Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Wave" Bye Bye

You know how something can be so inoffensive, so bland, so nondescript that it winds up offending, grating at you and standing out like a sore thumb? The guy in the cubicle next to me has a radio just barely at audible level which plays "The Wave" all day.

I'm not sure you know what "The Wave" is. It's a "smooth jazz" format station. In Las Vegas, where I just was, they call it "The Oasis." I suppose in Alaska they call it "The Hot Spring." They playlist tends heavily toward R&B with something that you might define as jazz every couple of hours. For example, that remake of TAKE FIVE that someone cleverly arranged in 4/4.

Remember PICK UP THE PIECES by the Average White Band? That's odd. The Wave does! Not only do they play it on a daily basis, they also play a plethora of inexplicable covers by series of faceless saxophone artists. I'd have never imagined that there was a PUTP subculture out there. This daily basis thing is important - they play EVERYTHING on a daily basis. I know I'll hear two Anita Baker songs in the course of a work day, and about nine versions of Pick Up the Pieces, and a little Steely Dan, and some Hiroshima, and yes, Kenny G. It's like a country music station playlist, only more limited. It's not like there isn't enough material to fill out the genre - oh how I wish that were the case! - it's that the programmers have decided that familiarity breeds comfort. They've smoothed jazz to the point that you can skate across it.

They don't play any Miles Davis or Chet Baker or Ornette Coleman, perhaps out of fear of attracting the late greats' attention and causing unnecessary grave-spinning. My feeling is, for god's sake, let the spinning begin! I'm weary of David Sanborn. I'm no longer enamored of Enya. Maybe my problem with the station is that when I listen, I perpetually feel like I'm about to get a massage that never comes.

When I get home tonight, I'm going to pack the iPod with speed metal.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Photo Proof of Liberal News Bias!

{irony}Warner Todd Huston is right! Look at this news photo of Barack Obama!  I think there is a very clear message being sent by those rays of light shining down upon him from a higher source. Photo courtesy of The Washington Times. {/irony}


The Washington Times, of course, is the ultra-right-wing tabloid run by Sun Myung Moon.  Today's edition seems especially kind to liberals. Sample headlines: SEX ED FOUND TO PROLONG TEEN VIRGINITY; LIBERAL AND PRO-US? WHO KNEW? (a review of "Charlie Wilson's War", a movie starring Tom Hanks; PROGRAM LENDS HAND TO POOR INDIAN TRIBES. There is a CLINTON NEIGHBOR ARRESTED IN NY KILLING, but that's off the wires. 

What's up with the paper today? Spirit of Christmas got a hold of 'em? Or is the regular editor off for the week? If so, do I buy a condolence card for the guest editor now or wait until he meets with a freak accident around New Years?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thanks For Asking

And since you ask, I've simply been too busy hanging around with people to write. I've found this is a much more effective way of tamping down the Seasonal Affective Disorder than simply brooding, which is my usual strategy. Go figs!


Went to my office Christmas party last night, which was held at a swanky bowling alley in Hollywood. I was gunning to win a flatscreen HDTV in the raffle. Didn't quite make it, though I did win a wind-up generator portable TV with a lantern on it. And a memory foam pillow. And a DVD player. And a wind-up flashlight and radio. And LED stick-on laps for under-lit places. And a SEX IN THE CITY trivia game, which I gave to the waiter as a tip. 

The reason for all the prizes was everyone was given 5 tickets at the beginning of the evening, then more tickets were awarded to our bowling teams using an arcane selection of rules - how many strikes, how many combinations (3 / 7 split? You win!) and so on. I didn't understand it, but I got another 50 tickets. 

Another guy won two telescopes. Give him a little duct tape, and he's got the best damn binoculars ever.

What I found tremendously disappointing about the evening was this: Nobody, I mean nobody got embarrassingly drunk. The golden age of the office party is clearly past. I remember just a little over ten years ago going to one where a marriage broke up, somebody fell off a bar stool, and a women I barely knew came at me out of nowhere and french-kissed me.  I miss being around that kind of madness. A couple of years ago I was a the Christmas party of a mortgage company and it came pretty close; but since we had all just been laid off it was mighty bitter drinking. Embarrassing but no fun.

You are going to ask me about my plans for Christmas. I know you are. Well, I'm going to Vegas on Friday and I'm staying in town until Christmas day. There are few places more Christmas-immune than Vegas, baby. The Noel is pretty weak sauce in that town. You'd barely know there WAS a holiday except it's half deserted and the dancers in the Rio sky parade are wearing Santa hats.  If I don't write before then, just re-read this post until I get back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Right is Never Wrong (Especially When They Are Wrong)

I have long marveled at the ability of Republicans to "stay the course." They out stake a piece of ideological territory and never, ever give it up. In a lot of ways it's their strength because it makes them appear solid and reliable. However, it also frequently backfires on them because in real life people change their positions in the face of new data.


You might think I'm talking about the latest N.I.E. concerning Iran's nuclear program, but the President is only now starting to dig in his heels on that one and insist that they have one anyway. That issue just isn't ripe for pickin' yet. Instead, I'm going to give the example of a l'il comment war over at WAMK.

The esteemed Madeline's Dad wrote a post called WORDS MATTER. If I'm not mistaken, the point was that Democrats are too quick to label some of the excesses of our country in this time of war as, well, as he put it:
Senators and Congressmen using the words "torture" and "atrocities" to describe events that are unseemly, but hardly worthy of their definitions.
Fair enough, a matter of opinion. Or rather it would be, if it wasn't for that "Senators and Congresmen" passage. Something about it bothered me, and I asked for an example of a Senator or Congressman actually using the word "atrocity" to describe events. MD was kind enough to provide links to an editorial by ABC News, another one by the Washington Post, then CNN and then the Independent in the UK. No Senators, no Congressmen. He also posted a YouTube clib of Sen. Durbin in which he used neither word, but condemned our practices using less inflammatory language.

In the next 15 responses, I asked repeatedly for some proof that one of our elected officials had used "atrocity." Responses included:

I guess the search engines at Puffington Host don't cover traitorous statements made by US Congressmen.

Ted Kennedy never clamied that Saddam's torture chambers had "reopened under US management".

jOn caRrEy never acused US troops of "terrorizing innocent Iraqi families" during the night. Or that that's something the Iraqi military should be doing themselves instead.

Barack Obama never said that the US is carpet bombing Iraqi cities.

John Murtha would certainly not say that US Marines had murdered innocent Iraqi's "in cold blood".

(Preceeding courtesy of Ameridann, who missed his chance to call Barack Obama "Osama". You're slipping, Ameridann!) These are all legitimate quotes (probably) and also, they are all attempts to avoid saying "no, I can't prove that a Senator or Congressman used the word 'atrocity.'" Mad's Dad insists that he has heard it said, even though he can't find proof.

What fascinates me is, even if they think they have a legitimate larger point, they refuse to give up ground on the parts that don't matter. It makes Republicans less like statesmen and more like bulldogs, I think. I love bulldogs, but I don't consider them electible. They're ***king dogs.

Then again, when Mitt Romney revises his opinions based on the facts, I find him untrustworthy. Double-edged sword, the nuance thing.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another Front In The War On Christmas

I am outraged! It's Saturday afternoon, and there isn't a lot on TV for adults - it is thus that I landed on KSCI Channel 18, which is a local foreign language station. Today they are running a Hindi-themed show in English, SHOWBIZ INDIA. It was pretty enjoyable until I came across this commercial.


It was for some long distance service, and get this - they were saying you should sign up in time for "this festive season."

This Festive Season!

Obviously the War On Christmas has filtered down to the smallest stations! There is no time to lose. We must now do... well, whatever we do to preserve our treasured Christmas traditions. Call your local Hindi station now and demand that they directly refer to Christmas when they talk about this time of the year. 

While your at it, don't let your Jewish friends off the hook. 

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Going to Welles Once Too Often

Perhaps I'm not the nurturing type, but I AM nursing a head cold. It's making my throat sore and sapping my boundless energy. This leaves almost nothing for my righteous political rage at the end of the day, which is why yesterday instead of attempting to laugh through the Republican debate I popped a DVD of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI into my iMac and grooved on the 60-year-old cinematic goodness.


Though actually, it wasn't all that good. 

There's a couple of background stories concerning the movie which probably explain away the bad chemistry of this movie. For one thing, it was kind of made on a whim. Welles was mounting a stage production and needed a quick $50k for sets and costumes, so he called the head of Columbia and offered to make a movie based on a Maxwell Anderson novel which some say he hadn't even read. They gave him the money provided he cast Rita Hayworth, Columbia's number one star and Welles' then wife. By the time they went into production, the marriage was almost on the rocks and they divorced before it was even released.

