Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oh sure ...

Sure, go ahead, decide at the last minute that you're not going to participate in the debate. Imagine the enormous amount of work by a large group of people, and the money involved, at the university where it's going to be held. Imagine that they have gone to a tremendous amount of trouble - think of all that goes into putting on an event like this. And then, oh no, polls slipping, maybe we can stop all these debates from happening, I won't have to look like a putz and maybe no VP debate too, so that my lousy choice for veep won't have to ever show her face, or her grasp on any issue, ever.

Apparently, if Mr. McCain is confronted with a situation where he might look bad, he's not going to show up. And his puppet-veep can't take the heat, even remotely. They're a terrific pair to handle this country in crisis.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bailout? Epic fail!

Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post has a very interesting article about the bailout. Specifically, pay attention to the wording in the Bush admin's bailout package:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Yeah, sure, let's give 'em all the money we can borrow from China ('cause I don't think we have any left thanks to the wars) with absolutely no oversight, no regulation, and no REVIEW by ANYONE.

If we pass this thing, we are SO much more screwed than we already are. Boy, I hope Congress finally grows a pair.

Palin Will Meet With Kissinger and Foreign Leaders

This was a headline in today's New York Times. Made me snort coffee out my nose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bailing Out the Banks

I think I have the solution. I'm sending it to the Times. If they don't go with it, I'll post it here so that two or three people can see it, if they care to. But I've got it all figgered out, man.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I found this, by chance, in the OED

Who says that the OED is too stuffy!?

3. nudge, nudge (wink, wink)[a catchphrase from the British television comedy programme Monty Python's Flying Circus: see PYTHONESQUE adj.]: used as an interjection to imply cheeky, conspiratorial, or mischievous insinuation or innuendo, esp. of a sexual nature. Also as adj.: designating or employing this kind of innuendo; sexually suggestive.

1969 G. CHAPMAN et al. Monty Python's Flying Circus (1989) I. iii. 40 Is your wife Know what I mean? Know what I mean? Nudge nudge. Nudge, nudge... Your wife interested in er..photographs, eh? Know what I mean?.. Nudge nudge. Snap snap. Grin, grin, wink, wink, say no more. 1973 Punch 7 Feb. 178/1 We are largely informed about British public affairs by a hallowed process of nudge-nudge, wink-wink, Know-what-I-mean. 1977 Club Tennis Mar. 6/6 Senior lady players, in my experience (and I have some experience in that field, nudge, nudge), take very badly to being beaten by up-and-comings. 1990 Internat. H & E Monthly 92 No. 2. 58 Once we proceed past the nudge, nudge, wink, wink routine I find that most people are genuinely interested. 2001 Heat 27 Oct. 101/4 Sue Johnston appears too, as Silas's nudge nudge, ‘housekeeper’.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

OK, what *really* bugs me ...

I know I've been missing for awhile. Crazy busy, computer at home busted. But, for this, I come in on a Saturday to post.

OK. It's not that McCain offered Palin the post. I don't expect anything much from him except outrageous insults to our collective intelligence, and this is certainly no exception: Somehow he and his people (for want of a better word) believe that Sarah Palin is a perfectly legitimate stand-in for Hillary Clinton 'cause of that double-X thing, and that Hillary supporters would absolutely vote for him now that there's a chance for a a female-type human a malignant melanoma from the presidency. Oh, yeah, that international experience 'cause she lives near the Bering Strait. Great googly moogly.

OK. So we expect nothing less than a completely tone-deaf response to disaffected Hillary supporters and the religious Right. But, of all the things you can say about why Sarah Palin is not right for the job, which are apparently legion (20 months, minus -- I have to assume -- some maternity leave time, governing one of the country's least populous states; being for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it; having an ongoing investigation into possibly illegal use of her power; having, before this job, been a part-time major of a teeny weeny town; being pro-ANWR drilling and anti-polar bear; disregarding the environment she seems to enjoy so much; having ties -- however tenuous -- to oil corporations; anti-choice and pro-gun -- don't kill the babies until they grow up, so morally tenuous on that point as well; and who knows what else because that's just the information gleaned over a single day) ... this is what REALLY bugs me:

Because she ACCEPTED this steadfastly absurd notion. She ACCEPTED the job offer. She said she didn't know exactly what a vice president of the United States of America does for a living, but she seems to feel that she is qualified for the post. She seems to actually think that her experience and skills are up to the task. And that people are comparing Obama's experience in grassroots organizing to her part-time gig as mayor of 9000 people. And that his law degree from Harvard somehow is comparable to her BA in journalism from who-knows-what college. That her desire to be a sportscaster for ESPN until she found out that she'd have to move away from Alaska to have the job is somehow comparable to his work on the south side of Chicago, his time in the Illinois state house, and his clear and forceful view of how to improve life for all Americans. And/or people are comparing her as a candidate to Hillary Clinton based strictly -- STRICTLY -- on her XX chromosomes. That is exactly and completely where the comparison to Clinton ends.

