by Ellen at 08:08 PM | Comments (1)
December 26, 2003
Rhode Island Cat Turns Up in Seattle

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. - The O'Connor family has its own Christmas miracle: Its cat that had been missing for two months was found clear across the country.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)
Bad Santa! No Biscuit!

In yet another story in the "turned-to-crime-because-I'm-too-stupid-for-anything-else" file, we have a brand-new chimney climber:

A Minneapolis man's imitation of old St. Nick on Christmas Eve brought cheer only to police and fire rescuers, who had to stifle chuckles while rescuing him from the narrow chimney of a bookstore in the city's Phillips neighborhood.
A police officer and [store employee Don] Blyly climbed a ladder to the roof and found bricks knocked away from two chimneys. They peered down into the second damaged chimney space, about 12 inches square, and saw a man.

"The cop yelled down, 'What are you doing down there?' " Blyly recalled. "And the guy said, 'I dropped my keys and I'm looking for them.' "

Pretty much says it all.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (1)
You Down Wi' ODB?

Gearheads with cars made after 1996 (i.e. most of you) will find ODB-2 an interesting place. This company makes comparatively low-cost ODB-2 connectors and software that allow you to hook a Wintel laptop to your car so it can tell you what's wrong. Basically, it turns a laptop into your very own R2-D2, only without the annoying beeps. This might force Damion to actually touch a PC. We'll have to bring gloves.

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)
Knock Knock

Nearly everyone knows (or should know) that when your engine "pings" under accelleration, that's bad. Many gearheads can tell you in vague terms why this is bad, but few (myself included) know exactly why it happens. But this site and this site do a bang-up (as it were) job of explaining the how's and why's of internal engine knock. The first one even has pictures of combustion as it ocurrs. Neat!

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
December 25, 2003
Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from AMCGLTD!

Posted by Ellen at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)
Lost Dog?

Well, the Beagle has landed, but so far no signal has been heard. Not a very good sign at all.

If they never hear from it again, they'll be in good company. Something like 90% of all Mars probes fail, especially the landers. We'll keep you posted!

Posted by scott at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)
December 24, 2003
Happy Holidays!

Ok, Olivia's had a cold for the past three days, so between us Ellen and I have had about, oh, four hours of sleep in 36 hours. Therefore, I just don't have the energy to hook up and configure the scanner to get you guys the "real" Christmas card picture we had made. Instead, we've got the Poor Man's Version:


Yes, that's your's truly in the, umm... "outfit". No, the one with the hat. The black hat. It's a very long, strange story. Just wait 'till we post the picture of Olivia with Candypants the Elf. No, really!

Posted by scott at 09:54 PM | Comments (3)
Queen Elizabeth's Dog Killed by Daughter's Terrier

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Queen Elizabeth is mourning the death of one of her beloved corgi dogs after it was savaged by her daughter's bull terrier, newspapers reported on Wednesday.

Anne was fined $882 in November last year after Dottie attacked two children, aged seven and 12, in Windsor Great Park near London.

Read entire article here.

Hrmm... a history of biting? Now it kills another animal. Sounds like the dog will be a PTS soon.

Posted by Ellen at 07:17 PM | Comments (2)
The Finger of Doom

About five minutes ago Olivia discovered she can point at things. However, observation makes it apparent she's not sure what pointing is for. Something catches her interest, the finger shoots out, and then she stares at the finger for a bit with an expression that could be delicately termed, "WTF?" Then the attention span expires and we're interested in something else. Seems the hand really does have a mind of its own, at least for now.

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (1)
Upgrade Test

Just testing the 2.65 MT upgrade. Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along...

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)
Oh, the Agony!

On Christmas Eve no less, my perfect GTV-6 (non-expiring pictures are here) comes up for auction. '85, lightly breathed-on 3.0L V6, suspension goodies and very little rust. A rice killer in a brown paper sack... what's not to love? Yarg!

Ah well. Somehow I don't think Ellen would appreciate it if I traded one slightly drippy baby for this really cherry ride. Not even if it had OLIVIA on the license plate.

Oh sit down mom, it's a joke.

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)
Just Be Glad They Only Do Cars

What would the world look like if ricers "branched out" into other lines of work? Well, maybe a little something like this.

Posted by scott at 08:00 AM | Comments (2)
Interior Decorating, for the Rest of Us

We're rapidly approaching the point where you can get a book published about pretty much anything. Witness Obscene Interiors, an upcoming critique of the interior decorating practices of amateur pornographers. The thing is, it's pretty damned funny.

Note: In spite of the title, the site is safe for work.

Posted by scott at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)
Twas the Night Before Beagle

Don't forget, the Beagle (hopefully) lands tomorrow! So far all indicators are green. They're not saying what time zone the "early hours of Christmas day" are reckoned in, so I'm assuming it's GMT. That's about five hours ahead of the east coast, so hopefully we'll be hearing about it some time tonight!

Posted by scott at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

Slashdot is running this story about a new development in the iPod product line. Word has it new miniaturized (in size and price) iPods are on the way.

Posted by scott at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)
December 23, 2003
8 Crazy Nights

Yourish does her best to edumacate the goyim about Hannukah. Personally I really was wondering why Lair had an extra candle lit, but was too afraid of Rabbi Blogstein's wrath to ask. :)

Posted by scott at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)

It is axiomatic in the third world that the best, indeed only, way to defeat the United States in battle is to inflict the maximum possible casualties at all times. Eventually, the reasoning goes, the weak and vacillating commoner leading them will pull the troops out in order to win the next election. Failing that, the people will rise up and install a leader that will do it for them. Either way, the result will be the same, because Americans have no stomach for battle.

The thing is, they're right. History has proven time and again that the United States has a very low "pain threshold" for it's own casualties. However, to paraphrase a line in a movie I once saw, "that does not mean what they think it means."

"You will kill ten of our men and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it." -- Ho Chi Minh

Part of the problem is the definition of what, exactly, constitutes a casualty. To most of the rest of the world, a nation's existence is defined not by the survival and prosperity of its people, but of its elite. For nations (and supra-national paramilitary organizations) such as these, the success of one man's (or a small group of men's) will defines the success of that nation (or group). A failure of will naturally means apocalypse.

In a situation like this, the life of one soldier is meaningless. The lives of battalions of them are meaningless. They can, indeed should, be sacrificed to ensure the will of the nation (i.e. the exclusive will of its leadership) is expressed in victory.

The United States simply isn't like this. In fact, we are so different it's often difficult for us to comprehend this sort of mindset. Regardless of chicken-little airheads' and washed up radicals' accusations of "fascism", the United States has been, is, and always will be the expression of a collective, not individual, will. The survival of the nation is not bound up in a single man, but is instead defined by the combined wishes of a majority of its inhabitants*.

In a situation like this, the life of every soldier has value. The loss of battalions of them simply unspeakable. They are us, and because we have no particular wish to die we do not wish our soldiers to die either, sometimes regardless of the cause. When our nation's forces leave a war zone it is never a defeat because that departure represents the will of the nation as a whole. We leave not because we must, we leave because we want to.

This has important implications for all sides. A totalitarian ruler would be well advised to stop wasting money on fancy weapons his indoctrinated troops could barely use anyway and spend the money on Madison Avenue and the New York Times's advertising department instead. A few clever Super Bowl ads here, a few full-page print sections there, and pretty soon it won't matter what the President thinks, because the people will be planning vacations and the editors will spin negative stories like tops just to keep the business.

This is not to say we're stupid. Far from it. It's just that, if it doesn't intrude directly on our lives, most of us don't care what the rest of the world does. In this we are no different from the rest of humanity. A Briton, Indian, or Chinese may protest their civility versus our barbarity, but when was the last time you saw a campaign to relieve the poor on Manhattan's streets?

An aside, for a moment, on the myth of the vaunted Western concern for civilian casualties. Significantly vocal but most definitely small minorities will violently disagree, but for the most part if it's someone else that's getting blown up, we're no more concerned about it than a Guyanan, Congolese, or Trobriand Islander would be. Oh, we'll feel bad about it, sometimes to the point of actually doing something to stop it. But if it comes down to a choice of protecting our troops or their civilians, well that's no choice at all. History has shown time and again most people (not just Americans) are quite willing to believe the most outrageous lies about battlefield victims as long as victory is swift and their own are not the ones filling the bags**.

For Americans, it's important to admit that it is in fact possible for an enemy to win (by their definition) simply by killing enough of our soldiers†. However, it's also important to understand that the values which make this possible: rule of law, citizen soldiers, universal education, and free inquiry, are at the same time what makes our military the most effective and powerful fighting force in history.

By emphasizing the value of each soldier while instilling in him or her pride in both their service and their country, we do not create soft cowards, we create mean clever bastards who fight harder and smarter than any opponent who may face them. They'll evaluate, innovate, and implement whatever works wherever possible, faster than any tinpot dictator or religious wack could ever hope to match.

Because, as citizens of the United States of America, they simply have better things to do.

Posted by scott at 06:21 PM | Comments (3)
Prop Lobster

Pat gets a beeping no-prize for bringing the most interesting Star-Wars related auction I've seen to date:

This auction is for a "Don Post Studios Deluxe R2D2 Replica", one of only 300 Lucasfilm licensed, full sized, highly detailed reproductions of R2-D2 from the original Star Wars trilogy ("A New Hope", "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Return of the Jedi"). These units originally retailed for around $7000. I have decided to sell R2 because I want to focus my Star Wars collection on vintage toys.

Non-expiring photos can be found here.

Good thing Richie doesn't have a house. He might sell it to get this.

Posted by scott at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)
Bird Art

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing what could be the earliest representation of a bird ever found. At 30,000 years, this cormorant-like sculpture is tiny but also has amazing detail. With pictures!

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
~ Longer Days/Are Here again ~

Christmas is all well and good, but personally I'm happy that yesterday was the shortest day of the year. Let's hear it for biking in the daylight again! Well, soon anyway.

Posted by scott at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)
Insert "Pigs in Space" Joke Here

Our former communist foes are getting more and more clever with their entrepreneurial spirit:

Despite banning marriages in space, Russia is offering newlyweds the chance to swap Venice or the Niagara Falls for a cosmic honeymoon romance by buying a 40-million-dollar ticket to space, officials said Sunday.

The world's most expensive space project is in danger of turning into the world's most exclusive tourist destination. I'm not completely sure that's a bad thing, but I am completely sure the keep-busy beaurocrats of NASA will think it is.

Posted by scott at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)
December 22, 2003
Brotha Squirrel

Dark, sinister messengers from an alternate dimension, or merely variants on the common fuzzy tailed rat? What are these so-called "black squirrels"? You decide

Posted by scott at 04:30 PM | Comments (3)
Mars Polar Puzzler is carrying this article with new details on what actually may have happened to the Mars Polar Lander (MPL) four years ago:

At NASA's request, a team from the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) -- recently renamed as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency -- carried out a detailed search of the primary MPL landing area utilizing MOC images and an array of high-tech analytical equipment.