And of course, there was the usual studio butchery as Welles lit off to his next project, leaving the post production to a team of non-geniuses.

Orson Welles fans are a peculiar lot, more so than most fans. They love CITIZEN KANE, his one flawless film, but they others? They don't love them. They love the films they WISH they had been. To be an Orson Welles fan is to be forever tantalized by the noble failures he left behind. 

A couple of months back I watched MR. ARKADIN, a movie which now boasts 7 different versions and no definitive director's cut. Every version is a bad movie, but somehow you can believe that had Welles remained in the editing room, it would have been a classic. Welles would have found the exact right pacing. Welles would have flawlessly dubbed in all the bad dialogue in a host of sparkling radio voices. Welles would have commissioned a score that does the story justice.

I can't help but suspect that Welles, who was a great filmmaker but a brilliant self-promoter, realized that he was better off leaving his work to people who could take the blame for his cinematic misdeeds. He was the tallest man on the landscape and yet was always able to make someone else the lightning rod. And then, as his fans lamented how others had ruined a masterpiece, we went off to sell wine and frozen peas and pick up an occasional gig as the voice of God. 

The last film Welles shot, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, remains unreleased to this day as various rights holders bicker over how to cut it. I recall hearing an anecdote on the Tonight Show,  years after Welle's death, by a famous actor who did a cameo in it. I can't recall who it was.

"Welles said 'Action! Now look down.' I looked down at the floor. Later I asked Orson what I was supposed to be looking at and he said, 'Dwarves. Dwarves are running between your legs. I'm going to add them in post'"
It's been over 30 years and there still ain't no dwarves. And you know what? I don't think there ever will be.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

At Last, Democrats Get A Shot At The Big Pandering Money

I tip my figurative hat to WAMK for again pointing me in the direction of a fresh outrage. 


Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat, has introduced the inevitable bill designed to "help nearly 638,000 families – a quarter of the 2.2 million people at risk of foreclosure – keep their homes by allowing them to modify the terms of their loan in bankruptcy proceedings." It sounds like a blow struck for the little guy against the big mortgage companies, but I'm more cynical than I used to be. A press release can say anything. 

First of all, no matter who it benefits, this amounts to a kind of bailout. Bad financial decisions need to have predictable consequences, because that prevents bad financial decisions in the future. If an offer seems too good to be true it damn well better play out that way. 

And free-market capitalism being what it is, big mortgage companies are already motivated to restructure debts, because the last thing they need is to foreclose on hundreds of thousands of houses at once. The paperwork overhead of turning those things over, added to a glut of fire-sale-priced residences, has got to be a worse headache than simply renegotiating with the current owners. 

What worries me about this bill is that I suspect that Durbin isn't pushing it to help the little guy; he's giving the mortgage companies a face-saving way out. I mean come on, in a match between huge money and the common man, who do you think will get to a politician first? On the other hand, it pleases me to see a Democrat behind this. Sleazy? Yes. But two or three years ago it would have been a Republican with an identical bill, but they would have sold it as a means of sustaining jobs and keeping the economy afloat. The fact that the banks let a Democrat carry their water means it's going to be a mighty rough election year for Republicans.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Globalonybaloney

I'm increasingly amazed by the ability of people to deny that mankind can effect the environment, especially when politics is involved. Poor science is made to jump through all kinds of hoops by the right. If Stephen Hawking were explicitly liberal, Rush Limbaugh would be mocking him for suggesting there is such a thing as "time."

Therefore we have to suffer through a lot of crazy debate about Global Warming, because it's a pet cause of Al Gore. Instead of listening to the majority of legitimate scientists, conservatives are forced to believe a handful of oil-company researchers. I have been batting this issue around lately with Warner Todd Huston (who believes that the new Eagles album aids the terrorists, even though it's perfectly acceptable to hate it because the album is just lame) and he's been riding the bullet train to Crazytown trying to convince me that there is no such thing as Global Warming. Or there is, but we aren't causing it and there is nothing we can do to stop it, and we shouldn't even try because there isn't any.

Warner says:

This isn't about "saving the Earth." It's about so-called scientists getting money for more research to assure globaloney exists.

Yes, that's right - the majority of the world's scientists have gotten together in secret, maybe at one of those conferences in Helsinki, and agreed to gin up the results of their research to squeeze a little grant money out of the rest of us! All this time I thought it was energy companies trying to protect their profits; but it turns out they're the altruistic ones! Those scientists are the greedy, rapacious bastards!

Warner says:

...People imagine that plastic won't break down and disintegrate. But this isn't true at all. It's just that plastic is such a new substance that microbes haven't figured out how to break it down. Eventually, they will.

Same thing happened to trees millions of years ago. Now trees break down and disappear because microbes, etc. break down the wood. But millions of years ago, they hadn't quite figured that out yet. That is why we can find bark and nearly whole fallen tree trunks deep under the earth in coal mines (for instance).

These two paragraphs have created a whole new energy source, because they make my head spin so much I have hooked a belt to it to power my reading lamp. First of all, microbes will eventually figure out how to break down plastic? How is that possible, knowing that there is no such thing as evolution?

Second, as proof that microbes learned to break down wood, Warner offers the example of million year old undecomposed wood. These microbes had millions of years - wouldn't a few of them have gone back to the older stuff and learned to eat that? If anything, this example proves that when Charlton Heston digs his fist through the sand screaming "you maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell," he will get his wrist tangled in one of those six-pack holder things, 'cause they're going to be around forever.

Finally, Warner says:

But a local "mess" does not automatically translate to a mess that encompasses the whole world!!!

I suppose the multiple exclamation points means I'm winning. But you know what? These guys always cite examples from nature ("The earth warmed during the renaissance! We didn't cause that!") so I'll refute that argument with a natural example. My "local mess" - the eruption of Krakatoa. From Wikipedia :

In the year following the eruption, average global temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 degrees Celsius. Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The eruption injected an unusually large amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas high into the stratosphere which was subsequently transported by high-level winds all over the planet. This led to a global increase in sulfurous acid (H2SO3) concentration in high-level cirrus clouds. The resulting increase in cloud reflectivity (or albedo) would reflect more incoming light from the sun than usual, and cool the entire planet until the suspended sulfur fell to the ground as acid precipitation.

I'd have quoted Conservapedia instead, but they don't have an entry for Krakatoa. Those guys only have so much server space and bandwidth, and explaining how dinosaurs survived on Noah's Ark takes up most of it. But you could call the eruption a local event, and it effected the entire world. It is said that Munck's THE SCREAM depicted the post-Krakatoa sky. In Norway. Just sayin'.

And yes, eventually the sky healed and things got back to normal. But it was just one source of pollutants, and it stopped after a month and a half. We have been pouring junk into the air since the industrial revolution from points all over the globe. How brainwashed by Bill O'Reilly do you have to be before you think that might create a problem?

Well, never mind. If Al Gore believes it, it MUST be wrong. Next thing, you'll be telling me that there is a company called APPLE that makes computers and phones!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

However, I Am Not Gay

Sometimes you do stuff without realizing it. Only after a while do the patterns emerge. Let me explain.

When I moved out for my separation in August, I made a point of getting a set of dishes. A single matched set, and I thought the set might as well look good, so I went for a deep red theme.













So last week I was attempting to use my microwave/toaster combo (one unit! Kenmore! Pretty good idea for tight spaces) for a kitchen timer and I accidentally set it to cook instead of time. It cooked itself for 8 minutes, which was sufficient to destroy the electronics. The toaster still worked, but I thought I'd replace both. Instead of the cheerless white color I'd gone with originally, I opted for the striking red as depicted below. Note the enclosed cookbook under the left foot - my counter is a little skewed.












Well, this afternoon I stopped by Best Buy. I have this $50 dollar gift certificate, an award for good administrative assistance at my job, and I've been needing a new vacuum cleaner. Guess what I got?


















I swear I wasn't planning on matching anything; I just liked the price and feature set. My point is, when will this stop? Is a cherry red comforter next? A sub-rosa leather couch? Will I move to the red-light district when my lease runs out?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quin Hillyer Is A Stand-up Guy

My last post used a column by Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator as a jumping off point, and he was kind enough to respond. It's a long letter and I won't quote it completely but I will say that I found all of it to be intelligent and heartfelt. No, I don't agree with all of it, but I respect his point of view. Which is represented as follows:


I do happen to believe that the Left is more often guilty of this sort of behavior than the right is, but I have been way out front in blasting conservative scofflaws too, criticizing Tom DeLay in print as far back as 1998, and writing columns for places such as the New Republic -- in early 2005, WAY before everything blew up in their faces in 2006 -- warning that GOP congressional ethical lapses were a serious problem that could help cost the GOP its congressional majority. I happen to believe that Bill Clinton, however, is the most prominent example of the psychology described in the study, because time and again when I worked as a leadership press aide in Congress in 1995 and 1996 I was privy to people coming back from meetings with Clinton having been assured he would do one thing, only to turn on the TV and see him saying the exact opposite while fiercely attacking them for positions he had just told them he could work with. Neat trick.

