July 17, 2006

Only Five???

Okay, I'm back. It's been a while, but I'm still around. Just haven't had too much time to write lately. (More about that in another post.)

I just finished entering FHM's contest to win an MP3 player. To win, you just have to make up the best list (in FHM's opinion)of the five greatest songs of all time. Now, I'm going to hold off on printing my list until the contest is over, which should be soon. However, I thought it might be a good, thought provoking question for all of you. So, if you don't care about entering the contest, go ahead and list your five songs in the comments section. And remember...this is the five greatest of all time, so if all your songs are from the past year or so? Well, then we're all going to make fun of you.

March 26, 2006

Those Clever, Evil, Bastards...

Full disclosure: I used to be a pack-a-day-plus smoker. I'm glad I quit. It's a nasty habit.

That said, smokers are not evil. And while Cigarette companies may be evil, let's face it--they're no more evil than other groups that keep pushing products that they know will be harmful--Pharmaceutical companies, McDonalds, Burger King, Hostess, etc. But you wouldn't know that from the commercials that have been on lately.

Now I agree, the anti-smoking brigade had a point about the Joe Camel character. But even so, smoking has always been portrayed as "cool," ever since Bogie, James Dean, Charles Boyer, etc. dangled smokes from their respective lips. It hardly took a cartoon character to tell kids that.

But now I feel like the anti-smoking message has gone a little too far, and that those behind it are making statements every bit as untruthful as the ones made by big tobacco. The most recent one I saw claims to prove that cigarette companies are still marketing to kids because when they hang their signs on a store counter "it just happens" to be at a child's eye level. Do I even need to point out that it also "just happens" to be at that level because the counter is the optimum height for exchanging money, placing purchases, bagging purchases, etc?

At this point, anyone, even a young anyone, who still thinks smoking is good for you is either stupid or a supermodel. This new claim just makes no logical sense at all. It's like saying that God supports pedophelia becuase He cleverly made adult genitalia at a child's eye level. It's called a doubtful cause fallacy, which is what happens when you try to establish a causal relationship between things that don't necessarily have one.

Why do I even care? Well, I guess because I'm a libertarian, and I'm getting tired of borderline-fanatical groups who, when they can't reach their agenda through legislation, often go to extremes to demonize any person/corporation that disagrees with them. (And while I'm at it, the legislators themselves are often pussies becuase they'll tax the things into oblivion, but they won't have the guts to change the law.) Hey, anti-smoking dickwads...right now, cigarettes are legal. You want to put out commercials that show pictures of diseased lungs, I'm with ya. You want to send out scratch and sniff cards that let smokers know what their clothes smell like, I'm with ya. You want to talk about the diseases caused by smoking (although I think you're full of shit with your second-hand smoke claims), I'm with ya. But c'mon...don't insult my intelligence. What have YOU been smoking?

Chairman of the Bored

Whew, what a nearly-perfect day! I started out by trying the new Delmonico's Steakhouse. The garlic cheesebread appetizer (which I wouldn't have ordered had I realized that the meal came with bread) was, literally, a whole loaf of bread. They split it open and covered both halves with gooey melted cheese. And the damn thing was steaming hot, too, something that I've noticed has been lacking in appetizers these days. The main meal was a 12-ounce New York Sirloin Strip, seared on the outside, yet a perfect medium on the inside. And I mean perfect. No bulls-eye of ever-increasing doneness as you move out from the center; this baby was one tone from top to bottom. Alongside the steak? A baked potato which--I'm not kidding here--was the size of a Nerf football. Oh, did I happen to mention that this whole foray into gluttony took place in...THE FRANK SINATRA BOOTH??? Yes, there I was, surrounded by photos and albums of Ol' Blue Eyes himself, while an overhead speaker pumped out the music of the spheres--Frank, Sammy, Dino, Tony Bennett, Louis Prima, et. al. The coolest part of all was that the booth was built back into the wall like a little alcove, and there were curtains that one could draw closed, should one want some privacy. Good food, good service, good atmosphere...let's just say that if there is a heaven, God's got his work cut out for him. Ring-a-ding-ding.

After the eats, I found a little bookstore outlet. The kicker? Everything was 70% off the cover price!!! I thought maybe it was a mirage at first, or possibly a hallucination brought on by too much steak. But I've got two bags of books, hardcovers among them, for about $40 that proves it was the real thing.

