Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

Playing Catch-Up



Oh, man, I've been so busy.

This week has been bad, but last week was overwhelming. Last week, all in a matter of days, I

Oh, no, wait. That wasn't me. That was someone else. Nonetheless, I did have a busy week, with overtime at work and lots to keep me busy at home. I've had little time to blog, making me the second-most delinquent blogger I can think of.

Tonight was the first time I had a chance to just sit down and read blogs and stuff in a long time. I caught up on all my regular haunts and learned some stuff:

Prince Charles is concerned about the health of his fellow Brits and he wants to help them get rid of that pesky thinking-for-themselves problem. Charles wants to ban McDonalds. In the picture to the right, Prince Charles seems to be pointing at a hamburger and crying. I'm not sure what to say about that.

Speaking of fast food … did you know that KFC now sells a fried fish sandwich, and that they want the Pope to bless it so that Catholics will buy it on Fridays during Lent? No kidding. And that makes sense. When I think about the 40 deeply reverent and penitent days of Lent, observed to remember the 40 days that Christ spent fasting in the desert, three words come to mind:

Fast Food Marketing.



Oh, yeah … have you heard the one about the Puerto Rican who claimed he was Jesus? The Burr In The Burgh has, and it ain't no joke. It's real. This guy claims he's Jesus and that he's the antichrist. And his followers are getting 666 tattoos to show their devotion. Creepy? You bet.

While I'm on the subject of the Lord, it's probably no surprise that Catholics aren't buying the Discovery Channel's notion that the tomb of Christ has been found by a movie director. What does surprise me, though, is that even the mainstream media sees this as quite unlikely. This seems to be one of those instances where science has been manipulated to reach a predetermined conclusion. Yeah, this might be the tomb of a Jesus … but there's no reason to believe that it's the tomb of the Jesus.

Oh, and speaking of those who manipulate science to reach predetermined conclusions, Al Gore won an Oscar for his sci-fi movie about how the planet is melting. Ooooh, scary, scary. Bad, bad global warming. Yaaaaawn. Look, here's the thing … there's just no way to know what to believe about global warming. The leftists, the prophets of doom, are juggling numbers like madmen, trying to come up with "scientific evidence" of global warming. Meanwhile, their ideological opponents on the right are likely doing much of the same thing. Although much of the evidence presented by the right … such as these nine facts about global warming from the Lavoisier group… seems pretty reasonable. I tend to agree with Michael Crichton when he asserts that global warming is just one more mania put forth by people who practice environmentalism as a religion.

There is, of course, all the scientific proof in the world that unborn babies are people … but now and then it's nice to see a story like this one, which simply argues the case on a common sense level: A baby born after only 22 weeks in the womb is doing well and hopefully headed home soon. 22 weeks? Hmmmm ... don't the pro-abortionists argue that a fetus only 22 weeks old isn't a person yet?

Have you heard about the Blasphemy Challenge, issued by Pennsylvania's Rational Response Squad? The challenge works like this: Go to You Tube and prove your atheism by posting a video of yourself blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Just say "I deny the Holy Spirit," which (some think) the Bible says is a one way ticket to Hell. Lots of people have done it. Only one problem: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a heavy theological concept that involves significantly more than simply uttering the phrase "I deny the Holy Spirit." Pastor David Williams got a kick out of all of these self-proclaimed "atheists" and their limited understanding of what it is to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and he posted a parody video at You Tube. Guess what? You Tube deemed his video offensive and removed it. No kidding. He's since reposted it at Google Video, and it's embedded below if you'd like to see if you think it's offensive. Personally, I thought it was funny and witty … but then again, I do agree with it:



If there's one internet source that I can rely on to keep an eye on Hillary as well as The National Review's Hillary Spot, it's probably Cube's blog. I read Cube a bit ago and she caught me up on the latest shenanigans between Obama and Hillary. I'd say I'm rooting for Obama, but the truth is, the more I learn about him, the less I like him. Thomas Sowell put a strong spotlight on Obama's poor understanding of what labor unions really do to the American workplace (hint: it ain't good), and I've recently read some ugly instances of his playing the race card. The ugliest example, though, was a silly quip from his wife: When asked if she worried that Barack might be the target of an assassination attempt, she responded

"… the realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station…"

Well, not to get snippy … but the last time I remember anybody getting randomly shot at places like gas stations, there were a couple of black guys on the delivery end of the gun.