She accepted the job of possible Vice President. She has the absurd confidence to believe that she could run the United States of America if John McCain kicks the bucket suddenly, given a ridiculous lack of education, experience, and -- obviously -- common sense. In other words, she is both utterly delusional and dangerously egocentric.

What in the world will happen to this country -- really, to this world -- if this tag team of idiots gets elected? Oh my stars, we are lost.

Obama's speech was electifying, extraordinary, amazing. The vast stadium, the incredible family walking to the front of the stage, the brilliant minds, the moment of utter belief in a change of course ... I don't expect that all the changes hoped for can or will be made. I don't hold any human being to that kind of set of expectations, knowing how rough the road will be, knowing that it takes a concerted effort by a vast number of people (imperfect, flawed as we are all), but that the momentum to change is there and the willingness to try is there in hearts all across the country. But this I know, and I know full well, I do not trust McCain or anyone on his side to do anything but screw us up even further, and his insulting pander simply increases the volume on what Mr. Obama said Thursday night: He just doesn't get it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Golf?! GOLF??!!!?!?!@*!#

I almost posted about this yesterday when I first heard what Bush said about golf, but I was too flabbergasted to get it into words. Leave it to Olbermann to do the job for me. This is an impressive rant, to say the least. I'll let him speak for himself.

Also, btw, kudos to MSNBC for encouraging people to embed their video in their blogs, as opposed to suing people for doing the same. Someone, somewhere, got his/her head out of his/her ass about that kind of thing and realized that it was good advertising to put out video vignettes to a wide audience. (Duh.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

New feature you'd probably never notice

I added a Bushisms widgit to the bottom of the page, 'cause it didn't fit on the side. And, for some reason, I still get some startle value out of some of this stuff.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Those wacky Dutch!

HEMA is a venerable department store in the Netherlands, with a sort of typical website -- except for this page, which you should open and then just observe.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Semi-Myth of High Thread Count

The part of me that is FiberGeek must address the question of High Thread Count.

First, I don't know why this is, but I hear fellas talk about high thread count more than I hear women talk about it. Usually I think it's in the context of "impressing the ladies" (or whoever) by providing classy sheets. At times, it's been a question: "Should I get satin sheets? Or should I go with some High Thread Count? What would impress a new girlfriend more?" First of all, NEVER go with the satin sheets. Why? Two reasons: (1) They're usually polyester, which means they won't breathe, and that means unpleasant sweating -- not the good kind. (2) Someone will slide right out of bed, and that's never good. Oh, a third reason: (3) Icky, and trying too hard to look suave. Never works. Or backfires altogether.

But here's the point of this post: High thread count is one marker of a soft sheet, but it's not the only one. HTC alone is not the be-all and end-all of sheetness. It's better than those burlap sheets you have now, of course. And if the HTC sheets are all-cotton (and not a cotton-poly blend, which defeats the idea anyway), then you're doing reasonably well.

But there is another essential factor to excellent sheets, and that is staple length. Whuzza?, you may well ask. You see, there are various species of cotton. Some have short fibers and others have long fibers ... that is, their staple length varies. As an example, take a cotton ball in one hand and pull just a few fibers partly away from the ball and twist them between your thumb and forefinger. As they twist together, pull slightly further away from the ball, trying to pick up some more fibers into the twist as you go. This is essentially how threads (and yarn) are made. A cotton ball is made (I assume) from waste fibers, so they're varying lengths and mostly they are very, very short.

Most fibers, animal and plant alike, have microscopic little barbs on them that catch onto other fibers, which is how the twist holds in threads and yarn. (This is why your pet hairs stick to your clothes, furniture, and carpets too.) Short staple cotton will hold together all right (when twisted with more oomph than your fingers can provide), but, as you can imagine, they might break more often when they are very, very thin threads. If you get HTC sheets with short staple cotton, you will find after a few washings that they start to pill or feel slightly rough to the touch. This is because the short staples are starting to break apart and pull away from each other. The sheets will still feel great compared to other sheets, generally, but they are likely to wear out and tear in a relatively short period of time (depending on how you treat them, of course).

So, what do you use instead? Long staple cotton, of course. Egyptian cotton is the standard bearer for long staple cotton, and sheets (or clothing, or towels) made from Egyptian cotton are likely to be very expensive. An American version of Egyptian cotton is pima cotton (be aware that fiber content can say "pima" but not be 100% pima -- look for "Supima," which is required to be 100% pima). However, durability is exceptional, and the hand of the fabric (the way it feels to your skin) is out of this world. Towels made from Egyptian or pima cotton are tremendously absorbent and luxurious feeling. Sheets and clothing drape well and last for ages.

