November 30, 2006

James Barely Remembers: Music of the Mid-80's

Nothing like doing one of those meme things when you're blocked for blog posts. What else are blogs for, eh?

This one I grabbed from the excellent blog of Barry Leiba: Staring at Empty Pages. It has to do with what music you like from the year you turned 18.

Instructions:


Go to popculturemadness.com and select the year you became 18 [from the "Hits" list on the left]. Snip the top 50 songs from the list and paste it in your journal. Bold the ones you like and strike the ones you dislike, italic the ones you know but neither like nor dislike, and the ones you don't know will stay in normal text.

As Barry did, I included all 75 songs from the list, instead of the proscribed 50. And then I went one further and included 1984, the year I was 17, because I spent more time that year listening to pop music. By '85 I was moving on to other stuff. I have them here in reverse order ('85 and then '84 just because.)

What I learned


Not a whole helluva lot, except that I liked early Madonna more than I thought, I didn't like much pop music, what I remember and like from the 80's is apparently a very small percentage of the actual hits.
Continue reading if you're interested in my responses (I didn't want to blast both lists onto the main page; they're a little long)

On to the lists


  • I like the songs in bold.
  • I dislike the songs with strike-through.
  • I'm neutral about the songs in italics.
  • The songs in faded text are the ones I don't recall.


1985


1. We Built This City - Jefferson Starship
2. Smooth Operator - Sade
3. The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
4. Sea Of Love - Honeydrippers
5. Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams
6. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves
7. Into The Groove - Madonna
8. You Are My Lady - Freddie Jackson
9. Crazy For You - Madonna
10. The Bird - The Time
11. Relax - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
12. Everytime You Go Away - Paul Young
13. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
14. I Want To Know What Love Is - Foreigner
15. Careless Whisper - Wham!
16. Axel F - Harold Faltermeyer
17. Material Girl - Madonna
18. Roxanne, Roxanne - UTFO
19. All She Wants To Do Is Dance - Don Henley
20. Say You, Say Me - Lionel Richie
21. You're The Inspiration - Chicago
22. Through The Fire - Chaka Khan
23. Heaven - Bryan Adams
24. Freeway Of Love - Aretha Franklin
25. Jungle Love - The Time
26. All I Need - Jack Wagner
27. Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
28. Small Town - John Cougar Melloncamp
29. Meeting In The Ladies Room - Klymaxx
30. Take On Me - A-Ha
31. Dancing In The Street - Mick Jagger & David Bowie
32. The Old Man Down the Road - John Fogerty
33. Just A Gigilo - David Lee Roth
34. New Attitude - Patti LaBelle
35. Private Dancer - Tina Turner
36. Centerfield - John Fogerty
37. Lovin' Every Minute Of It - Loverboy
38. People Get Ready - Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart
39. Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
40. Rockin' At Midnight - The Honeydrippers
41. You Give Good Love - Whitney Houston
42. Dress You Up - Madonna
43. Cool It Now - New Edition
44. In My House - Mary Jane Girls
45. California Girls - David Lee Roth
46. Treat Her Like A Lady - Temptations
47. And We Danced - Hooters
48. Basketball - Kurtis Blow
49. Solid - Ashford and Simpson
50. Invincible - Pat Benatar
51. Wake Up (Next To You) - Graham Parker and the Shot
52. Your Love Is King - Sade
53. I Would Die 4 U - Prince
54. And She Was - Talking Heads
55. Running Up That Hill - Kate Bush
56. Everyday - James Taylor
57. Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
58. Jesse - Julian Lennon
59. You Spin Me - Dead Or Alive
60. All You Zombies - Hooters
61. (Don't You) Forget About Me - Simple Minds
62. Some Like It Hot - Power Station
63. The Heat Is On - Glenn Frey
64. The Oak Tree - Morris Day
65. Fresh - Kool and the Gang
66. Dancing In The Key Of Life - Steve Arrington
67. Can't Fight This Feeling - REO Speedwagon
68. Can You Feel The Beat - Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam With Full Force
69. Suddenly - Billy Ocean
70. Kayleigh - Marillion
71. Voices Carry - 'til Tuesday
72. Lover Come Back To Me - Dead Or Alive
73.Oo-Ee-Diddley-Bop! - Peter Wolf
74. One Night In Bangkok - Murray Head (or Robey)
75. We Are The World - USA for Africa



1984


1. Thriller - Michael Jackson
2. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
3. Footloose - Kenny Loggins
4. Like A Virgin - Madonna
5. Holiday - Madonna
6. I Can't Drive 55 - Sammy Hagar
7. Pride (In The Name Of Love) - U2
8. Jam On It - Newcleus
9. Legs - ZZ Top
10. What's Love Got To Do With It - Tina Turner
11. Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
12. Lucky Star - Madonna
13. Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen
14. Cruel Summer - Bananarama
15. She Bop - Cyndi Lauper
16. Let's Hear It For The Boy - Denise Williams
17. Teacher Teacher - 38 Special
18. Stay With Me Tonight - Jeffrey Osborne
19. Purple Rain - Prince
20. I Will Follow - U2
21. Miss Me Blind - Culture Club
22. I Feel For You - Chaka Kahn
23. Heart Of Rock and Roll - Huey Lewis and the News
24. Karma Chameleon - Culture Club
25. Let's Stay Together - Tina Turner
26. Eat It - Wierd Al Yancovic
27. Borderline - Madonna
28. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
29. Let's Go Crazy - Prince
30. Let The Music Play - Shannon
31. Cover Me - Bruce Springsteen
32. Holding Out For A Hero - Bonnie Tyler
33. Runaway - Bon Jovi
34. Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions
35. Somebody's Watching Me - Rockwell
36. Remember The Nights - The Motels
37. Jump - Van Halen
38. I Want A New Drug - Huey Lewis and the News
39. Bang Your Head (Mental Health) - Quiet Riot
40. 99 Luftballons - Nena
41. White Horse - Laid Back
42. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham
43. Mama We're All Crazee Now - Quiet Riot
44. Caribbean Queen - Billy Ocean
45. I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister
46. Jump (For My Love) - Pointer Sisters
47. Ya Mo Be There - James Ingram
48. Rebel Yell - Billy Idol
49. Against All Odds - Phil Collins
50. Better Be Good To Me - Tina Turner
51. Sister Christian - Night Ranger
52. 10-9-8 - Face to Face
53. Illegal Alien - Genesis
54. It's My Life - Talk Talk
55. Look At That Cadillac - Stray Cats
56. When Doves Cry - Prince
57. Hard Habit To Break - Chicago
58. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
59. Taking It All Too Hard - Genesis
60. No Parking (On The Dance Floor) - Midnight Star
61. Hot For Teacher - Van Halen
62. High Energy - Evelyn Thomas
63. Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me - Luthor Vandross
64. The Longest Time - Billy Joel
65. To All The Girls I've Loved Before - Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson
66. On The Dark Side - John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band
67. State of Shock - Jacksons and Mick Jagger
68. Missing You - John Waite
69. Midnight Maniac - Krokus
70. Blue Light - David Gilmour
71. Freakshow On The Dancefloor - Bar-Kays
72. A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing) - Romeo Void
73. You're The Best Thing - The Style Council
74. Love Kills - Freddie Mercury
75. Sex Shooter - Apollonia 6


Posted by James at 8:58 PM | Comments (37)

Things We Like: Veronica Mars

That’s the royal we, of course.

In an attempt to get a little more positive here at DrMomentum.com, periodic mini-reviews of things we (I) like. Why mini-reviews? Because actual reviews are hard to write. Since my media reviews leave something to be desired, I’m setting the bar low and aiming for that.

In any case: Veronica Mars. I think I watched half of the first episode when it first came out because of critical acclaim which preceded it and thought, bleh - another of those teeny bopper shows. A season and a half later, it was still getting praise, so I figured it was time to Netflix the DVDs.

What I found was that I hadn’t given it a fair shake. Yep - the first two seasons had more than their fair share of teenage angst storylines, but the strength in this story is that it has some good characters with interesting strengths and weaknesses, and a nifty story arc which took the whole season to resolve (each) in the first two seasons.

Responding to criticism about how it’s difficult to jump into the middle of this series, the writers have opted for shorter story arcs in the third season. This week saw the end of the first 3rd season story arc in a fairly exciting and well-timed action climax in which our heroine actually fails to find the serial campus rapist via her usual detective skills, but instead puts herself in jeopardy to save a potential victim (driven by the guilt of not acting sooner in the season, somewhat a la Peter Parker). Hazardous consequences ensue.

And, on top of that, Veronica changes her hairstyle. I’m not sure that’s relevant, but it was revealed dramatically in the first half of the episode, so I thought I’d mention it.

Yeah, this show is part teen soap opera. But there are middle-aged main characters, too. Like Veronica’s father, the ex-sheriff-turned-PI Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni, known in our family for his excellent performance as Mathesar in Galaxy Quest). Keith is my favorite character in this show; he’s an idealized Dad in a lot of ways. Protective, but trusting his daughter. Tough, but quiet. Emotional, but in check. He’s a model for cool dads everywhere. And since I’ve passed the age where I can identify with kids who are just out of high school, he’s one of the many hooks on the show.

As the show kicks off its next story arc (Who killed the suddenly-very-unpopular dean O’Dell (Ed Begley Jr.)?) I suggest you take a look at the first season DVDs if you’ve got an interest in long drawn-out mysteries with spunk. Maggie can’t stand the snappy dialogue which she finds inane (think a toned-down Buffy the Vampire Slayer repartee). But it keeps the show moving along.

If I’m willing to suffer the ridicule of my wife for watching this teen show, there must be something to it.

[Update: I knew I would forget something]

A big draw of this show, for me, was that the mystery aspect and the subjects covered in the episodes and the story arcs were not light and fluffy teen fare. The mystery is not who stole Veronica’s lunch money, or why Biff won’t date Muffy. The first season has Veronica coming to terms with having been sexually assaulted at a party after being dosed with GHB. After that, she has little trust in anyone. Other themes, such as murder, wrongful death, STDs, being abandoned by her mother all figure in subsequent episodes. It’s not the Brady Bunch.

