Monday, April 28, 2008

The Indignity of Being ME

I am thankful that this week marked the reconnection with one of my oldest and best friends, and it occurred to me that he's got a pretty damned good memory and a lot of exposure to me in my youth- yeah, no shortage of material. So with that being said, I thought it wise to tell some of the more mortifying tales before he reminds Schmoopie of them (ha! - like SHE'D blog), and in this way I can at least try to explain myself.

Part one- the Joker.

There was a 7-Eleven down the street from us that sold beef jerky. I'm a sucker for beef jerky, or venison jerky, or buffalo jerky- anything that can be "jerkied". Except 7-Eleven sold bad jerky, from sinewy delinquent cows I guess. It looked like big patches of bark from a sickly brown Sycamore more than conventional beef jerky. It was rigid and stale, but by God, it was jerky. $1 for a roughly 4"X8" slab. I like things sold by the slab. So one fine day, I'm filling up the car with said friend and Schmoopie, and I added a slab o'meaty delight to the bill.

It was a self serve kind of affair- a lucite box with a hinged lid, where anyone could open it, sneeze in it, paw about with their grubby ebola mitts- whatever. You bought a slab and you took your chances. I happened to choose a slab with a "spur"- that is to say, a barb of hardened meat. The "shiv" of the cow. The point of which was not completely parallel with the plane of the slab.

I took my peppered meat plank triumphantly to the car where "TM" (his blogger handle) and Schmoopie were patiently waiting and I took a manly bite. Incisors and bicuspids will only get you so far with these things and in order to pare off a mouth-sized portion, I pulled the slab to the side. With a snap, it splintered free like plywood, and the spur/shiv of meat raked across my face from the edge of my mouth toward my ear. Bleeding. I made myself look like the Joker from Batman on one side. I'd once again hurt myself with food.

This is an artists rendering of the sad result. I was mocked ever after.


Bee You Tee Full

Click here. This is poetic.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Mac Icon Experiment

So I took my first stab at making Mac OS X icons- I needed a set for this USB / Firewire 800 disk enclosure I bought from It's an IOGear Z-GHE835C. Why do I mention this? Google tends to crawl blogs pretty well, and if some other Mac user goes searching for an icon file for his/her enclosure, this link will save them the time and effort.

Also, if you have a "brand x" or offbeat enclosure or other thingy needing an icon, and you have a good picture of it, let me know. If I have time, I could make other device-specific icons.

Oh incidentally, it's an .icns file, and unless you use Candybar, or some other icon tool application, you may need this tool to open it in the way you expect.

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Things I've Learned About Food

Butter is better than margarine.

Smoked Gouda is better than both unsmoked Gouda and Edam.

Shredded Parmesan is better than grated and Romano sucks.

Provelone is better than Mozarella in most cases.

Cheez-Its are better than Cheese Nips

Grape is the least appealing jelly.

Marmalade is kinda gross.

So is braunsweiger.

And I don't care how much better it is for you- tuna packed in water is too dry.

What am I missing?


Monday, April 21, 2008

Knowledge =/= Intelligence

So Ben Stein is trying to make a Michael Moore of himself these days, and is using the subject of Intelligent Design as his subject matter. For fucks sake. Let's see, Richard Nixon's speechwriter and rabid apologist, Stein, an attorney and man who married, divorced, and remarried the same woman, is trying to hitch his wagon to the pseudo-science of Intelligent Design? It's so sad, it's positively poetic. Lest I get on an especially well deserved ad hominem attack, let me be clear on a few things:

* Ben Stein is right behind Henry Kissinger as the biggest person the Jews in the US could do without. I don't believe I have any anti-semitic bias, in fact I may have a pro-semitic bias. I find Jewish folks to be well educated, thoughtful and generous. I'd welcome jews from anywhere to come live here. They are good for a society and they keep their faith to themselves. As a matter of fact, they are obliged to deny you conversion to their faith three times. You hear that, proselytizers?

* Intelligent Design is not science. Bitch all you want, it remains not science. It's not testable, and leads to nothing predictable, and therefore cannot be subjected to scientific study. It's paraphrased faith. If you want to believe in any god(s), fine- we have freedom of (and from?) religion here. Go speak in tongues, give your tithing to stadium church priests, and when the leaders of your faith get caught with hookers/gay male escorts/choirboys/multiple wives/methamphetimines, or call for assassinations, or blame terrorist attacks on gays and feminists, leave me out of it. I think you are all fucking nuts. Seriously. It doesn't mean I can't be polite to you, but I'm thinking on the inside that there is something wrong with you, and gladly excuse you from worrying about my soul.

