Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Now I feel safe from terrorism!

Kate, back from back problems, lists the five top places she misplaced her, um, personal assistant this year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Most Appalling of 2003

After getting an idea from Eric Olsen, I was thinking...
There are many choices for most appalling person, place or event of 2003. Coming in at the wire, there's the warning from FBI to beware of people bearing almanacs. This has to be one of the most pointless warnings in the history of warnings. Next they'll be issuing warnings about people wearing glasses, which could be used to read almanacs which could be used to plan terrorism. I shudder to think of the tree-frog-like brain in the middle manager at the FBI who thought this was a good warning. I would submit the colour coordinated threat levels as the worst event, but it wasn't event this year.

Then there's the Valerie Plame affair. Bob Novak reported on her being a CIA agent - oops but that's against the rules! Especially when the administration person(s) who leaked it to Novak was shopping the story around, hoping to throw dirt on her husband, who was opposed to Bush's Iraq policies. Yesterday's act of treason is today's political reality, I suppose.

Bill O'Reilly's idiocy was highlighted when Fox News tried to sue Al Franken over his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them". Bill is all for free speech for he, not for thee...His overwhelming hypocrisy is all the more funny when you realize that's what the book is about. Well, he did help boost sales, so I'm sure Al thanks him...

I know you think the movie 'Gigli' was bad, but I think you have to give the worst film crown to 'From Justin to Kelley' the film with two hopefully-with-short-lived careers from 'American Idol'. A nod to many people I met who thought "The Real Cancun' demonstrated just what doesn't work on films despite working on TV.

Michael Jackson....nah, too easy.

The murder of Zahra Kazemi in Iran, where she was working more or less as a journalist, and the lack of Iranian investigation were particularly galling. She was beaten, taken into custody, died, and was swiftly buried. When someone talks to me of emerging democracy in Iran, I wonder what Zahra's opinion on the matter would be.

Humanitarian concerns were not the primary motivation Bush used to get support for the war in Iraq. In fact some of his reasons seemed to have turned out to be based on very little in the way of facts. I supported the war because I thought a dictator needed to be taken out of there, but that's not the reason Bush gave. Why is this a problem? I'm thinking of the other muderous thugs out there that need to be gotten rid of. Ultimately I can't find the Bush administrations actions to be appalling in this instance, so this is not going to win the award. I'm not sure there's support in the administration for democracy, especially their recent critique of the fledgling democracy in Taiwan, at the behest of China. Just checking guys, but we're FOR democracy, right? That one gets them a nod for an appalling sentiment.

Speaking of lesser thugs, Robert Mugabe and his visit to France, warmly greeted by Chirac was pretty appalling. Not just because Mugabe has gone from a defender of freedoms to an oppressor, but that the leader of a democracy coddled him. Can't forget France not doing much to stand by the US, who at last count, have saved them two to three times this past century. Give the nod to Chirac here for keeping vipers close to his breast - we all know how well those types of things pan out.

But the winner will be something beyond merely appalling and truly horrifying, if not all that surprising. Lifted from LGF, this site on mass graves in Iraq shows something so horrible it can't help but be the worst event of the year. Even though many of the murders occurred over his long reign, Saddam's victims should not be forgotten.

It will soon be that time of year - job evaluation day. Barbara Payne found a funny cartoon on it. To me it's just a way of formalising a manergerial job that used to be done when merit demaned a raise or promotion, or the opposite in the case of poor performance. But rather than be bothered by requests all the time for the same, most companies do evaluations on a schedule. However, at most places I've ever worked, they are given the short shrift - little work is done on anyone's part other than to fill out whatever forms HR has available. Who will evaluate the evaluations?

Students in Cleveland, Ohio schools cannot search for the word 'gay' on the internet. To quote one administrator "This is not a perfect science," says Peter Robertson, the district's chief of informational research. "It's a juggling act." It's not a science at all. More distressing was this graf:
Districts make students and parents sign forms promising proper Internet behavior. Cleveland students also need to score 100 percent on 10 true-false questions such as 'I am allowed to use bad language on the Internet' and 'I am allowed to be alone with someone I met on the Internet.'
A successful student gets an 'Internet Driver's License.'
And this is the first look the kids get on how officialdom treats the internet. This seems like a bad habit, needing to get special permission to get information. I would concede limiting high-bandwidth using items to reduce costs. But censorship will not prevent those who want to from accessing what some would consider dubious material. But I wonder why we need to organize steps to control what other people can read?

Monday, December 29, 2003

So you bill yourself as "Action News" and something in the place you cover explodes - what to do? Use an AP wire story. Luckily there are better news stations here in Cleveland.

Calling Nedtra Pickler
The capture of Saddam has not ended guerrilla activity in Iraq, which U.S. officials believe involves non-Iraqi militant Islamist guerrillas and Saddam loyalists.
Therefore - what?

April Baer is leaving Cleveland's NPR station for the West Coast. I for one am sorry to see her go - or I guess listen to her go as I heard her during each commute. I'm waiting for the PeeDee article saying it's because we need a new convention center.

George found this database of social networking tools created by Cynthia Typaldos (the database, not the tools). Very handy.

Chris Mooney looks at good and bad essay questions (link via CalPundit. So if you wrote a 300 page autobiography at the end of your life, what would page 217 look like?

Interesting collection of images on the idea of zooming out to the Nth degree - link via Diversionz.

Meryl expounds on the feeling brought on by more mania from the mullahs in Iraq, in rejecting any humanitarian aid if it comes from Jews.
Our anger springs from experiencing the ever-present Jew hatred that permeates the Middle East. The anger springs from the fact that Iran bankrolls Hizbullah, which has thousands of rockets in Lebanon aimed directly at the border farms and villages of northern Israel. The anger springs from Hizbullah's murder of hundreds of Jews in Buenos Aires. The anger springs from the easy anti-Semitism of some Iranian bloggers, who say they're not anti-Semitic, yet repeat the anti-Semitic canards about Israel and "Zionists." The anger springs from the realization that yes, the mullahs are scumbags, and yes, they don't represent all Iranians—but there are a fair number of Iranians, including, I'd wager, in Bam itself, who would also refuse help from Israel.
It's never easy finding words to deal with naked evil, but it's hard to argue, in the face of the need after the earthquake, that the government in Iran isn't exactly that.

