February 28, 2006

Gas Go Boom

Stories like this don’t make the residents of Bristol County any happier about the Weaver’s Cove Hess LNG project.

Natural-gas tank ignites A worker checking a compressor station is burned, and as many as 50 people in southwest Weld County evacuate their homes.
Posted by James at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)

Listening

I plugged in the headphones and caught the Keri Rodrigues on WSAR’s Keri Rodrigues Show and it was a very positive experience.

I get the impression that she has a lot of guests on. Yesterday afternoon, Andrea Silbert (Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor) was her late-afternoon guest, and I was glad I had the chance to hear that. The idea of a new Democratic administration in the state that has a clue about improving the economy is a breath of fresh air, and Silbert has some chops. But this is really the first I’m hearing about the race, so stay tuned.

With the help of her first guest, she applied facts to the hubbub about the recent use of eminent domain in Fall River, and why they’re not rushing to use it in the Weaver’s Cove situation.

So, the show was a definite improvement over what I am used to, and I’m planning on listening when I can, though 3-6 is when I’m most warmed up at work. Having the headphones on seems to cure my nervous habit of becoming distracted at any office noise just outside my door. So that’s a plus.

Posted by James at 7:29 AM | Comments (9)

February 27, 2006

Taunton Has Most Bloggable News

Silver City Mall Hosts Friday Brawl Nights

OK - not officially. It just so happens that people send their teens to the mall on Friday nights and one thing leads to another when these teens have no idea how to conduct themselves. It’s freaking Lord Of The Flies in there.

One shoe store employee who witnessed the fights said she saw teens kicking a cop. O’Berg said no officer was seriously injured in the fights.

Teens kicking a cop? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. What is in the water in Taunton? On Friday night at a mall in Taunton you can see stuff you’d still be shocked to see on a Saturday night outside of a bar in New Bedford at 1 in the morning. And the youngest in the brawl was 14.

And not to be picking on Taunton, but how can they possibly almost be out of snow removal money this year after increasing their budget from last year? If you’re not well within your budget in a year as mild as this one, either something is wrong with the budget or you’re getting shafted on the price of snow removal and related services.

When I was in Taunton three days after that storm, the roads were admirably clear. I will give them that. But it was also pretty darn warm that day. The snow was melting like crazy. I saw backhoes loading snow into trucks, and that snow being hauled away. Considering the high temperatures, I’m not sure that was entirely necessary on Wednesday. But what do I know? I know this: that they’re running out of snow removal money in the mildest year I can remember. (At least February is almost over. But there have been bad blizzards in March before.)

Posted by James at 1:16 AM | Comments (5)

Headlines That Write Themselves

Vandal Caught Red Handed

It’s the type of story that a news editor cannot pass up. Police get a tip on the guy who is vandalizing cars in the area. They enter his apartment and he is asleep, but he has red spray paint on his hands after reportedly being caught on camera defacing a truck.

You don’t quite need Gil Grissom to solve that one.

This longer version of the story eschews the clever headline (but understandably cannot resist using it in the first paragraph) and they focus more on the fact that the guy was a civilian police dispatcher. It appears that he was unhappy his apartment complex’s parking lot was full by the time he got home every day. His attempt at discouraging people from parking in the lot is about Scooby-Doo-villain level in its ingenuity.

Posted by James at 1:05 AM | Comments (1)

February 25, 2006

Spider-Man News

OK - call me a hopeless fanboy, but I’ve always loved Spider-Man. I don’t collect comics anymore like I used to, but I pick up a few now and again (and Maggie gets them for me around Xmastime in my stocking). I thought I’d report on some Spidey-related news.

This includes two, bizarre, real-life stories at the end of the post.

The Alien Costume (Film Version)

It seems pretty much a certainty that the next Spider-Man movie will feature the popular Spidey villain, “Venom.”

That conclusion follows from hte fact that initial teaser art for the black version of Spidey’s costume has just been released. For those unfamiliar with the comic-book version of the story (the movie will almost certainly be very different) Spider-Man happened to find himself on an alien world needing a new costume. What he brought back with him was a living symbiote costume, capable of mimicking any sort of clothing. It also looked pretty darn cool.

The symbiote had a mind of its own and, well, this led to problems. Venom was part of those problems. And there are different versions of the story as the comic-book story line was adapted for other media (like Saturday morning cartoons.)

After he got rid of the symbiote, Spidey wore a normal, sloth costume that resembled the symbiote because he’d gotten used to the look, I guess. Until Marvel decided that it was time to switch back to the classic costume.

That was back when I was collecting comics regularly.

Anyhow, the new movie-verison of the black costume does not look like the alien costume I know and love. It just looks like his regular costume painted black. But I’ll hazard a guess and say that the poster depicts a post-Venom Spidey costume, not the actual symbiote. In other words, he’s already gotten rid of the symbiote and has gone back to his old costume, but he’s painted it black. For some reason. Some people are already complaining, but I don’t care much, as long as they make a fun movie out of it. I imagine that an actual alien costume is going to have to be completely CGI (computer-generated) anyhow. I guess we’ll see.

Iron Spidey Costume

As coincidence would have it, the comic-book Spidey has another new costume.

I won’t go into all the story details, but basically this new costume was created by Tony Stark for 2 reasons. FIrst, a recent storyline has changed Spidey’s powers slightly. Secondly, Tony Stark (Iron Man) is trying to convince him to be best buddies in the run up to some Marvel Universe-wide conflict that is coming. Some sort of superhero civil war. At least, that’s my take.

In any case, Spidey is sporting a new Iron Man-like costume that can repel small caliber bullets and allows him to glide for short distances. Looks like it’s got extra legs, too, although they haven’t revealed all of its tricks.

It’s cool. But I like the Alien Costume better.

Now, in real-world Spider-Man news:

HK’s ‘Spider-Man’ protester pleads innocent

A British resident of Hong Kong pleaded innocent Monday to causing a public nuisance by dressing up as Spider Man and scaling a giant TV screen to protest Beijing’s bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

Our media has seriously failed its duty when we’re hearing about Entwhistle all the time (a few weeks ago, I grant) but we don’t hear about a Chinese Spider-Man protesting the Tienanmen Square massacre.

Caught On Tape: Spider-Man Robs Comic Book Store

This story comes complete with video.

A robber wearing a Spider-Man mask was caught on surveillance video Tuesday stealing a set of rare comics from a store in Culver City, Calif. Among the issues stolen were Fantastic Four #1, X-Men #1, and the comic in which Spidey first appeared, Amazing Fantasy #15, valued at around $2,500 an issue.

The thief has a sense of irony, donning the Spidey mask. Or maybe he just thought it was appropriate, or distract from other possible identifying traits.

