October 30th, 2003

Phelps Clan: “Thank God for 9/11″

Our good friends at the NY Daily News have a sickening article titled Hate from the heartland about the self-parodying but still repugnant Fred Phelps. His merry band are (I think I have this right) protesting a Long Island high school where the football team was caught hazing freshmen players by jamming things up their bums. The culprit? Not the age-old, school-sponosored, parent-approved culture of jock sado-masochism. Noooo. Us– The Gays. Controlling those hot, young Long Island gridiron studs by mind control rays, one imagines.

But the kicker is the photo. Three of Phelps’ eight (!) kids holding signs reading: “God hates America,” “God hates fag enablers,” and astoundingly, “God blew up the shuttle.”

Either these people are not Christians, or I’m not. Somebody get back to me on that before Sunday, OK?

It gets better. Apparently Mrs. Phelps is just a s nutters as her husband. Quoth she: “When you teach children that it’s okay to indulge in any kind of sex act that they like … that it’s okay to be gay, it is inevitable that they will end up being violent and doing things that they shouldn’t.”

So I suppose she believes that suppressing homosexuality, stigmatizing it, forcing it into hiding– is better, and would create less violence and trauma. Of course. That never hurt anyone, or caused gay kids to off themselves at three times the normal rate. But then, I’m sure she’s all for gay kids offing themselves. The really good thing, though, would be just to kill us all so our evil Football Player Sodomy Mind Control Rays can’t corrput the youth of America. Like, for instance, her poor children. Those poor little kids are clearly far beyond the help of any amount of therapy or deprogramming. Wouldn’t you rather be one the bum-addled frosh on that team than one of those poor souls?

Too bad there is no picture of the sign reading “Thank God for Sept. 11th.” I would hang that up somewhere so I could look at it any time I needed to get really, really angry.

And just for the record– since we know some members of the Phelps clan sully our site with their crazy eyeballs– I’ll let you in on how I know The Gays aren’t behind this. If we were, someone would have thought to show up with a digicam to bring us Hot-Long-Island-Football-Boys-Hazing-Because-The-Gays-Lent-Us-Their-Dildoes-And-Made-Us-Do-It.com, for $19.95 a month. And the better our fine nation would be for that than a family that hands its kids signs like “God Blew Up the Shuttle.” There’s porn, and then there’s real obscenity.


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October 29th, 2003

Just for self-defence

A gun is a great defensive weapon … until it’s wrested from your hands by an attacker and turned back on you. The NRA would do well to heed this lesson. A 19-page blacklist found on the NRA’s website listing organizations, politicians and celebrities opposed to guns has been turned against the NRA by anti-gun activists. It’s a perfect description of the broad spectrum of poeple opposed to the out-of-control gun laws in the USA. Some celebrities were so miffed that they weren’t included that they even petitioned the NRA to be added!

Heh, heh.


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October 28th, 2003

The sky is falling!

Well, not really, but at 11AM this morning one of the largest eruptions of the Sun in over a decade sent billions of tons of high-energy gas and subatomic particles towards the earth. It could cause some disruption in radio communications and such, but on the bright side there’s a good chance of some beautiful aurorae tonight. Step outside around midnight at take a look — hope it’s clear! Spaceweather.com has the details.

I’ve only seen the Northern Lights once before, about three years ago, from the rooftop of my old Capitol Hill apartment here in Seattle. The sky flashed an amazing irridescent green for about half an hour. An amazing sight I’m hoping to see again.


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October 23rd, 2003

Rare sign of Congressional sanity

I was fairly apoplectic a couple weeks back when I heard on NPR that Bush wanted to tighten already-draconian restrictions on travel to Cuba (a place I’d love to see before it becomes a post-Castro theme park).

Don’t we, as a nation, have bigger fish to fry? Can it really by Osama, Saddam, and our favorite fossilized Marxist, in that order? Don’t we at least need to add Kim Jong Il and make it a Trapezoid of Evil? Cuba is no threat to anyone, and our continuing embargo is only hurting the Cuban people. Why is “engagement” OK for China (still Commie if I’m not mistaken) but not for Cuba? (Maybe Bush just wants to keep people away from his Guantanamo concentration camp.) (Click that link, really. It makes me nostalgic for the day’s when Prava’s anti-U.S. editorializing was ideological bullshit. Now the White House press office has the monopoly on that.)