* When you want to make a "gotcha" documentary, vet your shit. You know someone on the Internet with more time than you is going to look everything up. Michael Moore (who I generally like and many times agree with) can be sloppy at best and disingenuous at worst. Stein takes a page from Limbaugh apparently and just says whatever sensational thing pops in his head, designed to trigger an emotional response. Stupid, easy shit to negate, like that Hitler was an atheist (d'oh! Guess Stein never actually read that piece of shit tome, Mein Kampf, where ole Adolph talks about doing the Lords work- oh and at other times he claimed to be Catholic. They must be proud). While I have not seen the work, I've read quotes that'd make Geraldo blush.

I'm amazed at how much Stein knows without any corresponding intelligence. I'm not talking about the movie specifically- he's been an asshat for years. There is an crippling epidemic I see where the victims cannot or will not apply the process of thought. I don't think Stein is patient zero, but he could be the Typhoid Mary of idiocy. Just remember Ben, it's a small step from "ignorance is bliss" to "arbeit macht frei", you disgraceful fool.

Related- an open letter from Richard Dawkins to a worked up sucker who'd been taken in by the Stein movie. Dawkins has way more composure and kindness than I have. I subscribe to the Beavers Theorum which says "If you don't tell them they are idiots, how will they know?"


I Friggin' Hate Shoes, And You Should Too

I take off my shoes at work and walk around in my socks. People seem to put up with this. I only put my shoes on to go to lunch or the toilet (I mean, who knows what's on the floor in there?). I wear slippers at home that barely exist. I have never liked shoes. Ever. I used to walk around barefoot all the time, and had crazy callouses and life was good. Then I got a job and shit went downhill for my feet. My folks knew a Brit when I was still in my barefoot stage and he apparently had some hangup about it. I don't know if this is a widespread view over there, but his contention was that shoes are the mark of civilization. The more refined the shoe, the more refined the person/society. In the movie Sneakers, there was a bit where they assessed potential clients by the dollar value of the potential clients shoes. Women go ape shit over shoes. Schmoopie says I'm a lesbian (for among other reasons) because I'm such a picky shit about shoes and foot comfort. Irrelephant has some related fetish. I realize I'm WELL in the minority in this shoe deal, but they've got to go.

I read this (lengthy and at times dull) article at NY Magazine that suggests that science may well be on my side in this one. First time for everything, eh?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's Just So Sad, Really

I mean, I have been a Mac proponent for about 7 years now, and in that time I've witnessed Microsoft really screw the pooch on a number of fronts, but this video really only inspires pity. MS is local to me now, and I make my living supporting their wares, so I really don't want to see them totally flame out, but dear lord could they really have less vision? They need a good old fashioned blood letting of management over there in Redmond I think. And some friggin' respect for the UI and user experience. It's just sad.

On a separate note- I bet you can't watch the whole thing. I developed abdominal distress.


In Honor of Gordo's New Hobby

This busy guy was outside my front door doing his thing.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And This Is Why I'm Still Alive

See? I just knew it would pay off. I need to write a book about my "36 Hour Rule" and market it as new-age, holistic, self help. The title? Spank Your Way To Health.

See: "Masturbation 'cuts cancer risk'" a la the Beeb.

All kidding aside, I've a friend who's not doing so well with prostate cancer, and I can't see this sort of thing without thinking of him. If you are a man over 30, go and have Dr. Jellyfinger play with your asshole. Yes, that squishy lube feels weird for a while afterward, but don't be a sexually frightened / repressed pussy. It doesn't make you gay any more than being in a locker room does, and if it saves your life you can blame me for the remainder of your years for victimizing you. I don't care.

It might even give you a new found sense of compassion the next time you want to get your lady "as the Greeks do".


Who Said:

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.

Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense.

(answer in the comments)


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Would I Be Allowed To Take The Dalai Lama To A Titty Bar?

So we went to see this guy yesterday. Meh. Now, I like the guy well enough I guess, but I'm not getting the kind of enlightenment vibe I guess i would have expected from THE Dalai Lama. There were hippies everywhere and the scene was for sure interesting. There were protestors here and there, some blaming the Tibetan people for the suffering at the hands of the Chinese, and claiming that all of the news about the matter was being skewed by western media. Mmmm'okay. Yeah- you betcha. The voice of Beijing is as credible as the voice of W. Then there were protesters about Buddhism- a "false" religion that really pisses God off. There were one or two of these yahoos with some brilliant signs (I should have taken my camera, but the tickets said they weren't allowed). No one could give two shits- and their rants were lonely. One totally ineffective pat down by a security guard later, and we were all in. Schmoopie said she could have smuggled in all kinds of stuff between her boobies. That's a fun mental image.