The NIMA people think they found it all right, and it wasn't smashed to bits. This conclusion directly contradicted NASA's own report, so the NIMA report was suppressed by NASA "to avoid embarassing NIMA." Yeah right. To their credit, the NIMA people have stuck by their guns. It's just possible a new probe scheduled to arrive in '05 will solve the mystery, but it may take someone walking out there to find out for sure.

Posted by scott at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)
Anarchy, Eutopia, and Green Diamonds

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing the progress The Sims On-Line has made since its inception. In a nutshell, they seem to be discovering, or rather re-discovering, the universal principle that when given opportunity, people cheat.

What's really remarkable is we get to watch a sophisticated social matrix evolve on the spot. The developers (not just of TSO, but others like Camelot and Everquest) initially start out with a set of overly simple checks and balances on the assumption that the rest will be taken care of with a sort of "honor system."

Unfortunately they all seem to forget that for a small but significant minority successfully cheating a system, any system, is a reward unto itself. When the developers are quick and responsive, what results is an escalation of increasingly sophisticated checks and balances, closing loopholes as fast as they can be opened.

The lessons in civics and the evolution of laws alone are fascinating.

Posted by scott at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)
Sometimes I Impress Even Myself

This perceptive analysis brings up a point I've not yet seen anywhere else:

The capture of Saddam Hussein is an intelligence success for the United States. It represents a massive effort to improve U.S. intelligence capabilities in Iraq following a period of intelligence failure. [...] It demonstrates that poor intelligence is not inherent in U.S. guerrilla war-fighting.

Even better though, it's been three weeks, and our previous essay on the recent Guerilla action seems to have rung another bell.

We said:

The "old" Iraqi Dinars, which it would be fair to assume the guerrillas have aplenty, expire this month (according to NBC news at least). Always remember guerrillas operate on the fringes... they beg, borrow, steal, or buy what they need or they (literally) starve and die.

Compare with this:

[The guerillas] relied on support from an infrastructure fueled by money [... ] much of the money the guerrillas had was currency taken from Iraqi banks prior to the fall of Baghdad. A great deal of it was in U.S. dollars, which continued to have value, but most of it was in the currency of the old regime. One of the earliest actions of the U.S. occupation forces was to replace that currency. Over time, therefore, the resources available to the guerrillas contracted.

Yeah, I know, for me being impressive doesn't sound too hard either. It might mean, though, that certain members of the discussion group will stop assuming I'm a-priori full of sh*t and actually listen for once.


Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)
More Concern

Iraq the Model continues his interesting (albeit at times idiosyncratic) look at the war from an Iraqi perspective with Part 3 of 'Just a Concerned Man'. Some favorites:

To start with the Zionist-republican conspiracy really makes me sick, but I guess I have to do it since a lot of people out there keep mentioning it. I mean, were did you get that theory from? And I always though that it was (our thinkers) who invented it.

Now I believe you have to give us the credit here. You went to the moon without telling us... but one thing you can’t deny us; WE invented the conspiracy theory. I mean, really, what do you know about it? Probably heard about it in college, or High school? Give me a break; we give conspiracy theory-fortified milk to our babies once they pass the age of 6 months!
Ok, suppose we agree; the USA is trying to dominate the world for good, if she can, through eliminating this threat and as a natural outcome to this war. So? What are you going to do about it? And why is that bad?
We had this multi polarity during the cold war. What good it did to most of the world (the third world)? Wars every were, as the 2 giants wrestled trying to gain some foot against each other sweeping all that comes in their way; Korea, Vietnam Indian-Pakistan, Arab-Israeli...dozens of wars in 4 decades. No, thanks I’d rather have one rational power that keeps order in this crazy word. Any suggestions? UN? China? European Union?

Read the whole thing, then call me a cheerleader and/or a political ranter.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
When Fishermen Attack

Proof that even lobstermen can have too much time on their hands, we have the tale of Lobster Barbie:

Practical jokers Jim Bright and Chris Costello never imagined that their idea of dressing a female lobster in a Barbie outfit — accessorized with pink high heels — would save her from the steam pot.

Yet another item I don't want to see under the Christmas tree.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)
December 21, 2003
Tiny Things Make My Head Hurt

BBCnews is carrying this new article summarizing experimental proof that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is not, in fact, set in stone. At very, very, very small scales, it can and in fact does reverse itself. This has some unexpected implications for nanotechnology, since these results strongly imply that extremely tiny machines can run backward at random periods for no reason at all.

I'm going to go soak my head now. Quantum mechanics is f'd up.

Posted by scott at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)
And You Thought Vibrators Were "Inapropriate"

You know, there's "not right", and then there's "not right". Like going through a deceased person's belongings and finding a severed foot. Insert "Six Feet Under" joke here. Or not...

Posted by scott at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)
Selling is as Selling Does

Pat gets a bargain-basement no-prize for bringing this NYTimes article on e-bay driven business models (free reg, blah blah) to our attention. Four years ago my mom thought I was nuts to even talk about internet auctions. Now she has something like 300+ feedback notices on her own profile.

Posted by scott at 10:24 AM | Comments (1)
December 20, 2003

Also from the Post, this entertaining look at some of the more... unusual gifts available this season. We especially like the Quesadilla Maker (but do not want one!)

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)
iPod Follow-Up

A few weeks ago we featured a link directly to "iPod's Dirty Little Secret." Now the Washington Post is featuring this summary of the "drama so far." I especially like how defensive the mac evangelists got at them.

Posted by scott at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
December 19, 2003
Ghost Caught On Cam

How creepy is this?

I won't be spending the night there anytime soon.

Me: Scott, check this out. Pretty creepy huh!?

Scott: If I believed in ghosts it would be.

Me: WHAT?!? You don't believe in ghosts?

Scott: Nope.

Me: So, you're saying if you spent the night in one of these creepy-assed places, you wouldn't be scared at all?

Scott: Of course I'd be scared. I'd be scared stupid. But it'd be me scaring myself, not some ectoplastmic purple haired troll doll.

Later on he had this to say: "I'd sleep in just about any haunted house. But before I went to bed, I'd very loudly announce to everyone within earshot that, seeing as how this is a haunted house, I had decided to bring my trusty 12-gauge Browning semi-automatic ultralight shotgun along, which I would then shake most dramatically. I'd then explain, again very loudly so that all may hear, even (especially) those I can't see, that those ghosts won't have a chance because I'll sleep with it across my lap with the safety off and my finger on the trigger. Because, since everyone agreed I'd be left alone, the only things I'd shoot would be ghosts or rats.

Of course, I wouldn't load the damned thing, or maybe I'd just put blanks in it. I don't want to murder the sneaky bastards perpetuating these haunted house myths, just scare them into leaving me alone."

Personally I think he's full of crap. But I'm most definitely going to spend the night in a hotel on the other side of town if he ever tries this.

Thanks to Carrie! You get a Creepy No-Prize!

Posted by Ellen at 07:36 PM | Comments (5)
SUV... It's What's For Dinner

Me, I think people can drive whatever they can afford, more power to 'em. But boy, the guys at FUH2 sure do have a problem with the ol' Hummer 2. Aside from the "tahoe with a fancy body" angle, I could care less. But I think it's funny people would go to this length.

Posted by scott at 05:34 PM | Comments (0)
U.S. Appeals Court to RIAA: Drop Dead

Jeff gets a no-prize on a CD for bringing us news that RIAA is not, in fact, above the law:

In a surprise setback for the recording industry, a U.S. appeals court said Friday its methods for tracking down those who copy its music over the Internet are not authorized by law.

They may be "losing" money, but you can bet your bippy RIAA will have enough to boot this all the way to the Supreme Court. Still, it's nice to see them get a bloody nose for their trouble, at least once.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)
Can You Say "Class Action"? I Knew You Could

Ok, first I found it over at site essential, then I followed the links to WindRider and ASV. I simply could not believe it was true, so I went to the source and found out for once, it's not a hoax at all.

You know, I smiled at Ellen's extra-tasty rants whenever the subject of PETA came up. A bunch of kooks throwing paint on rich people and looking stupid and saying stupid things, what harm could they do?

I guess this just shows how utterly out of touch an organization can get. Your reach exceeded your grasp with this one PETA. From now on every celebrity joining your cause is going to be dropped in my "boycott" bin. Every group that associates with you will also be boycotted by myself and anyone else I can convince. The only real difference between your organization and the White Aryan Resistance is you have money and they don't. Well, I'm going to do what little I can to go about fixing that.

I would recommend the rest of our readership do the same.

And if anybody out there tries to associate these wingnuts with the Dems or the left in general, please be sure I'll show you the door.

Posted by scott at 10:51 AM | Comments (5)
The Beagle has Landed?

Well, not quite, but according to this BBCnews article, it has separated from its mothership and is on its way, scheduled for a Christmas day landing. Now that'll be a nifty present to the world, courtesy of Britain and the EU.

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)
Well, Sometimes I'm Right

About two weeks ago on this very site we speculated about the significance of the ambushes that made up what is now known as the battle of Samarra:

Let's for the moment posit that this whole thing wasn't some massive, extremely clever setup. This means the CPA has been penetrated, and probably pretty deeply. Convoys filled with currency don't have swinging yellow "Billions On Board" signs attached to them. Someone dropped a dime on this one.
They've got leaks, serious ones, and need to find them.

And now, we have this:

Among the documents found in Saddam's briefcase when he was captured last weekend was a list of names of Iraqis who have been working with the United States — either in the Iraqi security forces or the Coalition Provisional Authority — and are feeding information to the insurgents, a U.S. official told ABCNEWS.

Of course, even a broken clock is right twice a day, so I'm not crowing too much.

Posted by scott at 07:25 AM | Comments (2)
Spitzer Spectacular

Fark linked up this rednova article detailing news of the latest "Great Observatory", the Spitzer infrared telescope. With cool pictures!

Posted by scott at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)
Not Dead Yet!

Happy birthday to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Personally I think he croaked on the "tatoo you" tour and nobody really noticed, but that's just me.

The Rolling Stones are also for the most part grandads now. When the hell did that happen?

Posted by scott at 07:10 AM | Comments (2)
December 18, 2003
Garfield Movie Trailer

Just in case you have not checked it out yet.

Posted by scott at 09:22 PM | Comments (3)

SMART: Riding your bike up the hill bike trail across what might be black ice as straight and quick as possible.

STUPID: On the third and last lap testing if it's actually black ice by snapping the handlebars sideways a bit.

VERDICT: If it looks like black ice, assume it is. Your knees will thank you.

Posted by scott at 06:29 PM | Comments (1)
This is Why I'll Never Go Back to School

I got 8 out of 10. How did you do?