It doesn’t make a series good just because it has dark elements to it. However, it does make a series good if they effectively use realistic fears mixed in with fantastical ones, and that those realistic fear mirror the kind of problems that real young people might face in today’s world. Veronica’s world of Neptune (the town she lives in) isn’t like most towns any more than Murder, She Wrote’s Cabot Cove is like your average New England town (think of all the murders!) but stories are supposed to be about exceptional places. And you must suspend at least a little of your disbelief.

Posted by James at 9:22 AM | Comments (1)

Happy Birthday, Julie!

Today is Julie’s Birthday! Please join me in wishing her a happy one.

It’s great to have someone around who shares our odd sense of humor and will commiserate effectively when the world is going insane. As a food-experimenter, her expert consulting contributes to many a recipe here at DrMomentum.com.

Happy Birthday!

Posted by James at 7:55 AM | Comments (5)

World War Z

There are no spoilers in this post.

If you read one book on zombies before the end of the year, make it World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks.

For those of us who were "lucky" enough to live through the Great Panic, that crisis and the war that followed may seem like a blur now. So much was going on all over the world as each country tried to deal with the walking dead and the destruction they left in their wake. You can thank Mr. Brooks for his efforts in traveling the globe getting interviews from some of the people who made a difference, some of the people who did whatever it took to survive.

That's the premise of World War Z. Max was assigned the task of gathering information for a dry report about the Great Panic, but he had accumulated so much more personal material from his investigations that he was compelled to compile it into a book.

It's told in a series of interviews that begin by describing how the world first reacted to the discovery that something really screwy was happening to the natural order of things. This made the book very easy to digest, although there are so many differing characters in the interviews that the author himself comes through more than distinguishing personalities in the interviews. It didn't get in the way of enjoying the book much, but it did strain the illusion. But in this format you don't expect too much character development.

The effort Brooks put into answering the big "What If?" question is most impressive. How would the world react? How would the "disease" spread? He comes up with unexpected and realistic details that lend real credibility to the book. As the interviews continue, the effort acquires the feeling of some bizarre government simulation that was conceived by geopolitical, epidemiological and military experts.

Even if we never face a zombie infestation, Max Brooks is telling us something about the global connections that we can't escape, the fragile nature of our societies, and the drive within us to shake off defeat and rebuild. A zombie infestation is more exciting than the bird flu, but I suppose you never really know what surprises nature has in store for us.

Patti recommended this book to me, and I'm glad she did. I really had trouble putting it down.
Posted by James at 12:18 AM | Comments (3)

November 29, 2006

Reading List - For Mental Health

I used to read so much - both fiction and nonfiction. It was fun, fulfilling and relaxing. Now I don’t and somehow I wonder why life is not as relaxing as it used to be. Sure, life is busier. It takes weeks to set up a simple get-together with friends because there is no such thing as casual hanging out anymore. But I didn’t just stop reading because I got busier. It was a change of habit thing. On the plus side, boredom is nonexistent, but maybe I’ve been applying too low a threshold on what counts as entertaining.

I had switched to reading more internet and magazines. And, hey, that has its place. The internet is about connectedness and I obviously have a personal need to stay connected to people and events. Magazines — especially high-quality ones like “Make” and “Fine Cooking” — are like the best stuff on the internet, but distilled down by editors to save you time.

I guess what I’m saying is that when I give up on my reading list, my quality of life starts to slide. The “to read” pile of books grows… then stops growing as I decide I’m not add any more books. And suddenly, something is missing from life.

So I’ve resolved recently to spend about an hour a day on non-work-related reading. Entertainment reading is either fiction I’ve been wishing to read, or nonfiction that is mostly for fun. (Less time with Digg, YouTube and the boob tube, more time with actual paper)

Here’s a list of books I’ve been waiting to read, so they’ve been sitting on my “to read” list either for a while or briefly.

  • The latest Tony Hillerman Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn mystery.
  • The Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins) [Read 20 pages into it one summer day]
  • The Ancestor’s Tale (Dawkins)
  • From Beirut to Jerusalem (Freidman) [I’m about 1/4 into it already]
  • The Mind Map Book
  • Sharpe’s Rifles (and subsequent books, which I picked up at a used book store)
  • Whichever Patrick O’Brien book I left off on
  • A few early Kay Scarpetta mysteries I picked up at the used book store.
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

That’s just the list I could put together off the top of my head. There are lots more.

Instead of having these books haunt me, I think what I need to do is start to read a book and then early on decide whether I’m going to continue or not. I already do this with TV shows (which I am quick to dismiss after a fair chance has been given). Not every book is for everybody and I need to move on if I hit one that is not for me.

I know many of you have been avid readers and still are; many of my friends are more voracious than I was even at my apex when I quickly ploughed through the entire Dune series.

What are your reading habits now, folks? And what books are on your waiting list, if you have one? How much tine a day do you devote to books?

Posted by James at 8:52 AM | Comments (19)

November 28, 2006

Windows Full of Links

Often, I have links to other website on my blog. One might argue that these links are one of the main purposes of Aces Full of Links. Sometimes I create the links so that they open in the current browser window (like this) and sometimes the links open up in a new window (like this).

I haven’t been entirely consistent in how I do this in the past. There are reasons that website developers use method #2 (open each link in a new window). Some people will say it’s to prevent you from casually surfing away from the website, thus keeping the reader at your site longer. My justification has always been that inline links are interruptions to the blog post, and you might want to check them while you are still continuing to read the post, so you don’t intend to surf away.

There are legitimate criticisms of forcing a link to open in another window.

I know the arguments pro and con, but I want to see what you, my readers, think about the subject. So, it’s time for a poll! If you had a choice, how would all the links work here are Aces Full of Links?

When you click a link to another website, what would you prefer to happen?
I would prefer that all links open in the current browser window; I would use the “back” button to return to Aces Full of Links.
I would prefer that links open in a new window, so that I can see where that link goes, but the current window still shows Aces Full of Links.
I would prefer to have a checkbox on the main page of the blog that lets me choose how the links work. I could choose one of the two methods above.
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Posted by James at 8:33 PM | Comments (10)

Peace and Pancakes

Here are two dumb stories from elsewhere I felt the need to steal. (“Always call it research!”)

IHOP All Over Your ID

People are sheep. Apparently, bunches of people were willing to hand over their driver’s licenses to a security guard (i.e. a guy dressed in a uniform) to be held while they had the privilege of dining at an IHOP in Quincy.

Someone finally got outraged (the guy had experienced ID theft and knew a bad policy when he saw it.) and they refused to seat him.

The restaurant was trying to prevent people from bolting without paying their bill.

My take: We don’t know if the restaurant was experiencing a high number of people pulling a dine and ditch (or, if you prefer, “chew and screw,” “stuff and hoof,” “digest and egress,” “eat-it and beat-it,” “masticate and escape,” “bite and outtasight,” “consume and vroooom,” “suck and truck”). If they were, they ought to be excused a bit for looking for a solution.

I think they came up with a highly flawed and even dangerous solution. But I do understand the attempt.

What gets me is that people seem to have lost all common sense and handed their licenses over as soon as they smelled pancakes.

Is there any hope?

(Seen on Keri’s blog.)

Satan: Prince of Peace?

I won’t go into too much detail, becaus Chuck already did the work (see the link below), but this story is about some people that had a peace-symbol-shaped wreath in Colorado and were told to take it down by their homeowner’s association.

The reason?

The association’s president says three or four residents have complained the wreath is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

Sweet Jeebus.

Pagosa Springs Colorado, where Satan fights for peace!

(Seen on Chuck’s blog.)

Posted by James at 4:46 PM | Comments (12)

Disney Photos

Pluto RampageThe usual suspects have probably already found them, but I have posted some of our Thanksgiving trip photos in a set here. For the interested.

(As usual, if you’re a friend/family log in to your Flickr account to see the full set of more personal stuff.)

Posted by James at 12:53 PM | Comments (7)

The Deluge

Wow. I think I spent most of yesterday in a daze. The first day back from a vacation is usually a little disorienting, but I guess I never noticed before how much “news” I try to keep up on every day, including that from news sources, blogs, personal email and discussion boards. Oh yeah, and add work to the mix.

Information overload is not just a theory; it is reality.

Somerset Town Meeting

Special Town Meeting

Before I left for Florida, I heard there was going to be a special town meeting right after Thanksgiving weekend, but I didn’t know what we were going to be voting on.

Turns out there was an article to be voted on which would have diverted money away from something I voted on in the meeting we had way back in the spring. The Finance Committee added a recommendation to one of the articles which, if it passed, would have de-funded Somerset’s monetary contribution to Fall River’s anti-LNG terminal fight.

So we would either have reneged on a promise to Fall River, or we’d have to go through that old vote again to replace the money. I don’t know if this was an intentional hurdle or just a town government screw-up (I try to assume the latter until more evidence of malicious intent appears) but the effect would have been the same. And suddenly it was important to go to town meeting last night. WSAR got the word out - in fact the first I heard about this was on my morning drive.

On the air (and at the meeting) there was a lot of what sounded like backpedaling, a frantic rushing of everyone to reiterate that they supported the fight against a locally-sited LNG terminal and everyone seemed to be confused, with circular finger pointing, regarding how this article got into the agenda.

I went to the meeting, and the measure passed, but with a new recommendation from the finance committee - one that honored the vote we took in the spring and left the original money intact. Mission accomplished.

So. Danvers

Apparently, we missed a big story as we were leaving the state.

They still don’t know why that explosion happened in Danvers. And federal investigators are having a tough time getting access to the evidence.

Fugitive Caught

There was a standoff with a fugitive Worcester native in our town last night. Police were still blocking the road, and that whole area looked dark and vacant when I passed by on my way home (see map).