Channeling the obsequious Larry King, some thoughts on Xmas 2003...the Wright Brothers plane handled like a brick...ham is a great substitute for Turkey...Judy Garland is the most glamourous woman in Hollywood...there's just too many people hanging out at the mall....Grand Blanc, MI is 3 for 3 on white Xmases...Full Metal Jacket seems oddly appropriate on Xmas morning...this is me, signing off.

Quotes and who said them

No one responded to this, so I'll close the contest without a winner.
A few of the guilty parties...

'That's not ice, it's just frozen water.' - Paul, inexplicably

(context - just told 'That was a good job!') Quote: 'Thanks for the false compliment' - me, snottily

'Someday, a really smart professor in college will prove to you that God exists!' - Susan, so far not validated

'I'm sorry I couldn't invite you to my birthday party, but some of my friends are conservatives' - Andrew T., who is a great guy despite this and having a poster of Ronald Reagan in his locker in High School (in Canada).

'I like your blog, but there is too much about Canada and too many links' - R_, not quite grasping the linking parts of blogs

'When my program is running, I want the screen to turn black and to disable the keyboard and mouse' - A customer, darkly

'Which works better for DOS, FoxPro for Windows, or FoxPro for DOS?'
- another customer, who didn't think about this very much

'Computer viruses eat away at your hard drive, even when your computer is turned off'
- a computer salesperson to a shopper, overheard by me, I did intervene in the name of fighting ignorance

'Most dogs do not like being around other dogs'
- from a letter to the editor in my local paper. I think this is the winner from the stupidest thing said or written in 2003.

Hotel Bruce via reader Jim Harris, finds a trend to outward migration is continuing in Cleveland, Ohio. Jim states "... for every new housing unit in Cleveland, there are 3 to 4 being built and bought outside Cleveland in the suburbs, mainly in the outer suburbs." Not good for Cleveland or the inner ring suburbs. Like US car manufacturers needing to rethink their products due to increased Japanese competition, will the cities retool in time?

Anita Campbell has a few words about the implosion of the Italian food company, Parmalat. She posits that the growth of this company from a small business to a large one never included financial oversight. Anita notes "And they have revealed a web of fraudulent transfers of company money into private, offshore bank accounts owned by the controlling Tanzi family. The company is now insolvent." Sounds familiar. I think it points to corruption and lack of accountability being a worldwide problem and not one limited to the American form of capitalism - not that we don't need to keep an eye on our own backyard as well.

Is lack of accountability growing, or is this just perception due to several spectacular disasters? Or is it like my old manager Tim, who would change specifications after he had me write a program and claim it was not his fault the specs that he changed had changed. Or like the phone call I heard last year between two parents of newly adopted kids. The father complained to the mother he didn't understand how to use the child car seat. She told him he had to figure it out and his reply (one which would warm any parents heat): "I can't be responsible for this". Apparently not.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Nice note about people who love to race out of movies and the recent Lord of the Rings film
You know those people who can't wait to stand up at the exact moment they sense a movie is over, and put on their coats and race out of the theater, blocking the end titles and credit cookies for the rest of us? The movie drove them nuts.
- Roger Ebert
Bring to mind a lot of stupid behaviour in movie theaters that seems to serve no purpose other than to annoy those of us who are there to watch movies.

  • Showing up very late (despite the 20 minute buffer of ads and trailers) so you can walk in front of the screen during early scenes.

  • After showing up late, then sitting down and waiting 30 seconds, getting up multiple times to go to the bathroom and/or get sodas.

  • Coming to a film when you have a problem moving air through your nasal passages without a hideous whistle every five seconds

  • In the new, stadium style theaters, running down the stairs making sure to bring your foot down as hard and as loudly as possible.

  • Aside from the obvious leaving your cellphone on, nothing is more distracting than seeing someone's cell phone display as they struggle to figure out how to turn it off. Hint - do it before the lights come down.

  • For those over the age of 5 - constantly asking your seatmate - who also hasn't seen the film - what happens next, instead of waiting and watching it. In fact I am in such need of your commentary could you possible record it and burn it on CD's so all of us can enjoy your insights like "wow, he's really dead now" when we watch DVD's at home.

  • For those under the age of 9 - turn and ask your parents why they brought you to this complicated R rated movie that you can't possibly comprehend

Ask yourself if you would do any of these things if you were going to see a play - no? Then go see the latest Adam Sandler film next door, and leave the movies to the rest of us to enjoy.

Blogging from the fair state of Michigan today, as we're wrapping up Xmas festivities at the in-laws. Finally replaced an ailing iMac belong to M_'s mom with a better one. We had to brave the unholy hordes at the mall, adding to my gladness that we did not try them before Xmas. We received 3-4 inches of the white stuff on Xmas day making it a white Christmas, and even took in a few old Xmas films like Holiday Inn. I also saw Meet me in St. Louis for the first time (to R_'s delight, no doubt). Apart from the always charming Judy Garland, for some reason with bangs like the sides of a mighty cliff, the film is a little slow. It features a contemporary problem as Judy's father is forced to Offshore to foreign New York City - foreign to the St. Louis gang, anyway. I liked the extra info from the announcer after the film about the original lyrics to "Have yourself a merry little Christmas":

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It will be our last
All our happy memories will be in the past

Apparently Judy saw this as a big downer near the end of the film and had the words changed to the more familiar strains we all know. Back tomorrow when I have a non-dial up connection and an ability to surf the news at will.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

One of these quotes is not real - find the fake and win...something

  1. "That's not ice, it's just frozen water."

  2. (context - just told "That was a good job!") Quote: "Thanks for the false compliment"

  3. "Someday, a really smart professor in college will prove to you that God exists!"

  4. "I'm sorry I couldn't invite you to my birthday party, but some of my friends are conservatives"

  5. "I like your blog, but there is too much about Canada and too many links"

  6. "When my program is running, I want the screen to turn black and to disable the keyboard and mouse"

  7. "Which works better for DOS, FoxPro for Windows, or FoxPro for DOS?"

