September 30, 2005

Photoblog

I’m now including a few images from my Flickr photoblog on the left sidebar. Usually, the images will be accompanied by some comments, if you click through to the website.

So, if you’re stopping by here and you are bored, check out the photos and browse around.

[NOTE: Those of you with feed reading technology (like an RSS reader) can add my photoblog feed and get updates. Here’s the RSS feed. And there’s an ATOM feed as well]

Posted by James at 11:27 AM | Comments (2)

No You Didn't Shotgun

Oh, yes you did.

Posted by James at 8:36 AM | Comments (8)

September 29, 2005

The Genius of an Alabama Senator

Wanna hear a thing of ugly?

Check out the latest post over there, provocatively named ‘Alabama Senator Claims “God Blows”’.

Where’s the outrage? You know where.

Posted by James at 12:37 PM

September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted

DeLay indicted in campaign finance probe

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Remember this story back during the Terry Schiavo mess?

Condolences quickly gave way to anger and accusations, with the top Republican in the House of Representatives warning judges at both the state and federal level they will have to answer for their actions.

“The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,” said Tom DeLay, the Republican leader who moved the Florida case to the federal arena.

[…]

DeLay’s threat to judges was greeted with shock in many quarters. Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy branded it “irresponsible and reprehensible. At a time when emotions are running high, Mr. DeLay needs to make clear that he is not advocating violence against anyone,” he said.In Houston, his home district, DeLay said Congress “for many years has shirked its responsibility to hold the judiciary accountable. No longer.

“We will look at an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at the Congress and president when given jurisdiction to hear this case anew and look at all the facts … The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.”

DeLay’s comments are important on two fronts — an epic struggle over anticipated Supreme Court vacancies is expected to mark the second Bush term, with Democrats threatening to try to block overtly conservative nominees. But that will be played out in the Senate, not in DeLay’s domain in the House of Representatives.

His remarks also ignored the fact that many of the judges who ignored Bush and the Republican-led Congress were Republican appointees.
Posted by James at 1:59 PM | Comments (10)

September 27, 2005

No Tail For Terriers

I expect there will be some heated discussion over this. An appalling story of a man who performed amateur plastic surgery on his dog. I’m guessing it was drunken surgery, by the sound of the state the police found him in in the morning.

Warning, this story is not for the weak-stomached.

Viera’s 10-week-old terrier mix puppy was brought to Dighton Veterinary Hospital Sept. 7 with the main nerve end and a small piece of vertebra poking out from where his tail used to be.

Yeowch. And yuck.

There’s an aesthetic for you. That “my owner came at me with a knife and now my spine is all exposed” look. I guess one person’s aesthetics is another person’s mutilation.

Posted by James at 2:08 PM | Comments (9)

September 26, 2005

Would you believe...

…that he was 82?

Don Adams (born Donald James Yarmy)

1926-2005

Posted by James at 3:35 PM | Comments (6)

Bundtloaf





Bundtloaf


Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

This weekend we had Chuck, Patty and Julie over.

It was a good time, including much gaming and discussion. Chuck has the details over on his blog, complete with the rude name we imposed on our bastardized version of Thirty-One. Apparently, those folks Chuck used to hang with at “the guild” (A meeting place of collectible card game enthusiasts) had a penchant for rude, nonsensical phrases.

In any case, dinner was meatloaf, cooked in a Bundt pan. Bundt pans help a loaf cook more evenly. Lots of bacon makes it delicious. Unfortunately, it looked like a big bacon-covered doughnut. The aroma, on the other hand, is strikingly mouth-watering.

Chuck said it was the best he’d ever had, but that was soon after telling me he’d never liked meatloaf. Thanks… I think. Maggie tells me that my mother’s meatloaf is better. Hey, it was a first try.

Earlier in the day we escaped a corn maze with the help of mad geek skills. That is, we mapped the intersections of the maze with a graph of nodes. This method does not lead you to the exit, but it prevents you from backtracking so that you can avoid re-covering ground you’ve already covered.

Some people will just mark the maze with the same symbol over and over again to prevent backtracking. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t tell you when you’ve hit a loop. It also doesn’t let you know when you’ve exhausted an entire corner of a maze.

We’d gotten all the way to the letter “T” before stumbling on the exit.

I should have brought the GPS. OK - that’s cheating.

Back to dinner, we had also roasted some veggies that Julie brought along. I highly recomment meatloaf and grilled veggies.

Things learned:

  • Women love thundersticks. Makes a great gift. Get the “pro” version. With the attachments.
  • Chuck thinks a black hole is more delicious than Britney Spears.
  • If I don’t make a big deal over the number of cards I’ve won in “Apples to Apples” I’m accused of hiding my lead. Somehow, people would rather see me flaunt them.
  • You can prevent people from complaining about the quality of their cards in “Apples to Apples” if you add a rule that allows them to turn all their cards in when they are a judge. With the elimination of this complaining, the game is about 50% more fun.
  • Mallomars contain crack.
  • “But masters, remember that I am an ass, though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass.”
  • Julie doesn’t like the Newport Vineyard cider.
  • Chuck doesn’t realize that when Julie and I say “cider” we mean “hard cider.”
  • “Hey, this cider tastes like beer!” - Chuck.
  • James’ rendition of “New York, New York” has gone downhill since he’s been overtaxing his voice. Lately, my singing voice is crap.
  • Patty is a discerning Apples to Apples player. So say I.
  • Of Maggie and myself, one of us is irritating and the other is annoying. But I can never remember which is which.


