is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


Hot Air and Crazy People

On my way into work this morning, I listened to this story on Bush's stance on the energy crisis and how it has been and will benefit some of his biggest campaign contributers (read: polluting oil/chemical industries). Well, I thought that was weird, and it seems downright corrupt that Kenneth Lay, chairman of Enron, is on Bush's transitional committee on energy policy. Cheney is the new head of the ad hoc committee looking at the California crisis, by the way, which also seems corrupt considering his close ties to the oil industry.
I mentioned this to Dave, a guy I work with (and literally a card-carrying Republican), wondering how he'd defend this. He had no problem whatsoever, defending it as smart to appoint someone who's versed in the issues. After a little arguing on the subject, we got down to the real issue: the environment. At the bottom line, Dave doesn't think that there's anything to be concerned about. Even global warming? "The only ones saying that global warming is happening are Hollywood movie stars." Do normal people believe this?

My answer to him was that a consensus of scientists worldwide now believes we are altering the climate. Even some oil companies concede this. It is no longer reasonable to claim that nothing is happening. More great information on the ongoing energy debacle in California at the Shadow Government of the US site, which dissects Dubya's policy statements and then provides a progressive alternative. I like it because it's one of the few progressive pages out there that makes an attempt to adapt proposals to the real world, instead of the fantasy land most lefties live in.

It's growing environmental destruction and the role of technology that inspired Ted Kacynski to go on his seventeen year rampage. He's now in jail, but the letters that members of the news media have written him to get him to grant interviews are nothing short of priceless. Via the inestimable Obscure Store, still my favorite blog.

Odds and Ends (lips and assholes?)

I had today's bloggage done an hour ago but it was eaten by Blogger. This is from memory, and I'm really pissed because it's about 60% as good as the entry done previously. Readers of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire will definitely recognize the Theatre des Vampyres in this real life horror theater that used to be in Paris. And no, I'm not making this up. Thanks, Jeff! Finally, anyone who could explain Ron Jeremy's popularity, let me know.


Of Music and Purple Urine

One of my many divergent interests is in History, whether real, revisionist, or imagined. This article takes a brief look at some of the illnesses that historical figures had and relates them to their work. Among the fascinating tidbits are Brahms's sleep disorder, William Pitt and Ben Franklin's gout (probably caused by lead poisoning), and Monet's cataracts. Also earning a brief mention is King George III's sudden descent into madness, which got a whole play and movie made about it. This illness was diagnosed centuries later due to an observation that the monarch had purple urine, which is apparently the classic symptom of porphyria.

As I was searching for more information about various composers, I stumbled onto this cool page of biographies. All of these are very interesting, although some have much more detail than others. So you search down the page, hmm, there's Beethoven, and Mozart, and Bach, and Saint-Saens, and Mahler, and John Lennon???? I mean sure, he was a fine song writer, but really. It's totally removed from context to include him with all of these other instrumental and classical composers.

For pop culture historiographers, this site is invaluable. It's a collection of timelines of various story arcs spanning the genres of TV, Movies, comic books, etc. For example, children of the 80s surely remember the Transformers television show and movies. With that timeline, you can put together the chronology of each of the major events. Or check out the X-files timeline, where you can place each episode. Other examples include Star Trek, Star Wars, Buffy, Red Dwarf, Indiana Jones, the Kevin Smith movies (Clerks, Mallrats, etc), and literally hundreds more. Pretty neat stuff.

Site news and updates

In more religiousity, I saw on Metafilter this page about how John Paul II is a heretical anti-pope, mainly because he's too liberal. This page comes from the True Catholics splinter group, and I won't even use an adjective to describe them because they kind of frighten me and I don't want one of them finding me and issuing a fatwa on me. I'm not alone in this fear: The guy who does Follow Me Here writes out S*C*I*E*N*T*O*L*O*G*Y* every time he posts an article on them to confuse search engines. I kid you not. I'll also be starting a "debater's corner" subpage soon. Look for the link.


All DNA sequences © 1975 NPH Industries

"[Congress shall have the power] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"
Article I, Section 8; US Constitution.

The rush to patent has meant that some really strange things have been patented recently. Take, for instance, this article about the emoticon :-(, which is about a lawsuit suing everyone who's ever used that emoticon ever, in an email, webpage, or print article. The copyright is real, by the way, even though the lawsuit threatened in the article is not. I especially like the way the fake lawsuit uses the nasty Carnivore program to reach into the past and rip anyone's emails open looking for the copyright breach. Nice touch. Nonetheless, Despair, Inc., is using this silly issue to draw attention to a serious shortcoming of patent laws, which is the protection of Amazon's one click buying function. Amazon wants to keep this really bad, and has paid through the nose to good lawyers to ensure it does. The rest of the online business community wants to use it really bad, and is beating its collective head against the wall trying desperately to show that the use of cookies in the buy function is "obvious." (It sure is, isn't it!)

Think that's outrageous (I'm sure someone, somewhere, just said 'I do,' where the rest of you just shrugged. Oy vey!)? Well, consider biotechnology patents. This article gives a good, if pro-industry analysis on the happenings on the IPR (that's Intellectual Property Rights) front since Harvard first patented a transgenic mouse in 1988. What's the big deal about patenting genes? Well, the more they're patented, the more the likelihood that the only humans benefitting from the riches of our new science are the companies. Vandana Shiva, noted third world author, lecturer, and scientist, drops a bit of knowledge on what these advances are doing for India, and what we can expect to see more like this with a WTO that over-emphasizes protection of corporations instead of the common good (disclaimer; I am a free trader; but this is just stupid). Moreover, the rush to file international patents on IPR issues of biotechnology is crushing the regulatory industries under a mountain of patent applications. While immoral companies attempt to get rich by isolating our common biological heritage, worthwhile inventions are not being looked at because the infrastructure can't handle the applications. Finally, some companies are patenting human genes. Patenting life crosses a line; has no one pointed out they didn't invent these genes? This and other objections to out of control IPR claims in that article. This is the worst, however; the company that claims it has a patent on crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
(some links today have come from the MeFi search function)

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Today is day one of the experimental detox fortnight. I will eschew all chemical inputs for two weeks, including but not limited to: alcohol, THC, heroin, crack cocaine, benadryl, Amyl Nitrate, psilocybin, sucrose, powder cocaine, amphetamines, tobacco, sudafed, quaaludes, barbituates, caffeine, ecstasy, nitrous, opium, acid, heroin and PCP (and bonus points if you name the song that the last six listings are a reference to).
I watched "Survivor II" last night and didn't even feel guilty about it, despite the predictable moaning I've heard on various places around the net about what rot it is and how it will be the final nail in the coffin of American culture. Sorry, folks; "Survivor" worked because it was at its heart about politics, which is why I liked it. This new one should be similar, but last night's episode featured about zero politics and mucho whining and grunting. If you don't want to watch the show but do like to keep up with the happenings for your perspective on pop culture, I recommend highly Salon's take on reality TV. From this link you can get their episode-by-episode guides to each of the major reality shows, which in every case are much more entertaining than the show. Take "Big Brother," for instance. That show was so boring, you couldn't pay me to watch it. It was like watching paint dry. The Salon synopses were quite good, however, and I kept reading those through the end.


Not Serious

This is a really entertaining account of a woman who was excommunicated from the Mormon church. This excommunication was at her request, er, demand, and it sounds like it was really a nice carthartic experience for her. I almost want to go join the Mormons, just so I can have the standing to tell off one of their officials like that. It's a little known fact that when Maggie and I were living with Christi my sophomore year in college, I used to have running debates with Jehovah's witnesses and Mormons that would come by. I think both the women hated those times, because I would usually invite them up to the balcony and sit out there matching verses. I never understood why Jehovah's witnesses even bothered coming by, because they have a very literal interpretation of the passage in Revelation that says only 144,000 will be saved at the end. Surely there are more than 144,000 Jehovah's witnesses out there, right? If so, why are they recruiting me to compete for one of their slots? I like the Mormon's brand of craziness better. They will even go back and baptize dead people by proxy. Oh, that works. Do absolutely nothing for the religion and it still aims to get you into heaven. What's the point of skipping the booze, tobacco, and premarital sex if you can just get a free pass in anyway? All you get if you're a Mormon is magic underwear, so I don't see what the big attraction is. This whole practice got them in trouble for posthumously baptizing Jewish concentration camp victims. While I'm on the subject of religion, someone is going straight to hell for this one, the "pope and his lava lamp." From Blue Ruin.