So, apparently, the police do routine sweeps of license plates in motel parking lots. I did not know that.

Robbery

Oh yeah. The bank down the street from my office got robbed yesterday. And they caught some suspects in New Bedford.

Busy Day

So, it was a really busy day for crazy stuff happening, and catching up.

I still am not even close to catching up on blog reading.

BONUS!

Suspicious Package

In the middle of the day yesterday there were reports that buildings in the center of Fall River was being evacuated because of a package someone left on the steps of Government Center (for out-of-towners that’s the huge building that straddles I-195).

Turned out the package was a case with a camcorder inside. But I guess they were jumpy because there was a guy in the building making threats earlier in the day. Weird.

Posted by James at 7:54 AM | Comments (6)

November 27, 2006

Would You Rather?

Headlong into the holiday season we go. Here we are in the heady time between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve. I can’t help but toss you a themed “Would You Rather.”

Would You Rather?

  • Be one of Santa’s elves? (Work hard 365 days a year, but really happy about it. And sing a lot. Free hot chocolate. You’re very short.)
  • Be one of Santa’s reindeer? (Spend 364 days per year cooling your heels and playing reindeer games. Have to fly around the entire world in one 24 hour period. You can fly! Free reindeer chow, candy-cane flavored on the weekends. No opposable thumbs.)

Choose wisely!

Posted by James at 10:12 AM | Comments (18)

Returned

We’re back!

We’ve just returned from a trip top Disney World with the extended family for Thanksgiving.

Despite all the warnings about the busiest travel season of the year, Providence’s T.F. Green airport was no more busy than I’m used to on the day before Thanksgiving. In fact, the plane we were on wasn’t even full.

Disney, on the other hand, was quite full of people. Although, if you timed things right, it didn’t seem much more crowded than any busy day during vacation. The lines were longer, but we rarely stood in the longest lines because of planning.

I ate far too much, everywhere I went.

The one time we were impacted by the busy travel season was when we returned. The return plane was full, and there was air traffic congestion in the northeast, so our flight was delayed about an hour.

All in all it was much less of a disaster than I was led to believe I was heading into.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Posted by James at 10:02 AM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2006

Talk Amongst Yourselves

I’m signing off until the weekend. Have a great Thanksgiving, all.

You may or may not miss me. But if you happen to miss each other, consider this post an open thread. If anything interesting happens while I’m on my little blogging break, feel free to post it here.

Or, if you just want to say something that you can’t wait to get off your chest, feel free. In any case, have at it, and see you later.

Posted by James at 8:36 AM | Comments (10)

New Wal-Mart Protest

Wal-Mart recently announced that it was going to go back to using “Merry Christmas” greetings in its stores because they thought that trying to be less Christian-centric with “Happy Holidays” wasn’t gaining it any friends among American shoppers. They were probably right.

There are a number of different reactions one could have to this announcement. Among them:

  1. Feeling triumphant that “Merry Christmas” was back in its rightful place (this would be the O’Reilly style opinion.)
  2. Feeling pissed off that Wal-Mart switched to a less-inclusive greeting
  3. Feeling offended that Wal-Mart (and, perhaps, retailers in general) crassly use Christmas which many consider a sacred holiday.
  4. Feeling happy that Wal-Mart (and other retailers) uses Christmas because you don’t consider it sacred.

Personally, the news didn’t bother me much. This is not one of my hot-button issues. However, I did note that you can’t really placate the people who are really at the far end of that spectrum.

And Wal-Mart is learning that now.

Conservative plan to protest Wal-Mart

Long under fire from the left, Wal-Mart is now a target of Christian conservatives urging shoppers to boycott the huge retailer’s post-Thanksgiving sales because of its low-key outreach to some gay-rights organizations.

To be a goofy right-wing religious organization these days there are two requirements:

  1. You must have either the word “Family” or “America” in your group’s name.
  2. You must be nuts

Check it out: The low-key outreach in question is that Wal-Mart donated minuscule (to them) sums to a gay rights organization, and also paid to become part of a National Gay Chamber of Commerce.

The reaction:

Conservative leaders viewed these actions as a betrayal of Wal-Mart’s traditions, which have included efforts to weed out magazines with racy covers and CDs with explicit lyrics. “This has been Christian families’ favorite store — and now they’re giving in, sliding down the slippery slope so many other corporations have gone down,” said the Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America. “They’re all being extorted by the radical homosexual agenda.”

News flash, Reverend Flip. Wal-Mart doesn’t have values and tradition. They’re a company set up to make money. And if the gay community is big enough, they become an important customer. You misinterpreted past actions that catered to certain extremists as “principled.” They were, in actuality, “strategic.” They were trying to conform to what they saw as a large block of mainstream American consumers. But, apparently, the times they are a changin’.

The strategy of “Flip and his Lids” is to try to make this about same-sex marriage. Why not hit that hot button every chance you get?

Wal-Mart responded:

“We do not have a position on same-sex marriage. … What we do have is a strong commitment to diversity. We’re against discrimination everywhere.”

Ouch, did you see that? At the same time they said they were not going to take a position on gay marriage they hit Flip with the “D” word. “Discrimination.”

Flip has taken on a fight he can’t win and made the boycott not about the behavior of the store alone, but about some ideology. Not only will they get the attention they crave, but Wal-Mart’s position on the matter will also get attention.

Flip shouts that they are against gay marriage. Wal-Mart framed it as being about “discrimination.” So, when the smoke clears, the message is that these anti-same-sex marriage groups are pro-discrimination. Which is precisely correct.

Bonus: I always spelled “miniscule” with two i’s but my spell-checker spells it with two u’s. “Minuscule.” Weird. How do you all spell it?

Posted by James at 7:40 AM | Comments (9)

November 21, 2006

The One Where I Thank Everybody

Since I will not be blogging on Thanksgiving…

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know how I like to roll with my Thanksgiving. Time to thank people.

Thanks to you, my blog readers and commenters. What I said last year holds. A blog is a connection, and I’m happy and thankful to have this connection to you.

To my many friends, most of whom at least stop here once in a while and many who do so regularly, thanks. I’ve got some of the best friends in the world, new and old. Don’t know why you hang with me, but I’m thankful you do.

Thanks!

Posted by James at 9:19 PM

C You On The List

It’s official, I’m a:
C-List Blogger

Will I ever break into the B-list? I rather doubt it. As I near the end of my 4th year of blogging, I think the Peter Principle is in effect. I have risen to my own level of blogging incompetence.

Don’t try to console me! I am inconsolable!

Posted by James at 8:57 PM | Comments (1)

Christmas Shoes From HELL

I love Christmas. I know Thanksgiving isn’t here yet, but bear with me.

Keri is on the radio lamenting that we’re already deep into Christmas Music Season. (On the blog as well)

I feel her pain. I don’t mind hearing some of my favorite Christmas music (like Vince Gauraldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” cool jazz soundtrack) almost any time of year, and especially when the weather starts getting cold. But if I had my druthers, yeah, we wouldn’t switch over into Full Blown Christmas Mode so early. It does feel rushed.

However, that’s not what this post is about; it’s about shoes. One of her callers called in about the “Christmas Shoes Song.” The guy loves the song and wants her to play it.

I have four words: Please. Don’t. No. Ugh.

What, you haven’t heard the song? I have linked to it at the end of this post. I urge, for the love of all that is holy, do not click that link if you care at all about your ears. If you click it, I will not be responsible.

This song is the most tuneless maudlin pablum. There is nothing catchy about it. Nothing lyrical about it. Nothing compelling about it. Except that it is a sad story about a little boy who wants to buy shoes for his dying mother so she’ll look pretty when she meets Jesus in Heaven.

Yes, I am a Humanist. I am not a Christian. This does not stop me from enjoying, even loving, traditional Christmas songs, including the ones that mention Jesus. I’m sentimental. I’m nostalgic about Christmas and I love the Humanist aspects of the holiday. I’m sure some Christians will understand completely, while some will just shake their heads about my Atheist Christmas, but that’s a discussion for another day and I don’t much care what people think.

What I do care about is horrendous travesties of melancholy garbage masquerading as a Christmas song. I never really enjoyed The Little Drummer Boy because its simple message is stretched out over a long song with lousy lyrics. But I tolerated it because it’s a little catchy. This song takes musical ear violation to a new low.

For a song, you should have at least two things:

  1. a good tune and
  2. lyrics that enlighten and/or entertain

As a bonus, an arrangement and a performance that both show some skill.

But this song strikes out on all counts. It’s got a generic ballad made merely to deliver the lyrics. The lyrics are longer than necessary and designed to push one tear-jerker button. I don’t know why some people like this song. I think it might be because they think it shines a light on the “true meaning” of the holiday season. That there are needier people than you. However, I detest the unsubtle, 2×4-over-the-head, inelegant way this song manipulates your feelings. And I hate the “storytelling” style of the song. If a song is an attempt to seduce your ears with its beauty, this song is the equivalent of an emaciated prostitute covered with boils and Tammy-Fae-style makeup flashing you on the street, with a tattoo on her tummy that says “life sucks.” And then punching you in the crotch.

My reaction to this song is beyond the rational. I detest it. I loathe it. I will definitely leave a store if this song comes on. It makes me ill. I implore people to kill this song dead. I am boycotting this song, for the preservation of my brain. For all that is holy, choose your music wisely. If this song becomes a Christmas standard, we will have lowered the bar for acceptable Christmas music to a level so low that the Jingle Bell Dogs song (which I definitely prefer) will seem like Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK to the Christmas Shoes song.

My favorite Christmas songs?

There are lots more, but, you know, I’m not ready to think this deeply about Christmas yet. Dammit.

Posted by James at 3:48 PM | Comments (34)

Happy Birthday, Mike and Ryan!

Today is the birthday of my good friend Mike!