Posted by James at 12:08 PM | Comments (19)

Dolphins. Armed and Dangerous

Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico. […]

‘My concern is that they have learnt to shoot at divers in wetsuits who have simulated terrorists in exercises. If divers or windsurfers are mistaken for a spy or suicide bomber and if equipped with special harnesses carrying toxic darts, they could fire,’ he said. ‘The darts are designed to put the target to sleep so they can be interrogated later, but what happens if the victim is not found for hours?’

If highly trained, armed dolphins was not one of the signs of the end times, that’s just because the folks who wrote the Bible were not as creative as they ought to have been. The Book of Revelation (call it “Book of Revelations” when you want to annoy sticklers) is pretty trippy stuff, but this proves that truth is stranger than fiction.

Can I get an “amen?”

Posted by James at 8:06 AM | Comments (9)

September 24, 2005

Blame America First

The phrase “Blame America First” is used by (often jingoistic) people who dislike criticism of this country’s policies. It is a play on “America First” which is a nationalistic, isolationist movement.

“Blame America First” means: “You people are first to blame America for pretty much everything.” The first time i am aware of it being used was when Jeane Kirkpatrick used it in 1984 at the Republican National Convention, before she switched over to the Republican Party.

Today I hear it all the time online in useless missives by folks who think dissent is a form of weakness and disloyalty. It ignores the concept that you can love America but hate what the government is doing to it. It equates America with its government.

However, the thought process at work here is a lot like saying that people who hate what happened on 9/11 are people who hate airplanes. Airplanes aren’t responsible for what happened on 9/11, it’s the people who hijacked those planes who are responsible.

Likewise, when critics let fly their words against the policies of our government, we are defending America, not denigrating it. Who else but dissenters will be here to defend America from the people who took power on a thin margin and called it a mandate?

Posted by James at 10:29 AM | Comments (3)

September 23, 2005

Flaming Bag Of Shotgun

Some links from my week.

Posted by James at 1:06 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2005

Fire!

I was sitting in my office when I heard what sounded like a transformer exploding. It was about 1:15PM.

“Wow! Anyone else hear that?” I yelled out to the rest of the building.

I got up and walked into the hallway. There was no one else in this part of the building.

Always curious, I put my work aside and strolled out the back door. We have power lines that run behind our office, between us and some of the dorms. I believe they feed the campus, but we don’t get our power from them.

As I looked up, I couldn’t see any damage on the lines. But there are a lot of them. Eventually, I heard some crackling, which I took to be the transformer somewhere spitting sparks, as they sometimes do.

But I still couldn’t see it, looking up. The sound was coming from the ground, near a fenced-in piece of equipment with “High Voltage” written on it. I thought “gee - if the sparks fall there, that brush will catch fire.”

That’s when I smelled the smoke. Then saw the smoke. Then thought, “Ah. It IS a fire.”

I sprinted back to the office (a matter of only about 100 yards or so) and dialed the switchboard on my phone. After getting the automated voice, I dialed through to the operator.

“UMass Dartmouth.”

“Hi, I think I just saw a brushfire starting on campus.”

“Where are you?”

“128 Chase Road.”

“I’ll connect you.”

To where, I was wondering. I guessed the Campus Security dispatcher. I was right. But it took a while to get connected. The operator kept trying to transfer me, but kept getting me and me alone back on the line. I think she was nervous.

Suddenly, there was a blast of noise in my ear as she connected me to the dispatcher. I could barely her the operator as she told me to report my emergency.

“Hi - I think a transformer exploded and started a brushfire out here near the access road to 128 Chase Road.”

“The access road?”

“Yeah, behind the police office.”

“Is it still burning.”

“Well, I can’t see it from my office, but it was smoking and I didn’t think I should hang around and watch it get bigger. I thought someone might need to know as soon as possible.” (Would I have called if the fire had gone out?)

“We’ll send someone to check it.”

“OK.” I wanted to say: “Send a fire truck, because by the time the police get here, the flames are going to be jumping.” But, I didn’t. “click

I grabbed my camera and printed back to the fire, to see what it was doing. Now there were visible flames, and the smoldering area was much larger. I snapped a picture and thought “Shouldn’t I try to put it out? With water? Or something?” I dashed back to the office door and then thought “Do I even have a bucket? I’m not sure it’s a good idea getting close to something that has been exploding.” I stopped, and trotted back to the fire, deciding that if I didn’t see anyone responding, I would try to grab something that would hold water.

By now, a police cruiser had pulled up on the access road, and as I approached they began to exit the cruiser, loudly waving me off as if I were completely insane.

“Get the heck out of here! Stay back! Get out of there!”

Um, OK. I was about 30 yards away from where the smoke was now beginning to billow a darker color. I should have thought they’d at least want to know who I was, in the case that it turned out to be arson. So, I ran back to the office and let them handle it, as I heard the fire response sirens wailing in the distance.

I found out that one of the ladder trucks came up 128 Chase Road because the fire was behind 128 Chase and there is an access road that connects to Chase. However, UMass in its infinite wisdom, gated off and chained that road access shut. So the ladder truck had to turn around and go back. Policies of Pure Genius.

When the transformer blew, all the power went off on campus.They canceled all classes for the rest of the day.

I thought it was interesting that they shooed me away without even questioning me. What if the fire had been arson? Don’t they want to know why someone is hanging around, looking at a fire? Good police work. If I had been an arsonist, when I ran away would have been the last they would have seen of me. Of course, it was caused by the transformer, but they didn’t know that for sure at the time.