Before getting to your main point, I really, really hope you understood, from both the headline and my closing paragraph, that the whole column was slightly tongue in cheek. I was using the study as a launch for me to criticize specific liberals for lies and hypocrisy, but I acknowledged in the end that I was stretching the study beyond its actual findings in order to make my points. 

In short, as I noted in the headlines (which I personally wrote, even though that is not always the case) that my column was a bit of a "psych job" intended to goad  my liberal friends (and my liberal adversaries), and that I was "having fun" with the study. In short, the column was intended to use mild humor and mild self-deprecation (noting that I myself wasn't being fully honest with the psychological study) to make serious points about how people in politics (of course I focused mostly on the left!) manage to talk themselves into doing incredibly unethical things while still telling themselves they are morally superior.

Now, as for your point about torture: Please know that I wasn't trying to divert attention from or "derail" ANYTHING, and that I wasn't even thinking about the torture debate when I wrote my column. Granted, I clearly come down more on the side of "enhanced interrogation  techniques" than you do (http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10709). But I also, at first glance (not an in-depth analysis), think that I agree with what Bill Clinton said about a narrow statute allowing a presidential finding, etc. I do NOT think we should broadly lower our standards to those of the inhuman monsters for whom torture is almost an end in itself, and I think it is good that we so clearly set so many hurdles in the way of any of our own folks who might fall into the self-justifying trap of deciding for themselves, without checks and balances, that their own ends are noble enough to make torture okay.

My only response, aside from thanks for the respectful reply, is that as my pal Skot suggests the phrase "just kidding" literally means "I'm not kidding." However, Quin, you're perfectly justified in not originally addressing torture in your column and you are graceful to not sidestep my attempt to drag you into my tangent.  Long may you wave.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Ignoring the Elephant

(H/T to WAMK) Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator has done something fascinating with a short item in the Washington Post about a psychological study. It's a a pretty nifty trick, and I'll have to go into some detail to explain what he's up to, so bear with me.

First of all, the short item. It's the third item in a column called "Science Notebook" in which researchers for the Journal of Applied Psychology interviewed people about, basically, their sense of right and wrong. Salient idea follows: "...their research highlights the idea that people with exceptionally strong convictions about their moral goodness are likely to follow extreme courses of action because they can convince themselves that whatever they do is good."

Hillyer uses this as a jumping off point to attack the Clintons. Then William Jefferson and then Elliot Spitzer. Then Patrick Leahy. He then denies that he's claiming only Democrats do it, then goes back to attacking more Democrats. The point of course, is that Democrats delude themselves into doing immoral things.

If I hadn't given it more thought, I'd have simply believed that he was looking for a hook to hang the usual Clinton character assassination on - new wrapping paper for an increasingly shopworn box. But something nagged at me. This study resonates much more strongly elsewhere, and I think Hillyer saw this story as a train that he had to derail before it reached it's logical destination.

"Enhanced interrogation techniques."

With the nomination hearings for Michael Mukasey centering on his claiming to not know if waterboarding is "torture," or if any of the torturing we do nowadays is "torture," the last thing the meme-watchers need a reminder that we've somehow talked ourselves into endorsing behavior that was once only the province of third-world communists, terrorists and B-movie villains. Because we are absolutely sure what we do is right, we're okay with torturing our captives. A lot of us are even okay with torturing innocent captives. Price you have to pay, right?

To me the question is: does Quin Hillyer KNOW he's diverting the debate from its main point or is he doing it unconsciously? Or does he even think it applies? I wrote Quin Hillyer and if he responds, I'll report.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Play's the Thing You Can't See

Just a quick note as I count down the minutes until work is over - tonight marks the beginning of the last two weeks of THE GAME OF LIFE, the play I am appearing in at the Stage Door Theatre in Agoura. Two more Saturday nights, two more Thursdays, two more Fridays, and one more Sunday.

You say you want to come on Saturday? Good luck pal! It's sold out! I hear the Sunday matinee is similarly spoken for. Other nights, well, call first.

Our good fortune is the result of positive reviews in the Ventura County STAR, and a small amount of seats at the Stage Door. Place only holds 49 people! Still, getting that many people to pay $15 to see something that hasn't already done 500 performances with Nathan Lane on Broadway is quite an achievement. I bow my head to Kimberly Demarry, the wry author of our good fortune, and the rest of the cast who wring big laughs out of the material. Personally I'm good for about 2 or three big laughs a night, which is a little low for me.

The play has taken up a good portion of my free time for the past few months, which I found pretty useful (it is either that or full-on brooding) but I'll be glad when it's over and I can go back to regular apartment cleanings.

Oh and possibly I'll join a band, but I'll blog about THAT if anything develops.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Speaking Of Donavan

He and David (Blue Velvet) Lynch are talking about opening a "Meditation University" in Scotland - click on the title for details.

"For a country the size of Scotland it would take only 250 students meditating to protect Scotland from its enemies and to bring peace, to stop violence and drug abuse," Lynch said. "That is just a byproduct of the students meditating together."
Scotland has enemies? Who knew?

Come for the Food, Stay for the Pied Piper

Interesting facts about the Pied Piper of Hamelin:


  1. "Pied" means "clothed in many colors". Therefore, the piper in the stories is a loud dresser.

  2. According to Wikipedia (where I'm getting all of this stuff) the story has been made into a movie 12 times. One version starred Donavan Leitch as the Piper.

  3. Robert Browning wrote a poem about the Pied Piper which is frequently alluded to as the source of piper metaphors. For example, Atom Egoyan's THE SWEET HEREAFTER throws it all over the place.

  4. IT'S THE PIED PIPER, CHARLIE BROWN retold the story in 2000, using Snoopy as the piper and substituting mice for rats, because Charlie Brown's sister Sally is scared of rats.

  5. Jonathan "Dr. Smith" Harris played a sinister inter-galactic Pied Piper in an episode of LAND OF THE GIANTS.

  6. Though the tale is said to be based on an actual event, nobody seems to be able to pin down what the event was. All agree that the children of Hamelin disappeared all at once. The plague has been suggested as a cause, or Chorea. On the other hand, some have suggested that the kids were led off to fight in a children's crusade, and the Piper was a recruiter. There are some villages in Europe which were founded by children, perhaps the Hamelin youth did that. Or, of course, it could just be a massive paedophilia/murder case.

  7. Given his legal troubles, R Kelly's self-proclaimed title as "the Pied Piper of R&B" has taken on unfortunate overtones.

  8. DC's THE FLASH comic series has a supervillain called The Pied Piper, though his real name is Hartley Rathaway, and he retired from crime after the death of Flash alter-ego Barry Allen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Blood Boils With Consumer Lust

Here is a list of things I feel like buying.

1. iPhone. Yes I have two years on my contract with Sprint, but an iPhone would not only replace my phone, but my aging iPod nano (it would cost about $100 just to get a decent battery, more to replace the whole thing) and my aging laptop (800mhz!) as well. Hell, if I buy an iPhone I'll be turning a PROFIT.

2. Bigger screen for video. I watch TV on my 17" iMac. It was a good idea because it saves space but there are disadvantages. For one thing, once in a while my TV freezes or crashes. for another, a 17" TV is just crazy. I might as well watch on an iPhone. So I have a couple of options. I can buy a TV (I think 26" would do the trick, as long as it's at least 720p) or I can buy a second, larger computer monitor.

3. Vacation. Maybe a cruise, maybe just a drive up the coast, but I gotta get outta this town.

4. New socks.

5. Head shots. I am toying with the idea of trying to make a living acting, which means $200 bucks to a photographer so I can have pictures of myself in which I appear alive.

Can I afford any of this stuff? No, I cannot. But I feel better writing about it. I think I'll be able to go another 6 months without wanting an iPhone now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Harry Reid, Inkblot

Much has been said about Harry Reid, current speaker of the house. Up until recently the rap on the right has been that Reid is colorless, AND he's an Al-Quaeda member who hates the troops and wants to harm them by taking them out of the war zone and putting them in, you know, America. He's ruining this country with his librul schemes AND in charge of the most moribund, do-nothing congress ever.