Site News and random links

So, as is my usual wont, I have used the weekend to alter the site further. The bio page was coded entirely manually, which marks my first page from scratch ever. Have fun. I've obviously been too focused on serious subjects recently, so it's time to revert to web surfing fun. The popularity contest known as the Bloggies has entered the "voting" stage, now that nominees are selected. I could ridicule the concept, but the page also serves as a nice link collection to some very good and some very overrated blogs out there. On the other hand, the Anti-bloggies are still accepting nominations.

Did you know that it was possible to get breast implants put in through your navel? I didn't until I saw the article in the EM2K blog. On a slightly more serious note, I've been reading the esteemed scientist Hans Moravec for quite a while, and he's been warning us about the dangers of computer intelligence. This last year seems to have been a sort of convergence among respected thinkers out there, and now Bill Joy (founder of Sun) and Ray Kurzweil (an inventer and pioneer in computer and musical technologies) think we may be in trouble. A fascinating read, from Q8, from Kuwait. Cool title, but try closing your italics tags. Oh, and your bold tags, too!! On the other hand, if the robots take away our toothpaste, we can apparently brush with horseradish (why am I thinking of that stupid Budweiser commercial. . . Wasabi!?).


The Jesse Ventura Primer

Part II, or, What kind of governor is he, anyway?

People not from Minnesota often ask what Jesse has done as governor. Short answer: not that much. Long answer: It depends on what you view as effective government. It's important to note that Jesse has an interesting view of government, and the separation of powers especially. Basically, because he feels that the legislative branch ought to be the one doing the law writing, he thinks that he Governor should stay out of the legislative process nearly entirely, except in those areas where the law mandates an executive stance; such as releasing a proposed budget (which he just did, more on this in a bit) or in announcing his priorities for bonding bills. One area where Jesse has gotten a lot of credit is in how he handled the executive appointments of his administration when he took power. Instead of appointing a bunch of Reform party wackos that no one had heard of, Jesse assembled a mostly non-partisan group of wonks and technocrats that could handle the load of government and be in control over the departments that they headed. This would become a recurring theme of The Body Politic, the delegation of control to free up his own time. What he would do with that time would also be a recurring theme. I will examine his ongoing administration here in a tripartite fashion, looking briefly at each of three factors that will determine how we Minnesotans think of Jesse now and in years to come.

I. Jesse the public figure
Shortly after becoming governor, Jesse granted an interview to Playboy magazine. In this interview, he made some now infamous statements, including that "Religion is a crutch for the weak minded," the fact he'd want to be reincarnated as a 38DDD bra, and some other questionable comments, including a statement of non-sympathy towards suicidal people. In other words, something to irritate almost everyone. The outrage began soon after excerpts were leaked. The Republican party chair of Minnesota, Ron Ebensteiner, even went so far as to say perhaps Jesse "should consider stepping down as Governor." As ridiculous as the rhetoric was, it was pretty clear that it had an impact on Jesse's public statements in the future. Never again would Jesse make a knee jerk comment to piss off massive numbers of people. On the other hand, Minnesotans have remarkably thick skins, and even though polls showed most people didn't agree with Jesse saying the things he did, he was forgiven very quickly. Not only that, but Minnesotans like having a bit of extra attention. We didn't mind so much that he embarassed us, as long as he kept us in the news.

II. Jesse the Executive
Jesse does not like to shepherd bills through the legislature. This has led to a dearth of legislative accomplishments, that does not seem to faze the Ventura administration. He did get a car licensing bill through that cut taxes on automobile license tabs, and he did by the force of his will make the tax rebate for 1999 a unique Sales Tax rebate, instead of an income or property tax refund. This had the desirable effect of giving back the most regressive of the tax revenues, and he is to be commended for it. Jesse also showed some strong character last year when he repudiated promises made by staffers in his office to the Republican caucus regarding an abortion "notification" bill and vetoed it. On the other hand, Jesse's funding priorities in his budgeting requests are alarmingly small. He seems more interested in maintaining massive refundable surpluses than in even fulfilling his campaign promises, such as where he promised in his campaign to fully fund children's health insurance, yet has scaled back his efforts to do so in his recently released budget so as not to exceed 5% growth for any department. Basically, he's an extremely fiscally conservative libertarian, and that has frustrated those who would want excess government monies to flesh out underfunded programs. One of the biggest whiners right now is the University of Minnesota, whose president, Mark Yudof, is now mobilizing a huge lobbying program to get the legislature to increase their share of the budgeting pie far beyond what Ventura has proposed.

"The scenarios are quite bleak," Yudof told lawmakers. "Every year you hear from agencies that the sky is falling, the sky is falling. You are smart people. But the sky is going to fall."

Jesse's budgeting priorities do seem to indicate a bit of antipathy towards higher education. Nonetheless, I'm not necessarily against his general slant of suppressing cost increases in the budget, although I think his priorities are a bit out of whack.

III. Jesse the Greedy
This has been hashed and re-hashed in the national press, so I don't feel the need to go to much into depth. Basically, Jesse has done the following for money or notoriety since taking office: "Written" two books (quotes due to use of ghost writer); "Refereed" a wrestling event (quotes due to fixed nature of pro wrestling); and now, taken a job as an XFL "commentator" (probably more as official smack talker). There's now a bill pending before the Minnesota legislature to prohibit moonlighting by the governor and other state officials. It ought to pass; Jesse's money grubbing is making himself and the state look bad. Any reasonable reading of this will tell that I don't write that because I'm a Jesse hater; I voted for him and probably will again, despite his weird legislative priorities and his avarice.

Back to normal

I'm a huge fan of the guerrilla journalism possibilities of the web. Although this Jesse focus is not exactly Pulitzer prize stuff, it is an example of what blogs could be if we use them to do some real writing and not just screw around. That being said, I'm tired of being serious and think I'll screw around for a few days. Jeff sent me a Jake the Snake link written about his performance at an aging wrestler reunion. This is hilarious. I recommend it highly. This comes from Wrestlecrap, which is a sort of Mystery Science Theater 3K for the wrestling world. Extra cool if you're a fan (I'm not), still funny if you're not.


The Jesse Ventura Primer

How do you like the new colors? I'm changing the look a little, but the blog remains mostly the same. As always, I am on the lookout for good topics, and it was pointed out to me that I have yet to discuss our lovely state's governor, a mistake that I must correct. I realize this could take more time than my daily allotted bloggage, so I think it's going to have to be a two day affair.

Part I, or, how the hell did you elect that guy?

For those living under a rock, Jesse Ventura is the governor of the state of Minnesota. Jesse Ventura is the trademarked name taken by Jim Janos as a struggling young pro wrestler. He wrestled and commented for the WWF, gaining much notoriety among young white men (much like myself; WWF was always on after the cartoons, so if you weren't doing anything else, why not watch? After all, there was Jake "the Snake", and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, and. . . sorry to digress. My mom probably thought I was cleaning my room while I was watching.).

Anyway, so right after moving to Minnesota in late September 1998, we were sitting in the Back Garage of Mag's parents' house, and Jeron mentions that he heard that Jesse was in the double digits for poll percentages in the gubernatorial race. Mag and I thought that was pretty cool. After all, Jesse was mostly known at the time for a) making outrageous comments (as the establishment saw it) on the campaign trail; b) being a former pro wrestler, and c) sparking national interest in the race. But no one gave him a snowball's chance in hell of winning. In the Back Garage, we formulated the plan that would win Jesse the race. He would figure out how to get in a dead heat, and we would make sure he got the votes to push him over the edge. We laughed heartily and then forgot about state politics for a while.