This is the second post on this blog in as many weeks regarding theft at a comic book shop. What is wrong with the world?

Posted by James at 10:45 AM | Comments (8)

February 24, 2006

Radio Shout-Out

A hearty “Hello” to the folks at WSAR who have found my weblog. Welcome.

Keri R. tells me (via AIM) that I ought to give her show a listen, because it might be more to my liking. I have heard a bit of her work in the recent past, and I can say that I do like her style. So I will tune in, if I can get this stupid cheap office radio to work. You need a webcast!

It sounds like she’s fighting off whatever’s going around today, because this afternoon’s offering is a “Best Of” show. My chance to catch up. Get better soon, and it’s conscientious of you to keep the germs away from your co-workers.

Posted by James at 11:42 AM

Existential Shotgun

This week’s shotgun post is an odd mix, with some news thrown in at the end. Happy Friday, and enjoy the weekend. I’ll likely be working.

  • THEY'RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD! (lotr, mashup, music, video, humor)
    • Legolas sings for you in this jaunty music video.
  • Time (art, images, photography, weird)
    • Snapshots of a family as they grow older year by year. Interesting to see the gradual changes.
  • Guess Which Movie (entertainment, film, movies, photo, quiz, trivia, game)
    • It’s “Name That Movie” but with fewer pictures and multiple choice. Many rounds. I’ve only played through the first round, but it should be easy for you folks - veterans of “Name That Movie.”
  • defective yeti: Games For Kids (games, kids)
    • Recommendations for good games that kids can enjoy. From defective yeti!
  • EvokeTV (tv, entertainment, video)
    • EvokeTV helps you track what’s on, so you can catch only the good stuff. Also - while you’re watching a show, it creates a chat room for other watchers to discuss the show! It’s the best online TV resource I’ve seen yet.
  • The Huge Entity: Reasons Why ‘You’ Don’t Exist… (philosophy, humor)
    • These people will tell you why you don’t exist. Essays to make your brain hurt.
  • Compfused.com - Painted Room Illusions (illusion, art)
    • Patterns that look like nonsense from all but one vantage point. Stand in the right spot, and it all comes together.
  • 'LOST' Notebook for ABC’s LOST (entertainment, tv, reference, lost)
    • "Notebook" of info about the LOST universe.
  • PistolWimp - Star Wars: Bloopers and Outtakes (video, film, funny)
    • Some bloopers from teh Star Wars films.

Newsish:

Posted by James at 9:42 AM | Comments (1)

Nude For Speed: Most Wanted

To paraphrase the Talking Heads:

You may find yourself living in Pawtucket and you may find yourself in another part of Rhode Island
and you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
and you may find yourself not wearing any shirt
not wearing any pants
And you may ask yourself: well…how did I get here?

(Apologies to David Byrne — I couldn’t resist)

Some bizarre goings-on in Providence yesterday, when a man doffed his clothes and then proceeded to go speeding down North Main street, naked. Unless you consider a car to be an article of clothing. Which most people do not.

A naked man drove a car wild and fast on North Main Street at noontime yesterday and wound up hitting a pickup truck stopped for a red light, the police said.

The naked man and the driver of the pickup and his dog were injured, and all three were admitted to hospitals.

Major Paul Fitzgerald, commander of the police Uniformed Division, identified the naked man as John Persico, 34, of 9 Beech St., Pawtucket, who suffered severe cuts on his legs and was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital, under guard.
Despite his injuries, Persico got out of his car and ran across the intersection in an attempt to get away, the police said. But he was tackled and arrested by Sgt. Paul Zienowicz. [warning: that link has sound]

That’s above and beyond the call of duty.

Posted by James at 8:05 AM

February 23, 2006

The Language of Food

Part of what makes food appetizing is how the mind processes your thoughts about food. And our brains are wired for language. So food language is very important to appetite.

Since we process words sequentially, the left-to-right presentation of the description of a food can make a difference in how it is perceived. Take, for example, the following lunch:

Hot (ok, you’ve got me interested.)
Roast (…good, good. Roasting is good.)
Turkey (Now you’re talking!)
and Stuffing (Yes!)
Sandwich (How convenient.)

Of course, personal tastes are a factor. If you are not eating meat, you might prefer a portabello mushroom in there, but you still see how these things unfold within the context of a person’s likes or dislikes. That’s what makes the following so disturbing:

Chunky (Off to a bad start. This is not an appetizing word.)
Goat (What? Goat? I thought we were going to talk about food.)
Cheese (Ew. Cheese of a goat? I’m picturing something you scraped off a goat now)
Stuffed (This is just making me feel bloated)
Shells (omigod, I just threw up in my mouth.)

Clearly, I do not like goat cheese. And at least some of that is because of the way it sounds. But I’m in the minority of Americans in that I do not consume mass quantities of cheese every year. I will indulge in some mozzarella, and enjoy cheddar on a cracker. But keep the fancy stuff (Brie, Camembert) and the really cheap stuff (Velveeta, Cheez Wiz) far away from me.No I don’t want goat cheese, nor do I want buffalo cheese. Nor antelope, platypus, elephant, giraffe or monkey cheese. Really. Keep it.

(This post was prompted by SH, who is down the hall on the phone trying to get a local restaurant to understand his order of the GOAT CHEESE and SUN DRIED TOMATO PIZZA! For some reason they can’t understand him and they’re making him shout it over and over about four times. And then they asked him what kind of car he will be driving, which completely threw him for a loop.)

Posted by James at 1:23 PM | Comments (17)

You and James Read the News


Student finds toilet water cleaner than ice at fast food restaurants

“I found that 70-percent of the time, the ice from the fast food restaurant’s contain more bacteria than the fast food restaurant’s toilet water.”

Roberts’ graph shows the toilet water, shown in red, had less bacteria in most cases than the ice inside shown in blue, and the ice from drive-through windows shown in green. Roberts’ teacher says he wasn’t surprised either.
First, congratulations to Jasmine Roberts. Second, thanks for the warning.

Third: I think I’ll stick to getting my soft drinks in a bottle, in the future. Yech. Please folks, don’t take this as encouragement to drink McDonalds toilet water.

Building 19 Apologizes for “Wife-beaters”


Around here, the slang term for “A”-shirts (sleeveless tees) is “wife-beater.” When Building 19 used this slang in one of its flyers , that did not sit well with some of their customers:

Building 19 apologies came fast from spokesman Jerry Ellis who said, “They were right. It was awful and I am sorry it happened. It’s a slang expression, a street expression, but we should have known better not to use it.