You notice anything contradictory in that last paragraph?

This column is occasioned by a discussion I'm having at WAMK concerning the whole Harry Reid/Rush Limbaugh dustup. Watch this and tell me - is Reid trying to take credit for the idea of auctioning the letter, or acknowleging that Rush did some good with it himself?

As I said, you can see him taking credit for the idea if you really really want to, the same way that you can see Christ's face in tortilla if you really really want to. The weird thing is, the discussion over this tiny sideshow in the politcal theatre has been going on for DAYS.

How can a guy with so little personality inspire this kind of anger?

I'll tell you how. Harry Reid isn't a man, he's a strategy. The Democrat Party, long underground, had time to observe their enemy and plan how they would trip them up when they regained power. Knowing that whomever was in charge would be lightning rods, they chose a frail granny (Nancy Pelosi) and a colorless beaurocrat (Reid), because attacking these two creates a great picture. By vilifying them, the right looks like the kid at school who used to beat you up for your lunch money.

For that matter, it was brilliant to get the right on the side of the debate AGAINST providing medical care for poor children. Masterstroke.

Harry is so much a tabula rasa, so faceless, that the right is punching itself in its own face whenever they take a swing at him. And because they are slow to learn, the right continutes to attack the Majority Leader like a gale force wind attacks a mighty oak. What they don't recognize is that he is, in fact, a Reid.

(Full disclosure: strategy HAH! I wish the Democrats could be that Machiavellian! Truth is, Reid is probably up there through sheer dumb luck. I'll put it this way - if there is another Democratic sweep in 2008, I don't think it will be because people love Democrats.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire! Fire! Fire!

For the concerned readers - yes, I'm surrounded by fires on all sides, but my IMMEDIATE surroundings are concrete and asphalt for miles. Furthermore, my commute is from such a point to another point 3 miles south, in the same zip code. I'm more likely to catch fire from spontaneous human combustion.

But the traffic is so erratic! And you can't enjoy the local news! So yes, I'm suffering.

On the plus side, my new contact lenses caused an eye infection which makes me look a little like Christopher Lee in DRACULA. It had nothing to do with the fires but the smoke and debris make a damn good excuse, and take the pressure off me. I no longer have to protest that I have never been a fan of The Herb.

A Bigger Issue Than Tinky-Winky

I was hoping to see this get a little more traction among the right-wing blogosphere: J.K. Rowling, enemy of social conservatives and the demon authoress behind the Harry Potter books, revealed that revered wizard and headmaster Dumbledore was gay. She also said her favorite animal is an otter, because "I'm a bit anti-cat."


Where is the outrage? Not over the cat thing; I think we can all get behind that. But when Jerry Falwell suggested that one of the Teletubbies might be gay; the blogosphere was alight in a rainbow-hued controversy. I'm casting about on Google's blogsearch right now and 6 pages deep there is still no "won't somebody please think of the children?" commentary. It's all "I should have known" and "how cuckoo is that" and one "no he's not," but concern over a beloved teacher figure actually having a thing for the beefcake isn't an issue, it seems.

What's up? Are social conservatives simply worn out from attacking the pagan aspects of Harry Potter and too tired to attack it on sexual morality grounds? Do they realize, for a change, what a non-issue this is? After all the guy is not only fictional, but he's at least 600 years old and therefore sexuality is for him little more than a pleasant memory. Or did they perhaps learn something from the Tinky-Winky backlash?

I can't help but think that Falwell, the heterosexual American Dumbledore, would have taken a crack at this one. God help me, I miss him.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Love Affair With Press Releases - I'll Take The One In The Turban

Juicy selections from SALDEF, "the nation's oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights organization."

TSA Changes Head Covering Screening Procedure in Response to Concerns of Religious Profiling

Washington, DC - Oct 16, 2007 -- This afternoon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a new security screening policy that will go into effect at U.S. airports on October 27 and apply to all religious head coverings. The change is a direct result of collaboration between TSA, Department of Homeland security (DHS) officials, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) and other Sikh organizations in response to the concerns of the Sikh American community over a procedure implemented on August 4, 2007.

The August 2007 procedure disproportionately targeted Sikhs for secondary screening due to their turban, an article of faith, like the Jewish kippah (yarmulke) and Muslim hijab. The turban is an integral part of the Sikh faith and identity, and removal of the turban in public is akin to a strip search. The procedure resulted in Sikh travelers being forced to undergo an invasive pat-down or removal of the turban. The turban was the only religious article listed as potentially requiring additional screening. Furthermore, the procedure may have resulted in a misallocation of national security resources due to the heightened focus on Sikh passengers solely because of their religious practice of wearing a turban.

And here's the fun part:

Under the new procedure, a Sikh traveler's turban will be accommodated during the screening process by providing additional options to satisfy the security requirements. According to TSA, the revised procedure states: "TSA will now include the screening procedures for headwear within the overall category of bulky clothing and will not call it out as a separate category. Removal of all headwear is recommended but the rules accommodate those with religious, medical, or other reasons for whom removing items is not comfortable. Transportation security officers have several options for screening passengers who choose not to remove bulky clothing, including headwear."

The gains for Sikhs, to summaraize - you will still be profiled and unfairly singled out, but your turban will be called "bulky clothing" instead of "turban." Oh, and instead of making you remove it, they will x-ray your head. Progress!

Additionally, all 43,000 TSA screeners will undergo Sikh cultural awareness training before the Thanksgiving holiday travel season. The trainings will include two tools developed by SALDEF in collaboration with the US Department of Justice: 1. A training video: On Common Ground: Sikh American Cultural Awareness Training for Law Enforcement [watch video]; and 2. A poster called, Common Sikh American Head Coverings [view poster], that TSA is distributing to all 450 airports across the country.

These kinds of cultural awareness programs have done wonders with local law enforcement. Why the LAPD underwent such training after the Rodney King incident and there has been nary a problem since then.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No Sex Please, We're Republicans

I have been wondering today... What is the Republican position on who gets to have sex? It's a legitimate question, given how much of the party platform is devoted to sexual issues. Perhaps the best way to reach a conclusion is through deduction -- eliminate all those who should NOT be allowed to have sex and work out from there. We'll know who is allowed by the climax of this post.


TEENAGERS. There is no clearer stop sign than the one this administration puts between a guy and his prom date. Record amounts of government money are being spent to discourage teens from having sex. Not to discourage teen pregnancy - if that were the goal they'd take the easy route and promote birth control. And given the clear opposition to abortions, the position taken to avoid kids having kids is to insist on no kids having sex. And maybe this isn't so bad - sex has consequences and young people don't have the wisdom to handle them.

While I'm at it, I want to point out that since the battle to confirm Jocelyn Elders as Surgeon General, it's pretty obvious that masturbation is out of the question as well. When I'm saying no sex, I'm saying no orgasms.

HOMOSEXUALS. Laws making hate crimes more severe than regular crimes, because it unfairly singles out a group for extra protection, are bad. On the other hand, a constitutional amendment forbidding members of the same sex to marry are good, because while it singles out a group, it preserves marriage. Since you have to assume that Republicans won't suddenly endorse out-of-wedlock sex to make things easier for TEH GAY, we'll have to cross Adam and Steve off the list. Remember, no orgasms either. Ever.

POOR FOLK. The SCHIP debate has been quite an eye-opener. A couple of days ago, Mark Hemingway in the National Review suggested that it was irresponsible for the parents of Bethany Wilkerson to even have a child because they couldn't afford the insurance. Does that mean the Wilkersons shouldn't have had sex? After all they were married heterosexuals. But they shouldn't use birth control, and the only sure way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence.

Since the debate last week about Graeme Frost centered around a family who makes $70k a year, let's put that as the dividing line. If your household makes more than that, and you meet the other requirements, go at it like rabbits.

NICK NOLTE. I'm out on a limb with this one, I know. But the other day popular conservative blogger Madeline's Dad suggested it was irresponsible of a man of 65 to sire a child. Do all Republicans think this? Well, it's a pretty common sense argument; and it has the virtue of preventing further progeny from both Hugh Heffner AND Rupert Murdoch. I'll give the right benefit of the doubt and assume they're with me on this one. So instead let's make it:

ALL PEOPLE OVER 60.

At this point you can imagine a hilarious pie chart in which a little over half the population of the US is not supposed to ever have... connubial release. But I can't make that chart because I have no idea how much overlap there is between groups. How many seniors are Homosexuals? How many teens are low-income? It's a great idea for a visual gag but I can't back it up. Fortunately for comedy, there is this graph from Wikipedia:
It breaks down the population by income level. Let's say the cutoff point is $75k which should take care of the overlap. According to Republicans, only 21.6% of Americans should be allowed to have orgasms.