Then a funny thing happened. The Democratic candidate Hubert H "Skip" Humphrey III (how could you lose in Minnesota with that name?) insisted that Jesse be included in the televised debates. He figured that Jesse's avowed fiscal conservatism and huge popularity among white men would pull voters away from the Republican candidate, Norm Coleman (a Brooklyn transplant, mayor of St. Paul, and Dubya's Minnesota campaign chair, by the way). This would prove to not only be a huge mistake (for the two parties), but also a lesson for all those who claim that minor candidates are irrelevent in political debates. At the time of the debates, Jesse was in third place with about 10% of polled likely voters saying they'd vote for him; after the debates were done, he was polling in the 30s and within striking range. Around the same time, Jesse began using his meager campaign war chest to buy some targeted television advertising. The result was perhaps some of the best political advertising I've ever seen: the Jesse Ventura Action figure, fighting off the evil lobbyists ("I'll never take any of your dirty money!"). Jesse was also beginning to attract a constituency that would send shivers of shock through the spines of political operatives everywhere. Young voters, not known to vote in any numbers ever, where getting very excited about the idea of voting for a guy that didn't really care what the polls said, he just said what he thought.

Thus, the cry and hue of the editorial pages about Jesse's statement that he wouldn't outright rule out considering the legalization of marijuana and prostitution fell on some deaf ears. Sure, this wasn't what politicians said, but the politicians weren't doing anything about the problems anyway. As the election day grew nearer, the Back Garage plan sprang into action, and from the polling numbers that followed, many people of our age group had also met in their own Back Garages and determined the same thing we did. Voter turnout was huge; I've never seen lines on an election day like then. I waited for nearly half an hour to vote, and we dragged several people that were friends of Jeron's to the polls with us. No one was predicting that Jesse would win, mind you. Even the most optimistic of the polls only said it would be very close, but the press continued to think of it as a Coleman vs. Humphrey race, with Jesse as spoiler. Early exit poll results showed Jesse in the lead, and we watched the results pour in all night long. The analysts kept predicting that outstate (i.e., not the Twin Cities) returns would push Jesse's lead down, but it didn't happen. Jesse had won. Humphrey, for his hubris in insisting that Jesse get included in the debates, took the loser's third spot with a sniveling speech about how the people had spoken and he trusted the people. Coleman conceded with his funny East Coast accent and went back to cutting back room deals giving St. Paul businesses tax breaks. As for Jesse, I don't think he really thought he would win. He now had to figure out a way to come up with a coherent way to govern.
Tomorrow: Jesse the Governor

Loose Ends

What would you do if you started a community weblog that suddenly had over three thousand members, more links than were readable, and growing whining among the core members over news items that kept getting re-posted? I don't know. Just wondering. Stupid Criminals from the genius behind Newza da Weird. Finally, the reason why if we find ET, it will be way smarter than us.


Scattershot and Inconsistent

It's tough to always maintain a topical focus, no matter my intent. I have at least three subjects I'm working on, but I'm missing the uninterrupted hour or so for each to make it happen. I checked out Saturn, a wildly popular blog done by one of the guys (Jack Saturn, hence the name) over at Pyra. It's quite good. I enjoy the length of the posts; my preference for content over appearance is one reason I always try to write more than I link. However, Saturn is done in a more personal focus, very few links. I am impressed that he has that many personal vignettes to share. I was thinking about what it would be like here on Hobbsblog II if I did something like that (cue daydream music here, like in Wayne's World). . .

i emailed with Aleava the other day and found out that she and haygruh are getting married. it was done in a very new millenium sort of way. first a normal email in my inbox, then one
with the subject line "are you sitting down?" i kind of expected the news at that point.

maggie and i had been together for three days shy of seven years when we got married. several times during our relationship we went to weddings of people that were together for a shorter time than us. one of those was jp and carmen's wedding in eugene. we drove down there from portland in our old crappy 92 black escort. it was ugly, had bad air intake, guzzled oil, was loud, ate tapes, and had no air conditioning. we loved it. after driving down, i'm sure we went to sam's sub shop. it was by the u of o campus and is the best damn sandwich spot in the world. no kidding. i always had the #15, the turkey and avocado on wheat, with provolone cheese. the lewis & clark debate squad would generally eat there on tournament trips at least twice. our old coach ladd wiles used to work there, and the nice lady who ran the shop (with a funky accent, too, i might add) would ask about him. at last check he was an assistant district attorney in coos bay, oregon. "hey, you're in luck, norm," he said the last time i talked to him. "if you get busted for drugs i'd be the one going after ya. after all, your last name starts with h, which fits into my alphabetical range." thanks, ladd. so we grubbed and then went to the church. it was a very churchy wedding, with at least ten members of the wedding party, and short and sweet. i love short weddings.

i wonder what happened to jp and carmen. we loved debating them, and it was fun to see them get hitched. there's also mike and jen; they went to western washington and we also debated against them quite a bit. when we went to their wedding, the drive was even longer and no avocado and turkey subs awaited. we did, however, go to their bachelor(ette) functions, which featured the groom puking in the parking lot of a casino we went to and much secrecy from the women about what they did. i remember a couple of things very vividly from that wedding. the first is a long discussion about a book I hadn't read made into a movie i hadn't seen (both failures corrected now): contact by carl sagan. we hung out in a small house with debaters from all over the northwest and the most trippy acting of all of them was sean purdy, who i think was pretty well straight edged anyway. the other memory is going to see there's something about mary while killing time the day of the wedding. mag and i hated it. it was stupid, appealed to the lowest common denominator, and was generally a worthless waste of time. everyone else seemed to love it. we walked away shaking our heads.

i remember people from high school getting married right out of high school. what's wrong with people? you have to experience life before locking into something like that. i guess that's what i was thinking when i heard that about aleava and haygruh, yet i'm genuinely really happy for them. they aren't getting married straight out of high school, and they've been together for a few years now, why shouldn't they? not everyone needs to wait seven years to make sure their head is screwed on straight. i guess because they're younger than me that means they're really young, right? not really; as i get older, the space between too young and just younger than me gets wider and wider. things in my life seem to be radically realigning now. first maggie's dad died, a man i had more respect for and loved more than just about anyone; then maggie's brother jeron and beth are getting married, josh and angie too, jeff and kari are hitched, now this. crazy.

i wrote aleava back and told her i was really happy and excited about it. and i am. congrats. you two kick mucho ass.

Odds and Ends

That wound up much longer than I thought it would. Nice!! I think this is a fine idea: a Car Driving Service that gets the drunk and his/her car home in one piece. The service personnel ride to the car by way of a foldable scooter that fits in the trunk of the car. Now that's cool. Also worthy of a mention: recent studies show that the "Stay Virgin until Marriage" movement doesn't work and can be counterproductive. Tell me something I didn't know. Finally, I just saw that one of the best damn weblogs in the whole world linked to me (The Null Device). I am honored. I may not be A list, or even B list, but dammit, I'm fully C list now.


Teacher Made me go to the Principal When I was Dirty

Well, when one runs out of smart, important ideas to blog about, one can always fall back on the never failing LAPIs. For those not following my weird vocabulary, those are Links Appealling to the Prurient Interest. This I saw on Comedy Central last night, and now complete with terrible captions: Poor Jenna Bush falling out of her dress while dancing with President Shrub. This is a great country that can tolerate such crap about our leaders and their families. While I'm posting this dung, I might also point out this class paper written by the same Ms. Bush in the form of an updated fairy tale featuring a black version of Cinderalla called "Chandarella." They removed the link shortly after this became public (it was on a server at the U of Texas) but through the miracle of Google it's cached for posterity. Thanks, internet fairy!

If you are into these LAPIs, you might want to check out I Love Bacon, a juvenile site of flashing, dirty jokes, leg breaking videos, and other culture rot. Not all the pictures there are dirty, however. This one is of a big electronic marquee in Vegas with a clearly discernible error box that says "out of virtual memory." That's funny. So is this, the sign at the entrance of the "Golgotha Fun Park." I'm sure that it is not nearly as much fun as the Holy Land Theme Park, a big money Christian theme park in Orlando, complete with a Jesus' tomb attraction, a replica Via Dolorosa, and fake Herod's temple. All right!! No mention when Jesus will show up to throw the money changers out of this one. (Via Metafilter.)
One more LAPI: I think of this as the LAPI blog: Dr. Menlo. It's got good links and plenty of flesh.

Plug away!!

