Monday, January 31, 2005

And It's Mac-Only - Heh Heh

This looks, well, tasty: Delicious-Monster. It's all explained here.

Gag Order

Have you ever wanted to peruse 40 online photo galleries of airplane Barf Bags? Me neither. But someone else has, just in case you change your mind: The Vomitorium.

They Love Mullets

A website that's just as endearing as the Mullets they celebrate: Mullet Lovers.

Summa Theillogica

It seems that Jesus - the very Son of God himself - speaks personally and directly to Greek Orthodox-born Vassula Rydén, and what's more, she's written down those messages - dating back to 1986 - to share with the world.

Vassula implies on her website that His Holiness Il Papa has given his imprimatur to her pronouncements, but Father Maurice Levesque, of Saskatoon, offers a cautionary view of Vassula and her ministry, along with links to Vatican documents which the Padre seems to believe support his position.

Vassula, for her part, posts what she seems to think to be confirmation of a state of cordial relations with one Bishop Ratzinger, and presents her reasons why those who might try "to hush down God's Voice" - presumably as channeled through Vassula - are engaged in Mortal Sin.

(Hey, listen, I'm not even Catholic, but with the eternal fate of my soul at stake, I'll leave it to you good readers to draw your own conclusions regarding Madame Rydén.)

Chrenkoff's Good News - Part 20

(Even more) Good News From Iraq.

Be A Lion, Not A Mowess...

Powerline's Big Trunk explains Mark Dayton, and why right-thinking Minnesotans will be helping the Senator collect his Senate pension in 2006.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

I'm Melting!

Tales of a Wandering Mind points to a Democratic Underground post, where the zanies discuss the Iraqi elections, and try hard to find a cloud in the silver lining.

Compare And Contrast

From The Evangelical Outpost, with thanks to Shot In The Dark for the tip.

This Is So Very Cool

I quote from today's post on Iraq The Model, in its entirety - and how could I not?

The people have won.

We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can't describe the feelings we've been through but we'll try to share as much as we can with you.

We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:

"You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's".

This was a good sign indeed and the young officer's statement was met by applause from the people on the street.

The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ' patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer!

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.

We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that.

From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!

Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.

I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?"

Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?

Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.

The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis s far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.

I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!

These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.

Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people's will.

God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom.

Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq.

Mohammed and Omar.

I congratulate Mohammed and Omar, and all peace-loving Iraqis, on their first step towards democracy. But I also congratulate my President and his staff, and the Armed Forces of the United States - and those who chose in our own elections to send him back to the White House - as well as those leaders and troops of our coalition forces, all of whom helped make this day possible. The nay-sayers and doom-sayers, the hate-America-firsters - and most, ahem, I mean least, of all Michael Moore, I spit on his tennis-shoes - will never give credit where credit is due, but I will.

Go Iraq, go!

(Janette has a great photo in her post on the subject.

Did He Really Say That?

Colo. Regents Weigh Prof's 9/11 Comments.

You can read the full essay that sparked the controvery here. Aside from being extremely poorly written - nearly incoherent, in fact - what did the, ahem, learned professor of Ethnic Studies write that got the overlords so upset? Oh, not much, really. Well, ok, maybe something really ignorant and bizzare. How about this excerpt, for example:
There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill [of being innocent civilians]. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire – the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to "ignorance" – a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it.
Yup, you read right. The victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attack had it coming, you see. They were Little Eichmanns. Little Eichmanns, he calls them. Nazis. The victims of that attack, who were from nearly one hundred diffirent nationalities, Christian, Muslim, Arab, Jew, Asian and African - and probably Native American, like the professor - were all Nazis. Well. We can all pray together that the Almighty may have mercy on his tortured soul.

While I recognize he may be virtually untouchable, given his tenure and all, and that he has a right to express his political views, why does the public have to pay for his right to do so? And what were the Regents and Faculty thinking by granting such a goofball tenure AND making him Department Chair? Talk about the chickens coming home to roost, indeed. Just because his position as professor is secure doesn't mean he should not be subjected to deserved ridicule and reprimand in the arena of public opinion. And he'd be strongly advised whenever in New York City to not ever need the services of the NYPD or the NYFD.

Just remember the words of that great American, Forrest Gump: stupid is as stupid does.

