May 31, 2006

Hot Mom

Over the Memorial Day weekend (which was very busy) at one point we found ourselves in the mall parking lot. I saw an approximately 16-year-old boy get out of a car with his mother.

He had a long T-shirt on that read across the chest: “I LOVE HOT MOMS.

I couldn’t imagine being a 16 year old boy and wanting to wear that shirt, never mind wearing it out with my mom. Nor could I imagine being a parent walking around with my son wearing it.

However, it only occurred to me this morning that maybe that wasn’t his mom.

Posted by James at 7:50 AM | Comments (15)

May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day, the day we in the States observe to commemorate those who have died in military service to our country. I’m sitting here with M as we await the parade which comes up the street on the way to the ceremony at the VFW.

Those who commit to military service do not only suffer and die on the battlefield. NECN is running a documentary this week entitled Hidden Wounds. Among the stories told in this documentary is the tale of Jeff Lucey, whose family appeared on Keri’s show on WSAR on Friday. From the page I linked:

And, it spotlights Jeff Lucey of Belchertown, MA who joined the Marine Reserves as a high school senior in 1999. He spent a year as a truck driver in Iraq, returning home in 2003. He drank heavily and became increasingly despondent. His parents tried to get the Veterans Administration to commit him and treat him for post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) but the VA refused to do so until Jeff Lucey stopped drinking. He committed suicide at age 23. His parents are now activists trying to ensure adequate government funding for PTSD treatment.

While you’re enjoying the day, think about those that have served our country. And think about those who need our help when they return from where we have sent them.

Posted by James at 10:26 AM | Comments (2)

May 27, 2006

Pat Robertson Could Kick Your Rump

Word on the street is that Pat Robertson is a stone cold weight lifting machine, and he’s got the legs of Steve Austin.

The Christian Broadcasting Network website is running a story which claims that Robertson trained himself to lift 2,000 lbs. The AP was supplied with a photo supposedly documenting the feat.

However, not everybody is a true believer.

Clay Travis of CBS SportsLine.com called the 2,000-pound assertion impossible in a column this week, writing that the leg-press record for football players at Florida State University is 665 pounds less.

Clay Travis, you will pay dearly for your skepticism. Pat Robertson is coming for you, and he’s got his steel-toed boots on!

Posted by James at 9:44 AM | Comments (12)

May 26, 2006

Disaster Area Shotgun

  • Cosmic Fozmik (game, flash)
    • Don’t hit the stuff. Move to the music.
  • Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers (video, music, funny, art)
    • Some people break into appartments to burgle. Others do so for more rhythmic reasons.
  • A Barrel Roll while Pouring Iced Tea (physics, video, fun, aviation)
    • VIdeo shows that doing a barrel roll in an aircraft does not prevent you from simultaneously serving a refreshing summer beverage.
  • Sneak Out of Work Right Now - Forbes.com (article, productivity, work)
    • An article on the importance of laziness.
  • stonefridge on Flickr (photos, wtf, art)
    • Looks like someone built their own version of Stonehenge… with refrigerators!
  • Philips Bodygroom (advertising, commercial, funny, viral)
    • Hilarious approach to selling men on the idea of shaving their… er, parts.
  • Thanks. No. (email, tools, internet)
    • Plagued by impersonal emails? Someone’s created this domain to help you out.
  • Robot Chicken: Darth calls the Emperor (animation, funny, humor, scifi, starwars, video)
    • Darth Vader calls the Emperor after the Death Star is blown up. Old Bob Newhart telephone skits must have partly inspired this.

Weight Graph

Posted by James at 1:22 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006

A Mother Shot in New Bedford

The New Bedford Standard Times is reporting a tragic story this evening of a woman who has been shot to death in her home on Ash street.

About 1 p.m., a man neighbors identified as David P. DePina, the victim’s husband, leaned against his car and howled in anguish.
His son, David “Crunchy” Depina II, 23, was arraigned Monday in connection with the Sunday slaying of Justin M. Barry, 20, who police say was shot 10 times.

Retaliation? A horrible cycle of violence becomes even more tragic.

Posted by James at 5:31 PM

Summer Mix Heads Up

That’s right, it’s SUMMER MIX TIME

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to put together your 2006 summer mix tape.

Think of the music you like. Think of the summer. Over this weekend and next week, think about what songs would comprise your perfect summer mix. Keep the mix under 80 minutes (you don’t have to fill the whole 80). If you need to estimate, songs are usually somewhere between 2.5 and 5.5 minutes long. Somewhere around 4.

As soon as the list is complete, send it along to me (or post it to the comments on this entry).

I will take all your mix lists and post them next Thursday so that everyone can see the music that gets you geared up for “Summer 2006.”

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

May 24, 2006

Lebanese Osculation Overdrive

Patti just sent me this story from the Boston Globe:

Lebanese-Americans scoff at explanation of behavior

The short version: a Lebanese-American doctor who is the president of Caritas Christi HCS in Boston (Robert M. Haddad) has been criticised by female employees for improper physical contact including kissing them on the lips.

His explanation is that it is an extension of his Lebanese upbringing.

I know lots of Lebanese Americans. I’m half Lebanese myself. Yes, we like to hug each other. Within our families we are very affectionate. We hug. We kiss on the cheek. But to say that kissing a female stranger on the lips is an extension of your Lebanese upbringing is extreme spinning. It’s a fabrication. I am offended by his attempt to pawn off his improper behavior on my heritage. The clumsy attempt to do so makes his behavior all the more slimy and leads me to believe he has a serious problem.

The believability of his claim is summarized well by Leila Fawaz, a specialist on Arabic culture and professor of history at Tufts University:

“Mediterranean people are more demonstrative in general, but he has been in this country how many years?” she finally asked.

“Oh, forget it,” she said, when told that Haddad, 52, was born and raised in Medford. “I never met someone from any Lebanese background, here or abroad, who would kiss a woman he doesn’t know on the lips, so this is very bizarre.”

Dr. Haddad, to quote the Georgia Satellites, “don’t tell me no lies and keep your hands to yourself.”

Posted by James at 3:08 PM | Comments (7)

Good Job!

It occurs to me that I might have read something like this article before:

Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”

But I don’t recall exactly where. What I do know is that when I hear other parents put on a voice (I don’t think they realize how their voice sounds) and praise their kids, it makes me cringe. Even worse, I’ve found that I’ve taken it to doing it myself. I think I can attribute it to laziness on my part. Partly for lack of understanding my children at times, I’ve fallen into this same behavior which we hear all the time and, on some level, it seems right.