Later in the afternoon, I walked back up there as an NStar truck pulled away from the box. I snapped a photo of the burned area, which was fairly large, The fire got reasonably far in the short time it was burning. I imagine it would have been pretty damn large if I hadn’t gotten up to investigate. There was nobody else in the area, and there is plenty of brush and combustible stuff. Not to mention students cars which are parked about 30 feet away. It wouldn’t have been reported until someone noticed the smoke.

So, a little bit of excitement today. Apparently, the transformer explosion was caused by some sort of surge. I am hearing rumors that there were other small fires on campus, in a basement or two.

Posted by James at 1:32 PM | Comments (7)

You and James Read The News (Animal Husbandry Edition)

In which you and James read the news together. Paper open. Feet on the ottoman. Tongue often in cheek and head squarely on your shoulders.

Please, read on.

FDA Rethinks Women’s Chief

One week ago, the Office of Women’s Health of the Food and Drug Administration sent an e-mail notice to women’s groups and others announcing the appointment of Norris Alderson as its new acting director.

[…]

The last director, Susan Wood, resigned last month to protest the agency’s unwillingness to make a decision on whether to make emergency contraception more easily available.

So, what are the new appointee’s qualifications?

An FDA veteran trained in animal husbandry who spent much of his career in the agency’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Alderson quickly became the subject of active and largely negative comment on the Internet and elsewhere.

Really? You mean people objected to putting a veterinarian in charge of the Office of Woman’s Health Services? Well, the important thing is, was he willing to bend public policy to be in line with his boss’ religious and political ideologies. Because that’s who we want in charge of our health.

Well, you women can rest assured that a vet was only in charge of your issues for a few days before the government changed direction, appointed someone else and then proceeded to lean closer to their speakwrites and pretend the Alderson appointment never happened.

We in the reality-based community are not amused. (Well, OK, we are a little bit. But mostly appalled.)

Men Are Dirty

Well, some men.

Men are dirtier than women. Scientists confirmed this by spying in public restrooms, watching as one-fourth of the men left without washing their hands.

Wednesday’s results mark the American Society of Microbiology’s latest look at how many people take what is considered the single easiest step to staying healthy: spending 20 seconds rubbing with soap under the faucet.

It also explains why infection experts use paper towels to open bathroom doors

If you get sick more than you like, consider this. You may not be washing your hands enough. Or, sadly, the people around you may not be washing their hands enough.

And when it comes to opening doors, I’m right there with those infection experts. Towel, please.

Face of Jesus Ringo Osama Appears In Cloud

THIS astonishing “face” was spotted floating in a cloud formation in Spain.

Whoever it is, he looks sleepy, grumpy and dispeptic.

A few cigarettes a day ‘deadly

Smoking just one to four cigarettes a day almost triples a person’s risk of dying of heart disease, according to Norwegian researchers. Their work suggests the health impact is stronger for women and that even “light” smokers face similar diseases to heavier smokers, including cancer.

C’mon people. Do I have to tell you not to smoke? A surprising number of my friends have begun to smoke “occasionally” this year. It’s been a stressful year, true. But don’t kill yourselves over it. ‘K?

If someone’s causing you stress, keep healthy and hang around long enough to annoy them.

Posted by James at 11:25 AM | Comments (2)

September 21, 2005

Lost. Tonight.

Yes. “Lost” begins season 2 tonight.

Chuck photoshopped me into a cast picture, which you can see above. I’m behind Jack and Kate. I think I get killed by a polar bear in season 2.

Posted by James at 12:58 PM | Comments (16)

September 19, 2005

Premiere Week

This is the biggie week for premieres. My plans? Eliminate as many shows-of-interest as possible. But some are shoo-ins, because I am a sucker.

  • Arrested Development - Mon 8 FOX
    • I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you haven’t been watching. Tune in and watch tonight. If you don’t like it, thne you’ve only wasted a half hour. But your sense of humor is dead. DEAD, I TELL YOU!
  • My Name Is Earl - Tues 9 NBC
    • It’s Jason Lee in a non-Kevin Smith production. Reports are that it is very funny. Watch it and we’ll discuss whether it worked or didn’t. I’m pulling for Jason Lee. I think he can bring the funny.
  • The Office (Tues, after Earl)
    • OK - after 40 Year Old Virgin I will now watch anything with Steve Carell in it. Sucker.
  • Nip/Tuck (Tues, 10, FX)
    • The most upsetting and depressing and depraved drama on TV. Yeah, I’ll be watching.
  • Lost (Wed 9 ABC)
    • Duh. You think?
  • Invasion (Wed, 10, ABC)
    • Another alien invasion show. An automatic first-episode watch by me, possibly going immediately into probation.
  • CSI (Thur, 9, CBS)
    • Still love CSI.

Oh, yeah.Tonight is CSI:Miami. I think I’m washing my hair during that timeslot, though.

Posted by James at 9:36 AM | Comments (13)

The Season So Far

Watching the TV season so you don't have to.

Seriously, though, I tape TV and watch it while I'm exercising. It keeps my lizard brain occupied while I try to stay on task. So, the beginning of the TV season is when I cast about for new shows to record and old shows to drop from my lineup. I don't have TiVo, so I do it the old fashioned way... with videotapes.

Anyhow, here's what I've seen so far this season and what I think.