Should Jerry be beat up over this? I agree that it’s not the most tasteful expression. Of course, you could turn the volume way up on the tastelessness, so maybe some perspective is in order? (Warning: that link takes you to a site with some loud not-safe-for-work music. And spanking.)

White House Issues Its Own Katrina Report

We can’t wait to read it!

It’s one sentence long: “We’re doing a heckuva job!”


Posted by James at 6:38 AM | Comments (3)

February 22, 2006

The Ports

I admit, I haven’t plumbed the depths of this story yet — I mean the whole selling-the-ports-to-Dubai tempest that has hit the news.

My first inclination (I admit it) is to think “what’s Bush gone and done now.” Usually I have the time to look into it, but not so much these last few days.

So, I’ll speak from ignorance and ask a few questions that I will return to later to see if more info is available when I have time.

  • Would there be such an uproar if this deal involved a non-Arab country?
  • Aren’t we supposed to be encouraging liberal Arab countries? To have as allies? Dubai is right up there in the extremely liberal category. I had a student from Dubai, years ago, when I taught an online course. I was unfamiliar with the emirate, but she told me a little bit about it. What I heard was amazing. She made it sound practically like a paradise, and from what I’ve learned since, she wasn’t lying to me. It’s very westernized and America-friendly.
  • Does this have to do with Bush helping out powerful friends? I have no idea. If there is a security aspect, then that ought to be investigated. Anything else shady? Investigate it. But I admit to having little faith in the government to investigate itself lately.

I need to know more before passing any sort of judgment. But I hope that we’re not looking at a new version of the paranoia about Japanese buying up stuff in this country over a decade ago.

We’ve got the government increasing its power to run secret spying operations involving US citizens with no oversight as far as I can tell. We’ve got a White House under investigation for politically strategic leaks that have compromised CIA operatives. We have an administration that sends mixed messages on torture. We have an ever-shifting rationale for war, ending in a circular justification; you can’t stop the war now because of the mess we’ve made. We have an administration which is willing to release propaganda domestically (disguised as news briefs) on its own policies (Medicare bill) and also is ramping up money to foreign propaganda at a time when we’re learning that previous foreign operations (Ahmed Chalabi) worked really well on domestic public opinion since the news feeds back here through foreign sources.

I could go on. People are getting used to this stuff, unfortunately. Is it just the case that it takes Dick Cheney shooting someone or the frightening prospect of foreigners owning a port to rile people up now?

Most importantly: Can we get a REAL opposition party congress in 2006? And can we expect the Democrats to be an actual opposition party? Can we get some movement on some of these issues? Are we going to have to resort to xenophobia?

I’m depressed thinking about it.

[P.S. When it comes to how the president has conducted himself, I think I’m more disturbed that he wasn’t aware of the deal until a few days ago than I am about anything sinister going on. Problem is, it has become difficult to trust any information coming out of the White House because we’ve been yanked around so much. Whose to say that’s just not more misinformation thrown in there to muddy up the water? I mean, it appears that Rumsfeld simultaneously approved the transaction AND hadn’t heard about it. But why is it that, no matter what the news story it, the first reaction fromt he administration seems to be “we have no idea what’s going on. We’re as in the dark on this as you are.”]

Posted by James at 1:21 PM | Comments (17)

February 21, 2006

Get Back

Bob McC has a good question on his weblog Vowel Movement. If you could use “save points” in your life, where would you have used them?

For the non-gamer in the audience, a “save point” is a place in a video game when you’re allowed to save the state of your game. If you mess up after that, you can go back to that point in the game and proceed with different decisions (hopefully avoiding your original screw up). It’s like being able to go back in time and start over again.

I don’t regret very many of my decisions in life. I can think of times when I might have “saved my game” but I have few instances where I would have wanted to undo things. I would never restore to any earlier version of my life before my kids were born because, of course, they would not necessarily be born if anything were to change.

And I have few regrets for any decisions I’ve made since my kids were born.

One of my daughters asked us a similar question a while ago: what would you do if you could go back in time. As an adult, it’s easy to think of many times when knowledge of the future would be useful. Even a short jump backwards gives you a lot of advantages in certain situations (gambling, for instance). See “Groundhog Day” for one take on this. Of course, that’s cheating. Maybe all time travel is cheating. There are ways to cheat without time travel, and I avoid those for reasons of my own morals. It’s interesting that people might think time-travel cheating is more legitimate, but once you consider it, it really isn’t legitimate.

There are times I might be able to warn people of something bad that was going to happen to them — something avoidable. At least one catastrophic event stands out, and I’ve wondered what I would have done had I known it was about to happen. On a larger scale, what if any one of us had known the 9/11 attacks were going to happen? Do you start to get into a 12 Monkeys-type situation when you’re trying to convince people something that big and unexpected is about to unfold? There are also unintended consequences to consider. Yet another movie deals with that issue: “The Butterfly Effect.” It’s a cautionary tale, of course, because that’s what makes movies interesting. Another, more cerebral and bizarre take on it can be found in “Primer.”

On the other hand, I could have been more prepared for my daughter’s illness, but I couldn’t have prevented that. More trivially, I might have made some better decisions in my home improvement endeavors.

I don’t know. Right now I’m comfortable living my life forwards.

Posted by James at 3:46 PM | Comments (11)

Milk of Human Annoyance

No RoomI know I am easily annoyed, but it really gets to me when someone has designed something well, and then someone else goes and messes it up.

In the local Stop & Shop supermarket (which was recently rebuilt) they have a huge open area for milk and eggs in the back of one corner of the store. The wide aisle there and the long wall-space taken up by dairy allows people to approach from many angles, even when a few people are already standing and staring at the milk. It’s very efficient for swooping in, grabbing the gallon of milk you already know you want and getting right out of there.

However, our local market has decided to screw that all up. In the past, they have put about 4 shopping carts of discounted goods just under two carriage widths from the milk, forming a new, narrow corridor which you had to navigate if you wanted to get to the milk.

The effect of this arrangement was that people wanting milk had to enter the corridor at one end, then either back out or continue forward. This would have been bad enough on its own, but it gets much worse if you have someone decide to push their shopping cart through the corridor, blocking it. Now you have the situation where the corridor is long enough that one person enters, then two people approach from either end. Traffic is stuck until the ends move, and you have other people outside the corridor waiting to get anywhere near the milk.

To remedy the problem, I would sometimes move the carriages. At first I would simply space them apart o people could navigate between them. Then I took to completely pushing them out of the way. I figured that the market might get the message.

I was wrong. Now they have set up temporary shelving units where the carriages were. I was reluctant to take a picture with a lot of people in it, so the one provided with this post is a rare moment when there are no people trying to get milk. I understand that they want to move the discounted items. But they don’t mind inconveniencing you in the process. On the positive side, they’ve moved these shelves slightly farther from the wall, and slid them down away from the eggs. But the same traffic jams occur.