My boy Jeff has just started his very own blog (ha! another joins the dark side) and it looks like it will be very good. It's called the Shadow Government of the United States and it features running critiques of the W administration along with a shadow cabinet and links. Also, the DSB is back to churning out new entries after a few days hiatus. I'm enjoying it a lot still, although I think I'll extend the front page to include all the posts, instead of making new readers start in the archives. Finally, I saw this morning that Blogvoices, the comment system I used, is shutting down. That sucks; mostly because all the other types of comment programs require some degree of technical skill to figure it out. The advantage of BV is its simplicity and html-by-numbers, which is what I still need to do squat. I'll figure something out, but it's not like I had massive amounts of comments anyway. I've noticed I'm falling into a pattern of posting something Deep and Important a couple of days in a row, then feeling self conscious about losing my sense of whimsy, so then I blog a few trite, silly links, which makes me feel like the site is devolving, so I go back to the Deep and Important topics, restarting the pattern. If you're keeping track, I think I'm due for something Deep tomorrow. Or maybe not. I'll just listen to my muse.


Still Surfing

Critics and progressive types hate Eminem. I'm not terribly familiar with his body of work, but based on what I've seen of his public statements and lyrics, it seems to me he's just taken the whole "rapper as performance art" thing to a new level. The group that sparked gangsta rap, NWA, not coincidentally led by Eminem's producer Dr. Dre, confessed to so many crimes on Straight Outta Compton that if 5% of them were true, each member would be incarcerated for a very long time. Eminem raps about raping his mother, killing his wife, and variations on those two deeds. Now abhorrent as this is, his fans know he doesn't do such things. It's a huge game of posturing to attract any attention. Well, it works. This background all commented upon to introduce the 'warp Eminem' page, where you can make him look as silly as you want. Or, if you are feeling aggressive towards our new president (not me, secret service!! stay away!! I love Dubya !!) have a go. Or get other choices here. Most are in the stupid pop culture category, like the singers who perform the songs I hear Wednesday nights when at the bar when we go play trivia and everyone else is singing along and I've never even heard the songs.

Oklahoma dreaming

Oklahomans showed up for a little pep rally to honor the OU football team. Fully 30,000 people attended. That's about 1/3 of the population of Norman. If 1/3 of New York City showed up to honor the Yankees, the national guard would get called up. I found this Oklahoma blog while surfing around earlier today. It's really very good. As I've mentioned, I have been attempting to locate good examples of Oklahoma bloggers. It makes me feel better that I have at least one. From said site, here's a picture of something you'd only see in Oklahoma (or maybe Texas). Speaking of, we in Oklahoma get a lot of crap from Texans, and we dish it out as well. I'll probably get in trouble for posting this one, seeing as I have a whole arm of the family that lives there, and great-great-grandfather Joseph Beatty Hadden will spin in his grave, but here's the truth about the ridiculous claims that Texas can secede anytime, split itself into four other states, etc. I heard that so many times growing up, I wish I would have read that. And I've never been there, but everything I've heard about OU-Texas weekend indicates that this account is spot on (told from a Texan's point of view, but is even handed).

Finally, it's Maggie's birthday today. If you know her, why not call or write and tell her to have a happy one. My best birthday present to her was convincing her to call in sick with me so we could have a nice, relaxing day. She's currently watching Little House on the Prairie while I blog.


Cheap and Easy

Well, it's GW Bush's inauguration day. I have been hearing a lot about how this means that cowboy boots will now be "in." At least that won't be true in Minnesota, because if we wore cowboy boots here we'd fall and break our hips on the ice. It hasn't snowed more than a quarter inch now for about two weeks. Since these snowfalls were next to imperceptible while they were happened, I failed to get the snow shoveled off the sidewalk. Coupled with some nasty cold, that has led to a bad crust of ice forming on the walk outside our house, making it a real adventure to get to the car. It's frozen so solid that the shovel won't really cut it, and I think we'll have to get some ice remover to get rid of it (I don't want to use salt on account of Relffits). It won't probably break freezing again ever.

I follow pop culture only tangentially. Eschewing this aspect of our society is a mark of honor among many of my friends, especially those in the Northwest. Me, I just don't pay much attention because I'm not terribly interested in the personal lives of stars (until it gets very interesting -- nice tautology). Saying that, it's difficult to come up with a scandal more juicy than this one, where former tennis giant Boris Becker is being sued by a Russian model over allegations that he fathered a child on the side. No, that's not the juicy part. Speaking of giants of pop culture, you may recall hearing stories about the Shepard Farey, the guerrilla artist bombing the world with pictures of Andre the Giant as a sort of ironic post modern statement about iconography and consumerism in our society. (Boy, that was a hell of a sentence) Well, his website is pretty cool. In a double-ironic twist, if there was indeed such a thing, you can buy the stickers using Paypal.

Lesser known blog review

I've been reading through some of the Metafilter member links and have been surprised by the relative paucity of true weblogs in the bunch. Most are just traditional "home pages." One that I have liked is this one by Mefi member (John) Thirteen. It's a collaborative blog named after the blogger that posts the most, if I understand it correctly. I would think it to be peculiar to be a blogger not named Thirteen on the Thirteen Labs site. It would be like being a member of the Dave Matthews Band if you weren't named Dave Matthews.

I stumbled on this Peruvian blog straight from the Blogger front page. It's in English, it's well written and concise in presentation, and presents much information on Peruvian and some other South American politics, presented by the international press. Very fascinating, especially since Peru is a country that does not get much press. It's pages like this that make me think that the internet really does have the power to make the world more interconnected. Another good genre of sites that contribute to this argument are webcams. Check out Munich. Sorry for the tangent.

Finally, I also liked this one found via the Mefi list. Those who consider my blog fixated on liberal political causes should consider this for comparison. Nonetheless, the design on this one is really neat and, well, I am in agreement with most of what is said. Seeing this nice site punctuates my growing dissatisfaction with the layout of Hobbsblog II and I think it's about due for an overhaul. I think I'm going to need to about triple my coding skills to do so, however. I want it to be simple but not look like the default Blogger template that it is.


She Blinded Me with Science

You may recall that last week I mentioned in passing Dean Kamen's secret invention "IT." The New Scientist story on IT has a couple of cool links that give some good background on Kamen and some minor speculation as to what IT is.

There's a new species of ant that's been discovered called the "Dracula ant." It's called this because it chews on its larva until they bleed and then eat the "blood" that oozes out (mmm, ant blood). This ant is considered to be a primitive example of a connector between ant species and wasps, since it has a single pinched connection at its thorax. This ant makes its home on Madagascar, one of the largest islands in the world. Madagascar is known as one of those awesome isolated communities where many unique species live. Its isolation from the rest of Africa has helped keep its animal and plant biodiversity at amazing levels, including many different types of lemurs, bats, birds, lizards, orchids, and sixty species of snake, none of which are poisonous. Oh, and the Fossa. That's a nasty little critter that has been described as a cross between a cat and a dog, but I think it looks more like a land otter. I would be remiss in my lefty duties if I didn't point out that much of the island is now threatened by development.

Some guy has now invented a Skycar. Cue Jetsons music now. The idea is that these vehicles will be verticle take off and landing, with computer controls over most driving. Sure. That sounds like a great idea. Firstly, the VTOL concept has been substantially tarnished recently by the Marine Corps' Osprey having more than one crash, and then being grounded. Second, no one has yet mentioned that these things are going to be very noisy. Highways in urban areas are very noisy, and most urban freeways have sound shielding to keep the noise pollution out of residential areas. With the highways being in the air, as it were, these miniaircraft will be buzzing around pissing people off in a way that will make it difficult to ever get these things approved. Oh well. At least it looks cool.

And then there's light. It seems scientists have proven it's possible to stop light. This could help lead to "quantum computing," a concept I'm not terribly familiar. Just going out on a limb here, I'll speculate it's really really fast.

I've been trying to keep my daily posts long and mostly topical. This is beginning to lead to a buildup in links in my temp folders. Look for an all LAPI edition early next week, as well as the beloved lesser known blog review. About a week ago, I removed the most popular blogs from my links to the left so as to not make the list super huge.

Oh, here is the statement I wrote yesterday describing the way our new car was subject to police brutality.


Oh, no

Not again!

Another murdering football player is on the brink of getting away with it. At least in the Rae Carruth trial it's likely to end in a deadlock, instead of an acquittal. That means the prosecution can have another go at it.

Well, President Bill is outta here. I didn't even listen to his lame farewell address. I'm feeling a little bitter towards him. After all, he's had this hugely progressive change of heart ever since Al lost, and has suddenly found his misplaced voice about some major problems he's leaving for us.

The president has clearly decided to spend his final days in office paying homage to all the things he did nothing about when he had the power to do almost anything.