So I was thrilled to read that the Senate is joining the House in passing a provision to lift the travel ban. It’s a sign of something sane and healthy afoot that this weird Bushian effort was so soundly blocked by bipartisan effort. Of course he may veto the bill, but that would mean rejecting the entire $90 billion Transportation and Treasury appropriations bill. It will be fun to watch this one unfold.


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October 23rd, 2003

Search inside the book

Amazon.com has just introduced an incredible new feature. Now when searching for books, it doesn’t just look for keywords in the title and author — it looks in the actual content of the book! Pretty amazing stuff.

I actually found this really useful today. Years ago, I read a book by (at the time) a new Australian author. It was a bit of a pulp thriller, but I really enjoyed it, and I’ve been meaning to see what the author has written since then. Problem was, I couldn’t remember the title of the book or the author. I tried a couple of Google searches as I recall but could never work out what the book was. But today I searched for “antarctica seal marines invisibility” (yes, the book did touch on all these plot points!) and found Ice Station as the sixth search result. Brilliant!

It looks as thought they’ve done a wholesale scanning of a large collection of books, and then used OCR to create the search corpus. I noticed a couple of transcription errors, but on the whole it seems to work pretty well. Try it out!


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October 23rd, 2003

Divorce Settlement via Ebay

Want to get rid of unwanted, but potentially valuable items your ex-wife left behind?
Use Ebay! Or is this just clever marketing?


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October 21st, 2003

World peace at hand

As many of you who know me are aware, I believe that world peace can only really ever be achieved by the careful use of either pork or alcohol. The alcohol is easy. Get everyone really drunk and either they’ll get it all out in a nice, healthy, barroom brawl, or they’ll all just pass out and feel stupid the next day for having kissed a dozen rugby players and a couple of women the night before.

The pork thing is pretty easy to figure out too, though. Think about it. Most of the major world conflicts are between non-pork eating cultures. India and Pakistan. Iran and Iraq. Isreal and the Palestinians. Etc. I mean, you don’t really see a whole lot of Italians and Spanish going at each other, do you? And yet you do see a whole lot of Italians and Spanish sitting around drinking wine and munching on excellent ham. So there you go. Anyway, the secret to world peace, I’m ever more convinced, is a big old pig roast. Just think about it. Get all these bigwig muckety-mucks down to W’s ranch for some good beer and a barely solid pig that’s been slowly turning on a spit for a few days over a low fire…The thing is, after something like that, you’re incapable of not loving your fellow man. I just want, if W gets around to trying this little endeavor, to be given a share of that Nobel Peace Prize for having come up with this brilliant idea in the first place. In fact, I’d say let’s just do it at my Pa’s farm, but the whole secret service thing would probably make the horses nervous.

Anyway, in the same vein of the mutually enhancing properties of alcohol and pork, this editor dude named Josh Karpf has a description of his search for the perfect pork martini on his Web site www.foody.org.

It’s a brilliant idea, not too far from another porky endeavor Pete and Mike and I will make millions off of one of these days. But it’s also such a hoot of a read. For example:

Tasting was overseen by a collection of sprightly, generic-yet-authentic Cole Porter oldies such as “Let’s Do It,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Always True To You in My Fashion.” Hot, salted Chinese “imitation” egg noodles and tap water were on hand to clear the palate. And there was even a lovely blond in the room: me.

The sweet dried pork Martini, despite the lack of apparent surface oil, coated the bottom of my upper lip with a tangy pork greasiness. I was casually impressed, though I began to worry about what the more visibly oily pork vodkas would later offer. The chilled Martini had a piggy bouquet beyond its plain pork-vodka aroma. Was that the endothermic effect of the chilled liquor alerting the nose, or the action of the herb-steeped vermouth? I sipped a little. No aftertaste or aftereffect beyond the expected tummy warmth. Little flavor at all, in fact. Dried meats would seem less than optimum.

The ground pork Martini’s scent was powerful with essence of pork patty. This is not a cocktail for the pork Martini dilettante: Like specifically demanding from your bartender a “vodka Martini” instead of the understood default gin Martini, you’ll have to specify the “pork patty Martini” instead of a vanilla version, and make sure he or she fries the pork just right, searing the surfaces, draining the fat, and not letting it burn while you chase Naomi or Leonardo into a restroom. Come back when it’s mixed. Wow. This Martini packed a pork wallop. The aroma was overpowering, I have to admit. But that masked the oil; I saw the oil before, really, see my comments under “Transmogrification,” supra, but I tasted no oil. I declaim this a Martini you will love or hate, no middle ground. You could get drunk on the bouquet alone, a secondary high. Your neighbor will notice — and I mean your next-door neighbor, as you mix this at home, not the crackhead on the next barstool — and ask “Hey, is that pork you’re drinking?” “Yes!” you trumpet proudly. A great way to make new friends. Unless he or she is a vegetarian. But who wants a vegetarian friend?