  8. (context, in a bar, asked by an attractive stranger of the opposite sex: "Don't I know you from somewhere?") Quote: "That can't be, I just moved here from Canada"

  9. "Computer viruses eat away at your hard drive, even when your computer is turned off"

  10. "Most dogs do not like being around other dogs"

  11. "Irony does not fit into our store policy"

  12. "I don't care what the etymology of the word is, it has nothing to do with bugs!"

Answer will come - later!

Looks like Kelley of Suburban blight flame is nearing 90,000 hits. Deservedly so...I'm uh, closing in on 1,000. I'd like to thank both my fans!

Hope everyone has a happy holiday catblogging tradition, here's some holiday catblogging:

Xmas cat photo

Legal analysis of dealing with the Dark Lord Sauron
If they produce the Ring, Sauron rules over all the peoples of Middle Earth and orcs overrun everything. Sauron gets his body back. He can *blink* his eyes. He can use eye drops. If your eye had been wreathed in flame for millennia, how would you value that?

Morons spray painted some SUV's in Cleveland Heights, OH with slogans like "SUV's kill the planet". If there's an area that passes for bohemian in the Cleveland area, it's Cleveland Heights especially around Coventry. It's actually a charming little area, but you can see how the lunatic fringe there may think it's fun to damage private property. Since cars pollute as well, I assume it's ok for me to likewise spray paint their cars - or as if often the case, their parent's cars. I'm thinking "Frodo walked to Mordor, why can't you walk to class?"

Monday, December 22, 2003

Via Lynn I saw this philosophy quiz, which all in all, I'm not so sure is accurate. For one thing, I wouldn't throw a bucket of water on Ayn Rand if her corpse was on fire, so I am sure not a follower of her. But I were my results...

1. Kant (100%)
2. Epicureans (97%)
3. Jean-Paul Sartre (96%)
4. Ayn Rand (90%)
5. John Stuart Mill (89%)
6. Jeremy Bentham (79%)
7. Stoics (72%)
8. Aristotle (59%)
9. Aquinas (58%)
10. Spinoza (58%)
11. Nietzsche (51%)
12. Thomas Hobbes (51%)
13. David Hume (49%)
14. Prescriptivism (43%)
15. Cynics (38%)
16. Ockham (34%)
17. Plato (29%)
18. St. Augustine (27%)
19. Nel Noddings (24%)

The test is here.

Virginia Postrel has some thoughts on the increasing number and complexity of Christmas light displays. Some people are hiring professionals to do the job:
Christmas Décor, based in Lubbock, Texas, has more than 350 franchise locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The company estimates that its franchisees do more than $32 million in holiday light business a year. (At least four other national companies offer similar franchises.) Most franchisees are landscaping companies looking for ways to keep working through the slow winter months. Like the inventory controls that have improved efficiency in manufacturing, adding a holiday lighting service allows landscapers to avoid the boom and bust of hiring and laying off employees
M_, who is my personal Christmas expert, favours smaller displays that emphasize trees, bushes and other landscape elements. But she doesn't like too many lights, dismissing them as overdone. And she'd never subcontract - but the growth of specializations in our economy may be as significant as the specializations that more or less created the middle class.

A few notes of wisdom from Tom.
Christmas time is here, by golly,
Disapproval would be folly,
Deck the halls with hunks of holly,
Fill the cup and don't say 'when.'
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens,
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens,
Even though the prospect sickens,
Brother, here we go again.

On Christmas Day you can't get sore,
Your fellow man you must adore,
There's time to rob him all the more
The other three hundred and sixty-four.

Everyone has their list of "top" movies for the year. I'm assuming here you've heard about the films that while genuinely good, don't need my little voice telling you to see them.

The Station Agent features Peter Dinklage as a man who inherits a tiny, abandoned train station when his longtime friend dies. His diminutive size is the least interesting thing about him, if only because he is such a cipher. The very funny Bobby Cannavale and the always good Patricia Clarkson round out this character study that is a bit quirky and sad, but very watchable.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Here's my contribution to the friday five
1. List your five favorite beverages.
Rather boring, but Water,Coke,Milk,Orange Juice, and good red wine. The only difference between now and when I was 9? Scratch wine, put in Orange Soda, sadly.

2. List your five favorite websites.
I'm leaving out blogs, because, well, they are all on the right hand side of the page!

3. List your five favorite snack foods.
Chips, apples, cookies, carrots, and popcorn

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games.

  • Diplomacy

  • Chess

  • War and Peace by Avalon Hill (out of print, haven't played it since the 1980's, still...)

  • Trivial Pursuit - still the best trivia game

  • The Game of Life

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games
(don't have or play most of these anymore)

  • SimCity for DOS

  • Leisure Suite Larry - the bad mayo kept killing me

  • Myst

  • Red Baron

  • SimCopter - something about flying around the city listening to the SimRadio

Just when you though there wasn't anything lower than book-burning, they are building roads on books. At least when people are burning a book you know they have an opinion on it. Although perhaps it is recycling, it seems a bit villainous.

250 years is apparently not enough time to prove land ownership
Mr. Viehbeck said he was 'stunned and upset' when the province suddenly asserted a claim on the island. It had been on the market for some time and has obviously been in private ownership for about 250 years.
'I'm very surprised to hear this . . . because we have all the legal documents outlining ownership over the generations.'
It's one thing to claim eminent domain for public purposes, it's another to claim that someone doesn't own the land at all.

Just saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King last night. There's more of a focus on the hobbits in this outing, and some amazing cinematography. Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee really comes into his own in this film. I won't say much more so as not to spoil surprises, but that which was left out will be missed, but fans of the books will not be disappointed. I think those who only know the movies can follow along if they have seen the other two films. I can't remember the last time I was in a theatre when there was applause at the titles and when "The End" finally appears. For those burned by bad third parts in films like the Matrix, and those who can only look in disappointment at Lucas's limp Star Wars SQL, worry not. This movie is not in the same class as those, and I think moves into the pantheon of the great films in the history of moviemaking.