Another option in the sheet department is linen -- long-stapled by nature, a HTC linen sheet will also be very expensive, should last a lifetime if treated properly, and feel amazing.

Personally, I can't afford to buy fancy sheets and stuff. However, if you can afford it and want to really impress your sweetheart, think about going for the long-stapled stuff.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Speaking, once again, about Albert Hofmann

Sadly, Dr. Hofmann passed away on Tuesday, at a ripe old age. NYT Obit here.

And, just to be clear, I haven't spoken this much about Albert Hofmann in a short space of time before in my entire life. I'm not, like, obsessed with Dr. Hofmann. But he (and Cary Grant and Tim Leary) all have convinced me that, if you take a lot of the stuff, you may live a long life and look relatively young while you're doing it.

(Once again, this is not advocacy; it is simply a non-scientific observation based on a very small sample.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why is Dick Cheney dressing like Truman Capote?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fascinating (speaking as an anthropologist, anyway)

Check out this blog entry and its comments on BoingBoing today!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


On this date in 1800, the Library of Congress was established, with an initial outlay of 5,000 smackers. I want to write up some sort of personal homage to the LoC, where I used to go to study when I was a grad student in DC ... but not now. Soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


He's going to Cat Heaven today. Ol' Squeakster will go to curl up in some eternal comfy lap of love, and end his troubles. I'm gonna miss the old guy. Darn it.

Roy Orbison

He would have been 72 today. He died 20 years ago. He always seemed much older to me, for some reason ... maybe it was his voice. It seemed so eternal, somehow. One of those voices that makes the back of your neck prickle when it hits certain notes, as though the vibrations of his vocal cords are in harmony with some life force within you. Yeah, that's it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Speaking of Albert Hofmann ...

... which I was doing below ...

There was a documentary on the History Channel over the weekend, presented by Wade Davis, about Richard Schultes, who was a pioneering ethnobotanist. I met Wade Davis briefly years ago at a celebration of Dr. Schultes's career. I thought (for a very short time) of becoming an ethnobotanist myself, but then it turned out you needed to know stuff, like plant chemistry. Makes sense. Anyway, I have an abiding appreciation of Dr. Schultes's work, and Wade Davis's too.

The documentary is called Peyote to LSD: A Psychedelic Odyssey and it reruns next Saturday at 5:00 (EDT).

Andrew Weil, William S. Burroughs, Alan Ginsberg, etc. were all influenced by his work. He was really something. Golden Books (!!) even published a kids' book of his called Hallucinogenic Plants. Oh, how I would like a copy of that. I saw one once, held it in my hands, so I know it's true. It's the Holy Grail of unbelievable publications. Someone, somewhere on the Intarnebs has uploaded some .jpgs of some of the pages, as I recall.

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing the use of anything. This post is for informational purposes only. Do whatever you want; no skin off my nose.

Crabby about ads

OK, I know this is not deep, but I watch a hella lot of TV, so it gets to me after awhile.

So, like, there are these ads for some hotel -- Marriott Renaissance suites or something -- that seems to be telling you that it's the preferred hotel of circus performers. So, really, go crazy! You might as well. The ceilings are maybe 20 feet tall, the curtains are on indestructable tracks that cross the entire ceiling, and they're strong enough to hold an adult. In the case of the ad, it's some zombi-fied woman in her bra, who has a big black stripe down her abdomen, who gets some sort of autoerotic kick out of tangling herself up in the fabric and pushing off from the wall. So, hell, if she can do it, why not your six-year-old? Or maybe you and your husband. Looks strangely mind-numbing, so tie your kids to the drapes and push 'em around. That'll calm 'em down.

And then, yeah, you can do hand stands and eat fruit off your foot. If you're into that kind of thing.

Next door, the elephant trainer is teaching Jumbo how to use the remote check-out.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rick Moranis's birthday

I learned this version of the Star-Spangled Banner from watching this when it first ran (maybe 1983 or so??), and never forgot it. It still cracks me up!

Another dark day in the world of advertising

Who in their right minds ever thought, in a million years, "John McEnroe. Now he is a viable spokesperson for breakfast cereal! People are going to want to eat the breakfast cereal that John McEnroe endorses!"

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I don't know how I didn't know this, but a BOMBSHELL from Rachel Maddow on Olbermann last night. I had no idea! The Crawford Ranch? Bought just as GWB started running for Pres. He and Laura have never lived there. And they're moving to Dallas when they leave DC. So even when talking about the ole family ranch? BFL!