(You can read more puerile neo-Marxist nonsense in an interview conducted with the aggrieved professor here. Professor Bainbridge weighed in the subject this past Thursday here. And there's a good post on the subject at Wudndux. Check Technorati for what other Blogs are saying.)

Who Killed The Radio Star?

It seems like nearly everyone I know - or at least their kids - downloads most or all of their music off the net, or just copies their friends' CD's. I dunno. While I know it's considered a bit old-fashioned, I still like owning real (official) recordings by the artists I like. Even so, I'm loathe to criticize anyone for purloining their music.

When I was a college whelp, we used to make cassette copies of all our friend's albums. And several local FM stations would play whole sides of albums of a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes five or six albums' worth.

The DJ would run a few commercials and tell everyone to cue up their tape decks for the latest albums by the Eagles, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Heart, etc. It was a great way to build a tape collection of music I couldn't possibly have otherwise afforded.

Yet even back then, we heard the 'blah-blah-blah' about how the blank tapes were killing the recording industry. And when CD's first came out, the industry tried to stop record stores from selling used CD's, ostensibly because people would tape those CD's before they sold them to the store. Nowdays kids just take their iPods and laptops to their friends' houses and just copy the CD's. And nowdays the RIAA will tell you that it's blank CD's and DVD's that are killing music industry. How little things change.

Of course these days, the Internet really does make music sharing so much easier. In recent past it was the (old) Napster, and now it's Kazaa and Morpheus and Gnutella and Limewire and IRC and iMesh and eDonkey and Grokster - as I've heard. So, it's really the Internet that is killing the recording industry.

Nonsense.

It was the same 25 years ago as it is today. Corporate malfeasance and artistic shabbiness is the source of the industry's troubles, not the crooked customer. And yet, even so, the music business hasn't been destroyed any more than I've been able to destroy the mice that live in the walls of my house. Napster did far less damage to the music industry than the corporations themselves have done, by their bungling and greed. The odd thing is, that despite all the file-sharing options out there, when someone comes out with a good recording, full of good songs, the masses will still buy commercially-packaged music by the millions.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Between Iraq And A Great Place

Captain Ed has been blogging the Iraqi Elections, so you and I wouldn't have to. There's a bunch posts, read 'em all here.

Drinking And Blogging Don't Mix

Mother always told me that alcohol kills, but I never believed her. Now I do. Next time, Doug, try this, instead - and take pix. Maybe this is God's way to telling you that you should... All kidding aside, I'm sorry for your loss.

Another Music Post

One more list of tracks from a compilation CD I made up last year:

01 - U2 - Beautiful Day

It's amazing to see a band as old as U2 - they've been together since the late 70's, with their original lineup - still creating music that's bold and vital. After detouring over the years into R&B and electronica, the band seems to have returned to making the kind of rock anthems that connect with our jaded souls. This song starts and ends with a slow boil, sandwiching a swirling cacophony of sound. Lovely and amazing.

02 - Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head

Didn't you want to call down a pox on the girl the first time you heard this? The song's got a beat and a hook as addictive as crack and almost as hard to kick. In her mid/late 30's, Kylie still has the looks that make men weak, and women envious. She's obviously playing the part of a vixen, but she is smart enough to know that it's all done with smoke and mirrors. This song of obsession is smoldering reminder of why dance music was king in the 70's.

03 - Sixpence - Don't Dream It's Over

I think I've decided that I like this version better than the Crowded House original; I love Leigh Nash's voice and she does a great treatment of the song. Not only is the tune lovely, but there's more to the lyrics than first appears: 'try to catch the deluge in a paper cup.' Brilliant! So brilliant, in fact, that you'll find the line in the header of this Blog.

04 - Cyndi Lauper - Time After Time

Cyndi made her name with the incredibly boisterous 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun,' but she also had a more serious side, showcased admirably here. Both melancholy and powerful,'Time After Time' was a staple on my stereo some 20 years ago and it still sounds good today - even if it does remind me of a painful breakup during that time of my life.

05 - The Innocence Mission - Brave

I first heard of The Innocence Mission when I received an EP of theirs back in 1986, recorded and released by the band itself. I was intrigued. The group was formed by high school chums from Lancaster, PA who'd met at their local Catholic Church. Lead singer Karen Peris, married to guitarist Don Peris, form the core of the group, once a quartet and now pared down to a trio. Karen's delicate and trembling voice is haunting, and her lyrics are poetic and beautiful. This song is one of my favorites.