Sounds a little harsh? They're doing you a favor pal. What better motivation could there be to climb income brackets? See? The Republicans are all about giving a hand to the underprivileged, helping people help themselves. Though as with the Jocelyn Elders situation, they really would rather you didn't help yourself in that way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are Conservatives Meaner?

I'm ruminating on this recently, because of some high-profile carping about a few SCHIP spokeschildren (is it my imagination, or is this guy in the National Review implying that poor people just shouldn't have children?) and Ann Coulter's expressed desire that all people should be Christian, whether they like the idea or not. And anything Michelle Malkin says about anything.

Malkin also comes up here, because her item about Randi Rhodes caught my eye. The Air America host had a jogging accident which caused the loss of a couple of teeth and considerable bruising. There was speculation that perhaps she had been mugged; and that since she wasn't carrying any money in her sweats that perhaps she was beat up by Rethuglicans. It now emerges that she tripped. Malkin noted the earlier speculation and made fun of it. That's fair, though her attempt to imply that it's what all liberals do all the time is ham-fisted and ridiculous.

But WAMK (see the links to the right) and I have had this discussion before about famous politicos in the news and their personal sufferings, in which he insists that people who comment in left-wing blogs are vicious and mean and right-wing commenters are gracious. From Malkin's comment section - you be the judge!

Sounds like Randi should be joining a different “AA”.

I’ve never heard of her until today. I’ve seen a picture of her and I realized that she looks like a mudkip. I was thinking that she was either attacked by her own dog or some Pokemon creature. That or she was riding in a car with Ted Kennedy, sobered up a little and she knew what was next so she jumped out the car while it was still moving.

I find it particularly gratifying that she lost some teeth…that’ll teach her not to down 14 bloody marys at a sitting


I'm not saying this is worse than what you'll see in Daily Kos (hell, even I don't read Daily Kos) but it's far from gracious. Randi has said some pretty incendiary things so perhaps she getting as good as she gives. This all goes to support my thesis that being an a-hole doesn't know party affiliation.

Feel free to make fun of doughy physique in the comment section!

Glengarry Glen Lexmark

The printer supply concern where I work is having a sales drive today. They tell me that in a few months we are going to expand into the building next door; at that point the sales people will be moved into their own little area and administrative people like myself will be able to match invoices in peace.

But that's not today.

Today I'm surrounded on all sides by ebullient, high-powered toner salesmen. "We don't just supply toner - can I send you a catalog?" The chatter level is about 5 times higher than usual. Plus I'm putting up with the following gimmicks - there is a sales bell. Any time someone ropes in a new cold-call, they ring a bell. BING! Also there are dozens of helium balloons, each with a one, five, ten or twenty dollar bill rolled up inside. POP! Getting from one end of the office to the other is like hacking through a festive Amazon rain forest, because of the ribbons hanging down from the ceiling to waist-level.

There is a new girl at the desk behind me. She just started today and as far as I can discern, she's mopping the floor with the rest of 'em. The guy to my right, older and wilier, may be doing pretty well too, but he refuses to ring the bell or collect his balloon money. I think he's trying to psych out the competition. At the end of the day, I bet he's ahead. The guy has a great phone voice too. It's like buying ink jet cartridges from Barry White, dealing with him. "I'm so in to selling you OEM, baby."

I don't have the temperament for sales. I never have. I can't deal with dry spells. Then again, the last two jobs I've had led to layoffs due to dry spells, so maybe I have to deal with them anyway. Still, constantly having to charm money out of people, it's hard work. That's why I am not pursuing a career in showbiz, which is really the ultimate sales job.

Sales, in fact, is one of those metaphorically rich professions like gambling and prostitution. Once you boil them down, you realize that in any life situation you use those skills, like it or not. Acting, for example, pretty heavily analogizes to all three.

One more behind-the-scenes peek - I've heard the sales people argue the merits of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS versus BOILER ROOM at least half a dozen times. There is no clear consensus. I've yet to hear anyone bring up DEATH OF A SALESMAN. I guess by the time your a fan of that, you are already out of business.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Which I Try To Get Bill Maher His Old Job Back

WAMK, bless his conversative heart, challenged me yesterday. I alluded to Ann Coulter's remark about wanting to convert all the Jews to Christianity, and he offered this:

I don't buy EVERYTHING she says (including this appearance on CNBC), just like you don't buy everything Bill Maher says. I do agree with some things Ms. Coulter has said/written, but I view her thru a filter. Do you buy everything Maher says? Did/do you agree with his comments that the 9/11 hijackers were "brave" for flying into those buildings?
That's in interesting question. Because the answer is no, I don't agree with everything Bill Mahar says but that famous remark, the one that got him kicked off ABC in the early weeks after 9/11, I do agree with.

See, the hijackers gave up their lives for something they believed in. While their actions were despicable, and while they themselves were evil for killing civilians, it takes courage to sacrifice yourself for a cause. Just because I don't admire them, it doesn't mean they weren't brave. Unfortunately they were also wrong as hell.

Maher was riffing off the remark that the hijackers were cowards, and that simply doesn't make any sense. The hijackers were all brave, evil men. I certainly wish they had died alone!

Where Maher and I part company in on the Iraq war. He was one of the biggest supporters of it when we went in. Either he really believed we need to take out Saddam or he was trying to repair his public image, but either way he thought it was a good idea and I never did. I also think he should lay off the ganja, but that's for his own good.

Interestingly, both Maher and supposedly make their living saying "what we're all really thinking." That's what scares me so much about Ann Coulter, because she thinks we secretly want to annihilate the Arab world and force everybody to become Christians. Also, apparently I am an enemy of the state for being a liberal. Bill Maher thinks we all secretly smoke weed, are annoyed by celebrities, and find the phrase "crack whore" hilarious. Okay, and that we all think George Bush is an incompetent idiot. I guess you laugh at whatever seems truest to you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Attention Conservative Readers

Just offering you an opportunity, here, to state that Ann Coulter isn't the spokesmodel for the right. You can sample her latest quip here, and then just let me know that you don't buy EVERYTHING that she says.

Hint: Ann isn't down with the Jews.

Carlinesque

So I'm leaving work yesterday and one of my colleagues says, "Don't take any wooden nickels!" This bothered me all the way home. Because you know what? Wooden nickles are pretty rare. If you ever see one, it is surely the work of a craftsman or artisan. Collectors love stuff like that. If you sell a wooden nickel on eBay, you're going to clear $19.00 at least. My advice to you is take ALL the wooden nickels you can get your hands on.

Unless he meant it differently. Maybe it was "don't take any wooden nickels" in the same sense as "don't break into an office in Las Vegas and take sports memorabilia." Don't take someone else's wooden nickels. Even if you think they belong to you.

It reminds me of another old saw, "don't look a gift horse in the mouth." Hey, it's great that someone is willing to give you a horse. You shouldn't be ungrateful. But at the same time, what's the harm of looking it in the mouth? Maybe the horse has a costly dental problem. Maybe it has unpleasant horse breath indicating a deeper malaise. You take that horse, you're obligated to pay upkeep and maintenance. That can run into serious money. It could eat into your wooden nickel sales profits in no time.

Besides, you want to consider why a guy is giving away horses. He probably got suckered into taking them without looking into their mouths first. Vigilance, people! That's all I'm saying.

Thanks, you've been beautiful! Try the horsemeat. Good night everybody!

(BTW - if someone does offer you a gift horse, have the decency to act surprised. Would that kill you?)

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's A Little Bit Like Finding Change In The Couch

So this guy finds a human leg in a used meat smoker. Hey, it happens.

Oh, you're going to ask for more details, aren't you. Shannon Whisnant of North Carolina (is it my imagination or does this state churn out these kinds of stories?) bought the smoker from a storage facility, which was liquidating items left behind when people defaulted on their payments and abandoned their rental lockers. The leg was wrapped in paper and essentially mummified. Whisnant contacted the authorities to make sure there wasn't some SAW-related angle to the whole affair.

Having determined there was no crime involved, Whisnant made the local news rounds, and started charging admission to the smoker.

And now, the weird part.

The leg's previous owner, John Wood, wants it back. He was in a bad plane crash in 2004 and while doctors tried for 8 months to save the leg, ultimately it had to be amputated. Wood determined that he wanted to be buried with it when the time came, so he arranged to have the limb preserved and stored. But he came on hard times, and was unable to afford the $42 dollars a month.