Hey, the comedy writers will miss him. I'm having mixed feelings too about the confirmation fights underway with Ashcroft and Norton. In both cases, one has to weigh the dangers of them being confirmed versus the alternative. For Ashcroft, the key problem is in the direction of prosecutions that are left up to the Federal Authorities. Consider a case like this one where he supported a bill that, in addition to banning the "partial birth abortions" also made it legal to use lethal force against abortion providers when the killer believes their action will save a fetus. The bill is currently in the federal courts, and Ashcroft could conceivably use the power of the US Attorneys to file briefs and otherwise support the bill as it passes through the court systems. One can honestly believe his pledge to enforce the laws of the land, since he did serve as Attorney General of the state of Missouri, but in disputes like this one his past political stances and deeply held personal beliefs will make it difficult to act impartially; which generally means staying out of disputes like this one. I think it's probably best to try to spike him and force Dubya to appoint a less partisan appointee. Unfortunately, his confirmation is a lock despite Ronnie White's powerful testimony, since all 50 Republicans will vote for him and some Democrats will too.

Gale Norton will win, too barring any major scandals coming out. That's too bad; she's a Wise Use disciple, which is the philosophical line of thought justifying some of the most nasty anti-environmentalists in public policy over the last quarter century. That last link is the original source document behind the movement. If you are an environmentalist to them, you fall in to one of these three categories:

1. Establishment Interventionists - acting to hamper property rights and markets sufficiently to centralize control of many transactions for the benefit of environmentalists and their funders in the foundation community, while leaving the market economy itself operational. They tend to emphasize the need for natural diversity and in some cases to own and manage wildlife preserves. Notable organizations in this sector are the Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society.
2. Eco-Socialists - acting to dislodge the market system with public ownership of all resources and production, commanded by environmentalists in an ecological welfare state. They tend to emphasize the limits of earthly goods. Greenpeace, Native Forest Council, Maine Audubon Society are representative groups.
3. Deep Ecologists - acting to reduce or eliminate industrial civilization and human population in varying degrees. They tend to emphasize that nature's way is best and environmentalism is radical. Earth First!, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Native Forest Network are in this category.

Oh, no. How paranoid can you be? Sure, there are plenty of environmentalists out there that fit into these categories, but you can see the way they use code words to let you know what kind of pinkos they think we are. Norton's been pissing off environmentalists for a long time, now (near the bottom of that link).

Random weirdness

This site takes popular songs and Jesusifies them. This is pretty bizarre, especially "Biblethumping," to the tune of "Tubthumbing" by Chumbawumba (my sister Valerie loves that song). Link via the inestimable PCJM, a first rate blog that apparently I am required to pass along a link from at least once a week or so.

My God got killed, but He rose up again
Death could never never keep Him down!

Do they not realize this is a drinking song by an anarchist band? Are they encouraging kids to learn these songs? Whatever happened to Pop Culture being the enemy?
This is getting too weird. Chumbawumba has a page of pie-ing links. I'll take it as a sign to be done; I'm quitting now.


The lesser of two evils

or, more Pies-in-the-face

Well, my doctor visit went fine. My obese physician took out a decent amount of blood and did a cursory listening to my pulmonary system, and pronounced me healthy.

An important event not covered by most news media have been the ongoing talks on global climate change. The evidence for ongoing impacts of warming continue to pile up as politicians debate what should be done. The recent talks in the Hague have just collapsed over a series of ridiculous demands by the US, such as a demand to count existing forests in North America as carbon sinks to offset our massive output of greenhouse gases, or the right to buy pollution credits from countries with declining economies, like Russia's. Here's the kicker -- as this Australian analyst suggests, if the rest of the world doesn't go along with the US's demands, there may be no deal at all, which is even worse than giving in to us dirty Americans. Please note that this article contains the following reference:

The US also wanted credit for planting forests at home and elsewhere, and for selling nuclear power plants to Third World countries anything to avoid the politically painful task of persuading its citizens to change their energy habits. No wonder an outraged green lost it last week and pushed a cream pie into Loy's face.

This is raising my awareness of pie-ing episodes to new heights.

I've received a bit of criticism for being too liberal on the views presented here. That is funny to me, since I have a number of friends who are way farther out on the left wing than I. I've been vilified by people I love for my support for the WTO, although its Intellectual Property rules are clearly awful, and it really ought to not supercede national environmental policy; I have no trust for the government's ability, despite its intentions, to solve most major societal problems, and in most fiscal respects I hew to the Clinton/Perot line of avoidance of deficits and prudence. Above all, I'm really a libertarian, with a firm line drawn at the places governments should intervene such as avoidance of market failures, consumer protection, and protection against "externalities" that miss out on a market equation, such as pollution and other environmental destruction. Which is, among other reasons, why I couldn't vote for Harry Browne, since he would eliminate the SEC and other arms of the government that actually accomplish some good things.

That being said, I can't help but be sorry for the Pandas recently leased to the Washington National Zoo for a cool $1 million a year. This is ridiculous. The few pandas left in this world deserve more than to be cheap (er, expensive; but still the zoo will make money on this deal) publicity tool for a zoo that recently lost its other two pandas (one of whom loved Starbucks muffins)and suffered greatly in the PR engines of the press for the shooting last year. To further enhance my reputation as an extremist, I offer this link to PETA's argument why zoos are cruel, unusual, and counterproductive.


I'm leaving work early today to go to the doctor and get a physical. I haven't had a proper checkup like that in years and years. I'm somewhat nervous about it, just because I hate doctors and think they're quacks. No, really. Think about it -- you live in your body constantly. You show up at a doctor, they see you for five minutes, and suddenly they know more about your body than you do? That's crap.

Back in the early nineteenth century, when doctors were still treating things by bleeding patients, a doctor named Sylvester Graham began a revolutionary movement where he encouraged people to start taking care of themselves. Dr. Graham is best known perhaps for his invention of the Graham Cracker, which was part of a healthy, vegetarian diet he invented (partly to curb masturbation, which was bad in his universe; sure, he was a nut). Graham and his followers, including John Harvey Kellogg, would revolutionize American eating habits, although the damn doctors got everyone's confidence back by curing a disease or two (...lousy penicillin...). Kellogg, too, was a nut:

It's quite likely, though, that the doctor was in some way dysfunctional... After breakfast every morning, he had an orderly give him an enema. This may mean he had klismaphilia, an anomaly of sexual functioning traceable to childhood in which an enema substitutes for regular sexual intercourse. For the klismaphile, putting the penis in the vagina is experienced as hard, dangerous, and repulsive work.

Ok, alrighty then. I got to thinking about Graham, Kellogg, and the wellness movement through history because I found this link by nutty doctor Joel Wallach. Wallach thinks that doctors are quacks, too, motivated solely by insurance money and inflated prices. This speech is called "Dead Doctors" and focuses around hotshot doctors that drop dead while normal people keep on chugging. He believes that every single natural death is caused by a nutritional deficiency. I had a lot of fun reading this piece imagining Ross Perot as the speaker.

Well, when I practised for 12 years up in Portland, somebody'd come to me with a headache. Never had one, and I'd just walk up to them and tap them on their sinuses, and if they collapsed to their knees, they'd know they had a sinus headache. "Oh Doc, why'd you do that?" Well, that's a cheap lab test. Then if they had blood dripping out of their nose, it would take a $35 x-ray to see if they had a cancer in there. 35 bucks and a free lab test as opposed to 421 bucks.

Nonetheless, this article is not only highly entertaining, but you never know; he could very well be right.
On the other hand, these "do it yourself" health types are the root of our societal preoccupation with the bowels, and they scam our money, blah blah blah. So my bottom line is to remain skeptical and hope nothing major is wrong with me.

Assuming everything about you is average, you can get the date of your demise via the Death Clock. Featuring settings for Normal, Pessimistic, and Sadistic. Assuming I'm normal, I'll kick the bucket on December 29, 2048. (Link found via a very old MeFi post.

If you need to know whether "normal" is the right setting, why not ask a Magic 8 ball? The twist on this one is that it claims to use a robotic cradle to actually turn the 8ball as you wait. It's pretty cool. Via Blue Ruin. (Crap. It says I should have used "pessimistic," meaning I'm supposed to croak on December 7, 2033)


It's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Our company, always sensitive to racial issues, is of course open. As noted before, my work environment is all-male, all-white, and offensive.