After everyone thanked everyone else ever, the Dalai Lama finally spoke, and it wasn't great. For starters, it was really hard to hear him, as the P.A. system was for crap. On top of this, his accent is thick (although, props to him for speaking English) and often difficult to follow. Then primarily his subject matter was unremarkable. It doesn't take the enlightened one to know that violence begets violence, nor is he required to explain the many virtues of love. For my money, a whacked out English guy from Liverpool did a better job thirty something years ago in song (as in "All you need is..."). Still- no beef with the message this far. I got a bit distracted by a tattoo'd lady and when I came back around, he was talking about nuclear disarmament. What'd I miss? Seeds of Compassion what? The Lama may have studied for the wrong test.

Sooooo, a guy with no family is telling us all about raising kids, and the representative of a country occupied by foreign invaders is advocating disarmament? Riiight. I'm by no means a fan of nuclear arms, but did no one ever suggest to him that with some defensive abilities, he'd be at home in Tibet right now? Just wondering. It'd be nice to live in a world of peace where everyone was respectful of others, tolerant, and compassionate, but that's contrary to human nature. Take a world of such people and add one who is not, and that one will enslave the rest in due course. People are savage animals, but with a sliver of hope. I think the Lama has been fraternizing with too many kind people and not enough with the basal elements of humanity. Lucky guy.

One thing I was pleased to see was the representation of native american cultures there. They had a Duwamish tribal guy there to talk about this and that, and I thought that he was as engaging and apropos as anything the Lama said. In the history of known cultures on this spinning wet rock, I think the native americans may have been distinctive in terms of their balance with nature (both human and environmental). That's a blanket statement and sure, there were (are?) tribes that were jerks, but overall, I think they were the ones with the right model. Plus, as so many religions require costumes for their leaders- the Dalai Lama with his red and yellow toga deal, priests in black with white collars, televangelists in pimpwear, Mormons and their special underwear, the Pope and his hats/everything, etc.- tell me, if you were rating faiths solely on the outfittings, wouldn't you give "best of show" to these folks?

I would.

Oh yeah, on the bus ride home (where we were packed like friggin sardines- thanks a pantload King County Metro Transit- 50K people downtown to see the Dalai Lama AND a Mariners game- no extra busses/planning was evident) I comment on how touchy-feely the Lama seemed to be with our lady Governor, and Schmoopie reminded me of his praise of women, and some other lady on the bus said "I wonder if that's an endorsement for Hillary?" I piss-shivered.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

I Just Love This Pic

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sorry, I Have To Call Bullshit

Here's where I shit on something apparently wholesome, but I'll explain why I must. You may have heard of the phenomenon ("muhnahmunnah"?) of Randy Pausch, the Carnegie-Mellon computer science professor who has pancreatic cancer and is expected to die any time. When he found out, he decided to give a "Last Lecture" about what he wanted to say/share about his life/views/etc. That has apparently really taken off and is now one of those cliché idiotic "who moved my cheese" groupthink movements that seem to exist just to piss me off.

Now, keep up with me here- I'm sad this 47 year old father of 3 is going to go away, but that's not the story. The story is this Lecture business. I've seen the deal, and I have gripes. In no particular order:

* Arrogant to the end. A lecture. This is the pollution that organized education allows into the mind. That a big room filled with people listening attentively is the way to inspire learning or enlightenment. The Dalai Lama is coming to town, and while he interests me, I'm loathe to go pack myself in somewhere with a bunch of people and not be able to interact or ask questions. Ironic that someone discussing matters of living and dying would choose such a lifeless approach. The best and most significant impressions we make on people, we do directly. This guy and the Dalai Lama will not be listening or reacting. Have these learned folks never heard of Aristotle's Lyceum? Peripatetics? Buehler?

* His flavor of optimism. Yes, there is no doubting that there is a valuable message here- that it is indeed amazing what you can accomplish if you are determined enough to make the effort. I hope that in some backhanded manner I'm able to impart to my babies the gravity of this message. It takes too long in life to realize this, (at least it did in my case) and by the time it's sunk in and registered, so many opportunities have gone by. I'm in total accord with him this far. Here's where I take issue: he has this goofy "dreams will come true" mantra and disposition that grates on a pragmatist such as myself. Do I believe the world is fucked up, and getting worse? For the most part, yes. Do I take that as a reason to give up trying to make things better? No. MLK had a "dream" and it was poetic and beautiful. Did he get to see it? Will my children? No. It's still well beyond our reach, but it's just as worthwhile as it was 40 years ago, and is not diminished even a little bit by not being something that we can realize in this lifetime. His pedantic language about dreams coming true is made for Disney, not the real world, and the dreams of the real world are the ones I treasure.