Whisnant doesn't want to give the leg up. The final paragraphs from the Seattle Times article (hat tip to Boing Boing) sum it all up nicely, tieing a beautiful tourniquet around the story.

"He's making a freak show out of it," Wood said. "He wants to go on 'The Tonight Show' and he wants to sell it to the National Enquirer and call Ripley's Believe It Or Not. He wants to put money in his pocket with this thing."

After meeting with a lawyer this weekend, Whisnant decided his best move was to convince Wood to share custody.

"It's a strange incident and Halloween's just around the corner," he said. "The price will be going up if I get the leg."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Podcast Expo, 2007

The third Annual Podcast and New Media Expo is being held this weekend in Ontario, CA, a scant hour and ten minute drive from Chez Daniel. I went. I wish I'd gotten there earlier because they closed the place down at four PM... I got there at two.

What's it like, you ask? Well, it's a convention. Which means you're bound to see stuff like the Podcast Pickle guy.


I told him, "every time I see you it profoundly disturbs me. " He gave me a wordless thumbs up. I'm using the pronoun but it's only an educated guess.

More delightfully disturbing, the showgirl at the smidgets.com booth:


She was standing by my side, but just before they snapped the picture she whispered "watch your head." In heels, this woman is a gorgeous seven feet tall. Well-spoken AND has a nice rack! I hope she gets more acting work.

I managed to finally meet a couple of my fellow Podcast Network denizens. There was Scott Sherman (right) who runs the Digital Photography Show, the most successful podcast on the network. How successful? He's actually making money!

The other colleague is technical genius Ewan Spense, who runs two or three shows, including the official podcast of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I wrote email on Thursday saying I wanted to meet him and I asked for his phone number so I could locate him on the convention floor. It turns out the number wasn't necessary.


Ewan is the one in the kilt.

What did I get out of the show this year? Aside from meeting booth hotties and scotsmen, I guess the best thing is they finally convinced me to shell out for a quality mic setup. My days of using a $10 handheld to do podcasts is over. Samson Condenser mic, I got a pop screen, I got a shock mount, I got a mic stand, so I'm right back to where I was when I was using the ex's equipment. I'll call it progress.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Get Me Oliver Sacks, Stat!

I was just spending lunch time at McDonalds, enjoying a Mushroom 'n' Swiss Angus burger while turning out a book evaluation for this company that employees me for my opinions now and then. This Asian fellow, about 55, walks over to me.

"That's a nice laptop, heh," he says.

"Yeah," I reply, "It's old though. About six years. It might as well be an slide rule."

The guy walks away and I get back to work. About 5 minutes later I hear "That's a nice laptop, heh." Same guy. I say thanks. He walks away to his seat.

It happens again another 5 minutes or so later, except the sequence is more like "Heh, that's a nice laptop." Over the course of the hour we relive the same moment over and over again. I start changing up my responses: it's yours! or Do you have one? Then the people he's with, apparently his nurses, gently pull him away from me and walk him out to the car.

He seemed like a pretty likable dude, short term memory problems aside. I wonder if he spends any time trying to figure out who killed his wife?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Too Busy!

Here's the big paradox of me: I tend to like structure in my life, but I get nervous when I don't have a lot of free time. I'm reflecting on this now because I'm literally booked solid until Sunday morning. After work I have an hour and a half to pump out BOX OFFICE WEEKLY, then I go to rehearsal, and then try to get 8 hours sleep. Tomorrow I get up, go to work, and when I come home I hope to clean the apartment AND design 'n' print up cards for my trip to the Podcasting Expo in Ontario CA on Saturday. And I got to do both those things by 8:00pm because I have a date.

Sunday night I have another play rehearsal too, which means I could put off the apartment until then, but that's not a wise strategy. I didn't clean the place last weekend and it's getting a little bachelor-y in there.

I'm beside myself. Actually I wish I were beside myself, because I could get twice as much done.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Send Out The Clown

The folks over at Mental Floss have a compendium of odd facts about the recently late Marcel Marceau. Interesting little guy. Among the tidbits:

-- He cracked weird jokes about magicians. “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards,” Marceau once said, “for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”
-- He survived the Holocaust, was active in the French Resistance, saved Jewish children’s lives, and worked with Patton’s army. “With his brother Alain, Marceau became active in the French Resistance. Marceau altered children’s identity cards, changing their birth dates to trick the Germans into thinking they were too young to be deported. Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton’s army.”
-- He was famously chatty. “Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop,” he once said.”

Mime is a kind of litmus test for audiences. It drives a lot of people up the (invisible) wall, along with Improv comedy and children's choirs. But even people who would normally eschew mime could put up with Marcel Marceau. Adieu, mon ami. May you walk WITH the wind. May you not wake up in the box.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hound Fox!

Here's a mortifying incident - the other day I was blogging about Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers and his entertaining lawsuit against God. I noted that Chambers is a Democrat.

Belated hat tip to Where Are My Keys (see link @ right) who blogged the story before me and also noted Rep Chamber's Democrat affiliation. We both got our information from the same impeccable source, Fox News. And it was only in the comments section a day or so in on WAMK that a guy pointed out that Chambers is NOT a Democrat. In fact, the Nebraska state senate is unicameral, and ALL its members are independent.

So Fox has a problem here. It's not like this story was such breaking news that it had to rush it to publication. They went to a press conference, and then wrote the story from releases handed out by the Senator's aides. By the way, I doubt he has aides. Guy only makes 12k a year. I found this out through a little research on the Nevada State Senate Website.

I found it out.

I write for an audience of maybe five people.

Fox News, failing to find a party affiliation next to the Senator's name, apparently decided that a guy who sues God MUST be a Democrat. And that's the extent of the fact checking that they did. Traditionally, reporters verify things. Even Fox usually gets one source for something, though that source is often the very dubious Matt Drudge. But in this case, there was no source. They didn't look it up, they didn't call, they didn't even ask Ernie Chambers. And he was in the room.

The last paragraph gives Fox News the benefit of the doubt, assuming they're the worst kind of lazy and not attempting to smear the Democrats as God-litigators. Or congressional-page-seducers, as they did when the Mark Foley scandal broke. When that happened, they amended a (d) to Foley's name in the bottom-third graphic. Six times.

It's hard to write this stuff off as laziness because Fox News is, if anything, the most political of all the news channels. Party affiliation is important to those people.

Oh screw it, I'm takin' the gloves off. Fox is lying to you! They will do anything to advance a partisan agenda, as long as they get away with it. Those who decry media bias should note that their favorite news source is leaning so far in one direction that on panel shows, they have to nail down the water pitchers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moore's Law Finite, Says Moore

All geeks share common knowlege about a few key things. They know that dating isn't their best thing. They can rattle off the names of all the Star Trek series without difficulty. And all of them know the old saw Moore's Law. Conceived by Gordon Moore in 1965 it is the observation that that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.

It affects non geeks in that every two years computers double in power while remaining at the same price point, which means that every two years you buy a new computer because you resent your crappy old one that doesn't do anything any more.

On Monday Gordon Moore spoke at IDF with the comforting news that no, it can't keep going on like that forever. He says it will start slowing down in about ten or fifteen years. The brakes are going to be put on not by the limits of human ingenuity but by, as Stephen Hawking put it, "the speed of light and the fundamental nature of matter." In other words you can scale a chip down to the size of a few atoms but after that, where do you go? One atom? Half an atom? Game over.

There has been talk of quantum computing, of course. The physics of very small particles poses some interesting applications in the computing world. A circuit in a computer is either on, or it's off. That's binary. But in quantum physics it's possible for a particle to be both at the same time. If clever chip designers could harness that l'il nugget, computers would become so powerful that we might as well just hand the world over to COLOSSUS and mix ourselves a pitcher of mint juleps.

In any event, it's been quite a ride in the technology sector for the past 40 years, and maybe it's time to stop long enough to let some passengers off to stretch their legs. Instead of the drive to improve technology, we can focus on USING it for something.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mankind Gets Its Day in Court

Senator Ernie Chambers, an Democrat independente state senator* from Nebraska, is suing God. He claims that:

...senators periodically have offered bills prohibiting the filing of certain types of suits. He said his main objection is that the constitution requires that the doors to the courthouse be open to all. "Thus anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody -- even God," Chambers said.

So it's all just his little civics lesson.

Senator Chambers, this is not a new idea. People try it now and then and always with the same result: God settles out of court. Most likely you will find that your property is located on an oil reserve, or the bank will make a mistake in your favor involving some six-figure amount. Perhaps your team will win at the Superbowl.