I'm reminded of the Chris Rock monologue when he noted that every city seems to have a MLK BLVD, and that despite King's legacy of nonviolence and empowerment of the black community, the street named after him always seems to be the most violent street in town. That certainly seemed true in Portland, where MLK is the main thoroughfare in NE. I also find it interesting that city planners are also aware of this phenomenon, and in some cases are attempting to fight the stigma with pro-active policing.

Tangential at best: The state of Rhode Island, which is the smallest, has the longest name. Officially, it's Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The Providence Journal is reporting that a MLK breakfast became an impromptu forum to discuss changing the name to remove the "plantations" part, which some Afro-American leaders say is a racist throwback. I admit to being puzzled by this, since it seems at first blush a misplaced source for outrage, kind of like the controversy over the word niggardly that broke out a couple of years ago. After all, the Providence Plantations portion of the name is in the Constitution, and certainly doesn't refer to the type of plantations widespread in the south. If I'm reading this wrong, call me on it.

I've been communicating with my old friend Michael, who now lives in England. Back in The Day, Michael and I had a friendly rivalry on the Oklahoma high school debate and extemporaneous speaking circuit. We were evenly matched always and neither one of us did substantially better than the other. After graduation, Michael went to Harvard and I was rejected at Georgetown, making me eternally bitter towards those Jesuits and their admissions process. I'm glad to hear he's doing well. Michael, here's an alternate map to the London tubes, so you can get around easier.

Gratuitous LAPI: Men fight after girlfriends get busy and won't let them join in. This is out of the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World. Why do I think no story like this will ever appear in the Norman Transcript? (from the Obscure Store & Reading Room)


I took a day off from blogging to recharge my creativity battery. It was a Good Thing. I also took the time to clean up my links to the left and post a new section to the DSB. Gratuitous plug alert: Jeff got a story published in In These Times about the Seattle newspaper strike. Good work, Jeff, although too bad about the strike ending just as the article was published.

Republican Hypocrisy 101. John Ashcroft, now target number 1 of progressive types among the Bush nominees, may have used his influence to spring a nephew accused of smuggling dope. This is just about par for the course amongst the GOPers. For instance, our (former) senator Rob Grams' son was released without being charged after an incident involving ten sacks of pot found in his (stolen) car. After the news media picked up the story, the county did go back and charge him, but I have no doubts that nothing would have happened if it wasn't for the fact that it was leaked to the press. Even Grams couldn't get his son out of this one, however. Morgan stole a car, stole a shotgun, fled to New Mexico and finally got busted by the pigs while hiding in a culvert. I haven't heard what his status is now.

Grams is hardly the only Republican to stiffen sentences while springing his progeny. Other Republicans with family drug problems include:

--Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), whose son Todd received half a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 and 1/2 years in prison for smuggling 400 pounds of pot, despite failing three drug tests (cocaine) while out on bail. Cunningham has supported the death penalty for smugglers.

--Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), whose son Claude was arrested for carrying 13.8 grams of hash. Shelby has continued to support anti-drug initiatives, despite the fact that some of them could have detrimental effects on his son's health:
"The senator may find it hard to be stoic if his drug-fighting colleagues in the House have their way,"
said Monica Pratt, . . . referring to the "Drug Importer Death Penalty Act" (HR 41). . . which would mandate a life sentence without parole for offenders who import "100 usual dosage amounts" of a controlled substance, and a death sentence for such offenders with a prior conviction for a similar drug offense . The measure does not define what amounts constitute "100 usual dosages." Pratt said, "Under this broad definition, Claude Shelby's 13.8 grams of hashish could be enough to qualify him for life imprisonment. . . . The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines provide that 1 gram of hashish is the equivalent of 5 grams of marijuana and that 1 gram of marijuana is two doses.

It's not a stretch to argue that such a low threshold for a death sentence (i.e., second offense of less than two ounces of pot = death penalty) is fascist.

--Rep J.C. Watts (R-OK), whose sister get only a suspended sentence after being arrested for possession and distribution of marijuana, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, and maintaining a property where drugs were kept. She pleaded guilty to six drug-related counts in March 1998.

--Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whose wife was diverted to a treatment program after she admitted stealing Percocet from a humanitarian organization.

--Rep Dan Burton's (R-IN) son was given community service after being arrested twice with pounds of reefer in his car.

Arianna Huffington (a recovering Republican, as she terms herself) has a great idea on the direction Bush should take the drug war. After all, it's arbitrary, capricious, violates the Posse Comitatus act (BTW: link from the Cato institute, about as far right a think tank out there), and costs a colossal amount of money for failing miserably.

Off the topic, unconfirmed, very funny: a review of the Dave Matthews Band in concert. Via popcultureslut.


There's an inventor named Dean Kamen who has a new, secret invention being discussed at Metafilter. Yadda yadda yadda, that's all cool -- but what I find more interesting is the fact that he bought an island off of the coast of Massachusetts and has declared it independent:

When Kamen wanted to erect a wind turbine on North Dumpling and the state of New York
objected, he seceded from the US. Though the secession has never been officially
recognized, he signed a nonaggression pact with his friend, then-President George Bush,
and enlisted Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's as "joint chiefs of ice cream."
North Dumpling has its own flag, its own anthem, a one-ship navy, and its own currency.
One bill, which Kamen carries in his wallet, is the value of pi. "You can't make change for
it," he says with a grin. "It's a transcendental function."

What's crazy is that there is actual precedent for this. Off the coast of Britain there is a former anti-aircraft platform that has been occupied since 1967 by a minor member of royalty. As the official website notes, a court decision in 1968 more or less upheld the functional independence of Sealand, and since the rise of the internet, it's become a major haven for offshore data management. A picture, and more information about Sealand, can be found here.

This sounds like a fine idea. It's surprising to think just how many private islands are for sale. If you have a few million to burn, might as well get one. I like this one. And, if you need a truly impressive way to get there, why not get your own private luxury submarine?

I wish this private country was real. It sounds like fun.

Hagbard Celine, where are you? (Yes, the irony of the Amafnordzon link is intentional.)

As promised, the always popular lesser known blog review:

I've discovered one thing about the 'net, which is whenever you post any reviews of someone, they will read it. It's inevitable. For example, when I posted my comment about the awards phenomenon, I mistakenly referred to the giver of the Millenium Medley Awards as a guy. I was swiftly rebuked in a very snarky manner by the lady, and wasn't even sent a response to what I thought was a gracious apology (and swift correction). Gee, thanks.

Nonetheless, I am not deterred. First, two sites I like: The Cub4blog is a Gay Blog. I enjoy it primarily because of the writer's penchant for ABBA lyrics. It also uses the same Blogger template as me, which is apparently pretty popular. Eric's page is a fine Blogspot blog that I've enjoyed as well. It's well written and tends towards the wordy side, which is always a plus.

Two sites that are irritating expressions of teen angst (whether done by teens or not; one never can be too sure): This is the best argument yet for me getting a new template. Puh-lease get over it. Now. You too. The latter site is one of those that pops up weird differently sized windows whenever you'd like to do something, which is a good enough reason to shun it.

Finally, if you have to have irritating frames in your blog, and you don't write much original content, you can still redeem yourself by having some good links. Case in point. (Addendum: since I posted this, the Cub4Blog posted something pretty offensive. I'm not going to censor, but ugh. Oh, and the first crappy teen angst blog I reviewed changed templates, making my comment irrelevent)


First one down. Linda Chavez will apparently step down after violating the Zoe Baird rules. Labor Unions were understandably peeved that she was nominated in the first place for the Department of Labor:

Ms. Chavez doesn't even attempt to conceal her disdain for the labor movement. Just last summer she wrote, "Union members are hardly representative of the American working public."(From the next link)

Personally, I would like a new rule for nominees: Anyone who has ever hired domestic help, Guatamalan, El Salvadoran, Irish, or whatever should be excluded. Calling Merry Maids once a year does not count. I want a quick count of all those out there who have domestic help. And they say this Cabinet "looks like America." What crap.

Who's next? (NY Times, free registration required) Gale Norton, nominated to head the Department of Interior, is a former lobbyist for the Lead industry:

Almost as soon as the announcement was made the wire services were crackling with stories about her lobbying efforts on behalf of a lead-paint manufacturer that is facing numerous lawsuits. The company was identified as NL Industries of Houston. It used to be called the National Lead Company. According to The Associated Press,"The company said it has been named a defendant in suits involving 75 Superfund or other toxic-waste sites, plus a dozen lawsuits involving children allegedly poisoned by lead paint."