Kudos also to the cast and crew on so much toil over so wonderful a product - no fans will be disappointed by the fairly long ending, which ties up most of the threads in all three films.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Like most people, I wonder how Bill O'Reilly's book is doing against 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants '. Here's your answer. Heh.

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful.
So if you have no place to go,
Let it snow
Let it snow
Let it snow

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Kelley of Suburban Blight fame reports that Venomous Kate is ok - I for one, was worried at her sudden lack of posts when her last one mentioned being in pain and needing medications.

What would cheer both of them up would be if they brought their clans to Cleveland and enjoyed the food at the Three Birds! (see below).

Had a great birthday dinner with M_ last night at the Three Birds restaurant in Lakewood, OH. It was named one of the best new restaurants in America by Esquire magazine and it's not hard to see why. It's nestled near the Bonnie Bell buildings on the West Side, with a neat little fenced in courtyard that's open for dining in the summer. The decor was fairly spartan and understated. M_ enjoyed some wonderful soup and then the pan roasted pork chop. I had the "Tuna Trio" for an appetizer, which had tuna served three ways including raw with caviar and some wasabi for dipping. The Scallop dish was a thing of wonder - this is coming from a Nova Scotian here, no stranger to seafood. The scallops were not overdone and very plump and tender and full of flavour. The creme brulet and chocolate cake deserts were also little pieces of art that could be addictive. Service is as excellent as you would expect, although I didn't think the waiter needed to explain the details about my copy of the check - I have actually dined out before. With places like this I don't really care that we don't have a cheesecake factory type place on this side of town - it's like comparing a six pack to well aged single malt scotch. I shall return for more scallops as soon as budgets allow...

An idea before it's time: Queer eye for the Medieval Man. Link via Volokh Conspiracy.

A piece of the old media gang's methods takes a hit
The Post's Howard Kurtz notices that the Kerry campaign is hopping mad after NYT reporter Adam Nagourney wrote the following in Monday's paper:
Mr. Kerry's press secretary, Stephanie Cutter, sent an e-mail message to news organizations listing remarks Dr. Dean had made over the past six months that she said demonstrated that his opposition to the war was 'politically driven.' Cutter put a note on the top of the statement demanding that it be reported as 'background' and attributed only to a Democratic campaign.
Kurtz says Kerry's team is 'deeply unhappy' about the outing. 'We've never had a problem with ground rules before,' said Cutter. That's probably true, which is exactly the problem. Journalists' lemminglike and seemingly self-serving tendency to incorporate such no-name attacks in their stories is de rigueur and frequently serves to obscure things and misinform readers. Good for Nagourney for not playing along.
It's high time the masses learned more about exactly how "news" reaches us...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

There really should be a name for what Ted describes here. It's where after a news event, bloggers go to a site of the opposite political sphere, known to be a place where, for lack of a better term, idiots are likely to post. They then quote these posts on their blog, mocking them as representing the "other side". Trolling is taken to mean fishing for posts with "fake" they are looking for real opinions, but going out of there way to find really stupid ones. I think we should dub this "Billy-gloating".

12 Blogs of Xmas

(repeat every other line in reverse after the on the x line)

On the first day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
one loser under a tree

On the second day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Too much free time

On the third day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Three cheers for the boss

On the fourth day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Four food groups

On the fifth day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Lord of the Rings!

On the sixth day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Pix from stores a postin'

On the seventh day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Seven networks not covering this,

On the eight day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
8 times more sunshine than here...

On the ninth day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Nine fingers left to go

On the tenth day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
Ten (or so) ways of looking a symbol

On the eleventh day of Christmas a blogger posted re:
11 on the comfort scale

On the Twelfth of Christmas a blogger posted re:
12 sugarplums

Omar has some advice for some of the many thugs and apologists out there: "dig a deeper hole. Or make that: holes."

Monday, December 15, 2003

For some reason I've been calling Nedra Pickler various other names, such as Pickling, and on one unfortunate occasion, Pickles. Not intentional, even if funny. Carry on.

Our Irony = idiots real ideas

Why do so many Arab writers compare Saddam to Hitler and find Saddam wanting? Did they take to heart that long ago episode of Letterman where they suggested in a bit the new phrase "Hmm, I wonder what Hitler would do in a situation like this"?

Like many, I was sad when the Lord of the Rings movies didn't include much of the singing described in the books. Apparently there is a move to make it a musical. One looks forward to such songs in the books as the hobbits bath:
Oh ho ho
Water hot is a thing good
Shame the world didn't those lines on film. Nedra Pickler, were she my editor would have me say Peter Jackson inexplicably left out Tom Bombadil, with songs like "Hi Ho Delly-oh - ring-a-ding dello" and the scene where he encourages the hobbits to run "naked on the grass".

Anton is viewing Buffy: The Vampire Slayer with fresh eyes, as he has not seen it on TV, just on some new DVD's he has. Nedra Pickler might say it's very strange he doesn't spend most of his review notes bitching about what clothes people are wearing, like some third rate What-Not-To-Wear.

The 2003 Weblog Award winners have been announced. My personal favourite weblog, the one that made me start blogging, though it may seem different in subject matter, Reflections in d Minor, didn't win anything. I knew I should have tried to hack the awards! A couple of blogs on my rolls won awards though, including the inimitable Meryl Yourish. Check out the list and look at the nominees - good source of reading material there amongst the winners and the not-so-much winners. Were Nedra Pickler my editor, she might have me add a note that "strangely, despite Red Wheelbarrow existing as one of the best Canadian-expat-trombonist blogs, it was not mentioned in the awards".

Daily Howler is all over the usual media shenanigans, as usual:
How inane is America's press corps? Granted, quoting Debra Saunders is a low blow. But the San Fran Chronicle pseudo-conservative captured her colleagues' inanity last week. How inane is Debra Saunders? Here was her view of what mattered:

SAUNDERS: As political consultant Garry South, who works for the Lieberman campaign, put it, "This would be similar to Bill Clinton in 2000 endorsing Bill Bradley (who ran against Gore in the primaries) and not notifying Gore he was going to do so until it was out in the press. How would Gore have felt?"How would Gore have felt? The answer is obvious: What difference could it possibly make?
Perhaps instead of Ted Koppel we could have Dr. Phil moderate the next debate. Nedra Pickler might observe that the Daily Howler fails to note the civil war made Lincoln feel very sad.