I sometimes hesitate to put birthday announcements on my weblog, because I’m terrible about remembering birthday dates. But I’m trying to get a bit better.

So, Happy Birthday, Mike! I’ve known you since college and we’ve had an adventure or two along the way and your sense of humor and humble insight have always been great assets as a friend. It’s always great to catch up with you when you visit; I hope you’re doing something fun for your birthday.

I will probably be AFK for Ryan’s birthday on Sunday, so a big “Happy Day” to Ryan as well. He’s the goofball I share an office with and by default he’s also the office deejay.

Cheers!

Posted by James at 11:26 AM | Comments (5)

Long Chain High School Relations

A study of high school dating/sex pairings revealed interesting patterns and one weird rule:

The research reveals a semantically complex rule that seems to guide adolescent sexual conduct. Here goes: A girl is loath to date her old boyfriend’s new girlfriend’s old boyfriend.

Weird!

One pattern that was revealed consisted of a long chain (a ring, actually) of teens, a pattern that the students themselves were likely unaware of.

Posted by James at 8:03 AM | Comments (4)

Email No Longer Required

Upgrading to Movable Type 3.33 did not go smoothly. I knew it wouldn’t, which is why I’d originally planned to never do it. My hand was forced by a need for better spam filtering.

In any case, I’ve turned off the “require email” switch on the comments. It seems that if people forgot to include an email address, the software would lose their comment. How convenient.

It shouldn’t do that anymore. I need to put a link to the comment guidelines back into the template somewhere. Blah. I hate fiddling.

Posted by James at 7:01 AM | Comments (1)

November 20, 2006

iPod Evil? O'Really?

How does O’Reilly manage to be a neo-Luddite and have his own show on television?

The link above takes you to Think Progress where you’ll learn about O’Reilly’s most recent contradictions. This time he thinks that entertainment and information delivery (the iPod is little more than that, just in a novel package) is going to be the downfall of America.

I guess he prefers falafel to machines.

Posted by James at 9:01 PM | Comments (4)

O.J. Canceled

So, you may have heard by now that Fox figured out that it wasn't such a good idea to have a guy go on TV and talk about the best way to kill his ex-wife. Who just happened to be brutally murdered.

You think?

Posted by James at 5:35 PM | Comments (3)

Mint and Strippers

Looks like they're going to release a new type of dollar coin. This one will have presidents on it. Here's the page with the schedule of which presidents will be featured, and when.

(Me: "Looks like we have to wait until 2016 to get a Nixon coin."

Ryan: "I don't want a Nixon coin. I hope I don't live that long.")

I liked the old Sacagawea coins, but they'll still be making those for a while.

Dollar coins have failed to catch on with the American public in the past, and the mint is hoping these reverse that trend.

Personally, I think we need to get rid of the penny and the paper dollar bill. And adopt a dollar coin, and maybe a 2 dollar coin like some other countries.

Strippers oppose my opinion because they don't want dollar coins placed in their skimpy costumes and stripper patrons oppose my opinion because they don't want to have to hand over 5-dollar-bills to strippers.

Posted by James at 3:47 PM | Comments (18)

Would You Rather: In the 'hood

Would you rather live in a neighborhood where:

  • All the other families belonged to the same religion, but you don’t belong. About once a week you run into people evangelizing for their religion at your front door, despite your polite and not-so-polite attempts to dissuade them (it is part of their religion that they must keep attempting to convert you). Or…
  • A number of the yards in the neighborhood were unkept to the point of having tall weeds, green swimming pools, cars up on blocks, and garbage. At least once per week you can smell the garbage when the wind shifts.
Posted by James at 8:39 AM | Comments (23)

November 19, 2006

Find Your Friends


OK, another rant from me, but I'll try to keep this one brief.

I just signed up for "Stumbleupon " because I want to see whether it can lead me to new websites I might like. There's a social aspect to it, too, so that you can see what websites your friends like. Great! And it will look at your Gmail contacts to help you find your friends. Wonderful!

Herein lies the rub: it imports your list of friend email addresses and it tells you it's going to find your friends among the thousands of people who are already registered. But then, once it has your list, it tells you that it will automatically connect you to those who are already registered but for the people who are not registered it will send them an email invitation.

I personally don't mind (and even like) invitations sent from my friends, unless they're for commercial services or the like. But I don't presume that everyone I know is going to welcome an invitation to a service I'm not even sure I like yet. I'd rather that it just checked its own database but not send out invitations. But it tells me it's going to do both at once.

At least it warned me. I said "No." Please do not spam my friends.

But someone being less careful might easily click through and send the message to everyone. Because earlier in the process it seemed like it was just going to check against its own list of members.

Stumbleupon: please just give the option for me to discover who is already signed up.

Any of you who are already in Stumbleupon, please feel free to add me. Use the email address from my "Contact Me" page linked from my sidebar.

Posted by James at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2006

Spam Killa

When I was in college, many years ago, email was fresh and new. Angry or bored people would sometimes “mail bomb” or “megamail” unsuspecting users on the system. They would send tons of nonsensical emails for the purpose of inconveniencing their intended target. It was mildly funny, but supremely annoying. Friends don’t do that to friends anymore. That’s because we have a whole class of people out there who do it to many of us, a lot of the time, for profit. These “people” (to apply the term loosely) are called spammers.

I want to tell you how much I hate spammers. And then we’re going to have a fun little poll.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a spammer is one who generates spam. Spam is internet lingo for unsolicited and impersonal bulk-generated electronic communications. Usually, these are emails, blog comments or posts on forums. Usually they are associated with promoting something.

Spammers are usually hired by someone to try to get replies from suckers who might buy their products, or they are trying to blanket the internet in an attempt to raise the search engine page rank of their client’s website. But I’m not much interested in their motivations. Suffice it to say, they are motivated by greed.

But my problem with spammers is their effect on my life. Let me list some of these effects.

  1. Over the years, I’ve had to waste a lot of time deleting spam emails. It takes some of the fun out of talking with friends, and it makes working in an email-heavy environment that much harder.
  2. I’ve had to spend time seeking solutions to some overwhelming levels of email spam. Running various spam filters, using disposable email addresses and trying to recall their passwords.
  3. Since I’ve had my blog, I’ve been plagued by spam more and more in the comments. I intended my blog to be an easy place for my friends and readers to comment and have fun, so I’e tried to keep the bar low for commenting. That’s also left the bar low for spammers to jump over. I am constantly spending times deleting spam comments. If you let spam sit on your site, it attracts more spam. You ought to delete it quickly.
  4. I’ve spent lots of time looking for better ways to capture spam. If I didn’t, I’d spend all my time deleting it instead of only 6 times a day. Since I am going to be away from a computer for a few days, I need a better solution. I wasted hours today upgrading my blog software and trying to get an elegant solution working.
  5. Some people dislike spam so much that they place all the burden of handling the problem on their readers, making the readers jump through hoops to prove they’re humans. I’m stupid enough to comply because there are blogs I am unwilling to give up commenting on.

You might say “spam is only annoying” or “spam only wastes some of your time, it’s not so bad.” The way I see it, your time is your most valuable possession. You can never go somewhere to get more time. Dealing with spam steals your time, and it steals enough of that time that I consider spam unforgivable.

Another quick comment about #5 above. I hate those CAPTCHAs. The little tests that make you prove you’re a human. I think I am particularly bad at typing nonsensical strings of characters. Some blog software even makes you prove you’re a human after you’ve already logged on. That’s ridiculous, but it’s an indication of the lengths people are going to to block spam. (And what people will put up with. Can you imagine if you had to pass a stupid test every time ordered a hamburger, or made a phone call?) Never mind the obvious problems for people with certain disabilities, there is something, well, rude about CAPTCHAs.

Recently, Blogger has added an audible CAPTCHA in an effort to make them more accessible. I actually don’t mind those as much, because I find it easier to type numbers that are being read to me rather than to have to discern and type an obfuscated nonsense string of characters. But it’s still annoying.

While I wouldn’t rule out using CAPTCHAs myself, especially if I were blogging more casually, I find the visual ones pretty obnoxious. Add that to my already strong resentment of spammers. Because bloggres are between a rock and a hard place.

I had a day alone today and plenty of things to do. But because I don’t want my blog taken over by spam during the holiday when I will be taking a break from blogging, I had to spend literally hours fiddling with blog software. Time I should have been spending reading, seeing a movie in the cinema, splitting wood, picking up the kitchen, working, writing, cleaning out the Jeep, working out… any number of useful or creative things.

I did get some stuff done after wasting enough time with the blog software.

As I was out back at the woodpile, swinging a maul and splitting logs, a poll occurred to me and I wanted to share it with you all. So here it is. Vote and discuss:

If you had a button that silently and secretly killed a spammer every time you pressed it, how many times would you press it?
I’d only press it once.
It’s press it a few times.
I’d press it once every day.
I’d press it every time I got an email or blog spam.
I’d press it 10 times every time I received an email or blog spam.
I’d press it until my finger got tired, then I’d switch fingers until I ran out of fingers. I would repeat this exercise if I ever got spam again.
Never — I’m no killer. But I might substitute it for the “automatic door” button at the Mall at Xmastime.
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Posted by James at 9:40 PM | Comments (10)

November 17, 2006

Ryan's Happy Feet

Conversation in the office today. A young woman from the other office was joking around with us about the upcoming movie “Happy Feet.”

Girl: So, you guys excited about Happy Feet coming to theatres?

JP: Well, me not so much, but Ryan loves those penguins. He’s psyched.

Ryan: I am not.

Girl: (Laughs) You really love penguins?

Ryan: Yeah, but I don’t care about the movie.

JP: Don’t let him fool you; he loves penguins, and is a huge Happy Feet fan. He even has a penguin calendar. Ask him.

Girl: Do you have one?

Ryan: No, I don’t have one.

JP: Of course you do. You do so have a penguin calendar.

Ryan: I don’t. (pause) Oh, wait. Yes, I do have a penguin calendar (pulls calendar out of his pocket).