Prison Break (Fox, Mondays)

Michael Scofield goes to prison to try to free his brother, Lincoln, who has been set up to take the fall for the murder of the vice president's brother. As a few episodes pass, we see that Lincoln has some powerful enemies who want his death sentence to go through as quickly as possible. Michael has an elaborate plan to get him out. But will his knowledge of the prison (he helped design the renovations) and human nature be enough to handle all contingencies?

Prison Break is a fun, engaging series for anyone who likes to see an elaborate plan carried out. Remember "Mission Impossible?" It's a little bit like that, but with one storyline. Definitely worth watching.

Family Guy/American Dad (Fox, Sundays)

These shows are similar and adjacent, so I place them together. Family Guy continues its increases in edginess this season with raunchier and more un-PC jokes. And it continues to be laugh-out-loud funny. American Dad is similar, but deals with today's political social environment as fodder for jokes rather than tons of past pop culture references. Both shows are worth watching.

Bones (Fox, Tuesdays)

Gah! I saw the premiere and it should really be named "Bones-headed." Horrible characterizations, simplistic interplay between characters: "I'm the brainy one! I'm the one who doesn't like brainy ones! We don't get along! Wheee!" Technology that doesn't exist (holographic facial reconstruction). Didn't anyone tell Fox we already have a badly characterized version of CSI (CSI Miami)? Who told them we needed a dumbed down version of that? Listening to their Fox News demographic is not going to work in this case. I will be surprised if Bones lasts a season.

Get thee behind me, Bones. No stars out of five for you!

Jeeves and Wooster

Sorry, Hugh Laurie. I didn't catch the premiere of "House M.D." However, Maggie and I rented the first disk of the first season of "Jeeves and Wooster" on DVD and it's hilarious. I loved it when it was on TV and I love it on DVD. So, you folks are on your own with "House, M.D."

Threshold (CBS, Fridays)

If you know me, you know I like the weird shows. Why would I even try to watch "Bones" otherwise. "Threshhold" is about alien invasion. Slight twist, though, the aliens are invading via probe instead of in person. If they can change some of us on the molecular level, that's almost as good as being here in person.

"Threshold" gets a number of points for hiring Carla Gugino, Brent Spiner and Charles S. Dutton (who has the growl factor covered). There is plenty of cliche at work here (team of scientists --- you know the drill) but the characters are just barely interesting enough to keep me from switching channels.

Lots of weird phenomena a la X-Files. The premiere had a few visual and dramatic punches, but this one still has some proving of itself to do. I'll keep watching... for now.

Supernatural (WB Tuesday)

OK, it's creepy. Women stuck to the ceiling and bursting into flames. But a wisecracking older brother and a reluctant younger one are going to have to do more than hunt baddies while looking for their missing monster-hunter father to keep my attention. Joss Whedon turned Buffy into a genuine phenomenon because of great character interactions and metaphor, tapping into the fears of teens and young adulthood. So genre audiences expect more today.

Can this series deliver that? It'll need more than two main characters. Monster-of-the-week had been done to death, so it remains to be seen whether this show can go beyond that. My advice: play up the funny. This show is on 3-week probation. If I don't see improvement in 3 weeks... sorry. But a good creepy first effort to build on, anyhow.

Gilmore Girls (WB Tuesdays)

Yeah, I don't watch this show. Which means I didn't really get the joke about it in this week's Family Guy.

UPDATE:

Reunion (Fox)

I missed this, but I mention it because it's about my generation (basically) and you can catch the first episode online. A bunch of young folks are dealing with a murder mystery that takes them back to their late teenhood in 1987. Music from episode 1:'Don't You Forget About Me' - Simple Minds, 'Papa Don't Preach' - Madonna, 'Addicted to Love' - Robert Palmer, 'Life in a Northern Town' - Dream Academy, 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go' - Wham!, 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - Bonnie Tyler, 'Time After Time' - Cyndi Lauper, 'Take On Me' - A-Ha, 'Broken Wings' - Mr. Mister.

Does that tell you all you need to know already? Then maybe you'll be watching on Thursdays at 9. Fox, grabbing for that nostalgia demographic. Tough timeslot, though. CSI is already there, and Night Stalker in a few weeks.

Because my memory is so bad, I put my shows on an online calendar. Here's what I'm planning to watch.

Posted by James at 7:56 AM | Comments (18)

September 18, 2005

That didn't take long at all

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22bag+of+shit+on+fire

Add it to the list, along with "goat diapering."

Posted by James at 1:08 PM | Comments (20)

Gender Genie

Test a hunk of prose out with the Gender Genie!

Can it tell whether the author is male or female?

You tell me. Here are the tests I’ve performed:

  • Aces Full of Links: Male (James)
  • Pandora’s Tea Room: Female (Maggie)
  • Sox Win!: Male (Ryan)
  • Unbecoming Levity: Male (Chuck)
  • HMS Impossible: Male (Thirdmate)
  • AbsolutSara: Female (Sara)
  • Tatooine Moisture Farmer: Male (J. Sandstormer) J never identifies his/her gender, so we can’t verify this.
  • It’s a Bri Wise World: Male (Brian)
  • dreaming in denmark: Male (Beth) Bzzt- wrong!
  • Vowel Movement: Male (Bob)
  • Corridor of Uncertainty: Male (Sarah) Bzzt - wrong!

If I am not mistaken, it has more trouble identifying women than men.

Test your own text and report the results. It prefers passages over 500 words.

