Monday, April 30, 2007
So where can I buy one?
Just kidding. Polar Bears would make awful pets. Sure, they're cute and adorable when they're babies like little Knut, but once they get about a year old they are prone to eat your feet all the way up to the collar bone.
Labels: You Tube
Saturday, April 28, 2007
With apologies to MCF.
It wasn't an ideal day to hit the hiking trails, but cabin fever has had us going out of our minds. So in spite of the cloud coverage and the threat of rain, we decided to get out and enjoy the outdoors a bit. Since I usually take the camera any time we go any further than the back yard, I have little photographic evidence.
This is the spot of river where I learned to swim. The fact that I didn't learn to swim until I was in my early 20's shouldn't detract from the nostalgia of that.
Here's the swinging bridge from which I took that first picture.
I spent the day bringing up the rear of our little pack. Our oldest insisted on running out front, as ten year old boys will do, and the other two were never far behind him.
"Get back from the edge!" Dammit. What is it about kids that necessitates that kind of advice?
My wife the nature girl. The rest of us crossed this little stream with a quick jump. Not Wendy. Why take the easy way?
About half way through the day the clouds parted and the sun came out. Which just goes to show you that the Good Lord rewards perseverance.
Fallen trees make great landmarks. Liam was especially impressed with the size of this one.
Again, I found myself toward the back. We're going to have to make sure that the kids check themselves for ticks tonight.
I'll have to try to remember to go take pictures in this area next autumn. It's really beautiful out there.
This footbridge, like the majority of this particular hiking trail, was wiped out by the flood of 1985. I'm kinda proud that my boyscout troop played a role back then in the restoration of this trail.
At the end of the trip, the kids examined the map and try to figure out where we've been and where we can go next time.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Go Home, Tom Cruise, And Get Back In Your Closet
What is it about cults that makes them so willing to prey on people when they're at their most vulnerable?
As reported elsewhere earlier this week, Scientology's Volunteer Vultures have descended upon the grief-stricken Virginia Tech campus.
VT senior Christie Weaver, a psychology major, confirmed their presence on Thursday, and was kind enough to send us some photographic evidence.
"Yeah, those f-----s are here," she said, noting that she "has not seen anyone speak to them because they wear these bright yellow shirts that say 'Scientology Volunteer Minister.' They stick out like sore thumbs, especially given that they look very LA'd out and we're in the mountains of Virginia."
On Friday, Weaver told Radar, "Yesterday they just walked around campus without being obtrusive, but today they set up a bright yellow tent about 100 yards from the memorial."
The tent, similar to the ones celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise routinely pitches on movie sets, have also been erected right next to the victims' memorial boards, so when aggrieved students come to pay their respects, they get accosted by the culties. "It's sick," says Weaver. "They can leave and take the media with them."
Scientology, of course, is the "religion" practiced by flakes with too much money and time on their hands, and it's based at least partially on the belief that, 75 million years ago, an alien named Xenu came to earth with a bunch of other aliens he'd captured, and that he blew them all up in a volcano with a hydrogen bomb.
So, yeah, I guess you'd need to stalk people while their emotionally vulnerable in order to get them to take you seriously.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
As soon as I had it assembled and got it outside, Chester made it clear that he was outraged by our new lawnmower. Mind you, this was well before I actually started the thing. I'd only taken it out of the box, straightened the handle and pushed it out into the yard. I'm still not sure why the new lawnmower was such an affront to Chester's sensibilities. Maybe the engine struck him as overly large and environmentally unfriendly. Maybe he thought that the self-propelled drive was a showy luxury. Or, it might have been that the grass-shoot was yellow. I don't know. I'm sure of one thing, though: It took me twenty minutes to get ready to mow, including picking out mowing music and finding my headphones and looking for my sneakers … and Chester spent all twenty of those minutes in the yard barking non-stop at the new lawnmower.
Granted, Chester was never on the best of terms with the old lawn mower, either. He'd usually sit and scowl, watching me gas it up and try to start it. Once I'd get it going, he'd follow me around the yard for the first several laps, barking with rage and horror.
Tilda, on the other hand, has become utterly complacent about lawnmowers in general. Then again, Tilda is generally indifferent about everything these days, except for Bak'n Treats and her squeaky fish (she heartily endorses both). It didn't used to be that way. There was a time w hen the two dogs maintained a united front in opposition to lawn care. I'd be out in the yard, dripping sweat and shoving the mower, and the two dogs would be lock stepped behind me in protest, their canine cacophony echoing through the neighborhood in a glorious song of dissent:
This Briggs And Stratton has Got To Go!"