06 - Oasis - Wonderwall

Forget all the hooey about the brothers and their fisticuffs. These guys can make music. This song has been referred to by some as one of the best British rock tunes of all time. They'll get no argument from me. I agree. Mr. Gallagher snarls his lyrics with a tenderness that belies his ornery persona. If they never made another great tune, Oasis would still be listed in the Rock and Roll Encyclopedia for this song alone.

07 - Coldplay - Clocks

I've only recently begun to appreciate Coldplay. In fact, I only last summer bought their first two CD's, but I am intrigued by what I hear and I want to hear more. 'Clocks' was one of the songs that made me want to get to know this band. Although the lyric is a bit stilted, in the context of the song, it works.

08 - Bach - Prelude F Minor WTC

The Clavier was not a well-known in Bach's day, and little music existed for it. Bach dashed off two collections of tunes for his students to practice on the new instrument, including this from Book Two. It's a gorgeous and moving piece that shifts effortlessly between minor and major keys, connoting sadness and contentment. I liked it so much I used it as the centerpiece instrumental solo when I got married.

09 - Dido - White Flag

After the monster-hit Dido had with 'Thank-You,' I wasn't sure she could follow it up with anything of substance. She did. 'White Flag' is a chillingly matter-of-fact statement of emotional obsession. We've all been in love with someone who didn't reciprocate and whom we didn't wish to give up. This song speaks for you, me and all of us.

10 - Johnny Cash - Hurt

Most of my Johnny Cash records are from his early years, and on vinyl, at that. This is one of the few recent songs I have of his. With his weary and unsteady voice, Cash gives this creepy Nine Inch Nails tune an acoustic twist that makes it even more powerful than the original, particularly given the inevitable pain Cash experienced with the the death of his wife June.

11 - Kasey Chambers - Pretty Enough

Kasey Chambers' voice reminds me a little of Victoria Williams or Julie Miller, but she sounds much, much angrier on many of her songs. On this one Kasey sounds downright wounded, vulnerable, perhaps even a bit scared. It's part folk, part country but rings true and speaks to all of us who've ever wondered if we measured up.

12 - Norah Jones - Sunrise

For everyone who wondered if Norah Jones was a one-hit wonder, well, wonder no more. Her new album is actually better than her first. 'Sunrise' is the first track of the new album. With a yawn and a blink of the eyes, it invites the listener to take on the day. And it works.

13 - Nick Drake - From The Morning

It seems every compilation CD I make has a Nick Drake song on it, and this one is no exception. 'From The Morning' is a great closer, showcasing Nick's incredible guitar work and his quiet voice. It is the perfect song to drift off to sleep to.

OK, now I say, go to iTunes, download the songs and burn yourself a copy. I doubt you will regret it.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Overheard

Overheard by me at Barnes & Noble recently, a snippet of a conversation between a father and a teenage daughter, while viewing a pair of shoes modeled on the cover of a fashio
magazine:

Dad: Why did you say you wanted those shoes?

Teenage Daughter: Because they go with my outfit.

Dad: I thought you said they were really uncomfortable and hurt your feet.

Teenage Daughter: Yeah. But they go with my outfit.

Dad: Lets Out Heavy Sigh.

Spam

Somebody sent me this:

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Now that's Spam I don't mind.

Go Iraq, Go!

Mohammed, from Iraq The Model posted a touching tribute yesterday to the upcoming elections in his country. I reproduce it here, without permission, and without apology.

Go Iraq...go!

Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history.

It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes.

There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future.

But at the same time we're full of hope as we know that we've put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again.

No more tyrants ruling the country for decades.

We're standing before a historic moment and I won't be exaggerating if I said that it's an important moment for the whole world; we're standing before a crossroads and everyone should watch and learn from the rebirth of Iraq.

Regardless of the winners in the se elections, those who opposed the elections and resisted the change will have to deal with the new reality.

In 48 hours from now, the dying dictatorships and their filthy tools, the terrorists, will find themselves facing an elected legitimate government in Iraq.

The tyrants nightmare is becoming reality, now they will have to deal with the scariest word in their dictionaries; THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE.