No wonder there's so much brush to clear. He just started on the brush-clearing job when he got this other (allegedly) busy job. Hard to keep up with the yard if you've only ever been there on vacation.

Chaplin on the Intarnebs

There's a pretty sad collection on youtube, so I went here to find some Chaplin shorts. Check out His New Job, as one example.

The Internet Archive is an amazing collection. It's got your audio, your video, your books ... etc. etc. Take a look see.

(By the way, the cute kid in the still -- from the film The Kid -- is Jackie Coogan, better known to most people as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family tv show, which is much much better than any of the A.F. films, by the way.)

And also Spike Milligan's?

Both on the same day? Man o nam. More to follow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today is Chaplin's birthday

Remind me to post a youtube video tomorrow!

Long strange trip etc.

This is the anniversary of the accidental discovery (in 1943) of lysergic acid diethylamide by Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist.

(I borrowed the image from Wolfgang's Vault, which you should really check out, by the way, and I hope they don't mind that I borrowed it, 'cause you really really should check out this site.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dollars, Taxes!

A terrific scene from Duck Soup, which comes to mind as Tax Day approacheth.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A year ago today...

I'm sure he's happy as a clam up in Heaven.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jargon & Lingo, Alive Alive-O

There's a lovely little piece in the New York Times today about a life of learning new vocabulary and the pleasure of discovering the meanings of trade words, sporting terms (in this case, sailing), and lingo of that sort. Some people complain about jargon, but there's a certain kind of joy to enhancing your vocabulary for clarity and more effective discussion. (It's the use of jargon to intimidate people through obfuscation that I find mean-spirited.) The author's name alone drives the imagination: Verlyn Klinkenborg, my word! (See the article here.)

So I started just conjuring some of the words that I'd learned from various hobbies, classes, and esoteric ephemera upon which I've stumbled, and there are some that I just love -- and some that sound vaguely unpleasant. I think I'll fling a couple in here occasionally. Hazard a guess at their meaning if you'd like (more fun than looking 'em up, at least at first), and leave your guess in the comments. If you have any spare oddball words to drop in, toss 'em in the comments too, and maybe I'll put them in the forefront for future commentary.

Here are a couple of terms I like:

Umbrella swift

Friday, April 4, 2008

Whu hoppened?!

For some reason, my formatting has gone kablooey, and I don't have time to figure it out now ... so whatever, huh. This too shall pass.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Evil Euphemism of the Day Award

Upon acquiring DoubleClick and then laying off 300 Human Beings from their jobs in the middle of a recession, the Google spokeshead said, "As with many mergers, this review has resulted in a reduction in headcount at the acquired company."

A reduction in HEADCOUNT? That's a new one. (Maybe it's not, but it's the first time I've heard that euphemism for HUMAN BEINGS -- except in terms of checking you've got all the kids on the bus after the field trip.)

Quote from today's NYTimes, by Miguel Helft: "Google Cutting 300 Jobs at DoubleClick"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


This is the anniversary of the yo-yo (1929). Enjoy:

And, when you're done enjoying that, try this one -- this guy will blow your mind:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out, March

Chevy Chase:
Last week we made the comment that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Now here to reply is our chief meteorologist, John Belushi, with a seasonal report.

John Belushi:
Thank you Chevy. Well, another winter is almost over and March true to form has come in like a lion, and hopefully will go out like a lamb. At least that's how March works here in the United States.

But did you know that March behaves differently in other countries? In Norway, for example, March comes in like a polar bear and goes out like a walrus. Or, take the case of Honduras where March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a salt marsh harvest mouse.

Let's compare this to the Maldive Islands where March comes in like a wildebeest and goes out like an ant. A tiny, little ant about this big.

[holds thumb and index fingers a small distance apart]

Unlike the Malay Peninsula where March comes in like a worm-eating fernbird and goes out like a worm-eating fernbird. In fact, their whole year is like a worm-eating fernbird.

Or consider the Republic of South Africa where March comes in like a lion and goes out like a different lion. Like one has a mane, and one doesn't have a mane. Or in certain parts of South America where March swims in like a sea otter, and then it slithers out like a giant anaconda.

There you can buy land real cheap, you know. And there's a country where March hops in like a kangaroo, and stays a kangaroo for a while, and then it becomes a slightly smaller kangaroo. Then, then, then for a couple of days it's sort of a cross between a, a frilled lizard and a common house cat.

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Wait wait wait wait. Then it changes back into a smaller kangaroo, and then it goes out like a, like a wild dingo. Now, now, and it's not Australia! Now, now, you'd think it would be Australia, but it's not!