These days, however, Tilda has lost the passion. Now she just lays under the oak tree and looks at me, hardly mustering a defiant fish-squeak.
I suppose that there are a number of possible reasons that might explain Chester's ongoing mow-rage. It could be that he hates to see me cut the grass that he's spent so much time trying to fertilize. Maybe, with his short legs, he likes having five inches of grass to hunker down and hide in. Personally, I tend to believe that he just has a strict policy against anything noisy that humans push around. I've noticed that he's not overly fond of the vacuum cleaner, either.
Still, a new summer is in the making and Chester is simply going to have to put his lawnmower prejudice behind him. Besides, Tilda is saving him a space in the shade under the oak tree.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA! HAHAHAHAHA HARDEE HAR HAR HAR! WHOOOOOOO! YESSSSSSS!!!
Good BYE, Rosie! Barbara Walters finally woke up and fired that overbearing, self-righteous, self-centered, idiotic, paranoid, trouble-making horses ass! Hopefully, that means I'll be able to listen to the radio for more than twenty minutes, or watch the news, or click on Google News now and then without hearing the latest insane prattle she's come up with. I don't give a damn how she's ended up leaving the show ... I don't care if I'm right and Barbara Walters finally got fed up ... I don't care if she's leaving because of a money dispute ... I don't care if the covert, black-ops government website called StopRosie.com finally accomplished their mission. I don't care. I'm just glad that our long national nightmare is over.
How in the world did such a despicable, repugnant, vile and hateful presence ever become a celebrity, anyway? No matter. She's on her way out. Hopefully we'll near nothing out of her for a few years.
Good riddance. Now I can go back to not watching The View in peace.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Conversation With The Abhorrent
Yesterday I mentioned Joseph Parker, (firstname.lastname@example.org) the ... ahem, entrepreneur, let's keep it at that ... who registered choseung-hui.com and other domains related to the massacre at Virgina Tech. He hopes to turn a profit in the neighborhood of a million bucks for that domain name. 'Round these parts, we call that blood-sucking.
I encouraged readers to send Joseph Parker e-mail (at email@example.com) and let him know what you think about his attempt to cash in on the massacre of more than thirty innocent people ... and I did just that after I posted yesterday's entry. Well, guess what, folks? Joseph Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org) actually answered my e-mail.
Here's the text of the quick note I sent yesterday:
Registering domain names like choseung-hui.com and vtmurders.com in the hopes of making a profit is a soulless, disgusting, reprehensible thing to do. I
wish you nothing but the worst of all possible luck in all of your endeavors.
And here's the response I got from Joseph Parker (at email@example.com):
I know, Me, Time Inc, Forever & Memories, and Kingworld Entertainment are all scum. Now go Purchase a Another Car Magnet, MagnetAmerica's Stockholders are counting on you..
I got a grin out of that. I guess I might have gotten under his skin a bit. So I sent a response:
Actually, I don't own any car magnets, not that I've ever thought about them one way or the other. So you missed your guess in that regard, but I'd say that your assessment of yourself and other vultures is dead-on accurate. How does it feel to look in the mirror every day and see a parasite?
I'll update this post if I get a response.
According to The Roanoke Times, Joseph Parker (did I mention that his e-mail addy is firstname.lastname@example.org?) has a website he's using to try to sell his recently purchased domain names. That site is The E Trader, and as of this writing it's "down for service." Here's hoping the service goes badly and he's never able to get back in business.
Oh, and speaking of parasites ... typically computer viruses are a terrible thing, of course, but I kinda like this one: There's an e-mail going around that promises the reader video footage of people being shot at VT ... and if they open it and try to run the attached program, called TERROR_EM_VIRGINIA.scr, they end up installing a trojan that sends their bank user names, passwords, etc, to the bad guys.
Good for the bad guys.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Hold NBC Accountable
I wrote the other night that the Virginia Tech killer … he and he alone … was responsible for the lives he took last Monday. I meant that then and I still mean it.
Nonetheless, culpability in the next (God forbid) mass murder might not be that clear cut … and there might be more shades of grey in the Virginia Tech tragedy than I've recognized.
What has me upset is NBC's reckless and irresponsible decision to air the Killer's "Multi-Media Manifesto," as they called it, and the fallout that the broadcast has caused. NBC did not have a legitimate news-related reason to air those pictures and video clips. They aired those clips purely to appeal to what Edgar Allen Poe called "The Imp Of The Perverse" in all of us. That's Poe's phrase for that dark little spot on the human psyche that makes people take a good long look at a bloody car crash, and that keeps websites like rotten.com in business, and that makes "reality TV" a sad reality.