One of the reasons I enjoy writing on this site is I'm graded on content, not fiddly-ass grammar rules nobody remembers anyway. Well, except for my mom at least.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (12)
Imagine Instead Your Popularity

For once, an e-bay link I can provide that doesn't evaporate in 30 days. I think it's really clever that people are offering an "imaginary girlfriend" service. I think it's really scary it's so popular.

Posted by scott at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)
Got Politics?

So, I hear you might be liking Dean for President. Well, you might not like him so much after you read spinsanity's dissection of his latest antics regarding what, exactly, his stance was on the Iraq war:

This pattern of misleading and contradictory remarks is damaging to Dean's reputation, which was previously hurt by a false claim about Edwards and dissembling about his support for Medicare cuts during the 1990s. It also sets back the debates over Sept. 11 and Iraq, both of which have been plagued with deception and misinformation. While Dean frequently tells his supporters that they "have the power to take this country back," the power to set the record straight lies in his hands alone.

Personally, I think Leiberman (of all people) is the most interesting candidate at this time. He's about as exciting as dry paste, but I've agreed with many, if not most, of his positions so far. We'll see...

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)
My Kind of Rules

Sometimes Bush isn't much of a Republican, like when he spends every dime in sight growing federal agencies. But sometimes he still shows his bona-fides

The proposal, scheduled to take effect early next year, would require all government agencies to set up a formal, external "peer review" for any scientific study that could affect major federal regulations or "important public policies." Advocates say the plan will reduce bias in government science and regulation.

The reaction from big-government lefties is, of course, predictable:

[Critics] call it a back-door attempt to stifle new health and environmental regulations by burying them under mountains of discussion and analysis.

Anything that slows down keep-busy beauracrats and ivory-tower academics is just fine by me thank you. No surprise at all that the critics of the plan quoted in the work are those selfsame folks.

Via Site Essential

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

Also from the Post, news that George Fisher died at his drafting table. Fisher was the main political cartoonist for the Arkansas Gazette, and spent his life lampooning the absurd, of which there was plenty in the big-fish-small-pond world of Arkansas politics. From "keep busy!" hats (Corps of Engineers), to governors riding tricycles (Bill Clinton) and eating bannanas (Frank White), his images helped form my own political opinions when I didn't even know what political opinions were. He will be missed.

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (1)
Rutan Hits One Out of the Park

Washington Post is carrying this report noting that Scaled Composites' spaceplane SpaceShipOne successfully broke the sound barrier yesterday in a test flight. According to SC, it's the first time a privately funded aircraft has ever done this. The test is part of SC's continuing effort for the X-prize, which will award $10 million to the first company to complete a privately funded spaceflight.

Posted by scott at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)
December 17, 2003
What He Said

Fine. Call me a cheerleader and an imperialist. But can you dismiss a native's arguments:

But today I'll discuss your reasons for opposing the war. Apparently you didn't believe that Saddam was not a mad dictator and a brutal tyrant that should be toppled. You had already admitted this fact. And certainly not to spare the poor Iraqi people the miseries of the war. As, such emotions play a very minor role -if any - in the political decision of any governments. And you know, as I and every sane man knows, that the only possible way to relieve the suffering of Iraqis was to get rid of S.H. and after 12 years of sanctions it was obvious that this man couldn't have been removed by any other mean than extreme force. I wonder what your real reason was. Allow me to present some of my presumptions:

The English is almost too broken, probably because of the passion he feels for his cause. But he's certainly no less articulate than some of the people apposing the war. No, not you, the one standing next to you.

Oh, and, as always, read the whole thing, then come back and call me a cheerleader.

Posted by scott at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)
Stunned I Tell You, Just Stunned

Instapundit linked up this nifty send up of lefty attitudes about, along with advice as to how to cope with, Saddam's capture:

I am stunned with admiration at the mental agility of the anti-war lobby. Having spent months taunting George W Bush and Tony Blair for their failure to capture Saddam Hussein, and thus accomplish one of the most fundamental aims of the "illegal war" in Iraq, it was able to recover its composure almost instantaneously when the worst happened.

Can't say as I've heard the exact words come out of my anti-war friends, but I have a feeling they've heard similar from their friends. I imagine the recovery was just as immediate, and unremarked apon.

Posted by scott at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)
Spooky mystery at Bergen Museum

This is why I am not a security guard doing the grave yard shift in a museum.

Ancient Egyptian shabti - funerary figures that represent servants in the afterlife - are causing unease for those working at Bergen Museum. Professor Henrik von Achen says colleagues don't like working there at night, and the figures appear to be moving in their glass cases, newspaper Bergens Tidende reports.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)
Is the Ark of the Covenant a Giant Rice Bowl?

From the Weekly World News of Japan, Mainichi Shinbum is reporting the Ark of the Covenant may have been in Japan all along. So on top of blaming them for everything else, we can now blame the Jews for manga and giant animated tentacle penetration?

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)
More Clerk Stories

While not a porn clerk, these first-person accounts of a book store clerk are just about as good. I'm definitely never picking up a Swimsuit Edition anymore.

We have a former book store clerk in the family. I wonder if they ever had to go through anything like this?

Posted by Ellen at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)
Well, What Would You Pick?

And the winner of "least threatening High School Mascot" award goes to... Blooming Prairie High School in Minnesota. Our mascot was a bobcat. Sad thing is, this muscular flower could've probably whupped our bobcat butts.

Posted by Ellen at 10:59 AM | Comments (2)
$500-$5000 a Week?

Ever wonder if those "make money at home" signs you see nailed to telephone poles are for real? Wonder no more. The answer, of course, is depressingly predictable.

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)
December 16, 2003


After perhaps fifteen years of on-again, off-again planning, the Smithsonian finally has its Air and Space annex. It is very, very good. Not the least because it's less than five minutes from my house. Predictably, the first day it was open found me without a car and roads so covered in white crap bicycling was dangerous. The next day, though, was different. I had a car, I had a camera, and I had a destination. Kick the tires, light the fires, let's go fly!

The first thing you notice about Udvar-Hazy (OOD-var HAH-zee) is it's big. Really big. The pictures just don't do it justice. It takes raw size and transforms it from an adjective into a noun. This place has bigness like a dog has rabies. Acres of brushed steel and blue glass dominate an otherwise flavorless pine grove, red Virginia clay sticking out anywhere they ran out of sod, like a fourteen year old pancaking makeup for the prom.

As I pulled up to the parking lot gate, I noticed frantic activity. This must've been what an Iraqi border checkpoint looked like as the tanks pulled into view. Well, except they didn't have guns, and I didn't have a tank, and we weren't at war, and... oh hell, at least the attendants definitely weren't from around here.

"EmployEE?" a reasonably friendly face asked me. He was standing fifteen yards in front of the main gate, the arms of which were going up and down pretty much at random, like a drunken semaphore operator with a nasty twitch. A technician narrowly missed getting clobbered by one particularly vengeful barrier.

"Umm... no... just, umm, visiting? Ha-ha?"

"Not employEE?"

"No, sorry, just here to see the museum."

"Oh, ho-kay, you go in right!"

So I pulled quickly through the chop-sake parking barriers and into the glistening-wet parking lot, finding a nice close spot. Of course, the parking lot wasn't wet, it was covered in black ice, which I only discovered after doing the classic mime interpretation of "man tossed into air, landing on ass." After gingerly making my way up to the entrance, I discovered that I was a full hour early (which explained my excellent parking spot), so to kill time I explored the grounds, and then read a book until the doors opened.

blackice.jpg mushours.jpg

Now, November through February is the "off" season around here. In June the tour groups are thicker than bugs on a bumper, but in December they're actually manageable. So, even though this was a premier opening, the crowd buildup was nothing compared to, say, the downtown museum on a July morning. There was still a healthy crowd in front of the door, it just didn't wrap around the building.

crowd2.jpg crowd2.jpg

The place is just as big on the inside as it is on the outside. A small stunt plane hanging from the ceiling looks just like a toy until your eyes focus and you realize it's a real airplane hanging upside down thirty feet in the air. It certainly made the ubiquitous metal detector scan go by faster. While waiting my turn, the nattering French tour group next to me was suddenly surrounded by museum staff. It was only when the guy with the "director" name tag said, "thank you for your airplane!" to the lady standing next to me that I realized I was looking at Air France executives.

After running the metal detector gauntlet, I was in. I was in. I felt the exact same chest-twisting tightness that makes a child tigger-bounce through Disney world. My damned shoelaces even came untied as I turned the corner.

The museum is, for now at least, basically one gargantuan room over 1,000 feet long, 250 feet wide, and 100 feet high. It's all done in white, with a shiny concrete floor (no gross gum blots like what cover the carpeted floor downtown). The fresh-paint-and-sawdust smell that dominates any new building overwhelms the gear-oil bouquet of the pickled vehicles placed inside, but only just. The entrance places you on the mid-level walkway, so you stroll out into the middle of this free space, like you're flying yourself.

P40 Warhawk
F-4U Corsair
P-47 Thunderbolt
P-38 Lightning

Look more closely though, and you'll realize just what a rush it must've been to get this place ready in time for the Wright Brother's anniversary. The place is just flat not finished. Big sections are nothing but gray floor, waiting for future exhibits. Display cases stand empty save for laser-printed "RADIO HISTORY HERE" sheets of paper taped to their doors. The new "space hangar" is for now simply a construction site with a space shuttle sitting incongruously at its center. Overall, the impression is of a mall opening on the first day... lots of great stuff, yes, but lots of blank walls with "coming soon" stamped on them.

Enterprise (note hangar construction and people in foreground)

In reality, Udvar-Hazy is simply a nice, far more accessible place for the Smithsonian to display the more presentable items that have always been available at the Paul Garber facility in Silver Spring. Of course, now instead of making an appointment to be taken through freezing storage sheds by a cranky old man with a flashlight you can stroll at your leisure in climate-controlled comfort. But if you managed to visit the old facility you will easily recognize 90% of what resides in the new.

This is not to say what's there is not fascinating. Lots of really amazing aircraft sit on perches or hang from the ceiling. Further, they're not all showroom-perfect like most of what's downtown. Some still have bullet holes. The displays are simpler, dedicated solely to the vehicles instead of getting sidetracked into "hands-on learning centers." If you've ever been to the Datyon museum, it's like that only newer, less crowded, and more diverse.

View looking north (I think)
View looking south (well, opposite anyway)

After viewing most of the collection I decided I could not miss the observation tower, that titanic faux control tower that punctures the site's skyline like the bridge of a particularly tacky starship. The tower's finished, but the elevators aren't... you have to go down to the ground floor and then pick the lone elevator up to the top of the 150-foot-plus spire. The elevator took so long to arrive I really did begin to think it might be broken.