Maybe her? On the other hand, there's the Oil lobbyists and executives, who now occupy the presidency, vice presidency, Commerce, and countless other posts. She might be too much like the rest to be singled out. I've already posted two links about how much Ashcroft sucks, so I'll leave that to everyone else.

The Christianity Today weblog is very interested in the religious lives of our political figures. In this episode, Clinton gives a 13 minute sermon and GW Bush personally witnesses for thirty minutes. (Link cribbed from Metafilter, which frankly has been kind of boring recently)

An outgoing columnist, Stephen Pollard, recently wrote his last column for the (British) Daily Express. As you will see by the highlighted letters, there's a bit of a message there for the Express's hated owner, Richard Desmond. Unfortunately, his new employer caught onto this particular act of rebellion and sacked him before he even started. Please note the prosaic fashion used to describe what was written:

The first letter of the first four (sentences) spelled what one Sunday newspaper described yesterday as "an Anglo-Saxon expletive more commonly found on the lips of Liam Gallagher than in the paper that was once the voice of Queen, country and empire".

Those wacky Brits.

I'm about due for another "lesser-known blog review." Look for it tomorrow.


I work with a gang of men. There are a total of two women at my office that I even speak to, and they work upstairs (I'm in the dungeon, er, basement) for a total interaction time of less than ten minutes a day. All of the technicians at the company are men, and the other two parts employees are too. Maybe that's why I hear the kind of offensive comments I do. If these men were restrained by mixed company, they would likely not use such terrible fucking language, not be offensive towards minority groups of all types, and generally be more couth. Many of my friends here make fun of me for originally hailing from Oklahoma. They cite the usual stereotypes of ignorance, racism, and redneckedness, yet I have heard more offensive comments here than ever in Oklahoma. I asked Pete, one of the technicians, what holiday fell one week from today (sure, I knew I'd get an inflammatory response. I remembered last year). "Nigger day," he responded, without missing a beat. How does one respond to that? Of course I tell him his views are offensive and stupid, but he knows that. He claims that some of his good friends are "niggers." It's tough to reason with someone who doesn't agree with some basic assumptions of modern civilization. Not only that, but in Oklahoma I never heard any anti-Semitic comments, probably because there aren't many Jews. Here, I hear many of the very traditional stereotypes in a derogatory fashion. And Minnesota is supposed to be tolerant.

Links Appealing to the Prurient Interest (LAPI): Over at the New York Post they got wind of Mamie Van Doren's web page, where she does the ol' kiss 'n' tell bit about the various stars she did the Humpty Hump with. Among her revelations: Jack Palance is a stud, Jack Webb raped her, and Tom Jones has a small johnson. While I'm on the subject, Jeff sent me to Ring Rats, which is (supposedly) a web page devoted to girls who like to sleep with pro wrestlers. Jeff is the last person I would expect to be into a sport as Neolithic as pro wrestling, seeing as he attends protests, writes freelance articles for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and as I have mentioned before, oozes indy and lefty cred. Jeff also sent me to Ugly People, which again, is not PC but is oh-so-funny. Another LAPI: Apparently, Fox's new show, Temptation Island, had its participants get tested for STDs before unleashing them on each other.

"This is not a show, as you will see, that is about sex,'' said Sandy Grushow, chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group. "This is a show that is exploring the dynamics of serious

Presumably Sandy kept a straight face while saying that. Just so I don't get a complex from posting all the LAPIs on this presumably sober, serious weblog, here's an interesting explanation why Frank Keating, the governor of Oklahoma, who spent the last year and a half campaigning for and sucking up to George W Bush, is not going to get a White House appointment. Boo hoo.


At some point last night the good folks at Blogger got the first new server. I imagine the skies cleared, the birds sang, and for one brief shining moment a beatific peace and silence fell over the whole blogging world and a heavenly host of angels sang. In other words, we're back to full steam. You'll notice that since the Great Leap Forward I've added some key features I've been putting off. Please note that Hobbsblog II now has archives, located to the left. Also, I've installed a discussion system powered by Blogvoices, which was remarkably easy to put in.

Bill Clinton has begun demonstrating to all the Nader supporters out there the difference between a Democratic and Republican president. First, he's just announced a huge new package of logging restrictions over the National Forest system. Among the features of this executive order are
-- bans on new roads in roadless areas;
-- protection for nearly all of the Tongass national forest in Alaska, which just happens to contain 14% of the world's total acreage of temperate rain forest;
-- designation of a total area of forest off limits to logging greater than the total area of the National Park system

Those who think Bush would even consider doing something like this may now stand on their heads.

Sure, there are parts of this order that may not go far enough. There is a grandfather clause allowing timber sales that have been approved to go through, and there is a thinning provision designed to allow for fire abatement that could be abused, but overall this may be the single most important environmental executive order ever. Clinton has covered his butt well, too, by waiting over a year for the "public discussion" phase of his initiative to go through. Many groups are near hysteria over this initiative, and that's fine with me. Among the criticisms is that Clinton's order doesn't count old dirt tracks as roads. "You would think that a road would be safe from being declared a "roadless" area and threatened with Wilderness," says that previous page I linked. Say what? How does an area get "threatened" by wilderness? These people are weird. Clinton also has sparked rightist hysteria with other executive orders that prohibit hate crimes against federal employees, declarations of federal authority over threatened rivers, and the enormous Escalante national monument declaration back in '96 (which was everyone's stock non-uniqueness answer on a Clinton Cred disad -- whoops, sorry for the debate lingo).

The only question now is whether the Shrub can stop these new areas when he gets into office. I hope not. That's what gridlock is for, baby. Here's the great part: Clinton probably will announce more of these land grabs, sending those on the right into apoplectic fits. Enjoy it while you can, because here come the big Oil executives.

Ok, I am not sure what to say about this. My mom likes weird links, too, and occasionally sends them to me. There is no way I would ever have found this one if she hadn't sent it to me. I probably wouldn't have posted it, either, because I have a standard for links I post, and that standard is: would it make my mother blush? Mom, I guess I underestimated ya. With no further ado, the online museum of menstruation.


Blogger is glacial. I'd just like to point that out.

The DSB now has three posts, but due to Blogger's format, the chronology is bizarre. I'd like it to format in a chronological fashion latest post on the bottom. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be an option. I'm going to need to figure out how to alter the code. Suggestions are appreciated.

Why are there so many personality tests on the web? Testing in general really seems to be popular. We test our schoolchildren every year, with huge stakes involved. Unfortunately, test taking often means lowering the learning that happens in classrooms. The same seems to be true about personality tests, too.

This one purports to tell the "Emotional IQ" of the test taker, with ten (10) multiple choice questions. All right!! I got an 80 out of 200. I am emotionally retarded.

This one is much better. It's longer, and goes more in depth. It's still stupid, mind you, but in some cases (I've had friends and family take it) it actually seems to get stuff right. This is a new version of one I've taken before, so I can't post my results until I re-take it.

This one is the worst of them all. It claims to gain insight into your mind based on what order you click on colors. This particular page is a ripoff of the original, which has suffered from link rot. I haven't bothered to take this faux version, but rest assured that the original didn't tell me anything about myself.

Gratutitous link appealling to the prurient interest: Do nipples have erectile tissue?
From the fine Dr. Karl's Homework Page. Other entries answer such questions as, "Do bullets fired up gain enough velocity on the way down to hurt you?" (yes) From the excellent bOING bOING.

I'm going to install a discussion function this weekend. Some of my regulars have agitated for it.


Blogger is running slowly if at all today. I'll be pleasantly surprised if this posts.
The Dynamic Storytelling Blog is up and running. My good friend Aleava has bravely written the first installment. I got the idea for a progressive web story from an old game that me and my old roommate Dave Noyes would play with our friends in college. We'd write a paragraph, fold over the page until only the last sentence showed, and then pass it on. The results were always hilarious. Aleava has taken this one and run with it hard in the fantasy vein. The members will write their pieces as they/we see fit, and the next will pick it up and run with it. It should be fun.

The Sooners indeed won last night, 13-2. Somehow I doubt that Norman will break out into any rioting, but you never can be too sure.