NBC knew that people would tune in to see those clips, and that they could generate big-time advertising revenue by airing them. In the meantime, we learned nothing of consequence about the VT massacre. We already knew that the shooter was out of his mind based on what he did Monday morning. NBC's decision to air those video clips and photographs is the slimiest decision I can remember any TV network having made. Howard Beale himself wouldn't have broadcast that trash.
I think NBC needs to be held accountable. I don't know how, I don't know what method is appropriate, but I think that somebody should have to answer for this. Jobs should be lost, standards should be questioned, and lessons should be learned and remembered. NBC needs a wake-up call.
Just consider some of the following:
From Wired.com... quoting Dr. Jerald Kay, Chair of the American Psychiatric Association Committee on College Mental Health -- "There appears to be more evidence of copycat behavior in incidents such as the one at Virginia Tech than that of suicide contagion, which refers to the potential influence of reporting suicide in evoking similar experiences in others.
"It would be wise, therefore, not to repeatedly air the video tapes that NBC received. The potential gains are clearly outweighed by the potential dangers."
From the Daily Telegraph...even as the images (of the killer's "manifesto" were removed (from the airwaves), schools and colleges nationwide remained on high alert following a string of copycat scares.
Police across the country responded to threats on Thursday made by phone, email and even written on the bathroom wall all threatening a Virginia Tech-type attack.
In California's Yuba City, 36 schools were locked down as police searched for a man who threatened to go on a killing spree.
He reportedly claimed he would make the Virginia Tech rampage look mild and investigators said the suspect had an AK-47, bombs and poison.
From the Denver Post:… experts fear (that) other vulnerable, angry boys may try to copy or surpass Cho's massacre. As of Friday, the FBI counted 35 to 40 mostly school- based threats, with everything from bombs to guns to mere words, some leading to arrests.
"This is serious business. This is not a time for jokes, and it needs to stop," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko, who said all must be investigated. "These threats are abhorrent and those that make them are subject to prosecution and serious prison time."
From the Herald Bulletin: “We keep fueling the contagion every time we show footage of Columbine-style kids jumping out the window,” said Northeastern University criminal justice professor James Alan Fox. He and others also are troubled by references to the Virginia Tech massacre as setting a record for the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.
Since then, some of the threats, including one in Yuba City, Calif., have mentioned attempts to shatter the Virginia Tech mark.
“These people are psychologically competing with each other to increase the body count,” Coleman said.
True, other TV news outlets aired the footage, and it's hit YouTube like wild fire, but the buck has to stop somewhere. NBC received the package from the killer, and before they turned it over to the FBI, they made copies of everything so that they could air it and create the most disturbing and macabre version of "news" imaginable.
Am I alone in my opinion, here? God knows I can be a crack-pot. Maybe that's what I'm doing now. Is this another of my nutty notions?
Are there others who agree with me? And, if so, what do we do? I don't believe in boycotts, I think they're silly … but what are our other options? Should we put on pressure for a congressional inquiry? Maybe a Rather-gate type of campaign by bloggers to address this? Or just a good old fashioned pissed-off letter writing campaign? Heck, I don't know. I just can't help but feel that somebody at NBC has some screwed up priorities and, as my grandmother used to say, somebody needs to "jerk a knot in their asses."
Oh, and by the way, there actually is scum out there worse than NBC. Take this guy that I learned about from Andrew Kantor: His name is Joseph Parker. As soon as he could, he jumped on the net last week and registered domain names like vtmurders.com and vtmurders.info with the hopes of selling them for a big profit. By the way, he also registered choseung-hui.com, and he's asking a million bucks for that prime piece of internet real estate. Real lovely guy, right? Here's his particulars:
320 Church St
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073
Registered through: GoDaddy.com, Inc. (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: VTMURDERS.COM
Created on: 16-Apr-07
Expires on: 16-Apr-08
Last Updated on:
Parker, Joseph email@example.com
320 Church St
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073
Parker, Joseph firstname.lastname@example.org
320 Church St
Christiansburg, Virginia 24073
Maybe he needs some e-mail and/or phone calls from those of us who think that profiting off of mass murder isn't so nice.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Tragedy In Blacksburg
FRIDAY, APRIL 20: UPDATED BELOW ... SEE SECTION ON WAYNE CHAING (RUSH TO JUDGEMENT).
I basically took SoutCon black for a few days out of respect for those who died at Virginia Tech, but I've been following the story. I'm not really surprised, but I am disgusted by the number of people who want to turn this into a political issue and use it like some kind of trump card for this or that cause. That includes people on both sides of any given political issue, and includes people I'd otherwise agree with. Then there's the media and the politicians. As much as a crisis can bring out the best in people, it can also bring out the worst.