I know what you're thinking: "What next? You pick up a naked stipper whose car broke down on the way to her sex addicts anonymous meeting?" Sadly, no. But there was more shopping--at the regular bookstore, where I took advantage of a 25% educator's discount, and at the computer/DVD store, where I almost talked myself into buying the "Kolchak, the Night Stalker" box set.

The last stop of the night was to visit one of my oldest friends. I've known him since we were about five years old or so. Growing up, he and his mom were like a second family to me. Now he's married and has two kids of his own. They're the greatest. But he's got a new family, and I think that his wife hasn't been so sure that this particular member of the old family belongs in the new family. Tonight, when I stopped by, though, a strange thing happened. My friend and his wife had to run a quick errand and she asked me to watch the kids while they were gone. (Something I had never been trusted with before, by the way.) Not just the almost-three year old, mind you, but the almost-year old chubby bunny. I know, it doesn't sound like a big deal, and they didn't act like it was a big deal, but to me it was like a signal: "okay, you're all right." I felt like part of the family again.

So that was the day. Best day I've had in a while, for sure. I think I'll crawl into bed and read one of these new books. It's too bad I'm crawling in there alone, otherwise it just might have been the perfect day. Ah, who wants a perfect day, anyway? It leaves you nothing to get out of bed for the next morning.

March 10, 2006

I Hab A Code

Well, I had a code...uh, cold. For about a week. It wasn't just a cold, though. It was a monster whamdoozle case of the flu. It wasn't even, like, bird flu; it was pteradactyl flu. Even my hair hurt.

But, for the most part, I'm better, although I seem to still have a bunch of crud in my head still. (Yes, besides the grey matter crud! Quit writing your own jokes!) I have a doctor story, but I'll save that. I have break coming up, and should have some free time, although I do have to finish all that work I postponed due to that meshugga flu.

I'll keep you all posted.

February 16, 2006

What You Talkin' Bout, Willis?

Why I will always pay to see a Bruce Willis movie, even if it might suck.

Willis Defends Frey

Although I might not agree with him 100 percent, I give the guy credit for standing up to Oprah.

Best line?

"Hey, Oprah. You had PRESIDENT CLINTON on your show and if this prick didn't lie about a couple of things, I'm going to set myself on fire right now."

February 15, 2006

Mulder...? I Hardly Even Know Her!

Thanks to Ken.

I knew those conspiricy questions were gonna get me in trouble.

You scored as FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files). You are part of a super secret section of the FBI. You also have the very cool status of "Special Agent." You believe in many conspiracies and know the government is covering up way too much. Now if only you could get the Cigarette Smoking Man to stop providing you with the second-hand smoke.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.com

P.S. As cool as "Special Agent" is, every guy out there wishes he was Han Solo. C'mon, you know you do. First of all, you're named after the masturbatory act. Second, and most important...how cool is it that when you're about to be frozen solid, and your girl tells you that she loves you, your last words to her are "I know"? Steve McQueen would be proud as hell.

February 11, 2006

Gone, But Not Forgotten

Today, besides being the day after my good friend The Insurrectionist's birthday, also happens to be the birthday of another good friend. She wasn't my first girlfriend, but I'd have to say she was my first love. I have no idea where she is these days, and I'm sure the chances that she'll ever see this are slim, but every February 11th I get a little nostalgic.

Amy, I remember those summers on the lake with fondness, and I hope life is treating you well.

More Cartoonery Buffoonery

Actually, this isn't really buffoonery--it's actually pretty good--but I liked the rhyming sound.

My friend Greg sent me an email with the text of this op-ed from The New York Times. I'm including the full text here instead of linking because you have to subscribe to view it online. I don't know if this is a copyright violation or not. (It doesn't seem much different to me than, say, cutting it out of the paper and passing it around--I'm not making any money from it.) If they ask me to take it down, I will.


The New York Times, February 9, 2006

By David Brooks

You want us to know how you feel. You in the Arab European League published a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank so we in the West would understand how offended you were by those Danish cartoons. You at the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri are holding a Holocaust cartoon contest so we'll also know how you feel.

Well, I saw the Hitler-Anne Frank cartoon: the two have just had sex and Hitler says to her, "Write this one in your diary, Anne." But I still don't know how you feel. I still don't feel as if I should burn embassies or behead people or call on God or bin Laden to exterminate my foes. I still don't feel your rage. I don't feel threatened by a sophomoric cartoon, even one as tasteless as that one.