But when I have told my kids “good job!” for certain things, I have had a little twinge inside of myself that I couldn’t precisely identify.

I think I can identify it now.

Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as “sugar-coated control.” Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done — or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people.

Is it possible that praise can be damaging?

The article goes into a lot more detail, and it’s a worthy read. But just so you don’t get the wrong idea from my post (in case you skip the article) the point isn’t that we are too generous with our praise. It’s about the effect of this sort of praise vs. what children need rather than praise.

Patronizing praise heaped on children particularly strikes a sour note on my ears. In case it is hard for you to imagine how praise can be a problem, imagine that your boss has asked you to print out agendas for everybody the next time you call a meeting. Then, the next time you show up at a meeting and start handing out the sheets, your boss spends 5 minutes praising you for doing such a good job using the printer. A simple “thank you” would have been enough, and enduring 5 minutes of “good job” is going to make you feel like an idiot. Even if it is well-meaning.

In fact, I know I have heard adults use praise on other adults in ways that have baffled me. This is particularly true with patronizing praise. As an adult, it’s easier for me to identify it as partly bullshit. How confusing it must be for children.

I feel the need to reread the article so that it sinks in. In some ways, the point it makes is a subtle one. But in a more general sense, the point is to think more about your interactions with children (and adults, while you’re at it).

Posted by James at 12:06 AM | Comments (7)

May 23, 2006

Notafox

We were in a meeting today and Stephen wandered out of the room into the hallway, where he could see through the window.

“A fox,” he exclaimed. “In the daytime.” I wanted to see it, of course, so I jumped from my chair and darted to his side. He indicated where the fox was and I looked at where he was pointing.

“Wow,” I said. “That’s a pretty big f… um, that’s a coyote, not a fox.” The coyote trotted along the side of the house. I rushed to the front window in time to see it emerge from the side yard and disappear into a nearby tiny wooded area. The coyote had a distinct air about him as though he owned the place. Not skittish or careful like a fox, and not sloppy like a domestic dog.

Haven’t seen a lot of wild turkeys around lately…

Posted by James at 11:48 PM | Comments (9)

May 22, 2006

Heads Up: Deadwood Season 2

You might not see much of me in the next few days. It’s going to be tough to get me away from the DVD player.

Deadwood, Season 2 is being released on DVD tomorrow, and I’ve got the first three discs coming via Netflix.

Posted by James at 5:59 PM | Comments (3)

Click, click, click

First, they were just wiretapping a few people. Then you heard that they were collecting phone call information from pretty much everybody, but they swore they weren’t listening in.

Get the feeling they’re just trying to get you used to the idea? Next:

Instead, the N.S.A. began, in some cases, to eavesdrop on callers (often using computers to listen for key words) or to investigate them using traditional police methods. A government consultant told me that tens of thousands of Americans had had their calls monitored in one way or the other. “In the old days, you needed probable cause to listen in,” the consultant explained. “But you could not listen in to generate probable cause. What they’re doing is a violation of the spirit of the law.” One C.I.A. officer told me that the Administration, by not approaching the FISA court early on, had made it much harder to go to the court later.

According to Seymour Hersh’s column, listening in on people has an addictive quality to it. Well, not exactly, but in an organization that was very serious about following the law, once the boundaries had been pushed and they didn’t go to the FISA court to get permission, their actions made it harder to get approval later.

Don’t worry, though. If you’re not a terrorist you shouldn’t care that the government is listening in.

Hat tip to Carpetbagger and to Erik.

Posted by James at 5:19 PM

Weekend Roundup: Hedge, Game, FTF

Friday Night

On Friday night I had to get home to watch the girls so Maggie could do some errands. Circumstances intruded, however, and Maggie babysat a neighbor’s little boy (their daughter had to be rehydrated at the hospital because of intestinal woes) and did the errands while I took the girls out to see “Over the Hedge.” Called in to Keri’s show for the “under the bus” segment and let the girls throw a classmate or two under the bus.

“Over the Hedge” was decent. Nothing really to write home about, and the kids enjoyed it.

Saturday

Maggie and K had their canoe trip, which is a story in and of itself.

M and I went on one of the errands Maggie was not able to complete the night before: retrieving “Disney Dollars” from the Disney Store. Sadly, I also failed in this quest. Apparently, Disney Dollars are hard to come by.

M and I decided to lift our spirits by attempting tow geocaches roughly in the Taunton area. No luck on either of them, as I seem to stink at micro caches (very, very small geocaches). However, we did get incredible pictures form one of the sites. Apparently, Freetown is erecting a monument to the armed forces and civil servants. The dramatic centerpiece is a Cobra attack helicopter.

Amazing how much fun you can have not finding geocaches sometimes. But the next day was more dramatic.

Saturday Afternoon

It was Game Dinner time at the Tiverton Rod and Gun club. With Bob S., Bull, Bull’s brother-in-law Scott, Uncle Bill , and a young fellow who works with Uncle Bill. There was a big tent, but we got there a little late. Bob and I followed Uncle Bill on a circuitous route through south Fall River in search of money and (I think) beer.

By the time we got to the club, things were in full swing. On the menu: venison, bear, boar, pheasant, frog, rabbit, buffalo, ram. Unlike the game dinners I remember form my youth, we were not inundated with stews and pies. There was fettucini, chili, sausage, stir fry, meatloaf, roast, casserole and other palatable dishes. For the vegetarian, the lonely succotash. The on and off rain was not much of a a deterrent.

After dinner we took a walk through the 3D archery target range while Uncle Bill and Bob took some practice. Bull got into the act as well. This range contained life-like 3D targets shapes like animals ranging in size from bears to bobcats. We mused about the possibility of a Yankees Lineup 3D course. Uncle Bill wanted to exempt Jeter from it, but he didn’t get much support on that.

We got to see one arrow explode while trying to navigate some trees. And one odd tree in the middle of the range which had about 25 arrows inexplicably stuck in it about 30 feet up.

Sunday

The girls wanted to geocache, and so we started with a bang. I noticed that a new cache had been hidden in our neighborhood. Sadly, it was in a spot I had hoped to use, but I hoped that if we got out there quickly, we could be the first to retrieve it. The girls had their quickest prep time ever as we zoomed off.