[Chevy Chase tries to interrupt him]

Now look, pal! I know a country where March comes in like an emu and goes out like a tapir. And they don't even know what it means! All right? Now listen, there are nine different countries, where March comes in like a frog, and goes out like a golden retriever. But that- that's not the weird part! No, no, the weird part is, is the frog. The frog- The weird part is-

[has seizure and falls off chair]
Link (Thanks to Chuck Welch)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Me too, zombi kid, me too.

This nice lady needed a freezer

for her tiny store in Paraguay. I loaned her a little money ($25), and so did a few other people from the US, Canada, France, and Australia. She got the freezer, improved her income, and paid us all back in no time.

I could do this thanks to the microfinancing website called Kiva, which I heard about in an interview with Bill Clinton (before he turned vicious and sniping, remember? Back when he was all about giving?). You may have heard about microfinancing; it's pretty obvious now that it's been created. Poor people can't afford a big loan -- but if you loan them $25 or $100 or so, they can start a small business and make a little headway, and they're more likely to be able to pay the loan off without being, for all intents and purposes, indentured to their loan.

So Kiva sets up the loans, you contribute to the person you want to loan to (via PayPal), and within a few months, the money comes back and you can reinvest or get your money back. I've loaned to a pig farmer in Indonesia, a carpenter in Bolivia, a small consortium of fruit and vegetable saleswomen in Peru, a weaver in Peru, and someone who sells home decor in Peru. They've all either paid back their loans or are close to doing so. It feels very rewarding.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Heard from one of my best friends EVAR. She didn't give up on me! Imagine that! Here I am, ready to be a friend again, and next thing you know, a friend pops up. Make that a Friend. Yay!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sad, so so sad

This is truly the only way to read Garfield -- without Garfield. This site has the facts -- that Jon is really talking to himself, and he is a sad, delusional, miserably lonely guy. It's much funnier this way.

Good speech, huh?

Imagine, if you can: A presidential candidate running on compassion and determination, rather than on fear and hatred. Imagine that.

Looky at what Adam made for me!

That Apelad is a jeeeeenyus!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A fat lot of help he'll be!

George W. Bush never was a successful oilman, really. How did he make all his money? Via corporate welfare and eminent domain. Here's a slice of a very informative article that I read back in 2000, in the New York Times:

Mr. Bush became a multimillionaire in the process, setting himself up financially for his run for the presidency. In one blow, he acquired not only wealth but also the resume he would need to triumph in politics.

Yet a close look suggests that Mr. Bush got the opportunity to be a baseball owner mostly because of his connections. Moreover, his investment was immensely profitable in part because he and his co-owners were shrewd bargainers who charmed and bullied the city of Arlington into giving them a great deal, with the local taxpayers paying more than $135 million to help build the Rangers a stadium.

''The largest welfare recipient in the state of Texas is George W. Bush,'' said Mark S. Rosentraub, a sports economist who formerly taught in Arlington and is now at Indiana University. ''The numbers speak for themselves. You cannot accept $135 million from the taxpayers of Arlington and then be against welfare.''

Mr. Bush and his fellow owners even got the local government to seize the property of other landowners and, in effect, hand it over to the Texas Rangers so that they could make a profit on it. All this was shrewd business and a tribute to Mr. Bush's savvy and vision, but critics complain that it is hard to reconcile with his speeches about limited government and private property rights.

''If a conservative is one who believes in limited government, this whole transaction shows how hypocritical it is for Bush to claim to be a conservative,'' said Jim Runzheimer, a lawyer in Arlington who opposed the public subsidy to build the stadium. ''He got the government to pay his expenses, and that flies in the face of capitalism.''

Yet Mr. Bush was simply doing, exceptionally successfully, what sports franchises everywhere have frequently tried: getting taxpayers to swallow some of their business costs. And to the extent that Mr. Bush's job at that time was to make money for the team's owners, he was eminently successful. ("The 2000 Campaign: Breaking into Baseball; Road to Politics Ran Through a Texas Ballpark, by Nicholas D. Kristof, Published Sept. 24, 2000.)

Yup, they seized private land for the new stadium complex. So much for small gummint.

I recall reading that he never really made any money in oil, but kept getting jobs in the industry because of his dad's connections. And that he'd always wanted to be baseball commissioner. Why didn't he get that job instead?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Woo! Four-day weekend! Woo!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Imagine that

So I was in Borders over the weekend, and I was passing some teenager type people, one of whom was looking at the Sony ebook reader that they're trying to sell there, and he said, "Wow, hey, look, a portable book!" and his friend said something like, "No way, dude!"

Because a portable book is really, you know, amaaaaazing.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Won't someone please please get me one of these?

Great googly moogly! Available here. You know you want one too, don't you?!

This is the funniest effin thing.