Out Of The Woodwork They Crawled
On the way home from work Monday night, I turned on AM radio in time to hear this brief quip, which was, as best as I can remember it:
"…not saying that the thirty-two people who died at Virginia Tech shouldn't be mourned, but when you compare it to the thousands and thousands of babies who have been aborted in this country…"
I immediately turned the radio back off and just sat there and seethed. Look, you're not going to find a stronger opponent of abortion on demand than me, but hearing some nut on the radio use this crisis as an excuse to trumpet the cause turned my stomach. It's disrespectful and trivialized both the murders at tech and the sad reality of abortion. I just wanted to reach through the radio and smack the guy.
The Media Virus
The broadcast media is an inexcusable, intolerable group of vultures and I'm disgusted with the way they've been trying to wring every drop of blood out of this story.
I can't think of a good reason for the airing of the now infamous cell phone video. It wasn't really news, in that it didn't tell us anything that we didn't already know. Shots were being fired and the situation on campus was chaotic. We knew that. However, there is a huge contingent among the "reality TV" obsessed hordes out there who want to see things like this, just for the quick, dirty, temporal thrill of it. So everything that the news outlets can broadcast that will make us feel like we're "in the middle of the action" makes it to the airwaves.
And I'm just as disgusted with NBC's decision to broadcast so much of Cho Seung-Hui's "multimedia manifesto," as they called it. What did we learn from the rambling, disjointed video clips and creepy photographs that NBC aired? That Cho was a lunatic. After Monday morning, the whole world already knew that. NBC did not broadcast those clips because they were news. NBC broadcast those clips to appeal to the puerile sensibilities of today's "Reality-TV" viewers. NBC's decision was irresponsible and repugnant, and we can only hope that it wasn't an encouragement to some other Cho-like lunatic, just as the media's milking of the Columbine massacre was an encouragement to Cho himself.
Of course, the blame games were taken up before the victims had all even been identified.
It seems like every squawking moonbat with an agenda to pound has someone else to blame for one deranged man's actions. There's always someone else who's responsible; somebody besides the s*n*fab*tch who pulled the trigger.
Of course, the anti-gun lobby, who sit poised in front of the TV waiting for stories like this, couldn't wait to start blaming America's "gun culture." The Unseen Blogger soundly refutes the basics of the anti-gun stance on this tragedy, and I encourage you to read his post. But what it comes down to is this: Cho spent weeks planning to murder as many people as possible, and that can be done without guns. In fact, there are gun-free ways to kill even more people than Cho killed. Just ask Tim McVeigh. Somehow, the "Guns Are The Root Of Evil" crowd, and most of Europe's elites, manage to forget that.
Then there were those who blamed Tech's administration itself. Why was there such a delay in announcing that the first killings of the day had happened? Well, as it turns out, the authorities thought that the were following the correct lead off-campus. Ironically, the innocent man whom they thought might have been responsible for the first killings was targeted by the authorities partly because he is a law-abiding gun-owner.
Then there's Cho's supposed Islam connection, a connection made with the thinnest of threads. In my opinion, emphasizing the "Muslim name" he adopted on the day of the killings isn't appropriate. It trivializes both the war against Islamo-Fascism and the Virginia Tech massacre. Cho was a violent nutcase and he started using what he believed to be a Muslim name simply to be as inflammatory as possible. Simple as that.
How about my current candidate for Democratic Party Scumbag Number One, Barack Obama: It's hard for me to believe that he actually had the gumption to say this in response to the Tech tragedy:
"There's also another kind of violence that we're going to have to think about. It's not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways...
...the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country."
He also referenced the "verbal violence" of Don Imus.
Word's can't begin to describe the disrespect and the detachment that the idiot Obama showed with those remarks. I can only hope that Virginia's Governor, Tim Kaine, had Obama in mind when he said this:
"Look, I think that people who want to take this within twenty-four hours of the event and make this their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them. This is not a political hobby horse or a crusade or something for a campaign or a fundraising mailing."
I didn't vote for Tim Kaine … but the ol' boy sure made me proud with that statement.
Screw College Sports
And speaking of "ol' boys," let me make this disclosure about Virginia Tech and my own experiences. If you've read this blog before, you know that I've never been a Tech fan. I'm embarrassed by the way that the Tech football team's spotlight players conduct themselves, and I believe that they make all Virginians look bad. I'm also embarrassed by the way the school coddles them and lets them get away with all kinds of stuff. Still, my interest in bashing Tech for those kinds of things has pretty much dissipated as a result of this tragedy.