If the Obama campaign keeps up this kind of thing, to go along with the candidate's flip flopping (HT: Unseen Blogger), maybe ol' Hillary won't have to worry about those nasty polls for much longer.

Besides, as Scrappleface points out, Al Gore's "climate change" plays to Hillary's favor, anyway.

Oh, yeah, one last thing ... While I was away, somebody left a comment at my second blog entry about the folks at the Metro Who's Who. The comment simply said
All you southern hicks speak like you are retards

Hmmm. Such eloquence. Such a wonderfully expressive economy of words. I wondered .. could this comment have been left by my pal Cyndi? I checked the stats for the blog and found that the comment was from someone with the following specifics:

Wow. That's right down the road from the Metro Who's Who's offices. Coincidence? You be the judge.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

 

Getting Up With The Dogs



I've been having some trouble sleeping lately. I'm a shift worker and my circadian rhythm is about as rhythmic as a train wreck … so for the past three nights in a row I've found myself wide awake at 4:00 AM.

I get up with the dogs. What else is there to do?

"Getting up with the dogs," of course, is an option unique to dog owners. Here's how it works in this house: You get out of bed and take the dogs outside for a quick bathroom break … and then you come back in and sit on the couch with the dogs, both of whom act as thrilled to be sharing your company as anyone else might if they were hanging out with celebrities or royalty or rich people. The dogs fight for lap space and eventually work out a truce wherein one dog is in my lap and the other is pushed up as close as possible beside me on the couch. Both dogs wag their tails like mad and shake all over and just generally do everything they can to express the concept "Wow! You GOT UP WITH US! Isn't this GREAT??!" after a great deal of enthusiasm and general dog/dog-owner bonding, all three of us attempt to drift back off to sleep with varying degrees of success. If that fails to work, there's always the fridge.

Getting up with the dogs is awesome. Nobody ever "got up with the cats."

I write a whole lot about political issues here and I'm always fairly straightforward about where my allegiances are. In case I haven't made it clear in the past (although I'm sure I have), I'm a dog person. I am not a cat person.

Wendy is a cat person. She loves our dogs in specific, but she doesn't love dogs in general. The concept of the awesomeness of dogginess, and the way that dogs just kick ass by and large, seems to be lost on her. That confuses me, and I'm doubly perplexed by her preference for cats since cats are clearly evil, irresponsible animals who don't love anyone.

There, I said it.

Dogs are better than cats, and I can prove it:

For one thing, dogs never lose their enthusiasm for anything. They take nothing for granted. Dogs are as happy about something the five millionth time it happens as they are the first time. Typical dog attitudes at our house include

Cats, on the other hand, take everything for granted. Cat's don't express enthusiasm, they express "contentment." You never make a cat happy. You might, occasionally, meet it's expectations.

Dogs are also capable of feeling and expressing shame. If a dog gets into the trash can for the FIFTEEN TIME TODAY (not that I'm bitter) and you yell at the dog for his behavior, the dog will tuck his tail between his legs and slink around as if to say "Oh, man, how could I have forgotten that? I'm not supposed to do that. I'm sorry. I'm sooooo sorry, pleeeeease forgive me."

If you yell at a cat for doing something it's not supposed to, the cat will only express two possible responses: confusion and anger. Confusion because you've clearly forgotten your subordinate role to the cat and anger because you've interfered with it's highly-important cat activity.

If dogs and cats were characters on Spongebob Squarepants, all dogs would be Patrick and all cats would be Squidward.