Thanks, Stop & Shop. Maybe they want us to buy our 2.5 gallons/week of milk elsewhere.

Posted by James at 9:58 AM | Comments (14)

February 20, 2006

We're not offering

Bin Laden: ‘I will never be taken alive’

Did somebody want him alive?

I have to say these Bin Laden tapes are boring as hell. Maybe if he sang, or danced, or learned some closeup magic, somebody would want him alive. As it is now, not so much.

That’s why I don’t get why it’s all over the news when he releases a new tape. He never performs live and his followers are like fanatics, watching the same tapes over and over again. It’s worse then* Insane Clown Posse.

Our own vice president has to shoot an old guy in the face to get publicity. Osama must have an incredible publicist.

[* Misuse of the word “then” as a shout-out to ICP fans]

Posted by James at 5:41 PM | Comments (8)

February 19, 2006

Being Shot Means Having To Say You're Sorry

The vice president’s shooting victim came out talkin’ the other day when he apologized to the veep.
“My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice-President Cheney and his family have had to deal with,” Harry Whittington, said in his first comments since being shot on a south Texas ranch six days earlier.

Apologizing to someone who has shot you is a new concept to me. Maybe it’s a Texas thing? I have to admire Whittington for his politeness, but I also wonder if it’s (as the Republicans like to say) “sending the wrong message” to people who shoot other people, and people who are careless with guns.

Next time someone steps on your toe, cuts you off on the highway, gives you the wrong change, stabs you, gets your lunch order wrong or shoots you in the face, you’d better hit the “I’m Sorry” section at the Hallmark store.

Posted by James at 12:17 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2006

Disappearing Like Magic

I was in the local comic book shop yesterday. There was a recent Spider-Man crossover story that Maggie got me a bunch of issues of for Xmas, and I wanted to see how it ended.

One of the owners of the shop is a friend from back in college, but we don’t really stay in contact. The fellow who was there is, I think, another owner of the shop and I overheard him telling a few of the people who were hanging around that there was a break-in at the shop last week.

There were a few kids of various ages about, and young adults; I think they were either playing Magic in the adjoining room or some similar game. I might have been the oldest person in there, which to me feels very weird.

The fellow told a couple of the people hanging our that on Friday they’d discovered a break in had occurred Thursday night. Their safe was stolen, along with many brand new boxes of Magic: The Gathering trading cards.

It makes sense to suppose that the thief will get rid of the cards online via eBay auction or whatnot.

I don’t know why I’d never thought of the high probability of stolen items being hawked for cheap on eBay. I have no idea what they do to try to keep things legal, but I can’t imagine what they could possibly do to make sure your Magic cards aren’t stolen. I’ve bought books and some electronics, most of which I really doubt were stolen because they were relatively low value. But a number of things I have bought certainly could have been stolen, and there is no way for me to have known beforehand, or even after the transaction.

I don’t buy all that often via eBay, but often enough that I have been on the receivign end of a couple of slightly shady transactions.

  • A “Signs” DVD I bought worked pretty much fine, but a little bit strange. And it had this big “DVD-9” symbol on the front of the cover. At the time I didn’t know what to make of it. But I have since learned this is one “sign” of a bootleg.
  • I have bought books which have arrived with a black mark on the textblock edge. I’ve wondered if this meant something.
  • I have bought a CD that has a hole punched through the UPC symbol, which to me indicates that it was a promo CD and not intended for resale. Not sure whether that’s legal or not, but it certainly means that the artist was not compensated for that CD the first time it was sold.

Have any of you folks had any experience with strange dealings on eBay where you thought you were not getting the full story of the items you purchased? I’m convinced that someone out there will be getting a good deal on Magic cards in the near future… at the expense of the local comic book shop.

Posted by James at 9:10 AM | Comments (13)

Squirreled Away Shotgun

  • Myspace The Movie (humor, parody, funny, NetCulture, video)
    • It’s quite long, but it has a couple of funny moments. A series of episodes inspired by myspace. I hope to see more (funnier) myspace-lampooning stuff in the future. I know it’s coming sometime soon.
  • Bad Valentine’s Day cards (cards, funny, humor)
    • The kind of cards you’d rather not get.
  • Star Wars: The Empire Brokeback (humor, funny, video, trailer, parody)
    • It's yet another Brokeback mash-up. This time it’s droids.
  • Baby Squirrels - a photoset on Flickr (cute, photography, photos, animals, squirrels, flickr)
    • Baby squirrels cuteness overload. A guy's photoset of adorable baby squirrel pictures, from when he took care of some abandoned squirrels.
  • Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (writing, tips)
    • Writing tips to make your words more transparent. Courtesy of the guy who wrote “Get Shorty.”
  • Watching America (news, media, journalism)
    • A view of America through the news media of the world. Translated into English.
  • Holy Terror, Batman! (article, comics, art)
    • Frank Miller is penning a new comic book in which Batman takes on al Qaeda and Osama.
  • SiteAdvisor (internet, safety, privacy, tools, spyware, security)
    • Is that site you're about to surf safe for surfing? Siteadvisor advises you as to whether the surfing is suspicious.
  • YouTube - Addicted to Lost (funny, video, tv, humor)
    • Hilarious mashup of Robert Palmer and Lost. Found on Mike’s linkblog.
  • Brass Knuckle Implants (weird, wtf, bodymod, photos)
    • Apparently, you can get some pretty weird things implanted in you if you know the right doctor in Florida.
  • TBS Department of Humor Analysis (tv, video, humor, advertising)
    • An ad for TBS (flash-enabled website) featuring John Cleese and the fictional Department of Humor Analysis. Check out the video, and try the silly games.
  • How to Take A Caffeine Nap (productivity, lifehacks, health)
    • The “Caffeine Nap” is an idea for boosting your alertness. A cup of coffee followed by an immediate 15 minute nap may make you more awake than other combinations of caffeine and napping. I don’t know how reliable this information is, but I’m game to try.
  • Laptop Repair (computers, tech, diy)
    • The care and repair of laptop computers. Fix common problems!
  • Cardboard Domes - Homepage: Constructing Cardboard Geodesic Domes (diy, crafts, howto)
    • Build weather-proof cardboard./ wood domes. Live like a turtle.
Posted by James at 8:31 AM | Comments (10)

If CD ripping is outlawed...

only outlaws will rip CDs.