The terrorists have challenged the bravery of the Iraqi people but they messed with the wrong people. The people have accepted the challenge; democracy and elections are not a luxury for Iraqis, it's an issue of life or death. And the terror brutal campaign has only made the people more determined to go on with the change.

The results of some recent polls that have shown how determined Iraqis are to hold the elections might have surprised you, but they weren't a surprise for us; we're not the kind of people that kneel to terror and the sights of blood and beheadings.

Saddam had tried all tools of oppression, killing and torture he could find against our people (including WMD's) but he failed to make the people believe in his hateful regime. And that's why the people abandoned him and now, he and his regime are just a bad old tale from the past.

On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it.

I hope you will join me in wishing Mohammed, his brothers and all of Iraq safe passage and God Speed. Go Iraq, Go!

Common Sense

Janette unleashes a little CS.

Happy Birthday, Dad

My father's birthday is today. He died 19 years ago, in 1986, at 51 years of age, of a massive cardiac arrest. But if he had lived, he would have been 70 today.

My father was a Presbyterian minister, and spent his life preaching, teaching and being of service to others. But he suffered a great deal of heartache in his short life, personally and professionally.

Following the drowning accident - on a family outing in 1966 - that claimed my younger sister's life, my father sank into periodic bouts of deep depression. He castigated himself emotionally for having been unable to save his daughter, and withdrew from his other kids, perhaps in an attempt to shield himself from the possibility of another such catastrophic loss. For the rest of his days, he was a walking bundle of pain.

There was another event that exacerbated his condition: for the last 10 years of his life, he suffered under accusations of professional misconduct made against him by a former colleague in whom he'd once had great trust. Although an investigation by the ecclesiastical authorities showed my father blameless of all charges, and eventually exonerated him, the 10 years it took for the matter to be resolved were extremely hard on him. He was formally pronounced clear of all charges just weeks before he died, but the stress of all those years of living under a cloud of suspicion had taken its toll.

I sometimes wonder if he had lived to see the children of his children - my two daughters and their four cousins, and ones perhaps yet to come - whether he might have experienced some healing in his old age, some of what the old hymn speaks of as the Balm In Gilead. On the other hand, if Heaven is as he taught me, he already has his healing.

Saturday Afternoon

Mrs. Muzzy is working this weekend, and since I'm on Daddy Duty, I took the girls to have lunch with Mommy, at her work cafeteria.

(We've been doing this every weekend she works, for nearly six years now. Given that both kids refused to take bottles for the first few months Mrs. Muzzy was back at work after their births, I had to take them down several times each shift, for nursing. The little one has long since been weaned, but we still try to go down for least one meal each day, since the toddler gets to missing Mommy quite a bit.)

Anyway, after lunch I took the girls to the amusement park, where we walked around coatless in 70-degree weather, through seven tree-filled acres of loud rides and boisterious crowds. Oh, you're wondering if I'm daft, me living in Minnesota, during Winter, and all. Well, I am. But we really did go the amusement park: Camp Snoopy, at the Mall of America. The oldest rode a couple of kiddie rides by herself - Bloomington Express and Truckin' - while her sister and I cheered her on.

Afterwards, we picked up treats at the indoor Holiday Station Store, spent a few minutes at the Apple Store, and then spent a few minutes listening to an Armed Forces recruitment event, where a Navy Rock Band played spot-on cover versions of tunes such as the B-52's Love Shack and and Prince's Musicology. (You haven't lived until you've watch six well-scrubbed men and lady sailors in their best blues, getting down to Love Shack. I thanked them for their service.)

BTW, the Mall of America, for those of you not privileged to be living among us in God's Country, is the not only the largest shopping complex in the country - Canada's West Edmonton Mall is bigger - but MOA is getting an expansion in the next year or two. The current MOA has some 500+ stores, on three levels, surrounding Camp Snoopy, the largest indoor amusement park in the country. And, what's more, The MOA draws more bodies annually than any other single shopping/entertainment complex in the country, including Disneyworld. (MOA photos here.)

The MOA was controversial when it was built, with accusations made that the development of such a MegaMall - as it is sometimes called - would kill off retail in the rest of the Twin Cities, or conversely, that it was doomed to failure, and that it would soon be nothing but a ruin. Neither prediction has come true, although shopping the downtowns of both Minneapolis and Saint Paul has continued a decades-long decline. But Target recently build a two-story downtown store in Minneapolis, at the base of its headquarters, and does booming business, so who knows?