…later…

Ryan: I thought you said “fetish.”

Posted by James at 5:35 PM | Comments (6)

Turkey Craving Shotgun

This is the last shotgun before Thanksgiving. None of the entries have anything to do with Thanksgiving. Also, there's no shotgun post next week, so you'll be happier if you come to terms with that as soon as possible.

  1. Hackers (Hollywood vs. Reality)

    This comic summarizes one difference between Hollywood and reality when it comes to being hacked.

  2. Fish body/face-art

    A really amusing/neat idea for face painting. With fish!

  3. Five Common Types of Republicans

    In case you were wondering, here are 5 common types of Republicans described.

  4. The Great Flickr Tools Collection

    Big honkin' list of stuff you can do with Flickr. And I loves me some Flickr.

  5. G2P Beta: Using Google to locate MP3s

    Use Google to find music. If it's out there, Google finds it.

  6. Flickr: Asswriting

    Q: Is there a Flickr group and photo pool for so-called "asswriting?" That's clothing with writing on the posterior. A: Yes, of course there is.

  7. YouTube - Beer + Battleship in Fall River

    Climbing high on the Battleship Massachusetts to drink beer? Inadvisable and unauthorized. Not too exciting, but has local interest. I can see Point Gloria from here!

Posted by James at 11:42 AM | Comments (3)

I'm Still Not Netflix

Longtime readers of the blog will remember that, long ago, random readers used to find my blog through a Google search and would get confused and think that I was Netflix. (I posted an entry about Netflix years ago, and some people thought that meant I was Netflix customer support. Go figure.)

Anyhow, now that I have that meebo widget on my “Contact Me” page, I get Netflix instant messages. But so far nobody has stuck around long enough for me to explain to them I am not Netflix.

[11:00] meeboguest243096: I have a crack dvd but dont know how to get to the replacement part
[11:00] meeboguest243096: can you send me a replacement for Leprechaun:in the hood Please

Dear whomever you are, consider yourself lucky that you have been saved from having to watch Leprechaun: In the Hood.

Sometimes, the universe sends you a message, if you know what I mean.

Posted by James at 11:00 AM | Comments (9)

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches


Yesterday I made shredded BBQ pork sandwiches for the family. Although M is too picky to even try the stuff, K ate some of it while Maggie and I really enjoyed it. In my estimation it was the slow-cooker best pulled pork I've ever made.

The the thing about pulled pork is that if you really want the good stuff, you have to have a smoker. The kind of pulled pork you get at a BBQ joint tastes amazing even without any BBQ sauce. However, you can make an excellent substitute at home that is unbelievably easy, as recipes go.

The key is to use a slow cooker (aka. crockpot). I love my slow cooker and I don't think we use ours enough. With the right recipe, a slow cooker is like magic. You put the ingredients in, do nothing for hours, and dinner is served. There's some cleanup, but aside from that it's almost like someone else made dinner for you. And since slow cooking accentuates flavor, if you start with a good recipe, you end up having tons of flavor at the end.

Slow cookers are not a pricey piece of equipment. I saw a rather large very good-quality cooker at Macy's yesterday for under $40. You don't need anything too fancy, but I recommend the type which have a removable ceramic crock, because it's easier to clean. A glass top cover is better than a plastic one, but alas, ours is plastic. The thing still works. And they're versatile, since you can use them to cook stew, meatballs, beans, soup, sauces, pork roast, pot roast...

While this recipe doesn't smoke the pork for you, it does get you something that, in my humble opinion, is as good as the meat in the sandwiches at Trinity Brewhouse. So, if you like those, you'll probably like this. (Their horseradish mayo is something I have not attempted to duplicate, however)

I based my recipe on this recipe at About.com.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

4 lb pork roast
2 medium onions, sliced to about 1/4 inch
10 whole cloves
light beer (room temp)
water (warm)
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
1/2 tsp gravy master (optional)
1/2 tsp Italian spices (optional)
1/8 tsp garlic powder (optional)
16 oz chipotle BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
salt
pepper

Late on the night before you're going to eat it (I was up at midnight) slice the onions. Line the bottom of the pot with the slices from one of the onions.

You can trim the roast of excess fat, I didn't go too crazy with this step. It's extra work and you're going to cook off the fat anyway.

Stick the cloves into the meat. You'll be fishing these out later, so put them somewhere they'll be easy to get to. No need to bury them deep.

Place the roast in the cooker on top of the onions.

Dump in the liquid smoke, gravy master, Italian spices, garlic powder. Since you'll be using BBQ sauce later, this is not all that important if you don't have these ingredients. Feel free to skip this step.

Put the remaining onion slices on top of the roast.

Now, use a combination of the beer and water to fill up the slow cooker 2/3 of the way up the side. If you've got plenty of beer, use all beer. If you don't like beer, use all water. I use a light beer because I think a hoppy beer is too strong for food that's being slow-cooked. Slow cooking tends to make flavors stronger.

Put the cover on and set the thing on low (or just "on" if you only have one setting) and go away. Alternately, I like to set it on "high" for an hour and then switch to "low." This helps get the ingredients up to temperature quicker. (It doesn't help the slow cooker heat up faster, but it will cause the slow cooker to reach a higher temperature, which means it will take less time for the internal temperature of the roast to hit that desirable level.)

Let it sit for 8 to 12 hours. More than 12 is not a problem if the thing is on low with a lid on it. The lid is supposed to keep moisture in, and hopefully the roast will be fairly swimming in its own juices by that time. You have a lot of time flexibility once it's safely cooked. More cooking is better in this recipe, which is why I did it overnight.

If you don't want to start it the night before, you can do this: start it in the morning as early as you can and let it go for a few hours on high. An hour on high is usually worth 2 on low. So starting at 6 on high and switching to low at 8 means it's had the equivalent of 12 hours by the time 4 PM rolls around.

When the roast is cooked, it should be basically falling apart. Very little is holding it together anymore, since you've cooked away all the fat and connective tissue. Remove the roast with a large spoon and fork. It's hot, be careful! It should break apart. Remove the cloves and any bones. And chunks of fat that remain can also be discarded. All that's left is fairly lean and delicious pork.

Shred it with a fork. This should be very easy if the roast has cooked for 12 hours.

Dump all the onions and liquid out of the slow cooker.

Place the meat back in there. Add the BBQ sauce. If dinner is still hours away, add some water to moisten the mixture and keep it moist. Use your judgement here. Salt and pepper to taste.

At dinner time, serve on your favorite rolls.

Serve with fresh cole slaw.

A nice garnish can be made by slicing another onion and softening the onion rings in a tsp of butter and a tsp of oil. The stringy onions can be added atop the shredded pork on each open-faced sandwich.

It's really, really good. Especially for a recipe where the most work you did was sticking the cloves in there and pulling them back out. And waiting.
Posted by James at 10:12 AM | Comments (5)

November 16, 2006

Celebrity Justice League

So, did you catch this story about House saving Borat from an extreme beat-down?

It made me wonder, what would be a good group of characters/celebrities to form a vigilante anti-crime league? For the purposes of this exercise, I reserve the right to blur the lines between character and celebrity, freely picking and choosing abilities and characteristics. For entertainment purposes only.

Here's my list so far for the Celebrity Justice League

Hero
Abilities
Hugh Laurie
Fist fighting, Detective Skills,
Condescension Ray
Keifer Sutherland
Tree-Diving , Increased Stamina when ingesting
inebriating substances, General Badassery
Chuck Norris
Too many to list
Samuel L. Jackson
Steely resolve, Can charm large snakes,
Can freeze 2d10 meters2 area with his voice

Of course, there's going to have to be a celebrity Legion of Doom. I'm thinking that one starts out with O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake.

I'm open to suggestions for additions to the Celebrity Justice League and the Celebrity Legion of Doom. Who do you think needs to be in there?

Posted by James at 8:49 AM | Comments (8)

November 15, 2006

You and James Read the News


You and James Read the News

And every time you do, you're just a little bit sorry you did.

Toys for Tots Rejects Jesus Doll


A Toys for Tots drive run by the U.S. Marines were offered 4,000 1 foot tall talking Jesus dolls to give to kids in their program. Somehow, one2Believe, the company that makes the dolls, thought that kids would love to get a talking Jesus. one2Believe is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.

As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."


Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."


"The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids," La Roe said. "I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible."

The kids don't want a viral teaching tool to convert them. They want a toy to play with. Can you imagine?

On second thought, it should be a package deal. They really ought to have representatives for a bunch of major religions in a playset. The kids can do what we did with our action figures when I was a kid -- make the dolls fight it out to determine which religion will prevail!

Look, they guy even admitted it isn't a toy. It's a tool to push an agenda. Don't you love it when people use kids to further their own cause?


A Man and His Snake


A man pulled over for driving under the influence threatened the officer with a poisonous snake.

He didn't have the snake in the car with him; it wasn't some sort of pet. When they had him outside the car, he happened to see the snake and decided it would be a good idea to grab the snake, brandish it against the officers and then hightail it into the bush.

I think that qualifies right there as failing your sobriety test.

Love in the Sky


A couple of people trying to join the mile high club were repeatedly interrupted by flight attendants until finally, Carl Warren Persing, the male half of the couple, became verbally abusive.


Nothing makes a flight go by quicker then awkward snogging in the seats next to you, followed by verbal abuse when the people are denied their alcohol orders. Pure travel gold.


"If I Did It"


Qualifying under the category of "Books whose titles would be improved if you removed the first word" is O. J. Simpson's new book "If I Did It." To promote the book, he's going on TV (It's the Fox network, of course) for a two-part interview entitled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened."

I wasn't aware that O.J. had actually given up on that whole "I didn't do it" thing. Sure, it could merely be a callous and crass grab for attention and money, trading off the deaths of his ex-wife (the mother of his children) and her friend. But who would do something like that? Probably not the same kind of person who would actually, you know, be involved with the murders.