Long story short, the RIAA wants you to know that it thinks you’re breaking the law when you back up a CD that you bought. It also thinks you’re breaking the law when you rip the songs to your hard drive to listen to them on your computer. Oh, and you’re a lawbreaker if you listen to them on your iPod or other MP3 player.

If you buy a bunch of CDs and use them to make a mix CD for your workout? CRIMINAL!

If it’s against the law to use a CD in most of the ways we’re used to using them, then where is the motivation (beyond the fear of getting caught) to buy a CD as opposed to downloading it off the internet?

What the heck is the RIAA thinking?

They have bombarded the public with the idea that “you wouldn’t steal a car, so why would you steal music?” What’s next?

“You wouldn’t fly an airplane into a skyscraper, so why would you rip songs to your iPod?”

Posted by James at 12:33 AM | Comments (3)

February 15, 2006

Boiling In Ignorance

They say (incorrectly) that if you put a frog in boiling water it will try to jump out. But if you put it in warm water and slowly raise the temperature, you can boil it.

What is true is that if you don’t teach people to value important knowledge, they will allow you to perpetuate ignorance in their children.

Worse, they may insist that you don’t waste your time trying to elevate their children out of their ignorance.

Parents, Students Fine With Math, Science

Fifty-seven percent of parents say “things are fine” with the amount of math and science being taught in their child’s public school. High school parents seem particularly content — 70 percent say their child gets the right amount of science and math. […]

Yet where public officials and employers see slipping production in the sciences as a threat to the nation’s economy, parents and students don’t share that urgency.

Ignorance was good enough for me, it should be good enough for my children.

The article above talks about how the president has started to talk about making math and science education a national priority. But I’ll actually believe that when I start hearing him say that math and science education are essential in the war on terrorism.

Back to the story. Levels of math and the most basic science knowledge in the general population are abysmal, so it’s no wonder that few have any respect for it. Watching these people talk about not needing more math and science for their kids is like someone telling you they need two spoons to eat their tomato soup and then watching them turn the spoons around to use them like chopsticks.

(Disclosure: I work in math education research.)

Posted by James at 9:28 PM | Comments (10)

How's your VD?

I let Valentine’s Day go by without mention here. We don’t go crazy celebrating it, as we find it to be a pretty minor event. Maintaining the romance of a relationship cannot be concentrated into a specific day. It’s in the gestures that happen throughout your life. But that doesn’t mean a little chocolate on VDay is a bad thing. (And, as a dad, I do feel that doing something for my daughters is mandatory.)

And we all watched the recent Wallace and Gromit movie together on DVD. Which was good fun.

I don’t think about Valentine’s Day much, so I’d never thought about the dangers of VD before…

It amuses me that VD presents additional complications for people who are cheating on their significant others.

I don’t know why, but it gives me an extraordinary glee at those folks who think they’re being clever, but they the physical limitations imposed by Feb. 14 throw an extra wrench into the works. Maybe it’s the same humor value you get from seeing a really clumsy criminal caught in an oven vent while trying to break into a restaurant to steal money.

In an attempt to appease multiple partners who are ignorant of each other, the perps are easy targets for investigators. And, of course, also do things that make their significant others suspicious.

On the other hand, for many people, VD is the unofficial first day of cheating season. Logistical problems presented by the holiday season can cause cheaters to put off until around VD. Although I wonder if Groundhog Day is actually closer to the real official start of cheating. Who can tell? Investigators are the experts, I suppose.

So, if your sweetie isn’t too into Valentine’s Day (as I am not for example) you might want to look and see if there were two boxes of chocolates on that cash register receipt. People that sloppy deserve to get caught. Heck - they all deserve to get caught.

Posted by James at 3:39 PM | Comments (2)

Giving Women Some Control

Wal-Mart said yesterday it will start stocking and selling the emergency contraceptive drug Plan B at its 44 Massachusetts pharmacies and is giving serious consideration to carrying the drug at all of its stores nationwide.

State [of Massachusetts] orders Wal-Mart to sell morning-after pill

If Wal-Mart decides to carry this pill nationwide, women will have states like Illinois and Massachusetts to thank for taking a stand. The emergency contraception pill, which will prevent pregnancy if taken soon after intercourse, is also good news for nondogmatic people who oppose abortions because it prevents the need for an abortion later on. However, there is controversy. The drug is legally considered to be a contraceptive, not an abortifacient. However, because there is a chance that it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted, some religions bar its use.

[Side note: it’s interesting that dogmatic types don’t give more ground on contraceptives like this for other people who don’t believe the way that they do. Leaving it a black and white issue eliminates wiggle room for compromise. One way to fight abortions is to simply reduce the need for many of them, rather then make them illegal. Since everyone agreed that this drug most often prevents conception, then it’s availability and use might logically lead to fewer abortions overall. Probably even if you factored in non-implantation. I have shrinking amounts of sympathy for black and white, all-or-nothing types. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fine for them to remain true to rigid beliefs in their own lives. But when they project outwards without thoughts of practical compromise, I lose patience.]

The availability of this drug is key to whether it is useful. It’s called the “morning after” pill for a reason. Wal-Mart is the only pharmacy for many women, and this will make a big difference in availability.

The board voted quickly after a brief discussion. James T. DeVita, the president-elect of the pharmacy board, said: ”How do you determine the needs of the community? You determine it by the prescriptions that are presented.”

In other words, the community’s needs are found by listening to the community, not listening to a corporation that comes here from halfway across the country.

I know the local Wal-Marts have been helpful when it comes to community service, helping out the Girl Scouts and helping out college student group projects like the Solar Decathalon with their fund raisers. This is a corporate policy that has been overthrown, not a local policy.

So, here’s to better availability of this drug and for fewer abortions!

Posted by James at 2:44 PM | Comments (6)

That's Settled

I’m back! All that whining for nothing.

I parked in the municipal lot in Taunton, which turned out not to be too close to the district court. It was about a 5 minute walk, which made me a little late.

The metal detector was fun. I forgot to take all my metal stuff off in the car, so I had to empty lots of pockets. Nothing objectionable, but inconvenient. The guard was laid back, but professional.

I missed the beginning of the really boring video they show you. As one of the officers at the court said, “don’t worry about it.” The video is the same one they’ve been using for over a decade, so I’ve seen it. Plus, I’ve read the handbook, and I guess the video is a refresher.

When it was done, the friendly officer came back in the room and said: “Now wasn’t that wonderful?” He put Fox news Channel on the TV and we waited.