The MegaMall is a nice place to go of a Winter day, especially when it is very cold but sunny outside. Camp Snoopy has a clear roof that allows the sunshine in - and, of course, keeps out inclement weather, as well. There are plenty of rides and food vendors, but there are also several spots with benches, under and beside thousands of real trees and shrubs. On weekdays Camp Snoopy is a little quieter than weekends, and it's a nice place to just sit of a Winter's day and just take in the sun.

Anyway, the girls had a grand adventure and the little one fell fast asleep on the way home, so I've got a few minutes of peace and quiet. The older one is reading, there are no fights going on between sisters, no chasing after a toddler who is hell-bent on breaking things and her bones. It's quite blissful right now. I think I just might go take a nap, myself.

Have You Got The Time?

The Death Clock does.

Always A Bridesmaid

Always wearing an Ugly Dress.

The Week Explains All

The Week explains the Democrats' legislative agenda for the next four years.

Is This Useful?

I agree with PW's politics, in large measure, but something disturbs me about this. And even though I strongly believe that the politics of PW's detrators are wrong-headed and even dangerous, this guy from the other side makes some good points. (He is on shaky ground when discussing the Constitution, but there is some red meat in that stew.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Decisions, Decisions

Mainline Protestant Churches are going to be on the horns of a dilemma. On one hand, being staffed by members of lefty social action groups, they regularly decry what they view as Walmart's naked capitalistic and predatory greed, and often speak against the retail giant. But on the other hand, now this. Verily, they will pronounce it Good News. But how will they resolve the cognitive dissonance? How, indeed.

Wasn't That Some Kind Of TV Show?

I was at the Half-Price Bookstore last night after work and found a copy of Victor Davis Hanson's splendid The Soul Of Battle. That pleased me to no end, as I'm currently on a quest to collect everything written by him. (I'm telling you, if we were a titled people, VDH would have to be knighted; he's that much of a national treasure.)

While I stood around, waiting for the Very Last Minute Before Closing Time to pay for my book, I perused the used CD bins, hoping I might stumble on any of the several out-of-print CD's I've been seeking for ever so long.

As I stood there, I glanced over to my left, and noticed three girls of probably 14 years of age or so, all gangly and awkward in that 14-ish sort of way, sporting a whole lot more makeup than I like to believe my daughters will be allowed to wear when they reach that age. One of the girls had a cellphone in hand, and I could hear her calling various friends about getting together for some kind of party later on. While she was dialing and redialing, the other two girls were sitting on the floor, going through dollar CD's from the bottom shelf of the display. They seemed pleased with their finds, as I could hear them ooh and aah, as they spotted this CD and that. Then, all of a sudden, one of them sat up straight, held out a CD to the other two and exclaimed: "Melrose Place... Wasn't that some kind of TV show? I think I remember my mom telling me she used to watch it, when I was a kid."

And then it dawned on me: a whole new generation is growing up without knowing the wonder that was Heather Locklear in the role of a lifetime, as Amanda Woodward on MP. Which of course means, they also missed out on Models, INC, as well.

Oh, the humanity! Those poor, poor, underprivileged kids.

Perhaps The Strangest Thing I've Ever Seen

Don't follow this link if you are offended by scatological humor in the form of the RoboDump. Really. Move along. There's nothing to see here.

I Feel A Breeze In Here

The inauguration is over, lefties everywhere Turned Their Backs On Bush. And now? What's left? Four dreary years of moping? Not on your Nellie. It's time for some fun: Friday, May 6th is International No Pants Day. Just be sure to wear clean skivvies!

Nobody Nose

Virtually painful: Virtual Nose Hair Plucker.

Do You Like Ugly Couches?

You'll love this. (Note: graphic-heavy page, loads slowly on dialup connections.)

And The Bride Wore...

What WERE they thinking?

Go Directly To Jail

Do No Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200: Get Your Virtual Crack here.

Way Too Bleepin' Much Time On Their Hands

The Infinite Cat Project.

Now Lemme Get This Straight

Ol' Homeboy puts up a site called Gimme A Buck. To date he's had 2,644,806 visitors and he's only managed to panhandle $85.31? Dude, don't quit your part-time night job. (He answers the question of whether he's nuts in his FAQ.)