I work with and know a number of very hard-core college sports fans; people who obsess about college football and basketball. I long ago accepted that college sports is to rednecks what religion and politics are to the rest of us. Fine. Whatever. Nonetheless, I've been surprised this week by the number of people I've talked to who're primarily concerned with how this tragedy will effect the football and basketball seasons and the ACC in general. What has to be wrong in somebody's mind to make them see college friggin' sports as the priority in an instance like this? I've had to quietly bite the inside of my lip several times this week in order to keep myself from shouting "---- you and your football, people have been MURDERED, you moron!".
Rush To Judgment
I also heard about the story of Wayne Chiang, a Virginia Tech student who fell under close scrutiny Monday night when his blog and facebook page were singled out by Media Whore Extraordinaire Geraldo Rivera. At that point, the killer's identity still wasn't known by the public, but Rivera was ready to convict Wayne Chaing because Wayne
- is a Chinese American.
- is an enthusiastic gun collector.
- recently broke up with his girlfriend.
- is a Virginia Tech student.
Geradildo and others on the net were sure that Wayne was the killer, but the were wrong. Wayne is yet another law-abiding and responsible gun collector who wouldn't dream of committing the crimes that Cho committed.
Now I want to know … where's the outcry against racial profiling in this case? Was Wayne labeled a killer simply because of his race? Or was it the continuous and aggressive liberal misunderstanding of the mindset of law-abiding gun collectors that got Wayne accused? Either way, where are the apologies? Why did Wayne have to go public himself to clear his name because of so many people who just couldn’t wait for the official word from the police?
FRIDAY, APRIL 20 UPDATE: The garbage Wayne Chaing has had to put up with continues: CTV News has broadcast not one, but TWO pictures of Wayne, identifying him as Cho. I thought I'd seen the media at it's most irresponsible this week, but this absolutely takes the friggin' cake.
By the way, watch this CTV Interview With Wayne, if you want to call it an interview. It really amounted to a reporter asking variations on the question "Don't you know guns are bad, you dummy?" ... and Wayne responding as intelligently as possible when confronted with such abject ignorance. The real point, though, is this: if this interview was taped (as I believe it was) PRIOR to the story that identified pictures of Wayne Chaing as Cho, how did his real identity slip through the cracks?
Look, it comes down to this: Cho Seung-Hui's was an insane, creepy, death-obsessed nutcase who scared teachers and students alike, and ultimately lashed out with terrible violence and took many lives. He and he alone is accountable for his crimes. Cho's cowardly suicide robbed us of the cold satisfaction of holding him accountable ... but it isn't necessary to look around and find a living person to take to task. Rest assured, Cho Seung-hui will answer for his actions in a far Higher Court than any on Earth.
PS: You can discuss and read more here.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
The Angriest Song Ever Recorded
This is one of those songs I rediscover every few years. It just knocks me off my feet again and again.
For all their feigned rage, Nine Inch Nails and Slayer and Rage Against The Machine, et all, can't get close to the pure, subdued anger of this song. (MP3 Link) In 1975, Janis Ian, armed only with an acoustic guitar, came through with the flat-out angriest song I've ever heard. This song takes my breath every time I hear it. Here are the lyrics to At Seventeen.
I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautify
At seventeen I learned the truth
And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desp'rately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "Come dance with me"
And murmered vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen
A brown eyed girl in hand-me-downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, "Pity, please, the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve.
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
A guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly"
Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality
And dubious integrity
The smalltown eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
And dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly ducking girls like me
We all play the game and when we dare
To cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say, "Come dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me at seventeen
Friday, April 13, 2007
Well, it looks like Imus got himself fired, regardless of the Rutgers team having accepting his apology. I think there are some lessons to be learned here, and they would include:
- Just because you've been paid to say outrageous, offensive, idiotic things for thirty years doesn't mean you won't be fired for doing it by the same people who've been paying you to do it. This is, after all, a world that takes Al Sharpton seriously for some reason.
- White men who repeat phrases they probably learned from gangsta rap don't seem "cool." They seem stupid.
- Certain words change meaning, depending on who is saying them. The "n-word" expresses respect and friendship when a black man says it, but it expresses bigotry and hate when a white man says it. The word "Ho" is a slur if Don Imus says it, but high-art when Snoopity Doggy Dog says it. If you ever hear a broadcast or a recording wherein a speaker uses the "n-word" and you're unsure of the speaker's race, the safest thing to do is kill yourself.
- Words can cause a lot of pain. Especially if they're written in one of those giant books that wizards always seem to have and dropped on your head from a great height.