At first I sympathized with your anger at the Danish cartoons because it's impolite to trample on other people's religious symbols. But as the rage spread and the issue grew more cosmic, many of us in the West were reminded of how vast the chasm is between you and us. There was more talk than ever about a clash of civilizations. We don't just have different ideas; we have a different relationship to ideas.

We in the West were born into a world that reflects the legacy of Socrates and the agora. In our world, images, statistics and arguments swarm around from all directions. There are movies and blogs, books and sermons. There's the profound and the vulgar, the high and the low.

In our world we spend our time sifting and measuring, throwing away the dumb and offensive, e-mailing the smart and the incisive. We aim, in Michael Oakeshott's words, to live amid the conversation - "an endless unrehearsed intellectual adventure in which, in imagination, we enter a variety of modes of understanding the world and ourselves and are not disconcerted by the differences or dismayed by the inconclusiveness of it all."

We believe in progress and in personal growth. By swimming in this flurry of perspectives, by facing unpleasant facts, we try to come closer and closer to understanding.

But you have a different way. When I say you, I don't mean you Muslims. I don't mean you genuine Islamic scholars and learners. I mean you Islamists. I mean you young men who were well educated in the West, but who have retreated in disgust from the inconclusiveness and chaos of our conversation. You've retreated from the agora into an exaggerated version of Muslim purity.

You frame the contrast between your world and our world more bluntly than we outsiders would ever dare to. In London the protesters held signs reading "Freedom Go to Hell," "Exterminate Those Who Mock Islam," "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust" and "Europe You Will Pay, Your 9/11 Is on the Way." In Copenhagen, an imam declared, "In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; to us, the prophet is sacred" - as if the two were necessarily opposed.

Our mind-set is progressive and rational. Your mind-set is pre-Enlightenment and mythological. In your worldview, history doesn't move forward through gradual understanding. In your worldview, history is resolved during the apocalyptic conflict between the supernaturally pure jihadist and the supernaturally evil Jew.

You seize on any shred - even a months-old cartoon from an obscure Danish paper - to prove to yourself that the Jew and the crusader are on the offensive, that the apocalyptic confrontation is at hand. You invent primitive stories - like the one about Jews who kill children for their blood - to reinforce your image of Jewish evil. You deny the Holocaust because if the Jews were as powerful as you say, they would never have allowed it to happen.

In my world, people search for truth in their own diverse ways. In your world, the faithful and the infidel battle for survival, and words and ideas and cartoons are nothing more than weapons in that war.

So, of course, what started in Denmark ended up for you with Hitler, the Holocaust and the Jew. But in your overreaction this past week, your defensiveness is showing. Democracy is coming to your region, and democracy brings the conversation. Mainstream leaders like Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani are embracing democracy and denouncing your riots as "misguided and oppressive."

You fundamentalists have turned yourselves into a superpower of dysfunction, demanding our attention week after week. But it is hard to intimidate people forever into silence, to bottle up the conversation, to lock the world into an epic war only you want. While I don't share your rage, I do understand your panic.


Antimedia has a cartoon over at his place that downright offends me**

**because I didn't find it first.

Happy Birthday! (Belated)

I would be remiss if I didn't wish the Insurrectionist a happy b-day. I was going to do it yesterday morning, but I was late for work and the rest of the day disappeared into a glorious haze of booze, drugs, and hookers. At least that's what the ER docs are telling me.


Happy Birthday, my friend!

February 10, 2006

Three Parts Blank????

Courtesy of Petitedov

How to make a dead serious

3 parts intelligence

5 parts silliness

3 parts
Blend at a low speed for 30 seconds. Serve with a slice of lovability and a pinch of salt. Yum!

February 09, 2006

One Ringy Dingy...