But oh, what a view. Looking out of this carpeted, furnitureless space was amazing indeed. They placed the facility at the end of and between the two main runways of Dulles, closer to 1R (north bound, right side) than 1L (north bound, left side... duh). Of course, being at the end of these runways means the terminal was a full two miles away, but it was quite clear in the distance. Mornings are slow at Dulles, but anyone with a scanner and a set of binoculars should be able to track any aircraft from pushback to takeoff, final to hookup.

The second level of the tower held a curiously windowless air traffic control exhibit. While fascinating, it was left intentionally vague while the Smithsonian wrestles with the FAA to get Dulles radio and ATC radar piped into the displays. For now you know you're looking at an ATC radar and hearing its radio chatter, you're just not sure where in the world that might be.

Oh, and fitness freaks may be tempted to skip the too-long elevator wait and simply walk down the obvious stairs next to said elevator's doors. However, after a featureless fifteen story trudge you'll discover yourself dumped blinking at the sun outside with suspicious finishing contractors looking at you going, "que?" Leading, of course, to a fifteen story leg-crunching walk up the same concrete dusted stairs to get the elevator down. How do I know? None of your damned business. And I resented all the funny looks I got when the sweaty panting white guy got on the elevator down.

Could I have stayed longer? What, are you crazy? If they'd let me I'd set up a cot under the wing of the SR-71. But, since as previously noted this place is less than five minutes from my own warm bed and family, I decided (for once) not to memorize every single placard and guidebook in the place. I'll be back.

And if you play your cards right, I'll take you with me.

Posted by scott at 09:26 PM | Comments (5)
Airplane Funnies

Jeff gets a wing-and-a-prayer no-prize for bringing these amusing aviation vingettes to our attention. Includes a few new SR-71 stories I hadn't heard before.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Keepin' Warm

A silly little game to pass some time with: Warm Your Pussy. Oh, you think that's bad? You should hear Ellen and her friend Amber "talk pussy".

Posted by scott at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Just now got back from the Udvar-Hazy annex that opened yesterday at Dulles. For once, I brought the damned camera and have lots of pictures. Expect a write-up shortly. For now, all I can say is if you like airplanes, you gotta go see this place.

If you don't like airplanes... WTF? Who doesn't like airplanes? Everyone likes airplanes! You like airplanes. Oh don't make me come over there...

If you're not local, they run a shuttle from the downtown musuem once per hour or so (the metro doesn't come out anywhere near here). Friends & family should co-ordinate with us, because we have the year-long parking pass now.

Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)
December 15, 2003
The 12 "Cat" Days of Christmas

Ok, sing along, cat lovers!

On the first day of Christmas when I brought home my tree, my 12 cats were laughing at me.

On the second day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the third day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the fourth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the fifth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the sixth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the seventh day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the eighth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
8 shattered ornaments
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the ninth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
9 chewed-through light strings
8 shattered ornaments
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the tenth day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
10 tinsel hairballs
9 chewed-through light strings
8 shattered ornaments
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the eleventh day of Christmas I saw beneath my tree
11 broken branches
10 tinsel hairballs
9 chewed-through light strings
8 shattered ornaments
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands and my 12 cats laughing at me.

On the twelfth day of Christmas I looked at my poor tree 12 cats a-climbing
11 broken branches
10 tinsel hairballs
9 chewed-through light strings
8 shattered ornaments
7 half-dead rodents
6 fallen angels
5 shredded gifts
4 males a-spraying
3 missing Wise Men
2 mangled garlands

and my 12 cats laughing at me!

Posted by Ellen at 08:04 PM | Comments (1)

"What makes me so mad", a friend once said to me during an instant message conversation, "is that people accuse us of being anti-American because we protest the war."

To which I replied, "that's because they're stupid. Protesting wars is one of the things that makes us Americans. We shoot each other over sneakers. Of course we're going to argue about war. Besides, you still love the country, right?"

After a long, thoughtful pause, the words came up, "well, that's a complex issue. We'll have to talk it over some time."

An artful dodge, but one I actually understood. How could any educated person actually "love" this country? How could we, when we knew this country had oppressed so many peoples in its making, sucked up environmental resources in gargantuan quantities and spewed them out the tops of smoke stacks to ruinous end, coddled the rich and buried the poor, and destabilized entire regions settling old family scores? Who could love such a thing?

Well, I can. I do. And for better reasons than any of my "educated citizens" might have for disliking it.

I love America because it's got an insanely complex government. Tens of thousands of people at all levels get to decide almost everything about the country, from the position of garbage cans outside my house to the position of a space station orbiting the earth. The only thing special about these people is they simply wanted to do it. Even better, we regularly get a chance to replace all of them, sometimes simply because we don't like their beady little stare. Every bit of regulation and law, right up to the founding documents of the country itself, can be changed or discarded if enough of us feel like it.

I love America because large numbers of its citizens are so naive they actually expect this government to function. They rally, they chant, they write, they march, they call, they vote, they care, all in the sincere belief that if the right combination of politicians ended up in office, we could actually get this government to work for us. For this they are, of course, doomed to eternal disappointment, but their Charlie-Brown-like ability to get up, dust themselves off, and grumble down the field for another kick at congress's football makes us all better in the long run.

I love America because far larger numbers of its citizens want to work for themselves and keep the government out of their way. They know that people who gain power through public office need to be carefully watched, and that crusaders are usually only leading their followers into the sea. They strongly believe as long as the playing field is level and the rules are followed, anyone... anyone can succeed. For this they too are doomed to disappointment, not just because the field can be mined and the rules hidden, but because too many players think they're "owed" a starting position.

I love America because it's as much an idea as a nation, one that lets anyone participate. It may not be easy, it's usually not fair, but it's too often far more than 85% of the world gets on their first birthday. Today we are not the only place in the world that provides this opportunity, but we were the first, and we stand with a depressingly small group of equals.

I love America because as a nation we're always thinking up something new. People are smarter than their governments, a lot smarter, and by enabling more people than anywhere else on the planet, America has become a gyser of ideas, a fountainhead of innovation unequaled in time or place. Not all of them are good ideas, and some work only badly, but for every Zima, Chia Pet, and Clinton Administration there are a dozen TiVOs, Saturn Vs, and Wright Brothers. More importantly, we get to decided what succeeds and fails, not some dusty bureaucrat or son of a dictator.

I love America most of all because we never stop trying. We screw it up just as much as anyone else, sometimes with horrible, tragic results. When we see that happen, we work to fix it, nearly always faster than anyone else would or could. We refuse to be the whipping boy of the rest of the world, refuse to be an excuse distracting from bankrupt economies, crumbling infrastructures, and ruptured ideas. This means we get blamed for screwing up a lot more than we've ever been responsible for. But when we accept a screwup, we do what we can to fix it, from giving a farmer cash for a stray bomb to crushing an entire administration for blowing up a country and then lying about it.

We're not perfect. We're not even close. If you were to hack this country out and put it under a dome on Mars, we'd still be robbing liquor stores and trying to elect Hillary Clinton. We probably wouldn't even notice the sky'd gone a funny color and the French had finally shut up. But to the great disappointment of Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, Jacques Chirac, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden (aka "next"), and many others, we're not going anywhere. Instead we're going to stand out here, holding our torch as high as we can. Because no matter how rusted it may be, no matter how many times we're ungainly in its holding, we know the gold of it will always shine bright.

And for that, my friends, I am a patriot.

Posted by scott at 03:55 PM | Comments (5)
Stryke Team

ABCnews is carrying this report on the "stryker team" concept. Built around a new medium-weight armored vehicle, these troops use innovative (albeit troublesome) technology and persue-and-extend tactics that, it is hoped, will pay off in effectiveness and mobility in modern combat situations. The first units are now deployed in Iraq, although only time will tell if the concept is valid.

Posted by scott at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)
Craftsman Is...

Some people take unsuspecting Japanese sedans and turn them into hot-rods. Others, well, others take unsuspecting chunks of wood and turn them into a Ferrari, right down to a wooden dash and wooden seats. It even seems to float!

Posted by scott at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
In Other News...

Sometimes he misses, but sometimes he hits:

Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean today said the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein "lacks legitimacy because it was a unilateral effort by American forces."

Note: humor-impaired partisans in the yellow-dog peanut gallery won't find this funny at all. Which is of course good for a second laugh. Refried satire, as it were.

Of course, the left is already bubbling about "coincidental timing" and the dark mechanations of the Bush administration. As always, they get to have it both ways by hating him for also being "an idiot."

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (2)
Reaction: Mixed

The American Spectator has this op-ed that does a nice job of summarizing the barely-hidden disappointment and "yes but-"s of big media's reaction to Saddam's capture.

I had to turn NPR off yesterday because they'd dredged up some talking head who did nothing but detail why Saddam's capture was a bad thing.

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)
Johnny Star Seed?

Also from BBCnews, this article summarizing two recent papers presented in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society detailing new theories about how life could spread beyond the solar system. The vehicle? Asteroids.

Posted by scott at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)
~ Rubber Dino, You're the One... ~

BBCnews is carrying this summary of recent discoveries made about sauropods, the big "brontosaurid" beasties of the Jurassic. By inputting the data for one of these critters into a floatation simulation originally meant for crocodiles, it was discovered these gargantuan animals would actually float. Well, sort of. It's not clear if they would have been stable.

Not exactly earth-shaking (as it were). These creatures were originally thought to be almost completely aquatic, but that theory fell out of favor when it was realized deep water would prevent them from breathing. Also, more modern fossil finds show the sauropods lived in a variety of places, from shorelines to deserts. Still, it does help explain some weird "tippy-toe" pathways that have been found over the years.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)
December 14, 2003
Arrghh.... I'm a Pirate Bunny!

Here is one of the latest pixes taken of Pirate Bunny O:


Yeah, Yeah... Mom has way too much time on her hands.

Posted by Ellen at 08:16 PM | Comments (3)
Potty Light

Every man out there should get one of these.

Posted by Ellen at 03:43 PM | Comments (3)
Best Safe Sex Ad Ever

If the US would show condom ads like this, I think there'd be a definite drop in teen pregnancy rates

Note: Very unsafe for work, for a variety of reasons.

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)
Saddam Captured

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- After eluding coalition forces for months and vowing never to be taken alive, a disheveled Saddam Hussein was found hiding in a hidden hole near a farmhouse and was captured without firing a shot, coalition authorities announced Sunday.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)
December 13, 2003
Strapped In

They put straps in a stroller for a reason.

Thats why we call her " Scooter".

Posted by Ellen at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)
Environmental Moronitude

The Post is reporting on new developments in the Greenpeace prosecution case. I especially love this part:

Greenpeace, which argued Friday for a dismissal of the charges in a Miami federal courtroom, accuses prosecutors of attempting to suppress the age-old American practice of civil protest. Although it is common to levy criminal charges against individual protesters, Greenpeace says a criminal indictment of an advocacy group is unprecedented and politically motivated.