* Ego trip, party of one. I'm ego-centric and then some, so I'm tuned in to this sort of character flaw. What the fuck does this well-to-do, middle-aged white man know that could mean shit to a poor black kid in Flint, Michigan? "Oh, keep dreaming and bust your ass little fellah, and one day you might not get shot." There are no allowances made in the spirit of "your mileage may vary". The world offers no equity and for some, it's a miserable and pointless slog. I don't point this out to contradict the idea that it is amazing what we can accomplish- I bring this up to help set the scale for what accomplishment is.

* Sadness and happiness are two sides of the same coin. Eventually he (as all of us) will die, and that's how it goes. It's good that he's not living to die, and I credit him for that, but I suspect he may be taking that too far. It's okay to be sad. When did we all decide it wasn't? I don't need anti-depressants, and I bet neither do you. Sometime something is going to really break you down, and you'll be sad. That's a natural part of living, and it inspires a lot of amazing things. Like Rock music? Great, it came out of Blues. You know why they call them Blues? Yeah. It's not my place to tell anyone how to live or how to die, but if I were certain I was due to go soon, I think I'd accept some sadness- more that this guy appears to, for sure. Sadness means something, and to deny sadness is to rob something of it's meaning.

A number of years ago I had some serious troubles with my heart (not cured, but better managed now, thank you) and I was forced to consider what my own mortality meant to me. In the end and selfish as I am, it wasn't for me that I wanted to keep on living- it was for my children. I love my wife and kids dearly, and treasure the time I get to be silly with them, but that's not the same thing. I'm indebted to my kids to try and provide to them what little wisdom I've collected and give them the best start in their lives that I can. I need to try and spark their minds and ignite their free thought and potential. If I was to be told that I had six months to live, I'm sorry gang, but you and the Dalai Lama wouldn't be invited to my "lecture". I'd be with my kids.

I hope Pausch's kids get enough time with him, and yes- his mileage may vary.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Don't Do It

Seriously. Don't click here


World Autism Day (Belated Post)

I've read and seen more than a few people in the last month vehemently denying that there is a connection between vaccinations and Autism (and Apsbergers Syndrome). I like to think of myself as being willing to face truth, no matter how painful or no matter the ego-hit that it causes as a result of my previously held beliefs. Those who have known me for a long time know I'm capable of changing my mind (eg. Capital Punishment), but I need information. I'm an info junkie, and when you tell me something, I'll acknowledge you but won't necessarily accept your views without vetting. In the last month I saw a post on Reddit that begat a wicked shitstorm of debate in the comments about the science of theorizing a connection between Autism and Thymerisol.

I became aware of the idea of a connection years ago because I read all sorts of weird shit. I saw the data and the sources (including some released-but-damned-hard-to-find reports from the FDA and CDC). I believe the connection is true, and is known to be true by some wealthy medical industry concerns- and is being ignored and/or discredited. I believe the Mercury derived Thymerisol preservative causes Autism in some people who are predisposed or more vulnerable than the average. More often than not, these are also very smart people (or their offspring). I wouldn't be shocked if there was a deliberate effort to handicap the brightest among us, but am not set in that view enough to go on a crusade.

So what of Jenny McCarthy up there? Apart from being a complete betty and really funny too, she's a mother of an Autistic boy, and she tells a common tale. In almost every case, Autistic children are normal by all measures until around two years old, when the litany of vaccinations start. She's ballsy enough to say what has not yet been accepted, but could well be factual- that we (culturally) are poisoning our children. Good on her.

As for the folks that actively disagree with me on this, let me tell you a similar tale. Once upon a time, someone thought smoking tobacco might cause cancer. The tobacco companies had the idea pretty early on too, and they themselves commissioned studies and found that it appeared to be so. Then they hid this information for years and years while their customers died, and if someone dared suggest that they were causing cancer, that person was paid off, threatened, or killed. Then at one point someone with balls enough to withstand their threats and extortion, proved the fraud in court. The truth came out, and is now accepted as common knowledge. Yes, I've perhaps over-distilled the story, but you get the idea. What distinguishing differences are there between the tobacco companies of 20-30 years ago, and the big pharma outfits of today? What wouldn't they do to protect themselves. Ask Dr. Peter Rost. He'll tell you.

Rave on, Jenny McCarthy, and if you could take your clothes off while you do, that'd be better still. Sha-wing!

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