The thing is, God is devoting resources to the suit that He could be using elsewhere. Perhaps a mail carrier will flip out somewhere; maybe a bridge will collapse. Maybe he won't have time to ruminate about an important decision and God will be forced to play at dice. Point is, your little rhetorical gesture could result in the very calamities you claim you are suing against.
The lawsuit accuses God "of making and continuing to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons, including constituents of Plaintiff who Plaintiff has the duty to represent." It says God has caused "fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like."
Yeah well, maybe if you'd stop pissing Him off with nuisance suits...

Serving God with a subpoena is a trivial matter because he's omnipresent, but winning the case is impossible because he's omnipotent. There's no point in calling witnesses because while they swear to tell the truth, they swear it to God. Plus you can't put lawyers and God in the same room, because the lawyers will turn into pillars of salt.

All I'm sayin' is, this is a very, very bad idea. And I'm not just trying to get on God's good side, because they're ALL good sides with that guy.

* I must remember to fact check any story I get from Fox News.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The New Guy, Mukasey

This morning President Bush introduced us to Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General to replace Alberto Gonzalez. Bush was subdued, perhaps cranky. His eyes said "why do I have to go through with again? I already appointed an Attorney General! Can't you people just leave us alone up here?"

His weariness will be further aggravated by Mukasey's probable decisions. Bush has used up all the candidates who will automatically go along with whatever he wants and he's been forced to dip into the "qualified and competent" bin. Another more Bush-friendly candidate, Ted Olsen, is apparently being kept in the wings for a Supreme Court appointment. You don't want to blow the conservative wad on a guy who might only ruin jurisprudence for a year and change, do ya?

Congress is expected to make short work of the confirmation, because they're grateful that Mukasey is not, say, Harriet Meyers. Recently he wrote an essay in the Opinion Journal which opines that the executive branch shouldn't be making laws - it should be Congress. Congress will probably like that.

Mukasey is best known for being the judge of the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdul "Top" Rahman, the famous "Blind Sheikh" who spearheaded the first World Trade Center bombing in '93. You know, the one that didn't do any damage. Even so, Mukasey says that the experience taught him that terrorism shouldn't be prosecuted like normal crime. This is the bright side for conservative bloggers, and the part I find troubling. The problem with tribunals and no defense lawyers should be obvious to folks, but let me spell it out in language Republicans can understand: If Hillary! is elected, she will be able to declare you an enemy combatant with no evidence, and put you away forever without even a chance to write a note to your pastor. It would be an incredible abuse of the system, but come on! The woman killed Vince Foster in broad daylight after her husband snorted cocaine off his naked chest. She's capable of anything.

Still, the new guy is a step up from the old guy. Hell, Miss North Carolina would be.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sexual Politics, Chimp-Style

Now that I'm dating again, this is sobering news:

Behavioural psychologists found that female chimps mate with the males that give them the most fruit, while male chimps steal "desirable" fruits such as papaya from farms and orchards in a bid to woo potential mates. Oranges, pineapples and maize are among the most sought after crops, with bananas proving far less popular.
Oh great. Am I going to have to start stealing just to get a date?

"The male who shared the most food engaged in more consortships and received more grooming than the other males, even the alpha male. Therefore the male chimpanzees appear to be 'showing off' and trading their forbidden fruit for other currencies, for example 'food-for-sex' and 'food-for-grooming'.

I've always prided myself, even before I was married, on never having to feed for it.

I haven't been on a lot of dates so far (okay, 2) and so far only one of them involved food. Sadly neither one has involved grooming. Well, mutual grooming anyway. I did shower first.

Still, I'm on a limited budget until I pay off my moving expenses and furniture. Damn anthropologists! why can't you keep your crackpot observations to yourselves!

Wait a minute... I wonder if chicks would accept pirated software as a substitute? Hmmmm.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nobody Wants A Free-Market Solution For Everything

Over at WAMK, we've been knocking around the whole "why are we in Iraq" question. For some reason they all insist it's to fight terrorism, even though we didn't go in for that reason and the only reason any terrorists are there now is because they know where to find us. Maybe the real reason is this, courtesy Republican congressman Chris Shays: we're there because we can't afford to let any other country control the oil. H/T to Crooks and Liars for hosting the video.

Isn't that fascinating? Whether true or not, this notion illustrates that no matter how much you believe in free-market capitalism, you think the government has to step in somewhere. In this example, we are afraid to allow foreign interests to control the price of our oil. Well, why not? If the price goes up, won't the market compensate by forcing us to find alternative energy sources, or restructure society so we use less oil? What's the matter, McCapitalist? Chicken? So rather than allow the market to correct itself, Rep. Shays is willing to endorse an expensive government entitlement that involves trillions of dollars and untold American lives.

This is an economic example, but most Republicans part ways with deregulation at the point where morals enter it. It's government meddling, for example, that suppresses prostitution. I mean, what's wrong with that deal? A man and a woman (or a man and a man, or rarely a woman and a woman) enter into a business deal which involves sex. They both agree to the terms up front. Why is this against the law? Or maybe it's a drug deal instead. And sure sometimes people are killed by the drugs, but so what? You want a nanny state?

Lead-based toys? If people stop buying them, the problem solves itself. Child labor? How is it the Government's business to protect children? It's the business of parents! Besides, some kids like to sew. The FDA is the biggest thwarter of free-market solutions ever, after the FBI. Crime itself is an efficient free-market solution to a host of conditions.

Even libertarians I've talked to say that they're okay with public roads.

So ultimately, your tolerance for government interference is a question of degrees, not absolutes. And everyone wants the government to control SOMETHING. The only disagreement is where and how much.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Waste Even More Time With Google Earth!

I loves me the GOOGLE EARTH, essentially a combination virtual globe/mapping program. You know how you use map quest to plot a route from your house to the Karaoke bar downtown? (just me again? sorry.) With Google Earth you can start from a Telstar point of view, zoom in to the top of your house, plot the route, then do a faux-3D run through of the trip, following the route the way the police helicopter would follow your slow-speed chase. Except without the inevitable blown tire, foot pursuit, and beating-to-a-pulp with nightsticks. (just me again? sorry.)

The latest update to Google Earth, which is free by the way, incorporates what is possible the best "Easter egg" ever. It you have version 4.2, fire it up, click on the globe and then hit control-alt-a, or command-option-a on the cool platform, and you get, yes, a flight simulator. There are a couple of aircraft and a handful of runways, but the important thing is you can now crash a jet right into your own house!

The really amazing thing about this is that when I first started using computers, you could buy a low-res black and white version of this for $60; now it boasts photo realistic landscapes, includes a map of the entire ***king world and it's a knocked off unadvertised freebie in an already free program.

What it doesn't include, sadly, landing and navigating instructions. Then again, if you don't have Internet access you can't use Google Earth anyway; and if you do then both those things will be online somewhere by the time I finish writing this.

O Brave New Google Earth: that has such code in't!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rambling

I don't like westerns, but I saw 3:10 TO YUMA yesterday and thought it was great. Good snappy dialog there... it's an odd coincidence that General Petraeus's testimony about the Iraq war was scheduled to take place around September 11th, even though Iraq had nothing to do with it the tragedy... Check out THE I.T. CROWD on Britain's Channel 4 -- you say you don't get Channel 4? You say it's in PAL instead of NTSC? Lad, that's why there is Bittorrent!... I worked another one of those Singles parties this weekend, but this is the first time I was actually single myself. I didn't score... they're treating me well and thanks for asking, WAMK... Oh come on, Britney was just below average.... Didn't Larry King write a column for USA Today? Whatever happened to that? It was stupendous!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Early Adopters are Crybabies

Forgive my bluntness but if you spent $600 dollars on a damn cell phone, and they drop the price to $400 dollars, it's not Apple Inc. you should be mad at. You should be mad at yourself for spending $600 on a damn cell phone.

Wall Street hasn't reacted well to the swirling miasma of controversey surrounding the iPhone price cut either. Even though Apple is only giving back $100 worth of retail goods in response, the stock price dropped today. This makes it a pretty good bargain, because the price will climb again when people realize that the actual cost of each refund is only $40, and they will be moving items off the shelves. Also don't be fooled into thinking Apple dropped the price because the iPhone wasn't selling. They dropped the price because they're finally confident they can meet demand.

Look, get over it. Why were you willing to wait in line to throw $600 at a candy bar that took voicemail? Because you wanted the latest, coolest thing before everybody else. And that's what you had. It's still the latest, coolest thing, but now more people will have it, that's all.