Sure enough, K spotted it right where i had planned to hide mine and we had our first team “First To Find” (FTF) thanks to K. An “FTF” is an oft-coveted goal of the avid cacher. This was the first time we’d ever been first to a cache.

Some swans at the site provided an additional diversion.

That was the highlight of our geocaching day, though we found three more later on. The girls convinced me to stop at Friendly’s for lunch, but after a long wait without even getting to order, we realized they were short-handed. I told the waitress that one of the other people waiting to be seated could have our table, we scooted out for Wendy’s and went about our day.

The final cache of the day was the “haunted” National Guard armory in New Bedford. A clever micro there turned out to be lucky for us, and lucky we found it quickly because the girls were spooked. The claimed to hear banging and voices on the other side of the heavily-chained door.

Additional Links:

Images from the weekend start here in my Flickr photostream.

Posted by James at 8:19 AM

May 20, 2006

May 18, 2006

Deluge Week Shotgun

  • “Lazy Ramadi” SNL Remix… (video, funny, humor)
    • One of the best “Lazy Sunday” remixes courtesy of some folks in the US Army.
  • The Free Information Society - Historical Sounds in MP3 Format (audio, history, reference, mp3, sound)
    • Listen to sounds that made history!
  • Homemades - Super Soaker Central (howto, diy, fun, toy)
    • Make your own high-power water pistols. For good, clean backyard summer fun!
  • IceShotGlasses - ElephantStaircase (alcohol, drink, howto, recipes)
    • “Shape of - an ice shot glass!” These are instructions for cheaply making your own little drinking glasses composed entirely of frozen water. Fun if you like to drink your Gatorade really cold.
  • String Avoider (flash, fun, game)
    • Unique game in which you control a piece of string. Get it through the maze without touching the sides.
  • Finger Dress-Up (photos, humor, fun, funny, art)
    • I don't know why these photos really amused me. Some person using their finger as a dress-up doll.
  • Wrecked Exotics (cars, photo, fun)
    • No, not dancers. Cars. This site is depressing to all those folks who love exotic vehicles, because all the pix of cars on this site are rather smashed up. Like rubbnecking at an accident. But without the traffic.
  • Heavens-Above! (astronomy, science, reference, space)
    • Use the tools at Heavens Above to find out where and when you can see objects like satellites flying through the sky above your hometown. It's free and a good excuse to get someone to sit out in the dark with you on a clear night somewhere.
  • Straight Fitness - Getting A Toned Body The Right Way (fitness, health)
    • The myth of “toning” is taken on. The short version: low body fat and more muscle = being toned. There’s nothing special you need to do other than that. Not that it’s easy. But don't let infomercials lead you to believe otherwise.
  • Singing Japanese Diaper Guys (japanese, wtf, video, humor)
    • This looks like it must be from a kids show. Bizarre. Japanese. Musical. Diaperiffic.

My erratic Weight Graph

Posted by James at 1:47 PM | Comments (5)

Angel of Death, At Your Cervix

A new post on Thing of Ugly.

Making me pretty angry. Keeping me up late. Read it and fume along with me, why don’t you?

Posted by James at 3:31 AM | Comments (2)

May 17, 2006

Highway To Heck?

I saw a couple of references to a barely-interesting story today. Some Wiccans adopted a highway in North Carolina.

They’re pagans and, apparently, they want to keep the highway clean. So they adopted it. Time to trot out the ignorant reactions:

“I’m not for it if it’s got anything to do with witchcraft,” resident Mildred Bumgardner said.
Resident Cody Sams said, “They should change the name or something.”

By the way, he means the Wiccans should change their name, not Ms. Bumgardner.
If you’re like Mildred Bamgardner, you don’t buy the story that the pagans are trying to do something nice. This is all part of a Wiccan agenda.

I guess that’s news. A group does something, ignorant people respond… ignorantly. And so the story has something for everyone. It’s somewhat tiring. But I find intolerant ignorance tiring.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pro-Wiccan. Unless by “pro-Wiccan” you mean “pro-people-allowed-to-worship-any-way-they-like.” Which, of course, includes pagans and Wiccans and what-have-you. I am pro “religious diversity.” I’d much rather see many different religions out there in the marketplace of ideas, duking it out to create the best society. And I’d include the non-religious in there as well, contributing their perspective. Christianity alone (as one part of the religious-world tapestry) is a lot richer for its internal differences and would really suffer if it didn’t have groups like the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Unitarian Universalists under their umbrella.

By “duking it out” I don’t mean looking to see who comes out on top. I mean the ideas must combine in a way in which the compromise benefits us all.

What initially prompted me to post this, however, was my reaction to this bit:

Miller insists that her group does nothing more than cast spells and experiment with herbal magic.
“We don’t worship the devil, we don’t believe in the devil,” she said. “We’re not Satanists.”

Can you guess what sort of problem I had with this? No, it wasn’t the reference to herbs and spells. Worship however you like. Experiment all you like.

What bothers me is that Miller feels the need to tell us that they’re not Satanists. Why pick on Satanists? Is this some effort to say “Hey, Christians, we’re on your side! We don’t like those Satanists either!” If it is, it’s not going to work. A lot of those people believe that if you’re not a Christian, you’re with Satan no matter what you call yourselves. Athiests are Satanists, too, and I even have people telling me that agnostics are religious. In their twisted view. You can’t make the ignorant people happy. Don’t try. It just makes you look silly and say silly things.

I don’t really blame Ms. Miller, though. For all I know she’s giving us this info in answer to some questions put to her. I’m sure she gets accused of being a Satanist all the time and gets sick of it. It’s natural to want to be accepted for what you are, and admirable to have the guts to stand up against some pretty organized (if ignorant) opposition. It’s admirable to try to dispel a little ignorance. And there’s some dramatic and sensitive history there between Wiccans and Christians. The whole persecution thing. And burning.

But if someone accused me of being a Satanist, I think I might have trouble keeping myself from laughing. The fact that these folks can’t fit the larger world into their belief system without turning other religions into what seems to me to be cartoon versions of themselves is laughable, pitiable and worthy of derision.

But thank goodness for Satanists, without whom we’d never be able to say things like “But, we’re not Satanists” and “What if a Satanist wanted a holiday display right next to the manger on town property?”