Correct me if I'm out on a limb here, but not too many widowers try to get on TV fantasizing about how they "would have" done it. You couldn't make a movie out of this because nobody would believe it.

Ugh. My brain hurts.

Posted by James at 11:20 AM | Comments (13)

Fine Glassware

Thanksgiving 2006 - Newbury ComicsMy wife is mortified that I am collecting these pint glasses from Newbury Comics featuring “toothface.”

They’ve been making them and giving them out as promotions since the North Dartmouth store opened (possibly before that in other places).

In any case, I have collected every one of the ones they’ve given out here.

You can see my full collection in this Flickr photoset. Plus a couple of glasses that aren’t from Newbury Comics, but rather were gifts from my good friend Chuck!

Yes, I do not want for interesting drinking vessels, including pint glasses. And these are just the Newbury Comics ones.

Although Maggie makes a face every time I bring a new one home, I catch her using them now and again.

Posted by James at 10:13 AM | Comments (6)

November 14, 2006

Spidey 3 Trailer

The trailer for the next Spider-Man movie appeared on the internet today. “Leaked” as they say. So it’s been appearing and disappearing as YouTube and GOogle try to keep it off.

If you’re interested, I found it here.

If that link is broken, try this search. The trailer is 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. The shorter trailer is the previously released teaser, so you ought to be able to tell the difference.

Looks like the next film deals with themes of revenge as Peter Parker continues to balance power and responsibility, drawing on the good side of the forc… er, that’s a different movie.

Posted by James at 3:38 PM | Comments (4)

Lapping It Up in Seattle

Sometimes, the morning news just confuses me.

Seattle has voted to defeat a lapdance ban which kept strippers and leering patrons 4 feet away from each other:

Lap dance ban defeated, Seattle wonders where to put strip clubs

Together, at last!

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the Nevada Supreme Court has ordered everyone to take a cold shower:

Court Upholds Vegas Lap-Dance Ban

No fondling or caressing in Vegas. aka. the everything-I-need-to-know-I-learned-in-kindergarten rule, aka.the Georgia Satellites rule. “Keep your hands to yourself.”

Apparently there will be no problem enforcing the ban, as a large percentage of the police force have volunteered to supervise. Zing!

Posted by James at 7:43 AM

November 13, 2006

Craving

I’m having a huge craving for roast turkey.

Anybody else?

Posted by James at 10:40 PM | Comments (5)

Rove Is No Fool

The democrat’s secret weapon? Apparently, Karl Rove this time around.

Rove was convinced that polls were wrong, and that he had a much more accurate metric.

“Rove’s miscalculations began well before election night. The polls and pundits pointed to a Democratic sweep, but Rove dismissed them all. In public, he predicted outright victory, flashing the V sign to reporters flying on Air Force One. He wasn’t just trying to psych out the media and the opposition. He believed his “metrics” were far superior to plain old polls. Two weeks before the elections, Rove showed NEWSWEEK his magic numbers: a series of graphs and bar charts that tallied early voting and voter outreach. Both were running far higher than in 2004.” [NEWSWEEK]

So confident was he in his method over plain old polls that he was planning to convene Republican political scientists to study his amazing new analysis. Better still, he had everyone at the White House hyp-mo-tized by his new method and the optimism that it brought. There’s your real reason Bush was so bull-headed about Rumsfeld right up to the election. Rove was convinced that they were winning. And he convinced them.

He even had some Democrats nervous. “Why are they so confident?” It is tough to tell the confidence of total self delusion vs. the confidence of having the facts. Not a new situation for this administration, by a long shot.

In the wake of an election, I always grow a little tired of politics. But it struck me as too perfect to learn that Rove had worked his magic on his own team this time.

Those familiar with the idea of the court fool know that “Many legends and anecdotes portray fools as informal, cunning advisors. The expression ‘fool’s license’ is said to come from this custom.” That license would have been used to say things that other people couldn’t get away with saying, for the purpose of allowing the king an opportunity at self-examination others might be afraid to give him. In this way, the king might expand his wisdom.

In the case of the 2006 elections, Rove was no fool.

Posted by James at 2:57 PM | Comments (6)

Taco Bellyache

Lefty posts on his blog ” A View From Battleship Cove” about a spindle city fuss that has become a national story today.

Phillip Daggett (whom you may remember as a bartender at Puzzles during the Jake Robida craziness) was sickened after eating food from Taco Bell on Mariano Bishop Blvd. He reported numbness and disorientation, presumably more than the normal amount from eating at Taco Bell.

After finding a suspicious white powder in the food (and what white powder is not suspicious these days?) he sought attention at a nearby hospital. He says there were opiates in his blood. He hasn’t decided to press charges, as of the news story I read this morning.

That’s probably the most suspicious part. If I was drugged by a Taco Bell taco, I think I’d be on the phone to a lawyer PDQ. But if it is true, I suppose I don’t fault the guy for proceeding with some caution.

Presumably, drugs are expensive enough that you wouldn’t spike someone’s food willy-nilly. But that is not necessarily the case. Around election day a story was circulating regarding police officers who were filing a lawsuit against Burger King over hamburgers that allegedly contained marijuana. Can you even get high from eating pot that’s just placed on meat? I’m pretty sure you need to cook the dried plant and use some sort of fat to capture the fat soluble cannabinoids. Thus the existence of such things as “cannabutter.” But potheads working at Burger King aren’t necessarily chemists, or even capable of high-school-level home economics and chemistry. Ironically, if they’d actually made potent cannabutter, the police probably would not have known anything was strange about the burgers. I’m sure you can hide many flavors in a Whopper.

It is common to see disoriented people around the Dartmouth Taco Bell, but usually only after the local bars have closed.

[Update: Keri mentions on her blog that Phil is suggesting a motive of revenge, after he was involved in a bar fight. I knew bars would be involved in the story sooner or later!]

Posted by James at 12:50 PM | Comments (7)

Would You Rather?

Would you rather:

  • Be completely hairless or
  • Be covered head to toe in short but soft fur?

Choose wisely.

Posted by James at 12:03 PM | Comments (9)

Pushing Forward Sandwich Law

Tales of Massachusetts

I don’t know about other states, but here in Massachusetts we like to give back to society. For example, Massachusetts is on the cutting edge of sandwich rights. Here in the Bay State, our activist judges are activizing 24/7 to bring you the best law possible. In under 30 minutes. Or your next law is free.

Most recently, we have an example of sandwich law coming out of Shrewsbury, MA. A judge has ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich.

Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.
But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster’s Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba’s burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

Massachusetts is the perfect place to decide this, because we even have a town called Sandwich. But that’s not where this case is being decided, which is unfortunate, because the story would be that much more amusing.

Sneaky Panera! I agree with the judge’s ruling. A burrito is not a sandwich. It has some sandwich-esque qualities, but it is not a sandwich. It’s actually more like a hot wrap. And there is a difference. I ordered a turkey club last week at a local cafe and I did not read the fine print that the cold items on the menu were not sandwiches, but rather were wraps. And so I ended up having to eat a wrap when I got it back to the office. And it made me ill, because I was expecting one thing and ate another. (I guess my digestive system likes advance notice)

How Will This Ruling Affect You?

  • For one thing, if you are a Panera store with a “no other sandwich shops” clause in your lease, this will not block a Mexican restaurant from moving in on you. I mean, duh, it’s not a sandwich shop, it’s a Mexican restaurant.
  • If you are a Mexican restaurant, you’re good to go.
  • If you ask someone for a sandwich and they give you a burrito, you are now legally allowed to throw that burrito back at them and call them a filthy guest worker for not knowing the difference. This is America. Sandwiches have slices of bread.

Some small consolation for Panera: your French Onion Soup is amazing, and you have better wifi access than Qdoba Mexican Grill. At Qdoba, the internet is in Mexican, and that’s just not right.

Posted by James at 7:47 AM | Comments (20)

November 11, 2006

New Rules for the House?

I hope they Pelosi can push the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act through congress:

The act is a tough document, authored by Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco-area congresswomen who has been the Democratic House leader since 2002. She will likely be the House Speaker if the Democrats win next Tuesday.

Here are some of the new rules Pelosi wants:

No House member may accept any gift of any value from lobbyists, or any firm or association that hires lobbyists.

No free travel, which means an end to the corporate jet line every Friday at Reagan National Airport.

No free tickets to Redskins games; or no meals of any value, even at a McDonalds; no front-row seats at entertainment venues.

Sounds good to me. Where do we sign up? Oh, that’s right, we all already did when we sent the Democrats to Washington. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint us. It seems to me like this would be a good start to getting at least some corrupting influence out of government.

Posted by James at 5:38 PM | Comments (2)

Embryonic Stem Cells Anti-Cancer Surprise

Embryonic stem cells, the controversial and versatile cells that seem able to do just about anything, have now expanded their repertoire into cancer prevention. A vaccine made from these cells shields mice against developing lung cancer under conditions thought to mimic the effects of smoking.

Will this turn into a human treatment for lung cancer someday?

Who can tell at this point? That’s what research is for. And currently, the federal government would rather throw embryos in the trash bin rather than fund research on human applications.

Posted by James at 11:55 AM

November 10, 2006

Welcome, New Overlords?

Rush said: “I, for one, welcome our new Democrat Party Overlords.”

Ok, he didn’t say that. But he did say “liberated.” I imagine it’s like lancing a boil. Relief!

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the good feelings some Republicans feel as a result of the recent elections. Even Rush Limbaugh:

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I’m going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried.

He stopped short of showering congress with candies and flowers. Don’t worry! Rush still hates liberals. But the above quote is telling. A lot of these right-wing radio show folks probably don’t really believe what they are saying. I can’t tell you who actually believes what. We have to assume they do believe what they say.

I’ve seen the sentiment around, but Rush probably put it best. Before the election he was carrying water for the administration, even though they didn’t deserve it. He was doing a disservice to his listeners and not telling you the truth because he was afraid the Republicans would get their due.