LiveBlogging The Library

I'm on Daddy Duty this weekend, with a wicked sore throat. I don't feel sick, really, but my throat feels raw and hurts like Hades. Mrs. Muzzy is off at work - and will be for the weekend - and right now I'm at the local library with the 5 year-old, who is off from kindergarten today. I'm writing this on my Apple iBook G4 laptop, piggybacking on the the free WIFI connection, which is much, much faster than my pitiful dial-up, at home. Pretty cool.

I got up early this AM to get the 2 year-old on the bus to her school - she's been diagnosed, like her older sister, as mildly Autistic, and gets Early Childhood services through the school district. But the bus that's supposed to pick her up at 8:25 AM to take her across town for her 9 AM school start, didn't show up until, well, 9 AM. I was not amused, as this was not the first time the bus company has pulled such a stunt. I placed a call to the school district tranpsortation office and spoke with a kind-hearted soul, who promised to speak with the bus company, and will sort this out so it doesn't happen again. We'll see.

After we finally got the toddler off to school, her older sister and I went to MacDonald's for breakfast, and then came over to the library. The daughter promptly ran into her best friend from school, and is right now having a grand Girl-Time with her chum.

So, here's the deal: I'm allowed to check out (free to me) up to 3 DVD's and 5 Videos at a time, for up to 7 days. I am taking home the the full allottment, although I'm pretty sure I won't have time to watch all, or even most of them. Time is tight, so I'm soliciting suggestions as to what I should spend my time watching. If I could only watch 2 from this list, what would you recommend?

(I've not seen any of them, except American Beauty, which I found kind of disturbing when I did see it. It wasn't the subject matter, per se that I found disturbing. In fact, it explored subjects that, while it they may well be taboo, are all-to-common: fantasy, lust and illicit relationships are part of life, and have been part of storytelling since the beginning of time. What bothered me the most was the fact that every character in the film was repugnant. There was no decent person - but for the Gay Couple, next door - in the entire movie. There was no redemption, no fulfillment, no joy, no resolution. It was simply dark, start to finish. It was beautifully filmed, and had a gorgeous soundtrack and interesting subplots, but it out-Lynched David Lynch's Blue Velvet in its sheer creepiness. What's more, it was pitched a 'dark comedy,' which baffles me. The liner notes call it 'wickedly funny.' Huh? It was a cynical representation of Hollyweird's vision of Middle America. Intriguing? Perhaps. But Funny? Only if one equates cynicism and sarcasm with humor could it possibly be called funny. Anyway, I thought I might give it a second chance, or at least watch the interviews on the DVD. Or not.)

So, in no discernable order, here's what I'm checking out and taking home:
Mulholland Dr.
American Beauty
The Passion of Ayn Rand
Three Kings
As Good As It Gets
Strange Days
007 - Tomorrow Never Dies
Raining Stones
Since I probably won't watch more than a couple, anyway, right now I'm leaning toward most toward Tomorrow Never Dies, and Mulholland Dr. Although I'm not entirely averse to such things, I'm just not in the mood for a Chick Flick this weekend, so As Good As It Gets is probably out. Anyway, if you good folks have any ideas as to what I might wish to tackle first, last or not at all, I'm open to suggestions.

Well, it's time to pack up and get home in time to get the little one off the bus. Tally ho, for now.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Autorantic Robot

Wouldn't you like to be able to sit down with Senator Byrd or Senator Dayton, and just drink in their wit and wisdom? I've got the next best thing. Check the right-hand side of the page, just below the Weather-Bar. Enjoy.

Another Blog Review

BSU (Belief Seeking Understanding) Flogs Blog.

Will Panic For Food

Matt Savinar is worried, and he thinks you should be worried, too. He thinks that "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon." And he has a book to sell to prove it. Maybe you should be worried.

It's A Joke, OK?

But, come to think of it, there's might be some serious merit to the idea. Heh.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The 2005 Bloggies

This contest to determine the best Blogs in various categories claims to be reader-driven, and I have no reason to doubt them. Well, maybe I do. Eschaton and Wonkette are among the 5 nominees for Best American Weblog, and Wonkette is one of the 5 nominated for Best Weblog About Politics. Nope, you won't find Lileks, Instapundit, Powerline or LGF listed anywhere on the ballot. Well, isn't that special! Could it be...Satan? Naw, it's prolly just the Kos Kiddies, fiddling with the results.