Posted by James at 2:19 PM | Comments (4)

May 16, 2006

Town Meeting Madness

For the most part, Somerset’s town meeting last night went quite well. I won’t go into details but a number of helpful articles were passed, there was some drama over personal vendettas, a couple of the votes were close enough to come to standing counts and a good time was had by all.

There were nearly always people voting on both sides of an issue, especially early in the evening when the building was full. We started out with (I estimate) between 400 and 500 people there. That number shrinks as it gets late and “interesting” articles have already had their votes.

When it got really late, there were a few procedural votes that had no opposition (i.e. votes to move a question from here to there on the agenda, or votes to move to a vote immediately).

But early on we had to vote on whether we would accept some money from the state to assist in repairs to our sewer system. This was a vote simply to say “yes” to money we’d asked for that the state was offering. “Yea” to receive the state money.

It actually got a few “no” votes from the back of the room. I have to guess there is a “Coalition For Deterioration of our Sewer System” or the “Say No To State Money” brigade. Or just some citizens drunk with the power of small town democracy.

So that’s why they don’t allow alcohol at those meetings.

Posted by James at 2:38 PM | Comments (13)

Online Education Marches On

At the University of Massachusetts, administrators knew from the beginning that there was an adult market that wanted and would pay for a brand name. “We really understand our audience,” said Jack M. Wilson, the president of the university, who started the online venture in 1999. “Students are very different when they are older.”
From a Washington Post Article.

It’s great to see the progress. But I feel compelled to point out that before the program was called “UMass Online” both UMass Dartmouth and UMass Lowell were delivering excellent online courses in 1996.

Under the direction of Greg Stone at UMass Dartmouth and Steve Tello in Lowell, long before Columbia U and NYU launched their ill-fated programs, the University of Massachusetts was delivering for-credit courses to people all over the globe.

Personal disclosure: Greg Stone is my father-in-law, and I taught one of the early non-credit intro courses on the subject of Online Interpersonal Communications. My wife taught a number of web design courses. I regularly met with the “Cyber-Ed” (as it was called then) team to discuss issues of distance learning, and they made connections across the globe with experts in distance learning.

It’s gratifying to see that online distance learning is happening in the way we all thought it could. But Greg Stone deserves a lot of credit for fighting to get UMass out in the front of that wave even when there was not much support for the idea. Online education at UMass Dartmouth started with Greg, and it wasn’t until later that the university system caught on. Thanks to Greg’s and Steve’s efforts.

Posted by James at 12:36 PM | Comments (4)

Not-so-wonderful Spam

In the last few days, Aces Full has been the target of an unusually persistent comment spam attack. Most are getting blocked, but a significant amount are getting through.

And as I find them, I delete and block the new ones.

So I just wanted to let you know that if you see comments from people named “spanking videos” or “get acyclovir and cialis” it’s the spammers and not my friends.

Spanking videos, acylcovir and Cialis? That sounds like a party to which I’d rather not be invited.

Posted by James at 9:17 AM | Comments (2)

Alarming Fact About Kids

I don’t know if it’s just our kids, or kids in general, but I have noticed something.

Kids get a lot of electronic toys nowadays. And in addition to the toys, we give them a lot of the little electronic gadgets that have been sitting around the house unused for many years. A calculator here. An electronic datebook there.

And everyone who makes a toy or an electronic gadget seems to build a clock with an alarm into it.

And somehow, kids have an uncanny instinct for repeatedly setting the alarm to go off in the middle of the night and wake your ass out of bed. Lately, I’ve been fooling them by not sleeping until really, really late. So when an alarm goes off at 11:45pm - HA! I was already awake.

My suggestion to the school system is to somehow harness this innate ability to set any electronic alarm and leverage it in fulfilling the purpose of our educational system. Which is, of course, to make kids experts at standardized tests. Har.

Posted by James at 9:07 AM | Comments (2)

May 15, 2006

You and James Read the News



It’s the news! Run!

Did anyone else catch that opening skit on SNL over the weekend? It was Al Gore (really, Al Gore) pretending to be POTUS in an alternate reality. He gave a very funny address to the nation about immigrants, glaciers (on the attack!), steroid use… it was one of the funniest skits of the season. For a guy who is supposed to be stiff, he’s got a great sense of humor. Instead, we got stuck with A stiff for president.

Crooks and Liars has got a link to it (watch it before it’s gone! ™ )

What part of “lockbox” don’t you understand? Sorry, California.

A future with no bananas?


It’s possible. Bananas have lost their genetic diversity, which makes them vulnerable to disease. And a disease has stepped up to the plate to become the one that erases bananas from the planet. Will your grandchildren come to you with questions when they see old Bugs Bunny cartoons with banana peels?


Secure the Borders


Bush is going to suggest sending thousands of troops to secure the Mexican border against the influx of immigrants.

My comment is only a peripheral one, in response to Bill Frist:

“We’ve got to secure our borders,” Frist said on CNN. “We hear it from the American people. We’ve got millions of people coming across that border. First and foremost, secure the border, whatever it takes.

Do you mean even if it takes raising taxes, Senator Frist? I have a feeling that’s not what the President will be saying in his address to the nation. You nutty Republicans!

Hey, I have a better plan for solving the immigration problem, and I bet we can get conservatives to agree to it. Let’s pass a law to extend Bush’s presidency another two terms. But the time we endure another decade of Dubya the country will be in such poor shape that people will be fleeing to Mexico. And with all the new surveillance, we’ll know when each of them leave about a week before they themselves know.

Karl Rove, Indicted?


Talk on this subject is heating up like Colonel Sanders with the bird flu. There is a lot of new speculation that Rove is on the very verge of indictment. At the moment, from where I sit, it just looks like wishful thinking. Granted, it seems more realistic every day, but still wishful thinking. But “be prepared,” I say. It’s time to take bets on what you think the Fox News headline will be when they cover the indictment. Here are your main choices of how the Rover indictment will be reported:

  1. Patrick Kennedy Investigation Continuing
  2. Bush Look-alike To Speak After Televised Address
  3. Karl Rove Takes Court-Recommended Vacation

I still think you’ll never get to see the frog-march you wanted to see. But still.

Kiss Your Allergies Goodbye


Metro.co.uk reports that a 30 minute session of kissing can reduce the body’s reaction to pollen. Considering that it’s a really bad year for allergies, this may be especially welcome news.