When I started this weblog mid November, I knew for sure who my audience was. My mom, my dad, my sister, my brother, and about a half dozen friends. Something happened between then and now and many more people now read this. That leads me to a key problem in writing a log or anything else, for that matter: the question of audience. This writers' page has you ask these key questions before doing any writing:

Who are my readers?
I just said, I really don't know.

How well informed are my readers about the subject?
When I started, not at all. Others that are coming onto my page are well ingrained in the weblogging oeuvre, so I don't have to do the remedial type posts I once did. Otherwise, I'm kind of lost. For instance, those in the weblog circle will know instantly what I mean if I talk about memes while those not in the know will respond like I did when I first saw it the word.

How interested and attentive are they likely to be?
Ha, ha. I know what kind of a surfer I am. Each page has approximately 15 seconds to justify itself or wham! I'm outta there. Thus, I try to have something funny or engaging (or appealing to the prurient interest) just about every day so people with short attention spans don't lose interest.

What is my relationship to them?
I don't know. See above.

So, basically, I don't know who I'm writing to or what I'm doing. That is super appropriate considering I don't know anything about the tech side of the blog equation either.

Quick links:

This is the story of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I'm sure you've seen snippets of the video.

Jeff and I ran a debate case advocating this. Basically this organization wants to create a huge area in the plains where the bison can roam.

How do I make so much snot when I have a cold? I'm glad someone is handling the important questions out there.

Incidentally, you produce less mucus than you may think.
One experiment showed that on the peak day of a cold the average person produces about 14 grams
of drippings, or roughly half an ounce.


Orange Bowl Special Edition

Tonight is the Orange Bowl between the Florida State Seminoles and the Oklahoma Sooners. I was thinking about the mascots involved and realized there's a bit of synergy between the historical and sporting terms used.

The Seminoles are a tribe of Native Americans originally local to north Florida and south Georgia, and one of the tribes called "Civilized." That designation was used to describe those Native tribes that readily adopted agriculture and other aspects of Euro-American heritage. Nonetheless, the Seminole were different even from the other four "civilized" tribes in that they accepted runaway slaves as members, and also because they stayed and fought, rather than peacefully, if not voluntarily moving. One of the most famous chiefs of the Seminole was Osceola, who probably wasn't even a Seminole by birth, but led a long lasting guerrilla campaign against the US army. This site has a synopsis of the Seminole wars, which lasted for thirty years and ended with attrition of the Seminole down to low levels, and not the outright surrender and removal to the designated reservation spot, which just happened to be in the Indian Territory that is now Oklahoma. I especially like that site because it has the color of horses listed for the various soldiers in platoons.

So that's who the Seminoles are named for. The use of Native American iconography and names for sporting mascots has been an issue that has gotten a lot of press recently. Most schools (including the U of Oklahoma) have eliminated native American mascots in recent years, but not Florida State. In fact, Florida State has initiated a fairly large PR campaign to rehabilitate their use of the Seminole name, and more specifically their on-field mascot, who just happens to be named Osceola. On the FSU fans page there is a message from a past Florida State president that acts as an official apology (original definition) for the use of said imagery, and among the justifications is that they consult with the Seminole tribe for only the most authentic clothing:

Over the years, we have worked closely with the
Seminole Tribe of Florida to ensure the dignity and
propriety of the various Seminole symbols we use. Chief
Osceola, astride his appaloosa when he plants a flaming
spear on the 50-yard line, ignites a furious enthusiasm
and loyalty in thousands of football fans, but also
salutes a people who have proven that perseverance
with integrity prevails.

Nonetheless, most Native American activists are not impressed:

Whereas the perspectives expressed are moving, they are nonetheless rhetorically and contextually
empty. To project dignity, honor, respect, strength, and pride onto a manufactured image while
simultaneously displaying an inability to accord those very same things to living Indians seeking to
be heard speaks volumes about just how great the level of miseducation is on this topic.

That being said, it does seem bizarre to me that the OU mascot is the Sooner. Few good webpages out there offer a good definition of a Sooner. Sooners are land thieves. Prior to the land runs (there were five of them between 1889-1893) white settlers who snuck into the land rush areas to stake claims early were Sooners. Why the University or State would want to memorialize a time of widespread lawlessness and enshrine it is beyond me. Moreover, the synergy between inappropriate mascots grows when one considers that the land being stolen belonged to Native Americans, and partially to the Seminoles, some of whom relocated to the central part of the state of Oklahoma.

The other name often associated with our athletic programs is "Boomer," as in Boomer Sooner, the extremely bizarre and stupid fight song. The Boomers were those agitating to steal the land from the native inhabitants. Again, not something you'd want to memorialize.

When one criticizes Native American mascots and iconography for sports teams, you often hear the statement "how would you like it if the Washington Redskins were the Washington Crackers?" Guess what, guys. The Sooners are that derogatory white name. In fact, tonight, when the Sooners battle the Seminoles, the white land thieves will battle the savages. Makes your head spin. I'm not even going to go near the fact that both teams are made up with a majority of African Americans in vastly majority white universities. Why do I like college sports again? Go Sooners. Final irony: due to sideline space considerations, neither side's offensive mascots will be allowed in the stadium.


All right, I'm getting some of the ol' blogging feeling back in my fingers. I've seen more end-of-year retrospectives than I can handle out there on the web. Get over it. Now. The other thing that's beginning to irritate me is the number of "blogging manifestos" or "blog creeds" that I've noticed. This one originally was a post on this Metafilter thread. This one is a particularly bitter one by the Virulent Memes guy, although he swears he's kidding. Creedalism is about where Christianity went wrong, as far as I'm concerned. Each person on this planet is very different, thinks different, and has different tastes and preferences. If people want to write crap, let them. No reason to stay. That doesn't mean we can't make fun of them, for as far as I'm concerned the Web is public space, and if you put your contribution out there, hey, go nuts. But the idea that Wise Authorities can hand down the Mystery of bloggage is crap. This is an art form, a new way to publish, and we're on to something. I'm not sure what, but I know that I'm not listening to anyone on how to do it. Put me on your pages that suck list, I dare you. You'll just increase my hits. One last creed example: This one at least has some helpful comments on those writing a web page. Some of the ideas are very very good, such as a cast list. Once I figure out how to start new pages off this server, I'll do it. However, the appeal to authority is RIGHT THERE in the beginning of the piece: "I've been doing this since 1996." Sorry. Unimpressed. The beauty of the web is the diversity, and I get the idea that we're the proverbial monkeys sitting at the typewriters. Sooner or later, one of us is going to write War and Peace and I doubt anyone will know it at the time. But later. . . .? I think the best thing about weblogging, and what I said on the Metafilter thread mentioned above, is that tens of thousands of weblogs out there are chronicling people's lives to some degree on a daily or weekly basis. This has become a big diary project, valuable anthropologically as well as personally to all the people out there. The Web records things and does it fairly permanently; I can find items I wrote five years ago, removed from context, and pretty bizarre taken apart not knowing what I was thinking. However, with the blog I write my own context, and it becomes much more important in the future. I keep thinking as I write this that in ten years or so during political campaigns the candidates are going to start being harassed about the stuff they posted on the internet as college aged kids. Take this post I wrote April 20, 1995. A) My alias, Chairman Gonzalo, is in "real life" the leader of the Zapatistas in Chiapas. Uh-oh. I must be a communist. B) I argue that artificial life is inevitable. I must be a crackpot. If everyone were to put the things they posted to the history standard, I bet a lot less crap would get put out there. My mook buddy Nathan (see below) is never going to get elected to anything.

Inevitable sideproduct of the "blogger creed" movement is "blogger awards." I've seen two just today: The Bloggies and the Millenium Medley Awards. The latter is just some gal giving out awards; go for it. The former is a popularity contest. I think it's pretty lame, and not just because I will win nothing.

Speaking of the monkeys writing War and Peace, I now have a group of authors assembled for the Dynamic Storytelling Blog. My Portland buddies Aleava and Haygruh are going to do it, as well as my wife Maggie, Sean, and maybe Krista, my sister-in-law (she didn't agree but I think I can bullyrag her into participating). I'll put it together this week and we'll be underway. Write me if you are committed to participating and I'll fit ya in. Also wanted: a topic to begin with. I know it's going to go in bizarre ways.