Posted by James at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)

September 16, 2005

Rainy Day Shotgun

Weekly feature where I steal other people’s links. As my surfing goes down, so does the quality of the links. A lot of these links have already been seen by you folks… because you sent ‘em to me!

  • 5th Grade Devo (music, video)
    • “Whip it” interpreted by 5th Graders. Nice.
  • The Power of Make-Up (funny, humor, images)
    • Before and after pictures of makeup. It's amazing what makeup technology can do these days.
  • Google Blog Search (blogs, search, webdev, google, rss)
    • It's new! It reads blog feeds! Warning: blogs publishing abbreviated text in their feeds aren’t going to be fully indexed.
  • Can I Pee? (bush, funny, photo, politics, humor)
    • Bush asks Condi if he can pee. Even presidents need bathroom breaks, but whouldn’t he be a little more certain that he needs a break? Should the president have to ask to use the head?
  • Tommy Westphall - A Multiverse Explored (tv, fun, weird, video)
    • Much of TV is one big multiverse. With so many crossovers, it turns out that a huge number of shows inhabit the same world.
  • Building a Smarter To-Do List, Part I (gtd, lifehacks, productivity)
    • I’m getting a little better at organization, but I haven’t progressed as much as I would like. Still reading these articles…
  • The "Work Blind" Curtain (funny, hacks, humor, images)
    • Keep your coworkers and boss guessing with… the Work Blind!
  • WolframTones: An Experiment in a New Kind of Music (art, sound, music, technology, phone, math)
    • Generate music with what Wolfram called "A new kind of science." Download it as a ringtone.
  • AOL Television: Fall TV Premiere Schedule (tv, video, entertainment)
    • Printable list of the fall schedule. Show premiers and season premieres.
Posted by James at 12:40 PM | Comments (5)

September 15, 2005

Build Your Hell

Bill Gates
Circle I Limbo

Poseurs, Fox News
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Objectivists, General asshats
Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

Scientologists, Republicans
Circle IV Rolling Weights

Neocons, Chicken hawks
Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

Parents who bring squalling brats to R-rated movies, Mitt Romney
Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Saddam Hussein, Creationists, George Bush
Circle VII Burning Sands

The New York Yankees
Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Uday Hussein, Qusay Hussein, Osama bin Laden
Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell


Found this meme via sock puppet.
Note: not to be taken too seriously.
Posted by James at 9:33 PM | Comments (9)

Wiretap Womney

Governor Mitt Romney raised the prospect of wiretapping mosques and conducting surveillance of foreign students in Massachusetts, as he issued a broad call yesterday for the federal government to devote far more money and attention to domestic intelligence gathering. […] ”How about people who are in settings — mosques, for instance — that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror,” Romney continued. ”Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping? Are we following what’s going on?”

Wha-at?

We gonna wiretap every party where people are angry, too? How about churches and synagogues?

Discuss.

Posted by James at 1:06 PM | Comments (18)

September 14, 2005

A Fatal Incuriosity

Greg passed along two articles worthy of attention.

How Bush Blew it (Newsweek) chronicles the failure of Bush (and other levels of government), but puts its finger on a larger problem of Bush and his administration. It's a problem, incidentally, that his critics have raised time and again mostly to deaf ears.

A Fatal Incuriosity By Maureen Dowd sums it up thusly:

W. has said he prefers to get his information straight up from aides, rather than filtered through newspapers or newscasts. But he surrounds himself with weak sisters who don't have the nerve to break bad news to him, or ideologues with agendas that require warping reality or chuckleheaded cronies like Brownie.

The president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn moment. It's too late.

Posted by James at 7:50 AM

September 13, 2005

News Flash

Hosted by Putfile.com

(thanks, Eris, for pointing this one out)

Posted by James at 5:37 PM | Comments (5)

"Lost" Season 1 Quiz

Amy asked me to create a quiz for fans of the first season of “Lost” on EAForums.

You don’t have to sign up as a member to take the quiz, but if you sign up it will keep track of your scores on this and other quizzes:

“Lost” Season 1 Quiz

It’s a medium-difficulty quiz with a time limit. Have fun!

Posted by James at 3:41 PM | Comments (6)

Livin' In The SC

I’ve been telling a couple of the young employees at my workplace that the drama of everyday life has turned the place in to a Dawson’s Creek episode. Rumors that Dartmouth actually is Dawson’s Creek are still flying. ( * More on this article later, so read and memorize.) We’re very musically oriented, so that means we get to hear that screechy theme song in our heads over and over again.

But it seemed like a slightly out of date reference, and I had to choose a more recent WB-esque soap opera. Judging by commercials, “The OC” seems to be the next best thing to an amped-up Dawson’s Creek. It just seems to fit. The SouthCoast?

We’re living in “the SC”

If you’re going to revel in the lameness of a region’s forced nickname, I say go all the way. It’s doubly appropriate for my workplace because it’s also the initials of our project.

OK, now back to that article above. I quote:

But then the rumors about Hooters coming to the former Ponderosa Steakhouse or the Ground Round restaurant didn’t pan out.

Never before have I seen a more egregious misuse of the phrase “pan out.” It’s called “dodging a bullet.” I like wings as much as the next guy. I’ll get ‘em at Wings To Go, thanks.

And, I have no idea what the theme song for The OC is. Or The SC, for that matter.

Posted by James at 7:29 AM | Comments (13)

September 12, 2005

First One Through: A Warning

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it on here before, because I meant to. If this is a repeat post, I apologize.