My favourite quote of the day from Patti Thorn, book reviewer.
A witty response to this fun comment I get all time: 'Read any good books lately?' My favorite quip - 'Seen any good fists lately?'
Strangely, as Nedra Pickler would note were she here, Patti fails to mention that Mark Twain also made many great quips.

It's write like Nedra Pickler day so....President Bush talked about how Iraqis will decide Saddams fate, while failing to mention that Democratic Presidents Roosevelt and Truman won World War II.

Worst. Analogy. Ever. A PeeDee reporter compares the creator of the Cool Cleveland newsletter to....ready? A black hole. She thinks it's a compliment. Yes, black holes, those sources of information and light. Why would someone see a person who disseminates information to as many as he can as something sucking in things to destroy them? Still it's worth ready to find out a little more about Tom Mulready. With nods to Nedra Pickler, the PeeDee reporter also fails to mention the awful Disney film, "The Black Hole". Link via Brewed Fresh Daily.

All I want for Christmas is a mini-horse. Actually I'd like a team of them to pull cat treats through the kitchen on a tiny covered wagon...I'm thinking of recreating a classic. I'm also sad in a Nedra Pickler way, because the reporter doing the story linked above failed to mention the importance of horses in taming the wild west.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Last word on Saddam

'Then he will fall; and his fall will be so low that none can forsee he arising ever again For he will lose the best part of the strength that was native to him in the beginning, and all that was made or begun with that power will crumble and he will be maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape. And a great evil of this world will be removed'
Gandalf, 'The Return of the King'
J.R.R. Tolkien

Meryl Yourish has got the first Saddam interview, with a mix of real and not so real quotes. Interesting quote that was NOT a parody: "If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?". Maybe that will be a rallying cry of the nuts attacking US troops and Iraqi civilians - "No bathroom breaks until we drive the Americans out of Iraq!'

One question on the use of adjectives - merriment?
In a traditional act of merriment, thousands of people fired automatic weapons into the air, sending many others scurrying for cover from stray bullets, which sparked at least three large explosions in the capital
Which part of that seems merry? Eugene Volokh thinks this is one form of gun control he could get behind.

Since the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is due out on Wednesday, Saddam Hussein was captured today. He said he couldn't wait to see what happens in the third film, and hoped the heroic Sauron would triumph against the forces of evil in Gondor. US Officials would only say that Saddam would not have access to any new releases, but instead offered him select works of Shelley Long, featuring such masterpieces as "Frozen Assets" .

I wonder where they're going to hold his trial, and more importantly, if they kept the giant shredder he used for the punishment phase of the trial.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

This explains a lot. Picture via this site via Electric Venom

No word from Kate of Electric Venom for several days now - for a person as addicted to posting as she is, that's a pretty long time. Her last post was "In pain. Need pills. Off to doctor's. This sucks.". Hope she's doing ok...

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Sam Vaknin notes ongoing problems with water supply in the world graf that caught my eye was this:
The USA withdraws one fifth of its total resources annually - proportionately, one half of Belgium's drawdown. But according to the OECD, Americans are the most profligate consumers of fresh water, more than double the OECD's average in the 1990's. Britain and Denmark have actually reduced their utilization by 20 percent between 1980 and 1996 - probably due to sharp and ominous drops in their water tables.
With water it's the same as with oil - why not try to make usage as efficient as possible?

Rex Murphy has a few thoughts on the new Canadian PM, Paul Martin. He said Martin may be setting the bar a bit high.
But I do know that Paul Martin, Prime Minister, has stimulated an unprecedented and gigantic range of expectations. It is his own Great Wall. His victory has been so complete -- it caresses near-perfection -- that inside the party, and with the citizenry at large, he enters office under a prodigious, a gargantuan, burden of expectation. Not even in the hypnotic, delirious heyday of Trudeaumania has a person entered the prime ministerial office with the public so engorged with hope.
Trudeaumania, for the uninitiated, was the excitement over a young Pierre Trudeau in the late 60's, a single man running for Prime Minister. Young women would show up at his appearances screaming like the Beatles had arrived.

One note to Rex though - the Great Wall is the only thing made by man that you can see from space? Nope.

Sadly, Keiko - star of Free Wily - has died. Per the Globe and Mail "Keiko, the killer whale star of the Free Willy movies has died, his caretakers said early Saturday morning. The whale, which was 27 years old, died after the sudden onset of pneumonia in the Taknes fjord in Norway on Friday afternoon. ". After being released from Iceland he swam towards Norway and let people play with him and ride him at a tiny village.

In unrelated news, the Friday Fish Fry at the village of Halsa near the Taknes fjord annouced all fish were free this friday, as they had thousands of extra fish sticks.

French Officials are considering banning Muslim headscarves, as well as Jewish Yamulkes and other religious symbols from public schools. This reminds me of people in the 1950's in America who thought leather jackets led to crime. Instead of watching out for fashion, maybe they should cut down on anti-Semitic violence in their country, as Meryl notes.. Or if they want to stick to symbolism, how about stopping the desecration of graves? Just a thought

Friday, December 12, 2003

Why is this a news story? When some idiot tries to communicate with the dead? I love the credulous tone the reporter takes, as if she's reporting on crime scene investigators. Just when I think the media can be no more mindless, a few more IQ points drop off the scales.

People who love Apples are a bit crazy, especially in Japan where they line up for ten blocks to get into an Apple store. Jen loves Apples and has a very nicely designed blog. BTW, if anyone can ever send me a picture of a red wheelbarrow glazed with rainwater near some chickens, there could be a prize in it for you. My friend K_ has a family chicken farm - but they have tens of thousands of chickens, which is not quite the look I'm going for in this hypothetical photo. Plus Jen looks at some playlistism.

Kelley has the latest dirt from Hollywood where "there's a lot of fluff and frivolity to cover."