You should, most definitely, take a look at the site too, if not to read the rest of the article, then at least to see the rather unnerving photos of the various pork martinis he tried.

And elsewhere on his site, Tales from the Coop, his take on meetings from the Park Slope Food Coop should appeal to those who’ve ever been on any sort of board that drove them crazy.


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October 21st, 2003

“Find the Boeing”

I’d had a very low tolerance for any sort of Sept. 11 conspiracy theory… but this site has somewhat piqued my curiosity. Check it out, and please provide the reasonable explanation I seem to be missing when I look at these photos. Is it insane to think that something other than a plane might have caused the destruction at the Pentagon? Some French folks go even further than that. I will only say that there is very little about Rummy that would surprise me. (Funny, really, how little we’ve seen that last picture on the news.)


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October 20th, 2003

Geek nostalgia

As I kid, I played a lot of video games. Of course, this was in the days before home console systems (and it took Atari a while to get to Australia). Instead, down at the corner store (the local deli) there was a continual rotation of stand-up cabinets. Pac-Man, Scramble, Defender, Galaga, all the classics. I’d usually go down for a few games after school, and play games with the big kids. I never managed to get any high scores, but this never stopped me playing. A couple of years later I discovered that the property company Mum worked for owned the biggest video arcade in Adelaide, and I’d sometimes get to follow her around while she counted the take from the machines and gave me lots of free credits. Kid geek heaven, that was! I got into some of the more challenging games like Missile Command and Tempest there, and improved a bit. That was where I got the pinball bug though, so I never played the video games so much after that. But I still have a real fondness for the old games. This was back in the days where your here character was a 10×15 grid of 4-colour pixels making “bloop bloop” sounds. Instead of relying on flashy graphics and music, game designers instead had to rely on gameplay and originality. Twenty years later, these old games are still great fun to play.

That’s why I covet what Aaron Mahler has created. He’s taken an old Millipede cabinet, added new controls, stuck a PC emulating old arcade games (using MAME) inside. He can choose from hundreds of games, and play them exactly like they were in the good old days. It even uses an original monitor and speakers! You can read all about in in Scientific American. I sooo want one of these.


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October 18th, 2003

Oh, that’s why!

By way of my cousin (who is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy at the Pentagon) came a copy of the Stratfor newsletter with a discussion of the recent strategy changes for the ongoing war in Iraq. What I found most surprising is not that we needed a change but their understood justification for the war in Iraq:
“To consider this, we need to recall the two strategic reasons the United States had for invading Iraq — as opposed to the public justifications :( italics mine)
1. Seizing the most strategic country in the region as a base of operations from which to mount follow-on operations against countries that collaborate or permit collaboration with al Qaeda.
2. Transforming the psychological perception of the United States in the Islamic world from a hated and impotent power to a hated but feared power”
OK, the first one, while I am not completely comfortable with the means, I agree with this end. Terrorism needs to be fought both at home and abroad but one would have hoped that with all of the resources at our disposal that there could have been a better and less public way to accomplish this objective. I realize that Reagan’s executive order 12333 prohibited us from just arranging the assassination of Saddam Hussein (not that it kept W from trying, I’ll bet) while he was the “elected” leader of Iraq and it’s probably not the best foreign policy choice to go around whacking people, but I prefer it to invading a sovereign nation and miring ourselves in the thankless job of nation-building. And now, of course, it is too late. We are obligated to finish what this government has started. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, even if they manage to establish Iraq as a stable base of operations, that the goal of launching successful operations into other countries in the region will bring an end to al Qaeda or its proxies around the world.
The second one I believe is flat short-sighted and assumes that there is no diplomatic path to building relations with Islamic countries. Granted we have not had too much success in this arena since the British first started carving the place up with the other European powers, but am I the only one that thinks fear is what inspired the hatred in the first place? Fear of losing their territory, their history and religion. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Middle East affairs (or anything for that fact) but I still believe that building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships is the best course to providing stability and prosperity. That doesn’t mean we’re wimps, it just means that we are looking to secure a better future for our world. Reviving the “US as world bully role” is not the way to secure that better tomorrow. It is the way to ensure that for every terrorist that dies or is captured there will be 10 to take his/her place.


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