And so, in honor of Don Imus, and as a reminder that there are certain things that you can just never, ever, ever say in public, for any reason, ever, no matter what, I'll wrap up the week with this offensive and crude clip from South Park:
(I gotta come up with a label for embedded video other than You Tube, since this one and others I embed aren't from You Tube. In the meantime, I'll stick with the same old label. Have a good weekend, everyone.)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Neat, Huh? (Pt. II)
Earlier today I posted a really neat image-to-text generator. Shortly after that I found something just as cool; maybe cooler: Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer.
This thing is pretty addictive. I've just spent an hour or so changing my wife and others into all kinds of things. I started out, for instance, with a regular picture of my wife:
And I ended up with all these variations, some of which are cool and some of which are downright disturbing:
I suppose the most disturbing thing about "Wendy The Man" is Wendy's assertion that the man-version of her is "hot" and that if she were a real man she'd want to date herself.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Look what I found, a neat little generator that turns real pictures into pictures made entirely of text.
This might be a fun tool for other bloggers who post lots of pics. Of course, B13 comes to mind, and Lorna often posts pics, too.
I started to e-mail this to MCF as a suggestion for the next Phantasmic Links, but I got greedy and decided to link to it myself. Besides, maybe we can all join in and harass him into posting a textified picture of himself? Maybe?
So Long, So Long
An old hero of mine has passed on:
Counterculture idol Kurt Vonnegut has died at his home in Manhattan, aged 84.
Vonnegut, who often marvelled that he had lived so long despite his lifelong smoking habit, suffered brain injuries after a fall at his Manhattan home several weeks ago, his wife, photographer Jill Krementz, said.
Vonnegut was a novelist known for his dark humour and metaphysical and science fiction content.
He wrote 14 novels, including Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat's Cradle, Breakfast of Champions and Timequake during a career that began in 1950 with the publication of a short story in the magazine Colliers.
His books were described as dark, comic narratives that blended science fiction, metaphysics, and humanism.
When I was in tenth grade, and interested in reading nothing other than Stephen King, I received a Lit Class assignment that I didn't much want to do. I had to pick one book from the current "Greatest American Novels of All Time" list, read it and write a report on it. The only one I could imagine me even trying to read was Slaughterhouse Five, a sci fi book about war and time travel by some guy named Kurt Vonnegut.
As it turned out, our school library only had one copy of Slaughterhouse Five, and it was out... so my teacher, enthusiastic about getting me to read something other than Stephen King, told me I could read any Vonnegut book I might find in the library. I chose Slapstick.
My teacher's plan kinda backfired on her. I read Slapstick voraciously, loving it's warped blend of humor, science fiction, politics and commentary. My teacher was in the habit of giving students in the class free time to read if we were reading something for a report, and the problem was that Slapstick was so damned funny that, while reading it, I'd typically laugh so frequently and so loudly and continuously that she finally forbid me to read it in class. No worries. A new, rabid Vonnegut fan had been born.
I suppose I read all of Vonnegut's books over the next twenty years, and although I grew to find myself at odds with what I saw as a far-left agenda in his work, I never stopped loving it. And I have to say that his humanism, his dark humor, and his kind-hearted pessimism have effected me profoundly throughout my life. Part of who I am, for good or ill, is owed to Kurt Vonnegut.
Vonnegut's relationship with the internet was always a touchy subject. He's had a legion of net fans and there were lots of fan websites and newsgroups. Nonetheless, he famously despised the net, and worried that people were turning into "ghosts," simply reading other peoples words on sterile screens instead of really interacting with each other. I'd like to say that it was simply to prove him wrong that I eventually married a woman I met in the Vonnegut usenet newsgroup. That wouldn't be entirely true, but it is true that it was our mutual love of Vonnegut's work that first brought Wendy and I together back in the newsgroup days. Yet another way my tenth grade Lit teacher ultimately changed my life.
It's unfortunate that most of today's young people only know Kurt Vonnegut through the famous Sunscreen Scam and the resulting pop song. It's sad because Vonnegut never delivered the sunscreen speech, wouldn't likely have ever crafted such a maudlin lecture, and his real work is so much more worth exploring. If you've never read Slaughterhouse Five or Cat's Cradle or Sirens of Titan or etc, etc, etc ... I promise you, they're worth your time.
It distressed me to see him become cantankerous, paranoid and hateful in his old age ... but it distresses me more to hear that he's died. When I was a young man trying to figure out what I believed, he served as a template. Even now, even while I hold opinions that are so counter to his own, he remains a touchstone.
Rest in peace, old man.
Here's an old TV clip from YouTube featuring readings from Vonnegut titles like Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse Five, and others ... and some explanatory comments from KV himself. Typical Vonnegut; funny, odd, kind-hearted stuff.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Freedom Of Speech ... Just Watch What You Say
If you don't know, Don Imus is in trouble for an off-hand remark he made about the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team. This remark here, to be specific:
Imus's remark, which was more silliness than anything else, has resulted (oh, joy) in the coining of a new media phrase: Diversity fatigue. Whatever the hell that is.