The other day I was 2 cars back at a dangerous intersection (Route 6 at Faunce Corner in Dartmouth, MA) going South (I was preparing to cross Route 6). I was daydreaming slightly at the red light, and came back to reality when I saw it turn green.

The car in front of me got about half way across the intersection before another car came screaming across in front of him, left to right, almost clipping the car in front of me. He’d run the red.

I was shocked because there is a pretty good delay there between light changes.This was not a case of someone just sneaking as the yellow turned red.

When I’m the first person in line waiting for a light to change, I’m usually thinking something like “I’m glad there’s nobody in front of me. I hope the light changes soon.” I never think “Since I’m the first to go through, I’m in increased danger.”

Because, the fact is, you are in some danger being the first at a light. The second guy through is safer, because traffic flow has already been established across the intersection.

Whenever you cross a road, you should be careful for opposing traffic. But from now on I am going to keep this in mind:

When I’m first at the light, let that be a reminder to be extra careful crossing. Look to make sure nobody is speeding through.

In the few weeks since this happened, I have seen 3 more cases at that same intersection (including this morning) and twice at other intersections.

Months ago, I was approaching the Faunce Corner/Rte. 6 intersection and there was considerable traffic backed up. When I got to the light finally, I saw what the problem was. A car had been broadsided. It was a horrible mess and the police were just arriving. A car had come down route 6 and hit another car as it was crossing the highway. I can’t tell you what the circumstances were, but it brings into sharp focus a question. How many times can someone run that light before there is a collision?

Be careful out there. Be doubly careful when you’re the first one through.

Posted by James at 1:53 PM | Comments (7)

Winey Weekend Stuff

Who goes on a vieyard tour and comes back with apple cider?

I do, I guess. Love the stuff (as a search of the blog will reveal). But what was I doing at a winery?

Friday was coworker Nicole’s 21st Birthday. She wanted a bunch of folks from work to hang around Newport with her, so that’s what we did. Attending were Sara, Sharon, Derek, Laura, Doug, Gary, Jake, Amanda, Nicole and Nicole’s Mom (also named Sharon). It took quite a bit of time for us to all get together in the same location (parking issues).

Lunch at the Red Parrot was good. They have a lobster BLT. I have to say, I prefer the D’Angelo’s lobster sandwich. By the time lunch was over we were late-ish for the winery tour, but we made it.

I’m not a huge fan of wine. I’ll drink it, and I especially like it with food. But I don’t get too picky about it. I can’t work up the enthusiasm to care as much as many other people do. It is nice to know a thing or two about wine by the time you’re my age, but I can’t get too excited about it.

That said, I think a winery tour is fun because I’m fascinated by process. The Newport Vineyards wine tour is brief, but interesting. For $5 you get to see some vines, hear about the history of the establishment, see tanks, barrels and bottling machines and at the end of it you taste 5 wines. (additional, higher-cost wines can be added on for $1 each)

Clearly people of advanced taste, most of us put the cider on our list of things to try. It was very sweet for a hard cider, and about as alcoholic as a strong beer. But it was good enough that $11 for a jug seemed reasonable.

Many of the tasters paid an additional buck to try the Vidal Ice Wine, which they all said was quite good. At $30+ dollars for a thin bottle of the stuff, nobody walked out with any of that.

We got to keep our glasses, and I parted company with the celebration, wishing them a good time hanging out in Newport as I returned home.

As luck would have it, Julie came over and we had burgers on the grill and a John Hughes film on the TeeVee. Memories of 80’s synth music and montages. I also introduced Maggie and Julie to Nip/Tuck reruns, and they humored me by letting me catch up on the episodes.

On Sunday our good friends Chuck and Patty shared lunch with us and then went for a walk along the water. Still not quite used to having a camera phone, I failed to take any pictures of Pierce Beach. However, if you poke around my Flickr account, you might see a picture of Chuck playing Runebound with us. About 5 more pictures from the weekend can be found in the photostream, if you care to look.

Posted by James at 9:19 AM | Comments (14)

September 9, 2005

Condolences, Chuck

On a somber note, my dear and longtime friend Chuck has posted about a loss in his extended family. He describes the tragic passing of a 2-year-old nephew while on a camping trip last weekend.

Chuck, you're in all our thoughts. Our condolences to you and Patty's family. I know you'll be providing comfort to Patty and her family, but don't forget to take care of yourself. Rely on your friends if you need to.

There has just been far too much of this sort of thing this summer.

Posted by James at 9:02 AM | Comments (2)

Thursday Donutz

Wonka DonutsBob: "You have to have one of these. We should get Donutz"

JP: "What? No, I can't eat anything after that Depot Burger."

Bob: "Then we'll split one." (Dumps about 5 Donutz on counter, enough for us, his wife and kids) "These are the best."

Clerk: "You should buy them all, then."

Bob: "Not unless you're going to give me some insane discount."

Clerk: "Two for a dollar. They're usually 65 cents."

Bob: "I don't think so. How about two for 40?"

Clerk: "What??"

Bob: "I mean 40 each. Two for 80."

Clerk: "OK, take them all."

Bob: (Scoops the remaining 10 Donutz and puts them on the counter. Pretends to dismantle the display.)

JP: "What -- you're taking the display?"

Bob: "I'm just kidding."

Clerk: "No, go ahead and take the display, too."

Wonka DonutsBob: "OK - he said I could have it."

JP: "What are you going to do with that?"

Bob: "Put it in my office with some of these Donutz in it."

(Once we get outside)

Bob: "Dude, online these are like a buck apiece."