Now, as I recall, the whole point of civil protest is to break laws and get arrested. That way you can holler your slogans at the cameras and impress Birkenstock-clad members of the opposite sex. If prosecutors don't use the laws, then what's the point? Greenpeace got caught with their lawyers around their ankles and is responding the way most western hard-left organizations do nowadays... they're whining about it.

"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" Please. When the US government wants to "stifle political criticism", it doesn't use laws that allow publicity-heavy trials, it uses groups of incompetent hacks and wannabes creeping around inside hotels at night. And that's only because we're no damned good at it. Governments who take shutting up whiney greens seriously send squads of efficiently violent men to houses at three in the morning. Which is why you'll never see a chapter of Greenpeace in the People's Republic of China.

And complaining the opposition is politically motivated? Excuse me, but last time I checked the whole point of Greenpeace was to make political points by risking the lives of gullible sophomores and hippies who haven't had the decency to die yet.

Oh wait, I forgot. How silly of me. It's only political when the people we don't like do it. What we do is justice.

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
December 12, 2003
Scientists devise new nutritional solution for cat hairballs

Mark Cook, animal scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and researchers at the Nestlé Purina PetCare Company have devised a way to help dissolve hairballs by using agents that break up, or emulsify, fats. Cook and his collaborators, Beth Drake, Leonard Girsch and Janet Jackson, conceived the idea after discovering that hairballs can contain up to 30 percent fat.

Read entire article here.

Thanks to Three Peas in a Pod for the entry! You get a sticky scarf and barf hairball no-prize!

Posted by Ellen at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)
Like a Merry Dive Bomber

A bit of distraction to help pass the day: Santa Bomber!

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)
Well, it's Certainly a Different Sort of Christmas Card

The title sort of says it all:

The Amazing Horror Masked Karate Killer Girl from Mars Wishes You a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year.

Yeah, terrorpilot seems to have been around awhile, but I'd never heard of it before!

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (1)
Proofread People, Proofread

All those advertisements and newspaper inserts are so ubiquitous nowadays it's as if they just magically create themselves. Not so. They're laid out by people, and as is widely known, people can screw up in the most spectacular ways:

A holiday shopping flier that's been distributed to thousands of households in north Texas is creating controversy because a message of hate is included within an advertisement.
According to ADVO, the company that printed the advertisement, a graphic artist working on the ad had left his desk for a moment, and a co-worker with the initials C.C. changed the text on the ad.

How to completely sink a company in one easy step: Allow a dipwad retard to alter ad copy and never check it before sending it to print.

Posted by scott at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)
Real Men of Genius

Yeah, the beer stinks, but you gotta love those ads. These are the radio ads, much funnier than the trunkated goofy stuff they're running on the TV. "Hop Hop Hop."

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)
Feed the Tree

Fark, in a remarkable departure from Boobies and Weirdness, linked up this story about one scientist's theories behind the Devonian mass extinction event. This event was before the better-known Permian and Cretaceous events, but still managed to off about 70% of the earth's species at the time. The theory is that land plants, which evolved in the Devonian, created unique land/sea conditions that wrecked the finely balanced ecological conditions of the oceans of that period. In other words, the trees did it.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing new discoveries about Geobacter sulfurreducens, a critter that can keep water free of nuclear waste products by eating them. Turns out, it may also form part of an organic battery.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
December 11, 2003

Swear to god, if it's mechanical and can be painted red, an Italian will race it:

Michael Schumacher won a record sixth Formula One title last season but he has met his match in a series of exhibition races against a Eurofighter jet.

Yeah, I know, Schumi's not Italian. But everyone else involved was. Still, why not?

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)
Grave Goods

BBCnews is running this article summarizing the recent finds of red ochre lining some early-modern human graves in a cave in Israel. The striking thing is these graves are 100,000 years old, doubling the age at which humans seem to have begun to think abstractly.

My grandmother's funeral a few years ago was the first one I attended as an adult. I never will forget the sight of her body in a casket lined with pictures and momentos. For me, it was a deep connection with the past, participating in what will probably turn out to be the oldest, perhaps first, human ritual ever conceived.

The more things change...

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
On the Other Side of the Coin

Aside from one clanging editorial goof, this NYTimes op-ed explains how it isn't just the Democrats using soldiers to score political points.

Administrations have done stupid/weird/dangerous/deadly things during war to ensure their re-election since at least Lincoln's day. It's the price you pay for having leaders who must convince millions of people not to fire them. This, of course, doesn't make it any less irritating.

The author tries hard to draw parallels with Vietnam, but there are distinct differences. Most of all, while the civilian beuracracy is cocking it up like they always do, the soldiers are at least being allowed to innovate and affect change on their own. Just because you've been trained to clean latrines doesn't mean you can't learn how to build them.

Update Write negative stuff about the occupation and you'll get your op-ed where the whole world will see it. Positive news, of course, is relegated to known cheerleading groups (when it's shown at all) or insignificant web logs.

Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)
Bah. I can Barely Make a Snowman

In honor of the demise of the DC area's first "oh-my-god-the-sky-is-falling!!!" snowshower, we feel it appropriate to feature the winners of last year's snow sculpture championships. I wonder if they have a category for snow winkies...

Posted by scott at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
Dust in the Wind

Joshua gets a sandy no-prize for bringing us this article on how utterly weird something as simple as a sand dune can be.

Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)
Belly of the Beast

Iraq the Model recently posted this harrowing first-person account of life under Saddam when he didn't like you.

Rwandans clip heads like rosebuds and we are pilloried for doing nothing. Serbians shove Bosnians into full-color live-at-five Auchwitzes and we are excoriated for letting it go that far. Somalis gleefully drag the half-naked bodies of people trying to feed and protect them, and we are made a laughingstock for leaving.

And now these very same people, these exact same people, threaten international incidents because they're not going to get a slice of a pie they paid nothing for. They sneer "war of conquest" because we didn't get extra-special-mother-may-I permission from a body of diplomats who can't even be trusted to pay their own parking tickets. They score political points over the bodies of our soldiers because an election is more important than a dozen dusty graves full of tiny white bones.

Fuck 'em.

Posted by scott at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)
December 10, 2003
Cheap Tech

The old workhorse homebuilt PC I have at home is finally giving up the ghost. Soundcards appear and disappear at random, USB has never worked properly, and it's always occasionally locked up for no damned good reason. I think a cat zapped it recently, because now it doesn't want to turn on without recycling the power supply.

I like the reviews I'm seeing of AMD's new 64 bit chip. Plus, if I pick one up it'll give my wintel-assimilated brother heartburn. A full-up Alienware system (complete with glowing-green case) was way out of my league, but now slashdot notes one can have 64-bit goodness for a far cheaper price.

Yeah, I know. I can't afford it either. But it'll be something I keep my eye on.

Sermon from tech-head brother about what an awful decision this would be in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 03:48 PM | Comments (6)
Protest News

Healing Iraq has some great coverage of the anti-terrorism protests that happened today in Iraq, with lots of cool pictures. Excellent to see peaceful assembly by people with a cause. There was a time when even the sight of the good ol' hammer & sickle would've caused immediate changes in policy in Washington. At least we're not crazy about that anymore.

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)
Fossil News

Washington Post is carrying this article summarizing recent fossil finds in Africa. The discoveries are the some of the first dated to a "hole" in Africa's paleontological record between 35 and 8 million years ago. Turns out there was a lot of biodiversity, and a lot of it was really weird.

Posted by scott at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
Sexual Moronitude

This New Scientist article summarizing a new human behavior experiment goes a long way to explaining why men seem to get in trouble with their significant others all the damned time:

Psychologists in Canada have finally proved what women have long suspected - men really are irrational enough to risk entire kingdoms to catch sight of a beautiful face.

Somehow, though, I don't think an appeal to science will keep me from getting punched next time a short skirt walks by in the metro.

Posted by scott at 09:19 AM | Comments (1)
Ok, Now I've Really Seen Everything

What do you get when you combine sci-fi, religion, and a great big steaming pile of free time? How about a Klingon translation of "Jesus Loves Me"? You have to scroll down a bit to see it.


Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (1)
December 09, 2003
Hillary... the Hawk?!?

I never thought I'd say this, but after reading this interesting analasys of Hillary Clinton's stance on Iraq, I think she may actually have a shot in 2008. A lot smaller than most other people think, but it's there, and 5 years is a long-ass time to build up a reputation.

I've always maintained Hillary is a great policy wonk but a poor politician... not enough of the ass-kisser in her. Who's to say she can't learn?

Wow... two compliments to Democrats in one day. Clintons no less. I need to push the yellow-dog peanut gallery bleachers back a little farther. Their radiation must be getting to me.

Posted by scott at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)
War Updates

Two "big news you'll probably not hear" updates on the war:

Meryl tells us we're learning from one of the best sources of urban counter-insurgency on the planet. Of particular note:

US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border.

Which puts to rest my own worries that there might be havens on the borders of Iraq which would act as "safe harbors" for the terrorists. Note: Weenie filters will be needed, as the Guardian author (IMO) tried a bit of spin in the opposite direction breaking this story.

From instapundit we get news that CERP money seems to be flowing again. CERP money was a relatively red-tape-free fund source originally provided for out of cash siezed from Saddam. Many success stories were reported from commanders on the ground who could fill out a few simple forms and, say, pay an Iraqi contractor to build a school or refurbish a hospital without waiting weeks or months for bureaucratic approvals.

That dried up last month, and there have been several reports since that we're losing ground a bit because of its lack. Here's hoping things get better again!

Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome to Wingnutville

Oh, hey, remember when we told you the world was going to end, but, like, it didn't actually end, it just sort of sat there and sucked like usual? Well, it turns out we were listening to the wrong bunch! Instead, we've found a much more convincing argument that the US will be experiencing a Holocaust oh, just any damned day now:

The infrastructure is set up. There are at least 130 concentration camps — quietly modified facilities which have sprung up and continue to spring up across the country, seemingly devoid of activity, yet requiring strange accoutrements such as barbed wire-topped fencing (with the tops turned inward) and helicopter wind socks.
Who will be doing the actual picking up? Foreign ‘cops’ (United Nations Internal Security Forces). Over 30 foreign military bases under the United Nations flag are already set up in the US., all with the approval of special appointees in high Federal positions. These bases are already manned with over ONE MILLION troops from Russia, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Turkey, Great Britain, Nicaragua, and Asian countries.

See! See! I told you those British were a crafty bunch, not to be trusted one bit no sir-ree-bob. And we all know what an utter threat to world stability that crack army from Nicaragua is.

From the dates this looks like it came from Right Wingnutville some time in the middle of the Clinton administration. Yet it looks oh-so-similar to some of the stuff coming out of Left Wingnutville right now. Belief is a circular construction. If you drive far enough out onto the extreme, you'll eventually meet up with people coming from the other direction.