Click on the video to take you to the YouTube page. I first saw it today at -- one of my favorite sites of alllllll time. I admit I may be the last person in the world to have seen it, but -- thanks to Meg at -- I have finally made it to the 21st century. Oh my dog.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


About a month ago, I told my sister that I thought that Bill Clinton was actually working to undermine Hillary's candidacy -- maybe unintentionally/subliminally, but nonetheless. After all, he's always been the consummate campaigner. When he was running, he rarely made a misstep. But now he's screwing up royally. It's got to be because, deep down inside, he doesn't really want her to win, doesn't it?

The last few days, I've been hearing pundits say the same thing. See, I should be actually blogging what I think when I think it, so that I can become one of the elite blogosphero-types that get Listened To. Yeah, that's what I oughtta do.

I've always basically liked Hillary, except for those glaring moments when I wonder what she could be thinking. But I also like Barack and, if he gets elected, I hope that he can count on the same combination of charisma and good strategic advice that we've seen throughout this campaign. He seems relatively unruffle-able, and he clearly has a good campaign team keeping him on message. Whether it works to actually unite Americans, who knows. Whether it works to inspire less pessimism in America globally -- well, that would be even better.

My biggest concern, no matter who gets in, is to what extent they can resuscitate the Constitution. I never thought I'd see the day that the government of this country (all branches) would be able and apparently more than willing to relegate the Law of the Land to the shredder. Will no one in the Legislature or the Judiciary stand up for the Constitution, at long last? Doesn't the United States government care -- don't the people who were elected to these posts give enough of a damn, any of them, to stand up and say "Enough!" loudly and persistently? What the hell is happening to us?

So bloody sick of people waving the flag in a threatening manner and shredding the Constitution at the same time. It's like a funhouse mirror; everything is completely topsy-turvy. Without the Constitution, what does the flag represent? Lies, deceit, treachery.

To me, it's not enough to say you're going to change the country if your first step is not to demand that our leaders, our judges, our legislatures stand up first and foremost for human rights, dignity, habeas corpus. For keeping not only *our* young people alive and out of a pointless war, but also for the innocents who are not Americans from dying for this miserable mistake. To make sure that people get a fair trial. To destroy secret prisons, to stop anything resembling torture, and to apologize for what's been done. To stop pouring money into lost and misguided causes and right the economy. You know, the Bill of Rights. And, dammit, to make those who are responsible for these crimes be held accountable.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ah yes, I remember it well

Remember how Ralph Nader said there was no difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore? So that was a good reason to vote for Nader? Remember how some people believed that? Like just enough people?

This is a funny country sometimes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It could have been worse

If indeed John McCain has/had an "intimate relationship" with a lobbyist, at least it wasn't with:

1. Charles Keating
2. Russ Feingold
3. A terrorist

So there's that, at least.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Can't sleep ... clock will eat me ...

Is this not one of the scariest things you've ever seen? From Popular Mechanics, Nov. 1936, courtesy of this terrific site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Go Pogo!

Especially in an election year. Pogo (and his maker, Walt Kelly) was my political, spiritual, and comical teacher when I was a child ... and maintains that ranking (amongst a few others) even today. You can hardly find anything about Pogo in the stores, although Fantagraphics (thank doodness for Fantagraphics) plans some sort of massive omnibus of Sunday and daily strips for release later this year.

Surreal and hilarious, full of nonsense songs and verse, breaking that comic strip panel and playing with conventions (a talk balloon commandeered by precision-choreographed bees?), Pogo did it all right ... and beautifully so. Kelly was a master with a brush and with a turn of phrase. One book (at least one) had a table of contents that read in verse. And Kelly was gloriously democratic, in every sense.

Here is the frustrating part: Apparently the well-intentioned and loving Estate is terribly terribly anxious about Pogo presence on the interwebs. I understand that they don't want to have Pogo chewed up and appropriated and hacked and mangled. But, sadly, that also means that Pogo and Walt are almost unknown to a generation or two of people, when I (and many other Pogophiles) feel strongly that we need to know that sweet and kind possum more than ever before -- and we need Albert (alligator), Churchy La Femme (turtle), Howland Owl, Beauregard the Hounddog, Porky Pine, and oh so many others just as much. I'm daring to put a picture here ... and maybe another one some other time, and I hope that the licensers won't get all up in my face about it. Anyway, I'm linking to the official site, and you should go ... and follow their accepted links to see more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's Yokolicious!

It's Yoko Ono's birthday today -- and, wow, get this: she is 75 years old today. That just seems unbelievable to me, but the math works out.

I love Yoko, doggone it. Always have. Many people who find this out about me thinks that makes me a kook, but some terrific people agree with me. Don't be caught in the nonsense of the popular press; think for yourself (i.e., agree with me!): Yoko is -- and always has been -- totally cool.