I looked around the room. There were 14 of us. 4 women, 10 men. The room would have accommodated three times as many people. One young guy in a hooded sweatshirt wearing a really thin black beard looked really nervous. The rest just looked tired, and some were taking a catnap. Slight anxiety kicked in and I felt a little warm claustrophobia, even in the large, reasonably comfortable room. I read to distract myself. (It was the Scarpetta novel. I decided that light reading would be best for repeated interruptions)

The judge soon came in — a large round-faced, jovial, white-haired man. He thanked us, told us they were sorting out the cases and said we were free to leave until they were done with that. About 45 minutes at the soonest. This was a pleasant surprise. The last time I was in this situation, I was told to stay put. But now the bailiff (I think she was a bailiff) was telling us we could walk to Dunkin’ Donuts if we wanted to.

Pretty much immediately, my anxiety evaporated. I took a leisurely walk north, past the DD to a gas station that sold stomach-calming ginger ale. Then I walked a circular route back to the municipal lot, getting a sense of the area. I emptied some of my excess metal in the car to facilitate easier court-reentry. Then I took an arcing route back to the courthouse, returning well within the allotted time.

More reading. People came and went (presumably to the facilities). Then, at sometime around 11, the judge returned and thanked us for showing up. We got a not-unpleasant speech about how our presence had helped cause the cases that day to come to settlements. And this being the case, we were now free to go. We had had served our purpose. No need to return now for at least 3 years.

All will be happy to know that I scurried my little fluffy tail right back to work. With a very brief stop at a bagel shop I had spotted on my walk, to pick up a sesame bagel, which I ate in the car.

I’m glad I didn’t read about B.O.B.’s 2.5 week trial until after I got back from today! That would have worried me. But I am jury-duty-free for another 3 years. And returned from the unfamiliar stresses of jury duty, to the familiar and mounting stresses of my mounting workload, still in progress.

Posted by James at 11:56 AM | Comments (12)

Duty of a Jurist

So, I may be impaneled on a jury tomorrow.

Not a convenient time, but I can’t think of a time in the last year when I could have said “yeah, this is a convenient time.” We’ve been flat out. After a “short” phone meeting on Sunday that turned into a 4-hour affair, some flu-like virus I’ve been fighting off for a while finally caught up with me. That sucker put me out of commission for a day and a half with various symptoms you don’t want catalogued. Believe me, I was pathetic. Still, I’ve survived much worse.

And I’m better just in time to find out my “Standby” juror status is not so “standby.”

Juries are important. They’re a necessary part of our judicial system. Jury duty is a civic duty, just as they say.

However.

I just don’t do well in “institutional” situations. I can adjust, but I like to stay away from any situation where I have to rely on other people to tell me what the hell is going to happen next. Among other things. Last time I was on a jury, it was a three day trial and I had a big, fat, cluster-headache every day. I had to listen to a guy who had some stupid chip on his shoulder who felt the need to argue ridiculously that the murder victim bore a lot of responsibility for his own beating death because he crossed the street to argue with a couple of guys (I guess he was asking to be beat to death). I can’t wait to meet whatever new incarnation of this person will randomly be chosen to spend some time with me.

Anyhow, this poor reaction to institutional situations is worse when I’m recovering from an illness. Maggie can attest, when I’m sick I want to crawl into a shell until I’m back up to around 80%. Well, it just puts me further out of my little comfort zone. And that makes me cranky, disagreeable, withdrawn and anxious.

I’ll get through it. Thanks for listening to me gripe.

I’m a good boy. I read the Juror’s Handbook. One thing that struck me was this passage under the “A Few Things To Know About Jury Duty”:

“Once released from your juror service, especially if early in the day, you are strongly advised to return to your normal daily routine.”

As opposed to what? Spending the rest of the day in a bar? Going cruising? Maggie says this means returning to work. But it cracks me up that the state wants to screw up my day and my production schedule by interrupting it, and then feels it ought to scold me back to work once it’s done with me. I strongly advise the state to mind its own business.

I’m bringing a book with me and I’m going to at least try to get some good reading in. Tough decision what to bring, though. Right now it’s between some guilty pleasure Patricia Cornwell or Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker.”

Time to get some sleep. I still feel leftover-crappy.

Posted by James at 12:05 AM | Comments (4)

February 13, 2006

Speeding Toward Stupidity

What should children be taught about evolution?

“Boys and girls,” Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, “you put your hand up and you say, ‘Excuse me, were you there?’ Can you remember that?”

The children roared their assent. […]

“Who’s the only one who’s always been there?” Ham asked.

“God!” the boys and girls shouted.

Why walk to hell when you can run?

Beware people who have an easy answer for everything, especially if those answers sound like a bad science fiction novel:

Ham encourages people to further their research with the dozens of books and DVDs sold by his ministry. They give answers to every question a critic might ask: How did Noah fit dinosaurs on the ark? He took babies. Why didn’t a tyrannosaur eat Eve? All creatures were vegetarians until Adam’s sin brought death into the world. How can we have modern breeds of dog like the poodle if God finished his work 6,000 years ago? He created a dog “kind” — a master blueprint — and let evolution take over from there.

I have argued with friends that this new dark age of reason is not going to win. And I was pretty confident, especially with recent the court rulings.

But I’m a little less sure of it after more reading.

[Update: Whoops. Forgot to include the link to the source, an LA Times article]

Posted by James at 7:31 PM | Comments (7)

Favorite Fictional Curse?

Which of the following is your favored fictional expletive?
Frell! (from Farscape)
Frack! (from Battlestar Galactica)
Poodoo! (from the Star Wars universe)
Shazbot! (from Mork and Mindy)
Mibs! (from the Coneheads)
Chi-chi (from Firesign Theatre’s Eat or Be Eaten)
Zark! (from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Slag! (racial epithet from Alien Nation)
Smurf! (from The Smurfs)
Dren! (from Farscape)
Shpadoinkle! (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Rassin-Frassin! (from various Hanna-Barbera toons)
petaQ! (Klingon)
Gorram! (from Firefly)
Felgercarb! (from the original Battlestar Galactica)
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

If you have another one in mind, vote anyhow and mention your favorite in the comments.

Posted by James at 7:28 PM | Comments (6)

Be Vewwwwwwy Quiet!

U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney has shot and wounded a 78-year-old fellow hunter during a Texas quail shoot.

I couldn’t let this story go by without mention, though I think that in many respects, the administration is probably happier to see this dominating the news than, say, other stories from the weekend.

Perhaps the vice president should have taken Scooter on a hunting trip before he had a chance to testify. But that opportunity has likely passed, and I fear that the secret service may have to pay special attention to wrestling the veep’s whiskey away from him next time he’s getting ready to wave around a firearm.

Elephant hunting, anyone?