For those of you who have friends that don’t read Aces Full of Links, be sure to spread this news by word of mouth.


Posted by James at 2:13 PM | Comments (2)

Pitter-patter

Ever notice how the pitter-patter of rain at night can sound like other things?

Last night I was up really late working on something and by the time I got to bed I was a little dizzy. But I swear I could hear a voice talking to me through the sounds of all the rain. Unfortunately, it was either mumbling, or I was not listening close enough. Maybe my hobbies have been too much on my mind, but the voice seemed to be telling me about a recipe, and a craft project.

The recipe was weird. It had rabbit, lamb, chicken, duck, and pears. Definitely a meat-heavy dish, with some pretty gamy ingredients. I mean, oxen? And the only other ingredient was pears. Pears, goat, pears, geese, pears… oh my god — now that I think of it “horses” was one of the ingredients!

Unfortunately, I fell asleep during the craft project description. Something about a yacht. Or maybe it was a bark. Anyhow, some sort of model of a boat or something.

Weird, eh? I wonder if anyone else has ever had a similar experience.

Posted by James at 1:21 PM | Comments (19)

May 12, 2006

Naked Men Shotgun

I haven’t seen a heck of a lot of links lately that I felt like passing on. Truth is, I haven’t had much coherent websurfing time. And with so much going on politically, both locally and nationally it’s tough not to turn the blog into either a dump of story links; there’s no time to comprehensively post about everything.

Enough excuses. Here are four entertaining links.

You know, too many links lately are just videos. The new video hosting revolution is upon us. Where are all the really funny Japanese animations nowadays?

[Update: Oops. Forgot the weight info. Here is my current graph.]

Posted by James at 1:38 PM | Comments (4)

May 11, 2006

Bill Threatens Coverage of Chronic Patients

[…] health advocates worry about the long-term effects this bill will have on citizens nationwide, as it would preempt state guarantees of coverage for health benefits such as mammography, cancer screenings, emergency care, mental health services, and diabetes supplies and education. [Emphasis mine] The bill would allow any insurer to sell health policies that bypass state consumer protections requiring coverage for cancer screenings and treatments, diabetes supplies and education, well-child care and immunizations, maternity care, emergency services, and mental health care.

Have you heard about Senate bill 1995, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2006?

You can read more about it on Consumer Help Web, and it behooves you to do so if you are at all concerned with your state’s ability to regulate the health care of its residents. And if you care about the coverage of the older and sicker in our society, and whether they are able to get equal treatment by employers.

Here’s what the American Diabetes Association says:

In addition to the damage S.1955 does to existing state coverage requirements, the rating provisions in S.1955 allow health insurance premiums for small business owners to rise substantially simply because the business employs an individual(s) with diabetes or other condition. This will make people with diabetes less desirable employees and difficult to insure at an affordable rate. Essentially, it’s discrimination by diagnosis.

I’m just finding out about this from a friend at EAForums, so I’m still reading about it. But my first reaction is to wonder why we can’t have a more comprehensive approach to solving the health care problem? It seems like the reluctance to take the problem on head on has lead to misguided attempts, like this, for the federal government to take more control without solving the central problem. More control without a solution seems to be more authoritarianism with no benefit.

Posted by James at 12:35 PM | Comments (9)

May 10, 2006

Weekend Roundup

Friday Night Comics

Maggie was guest-hosting a monthly social get-together of 11 neighborhood women for their regular game night, so I picked up the kids from their grandparents in Westport and we stopped for comic books on the way home at StillPoint in Somerset.

Friday is hopping there, as they host various card and role playing games in the side room. It’s weird, because when I was growing up, this building was the post office, and now it’s all filled with comics and games. The girls picked out some comics and Corey appeared. He reminded us that Saturday was “free comics day” and that we should come back and get some free comics the next day. We told him we would.

When we got home I tried not to disturb the women-folk. I lured the kids up to the office where we watched a Star Wars: Clone Wars animated DVD. I think the next time we watch animation together we’ll try to draw some as well.

Saturday Afternoon Adventures

Free Comic Book Day! After a brief workout, and when Maggie brought K back from their Girl Scout activity, I asked the girls to suit up for adventure.

We swung by StillPoint which was now literally filled with patrons. The girls were able to choose 3 free comics each (and the available free ones were decent titles, including great kids titles). They chose “Owly,” “Donald Duck,” and “Amelia Rules!” and off we zipped to parts unknown.

Well, unknown to the kids, anyway. The plan was to take them on the first decent afternoon of geocaching this year.

Profile for DrMomentum

The girls and I headed to two geocaches near and around Fall River, MA.

One of them presented us with an odd sight. Behind a small restaurant was an abandoned building. We trekked a little distance into the woods and found some strange sights.

Among the trees, there were funny posts sticking up from the ground at odd intervals, with small, flat, horizontal surfaces at the tops of the poles. A strange metal corkscrew-shaped object about the size of a pickup truck tire. There was chicken wire all around. miniature wooden structures were rotting and falling apart all around us.

After we found the cache we realized, this place was a miniature golf course at one time! It must have been a decade ago, because it was completely overgrown. The amusement attraction must have been abandoned and slowly reclaimed by the woods.

We set off from there toward the Watuppa. I had chosen the shortest distance to the next cache, not realizing that the rode from here to there was, well, was no longer a road. We encountered the worst road we’d ever seen, far worse than our previous worst-road-experience. On previous forays on poorly-maintained roadways, we were always able to handle the terrain with our family’s Saturn. In the worst cases I was forced to swerve and avoid giant potholes. Little did I know that a road could sink even lower.

Literally. This “road,” (known as Copicut Road, and only available on maps which have not been updated since this road disappeared) had potholes that were over 18 inches deep went from one shoulder to the other.

The Jeep was able to handle the rolling surface, sometimes dropping more than two feet into large holes which were filled with mud and dirty water. The stuff splashed onto the sides of the Jeep and onto the hood as the girls screamed their exaggerated reactions and rolled their windows up. At least twice I thought I was about to get stuck — the Saturn would have been in serious trouble.

After a few miles, we found our way out on the other side where three trucks with motor bikes on them were parked. Either they were finishing up riding their bikes on the trails, or were considering using their bikes on the trails. A big sign proclaimed the activity to be illegal, as these are protected woods. They eyed us with a little suspicion. We drove a few hundred yards down another road and sought our cache there. One of the trucks suspiciously drove by, then down the road (I thought they might be fellow geocachers, so I sent M to a nearby bush as a lookout. They didn’t stop.