Possibly the greatest American novel

It ain't like that's news to anyone. I mean, that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn may be the greatest novel ever written by an American. It had a tremendous influence of me, personally. And this is the anniversary of its publication in 1885.

It's time for you to read it again. Furthermore, you can read it free online, for example at Project Gutenberg.

(Here's the old poop himself.)


Dr. Philip Zimbardo, author of The Lucifer Effect, on The Colbert Report: "Obviously, you learned well in Sunday school."

Dr. Stephen T. Colbert: "I teach Sunday school, m*****f****!"

See it here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Say goodnight, Gracie

On Feb. 15, 1932, George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on radio. In 1950, they moved to TV. If you haven't seen their shtick, here's a bit of it.

George Burns broke that televisual 4th wall in surreal ways, often, on the show. He talked to the tv audience, and he'd occasionally watch the program in progress on his tv set in his "office" to see what was going on in the show while he was away from the main action, and -- by the time he got downstairs again -- the plot would have changed, so he'd be all at sixes and sevenses when he came in the door. Any chance he'd have to force the plot in his direction would be foiled by Gracie's unique art of meta-misunderstanding.

Great work. Some of the best tv comedy ever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

In memory of my home town.
(You can get one of these, by the way, here.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A lovely moment when my favorite things collide

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats meet Vonnegut on the rails. Bless you, Mr. Apelad.

And so it goes.

Also - it's Abe's BD too.

I wonder what he'd be thinking about the elections this year.

(This image is borrowed from this guy's blog, and I really hope he doesn't mind.)

Albert loves U!

Speaking of Science!, check out these totally excellent valentines.

Happy birthday, Chuck!

Get your very own Darwin Bobblehead and support Darwin Day at Southern Illinois University! For reason's sake, support the teaching of science, wouldja?

While I'm on the subject, let me also encourage you to pick up The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution, by David Quammen. It's a fascinating look at the extensive struggle to deal with a burgeoning idea that flies in the face of every authority, Darwin's extreme effort to provide reams of evidence, and the physical, emotional, and social tolls that it took on him. Plus it's very readable.

Monday, February 11, 2008

3rd Annual Shoot Your Friend in the Face Day

The ritual is: You shoot your friend in the face, and then make him apologize on TV for having a face and therefore making it possible to be shot in it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.

This is the anniversary of the death of Mary, Queen of Scots (1587).

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Los Beatles arrived in America on this date, 1964. (Thanks to the strange and brilliant Don Martin for this image, which I "borrowed" but I can't remember from whence.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mary Leakey

Mary Leakey was born on this date in 1913. When I was younger, everyone knew who the Leakeys were, but this doesn't appear to be the case any longer, so let me tell you a little:

Mary and Louis Leakey were paleoanthropologists, who both discovered a number of ancient humans and human ancestors in their research in Africa. (Louis was also responsible for sending Dian Fossey out to live with gorrilas, as seen in the movie Gorillas in the Mist.) Many other Leakeys have been involved in paleontology; their son Richard also became deeply involved in elephant conservation.

One of Mary's most amazing discoveries was of the Laetoli footprints in Tanzania, which she found along with some other notable researchers. The footprints of a few individuals, walking across damp volcanic ash, were cemented in place. Dated to 3.7 million years ago, it was the first indication that there were people (or human ancestors) walking around on two arched feet so long ago. I think the early skeletal remains are interesting, but the footprints were the first evidence I'd seen that actually got my imagination quivering (at least in terms of paleoanthropology).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Primarily pissed off

The excellent John Hodgman reminds us today to Hope and to Vote (right here: good evening: HOPE).

My dilemma has been, in fact, that I've been failing in the Hope department. Believing in and trusting an idealistic candidate seems far, far away from any experience I have had in such a long time. I've really been of two minds about all this, and it's a rare experience. Having gotten used to resignedly marking my ballot for the least scummy individual, I'm confused -- and frankly, a little freaked out -- that there are choices this time. Some of the differences are nuanced, some are more obvious, and sometimes a preference toward one candidate's ideas has to be weighed against a different issue, a different candidate. How weird is THAT?! I'm glad to be reminded that Hope is not only an acceptable emotion, even in politics, but that it's one of the birthrights of American citizens. Thanks for that, Mr. Hodg-man.

OK, with all that said, let me backtrack to the Michigan primary, so-called. I voted, despite the fact that my vote has been stolen by the National Democractic Committee, or the Michigan Democratic Committee, or by both of them acting like big babies. Everyone I know voted, and everyone who voted in the Michigan Democratic Primary was kissed off. Government by the people, stolen by the temper-tantrumming committees that are supposed to be watching over the DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. Of course, Florida has the same problem. And I am truly pissed off.