You can play with a dog. by the way. You can work out elaborate games with actual rules. Rules like I throw it, you go get it, I take it from you and throw it again. You can't actually play with a cat. All you can do for a cat is hold something while the cat smacks it. With dogs you can be a playmate. With cats you can only be an enabler.

By the way, the worse you smell, the happier your dog is to see you. If you come in from a long day of mowing grass or working your butt off and you're drenched with sweat, your dog will positively shake with joy at the opportunity to enjoy your many strange smells. Cats don't do that. Hell, people don't even do that. I've never come home from a day of busting my butt at work and heard my wife say "Oh, good, you stink!"

If someone comes to the door, our dogs let us know. Our dogs are always on the lookout for anyone who might pose the threat of coming in and possibly attacking us, robbing us, or delivering a package from UPS. Our dogs are aware of these potential threats and they're ever vigilant in their dedication to protecting us. Cats, on the other hand, never lift a paw to stop anyone from coming in. Charles Manson could walk into your home and a cat's attitude would be "Oh, good, you've come. Listen, please be a dear and hold this string while I bat at it, won't you? Otherwise, I simply don't see any reason for your presence."

Dogs are optimists. Cats are cynics.

Dogs believe in God. Cats believe that they are gods.

Dogs are always willing to try new things. Cats respond to any change by sulking under the bed.

All hail the awesome dog. Would that we could be more like him in his enthusiasm, love, appreciation of life and willingness to bite the UPS man.

Show me a cat that'll bite the UPS man and I'll show you a cat with aspirations above the mere feline.

This post is dedicated to Tilda and Chester. Good dogs. Gooooood dooooogs.



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Monday, February 12, 2007

 

The SouthCon True Hollywood Story: Grammys '07 Edition



The 2007 Grammy Awards were held last night, and I think we can all agree that it was easily the best, most glamorous and most important Grammy Awards program in the glamorous and important history of the Grammy Awards. WOW! What an amazing evening! Let's take a look at just a few of the glamorous and important award winners who won important, glamorous awards last night:

The award for Soul Performance Of The Year was presented to the late James Brown for the post mortem Soul Kiss he engaged in with Michael Jackson during his funeral in Augusta, Georgia. Recording Academy members were deeply moved when Jacko planted a big smacker on the the remains of "The Godfather Of Death," many of them saying that watching an apparent alien make out with a corpse "wasn't the least bit creepy. Besides, it was nice to see MJ taking advantage of a male over the age of 15."

Meanwhile, Barbra Streisand was awarded the prize for Soulless Performance Of The Year for "Shut The F--k Up!" … a performance art piece she dedicated to fans at her October concert at Madison Square Garden. Some of the fans at that show who'd paid money to hear Babs sing had expressed disappointment when she decided instead to engage in political posturing with a George W. Bush look-alike. Streisand launched impromptu into "Shut The F--k Up!" in response, wowing the crowd with her ability to freestyle as well as 50 Cent. The piece proved to be the apex of a stunning set. In fact, one fan in attendance reported that Barbra's actual soullessness was only apparent if you "looked directly into her eyes or listened to her express her ideas."

Female Performance Of The Year honors went to Paris Hilton, who's debut disc has been praised by critics. Note that it's the disc itself, and not the music it contains, that the critics have praised. The music is wretched. The CD itself, however, has been called "shiny and flat with a nice, useful hole." Hilton's fans embraced such reviews of the disc, noting that those are the same qualities that they admire in the popular heiress.

Clay Aiken was recognized as Male Performer Of The Year for failing to release an album in 2006. By refraining to release an album which would have surely spawned a few hit singles on adult contemporary radio, Aiken spared us all some measure of pain and frustration. Anxious music fans hope that next year the award will go to Justin Timberlake … and for the same reason.