Posted by James at 8:05 AM | Comments (5)

Overdue Shotgun (Updated!)

Bonus Links!

“The Cute Redhead” from Thirdmate’s H.M.S. Impossible sends along a link to a prophetic National Geographic article. Thirdmate himself is resting in Alabama after driving for 2 days straight, she thought you folks might appreciate this story, which was originally published in 2004. Check this out, and see if it doesn’t give you the creeps:

But the next day the storm gathered steam and drew a bead on the city. As the whirling maelstrom approached the coast, more than a million people evacuated to higher ground. Some 200,000 remained, however—the car-less, the homeless, the aged and infirm, and those die-hard New Orleanians who look for any excuse to throw a party.
The storm hit Breton Sound with the fury of a nuclear warhead, pushing a deadly storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain. […] Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

When did this calamity happen? It hasn’t—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City.

Continued safe travels to Thirdmate, and thanks for the link “TCR.”

Patti sends along this story about an approach that gay marriage proponents are taking in response to the effort in Massachusetts to make such marriages explicitly illegal: Gay advocates plan to post names of anti-gay marriage petition signers. I always thought that we were a somewhat live-and-let-live state (maybe not as much as NH) but the effort to make these marriages illegal strikes me as a mean. Posting the names of the petition signers… is that intimidation or a sincere effort to take public information and make it available so that when people sign something that targets one group of people, they ought to mean it enough that their neighbors can see what they think?

You decide. I think that people should stand by their opinions. Especially when they’re changing the law specifically to affect others.

Google Maps has this link now to recent satellite pictures of the New Orleans devastation. I think Bob McC first sent me this link. This Google Map makes it easier to see the widespread destruction and flooding. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand or get your head around.

Thanks, all, for the links.

Posted by James at 7:52 AM | Comments (11)

Arafat Investigation

Israeli doctors who have seen the medical report of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat revealed that the main possibilities that lead to the death of Arafat were poisoning or AIDS, local newspaper Ha’aretz reported Thursday on its website.

Other possibilities that have not yet been completely dismissed:

  • he died of old age
  • someone snuck up behind him with a sock full of nickels
  • he spontaneously combusted
  • he was made extinct by a great meteor shower
  • “Professor Plum, in the Conservatory, with a Menorah.”
Posted by James at 7:05 AM | Comments (3)

September 8, 2005

What's Up?

Stuff

  • Yesterday, driving to work, I saw a message formed out of ribbons tied to an overpass on Rt. 195 East. It looked like it said: BUSHIT. I wasn’t able to get a picture because I was on my way to a meeting, and later in the day it had been removed.
  • This morning I saw a woman driving a car with a medium sized dog on her lap. The dog’s head was out the window, but it was between her and the steering wheel. That doesn’t seem safe to me. Not for her, other drivers and especially not for the dog.
  • I had a call on my voice mail at work today when I got in. It was a screechy voice yelling: “Hello? What?” and then the expected hangup. Later, I got a call from a woman (different voice) asking if it was the Jehova’s Witness something-or-other office. I said “Hello? What?” Actually, I told her she’d dialed wrong, which is a common mistake. My number starts with “999.” Let’s say it’s “999-1234.” So I get lots of calls from people with numbers like “912-3400” or “912-3452” because they hit “9” too many times without knowing it, “999-1234-00” and the phone ignores that they hit the “00” because they’ve already dialed my number. That’s how it happens, but I don’t know why we get so many wrong numbers here.
Posted by James at 11:26 AM | Comments (6)

Where To Send Complaints

Brian posts about Katrina, detailing some of the screwups. He correctly points out that there is a lot of blame to go around, which I don't doubt. He identifies blame-shifting. He even ends on a positive note.

Brian is nothing if not fair-minded, so when he writes there is a note of finding a balance in the discussion. And though I think he presents a good take, it encourages me to clarify my point of view on all of this criticising of the federal government lest I come off as completely partisan.

I've already covered some of my specific gripes, and my belief that the blame shifting is a pathology of the Bush administration. So, no need to go into more specifics on the complaints themselves at the moment.

Sometimes it seems like even agreeing with the blame-shifters on reasonable things plays into their blame-shifting plans because they are exerting 24/7 pressure to shift the focus of everyone's attention away from presidential incompetence. And their agents in this effort are numerous, and many have microphones.

But this only encourages people to stick to what they feel, and say that. Which is what I have done. I don't feel the need to soften any message just because it serves some administration official's idea of balance, or some right-wing radio personality's warped concept of fairness.

Because, the fact is, the federal government is my government. If something catastrophic were to happen here, they would be the ones working with my local government to help us in our time of need.

The Louisiana State government is not my government. That they may have made mistakes is possibly news, but it does not alarm me near as much as when the federal government exhibits gross incompetence from the head. All the way up at the top. And trickling down.

It's not a matter of pure self-interest. The federal government is the one that we (as Americans) all share in electing, funding, supporting and then, in turn, relying on when things are completely out of hand. You in CA, you in FL, you in OH and MI, and MN. And the poor souls in New Orleans.

So I don't find it particularly balanced to try to spread the blame around. An investigation into specifics has to be impartial. But, meanwhile, I am appalled at how my government failed. How our government failed. Obviously, and dramatically. And how they then sought to evade criticism, ignobly and pathetically.