It's statements like this
Or perhaps, as some pundits of both the left and right are saying, it was a move that would have made Nicolo Machiavelli proud: Gore, having privately determined that no Democrat can beat Bush next year, purposefully threw whatever weight he retains behind the man who, in his judgment, would lead the party to - a catastrophic loss.
that made me think I better look elsewhere for serious political analysis...instead of a paper calling for convention centers and padding their pages with AP wire stories. Regardless of what you think of Gore or Dean, this sound like partisan hackery. Not to mention the , er, columnists spouting mindless drivel on the left and right spectrums of the political world. I don't care if commentary is left or right, so long as it's insightful. Brother, it ain't at the PeeDee. I know I live in a one paper town - I just won't be getting it anymore after today.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

There's a security vulnerability in Internet Explorer that can spoof the address you see in the address bar.
Savvy Web surfers often figure out the ruse from irregularities in the Web address. But in the method described by Secunia, IE could allow the address bar for the spoofed eBay site, for example, to read ''.
For the last time - don't click on links in unexpected emails. Just open a browser and go to the site directly. Link via BugBlog.

I've always wanted an Xmas snow globe like this one. Link via Reflections in d Minor.

Wondering when you'll leave this mortal coil? Try the Death Test! Link via Ghost of a Flea. Hmm, I think it's time to join a gym - I do want to see past 2050...

Jesse says this man is unelectable.

It's apparently more interesting than I thought working at Barnes and Noble. Link via M_.
Finally, some free tips on how to be a better customer:

For Women
Don't wear a fur coat to a chain bookstore. No one thinks you look classy, and that Oprah book in your hand proves that you're not, so give it up.
Don't have really long fingernails and rap them on the counter in a precise manner. This is guaranteed not to get you better service.
For Men
No matter how many times you read about it in business books, using someone's first name in conversation whenever possible is not always the right thing to do. If you're just being friendly, don't sweat it. If it's more like: "So, ADAM (Dramatic pause so that my inferior register-jocky brain can comprehend the fact that you addressed me by name) you say it will be here within the week? If I have any problems with it, I'll just remember to talk to ADAM. But there won't be any problems, right ADAM? Thanks again, ADAM." then you should probably kill yourself because no one likes you anyway. While sternly using my given name at key junctures in the negotiation of a retail transaction WON'T make me regard you with fearful respect, it WILL prompt me to point you out and inform the other booksellers of your "insufferable prick" status. This goes double if you look like you just walked out of a tailor's.
I get the feeling he doesn't enjoy working there very much...

Well this makes about as much sense as banning marriages between tall women and shorter men - Ohio is trying to ban gay marriage. I'm wondering why we have government trying to regulate relationships between adults at all. Marriage should be a private - not a civil - affair.

Interesting column today on copyright laws in the last few years, by Jack Kapica. Are corporations putting more energy their legal departments than R&D? Well of course they are. Some perspective includes this:
Howard Knopf, an Ottawa-based copyright lawyer, puts it into perspective. Ever since Britain passed the Statute of Anne in 1709, the world's first copyright act, those arguing for copyright have insisted their intent is to encourage innovation and creativity, he said, but in reality, it "has been all about the granting of monopolies."

Mr. Knopf sees two trends over the past 300 years. Middlemen, he says, are the ones who are the first to argue for more copyright protection, and they "always speak in the name of the creators but frequently don't act in their interests."

And the other is that watershed copyright cases have "frequently been launched by Luddites," and gave as examples of their anti-technological motivations cases and lobbying campaigns involving book printing (it was the proliferation of printing presses that led to the Statute of Anne), player pianos, Victrolas, radio, talking pictures, long-playing records, television, videocassette and audiocassette recorders and cable TV.

Almost every new advancement in communications has been the target of someone citing copyright law and trying to crush the technology, he says. Now, "much of the positive potential of the Internet and lots of new technology are at risk. We will sadly see more litigation and less innovation."
Worrisome to me is the patenting of "business processes" that, regardless of the court's rulings, are ideas that never should have patents on them. We should not reward those who merely describe general functionality without actually creating anything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Illegitimi Non Carborundum. This quote posted on BFD from George reminded me of another, non-Barry-Goldwater related place I saw this message. In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The title character finds the words carved into a desk by some hapless soul trapped there before her - and it sustains her through some dark times.

Georgie Binks has some holiday shopping tips based on scientific studies that point to a difference in the sexes.
Another study done by psychologist David Lewis in London, wired up men to measure things like blood pressure and heart rate as they shopped. He discovered that every single man he studied became very stressed when shopping; some had blood pressure associated with a combat pilot flying into action or a riot police officer facing an angry mob.
Well at some malls you are facing an angry mob. It's times like this that I am grateful for 1. M_, who buys presents all year round and keeps them handy for whomever might need presents later and 2. buying via the net.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

More and more, I'm glad I don't work at Wal-mart. It sounds like the principal from National Lampoon's High School yearbook works there... (link via Wizbang!

We may not have flying cars yet, but, according to the sensible, reliable sources at Indymedia, we have death rays. The, um, witness had quote a tale to tell: "As if that were not bizarre enough, al-Ghazali explicitly describes seeing numerous human bodies shriveled to the size of newborn babies". I wonder if I can add it to my Amazon wish list...? Link via Diversionz.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ohio Artists

There's a Jazz Bowl by local artist (to Cleveland) up for auction soon:
Lot 185 is by a living artist, Viktor Schreckengost, a 97-year-old painter and industrial designer in Cleveland. The lot is his most famous design, done for a nine-inch-tall "Jazz" bowl. It is a version of a bowl that Eleanor Roosevelt commissioned in 1931 from Cowan Pottery of Rocky River, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, Mr. Schreckengost's employer. She wanted a punch bowl depicting New York night life as a gift for her husband.
Other bowls have gone for $100,000 + . I remember when our cat broke our $500 bowl - M was so mad she couldn't look at him for a few days. If he broke one of those, he'd be an ex-cat, as they say.