In a Grammys first, the award for Record Of The Year wasn't awarded for singing or for playing musical instruments, but for dancing. The Dixie Chicks were recognized for their remarkable record of doing the Jitterbug, the Twist and the Hustle in a desperate attempt to reestablish a fan-base with someone … anyone. The Chicks began their bizarre dance when singer Natalie Maines told a European audience that she was ashamed of President George W. Bush. The remark provoked the ire of the group's fans, many of whom somehow found it irresponsible to attack the president on foreign soil during wartime. A tearful Maines immediately retracted her remarks, and then in an apparent attempt to sell records to Pearl Jam fans, soon retracted her retraction. Meanwhile, sales of the groups most recent album and concerts have been disappointing by artist and genre standards, in spite of VH1's nearly continuous airing of the video for the first single, "Not Ready To Make Money". In total, the Dixie Chicks won forty-leven Grammys last night, good news for Sony Music executives who hope that the publicity might end the Dixie Chicks' most recent dance, "the Flop."

Contratulations to all the winners! While winning a Grammy isn't an award on par with being nominated to the Metropolitan Who's Who, it is an honor in it's own right and not a bad place to start.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

 

Confessions Of An Inept Video Game Addict (Part 1)



I've been doing a bit less blogging lately, and as I said before, that's because I'm spending more of my free time playing the latest Splinter Cell game, which is so awesome and addictive that it's just silly.

Some of my blog buddies have chided me a bit, so I figured I'd post a bit of back story.

No, I'm not a gamer. Just ask Otis. Otis is a gamer, and a darned good one at that. I will take credit, though, for at least some role in turning Otis into the noob-slaying frag machine that he is … but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

No, I am not a gamer … but I am a product of the video-game generation. I grew up with a joystick in my hand (no comments from the peanut gallery, thanks), and I've spent many of the last thirty years merrily manipulating blotches of color on TV and PC screens. It's just that I've never gotten any good at it.

When I was a grade school kid, my parents gave my sister and I an Atari 2600 for Christmas. You'd have thought we'd won the lottery. We couldn't have been happier. That same Christmas I got Foreigner's Records for Christmas, and to this day I can't here "Urgent" or "Double Vision" without feeling the overwhelming urge to play Night Driver.

Some time in the late '80's I snagged a Nintendo NES and a few games at a yardsale for $10. Another lotto win. The seller thought it was busted because the spring that held the game cartridges down and in place had snapped … and I was right in my suspicion that the problem would be easy to fix. It turned out that all I had to do was put in a game cartridge and then slide a cassette tape case on top of it and, voila! Game time.

In '93 or '94, long after I'd gone to work and moved out on my own, my mom gave me a Sega Genesis for Christmas. WOW. If the Atari and Nintendo had been like lottery wins, the Genesis was like becoming a god. I can't begin to guess the time I spent playing Sonic and Double Dragon and Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage and my favorite, the original Mortal Kombat. I've always been a natural introvert and, just like when I was a kid, I was happiest listening to rock and roll and playing games. Badly.

I didn’t get my first PC until '98 … and it came preloaded with Sim City, which I loved. But I really developed an affinity for first person shooters, and spent hours playing Doom, Doom II, Quake, and Quake II.

Then, four or five years ago, Wendy and I found ourselves owning two decent computers at once for the first time, so we got to check out LAN game play. By then, Quake III was cheap and the outstanding Q3 mod, Urban Terror, was a free download. Now, Urban Terror plays as a modified version of Quake III, but it's nothing like Quake III. Where Q3 is fast and chaotic, Urban Terror is slow and methodical. Q3 takes place in a fantasy future with exaggerated weapons and alien monsters … Urban Terror, on the other hand, takes place in our world with real weapons and human combatants. It's all about urban warfare and it is intense and extremely addictive.

Like an idiot, I invited Otis over one day to check out Urban Terror. In no time at all he was as addicted as I was, except he was immediately far better at the game than I could ever hope to be.