The good news for other Republicans who feel this way is that there is a bright side. Now there is relief. It’s psychically painful to “carry water” that you don’t believe should be carried. You have to say that the war in Iraq is going well. That’s why the reaction to the election on that side has been muted; the usual right-wing outrage has been tabled. Sure, there are a few grumblings of “they’re going to raise our taxes.” The old canards. But it’s hard to be outraged when you are relieved.

There is other good news for the Republicans. Left-wing outrage has had its pressure valve released. People feel optimistic if they think they live within a system that works. Not everybody is overjoyed, but that is the nature of things. People with fringe beliefs on both sides are the big losers here. Fringe conservatives (mopey Fox News) are unhappy that the pendulum is swinging back. Fringe liberals will be unhappy that some of the outrage is dissipating. But this is the way the system works.

This election may be good news for Republicans who want to keep the presidency in 2008. After two additional years of pretending that things are going well in Iraq under total Republican rule, I think 2008 would have been insane. But the sooner we get some honest reassessments on what our goals are and how to achieve them, the better it is for the whole country. I hope it doesn’t mean the Democrats will fail to regain the presidency in 2008, but after eight years of Bush I’m sure a moderate Republican is going to make a tough opponent for the Democrats.

Good news for the Democrats: Iraq war supporters are already asking questions about what congress can do and when they’ll do it. They’re already saying that if the Democrats don’t do something that works, they’ll share the blame for this mess.

Did you read between the lines of that? A few weeks ago things were going well in Iraq and the press was at fault for not printing the good news. Today, Democrats have to worry about not failing, lest they end up sharing the blame for the mess. The existing mess. The first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. See, that’s what I mean when I say now we have a chance of having an honest discussion in Iraq. Even Rumsfeld has said: “‘It’s clear that in Phase 2 of this, it has not been going well enough or fast enough.” Now it can be told.

If Republicans now feel they have company to share the blame, well I guess that’s what it’s going to take to put the conservo-hawk adventure behind us and fix the horrible problems that face us. They want to put their mistakes behind them. I can understand that. But you put only really your mistakes behind you after you’ve fixed them. And where Republicans want to work to fix those mistakes, they ought to be welcomed and not berated. I imagine that honest bipartisanship is going to be tough after the mindset of the last 6 years. It was “Contract With America” co-drafter and Abramoff buddy Grover Norquist who expressed the axiom of house conservatives: “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.” (Norquist later attributed the quote to Dick Armey, so it seems to have been a shared sentiment among some conservatives)

Have they changed their mind, now that they have little choice? We’ll see. If we go back to hearing canards and denial, I don’t know how much cooperation there will be. But I share the feeling of relief and liberation, even if it may be for different reasons.

Posted by James at 12:04 PM | Comments (7)

It's Too Late Shotgun

Some words from Jim Carroll's "It's Too Late" off the album Catholic Boy. In light of the last 6 years and the recent election.

It's too late
to fall in love with Sharon Tate
but it's too soon
to ask me for the words I want carved on my tomb.

  1. chaostheory.swf

    Make a well-placed explosion and keep the chain reaction going for as long as possible.

  2. YouTube - "Office Space" Recut

    What if Office Space were a horror film?

  3. mypictr - we make your profile picture

    Ever use a profile picture? mypictr will halp you turn a photo into a profile shot.

  4. red.swf

    Cool game - missile command with superballs and without the explosions.

  5. RetailMeNot.com - never pay full price again with these coupon and promotion codes for online stores

    A good place to search for online retailer coupon codes.

  6. Maps - Satellite, Street, Theme Maps - National Geographic

    Make your own theme maps at this National Geographic website.

  7. RubyTooth - Double Wires

    Be Spider-Man in 2D. Or something like it.

  8. Apple Journal- Choosing Apple Varieties

    Information on choosing apples for different purposes. They've also got a comprehensive list of apple varieties on this site. Wowee, that's a lot of apples.

  9. Zanorg Mini Games © kek

    Balance the ball and keep the other one from passing the paddle. The longer, the better.

    to flash game

Posted by James at 9:35 AM | Comments (3)

November 9, 2006

OK, That Was Fun

Let me refer to a quote from Lou Dobbs:

Election Day was middle-class America’s declaration of independence from a Republican-led administration and Congress that for six years has been telling working men and women and their families in this country to shut up, listen up and go to hell.
The middle class just returned the favor and demonstrated discernment while delivering their loud message to Washington, D.C.

Americans recently had to sit and listen to the official opinion of the administration that if you voted for the Democratic Party (they probably churlishly said “Democrat Party” when they said it) you were siding with the terrorists. That sort of rhetoric deserves a smackdown, and that’s what it got. After years of having something rammed down your throat, it’s refreshing, liberating, exhilarating, and encouraging to feel like your voice, your response, was heard and felt. And thus my exuberant jubilation.

Personally, I don’t think it was felt by all the president’s supporters. But there are some indications that it may have been felt by the president. Somewhat begrudgingly, I think we might get to see that “uniter” that we heard so much about in 2000 but never met. Bush’s vaunted and supposed uniter personality was somehow suppressed (by Rove, Rumsfeld Cheney, himself, Barney or Miss Beasley? Who knows?). It was obvious that the only way change would come was if Bush left office or the Republicans control of congress.

What are we going to see in the next two years? I hope we see bipartisan solutions to problems, an easing up on the middle class, more respect abroad, funding for education and an end to the politicizing of medical and other sciences… but we’ll may just see gridlock. Even so, I’m full of hope.

And to any of the party-poopers who wanted to begrudge us our day of celebration, I say: grow a sense of humor and stow the sanctimony you-know-where.

Posted by James at 12:16 PM | Comments (4)

Life Sentence For Killer of 4-year-old

Do you remember that story a while back about the guy who was accused of beating a 4-year old to death here in Somerset?

A Superior Court jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. No chance of parole.

My original post has been getting high traffic, and at least one person tried to anonymously IM me about the story, to cast doubt on his guilt, claiming that the boy’s mother is lying about something. I was away from the computer at the time. All I know about this story is what I read in the paper, and it’s pretty bad.

The jury reached the conclusion that Mr. Durand was responsible for the boy’s death. The verdict will be appealed to a higher court. But one thing that will not change is that a little boy has died from some violent injuries. From the testimony, it doesn’t sound like he had a very easy time while he was alive, either. What a horrible story all around.

Posted by James at 8:16 AM

Weighty Political Matters

What? The Senate went to the Democrats?

(JP blinks bleary eyes, stretches, yawns, steps onto scale)

Holey moley! What have I been eating this election season? Everything in sight. It’s back on the diet. Apparently, not counting calories means I inflate like a balloon.

Bleh.

Posted by James at 7:35 AM | Comments (8)

November 8, 2006

Take a Seat, Rumsfeld

… says Bush in his press conference.

And things are still looking good in Virginia and Montana.

Lips my Donkey Day continues.*

(* offer not valid in Tennessee)

Posted by James at 1:08 PM | Comments (7)

Lips My Donkey

Lips My Donkey!
Chuck, Mike, Jay and I kept each other company into the small hours of the morning, watching races go to Democrats. Watching the Daily Show deflate Katherine Harris and watching them rapture Santorum. Watching Fox news look glum and say unabashedly biased things like “another seat gone” when a seat would go to the Democratic Party. It was weird to see them cling to what they thought was good news all night, working harder and harder as time went on. Switching between Fox and looking at the actual map was like traversing some door between realities.

It was a good time.

At one point, Chuck confessed that he had prepared a graphic in case things went well for Democrats. (He’s posted it now.) If you want a clue to the meaning, the filename is called “KMA.gif.”

Mike visited Chuck’s link to see the image, and in typical fashion he came back to the chat and said, “Nice graphic. Lips my donkey.”

I laughed out loud. My friends crack me up. So, naturally, I wouldn’t let the joke go and “Lips my donkey” became the phrase of the night.

Since I’ve already stolen Chuck’s idea for his image, so I’ll steal the other idea from his post, too.

To Rich Santorum and Katherine Harris. To the strict abortion ban that lost in South Dakota. To Kerry Healey and Mitt Romney. To George “Macaca” Allen (whether he loses or not in the end). To Jim Talent (I told you to wait until they were done counting, Chuck!) To RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. To Karl Rove, Bush and Cheney. To Saddam, while we’re at it. To Sunni and Shiites blowing each other up and getting our servicemen in the crossfire. To the lack of planning for the Iraq war. To the administration’s foot dragging on any change because of political concerns. Thank you for playing, but now: Lips My Donkey.

Because I have to be at least somewhat original in my posts, here is a new celebratory graphic for you to enjoy:

And to Chaffee and other Republicans we like: sorry for the collateral damage.

[Edited to add:
* My post from Election 2002
* My post from Election 2004
]

Posted by James at 7:01 AM | Comments (11)

November 7, 2006

Not-So-Live Election "Coverage"

I’m settled down here at home now, digging in for election night.

I have a bottle of ruby port (in honor of question 1), my laptop, the radio and the TV. As the level gets lower in the wine bottle, and the numbers roll in, I’m hoping for some good old fashioned American entertainment.

No matter what happens, I am, as usual, unreasonably excited. I’ll be in online in and out if anyone wants to chat. Via AOL, Google Chat and here. Check in if you’re bored.

Posted by James at 7:41 PM | Comments (7)

Guinness Extra Stout Doesn't Exist?

I am outraged! Read this:

I had a long day at work yesterday. When I called the ladyfriend on the way home from the office, she offered to buy me a 6-pack on the way back from class.

[…] After looking for a few minutes, my girlfriend couldn’t find any Extra Stout. She decided to ask the guy behind the counter whether they had any in the back.