Posted by James at 9:43 AM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2006

Shrinking the tankers

Local politicians stopped the funding that was going to be used to bring down the old Brightman Street Bridge. This was a gambit to prevent Weaver’s Cove Energy from being able to continue with their plans to build and run a LNG (liquified Natural Gas) terminal in Weavers Cove on the Fall River shore of the Taunton river.

Now:

Weaver’s Cove Energy says it will supply its LNG terminal proposed for Fall River with smaller vessels that it says can pass through the Brightman Street Bridge. (Reg. Req’d.)

With 8 feet of clearance on each side of the tankers, it is unclear whether they’re actually serious, or whether they really intend to more than double the number of tanker deliveries, shutting down traffic twice as often. Also uncertain, whether this comprises a new plan which will force regulators to re-visit the approval process.

Are they just trying to reassure worried investors in the project?

Posted by James at 6:06 PM | Comments (4)

February 10, 2006

Hey Little Sister - Shotgun!

  • Zillow.com (tools, realestate, maps)
    • What are the home values in any given area? Check them all out on a Google-style map with this interesting tool.
  • Sketch Swap (art, web, drawing, fun, flash)
    • Draw one, get one back.
  • Waterfall 2006 - International Conference on Sequential Development (humor, programming, satire, development)
    • Software developers are revolutionary type folk, and they like to make fun of previously popular development models.
  • 30 Boxes | it's your life (calendar, tools, web)
    • Simple, efficient online calendar
  • Katamari Damacy Song Lyrics - Translated (games, lyrics)
    • Ever wonder what they're singing in Katamari Damacy (hands down the most entertaining and creative video games in the last few years)? Here you go.
  • Count to 31 on One Hand (math, productivity, tips, howto)
    • Count from 0 to 31 if you do it like a computer does it. OK - it's obvious to math and computer folks, but it's fun for the whole family. Teach your kids!
  • 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body (fun, health, howto, science, tricks)
    • Teach an old bod new tricks. So handy! F'rinstance, clear your sinuses without Sudafed. Ease a toothache. Distract your bladder…
  • TypeNow.net Themed Fonts Movie and Music Fonts (art, resources, download, fonts, graphics)
    • Download fonts similar to those used in familiar movie, music and other contexts.

Bonus:

Posted by James at 12:41 AM | Comments (24)

February 9, 2006

You got your politics in my science

IT IS A RARE thing for the biography of a 24-year-old NASA spokesman to attract the attention of the national media. But that is what happened this week when George C. Deutsch tendered his resignation. Mr. Deutsch had, it emerged, lied about his (nonexistent) undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University.

This was the guy forcing NASA to leave room for Intelligent Design whenever it mentioned the big bang. And muzzled scientists who disagreed with the president’s politics.

In every administration there will be spokesmen and public affairs officers who try to spin the news to make the president look good. But this administration is trying to spin scientific data and muzzle scientists toward that end. NASA’s Mr. Hansen was right when he told the Times that Mr. Deutsch was only a bit player. “The problem is much broader and much deeper and it goes across agencies,” he said. We agree.

Where is the bush Administration finding these people? Is there some sort of Hack Clone Army? As Ryan asked me “Did he think nobody was going to check into his credentials?”

Of course he did. He was appointed by the Bush Administration.

And he was pretty close to correct. At least until the pop-up timer on his turkey ideas popped.

I don’t have time to rant longer on this, but thanks to people like Julie and Bob McC keeping me informed on this while I’ve been busy. As the editorial points out, Mr. Deutsch is a symptom, not the underlying problem. That’s why the president’s mention of science in the SoTU address recently would have made me choke on my [insert necessary strong alcoholic drink] if I had been watching that night.

Posted by James at 11:15 AM

February 7, 2006

But I wanted to learn to bake

If you read this SouthCoast Learning Network class title a little too fast, you’d wonder why the redundancy.

Pasties & Pastries [240023]
A delicious sequel to our smash-hit It’s Burlesque! Explore the secret of those famous old-fashioned fashions that add sparkle and mystery to two of your most important assets. Pasties are an essential component of concealment for public performance, and wearing them at home will drive your honey wild. Make two pairs of pasties to take home and enjoy as you will—one quick and easy, the other long-lasting and extra glamorous. Receive expert instruction on how to apply them and then give them a twirl! Lady Miss Iris will show you how. And as a special treat, indulge your sweet tooth with delicious pastries from an upscale Providence bakery.

Sara stumbled upon this while looking for a… gee, actually I have no idea what she was looking for.

I had no idea that pasties were so essential. Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t think these two subjects should be mixed.

Posted by James at 6:15 PM | Comments (11)

February 6, 2006

I'll Spy On You

Some stupor-bowl-related food did not agree with me. So I am at home sick / working at home / whatnot today. Call it what you will when you’re too sick to go in to work but not sick enough to escape the pressure of deadlines.

I have C-SPAN on. Not quite a lullaby, but the judiciary committee is questioning Alberto Gonzales.

I just heard Alberto Gonzales try to make an analogy between American citizens fighting with al Qaeda and American citizens talking on the phone. To be fair, he said “people communicating with al Qaeda.” As if anyone is saying that the government shouldn’t investigate communication with terrorists. We even have secret courts to protect national security.

Arlen Specter asked his first question. The question I’d certainly like to know. “Why go around the FISA courts?”

Gonzales’ answer is basically “Because it was OK for us to do it.” In other words, “We don’t need to give you a reason. The president can do this. It’s not important ‘why.’”

[UPDATE: Ted Kennedy is pointing out to Gonzales that there was internal disagreement about whether the eavesdropping program was legal. Because of that uncertainty, the White House ought to have remained carefully within what everyone agreed was legal (and secret). Just to be on the safe side, to protect the investigations, so they would withstand the scrutiny of law. In fact, it would jeopardize national security to play fast and loose with the law here.]

[UPDATE2: More than twice now, people have said that the revelation of this program has weakened the effectiveness of this program. That opinion would appear to support Kennedy’s opinion. If they had gone through FISA, this whole thing never would have happened. It would be secret.]

Posted by James at 10:19 AM | Comments (2)

February 4, 2006

Point / Counterpoint

Point:

Friends: Jacob couldn’t have done it

They firmly believe it’s a set-up or a case of mistaken identity.[…]

“He did have Nazi flags in his room, but that doesn’t mean he was a bad person,”

Ok. Well, that’s one way to look at it. Once you take a hatchet to the patrons of a bar, that does tend to weigh more on the “not such a nice person.” And I guess the police didn’t have much doubt that it was him, since there were witnesses in the bar. People do tend to remember when you’re swinging a hatchet around. Especially in this area, it gets noticed.

So, anyhow.