Quickly we fell into a pattern of playing Urban Terror almost weekly. Otis would tote his PC over to our house and we'd sit up in our rec room with he and I sitting back to back, spending hours hunched over our keyboards taking shots at each other in deserted cities and burned out buildings. Oh, it was maddening. He was so much better at it than I was, but I tried. I can't count the times I painstakingly, urgently sought the perfect vantage point from which to hide and snipe for Otis … finally finding what I thought was the perfect nest with an ideal view of the city. I'd look around, check the landscape and the weak points, and start scanning the area through my scope. Then, almost out of the corner of my eye, I'd notice Otis standing in the building across from me, where he'd been watching me for at least ten minutes. There he'd be, rifle raised and at the ready, and just as soon as I realized what I was seeing I'd hear the BANG! and, next thing I'd know, I'd be respawning in some alley somewhere. I'd say "Damn!" and Otis would cackle like a maniac and then there'd be twenty more minutes of silence as I sought out the perfect place to plan an ambush and Otis sat and silently watched me and waited for the perfect time to remove my head with a bullet.

Sometimes, Wendy would play with us, but being a female girl chick, she failed to recognize the imperative intensity with which Urban Terror should be played. Her favorite way to "enjoy" the game was to run around in broad daylight and shoot at inanimate objects. It was fairly typical for me to be slinking around in some dark building, looking for just the right window with just the right view, when I'd notice somebody jumping around in circles in a parking lot, shooting at an empty car. Martin Lawrence on another bender? Some deranged and heavily armed terrorist? No. Just my wife "playing." I'd sit there slack-jawed at my PC thinking "What is she doing?" … and just about the time I'd notice a small black blur behind a tree three blocks away I'd hear BANG! Then I'd say "Damn!" and Otis would tremble with laughter and Wendy would say "What's going on?"

A few years ago we got our kids a GameCube because of it's large library of games for little kids … and it went over well, so a couple of years later we got them an Xbox.

One day out of boredom I rented a game called Halo.

Oh.

My.

Lord.

Suddenly I understood how grown-ups could find themselves addicted to video games on modern consoles.

But that's another story.

In the next installment of "Confessions Of An Inept Video Game Addict," you'll hear our kids say "How come he keeps playing our Xbox all the time lately? And how come he sucks so bad at it?" Stay tuned as Darrell becomes Master Chief by way of Mr. Bean.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

 

Knocking Myself Down A Notch, Ala "Pop Up Video"



I get on a high horse sometimes about how much everything sucks these days. Radio sucks, music sucks, TV sucks, movies suck, yadda yadda yadda.

The 80's, the decade of my prime, now THAT was a decade, right?

The 80's RULED, right?

Every single time I get on that "This generation sucks, the 80's generation ruled" kick, the quickest way to get my feet back on the ground is to force myself to watch this video in its entirety:



To really appreciate this video ... to take in just how awful, scary and upsetting it really is... you have to pause it and study certain frames.

The You Tube counter counts backwards, so hit the pause button at these specific timer points ... study the frames and take in everything that was bad about the decade of my prime:

2:09-- David Bowie, gay gypsy vampire.

2:06-- David Bowie, coked out zombie.

1:46-- Mick Jagger, 40 pounds of lips and not a tooth in sight.

1:42-- Dear Lord help us all.

1:20-- Come on, Mick, you couldn't go THREE MINUTES without a beer??

1:10-- Why did they shoot this video in a crack house? Ooooh, I suppose that's because this is Mick Jagger's crack house.

1:08-- One of the side effects of snorting coke is spontanious leg spasms.

1:02-- ...and arm spasms.

0:51-- Who the hell are they looking at? Have they forgotten where the camera is?

0:33-- Well whattaya know, Bowie finds Jagger as creepy as the rest of us do.

0:28-- Mick thinks "What's Dave doing? Squatting down? I better squat down, too. Nobody squats on Mick Jagger!"

0:16-- "Someone help us... we wandered away from the home after lunch and now we're lost and it's almost time for our pills..."