You can check out some local art (in Ohio) this week:
Mary Owen Rosenthal's woodcuts are heavy. Literally and figuratively. Checking in at four-and-a-half feet high, the 20 pieces on display at Dead Horse are a hefty lot. Subjects range from fate and war to death and consequence; not exactly cat-up-in-a-tree stuff. "This is a part of our lives," she says. "But I do funny stuff, too." The exhibit is at Dead Horse Gallery (14900 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood). It's open noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is free; call 216-228-7214.
Link via Scene

Cleveland is in a fiscal crisis right now, and one thing they have done is remove public trash cans and the people who used to empty them. I can't see how this will bring people downtown to spend time and money and David Eden agrees:
What will Cleveland look like with trash blowing through downtown streets like tumbleweeds in Dodge City? I remember what downtown looked like in the early '70s, with few people downtown after dark and trash blowing around, and I sense that could be happening again. Or will the people — downtown businesses and neighborhood leaders — step forward to help resolve this problem?
When firefighters and cops are being laid off, trash may seem like a small problem. But part of what helped NYC clean up was cleaning up - graffiti, the whole "broken-windows" thing, where paying attention to small problems adds up to more improvement than just the sum of those efforts. While this is going on, let's hope civic leaders don't watch the garbage in the streets and think "lets have a new tax for a convention center".

Paul Wells has a theory about politics: Wells's Third Rule of Politics: The candidate in the best mood wins. He's talking about Canadian politics but let's look at the last few US elections ignoring for the moment the deeper policy issues of the day: Reagan v Carter - well Reagan had a sunnier outlook. Reagan v Mondale. Hrm . Bush v Dukakis. Maybe a slight edge to Bush trying to bask in Reagan's afterglow. Clinton vs Bush - no contest, Clinton always seems happier to me. Clinton v Dole - HA! Gore v Bush II - with the press bringing up tiny gestures as opposed to covering issues, perhaps the media needs to give people more to focus on than mood. So who's the cheeriest candidate for 2004? I'm not thinking Clark, and Bush doesn't seem to have the happy factor locked up - could this be the deciding factor?

Are programmers closet masochists? Last time I checked I didn't own any whips, floggers, or chains - not that there's anything wrong with that...

Not using a firewall? Here's a good round-up of what you should know about firewalls. If more people simply made backups, used updated anti-virus software, and used firewalls....a lot of computer consultants would be out of jobs.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Jayson Blair, former NY Times "reporter" already has a cover for his new book. He's titling it "Burning Down my Master's Hours". Oh I see, "master". He's blaming slavery. I wonder if I did the same thing if I could blame it on the Irish Potato Famine? Still you have to like the title, though I think "Jayson Blair - Lying Piece of Crap" has a certain je ne sais quos.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

A Cleveland Area beauty school has raised the ire of the federal government. According to a spokesman Frank A., "I had to tell the students, 'There will be no graduation day for you.'" The government claims the quality of the schools left something be desired. Said the spokesman "No customer would go to them unless they were a hooker". He advised them to return to high school.

Friday, December 05, 2003

It's time for the glamour! the glitz! Brad and Jen fighting Ben and JLo on the red carpet for the limelight! Or it's the 2003 Weblogger awards hosted by Kevin at Wizbang! Vote early!

2003 Weblog 
<br />Awards

Daily Howler exposes Charles Krauthammer using ellipses to represent something Howard Dean said in jest as being a serious statement. If you don't look at the official transcript, what Krauthammer "quotes" makes Dean look quite bad. The full transcript makes Krauthammer looks pretty disingenuous.

Apparently calling for someone's death is open to interpretation
A video from 1984 shows a group of Sikhs in Ontario shouting “Indira Gandhi, die, die; Indira bitch, die, die,” Surjit Kalsey, a translator retained by the prosecution, told the court.
However defence lawyer Michael Tammen did not accept her translation.
They were shouting an expression of condemnation but were not calling for her death, Mr. Tammen suggested.
Clearly the protestors were mildly suggesting that Indira needed to have greater understanding of their views.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Lynn S of the far famed Reflections in d Minor has new digs using b2 for blogging now - and she now has comments!

So I was just reading this post at very big blog that noted "At least 14 Americans are fired every minute of a typical working day in December." and as bad luck would have it Kevin of Wizbang! lost his job. I remember how miserable I was last year when I lost my job around the same time...If you have a little to spare, hit his tipjar to thank him for his piece of the blogosphere.

George is wandering Cleveland finding all the Wi-Fi spots. I picture him walking with his laptop, occasionally stopping, and typing "Can you blog me now?". It's neat to see Wi-Fi spreading, though my enthusiasm is somewhat mitigated by the fact I have no functioning laptop.

Once again the, er, "media", is glomming terms, in this case "rage", onto what can only be described as stupid behaviour. Kate enumerates the many words having rage follow them for no readily apparent reason. "Mayo Rage"? My friend R_ is likely to go into apoplectic states if presented with mayo, but he generally can find enough civilization in him to stop from actually assaulting anyone. Every human behaviour isn't a condition. Let me present my thesis, heretofore called "Ritcey's Razor": Do not invent motives to actions easily ascribable to nearly limitless human ignorance.

A woman in India was beheaded for being a witch. But what made me stop was this graf:
The killing of women on charges of being witches is common in Jharkhand. Around 600 women have been killed in the past six years. Police said low conviction rates and high levels of superstition in rural areas fuelled the killings.
Makes one want to take the sharp objects away from those in our society who decry "the occult".

Even though it's been a decade since I regularly read any comic books, I seem to be able to identify 20 out of 21 super heroes based on a 4x3 square grid of their costumes. I used to have a huge collection, including anything with the name Spiderman on it from the 70's...but when we moved in 85 the majority of them were lost. I wonder why I liked Spiderman, who spent a lot of time hanging out and making smart-ass remarks? Hrm. It's a mystery. Link via Ghost of a flea.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Interesting paper tracking (in Adobe PDF file format) the contenders and current holder of the President of the US title, land of the free, on civil liberties. Link via TalkLeft.