As we went back to our Jeep, however, I saw them stop about a quarter mile down the road, back up, turn around and come back.

There was a third cache up the trail they were hovering around, and when I parked on the corner across from them they seemed to decide it was time to leave. I was happy to wait until they were long gone before we proceeded to find the first stage of a multicache up that trail. K was the first one to spot the small container. But by now it was time to return home, so the rest of that cache will have to wait.


Saturday Night Vindaloo

We dropped the girls off with their grandparents and met with Julie and Keri. We hung out for a while solving the problems of the world and relaxing. It’s the first time we had a few moments out with friends but without the kids that I can remember having for a while. The kids are usually no problem, especially at home, but they do tend to get on edge when they are in unfamiliar surroundings, and it’s hard to relax when the kids are on edge.

Later, we headed for Thayer Street in Providence. I never knew there was a Cold Stone Creamery so close to home. It was mobbed with college students. We will have to return with the girls when school is over.

We walked past some of the dorms and noticed the remnants of a party in one of the windows. Liquor bottles were filled with what appeared to be artificially colored water, with a black light behind it. I should have snapped a picture.

We dined at Kabob and Curry. I was starving! Oddly, a wave of nervousness passed over me about the time we ordered. I think my body was having a hard time adjusting to not being around a computer and doing work.

The waiter was goofy; when we ordered mojitos he told us how good a choice it was. When Maggie ordered he said it was an excellent choice. My selection was also an excellent choice, which prompted Julie (I think) to ask “Are any of these choices bad?” I’m paraphrasing. But we were all wondering the same thing. Then we teased Keri because when she ordered her food, she was told it was a standard choice, whatever that means. He was a good-natured goof, anyhow.

The meal was a lot of fun. Conversation was easy and the food was good. It was great company.

When the meal was over, it looked like we were overpaying. We thought we needed a 20 broken up, and sent the waiter on that errand. He came back with 15 ones and a five, which ended up all going to Keri. I joked to her that she now had a Fall River gangster roll.

A post-prandial walk (I love having a chance to use that phrase) took us past some dorms. We noted that the party room had been cleaned up and a new party had commenced nearby. We tried to yell to some of the students, but I think they were too busy dancing.

At one point, Maggie exclaimed that a girl was half-naked in the next dorn room. I had already walked by and wasn’t looking. I wondered, was I supposed to go back and see for myself, or was this part of some sneaky test? In any case, with three women I was not about to go back and ogle a girl getting out of the shower. I kept walking.

The night was clear with a few moonlit clouds giving the sky texture. A star or two peeked through. People were out and about.

My wish for the summer is a lot more days like last Saturday. To balance the insanity that the last year of work has had to offer.

Posted by James at 3:24 PM | Comments (9)

May 9, 2006

Somerset Town Election

I’m pretty happy with the results of yesterday’s town election. It won’t mean much to most of my readers, as you’re not in Somerset, but here’s an article about it in the Herald.

A sensible selectman was sent back to office after having previously been voted out. We dodged a bullet with a certain attempt at consolidating power on the planning board. And I’m not unhappy with the rest of the results, but I won’t bore you.

Brian, see any familiar names? Might want to answer me off the board or in code to avoid someone Googling himself. Hint: he ran unopposed.

Posted by James at 3:13 PM | Comments (1)

20 Years Of Miscommunication

How long have you been using email?

I just realized I’ve been using it for over 20 years now.

I have been sending email for 20 years, and I know some of you have, too (because I was sending email to you back then). But I have most people beat. The first email I ever got from my later-to-become wife arrived over 20.5 years ago.

You would think I’d have mastered email by now. I think I’m fairly good at writing them, but I can still get pissed off reading a poorly written one. I don’t mean grammar or spelling, although those are important. I mean ones that are written too quickly without regard for how they will be interpreted.

Anyhow, 20 years is a long time.

Posted by James at 1:06 AM | Comments (10)

May 8, 2006

Senatorial LNG Deja-Vu and Other Politics

I can hardly keep up with politics nowadays. It seems like every time I turn around, someone else is mad at President Bush. And every time he hits a new low, he breaks through and his polls drop again.

That’s right - USA Today puts him at 31%.

I don’t know if it’s comedy or tragedy that I am forced to report that some people still insist that Bush’s low poll numbers have nothing to do with his incompetence. I guess they’d have us believe he’s a misunderstood genius. His administrative missteps are pearls thrown before us swine, and the media is thrall to some secret cabal pushing liberal interests. Ahhh, liberals. Republicans like to imagine that they control the entire government, but somehow everything else is controlled by liberals and that’s why it rained all weekend, or whenever.

LNG

I paraphrase:

No one would have believed in the last years of the twentieth century that this region was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences more avaricious than ours; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied. With infinite complacency people went to and fro over this SouthCoast about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. No one gave a thought to the other states of the union as sources of human danger. Yet across America, intellects greedy and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this coastal community with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twenty-first century came the great disillusionment.

Apologies to H.G. Wells.

Don’t zone out on me. All politics is local. That’s why I made sure to vote in the town elections on Monday, and why I’m finally going to town meetings and such. If you don’t (and maybe even if you do) you would not believe who is running your town. Remember that guy in high school who was scary-boring, not too bright, but somehow popular? Well don’t go to a town meeting if you don’t want to see him again. I’m just saying. But there are some pretty good folks there, too. That’s why you need to go. And see. And vote.

But here’s an interesting clash of local and national. For my regular readers, it’s deja-vu.

First, way back in last October, I ranted about a Texas Representative who was butting his nose into local politics, complaining about Fall River efforts to block LNG. A fairly coherent and amusing rant, if I do say so. Barton, the Texas representative, is a tool of the energy industry. #3 on the list of people who took the most money from big oil.

Next, we learned from Keri that Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma (the state, not the musical) had tried to get our old Brightman Street bridge demolished to make way for the LNG tankers. Inhofe is another energy industry tool. And pretty full of beliefs I characterize as “nutty.” He’d never get elected in MA, yet here he is trying to make decisions for us.