0:02-- The final insult.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

 

I Love This Video



Gnarls Barkley got some help from Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper and came up with a highly entertaining, Forrest Gumpity music video:



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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

 

Skeleton Keys, Angry Wookies and Dirty Reuters



Three quick bits, relevant to nothing, really:



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Friday, February 02, 2007

 

Who's What? Part II



You may have read an entry I posted on January 16th about a letter I'd received from the Metropolitan Who's Who, informing me that I was being considered for inclusion in the Metropolitan Who's Who "Honor's Edition." As I'm sure you'd expect, I was elated to get that piece of steaming news in the mail. I'd say that my level of joy was on the same level of Navin R. Johnson's when he said

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! … Page 73 - Johnson, Navin R.! I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.


Of course, I immediately wrote about my elation here at the blog, so imagine my surprise when I got this e-mail yesterday:

Darrell,

This is now my final attempt to contact you regarding your web blog on Metropolitan Who's Who.

http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

If you do not immediately take down all content and links regarding this blog we will proceed with legal action.

We have already contacted Covington Mill where you work in Packaging Resources. We will subpoena all the computers and their files with regards to your blogging activity. I am very certain that Covington Mill will not take this matter lightly.

Bellow see attorney letter sent on January 17 as an example of what will become part of our action against you and Covington Mill.

Regards,

Cyndi Jeffus

The information contained in this transmission is intended for the named receiver only.
The transmission may contain privileged and confidential material.
Please be advised that any use, dissemination, posting, or unauthorized copying of the materials is strictly prohibited.


Prohibited by who, I wondered. By the CIA? By H&R Block? The NFL? And why would the first e-mail I received from Ms. Jeffus also be the last? I didn't know … but I didn't have much time to ponder it, because immediately below the e-mail from Cyndi Jeffus I read the following example of a letter from an attorney:

Southern Conservative

http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

RE: Demand to Cease and Desist and Retract Libel

Dear Darrell:

It has come to the attention of Metropolitan Who’s Who (“Metropolitan”) that you have posted statements on your website at http://darwen.us/southcon/2007/01/whos-what.html

(the “Website”) which contain false information that is defamatory to Metropolitan. You have made these statements maliciously to injure the reputation of Metropolitan in its trade and profession. This letter constitutes a demand for the immediate and complete removal of these false and libelous statements including all references to Metropolitan from your Website within 2 calendar days of receipt of this letter.

Your statements and conduct on the Website also constitute interference with prospective business and contractual relations of Metropolitan. As such, they are actionable and expose you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages.

Your failure to remove your defamatory and malicious statements and their repetition after this notice of their falsehood constitutes further publication of libel. It also confirms your malicious intent.

Please note that this letter does not constitute a complete or exhaustive statement of all of Metropolitan’s rights or claims. Metropolitan takes this matter very seriously and accordingly, we have engaged our legal counsel to investigate this matter further.

If you do not immediately and completely remove these defamatory statements and references to Metropolitan, and cease and desist from interference with Metropolitan’s business and contractual relations including, without limitation, making false and malicious comments about Metropolitan within 2 calendar days of receipt of this letter, we will direct our corporate legal counsel to seek judicial intervention to protect Metropolitan’s rights. If Metropolitan is forced to file suit to stop your wrongful conduct, it will, in addition to seeking compensatory and punitive damages, also seek an award of its attorney fees and litigation expenses.
We expect you will remove any and all reference to Metropolitan on your Website immediately to avoid the possibility of litigation and that you will confirm such removal via e-mail or in writing.

Very Truly Yours,

Metropolitan Who’s Who


Eeeek! Would this become a part of my permanent file?? As you might imagine, I was quaking in my boots.

I looked around the net frantically and saw that at least one other blogger has voiced his wry amusement at having received a form letter from this same organization, and that Cyndi Jeffus had left him a comment asking him to contact her. Of course, she did manage to get his name wrong in her comment… his name is Mark, but she called him Lisa, the name of the woman who'd signed the form letter he received.

Then I calmed down and thought about it. The first thing that caught my attention was that the example of a letter from an attorney was put together better than Cyndi's e-mail. It didn't have, for example, font faces that changed mid sentence. Could it have been from an actual attorney? It's possible.