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (2)
I Especially Like the Screams

Joshua gets a snow globe shaped no-prize for bringing us the best snow globe simulation ever. Adding gratouitous violence to innocuous holiday-themed paperweights is the whole point of computers, doncha think?

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (1)
Nozomi News

Jeff gets a no-prize for bringing us notice that Nozomi, the Japanese space probe to Mars, isn't going to make it after all. The whole program has been plagued with problems from the very beginning, and now it would seem they're out of gas.

Travelin' through hyperspace ain't like dustin' crops boy...

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Hearts, Surgeons, and JOOOS

This nifty story about how an Iraqi infant was saved by an Israeli charity is both impressive and heartwarming at the same time. Sometimes I'm happy to "blame" the Israelis for something!

Wing nut radical Muslim reaction to a Zionist conspiracy "recruiting" innocent children in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
Dinosaur Crunch

BBCnews reports new developments in the Dinosaur mass-extinction theory in this report. A new study claims to call into question the theory that a massive firestorm swept the planet, or a large part of it, after the Chicxulub impact. However, the conclusions, while interesting, are not definitive.

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
Hatai Ichi Es!

Tuesdays are boring. How about a little bit of surrealism, courtesy of our friends in Japan?

I think this is some sort of political commercial. It's definitely a great example of the frenetic non-stop enthusiasm only the Japanese can pull off.

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (3)
Happy Birthday Teddy Bear!

To my favorite naughty striped cat:

Happy 4th Birthday!!

I love you more each day. I can't believe it's been 4 years! I still remember when I was told you would not make it to your first birthday. I hope to have you around for many more birthdays.

~Love, Mommy Cat

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 AM | Comments (3)
December 08, 2003
A Letter to the Editor

This is a letter to the editors of E-Pregnancy Magazine. In their current issue, they have yet another tiresome, repetitive, and most of all utterly wrong article titled, "Keeping Kitty in Her Place." You can check out E-Pregnancy here.

Scott says this lacks my normal "ranty freshness", but I think it still gets the point across. Mama Smurf will be very happy it doesn't contain f-word, not even once.

I am a Licensed Veterinary Technician of 10 years and had my first baby 5 months ago. I am also the owner of 5 cats. I practice at an exclusive cat practice in Arlington, Va. I am also an active member in the VALVT (Virginia Association for Licensed Veterinary Technicians.) I am writing to educate the authors of the article, "Keep Kitty in Her Place" that appeared in your January 2004 issue, who are ignorant in this field and have chosen to only listen to their medical practitioners, other magazines and superstitious friends and family. When one is pregnant and owns a pet, your veterinarian can become an invaluable source of information and advice.

To this day, I am still appalled by what is written in pregnancy magazines about cats. Not only how to keep pets away from your children, but a 'How To' guide on how to toss a pet aside when one is pregnant and make it a "Me" situation. How utterly selfish. Pets are a responsibility. If you plan to become pregnant and just can't seem to fit a pet in your life, don't get one. Learn to adjust your life and your pet's life to a new addition and make it a positive experience for everyone. I cannot tell you how many clients I have had come in to our clinic and test and retest their cats on Toxoplasmosis only because they keep receiving false information. I practiced feline medicine till the day I went into labor at work, ( and returned 6 weeks later).

I have spent ten years in the field of professional animal medicine, being exposed to cats for forty hours a week, six days per week on average. This is far, far, beyond anything an average pet owner will ever experience. Like all other pregnant women, I was tested for toxoplasmosis in my first trimester.

I tested negative. I had never, not once, been infected with the disease.

You are more likely to contract Toxoplasmosis by raw meat and gardening. Hence, wash your hands.

Now, to the specifics of the article:

Many cats are NOT deterred by tinfoil. Cats WILL cross that line. You might as well draw a circle of salt and hope for the best. Cats are not stupid, they are curious by nature. Cats like to play with tinfoil, especially in ball form. So why would you want to deter them with a toy?

Keeping a spray bottle around and spritzing the cat every time it nears the baby is also a poor idea. This only lets the cats know the baby and that area of the house is "off limits" permanently and because of this the cats will generally cause trouble elsewhere or become depressed. What you are telling the cat with this action is that: "I don't want you around." It amazes me to this day how a couple will come in with a new kitten, ooh and ahh over it, 6 months or later down the line, become pregnant and that poor cat is tossed aside like some dirty laundry. A pet is a companion, it is a privilege to enjoy its company.

Cats like to be where people are, and this naturally includes the baby. Cats won't suck their breath away or sleep on their heads because of warmth. Most cats will leave a baby alone for quite a while and will introduce themselves to the baby when they feel it's time. I have a cat in my household that is well known for being "nasty" to company, and was not amused when the baby arrived. This cat has now taken to the baby and likes to sit by her and share her space watching her with curiosity. Never has this cat uttered a growl or hiss. The cat comes running to her when she is upset.

Cats WILL find a cozy place of their own. It may not be the baby crib, but it may just be that play mat, or Boppy or blanket that you left on the floor.

It is recommend that you not only discuss your options with your doctor, but with your VETERINARIAN or Veterinary Staff- especially those who have had children.

One thing that you failed to mention in the article, KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! This is the EASIEST way to keep kitty away from baby.

I hope in the future you contact a veterinarian that is CURRENT on feline medicine for consultations on advice in this matter. You can find the information you are looking for at (The American Association for Feline Practitioners) for further information on feline medicine and advice.


Ellen Carozza LVT, VDT
Vice President of The Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians.
Mom of 1 human and to 5 cats.

Posted by Ellen at 09:17 PM | Comments (2)
Bury My Heart...

Well, better late than never I suppose. After more than 200 years, France will be giving an official burial ceremony for Louis the XVII, son of Louis the XVI and Marie Antionette. All they seem to have left is the heart, "stone hard and held in an urn", but you gotta get rid of it somehow.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (1)
Merry Geeky Christmas!

While most are too pricey for my budget, this Discover On-Line list of great science Christmas gifts is still pretty fun to look over. I especially like the miniature rocket-powered drag racer. Damion can finally have his JATO-powered car now!

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
Mislead Indeed

Not sure how many, or if, any of the yellow-dog peanut gallery reads "The Daily Mislead", a site that claims to provide "an accurate daily chronicle for journalists of misrepresentations, distortions and downright misleading statements by President Bush and the Bush Administration." If you do, before you believe it, be sure to read Spinsanity's devestating dissection of just what "accuracy" means to Mislead.

And before you write off spinsanity as another "cheerleader", be sure to read this and this. They quite happily hold both parties' feet to the fire whenever they're caught playing fast and loose with the truth. Which is to say, most of the time.

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)
Of Course, You're Not Supposed to Pay Attention to Reviews, your one-stop-shop for reviews of the weirdest candy-like substances on the planet. Ever wonder what the stuff in the corners of the "international foods" aisle tasted like? Now you can find out!

Posted by scott at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
Planetary Sonogram

Slashdot featured this story detailing new efforts to study the earth's interior using tremors from earthquakes to make an image similar to that of a sonogram of a mother's womb. The results included the first evidence for "mantle plumes", rising columns of heat that form things like the Hawaiian Islands.

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
December 07, 2003
Gena- what?

Scott almost always sends me his essays and other stuff to take a look to see what I think of his writing before it ends up on AMCGltd.

So tonight this is what I get via Instant Message:

Scott: genetalia

Genetalia? What the hell? Now what kind of PrOn is he looking at?
Scott: gah
Scott: dammit
Scott: URL to the bit just below
Scott: ha! I was trying to spell check that word.. how's that for an opening?

So there I was, first thing looking for in that essay was Genetalia.

Scott: *smiley face* LOL

And you thought his writing was weird.

Posted by Ellen at 07:53 PM | Comments (1)
F-ing Propeller-Heads

Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.25.
Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.
Your Universalising Factor is: 0.33.

How do you do on the taboo test?

The test is a prime example of why academia is so utterly f'd up.

"There's nothing so absurd an academic will not believe it" is an axiom proven none better than here. Only people who can deconstruct, in 2000 words (or more, preferably more) why a carrot resembles genetalia can actually have the nerve to ask you, "why is having sex with a frozen chicken at least a little wrong?" The sad thing is, these are the people setting the agenda for the left in America. They're in charge in the EU.

We can thank the Greeks for all of this. 2500 years ago a unique set of circumstances allowed a people culturally inclined to hit each other over the head with rocks (when they had perfectly good swords at hand) to have a political system that allowed free speech and an economic system that allowed a lot of free time. The result was a bunch of pooftas who would argue things like "is it wrong to bugger a sheep as long as it doesn't affect the taste?" while they lounged on couches and pawed the help.

"Do you think it's wrong if someone f's a frozen chicken in the privacy of their own home?"

"Umm... yeah."

"Enough to put them in jail?"

"Well, no. Why are you asking me this you freak?"

"Ah-HA! You, my friend, are a primary example of the moral equivocacy of the common man, and the illogic of their position. Now, sign here so I can get a government grant to survey 10,000 more of you cretins."

"Sign this" *thump*

Oh yes, America, there are significant, and noisy, segments of your countrymen (mostly holding Berkely zip codes) who think you should spend your tax dollars to help them demonstrate a) most people think sex with poultry is wrong and b) there's no dialectically logical defense for this stance.

The "chattering classes" (academia, punditry, most of the left) decry the ignorance and chattle-like tendencies of those who ultimately control the most powerful country in the world. But really, would you want people who thought brother-sister sex wasn't at least a little weird in charge of your country?

Via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 06:33 PM | Comments (1)
Cassini Update

2004 is shaping up to be a busy year in space exploration. Not only do we have all the Mars probes, but the Cassini Saturn probe is also due to arrive on site in July. In the meantime, BBC news has this update that includes a neat hi-res shot of the ringed planet.

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)
December 06, 2003
The Business Calendar We All Want

Office drones around the world rejoice! Despair, Inc.'s new calendar is out!

I just love this one.

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)
Oh Just Shoot Me Now

Ok Nina, be glad you're moving out of your teen years soon. Because otherwise we'd probably have pictures of you with panty elastic on your head. God knows what they'll come up with in 12 years.

Posted by scott at 10:25 AM | Comments (1)
Ice Ice Baby 2.0

Everyone wonders what this year's "killer gift" will be. As a network admin, I have to wonder what this year's network-clogging "killer download" will be. Well, thanks to the folks at FARK, I have advanced word on it. Yup, Elf Bowling, 2.0. Lovely...

Posted by scott at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)
Finally, an Answer!

Ever wonder why women's shirts button up one way, while men's button up the other? Yeah, we did too. Turns out lots of people wonder, but, as with most small things that "have always been that way", there isn't one clear answer. I like the armor explanation myself.