Frankly, I’m getting a bit fed up with the whole “wiretapping/violation of privacy rights” issue. For as much time as the newspapers spent on it, you’d think someone, somewhere—in the mass media or in Washington—would have simply applied a little common sense. We could have nipped the whole thing in the bud long ago. But your old friend DS is here to set you straight.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Everywhere I look, I see people complaining that taping/tapping/listening to phone calls is a violation of “privacy rights.” BZZZZZZT! Wrong! Look up the word “private” in the dictionary. It means belonging to an individual. Privacy rights are those that belong to an individual. For my money, the second the person at the end of that phone picks up and says “Yo,” anything said is no longer private. Get it? You’ve put it out there. Don’t think so? Let me run something by you…

Let’s suppose one day you grow tired of little Jimmy from next door riding his bike through your flower bed, and decide to do away with the little moppet. One thing leads to another and presto—Jimmy’s on a milk carton, and you’ve got the best rhododendrons in the county. You’re celebrating one night, sitting around in a soft robe, drinking mohitos, when you blurt out—to yourself—“Man, I’m glad I got rid of Next-door Jimmy.” Here, in your house, by yourself, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A listening device planted in your house (without a warrant), recording your confession, would seem to me to be a legitimate example of a violation of privacy. Let’s look, though, at version two…

You still whack Jimmy, but eventually the guilt gets to you, and you confess your deed to a friend…over the phone. Now if that friend was me, I’d be setting up a schedule for monthly, undocumented payments. But most people aren’t the shrewd businessperson I am, and would probably turn your ass in. In this case, I would argue that you have no expectation of privacy over the phone, since you’ve already decided to share the information with at least one other person. I say “at least” because you can’t even be sure that your friend is the only one listening on the other end. Think back to those days of high school when you nervously called your crush to ask her out on a date only to find out the next day at school that all her friends were listening in on extentions…and struggling to keep from laughing out loud. But I digress. Still, the question remains:

When did we EVER have an expectation of privacy when talking on the telephone? Think about it. When the telephone was in its early years, who was it that routed the calls? That’s right—the operator. And she could listen all day long if she wanted. No privacy there.

Most of you don’t remember this, but there also used to be a little something called a “party line.” No, it’s not the $3.99/min. kind. A party line was when you and your neighbors shared the same phone connection. Only one of you could use the phone at the same time. And guess what happened if you picked up your phone while your neighbor was on? That’s right—you could hear everything he or she said. It was actually pretty entertaining, and made a nice transition, entertainment wise, from those days of radio into the days of television. Again, no expectation of privacy there.

What about cell phones, or cordless phones?  Any geek with a scanner and a little knowledge can pick up your conversations as easily as they might get the local FM station. You are broadcasting your conversation into the air!! Nope, no expectation of privacy there.

Anyone try calling a business, or doctor’s office, or even a high school these days? Nine times out of ten you’re going to get a message telling you that they are recording the conversation. And the tenth time, they’re just not telling you. Who’s going to listen to that tape? I don’t know. Neither do you; that’s the point. You can’t possibly expect anything said during that call to remain private.

Do I have to even explain the way that Caller ID breaks down the privacy issue?

Let’s face it: there has NEVER been a time when we could reasonably expect privacy while talking on the telephone. Oh, we may have thought there was, but that’s basically because we’re mostly spoiled, self-absorbed individuals. There’s no free speech issue here: no one’s preventing you from talking on the phone, or even deciding what you can say. It’s just that if you talk about blowing things up, you’re gonna bring some heat down on yourself. And most existing wiretapping laws deal with evidentiary issues—what can and can’t be used in court. I haven’t heard any argument that the wiretapping at issue is to be used to prosecute anyone, and I doubt that any judge would allow them in evidence anyway. It’s my understanding that the Bush Administration intends them to be a preventative measure only. I don’t have a problem with that, and unless you’re planning on wearing the latest in C-4 activewear, neither should you.

An individual’s privacy has always been in balance with society’s safety. Here, though, it seems pretty clear. If the government listening to me talk about my analysis of last Sunday’s game, or my last visit to the proctologist, or whatever might strike my fancy prevents some fucking maniacs from flying planes into buildings, I can live with that. And your lives aren’t that exciting either, my friends. We honestly don’t care what you’re talking about when you pick up the phone. So wipe the spittle away from the corner of your mouths, sheath the claws, and be damn glad that you’ve even GOT phone service.

Now, if somebody’s got a quarter, I gotta go make a private call.

January 30, 2006

Aaarp! Aaarp!

Funniest mistake headline all day...

On FOX news scrolling headlines, I noticed that they mentioned that scientists believe that the Antarctic shelf is disintegrating, causing "the seal level to rise 15 feet."

What the hell is Doug Pace, et. al. doing down there?!!