Or could it simply be that Office 2007 now features Letter From An Attorney as one of it's templates?

I went back and re-read my post about the letter I'd received, unsolicited, from the Metropolitan Who's Who. What had I written that could possibly be libelous? I had no idea. The only person I'd really made fun of in the post was myself. You can read it here.

Then an idea hit me: Could it be that the Metropolitan Who's Who is concerned about their image? Could it be that they don't want people to find out that a peon like me, a common physical laborer, had somehow ended up on their mailing list? Might that yank the rug out from under the pretense that they are some sort of respectable networking resource for people who … oh, I dunno … don't regularly get grease in their hair while they're at work? Hmmmmmm…..

I mean, really. It's not like I wrote that the Metropolitan Who's Who is a transparent, predatory sham that feeds off the naïve insecurities of the self-employeed. I wouldn't write something like that. And it's not like I wrote something frivolous and irresponsible, such as the entire staff of the Metropolitan Who's Who is a bunch of fascist, pagan crackheads!! I'd never in a million years write something like that. After all, in the words of Pink Floyd, "I've always had a deep respect, and I mean that most sincerely!"

So after about 12 seconds of careful consideration, I wrote back to Cyndi Jeffus:

Hi, Cyndi,

Thank you for your correspondence. It made my day. I enjoyed the the variety of font faces you used, some of which changed mid-sentence . I also enjoyed the examples of "legalese" you attempted. Many of the words you used were spelled correctly. Good for you! However, I'm particularly amused by your claim that I've made "false and libelous statements" about the Metropolitan Who's Who. Please send me a list of the exact statements on my blog that concern you … I have no intentions of taking down my blog entry about the first letter I received from the Metropolitan Who's Who. Beyond that, I intend to write a blog entry about this e-mail exchange as well. If you really believe that there's anything "false and libelous" about my blog entry, please feel free to proceed with what you consider to be the proper legal course of action.

In the meantime, please allow me to correct a few errors in your recent e-mail to me.

You wrote "This is now my final attempt to contact you regarding your web blog on Metropolitan Who's Who." In fact, I do not maintain a "web blog" about "Metropolitan Who's Who." As a hobby, I keep a "web log" or "blog," where I write about movies, politics, religion, and personal experiences. One of the personal experiences I chose to write about was the letter I received from your organization. If you didn't want people to publicly mention that your organization has contacted them, you shouldn't send unsolicited mail to strangers.

You also wrote "We have already contacted Covington Mill where you work..." In fact, my employer is not called "Covington Mill." Nor is my employer relevant to my blog, my personal hobby. I do not write to my blog while I'm at work, nor do I have the resources to do so while on the job. I write and post entries to my blog at home. If, however, you really have contacted my employer about my blog, I'm certain that my employer found your concerns to be a minor and trivial annoyance.

As I said before, I intend to write a blog entry about this correspondence, and any further e-mail I receive from your agency. I've said nothing malicious or libelous about your organization, and I invite any attempts you might make to prove the contrary in a US court. I can't imagine, however, that your case will ever be heard.

You may wish to read up a bit on the reality of liability law in the US.

With the warmest regards,
Darrell Loudermilk


And that might have settled the matter after a brief mention here, but it gets better…

This woman wrote an e-mail to my wife at her college e-mail account demanding that she try to talk me into deleting my blog post about her organization! I mean, the nerve! Isn't that creepy??! It's like some sort of cyber-stalking situation. I get these images in my head of Annie Welks from Misery, sitting at her computer, pounding away on the keyboard and screaming "Take down the cockadoodie blog post!!" Wendy, for her part, was really creeped out by the e-mail.

So I wrote back again and told her not to bother us any more or I'd consider it harassment.