Posted by scott at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)
I got Everything, Thanks, Don't Need That

Ok, just want everyone to be on notice that I will be looking over all my gift certificates very carefully ineed this year. Of course, if people keep asking, "when's your next baby?" while this one's still in diapers, I may get one for myself.

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)
December 05, 2003
Grease Monkey Pt II

Safety is as safety does...

In Part I we discussed the various things you need to have fun working on a car, well, other than Pam Anderson (or, if you prefer, Jonny Depp) in a coverall. These were a) a safe place to work, preferably a garage, and b) quality tools to get the job done. Now, we'll talk a little about working on a car safely.

An automobile is nearly always at least a full ton of steel, mounted on wheels, filled with enough gasoline to blow up a house and an electrical supply that can weld metal. Screw around with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) and they'll leave you. Screw around with your car and it'll kill you faster than a Palestinian "fashion belt."

So, there are a certain set of tools and procedures you must follow if you want to work on your car safely. These are basically non-negotiable if you don't want to be buried with it. If someone tries to get you to work on a car without this stuff, know you are doing so at your own, mortal, risk.

The first thing you need is actually part of your safe place to work: a hard, flat, level surface. An automobile is one of the first, best examples of mass versus weight. When your car is sitting on a level surface, all you're dealing with is its mass1, which neatly obeys Newton's laws of motion. In other words, if it's sitting still it'll tend to stay still, moving only when something acts on it. You'll be the only thing acting on it, so you'll be able to control it.

When you put a car on an incline, you're working with its mass and its weight. Weight is the force of gravity on an object2, and a car on an incline is basically a whole bunch of mass fighting to break free. This means that, instead of tinkering with a neutral lump, you're working around something that wants to move. Which means you have to sit there and figure out which ways it wants to move, and brace against them. Not impossible, but the consequences of screwing up can be, well, unpleasant.

The next things you'll need are a floor jack and a pair of jackstands. You may wonder, since cars come with jacks already, why you'd need a special one just to work on the car. Well, spare tire jacks are emergency-use devices, meant to help you impress chicks (or rescue helpless guys) and scrape knuckles. They're not designed to push cars into the air time and again, and don't lift the car very high into the air. As a car is lifted on a jack, it shifts around a bit. Spare tire jacks aren't designed to compensate for this, and so they'll lean over alarmingly as the car goes higher in the air. Floor jacks have none of these limitations. If you get one nice enough, it'll also lift the car a lot faster than any spare tire jack could.

Jackstands are simple (and therefore cheap), but one of the most critical "first-buys" you'll make. All they do is hold a car in the air. They are designed to never move, lean, crack, crumble, bend, or splinter. Rocks, cinder blocks, bricks, boards, and blocks have been used to hold a car in the air, sometimes even successfully, but only by stupid or very desperate people. At a typical cost of $50 for a pair of really nice ones (and half that for cheap ones), there's no reason not to have them.

These two items, jacks and stands, go together because they perform related, but distinct, jobs. The jack lifts the car into the air, and the stands hold it there. As you will find often in your adventures in automotive maintenance, these tools are very good at what they're designed to do, and they suck ass at anything else. If you use a screwdriver as a prybar and it snaps in two, you've usually just ruined a tool. If a car falls off a jack because you were too cheap to buy stands or too lazy to use them, at best you'll simply damage your vehicle. At worst you'll be dinner table conversation at the next coroner's convention.

This is important enough to deserve repeating: Never, ever, ever work under a car that isn't properly supported. A jack of any sort is not proper support. One of the saddest things I ever saw was an episode of "California Coroner"3 I caught on Discovery a few years back. Someone had called the police complaining of a stench coming from their neighbor's back yard. The police arrived to discover a very (as in 4-day) dead person half-squashed underneath a car. The moron had only used a bumper jack, and apparently he got a little careless and bumped it. The horrifying thing was it took a little while before he died. They could tell because he'd broken his fingernails off, desperately trying to lift a two ton Chrysler Imperial off his chest with his bare hands.

The third thing you should buy, or first if the stuff you need to do doesn't involve putting the car in the air, is a large fire extinguisher. The larger the better. Cars are filled with all sorts of nifty petroleum products, ironically the largest quantity of which is also the most flammable. None can be put out with a garden hose or a bucket of water. Once ignited, a car will quite merrily burn with a heat that can melt cast iron and definitely destroy an entire house. A fire extinguisher will ensure a random flame is a fun excuse to coat your garage with white powder, not a reason to call 911.

Stay alert when working on a car that's running. There are a lot of spinning parts in there, any one of which can lop off a careless finger or crush a misplaced hand. Assume that unless you're watching it, the hand you're moving is being placed straight into the path of the fan blades. This will ensure it always stays attached to your wrist. Put away the damned jewelry, which will get caught and torn up, probably cutting you up in the process. Make damned sure all long hair is kept under control, because getting that caught in a fan belt will tear your head off, which makes for a very messy cleanup.

The rest of it is just common sense. Stay calm, take your time, think about what you're doing. The really dangerous stuff usually has warning labels attached to it ("do not open when hot", "can explode if not properly ventilated", "keep hands and feet in ride at all times", etc.) Follow them religiously. Read the manual to learn the proper places to put a jack and stands, because you'll damage the car if you don't. If you don't have the manual ask someone, don't just take a guess.

Your car, your body, your friends and your family will thank you.

To be continued...

Posted by scott at 04:18 PM | Comments (1)
NRO Detectives

Spaceflightnow is carrying this nifty bit about a group of people around the world who's hobby is trying to figure out as much as they can about launches involving the National Reconnaissance Office, probably the most secretive of the US's known intelligence organizations. While they can't tell everything, just by observing and using deduction, they can tease out quite a bit.

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
World's Oldest Winky?

It's not often we get to combine penis jokes and fossil news, but this BBCnews story about a recently described fossil allows us to do just that. A remarkably preserved ostracode, a kind of arthropod (think lobster, only weirder), was found with all its soft parts, including its genitalia, preserved.

Don't worry though, the whole thing was only 5mm long. No, you perv, the animal.

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
Local Fact-Checking

Remember the story about the woman who got trampled in Wal Mart? Picked up by the wire services, the news story got as far as China. Well, a local news station actually did some research and found out something interesting:

A woman reported "trampled" last Friday by Wal-Mart shoppers desperate for $29.87 DVD players has a long history of claiming injuries from Wal-Marts and other businesses where she worked or shopped.

Well, at least this correction got on somebody's front page.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (2)
December 04, 2003
But is It Art? -- Abstract Edition

Joshua gets his second no-prize of the day for bringing Mr. Picassohead to our attention. Waste time in an artful way!

Posted by scott at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)
And You Thought Bell Bottoms were Bad

First feathered hair, then bell bottom jeans (yes, dammit, bell bottoms. "Flair leg" just helps you sleep at night), now hair metal is returning. Courtesy of the Brits no less. Time to break out the aqua-net.

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)
And Now For Something Completely Different

Gunny Bunny, when you just have to go and kill something.

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Elephant March

Joshua gets a big gray no-prize for bringing this Scientific American article detailing new finds in the evolution of elephants to our attention. Turns out it's a bit more complicated than previously thought.

Posted by scott at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)
Birthin' Babies

New Scientist has this article detailling a new development in delivery-room technology. Using software originally developed for military radars, it should allow much more precise tracking of a baby's heartbeat during delivery, as well as the strength of the mother's contractions.

Posted by scott at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)
Bah. I Need My Walker. You Do Too.

While this effort by a girl scout troop to make a video to help keep kids safe is commendable indeed, I laughed out loud at this one:

Youngsters are advised in the video to give police accurate descriptions of people, such as whether someone is old, like Britney Spears, or even older, like your grandmother.

I'll bash 'em with my cane, I will!

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (2)
December 03, 2003
Porn Names

Get yer Porn Name!

I got the name "Arcadia Diamond" while Scott became "Lex Vellhung".

Whats your porn name?

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (5)
The Kids are All Right

While trolling around the previously mentioned Iraq Now, I stumbled across the very entertaining and important Good Morning Mesopotamia!, a journalist's travelogue through the Iraqi wilderness (which, of course, includes Baghdad).

Even reading the very first one will show it's definitely not the kind of hard-hitting investigative reporting we've come to expect from Christiane Amanpour or Sam Donaldson's hair. However, I would argue it's every bit as important and certainly no less accurate a read on what is really happening over there.

Of no less interest is Mr. Galen's semi-professional assessment of why the press keeps screwing it up:

[Journalists getting posted in Iraq for long periods of time] is not the norm. More often, reporters - print and broadcast - cycle in and out sometimes for a few days or weeks; sometimes for a month.

It is axiomatic of the process that reporters (and people who write columns on the internet called "Mullings") have a tendency to parachute into a situation, talk to a few people (often other journalists) and then report what's really going on here.

We have discussed this before, but it bears repeating: If you read some report which says somewhere, "Observers here say …" you are reading the report of a journalist who was sitting at the bar talking to other journalists.

Recommended reading!

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)
Iraq News

Iraq Now, the web log of an Army officer currently working "in country", has some nice tidibits today:

This follow-up on what now seems to be called The Battle of Samarra:

The objective now is not to secure a convoy of Iraqi currency, but to secure the Iraqi public’s favorable perception of the truth. The battlefield is no longer the Samarra streets, but the airwaves all over the Muslim world. But the Battle of Samarra continues…

And this story of one concrete example of the word, "Ariyah", by describing what, exactly, happened when a group of detainees were released once it was decided they weren't a threat to anyone. What I found most intriguing:

[I] asked through the interpreter where in Ar Ramadi they wanted to be dropped off. The police station downtown was fine, so we instructed them that when we got there, we’d cut the plastic cuffs one at a time, and they were to simply walk away from the trucks and they were free. [emphasis added]

I wonder how happy these guys would've been getting dropped of at a police station before the war? I'm reading this a lot in the Iraqi blogs right now. The Iraqi Police (IP... from, I gather, the very large I.P. letters on their armbands) seem to be a real success story. They seem to have been transformed from an apparatus of Ba'athist enforcement to a real force of peace and order. All with a surprisingly small, almost non-existant, reputation for corruption and brutality.

Of course, since they're a success, we hear nothing about it. If they were raping villages and burning women there would be images on the front page of the NY Times every morning.

It's kinda sad that the only way you can understand the good news over there is by reading between the lines and counting the silences.

Posted by scott at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)
Just When You Thought Humanity Had Hit Rock Bottom

Jeff gets a... well, Jeff gets a no-prize for bringing this extremely bizzare court account of a cannibal and his willing victim:

Offering a full account of the killing that has gained him worldwide notoriety as "The Cannibal of Rotenburg", Armin Meiwes said there were "hundreds, thousands" of people seeking to fulfil their desires to eat humans or be eaten via Internet adverts in forums called "Cannibal Cafe," "Guy Cannibals" and "Torturenet".