Back when I worked in radio, I was, for about a year, a local affiliate producer for the Imus program. I listened to Imus every morning for a year, and even talked to him on his program three or four times. I'd upload the one conversation with him that I saved on tape, but I don't know where it is. Anyway, that's my full disclosure. I sorta kinda used to work for Imus.
I'll also disclose that I enjoyed his program back then, and although I haven't heard much of it in the last ten or twelve years, I'm sure I'd still enjoy it. Don Imus invented the "Shock Jock" thing. He's been doing it for forty years, since Howard Stern was still messing in his diapers. What's more, Imus does the "Shock Jock" thing better than anyone else, in my opinion. His remarks are frequently off-color and in bad taste, but with regard to content, his program gives listeners more to actually think about than any of the other similar programs. Imus is rude and crass and idiotic, but he's not dumb, if you catch my drift.
Of course, since Imus's Rutgers remark, there's been a chorus from the left to the effect that he should be taken off the air. For all their talk about free speech, the leftists sure do want to censor anyone they don't agree with. But, then, what should anyone expect from the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? Those two idiots have made careers out of perpetuating the myth of current-day black victimhood. If they don't act like Imus's remark was the modern equivalent of a lynching, people might get the idea that it was just (gasp!) an inconsequential, stupid remark. God forbid!
Having said all that, I'll also say that I'm disgusted with Imus because of one single aspect of this whole debacle: Imus actually apologized to Al Sharpton on Sharpton's radio program.
Nobody who wants to be taken seriously should ever apologize for anything to scum like Al Sharpton. Here are a few reasons why:
- Number One: Big Al rose to fame back in 1987 by charging that New York prosecutor Steve Pagones "on 33 separate occasions" had "kidnapped, raped and abused" Tawana Brawley…. Pagones sued and won a $65,000 judgment for defamation. In 1988, a grand jury concluded Brawley "was not the victim of forcible sexual assault" and the whole thing was a hoax. In 2002, when Sharpton was asked if he'd apologize to Pagones, Sharpton replied: "Apologize for what? For believing a young lady?"
- Number Two: In 1991, a 7-year-old black child was killed in a Crown Heights (Brooklyn) traffic accident when a car driven by a Hasidic Jew went out of control. Sharpton showed up to lead protests, calling Jews "diamond merchants" and saying, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house."
- Number Three: "We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business," Sharpton said in a 1995 Harlem controversy over a Jewish storeowner who had a conflict with a black rival neighbor. A protester in that case eventually shot his way through the store and burned the place down, killing eight people.
For my money, Jason Whitlock says it best:
Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.
The bigots win again.
While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.
I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.
Look, it's not like there aren't any good black role models out there. Black or white, you'd be crazy not to admire the acomplishments and drive of folks like Condi Rice, Thomas Sowell, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Steele. Meanwhile, who gets all the media attention? Al Sharpton, Allen Iverson and Flava Flav. With help from "brothas" like them, "Whitey" doesn't need any help from Imus to "keep the black man down."
Monday, April 09, 2007
I TOLD You Guys She Was Evil
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Remember, Easter is supposed to be a religious holiday. To reinforce that with our kids, we take them to visit this easter bunny at the mall. ;)
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Double The Feature, Double The Fun
If you'd asked me a week ago ... or even yesterday ... I'd have told you that there wasn't much of a chance of me seeing another movie as good as 300 in the theater this year.
I'd have been wrong.
Wendy and I just saw TWO movies in the theater, both of which were every bit as good as 300:
First, there was Planet Terror, easily the goriest, funniest, most over-the-top zombie movie I've ever seen.
Then there was Death Proof, one of the most awesome car-chase movies ever, with a butt kicking riot grrrl message.
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have both pulled it off. These movies are as both as good as Sin City, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, El Mariachi, or any other films in their cataloges.
Don't miss your chance to see these movies back to back on the big screen in the Grindhouse double feature. Man, I just gotta write reviews of these films.
Here's the trailer, if you don't know what you're in for:
Alright, so there's this local free classified ad paper called the Appalachian Advertiser. I wanted to link to their website, but they don't have one. This is strictly small time stuff.
There's always a copy of the Appaltiser laying around at work, and you never know what you'll see advertised in it's pages. The ad below was a real eye-opener during the graveyard shift last night, mostly for the first line:
I read that and nearly spit soda across the room. Sixty-five pounds??!? That's a lot of morning wood! Warm, cool or otherwise!
As you might expect, I was shocked, somewhat afraid, and, yes, a bit envious.