“No, we don’t have any in the back, because it doesn’t exist,” he told her. His tone was far more condescending than helpful. […]

“See?! You were wrong,” he said. She was 99% certain that she was, in fact, right, but the combination of the beer’s absence in his order book and his increasingly loud and antagonistic tone had her on the verge of tears.

I’m pretty sure that, in Ireland, you can be hung by the neck until dead for claiming that Guinness Extra Stout doesn’t exist. And if that’s not true, it probably should be. Scroll down in the comments to find out that this liquor store in in BROOKLINE! Sweet Abe Vigoda! What is the world coming to when a liquor store in Massachusetts is doing this to people? I was guessing maybe we were talking about some place like Nebraska. You know, one of those states where you’re not sure they even have beer. Although I can’t act high and mighty when this sort of activity is happening in a Bay State establishment.

I looked up the law in MA, and the punishment here is a little bit unclear. The last time it happened, the guy just disappeared. So there is no precedent.

Help me figure out what the punishment should be. It should be creative, and please make it fit the crime.

Posted by James at 5:24 PM | Comments (5)

Discourse Is In the Toilet

Local story: a restaurant owner in Fall River is annoyed that the city wouldn’t let him turn his place of business into a strip club. To spite the city, he’s erected a display of toilets at the industrial park as a greeting to people coming to Fall River to do business.

He seems to be a lover of first amendment rights, but not so much when those rights apply to others.

He came under criticism at the local radio station. He was given air time, but the subject continued to come up in discussion days after he appeared on Keri Rodrigues’ late afternoon show.

In response to Friday’s show, he turned up at the station demanding a tape of the show. When he was told he didn’t have a right to demand any tapes and was asked to leave, he stuck around until the police had to be called to escort him out. He made threats about returning if they discussed him on the air again.

By the way, the man is running in today’s election for a seat on the Governor’s Council. Happy election day!

Posted by James at 8:53 AM | Comments (3)

November 6, 2006

Bush lost the war, but you can still win. Vote.

Bush lost the war in Iraq, and we’re still stuck with him for two more years.

“Spend the Course” is not working, because throwing money and lives at a problem with a bad policy doesn’t fix it.

Bring back oversight to the government. Tell the world that accountability matters. Bush lost the war, but America doesn’t have to lose in the end.

In Iraq, the Democrats should suggest a more sane approach. There are proposals from John Murtha and Harry Reid to redeploy the troops outside of Iraq to become a “quick reaction force” in the region, and send more troops to Afghanistan.

However, there is another suggestion I’ve heard which appeals to me. Tell the Iraqis to tell us when to leave. Instead of having the dreaded timetable that Bush keeps saying is so deadly, tell the Iraqis we’ll leave when they want us to. Let the Iraqis use their democracy to come up with their own mechanism to tell us it’s time to go.

If the Democrats take control of congress, they will coalesce around their core ideas for how to change our Iraq policy, and work to put us on a better course, to make the best of the currently disastrous situation.

The elections are the best time for you to send your message.

Replace the batteries of government. Change the dirty socks of congress. Cough up the phlegm of democracy. Make a difference. Don’t let it be said that when you could have done something, you were a mere spectator. Cast your vote!

Posted by James at 9:54 PM | Comments (4)

Don't Vote.org

DontVote.org

Should you vote? I guess that these people want to tell you how informed you are. I got a 343 out of 350 - I got one of the people’s names wrong. But it counts for an 98% and an “A” and I have their blessing to vote. Wheee!

Well, anyhow I think its a decent quiz regarding how many people you can recognize and who you think they might be.

Post your score if you like, and your opinion about the role of being informed in exercising your vote.

Thanks to B.O.B. in the comments and Karen at verbatim for the link.


Posted by James at 3:20 PM | Comments (11)

Would You Rather? Monsters

I considered doing something related to the election, but here’s something creepy instead.

Would you rather:

  • Be a werewolf
    • For a week around the full moon, you hunt by night
    • Silver is your bane
    • You regenerate really well, but have raw meat breath a lot of the time.
  • Be a vampire
    • Must avoid the Sun, garlic, the cross, holy water and mirrors, wooden stakes
    • Youthful, if pale, appearance
    • Irresistible thirst for blood
Posted by James at 11:30 AM | Comments (6)

Hacking Democracy

Electronic voting machines count about 87% of the votes cast in America today. But are they reliable? Are they safe from tampering? From a current congressional hearing to persistent media reports that suggest misuse of data and even outright fraud, concerns over the integrity of electronic voting are growing by the day. And if the voting process is not secure, neither is America’s democracy. The timely, cautionary documentary HACKING DEMOCRACY exposes gaping holes in the security of America’s electronic voting system.

The HBO documentary is on Google Video here.

Posted by James at 8:08 AM | Comments (4)

November 5, 2006

Cheney to Americans: Your Opinion Doesn't Matter

The vice president, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, told the American people that their opinion doesn’t matter.

He also implied that Americans (including generals, our troops, Democrats and Republicans) are not interested in winning.

After saying that the president was interested in victory in Iraq, Cheney went on:

“It may not be popular with the public — it doesn’t matter in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right. And that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Cheney said. “We’re not running for office. We’re doing what we think is right.” [ABC’s this week]

In typical fashion, he says that the president is interested in victory, and those who disagree are not. Victory “may not be popular with the public.” Those who disagree with the president are “emboldening the terrorists.” As this segment of America, who think there needs to be a significant change in our Iraq policy, grows, the vice president casts a larger and larger segment of the population as siding with the terrorists. Someone needs to explain to the vice president that you win by not continuing with self-destructive policies. Replacing them with policies more likely to lead to security is quite compatible with “victory.”

Claim to promote democracy while expressing disdain for it. The Bush/Cheney Doctrine.

The fact is, Mr. Vice President that we are in the midst of one of the worst crises our country has faced because of your administration’s failed policy. Even prominent neocon, influential Bush advisor, and political lightning rod Richard Perle has said that:

[…]had he seen at the start of the war in 2003 where it would go, he probably would not have advocated an invasion to depose Saddam Hussein. Perle was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. “I probably would have said, ‘Let’s consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,’” he told Vanity Fair magazine in its upcoming January issue. [CNN]

We’re getting close to the point where they’ll need to rely mainly on Laura and the White House dog.

People want a change, and Bush is “full speed ahead” (that’s the new “stay the course”) on his failed policies. This will continue, according to the vice president, no matter what message the American people send, nor how they send it.

Despite anything Bush or Cheney might say in the last hours of campaigning, people want a new direction. Of course Democrats want victory, security and peace. To suggest otherwise is not only unpresidential, it’s despicable. It’s time this administration had some oversight. It’s time that failed policies were reconsidered instead of rubber stamped. It’s time to stay a successful course for a change.

Posted by James at 12:19 PM | Comments (2)

November 3, 2006

Gubernatorial Forum and Snow

Candidates ForumThe problem with going to a gubernatorial forum in the morning before work is that afterwards you have to go to work and you don’t have time to write anything about it.

There were some interesting moments, and perhaps I will write it up this weekend. But I haven’t even given you guys the shotgun post I owe you!

As you can see from the included picture, I didn’t take my camera because I was worried they wouldn’t let me in with it. So I used my phone cam, which is good at some things, but not good at all with adjusting to a really bright area within a darker area.

An odd and unrelated note, see the Flickr image that comes after this. Derek and I saw snow on one of the berms that separate the parking lots and the center campus. This was on a south-facing incline. It rained all day yesterday and I have no idea how snow got in this location and remained there. There is no snow anywhere else I can see around here.

Posted by James at 2:40 PM | Comments (1)

November 2, 2006

We're In!

Derek and I got tickets for the Gubernatorial Forum through the university. So I will be attending.

I hope to hear some of what each candidate thinks they could do, as governor, to help the so-called SouthCoast with its specific challenges while also taking advantage of what we have to offer the state.

I don’t remember this sort of think happening with governor candidates ever before in the Fall River/New Bedford area.

Thanks, Derek, for thinking to submit my name when he submitted his, even though I didn’t ask him to, since I was AFK at the time. And, as an aside, you rock, Keri.

Posted by James at 4:57 PM | Comments (1)

Busy Coupla Days

Today: Rehearsal at the BSO and lunch at the Pru with K’s middle school class
Tomorrow: Possibly getting in to see the Governor’s Candidate Debate at UMassD, lunch at No Problemo (?) with my sister (celebrating both our birthdays).

I also have to find some time to work in there, and post to the blog.

Posted by James at 7:12 AM | Comments (1)

Is the CW Wrong on Violence and Porn?

An article in Slate called “How the Web Prevents Rape” discussed what the data shows when you look at levels of rape in different parts of the country as their access to internet porn increased, and also the levels of violent crime when violent movies are released in theatres.

The bottom line on these experiments is, “More Net access, less rape.” A 10 percent increase in Net access yields about a 7.3 percent decrease in reported rapes. States that adopted the Internet quickly saw the biggest declines. And, according to Clemson professor Todd Kendall, the effects remain even after you control for all of the obvious confounding variables, such as alcohol consumption, police presence, poverty and unemployment rates, population density, and so forth.

I think this bucks the conventional wisdom. Researchers argue that previous experiments on the effects of pornography on whether a man was likely to have misogynistic way were limited by the environments of the lab.

The data is also interesting on violent crime, implying that people who are likely to be violent are probably off watching a movie instead of causing trouble, if a suitable movie is in the threatre. But the effect seems to last the night.

What do you think?

Posted by James at 6:42 AM | Comments (4)

Inspectors General Investigate Bush Science Suppression

Did a Bush public affairs officer filter or stifle government communications relating to science when it they might not agree with Bush politics?

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he was informed that the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA had begun “coordinated, sweeping investigations of the Bush administration’s censorship and suppression” of federal research into global warming. “These investigations are critical because the Republicans in Congress have ignored this serious problem,” Lautenberg said.

I’d trust this investigation a bit more if Democrats were in control of congress, but this is better than nothing.

Posted by James at 6:35 AM