Counterpoint:

Teen Wanted in Gay Bar Shooting Caught

A teenager accused of going on a rampage at a Massachusetts gay bar with a hatchet and a gun was in a Missouri hospital Saturday after two shootings in northern Arkansas that resulted in the death of a police officer and a woman accompanying the wounded teen, state police said.

Point/Counterpoint is all about you coming to your own conclusions.

But ever since this story hit the news, I have had trouble really processing it. The reactions of the friends have just been surreal for me. I don’t know why I focused on them. I guess it is upsetting to me… the reinforcement.

I haven’t heard any details about his capture, except that an officer was killed in the process, and another woman also died. In Arkansas. Unbelievably, the situation is actually got worse. But he’s been caught. How did this all happen? WTF?

Posted by James at 10:46 PM | Comments (11)

February 3, 2006

Pre-Stupor-Bowl Shotgun

All I know about football is that it involves eating snacks. That’s all I need to know.

Posted by James at 2:12 AM | Comments (7)

February 2, 2006

"Is This a Gay Bar?"

Eighteen-year-old Jacob D. Robida of New Bedford is being sought by police as the suspect in the hatchet and handgun assault of three people in a North End gay bar late Wednesday night.

The kid walked into the bar, asked “Is this a gay bar?” and then, moments later, pushed a patron down and went at the guy with a hatchet.

By the time he was through, he’d attempted to kill 3 people with the hatchet and a handgun. He escaped,

According to police, the suspect was identified by a female bar patron who recognized him from school and knew him as ‘Jake.’ Police said she made a positive identification when shown a photo of Robida, and said that he had looked suspicious to her because she knew that he was not gay. Police arrived at the Robida home at around 1 a.m., according to the affadavit [sic]. The suspect’s mother said that her son, bleeding from a head injury, had returned hom [sic] but had left again. She allowed police to search his room, where they said they found Nazi regalia and anti-Semitic slogans on the wall. Police said the room was “frozen” pending their application for a search warrant.

Update:

Posted by James at 2:11 PM | Comments (4)

February 1, 2006

Hooray For Reform! Health Club Edition

Republicans want you to know that they are hot on the idea of reforming their scandal-plagued party. Congressional ethics is the watchphrase of the day.

And the measures to put that into effect are well under way, even if they are starting small. First up, the simple matter of cleaning lobbyists out of the congressional health club. And off the floor of the House.

Surely, congress can get that done. Or, maybe not.

Posted by James at 4:27 PM | Comments (7)

You and James Read the News

Some may be funny. Some May Not be. But, nonetheless, you and James read the news.

EFF Sues AT&T to Stop Illegal Surveillance

“AT&T’s customers reasonably expect that their communications are private and have long trusted AT&T to follow the law and protect that privacy. Unfortunately, AT&T has betrayed that trust,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien. “At the NSA’s request, AT&T eviscerated the legal safeguards required by Congress and the courts with a keystroke.”
I almost feel bad for AT&T. The government comes knocking on the door for this information and surely the Bush administration can make it difficult for them if they don’t roll over and give up the access.

But then I remember that AT&T is a huge company with lawyers and is in a unique position to help protect the privacy of Americans. And suddenly I don’t feel like they need my sympathy.

One big plus of this lawsuit: we will get to see just how AT&T was approached by the government. And what, if anything, they considered doing by way of resisting the request.

State of the Union Address


I didn’t watch it this year. But if you’re into masochism, you likely sat yourself down for a dose.

Maureen Dowd says:

But, hey, how could the Bushies have known that occupying a Middle East country — and flipping the balance of power from one sect to another — without enough troops to secure it could go wrong? Who on earth could predict the inevitable?

Bush wants constructive criticism. He also wants to paint his detractors as having 20/20 hindsight. What a display of gall! People opposed to Iraqi invasion all along had foresight, not hindsight. Maybe our president doesn’t know the difference.

Should I be astonished that, the day after the State of the Union address, I have to dig for stories about it? No, it was that bland. The Mail and Guardian Online sums it up perfectly:

World commentators have characterised United States President George Bush’s State of the Union speech as an obstinate bid to regain popularity with unrealistic promises, suggesting on Wednesday that his pledge to break the US’s dependence on Mideast oil offered the only surprise in an otherwise bland speech.
and then continued to analyze the oil promises:

“The big concern for Republican senators is … the idea that Middle East producers are making so much money from high oil prices. This money they feel could, and will, fund terrorism against the US,” she said. However, she cautioned against expecting anything dramatic.

“In contrast to Europe, what George Bush’s speech reflects is that there is no question of changing lifestyles in the US,” she said. “It is only about finding new energy that isn’t so politically costly that can maintain this lifestyle. People can keep buying the SUVs [sports utility vehicles] but they can run them on ethanol instead.”

When Bush has the occasional, inevitable sensible thought in his head, I wonder: does it feel lonely?

Moving on.

Unsettling Ingredients List


Sinking to a scatological level, I pass on this story to you:

Mick Woods soon lost his appetite when he opened a packet of ham - and found “dog shit” listed among the ingredients. […] “Obviously I haven’t eaten it. It sort of puts you off.”


States list of ‘critical assets’ trimmed


When you think of homeland assets which need to be protected from terrorism, what do you think of? Energy production? Sure. Transportation? Quite. Water supply? Definitely! Donuts? Eh?

A decision by emergency-management officials to keep a watchful eye on food-production facilities resulted in critical-asset designations for Sprouts Unlimited Inc., a vegetable producer in Marion; Snappy Popcorn Co. in Breda; and a Krispy Kreme drive-through in Clive.

“Food-borne illnesses, whether they’re naturally introduced or terrorist-introduced, are of a concern,” Miller said. “It is a method of attack that the terrorists have at least given some thought to.”

Some observers said it is futile and wasteful to try to protect every facility that makes a doughnut or raises a steer.

You think?

Bee said 1,360 critical assets “is way too high” for Iowa.

“If you have more than 50, 100 max, you’re kidding yourself,” he said.

Pilot Dumps Drunk Man on Island


A drunken air passenger was cast away on an island more than 1,000 miles from home after abusing cabin staff.

The unidentified man swore at crew and passengers after being refused a bottle of wine on the four-hour flight from Manchester to Tenerife.


I feel for the crew and passengers. Sounds like this fellow was a piece of work. But you’ve got to love their first attempt to calm him down:

“He was given the chance to calm down and he declined it. He was given a form, a caution for his behaviour, and he refused to sign it.”
Does that usually work for them?


That’s actually all the news I can take at the moment. Weee-heee!

Tech Tags:
Posted by James at 10:02 AM | Comments (4)

Tony "Soul Patch" Almeida

Tony Almeida
Tony Almeida


Which 24 Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by James at 12:09 AM | Comments (7)