I'm wondering: Is there a class-action suit being filed against the Democratic Committees, national or otherwise? If not, shouldn't there be?

Ultimately, I'm sure I'll be happy (more or less) with the outcome -- at least at the primary level -- despite all the weirdness of "superdelegates" and all this nonsense that makes my head hurt. And I'm sure I'll vote in the general election for that candidate. Unless, of course, my own party sees fit to somehow disenfranchise my state again.

\ | /
- H -
/ | \

Picture of the Day

'Nuff said!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Yay! I gots my book!

My Laugh-Out-Loud Cats book! W00t!!1!

Excellent birds

... etc. CBS News Sunday Morning yesterday had a lovely piece about Charley Harper, whose name had been unknown to me but whose illustrations I recall seeing with some frequency when I was a kid. I'm sure that, lost amongst the detritus of my basement, are some books or periodicals with his images. Luckily, Todd Oldham has made it his mission to accumulate Harper's artwork into a volume ... and apparently into his own designs (presumably $ to go to Harper's family) ... and apparently some of it for La-Z-Boy, which I would not have guessed. (Crumbs, I can't find the image that I had in mind. If I find it in future, I'll pop it in here.)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Interesting Publishing Trend

I heard today about another book that's being released whose premise is the need (and a prescription to effect) a revival of the conservative movement. So let me get this straight: Someone thinks that the conservative movement is nearly dead? Even during a Bush presidency? Sure, I know that there are a ton of people who are appalled by the current conservative movement, but it hardly seems dead. Are these people thinking that lack of primacy equals death rattle? Even while we are still mired in the ongoing hell of this administration (and a lot can happen still in this year), there's a call for revival?

Oh, I know -- I understand that they feel threatened. I do love that there's panic in the ranks, even while the ranks still run the show -- especially due to the fact that the ranks run the show. Nothing works better to undermine the conservative movement than to have the conservatives in charge for awhile.

Today comes in threes

This is the 33rd day of the year. There are 333 days remaining in 2008.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Today is the anniversary of Buster Keaton's death in 1966.

Wouldn't it be funny ...

... if it ends up that the Republicans' preferred choice for a Democratic President (if they have to choose) is Hillary Clinton? That'd be a hoot.

Lorem Ipsum Generator!

Who knew that there was such a thing? In fact, there are more than one Lorem Ipsum generators, and here's one. And here's the stuff you get:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Pellentesque tempus diam et sapien. Aliquam vitae nibh vel justo rutrum rutrum. Cras ut risus quis erat dapibus iaculis. In bibendum turpis at diam. Sed sed pede in neque auctor placerat. Aliquam eget enim. Cras mattis. Integer magna. Donec in odio quis mauris convallis congue. Vivamus purus nisi, malesuada non, faucibus sed, auctor nec, pede. In blandit est quis odio.
Supposedly random Latinesque nonsensicle words used as placeholders for copy editors and graphic designers, it's been used for years -- maybe for a hella lotta years; Cecil Adams says that the text comes rather from Cicero, more or less. I'd always vaguely wondered about all that stuff, so the fact that you can request as much or as little generated semi-fake Latin and get it in an instant just cracks me up, somehow.

Happy birthday, Terry Jones!

Coinage of note

David Rakoff, in his book Don't Get Too Comfortable, uses the term monstrocracy. I presume it's his coinage. I think this should become a regular part of our political parlance.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's funny 'cause it's true

I frequently recall a phrase from Alton Brown's erstwhile but excellent blog: In speaking of "Dr." Phil McGraw, AB called him a "loathsome opportuninst." Never has it been so true.

Am I now ...

... a member of the "Blogosphere"? Does my singular voice, provided to the world via this here instrument of dissemination, cause a deep rumbling of existential concern from those in Power? Will I now, 'cause I gots me a blog, cause mainstream mediorites to come running to hear my pronouncements?

I'm just wondering, 'cause, if that's the case, I should probably say something of substance.


I just heard Pat Buchanan defend Hilary Clinton to Rachel Maddow. My head is sploding.

For all you Make-sters out there.

The Scarecrow starring Buster Keaton (part 1). It's all good, but super-Make-friendly starts around 3:30.

The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats!

By the brilliant Ape Lad


I have a deep desire to share the things I really love or at least find fleetingly intriguing. So that's mostly what I plan to do here. I know that's what most people probably do with their blogs. So fine. So that's what I'm gonna do.

Had a terrific idea

Promptly forgot it.

If anything, this blog may be a tool for my aging, wretched, hobbled short-term memory -- if I can remember what it is that I find interesting long enough to get it written down here, maybe I'll be able to remember where I put that idea.

Does the world need another blog?


Do I really want to try to maintain one of these things?

Well, I dunno.

Might as well find out.