Incidentally, it costs about $250 in materials to make an iPhone, so that markup was just crazy. You should have seen it coming.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote of The Day

I have a lot of friends who share the following problem with me: Our sense of outrage is so saturated that when a new outrage occurs, we have to download some existing outrage into an external hard drive in order to make room for a new outrage.
Al Gore, proving again that he's actually a funny guy, in 02138 Magazine.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How I Spent Labor Day Weekend: A Multiple Choice Quiz

Well, it was a long, hot 3 days. I will now report on my activities, only to make it less boring I'll let you guess which scenario actually took place.

1. Blind Date
a. I had a blind date.
b. I didn't have a blind date.
c. Other.
(answer c; I had one but she flaked on me.)

2. Swimming pool
a. I swam in the cool refreshing waters of my apartment's pool
b. I did not swim in the cool refreshing waters of my apartment's pool.
(answer b; just didn't get around to it, even after spending half a day outdoors at a birthday party in Agoura. The temperature ranged from 95 degrees to 112 degrees. As a matter of fact, the temperature in Las Vegas this weekend trailed ours by 5 degrees.)

3. Met a girl
a. Hung out with a bright-blue-haired Russian girl named Natasha at a karaoke bar in Studio City; she told me she was a mail order bride who had been abandoned by her patron and if I married her she would give me "good DJs."
b. No, that's ridiculous.
(answer a; but I'm pretty sure she was just an actress working on a character. Either way quite charming.)

4. Vision correction
a. Spent several hours looking for a hobo who would sell me his eyes.
b. Spent several hours at Lenscrafters getting contact lenses and new glasses.
(answer b; I actually had an agreement in principal with a local hobo but the deal fell through because I couldn't find a competent doctor to perform the surgery.)

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Cheap Shot With Honor

Larry Craig, disgraced Republican restroom sex habitue, is a story I would only touch with tongs. It's a minefield of disgraceful punchlines, the kind yours truly avoids like the plague. I wouldn't stoop to coming up with double entendres about his sorry situation.

But I'd certainly be happy to reprint his own!

Via Radar Online, the headlines to editorials penned by Mr. Larry Craig. Enjoy!

• What's That Larry Been Up To?—August 20, 2004
• All is Fair in Love and War—July 5, 2007
• THIMBY - Thin My Backyard—June 28, 2007
• At Your Fingertips—July 15, 2005
• The Calm Before the Storm—February 16, 2007
• The Taxing Experience—March 9, 2006
• Lt. Ross Bales and the "Potato Peeler Kids"—November 2, 2006
• Time to Pack in Iraq?—June 22, 2006
• A Thief in the Night—May 25, 2006
• What Message Did We Send?—March 23, 2006
• A Secret No More—March 30, 2006
• The Snake River Keeps Us Moving—August 13, 2004
• Mayday, Mayday!—May 5, 2007
• Join me at the Boise Health Conference—February 6, 2004
• O Long May it Wave—June 15, 2006
• Cowboy Up—July 21, 2005
• Where's the Beef?—August 9, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Weather Report

I work right now 3 miles from where I live. Normally this is great; but today the area will boast a local Los Angeles high of 110 degrees. So I can't escape it until after 5:00pm. If I survive, perhaps I'll write to tell you how I did.

Monday, August 27, 2007

AG Not AG for Long

The biggest sign of Alberto Gonzalez' incompetence is perhaps this - the decision to resign was made on Friday but he chose to delay the announcement until MONDAY MORNING. Honestly, does he know nothing about news cycles?

I don't think I'm going to miss the guy. He's so colorless. Janet Reno had presence, for god's sake. John Ashcroft, in addition to his erstwhile singing career, was ballsy enough to cover the bare breasts on the statues during his watch. Gonzalez? He'll be remembered as the guy who refused to acknowlege his boldest moves, who couldn't remember anything he did. Why should I?

A.G. is another in a long line of Bush appointees who had been given the task of crossing the ethical line while keeping it legal, while having no actual finesse or skill in those areas. Simply put, he didn't have the charisma to pull it off. His partner in August resignation, Karl Rove, at least could claim to have those skills. However, he was so good at it that he aimed too high and tried to get away with illegal things. He may still, but at the cost of his position. That's gotta hurt the President, who is rapidly exhausting his talent pool as he digs deeper to find competent people who are also willing to remain loyal under any circumstances.

The ship of state is going to have an awful lot of trouble avoiding the reefs for the next year or so.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

iWant

I just killed part of my lunch hour at the mall, toying with the iPhones at the Apple store. What is the strange allure of this candy-bar-like device, which costs about $600 more than the phone I currently carry?

Around March I'll have the option of upgragding my phone under my current contract, which I have two years left on. I think that's when I'll make my move. As it happens I could also stand to replace my laptop, which is aging (in the same way that Joan Collins is aging, that is to say it's old and I can barely stand to look at it any more, even though it's got a fine bone structure); and my iPod Nano by then should have a battery life of around 35 minutes between charges. When I look at it this way, I'll be saving approximately $1000 if I buy an iPhone. Plus I'll be able to watch videos!

Of course, blogging will be less fun. I'm not thrilled with the virtual keyboard thingie, and I type 65 wpm on a REAL keyboard. This is slightly faster than I think. One of the reasons blogging is so much fun for me is that I can read something I just wrote and say, "that's my opinion?" So expect better reasoning from iPhone posts, unfortunately.

Another good factor in this is by March, the major updates will be in place, and maybe there will even be a price reduction in the post-holiday season, as the even newer iPhones will be just around the corner. It'll be after MacWorld, after all. Who knows what fun little things will come out of that convention?

Honestly, I can't wait to be able to carry my porn around and watch it at lunch.

That's my opinion?

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Return to the Stage; the Stage Sighs Helplessly

Ha ha, I've done it again! Last year around this time I auditioned for two local amateur theater productions. I didn't make it into the first one, because even though the producer liked me he thought that audiences wouldn't buy me playing a 40-year-old man. I was 44 at the time. But I did make the second audition a week later and got cast as ex-college-football-star-turned-artist in HERE LIES JEREMY TROY, a warhorse mistaken-identity farce from the mid -sixties.

Tonight I auditioned for the part of Tim, a New York womanizer in his mid twenties, in a play I can't even remember the title of (it's brand new! I'll OWN that part!) and got it. I have to say, this is not a tribute to my talent as much as it is a sad commentary on the level of my competition. If there was any. While I was there I didn't see anyone else reading for Tim. It was all 50-year-olds trying out for the 40-year-old's part. Maybe some other Tims showed up later. I will have the grace to not ask about it.

I hope to God I didn't get the part because of my New York accent. Because I don't have one of my own, I read with, swear to god, a Jay Leno impersonation. I figure it was good enough for Kenneth Branaugh in DEAD AGAIN, so why not me? Point is, the voice was a desperation move and if I'm lucky the director will gently steer me toward something more authentic.

The time I spent last year on that play was the oasis in an otherwise miserable existence and while I'm surprisingly much less miserable this year, it will probably still be refreshing enough.

It was also the first day of my new job, which I can already tell I'll have wired by Wednesday. I'm working below my intelligence, which is why I always seem to do so well in these jobs. Because I don't have a degree, I can't seem to get anything better. Since I'm starting a new life, I should really, REALLY look into this.

Friday, August 17, 2007

In Which I Modify a Long-Standing Aesthetic Opinion

I just finished watching THE FOUNTAIN, Darren Aronofsky's sci-fi epic starring Hugh Jackman. Yes, I too think it sucked. It was overreaching, pretentious, murky and badly paced. It was also the most expensive of Aronofsky's three movies. Normally I would shrug it off and say "money ruins everything."

You know, I've long felt that. I've seen dozens of independent filmmakers do great little cheap features, only to be taken on by Hollywood to produce ungodly expensive crap. And I always assume it was the money that sucked all the life out of those movies.

But the production history of THE FOUNTAIN has given lie to that premise. The idea was germinating since the late nineties, and Aronofksy was pushing hard for this to be his next feature after LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN. He had it all set up, with Brad Pitt as the star, and then Pitt walked out and the studio pulled the plug. Aronofsky re imangined the movie as a at half the budget, roped Hugh Jackman into the lead, and got it made, presumably with complete artistic control.

Given this scenario, it's clear that at least some times I was wrong. Big money doesn't cause bad movies. Big egos do. Once a guy puts out an acclaimed cheapie he thinks he can do anything, and he DEMANDS big money. Maybe the studio heads are right. Maybe that's what happened with EVAN ALMIGHTY and WATERWORLD and HEAVEN'S GATE. Maybe these people need to be slapped down for their own good.

Thank god I'm not trying to break into showbiz any more, because once this gets googled, I'd never work in this town again.