Then I read further and realized that what's for sale here is an incinerator... specifically a natural gas or wood incinerator, made by the Warm Morning company.
Oh. Nevermind. As you were.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Blogging In The Land Of The Lost
First, I'll admit that I'd be very easy to punk with a hoax like this. Then, I'll also say that I find this very, very funny. Bush (Rove) Derangement Syndrome rears it's ugly head again:
Find more here, including links to those blogs who ran with the story and now can't bring themselves to admit that they were got and got good.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Here We Go Again
Sometimes I think I'd be better off not watching the History Channel at all. I enjoy most of their programs, but they sure do love biblical revisionism.
The show that's on now, called "There's Something About Mary Magdalene," presents another of those popular "new" theories that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Christ and/or the closest apostle of Christ and/or the co-founder of Christianity. These conclusions are presented as the conclusions of "recently discovered information," and they sure do seem to be amazing and confounding claims.
Look, if the History Channel wants to do PR for the various Gnostic non-Christian faiths, that's fine with me. I just wish they'd be a little less biased and provide all the information so that viewers who might be swayed by this stuff would be better informed.
Some of facts that the History Channel doesn't seem concerned enough to include in their program include:
- "Recently discovered information?" No, not really. The so-called "Gnostic gospels," including the "gospel of Mary Magdalene," were re-introduced to the world when bound volumes of them were discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945.
- The "Gnostic gospels," contrary to modern claims, are not as old as the canonical gospels. Most scholars, religious and secular, agree that the "Gnostic gospels" are at least a few centuries newer than the canonical gospels.
- The Christian church has been well aware of these so-called "gospels" for hundreds of years and has rejected their authenticity and validity. In Christian terms, they are heresy.
- The "Gnostic gospels" do not complement or "flesh out" the canonical gospels. They contradict the canonical gospels. Each of the "Gnostic gospels" hinges on the idea that Christ taught certain things secretly to selected apostles. This is a contradiction to Christ's assertion while on trial for blasphemy that he'd taught nothing in secret. The claims of "secret lessons" from Christ is easy to explain… the writers of the "Gnostic gospels" wanted to present their new versions of "christiantiy" with an air of authority.
- Mary Magdalene" was an important and very privileged friend of Jesus. That's obvious to anyone who actually reads the canonical gospels, especially Luke. Of course, modern "Gnostics" aren't going to encourage you to do that. After all, the Canonical gospels, when read, have this odd effect of convincing many people that Jesus was Lord. (And, by the way, I'm personally convinced that Mary Magdalene is done as much a disservice by the "Gnostics" as she was by those who used to incorrectly consider her a prostitute.)
- The canonical gospels are different from the religious and mythical texts of their day. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, Mark, Matthew and Luke are clearly written as journalistic reports, not as attempts to proselyze or to make converts. They were written to preserve, as matter-of-factly as possible, the memories of those who actually lived and traveled with Christ. If they resonate emotionally with readers, that's because they connect on a level that's far deeper than the literary.
Look, if you want to worship everything, or nothing, or Mary Magdalene, or Tina Turner or roosters, be my guest. Just don't claim that there's historical support for your beliefs if there clearly isn't.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Alanis's Humps And Random Junk
When Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill, I thought she was brilliant.
Then she did a bunch of mediocre albums and I thought "Eehh."
Now, she's done the video below and I'm back to thinking she's brilliant. A brilliant satirist.
And in the interest of making this post even more random, here are a couple of random graphics n' things I've stumbled across that made me laugh for no real reason:
Oh, also... if you're a Nintendo Wii owner, be sure and stop by ThinkGeek to order yourself a WiiHelm today.
And, last but not least, I know exactly how this young man feels when he says "Blood?! Blood?! Funny?? FUNNY!!?! BLOOD!!!" See if dad still thinks it's funny when he's paying for your therapy, kid. (Non-disclaimer: that link is perfectly safe and is really very cute.)
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Our Trip To DC
We took the kids to DC yesterday and did the tourist thing. We saw some of the monuments, parts of the Smithsonian, etc. There's just no time to do it all in one day, but we live four hours away, so another trip before too long is likely.
The Smithsonian's American History Museum is closed for renovations until 2008, unfortunately ... but some of that museum's most popular exhibits have been moved to a small wing of the Air And Space Museum so that tourists like us won't have to miss them. That made it convenient to see a bunch of neat stuff, all in one location!
The pics below are all clickable ... and they're fairly cruddy, too; all the evidence we need that we ought to save up and try to replace our old 3 megapixel digital camera eventually. Nonetheless, here they are, such as they are. YouTube video might be soon to follow.
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