Nick Confesorre notes some words of wisdom from Zbigniew Brzezinski
Ladies and gentlemen, 40 years ago almost to the day an important Presidential emissary was sent abroad by a beleaguered President of the United States. The United States was facing the prospect of nuclear war. These were the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Several emissaries went to our principal allies. One of them was a tough-minded former Secretary of State, Dean Acheson whose mission was to brief President De Gaulle and to solicit French support in what could be a nuclear war involving not just the United States and the Soviet Union but the entire NATO Alliance and the Warsaw Pact.

The former Secretary of State briefed the French President and then said to him at the end of the briefing, I would now like to show you the evidence, the photographs that we have of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons. The French President responded by saying, I do not wish to see the photographs. The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me. Please tell him that France stands with America.

Would any foreign leader today react the same way to an American emissary who would go abroad and say that country X is armed with weapons of mass destruction which threaten the United States? There's food for thought in that question.
Yes, there is.

More details are emerging about the kid in Louisiana being punished for saying his mom was gay (she is). The Administrators are trying to spin it away, but Eugene notes what they originally said:
In a section asking the teacher to describe the behavior, she didn’t indicate that the child was using profane language or otherwise disrupting the classroom. She marked “other,” and clarified if with remarks about the child’s reference to his mother’s sexual
Case closed. [case closed? - ed Oh I'm sorry - I rest my case.- j]

Don't forget to vote for your favourite blog on Wizbang's 2003 Weblog Awards.Voting is open this Friday, so you can vote for Reflections in d Minor in the "Large Mammals" category (it's for the Ecosystem ranking of each blog). Lynn's often insightful writing on arts and life are a breath of much needed oxygen.

The European Jewish Congress is publishing a study on rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Apparently the European Union hoped to shelve it:
But Wolfgang Benz, director of the anti-Semitism research center, insisted the information was solid and gathered from well-known monitoring bodies in the EU's 15 member nations.
The Congress said the study was suppressed because it made a link between anti-Jewish violence in Europe and the Middle East conflict.
. Not a proud day for the EU, to be sure.

Update: 8:56 PM. Here's the study. Link via Little Green Footballs.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

M is for Misanthropy

Or more specifically violent anti-Semitism in France. Meryl has the scoop, and it's eye opening to be sure. Some things never change...

M is for Misers
Jessa reports that Borders is paying it's manager so little that they have to take second jobs. I guess the lowly employees must live on the leftover scones from the Borders coffee shops. I think I will spend a bit more time looking for a local bookstore this year.

M is for Missing
Where are they now? Cleveland Scene profiles Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. One quote that may give us a clue as to why he dropped out of the game
"Newspaper editors sometimes seem to resent that they have to run comics. Well, sometimes I resent being in their newspapers."

-- Bill Watterson, from The Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book.

M is for Mistake

Once again they are trying to stir the bones of the convention center proposal here in Cleveland. This time the county wants to slap on a 2% tax on all restaurants to pay for it - why that's practically free! I didn't know you could impose arbitrary taxes to pay for business welfare. Chas has some thoughts on the PeeDee's support for this "Quiet Zombie" convention center - the idea they don't want to let rest in peace. Here another blogger talking about it way back in March, before we killed the idea the last time. I think Cleveland has spent enough on business backed (but not paid for) taxpayer funded vanity buildings downtown. None of them have done much to help our economy, and now the city of Cleveland faces a fiscal crisis. There has been mutterings on the local NPR affiliate from the supporters of the center that this time it may be a "smaller" plan. The problem isn't the size of the plan, it's using taxpayer money to fund something no sane business would think of...and that has pretty dubious benefits, like the other white elephants public funded private buildings downtown. I'm thinking of calling Buffy the Vampire slayer, and asking her to slay this undead, big, bad, idea.

The letter of the day is M. Thus spake Kate!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Always wanted to paint like Picasso? Try Mr. Picassohead. Link via Intricate Plot

The great thing about atonal music? Tony Trischka says "I made a mistake right at the beginning of it, but no one could tell because it was atonal.".

A Canadian released from Gitmo admits he was in a "training camp" in Afghanistan, but insists it was all innocent.
Abdulrahman Khadr admits learning to use assault weapons at an ”al-Qaeda related” training camp but insisted that such instruction is routine for teens in war-torn Afghanistan.
He said that the camp was run by Arabs and that some graduates went on to fight the Northern Alliance and others travelled to foreign wars in Bosnia and Chechnya. The camp was never visited by Osama bin Laden while he was there, he said, and political instruction was not part of the curriculum.
I remember being a cub scout at Camp Malagash in Nova Scotia, and often we would sing campfire songs and field strip AK 47's and test fire some RPGs. Watch that backblast, cubs! Then it was time for smores. I'm all for admitting when one makes a mistake, but it doesn't quite sound like that's what he's saying here....

Have a favourite blog? Nominate them here for a 2003 Weblog Award over at Wizbang.

Back from Thanksgiving, where I spent many hours watching old films of M_'s childhood. It left me with the impression that people in the 1960's consisted of women with big puffy hair and men with razor thin ties and white shirts, all smoking like mad creatures. Since many of the films were of Xmas mornings, we also found out that M_ was given what can only be described as a poodle with lipstick and wheels for both her birthday and Xmas. Since she was only two, they figured she wouldn't notice. Now with PoodleGate in full swing it makes me think of the many wonderful plastic pieces of crap wondrous gifts I received. The fact that pretty much none of them survived childhood, or even Xmas week speaks to their quality construction. The fact we kept getting our parents to buy them speaks to the marketing skills of the companies. One I remember asking for was this, ahem, thing:

What is it? A kind of hover attack vehicle for these little articulated toys called Micronauts. All I remember about them now is they had a villain that was a kind of poor man's Darth Vader.

Once long ago my parents promised me a week before Xmas that I would be receiving an extra special gift. They said I should not gloat when I opened it lest I make my brother jealous. I waited with a mind racing thinking of what this thing could possibly be - a replica of the Starship Enterprise? A hover-bike? Then on Xmas morning I found when I opened it, it was a small wooden fork like tool. They said it was for grabbing hot toast from the toaster. It's funny now, though I cursed a seven-year-old's blue streak then. IT lasted longer than Hornetroid though...