And finally, today, we learn that another faraway politician is in an uproar about how Fall River does not want the world’s biggest roman candle on the shores of the Taunton River. Craig Thomas, Republican (no kidding?) Senator of Wyoming (where?) has voiced his displeasure. And has introduced a bill to demolish the Brightman St. Bridge. Wyoming. It’s no wonder. A state with something like 16 people living in it doesn’t get the danger of siting an LNG facility in a city. That’s because they have never seen a city. The only significant thing in Wyoming is that place where the UFO in “Close Encounters” landed. And that didn’t even happen in real life.

What gives?

Ah. Thomas is #7 on the list of oil money takers. He’s behind Barton, but he can proudly say he took more money than Tom Delay, narrowly forcing Delay to the #8 spot. Look at all that campaign money! Well over half a million just from oil and electricity.

What do you think about all this interest in Fall River? I’m so glad we’re useful for something here in the SouthCoast. If we can help one corrupt Republican secure sleazy campaign contributions from big energy, then we’ve made a difference. And that’s something to be proud of.

I look to our delegation to fend off this new attack. Apparently, that bridge is a real thorn in the side of Hess LNG.

More later, undoubtedly.

Posted by James at 11:50 PM | Comments (3)

Limonata

Limonata Surprise!Some kind soul snuck some San Pellegrino Limonata into my fridge. It’s been probably a year since I’ve had the stuff, so it is a pleasant surprise.

I knew I should have become a graphology expert!

Posted by James at 11:55 AM | Comments (4)

Venom on the Move

Venom Up A Tree

(or: California is Big)

After a long hiatus in the pocket of a well-meaning but new-to-the-game geocacher, Fashion Victim Venom (travel bug #TBH8M2 ) is finally on the move again!

He’s traveled from Massachusetts to Florida (where he was photographed in an orange grove) then out to Nevada and now he’s in the area of San Francisco! He’s broken the state barrier, but he’s still about 470 miles away from Brian in the San Diego area. Ironically, in Las Vegas, he was only 300 or so miles away, so he’s “in state” but is moving away from BriWei! It’s all good. I expect he will get into the San Diego area soon enough. Brian, you’d better warm up that GPS receiver. It could be a matter of days now. No way to tell.

Part of the problem with Venom is that he’s a medium-to-large travel bug. So he is sometimes difficult to place in a cache. However, most caches I visit have room for a TB of his size, and, in fact, I created Venom from a toy I found in a cache in Dartmouth, MA.

I actually had to contact the fellow who was holding this travel bug and ask him to move it along. He responded to my email inquiries, which was a relief. I have to admit, I, too, have held on to a travel bug for too long. Last year when we experiences some tough professional and personal times, I stopped geocaching and I had collected 3 bugs. It was a couple of months before I got them back on their way.

So, life happens. But always try to tell the TB owners that their TB is OK if you’re holding one for more than a couple of weeks.

Additional details:

Posted by James at 8:16 AM | Comments (5)

May 5, 2006

1000 bags of Shotgun

  • The Easter Bunny Hates You (fun, funny, humor, video)
    • This is a hilarious look at what the Easter Bunny is doing all those other days of the year. Hint: he's not very nice. Saw this first on Keri's mySpace.
  • Things are tough all over (funny, photo, scifi)
    • Hard times for all segments of our society. Especially with all the outsourcing. (This is a joke only people up on the latest sci-fi entertainment will appreciate)
  • ABC.com: Full Episode Streaming (free, tv, video)
    • Now you can legally see episodes of Lost (and some other TV shows) if you miss the TV broadcast. Full streaming videos wiht a few commercial breaks via the internet. I would have preferred something I can download, but this is still an improvement over mi
  • CalorieLab: Free 1-click calorie counter and nutrition facts (diet, health, Food)
    • Find the calories in many foods. Tasting is better than finding, but finding comes in handy when you're counting.
  • The Cellular Squirrel (animals, social, technology, gadgets, robotics)
    • MIT Media Lab working on making agents that act as intermediaries between us and tachnology. This one is a squirrel.
  • Free Animation (animation, download, video)
    • Free animation torrents, and in video iPod format, too!
  • Flash Game - Ball Revamped 2 (flash, game)
    • This is a revamped version of an earlier Flash game. Guide the ball to the exit with the arrow keys. Addictive. Challenging.
  • Sourdough Home - An Exploration of Sourdough (cooking, howto, recipes, bread, food)
    • I've never made sourdough, but I've always wanted to. Now's as good a time as any, eh?
  • Nuclear Bunker Buster (RNEP) Animation (bush, politics, science, flash, animation)
    • Scientists explain why using a nuclear bunker buster in Iran would be bad. In animated form.
  • Cheney Easter (funny, humor, video, political)
    • Just the usual White House Easter.

Weight: 174.5 this morning. Still haven’t loaded my weight/calorie data to an online database.

Posted by James at 11:31 AM | Comments (2)

May 3, 2006

Auntie Toni

My extended family has recently suffered the loss of my wonderful great-aunt “Toni.” She was my Mom’s aunt, my grandmother’s sister. Her actual name was “Zachree Azar.” Today I spent some time with my family for her funeral mass.

When I say “extended family” it always sounds strange to me, because, growing up, we were all just one big family. We never said “extended family.” All the cousins were just always there and I didn’t even question know what the actual relationships were. Who was related to whom and how.

Anyhow, I love all of them. And I’ve been supremely lucky to have so many of them around for so long. I’m 38 and I still have great-aunts and great-uncles and my grandmother. They are all very strong people.

Many people who read my weblog know my cousin Bill - Toni was his grandmother. So, my heart goes out to his mom, and all of their immediate family, and wonderful Unce Joe. I’ll always remember the time Bill and I spent in Aunt Toni and Uncle Joe’s house when we were teenagers during the summer that Bill came back to Fall River.

When I was a little tyke, my Mom spent a lot of time with my aunts, and therefore I spent a lot of time around them. In a lot of ways, I have had a bunch of grandmothers. Aunt Toni and all of them treated us like princes.

My aunts were and are like a force of nature. Even now at their advanced age, their strong characters are irrepressible. Maybe even moreso now. Toni was the older sister, and she was as kind and as generous a person as you could ever meet.

We will miss you, Aunt Toni.

Posted by James at 5:28 PM | Comments (10)

May 2, 2006

Singin' In Spanish

I don’t care what anyone sings, nor in what language they sing it.

But apparently, the other day, Bush said that the National Anthem should only be sung in English.

I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.