Then, I went to work this morning and I got a call from one of our big-wigs, the guy who I believe is in charge of security. He's a good guy, he's been helpful to me in the past, and he was friendly but a bit perplexed as he explained to me that he'd received a call from the Metropolitan Who's Who asking about me. So I explained the whole deal to him and I think it's safe to say that he found it amusing. I asked him if I needed to be worried about my job, and he told me that everything was fine. At least I think that's what he told me. He was laughing pretty damn hard by this point. Like I said, he really got a kick out of the whole debacle.

So after a little more careful consideration, I've decided to stand my ground. No, I won't take down my original blog post. There wasn't a damn thing wrong with what I wrote. Nor will I take down this blog post. And I'll tell you why:

(This next part goes over best if you quietly hum the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" to yourself as you read it, and imagine me as Otter in Animal House.)

The United States of America was founded on a number of principles… and among them was the Freedom of Speech, as described in the First Amendment of the Constitution. No, Freedom of Speech doesn't guarantee everyone the right to just say any fool thing that pops into their head. You can't, for example, run into a crowded firehouse and yell "Movie!" You can, however, publicly voice your opinion about any organization in the world. Especially if that organization has sent you an unsolicited invitation to join their ranks, and especially if you don't accuse that organization of being a fly-by-night fraudulent joke.

This freedom to express ourselves is fundamental. This is what George Jefferson had in mind when he wrote the Declaration of Incontinence. This is one of the freedoms that General Norman Schwarzkopf was defending when he fought the Japs at Little Big Horn. This is a basic element of life in the US of A, and it's as American as mock apple pie, coked up baseball players and the Toyota Corolla.

I think that the importance of the First Amendment can best be illustrated in this story about Eustace P. "Bud" Mooney, an old man I used to work with. Bud misted up as he told me this story one night during a long shift, and I remember getting a chill as I realized that he really was going to talk to me all night. I'll now pass this story on to you, dear reader, with the hopes that it'll help you appreciate the greatness of our nation.

In order to protect his anonymity, I'm not going to refer to him by his real name, which is Eustace P. "Bud" Mooney. Instead, I'll refer to him by a completely fake name I've just made up; Senator Charles "Bud" Schumer.

Anyway, it seems that Senator Bud happened to find himself one evening in the quaint little hamlet of Lewisburg, West Virginia, where he happened to be raving drunk in a parking-lot. Now, normally, Senator Bud was a quiet man, some even considered him timid. But on this particular night he'd had a fight with his wife and she'd left him in the parking-lot, and this situation was complicated by the fact that he was raving drunk and, I'm sorry to say, partially disrobed.

Well, the denizens of Lewisburg, West Virginia are charming, laid- back people, and some of them happened to pass the parking-lot that Senator Bud was in while they were out for evening walks. Many of these passers-by expressed obvious contempt for Senator Bud, some even going so far as to spit on the ground and call him a "hooligan." This upset Senator Bud, and although he's normally a bashful, retiring man, he began to use his freedom of speech to voice his displeasure with the people around them. He called several of them names and swore at them, and accused at least one of them of having had a highly inappropriate relationship with his own mother. After only a few minutes of this, the Lewisburg police showed up and arrested Senator Bud, taking him to the town jail where he was placed in a cell with a one-armed man who was not as drunk as the Senator and was, therefore, capable of beating Senator Bud quite severely with the Senator's own shoe.

Senator Bud had used his freedom of speech and had learned a lesson for it. With tears in his eyes, he told me that after that night he'd never once in his life been drunk again.

In public.

In Lewisburg, West Virginia.

Now, you may be asking yourself "What the hell does any of that have to do with the First Amendment?" To be honest with you, I'm not sure. I can't remember what my point was. I'm not even sure that I had one. I think what's important here is that, even though I'm currently rambling incoherently, the freedom to do so is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Just ask General Schwarzkopf.

And with that we've come full circle, gentle reader. Thank you for your time and consideration. As I said, I do not intend to take down my post about the Metropolitan Who's Who, and I stand by everything I've written. Cyndi Jeffus is just going to have to deal with that. I think she has a great deal to learn about what it means to be an American. Not that I encourage any of you to write to her at cyndi@metroexec.net and tell her so.

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