Posted by James at 9:02 AM | Comments (4)

September 7, 2005

Rubber Wrist Band





Rubber Wrist Band


Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

My younger daughter wanted to show me how you can link two loops together, which is something she does with colorful jelly-plastic bracelets that she has. The bracelets won’t fit on my arm, so she insisted she show me how it works with rubber bands.


I haven’t really felt like taking them off. It’s nice to be reminded of the kids throughout the day.

Posted by James at 12:12 PM | Comments (7)

September 6, 2005

Wee-ha!

In case anyone's wondering about me, I'll fill you in. This is probably the most stressed I've ever felt in my life. Without going into the boring details, I feel pretty much surrounded by stress.

The good news is that aging seems to impart some wisdom when dealing with stress. In other words, I may be dealing with the stress better than ever before. That's certainly a good thing, but it doesn't mean everything is peaches.

I think I'm even less patient than ever, which seems to be the first casualty. Second, my ability to concentrate is at low ebb. And third, the stress is nearly omnipresent.

On the other hand, I have been avoiding a number of pointless arguments, which is not like me at all. I used to love stress-multiplying pointless arguments.

But I guess you cut back when you can no longer afford something. I am hoping to save up and get into an altercation with a creationist.

And that's your Tuesday Morning Downer for the week!

Posted by James at 9:13 AM | Comments (6)

September 5, 2005

Finally, A Plan!

White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage (New York Times, registration required)

Whew! Its good to know there’s a plan for something.

In a reflection of what has long been a hallmark of Mr. Rove’s tough political style, the administration is also working to shift the blame away from the White House and toward officials of New Orleans and Louisiana who, as it happens, are Democrats.

The citizens of the affected areas are reportedly relieved to know that help is finally coming to stabilize the political situation, and that matters will be in the capable hands of Karl Rove.

Posted by James at 7:12 PM | Comments (19)

September 4, 2005

War on Hurricanes

Steve is posting on Absit Invidia and he's got a good summary of his feelings on the Katarina disaster, which happen to mirror my own.

In response, I'll quote another friend of mine, Erik:

Not really all that long ago (a year or so?) I was saying here at EA that Bush wasn't the worst President, that he was maybe the second- or third-worst. Boy, was I wrong. Who'd have thunk that he could manage to make the Buchanan administration look competent and make the Harding administration look honest?

I have to think that as people around the world look on with sympathy at our government's bungling, they are thinking "what did you expect when you elected that bozo?"

In a comment on his entry, Steve highlights the president's blame shifting. Deflection of responsibility has gone from a pathology to an art.That's one of the instrumental dynamics of this administration.

Another instrumental dynamic is in evidence when Bush flies out to fund raisers, on vacation, when the destruction of a US city is imminent. It is the capacity to disbelieve the truth, to ignore the facts, to fabricate one's own reality and cloak oneself within its protective buffer, then project that buffer outward to include the faithful. Faith-based reality distortion.

It worked with a sufficient percentage of the electorate. Unfortunately for all of us as Americans it works on hurricanes just about as well as it worked on the terrorists after Bush received the memo in August, 2001 stating ...FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.

That is to say, not at all.

Reality-based havoc trumps faith-based pathological denial.

Posted by James at 11:33 AM | Comments (3)

September 3, 2005

Ugly Truth

There's a new post over at Thing Of Ugly about a poor little girl, Kodee Kennings who is being scared by bad people.

Do yourself a favor and check our other (albeit, rarely updated) blog.

entry: Hawks Hawking Hooey.

A baffling and bizarre story.

Posted by James at 9:47 AM | Comments (4)

September 2, 2005

Your Help Needed

BTW, if you are inclined to give, the American Red Cross is not a bad choice for a monetary donation. They really could use the money. Things are a real mess down there.

So, if you can, please help.

Posted by James at 6:24 AM | Comments (3)

September 1, 2005

Mexican Fire Drill





Mexican Fire Drill


Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

On a visit to Ixtapa Cantina in Dartmouth, we were torn away from our festivities by an untimely fire drill. Here’s the crew standing just outside the emergency exit, hoping to get back in to our “power lunch.”


It was meant to be a quick lunch break.


If you know what to look for you can see Ryan, Stephen Derek, Sara… but Jake and Andrew are there, too.


I was a little too slow to get a picture of the pot they pulled out of the back of the restaurant, pouring out smoke.


The chimichangas were still good, despite everything.

Posted by James at 7:06 PM | Comments (1)

Who Is Leading In This Crisis?

Worst. President. Ever.

“A better leader would have flown straight to the disaster zone and announced the immediate mobilization of every available resource to rescue the stranded, find and bury the dead, and keep the survivors fed, clothed, sheltered and free of disease,” the editorial declared. “The cool, confident, intuitive leadership Bush exhibited in his first term, particularly in the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, has vanished. In its place is a diffident detachment unsuitable for the leader of a nation facing war, natural disaster and economic uncertainty.

That, from the conservative Manchester Union Leader. Sent along by my father-in-law, Greg.

McCabe sent around a link to this David Brooks Op-Ed:

Civic arrangements work or they fail. Leaders are found worthy or wanting. What’s happening in New Orleans and Mississippi today is a human tragedy. But take a close look at the people you see wandering, devastated, around New Orleans: they are predominantly black and poor. The political disturbances are still to come.

His daughter sent this around:

Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president’s demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast’s most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans’s levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane’s surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area’s flood protection?

WTF, Dubya? Was taking care of our citizens in need never part of the NeoCon agenda?

Give us one of your smarmy smirks and everything will be OK!

Posted by James at 4:12 PM | Comments (9)