I think we may have featured a bit on this awhile back, but I don't remember this much detail. Trust me, the intro doesn't do the account justice.


Posted by scott at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)
Mars Express News

Mars is going to be a very busy place this holiday season, well, if all the probes manage not to splatter themselves at any rate. is carrying this update on the Mars Express probe, which took its first large-scale picture of Mars this week. It's due to arrive in 3 weeks. Then in January two NASA rovers will arrive. What will Kodos and Kang do?

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)
Iceland as North Pole Retreat?

Now, this story about how Icelanders believe in Elves so much they even give out a degree on "elvish studies" is so silly I think someone's exagerating out there. We get hits from all over the damned place... anyone from Iceland out there who can confirm or deny all of this please feel free to chime in!

Posted by scott at 12:10 PM | Comments (1)
Smoking Gun?

The clip you've seen on network TV of the Cincinnati police incident is probably only a fraction of what happened. As always, it's better to see the whole video before you pass judgement (link is in the "top story" area right now).

Even this isn't the entire video... I'd be very interested to see (well, probably hear) the exchanges that happened just prior to the video starting. However, on the limited lead-up I saw, the cops appeared to be doing what they had to in order to subdue a violent person. Note also the nightsticks got put up as soon as backup arrived.

What bothers me much more was that the cops quite obviously knew the guy wasn't breathing, yet made no move at basic emergency first-aid. No CPR, no mouth-to-mouth, no nothing. The EMT that apparently was called to the scene drove off and took awhile to return. No idea if it would've done any good... the guy certainly looked like a self-propelled heart attack. But it definitely would at least appear to be a breakdown in procedure.

Posted by scott at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)
December 02, 2003
Memento Mori

Nina gets a black ribbon and lace no-prize for bringing Memento Mori, Death and Photography in the Nineteenth Century to our attention. A nice chronicle of the changing customs of grief in the face of one of the most important inventions of the nineteenth century.

Warning: The nineteenth century was the last century of very high infant mortality in the west. Therefore, the subject of many of these pictures (dead children) may be upsetting to some folks. It's not gross, just very, very strange to 21st century eyes.

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (1)
Welcome to Dumbass-ia, Hope You Enjoy Your Stay

We have in our posession what must be one of the very few not-quite-Darwin Award candidates to be caught on tape. "Truck surfing" indeed. The sad thing is, he doesn't even look stoned or drunk. Just imaginatively stupid.

Update: That link no workee no more. Thanks to Joshua, we have this Consumption Junction link to the same video. Note: from that link, video is safe for work, but is surrounded by pwerno ads, most definitely not safe for work.

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
Stone Face

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing a new archeological find that could, maybe, put to rest the question of whether Neandertals created art. A worked stone artifact that seems to have deliberately been modified to look like a face was found in the Loire river valley as part of a Neandertal campsite. However, at 35,000 years old, it's still just possible the artifact was in fact early modern. But it is an interesting find. With picture!

Posted by scott at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)
And the Drum Goes Boom

Joshua gets a hi-res no-prize for bringing us Animusic, a place that combines CGI and original music into some original creations.

Yeah, I know, synth pop. But it looks pretty nifty! And really, what's wrong with synth pop?

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)
Funny, They Don't Look that Poor

Want to know what life is like inside the last country surrounded by an iron curtain? A look at some of their press releases is rather instructive:

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and the National Reunification Institute made public a memorandum on November 28 after making a joint comprehensive survey of the human and material damage caused by the U.S. imperialists to the south Korean people since it occupied south Korea on September 8, 1945 and estimating its total amount.

Welcome to the land of delusion and make-believe. Please keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times. Shackles and chains will be provided to all passengers who are unable to comply. Shackles and chains will be provided to all other passengers as well. We hope you enjoy your stay in our worker's paradise!

Posted by scott at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)
Doggie Doors

Problem: Some dipwad keeps putting a dog in your car as a practical joke.

Redneck Solution: Set up a video camera to catch the perp in the act, with a Surprising and Amusing Result tm

Alternative Solution: Lock the doors.

But what the hell do I know?

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)
December 01, 2003
Battle Notes

While the press is, rather predictably, playing up the "worrisome escalation" angle of yesterday's big ambush attacks, there are several things they're missing:

  • The regular army isn't very big on subtlety or subterfuge. In other words, when it comes to ops planning they have the reputation of being as imaginative and subtle as a cast iron skillet. So, let's for the moment posit that this whole thing wasn't some massive, extremely clever setup. This means the CPA has been penetrated, and probably pretty deeply. Convoys filled with currency don't have swinging yellow "Billions On Board" signs attached to them. Someone dropped a dime on this one.

    The co-ordination was just too good. Sure, a convoy filled with APCs and M-1s guarding a few 5-tons fairly screams "ambush me!" But you can't co-ordinate three different nearly simultaneous attacks with a cell-style guerilla unit structure. It takes time, and quite a bit of it, to get everyone in position, trained and tasked. They've got leaks, serious ones, and need to find them.

  • They almost certainly didn't bag 50-plus insurgents. On average, for every dead combatant there will be two wounded (in other words, usually 1/3rd of all combat casualties are deaths, the rest are wounded), and it's very unlikely the good guys managed to wound everyone, which is what would be required for the numbers to add up. Expect a lot of Monday-morning-quarterbacking by the press monkeys brave enough to actually leave the Palestine hotel for a few hours.
  • They did kill some of them, and almost certainly wounded many more. At the cost of zero dead and eight wounded. This is about as one-sided as it can get.We won this one.
  • In spite of the trumpeted co-ordination, there was a remarkable lack of heavy weapons. Shooting AK-47s and RPGs at an M-1 Abrams, even the ass of an M-1 Abrams, is like lobbing spitballs at Steve Austin. You need recoilless rifles, big mortars, and wire-guided missiles before these things even start paying attention to you. They had what must have been at least a week of preparation, and still couldn't field these critical items.
  • Even without them, the insurgents stood up and fought. Every guerilla doctrine from the Wascones to chairman Mao states you sneak up on the enemy, hit him on the back of the head as hard as you can, and then run like hell if he turns around. We turned around, but they didn't run. We had tanks and they didn't run.

    This means they were stupid, arrogant, or very, very desperate. You just don't attack prepared regular army units with partisans, not if you want keep them from being noisily turned into worm food. Trained officers, even ones as badly trained as those who riddled Saddam's army, know this. These men were sacrificed in a gamble that didn't pay off. They bluffed us with aces and eights when we were showing four cards of a straight flush.

  • They took the chance anyway because we are winning. The "old" Iraqi Dinars, which it would be fair to assume the guerrillas have aplenty, expire this month (according to NBC news at least). Always remember guerrillas operate on the fringes... they beg, borrow, steal, or buy what they need or they (literally) starve and die. If the CPA really were running around with their thumbs stuffed so far up their asses they could pick boogers then the "new" Dinars would be taken about as seriously as Michael Jackson's claims of "innocent" sleepovers.

    Instead, the new money is being taken so seriously the opposition was willing to show just how co-ordinated it could get just to knock over a few trucks full of it. This is the kind of co-ordination you use only when you have the chance to shove a bullet in Bremer's ear. If it were a simple feint they would never have come near this convoy. Instead they threw everything they had at it, and had their heads handed to them.

We're not perfect over there. I think we're still probably screwing up at least as often as we're getting it right. But this was not a screwup, at least not on our part. The good guys won this one.

And if you don't think we're the good guys, please don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Posted by scott at 08:37 PM | Comments (0)
Blood for Oil?

In case you haven't noticed, we've linked another Iraqi blog over on the roll there. Today, I find Iraq, the Model to be making a very interesting argument against the "no blood for oil, invading Iraq for conquest and treasure" crowd, one so simple and straightforward I find it surprisingly difficult to argue against:

Note: The author's English is quite good, but it is a second language. Turn your grammar filters on.

Have read some statistics about the economy of the USA and I found that the (GDP) of America is something around (11,000 billion) dollars, while that of Iraq is about (18 billion) dollars (regarding the current rate of oil export), which means that the (GDP) of USA = 611 times the (GDP) of Iraq. Another interesting result is that America can make that (18) billions in only 14 hours!. Everyone knows that the American forces need about (4 billion) dollars/month for their supplies, operations and reconstruction work. I find it so naive for someone to think that the USA is spending 4 billions a month to "steal" 1,5 billions. The USA has already spent (or assigned) over 200 billion dollars, which requires the Americans to wait for over 10 years to get their money back. What a great investment!!!

Again, words from an Iraqi source (in this case, two dentists and a future pediatrician), so don't go acusing me of cheerleading again!

Posted by scott at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)
Useless, but Fun!

So, what's unique about your name? Actually, not much in my case... 34th most common name, etc. At least it doesn't give you a wonky history that relates you to some Irish king or something.

Posted by scott at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)
Multilateral Fantasia

V.D. Hanson hits it again with this perceptive essay on multilateral fantasies:

But how accurate — or important — is the charge of unilateralism? President Clinton never really evoked the sanction of the 190 nations of the U.N. when he quite understandably bombed in Serbia and Iraq. The EU and U.N. were not brought in on either incursion — how could they be when they had a proven record of appeasement and inaction in Serbia that had led to a quarter-million Europeans perishing and allowed almost a million Rwandans to die?

In addition, September 11 proved that all we had been doing the last eight years — a cruise missile here, a federal indictment there — was taking aspirin and bed rest for a metastasizing malignant tumor. Luck, not diplomacy or deterrence, prevented other killings besides the litany in Saudi Arabia, Africa, and Yemen.

Required reading for anyone who harkens back to the "good old days" of Clinton administration foreign policy, or the revisionism that has made it seem effective.

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)
Clumpy Discs, Stars, and Planets

BBCnews is carrying this summary of the recent discovery of a planetary disc orbiting Vega, a comparatively young star "only" 25 light years away.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)
If the Shoe Fits, Pt. II

So, even though Ellen's stepdad may be, well, a bit of a yankee-fied redneck, it certainly doesn't mean the rest of the family is now, does it? I mean, we can't possibly equate the gun-totin', tobacco-chewin', hound-lovin', truck-drivin' culture that I grew up in with the sophisticated, cosmopolitan, refined, civilized culture in which Ellen was raised, can we? Certainly other people who help administer this website would agree!

If it pleases the court the prosecution will introduce two new pieces of evidence, to be labled A and B. These being photographs of the solution one Suzanne Carozza Hichak, grandmother of Olivia Rachel Johnson and mother of Ellen Carozza Johnson, created when it was discovered the younger Ms. Johnson's bottom tended to slide out of the newly purchased, highly attractive, deeply discounted, but definitely not purpose-built high chair provided for dinnertime participation:

I mean, just how much more Foxworthy does it have to be?

"If you have to strap your grandaughter into her highchair with the belt from your own pants..."

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (4)