Think Progress notes that Bush has, er, “changed his tune” since 2000:

[…]in his book American Dynasty, Kevin Phillips notes that during Bush’s first presidential campaign, he would often sing the national anthem in Spanish
.

Dear all you people who suddenly care about the language. If you voted for Bush, I guess you weren’t paying attention. As I said above, I couldn’t care less about this silly singing business. But the hypocrisy is pretty… what’s the word I’m looking for?… Surprising? No. Shocking? No. Typical? Yeah — that’s the one.

Posted by James at 3:19 PM | Comments (8)

May 1, 2006

Wellesley Peace Chalking Results In Arrest

Did you know it was illegal to draw peace signs on the sidewalk in chalk? I didn’t. And neither did some members of the Wellesley College Peace Coalition who:

spent the early evening scrawling onto the town center’s sidewalks peace signs and quotations from Mohandas K. Gandhi. Someone followed them back to their dormitory, copied down the license plate number of the car Smith was driving, and contacted Wellesley police, according to the police report.

It turns out that the chalking or “tagging” was against the law. The students were contacted that night and summoned back to the scene of the crime. The officer who confronted the girls told them to clean it up or else they’d be arrested. They agreed to clean it up but when they asked for more information about what law they had broken, he lost patience with the situation and went ahead and arrested them anyway.

Now, law enforcement and protecting public safety is difficult business. And I applaud the original attempt to let the students get off with a warning and cleaning up the chalk. But doesn’t it just make sense that students involved in a peace organization might want to know where they crossed the line and came afoul of the law? To arrest them for asking the question strikes me as out of proportion, at best. At worst it is the result of someone having a chip on his shoulder regarding college students, and perhaps is more interested in intimidation than in promoting good citizenship and adherence to the law through education.

I would give the benefit of the doubt to police in nearly any situation where public safety is concerned. But this was a bunch of chalk on a sidewalk. The police seem to have had the law on their side, but they didn’t seem to have good judgment to go along with it.

And, to the fine folks who turned in these naughty college students, some literature:

‘You’re a traitor!’ yelled the boy. ‘You’re a thought-criminal! You’re a Eurasian spy! I’ll shoot you, I’ll vaporize you, I’ll send you to the salt mines!’
Suddenly they were both leaping round him, shouting ‘Traitor!’ and ‘Thought-criminal!’ the little girl imitating her brother in every movement. It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters. There was a sort of calculating ferocity in the boy’s eye, a quite evident desire to hit or kick Winston and a consciousness of being very nearly big enough to do so. It was a good job it was not a real pistol he was holding, Winston thought.

Mrs Parsons’ eyes flitted nervously from Winston to the children, and back again. In the better light of the living-room he noticed with interest that there actually was dust in the creases of her face.

‘They do get so noisy,’ she said. ‘They’re disappointed because they couldn’t go to see the hanging, that’s what it is. I’m too busy to take them. and Tom won’t be back from work in time.’

Enjoy. You must be feeling pretty smug!

Posted by James at 1:21 PM | Comments (8)

Lazy Media Still Only Reporting The Negative On Iraq

Because reality has a well-known bias.

Take this story of fraud, costing American taxpayers billions of wasted dollars:

Billions wasted in Iraq, says US audit

While progress has been made in the construction of schools and police stations, many Iraqis still have no access to clean water, and electricity supplies in Baghdad are still below pre-invasion levels. The inspectors say that economic recovery is being hampered by the failure to restore Iraq’s oil production to levels before 2003.

The report says that corruption in the oil and gas sector is a continuing problem that could have “devastating effects” on reconstruction in Iraq. […]

Congress has approved $21bn for reconstruction since the invasion, of which 67% has been allocated. Precisely how much has been squandered is not known but the congressional team has been carrying out investigations and publishes quarterly reports. In the latest, it highlights the case of a US company which was given a contract to build 150 health centres in Iraq. Only six have been built, all in Baghdad, in spite of 75% of its allocated $186m having been spent. The report says the contractor will only complete a further 14. Last year the congressional team reported that almost $9bn in Iraqi oil revenues disbursed to ministries had gone missing.

Wrap your brain around that for a second. $21 billion to reconstruction. $14 billion of that has been allocated and (if this is at all representative) what the Iraqi people are getting for the American people’s money is an attempt to build 150 health centers using up 75% of nearly two hundred million and only building six of them. So, when someone tells you about the media not reporting how great it is that we built a hospital somewhere, keep in mind how that fits in with the story that the finances tell.

I won’t even ask you to wrap your brain around $9 billion completely unaccounted for. Because I can’t fathom it. And try not to think about what other uses that “gone missing” money could have been put to. Like education. Or health care. Over here.

You thought the Big Dig was bad?

(PS. Name that movie.)

Posted by James at 9:33 AM | Comments (4)

Americans To GOP: Vote Not For Sale

Following up on that $100 buy-your-vote plan that Bill Frist proposed, it was treated with derisive laughs this weekend on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” (and on The Keri Rodrigues Show WSAR on Friday, when some caller threw Frist “under the bus”).

And now the NYT notes that nobody is fooled by the ridiculous attempt to keep incumbents in office, proving that the American people have both a pulse and an IQ - and both were underestimated by the Republicans. Just mark Dr. Frist down for one more thing he’s not good at “diagnosing” from a distance.

The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks to voters to ease the burden of high gasoline prices is eliciting more scorn than gratitude from the very people it was intended to help. Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.

Speaking of the weekend shows, conspicuously absent from MSM reportage this weekend was any mention of the hilarious talk that Stephen Colbert gave at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. Follow that link because I’m calling it a “Must See” video this week.

Peter Daou writes a strong criticism of this phenomenon, noting that the media preferred to ignore the president’s reaction, and how flatly the crowd received Colbert’s mocking commentary on press corps coziness. I guess it’s tough to write “Colbert got us, but good!”

When you watch the (very compressed) video, try to read the almost nonexistent crowd reaction.

Posted by James at 9:23 AM | Comments (4)

Pure Air Popped Carbs

Dying to see pictures of an ancient air popper I inherited from my parents? Of course you are.

Click the picture for the beginning of the series of pictures highlighting this flashback from my childhood. It’s slightly time-ravaged and heat-yellowed and loud-as-heck. But it makes delicious popcorn.

(OK - air popped popcorn is really dry compared to other popcorn, but it’s a lot lower in calories.)

Posted by James at 12:15 AM | Comments (3)