Ouch!

That'll leave a mark...

Flogging Blog

A review of Hugh Hewitt's new book, Blog:

You may already have read the gist of what I am about to write regarding Blog, many times, and in many places. But if so, it won't be because I am plagiarizing the work of others. In fact, I've gone out of my way to not read any extensive reviews of the book, with the sole intention of writing my own review, unaffected by the views and opinions of others.

So, on with it, then:

First off, let me say that Blog is good. In fact, it is very, very good. I have a few minor quibbles, which I will get to, momentarily, but you need to know that it is most definitely worth getting and reading. Hugh's writing on his Blog is usually very good and insightful, but it is - by nature - rushed and unedited. I think that Hugh, like most authors, benefits greatly from a team of good editors, which I'm sure he had with this book.

I wasn't sure I'd like Blog. I didn't doubt that Hugh could write an interesting book on the subject. But I've been immersed in the online world for over a decade and a half, and am well-acquainted with the history of many aspects of the Internet. Having read and written much on the subject, I suspected I would have little to learn.

I was wrong.

There have been other books written on how to start and maintain a Blog. There is even a CD-ROM available that instructs users in all aspects of Blogging. But Hugh's book is the first time that the disparate threads of the conversation have been brought together, between two covers.

In Blog, Hugh discusses the history of Blogging, offers some perspective on the Blogosphere's place in the world of information, and even offers tips on how individuals and companies can make use of Blogs to further their agenda and business. He also includes some of the writing that he has published in various venues on the subject.

I very much liked the chapter 1, on Blog Swarms, containing the case studies, in which Hugh examines three defining moments in the recent history of the Blogosphere, documenting how those important events came about, and offering some perspective on why they are a portent of things to come. I was familiar with many of the details already, but Hugh did a good job of bringing together the bits and pieces into a coherent story.

While it may be lost on some, I particularly liked chapter 2, on the importance of the Protestant Reformation and the printing press in bringing about radical change, during the 16th and 17th centuries. And, as an aside, I thought the chapter was the best summation of the Reformation and its importance that I've ever read. And I'm the son of a Presbyterian minister.

I also like Hugh's discussion of the various luminaries of the Blogosphere, and I especially liked his references to 'the tail,' where I live. He's right in pointing out that the entities that can tap into and market to the tail of the Blogosphere are going to be truly onto something.

One more thing, in his tireless efforts to promote Blogging, Hugh has inspired many others, including me, to either start, continue or upgrade their Blogging. His Vox Blogoli forums give many of us the challenge to write on topical matters, and the links Hugh places on his Blog to those Blogs that participate help increase exposure for many otherwise obscure Blogs like mine, in 'the tail.' It's an effort that is to be commended, and I thank him for it.

But I said I had some small quibbles, in no particular order:

I often wonder if Hugh's enthusiasm for Blogging - which I obviously share - doesn't cloud his judgement regarding the importance of the Blogosphere. Hugh keeps a Blog, but he also has a radio show, writes books, and teaches. Each and every one of his endeavors complements the others. His Blog nurtures his radio show, both of which helps him sell books. Which is more important? I can't easily read his Blog in the bathroom, nor on my drive home.

Let's be honest, there may be millions of Blogs, but what of it? There aren't that many Blogs worth reading, and the good ones come and go. Those of us who are passionate about Blogging do it for the love of 'the game,' but it isn't possible for most people to commit themselves to this arena whole-heartedly or full-time. And, as the marketplace of ideas becomes more and more saturated, it will take an ever-increasing amount of energy to get noticed, and to build an audience. That, in itself, will bring changes to the field over the next few years.

When the World Wide Web burst on the scene, in 1993, obliterating Gopher in the process, anyone with a copy of Teachtext (Mac) or Notepad (PC) could call himself a Webmaster, write a simple HTML page and put it on the Web. But, in retrospect, it was astonishing how poorly-made some of the first web pages were, even those of large computer corporations, like Microsoft. Today, not but a dozen years later, it is still possible to put together a web page as an amateur, but even with WYSIWYG software, it takes knowledge of HTML, DHTML, CSS, XML , Perl, ASP, dot-net, as well as a strong grounding in digital graphic design technology, to be a Webmaster. It now takes, ahem, a village.

In the coming years I predict there will be some measure of professionalization of the Blogosphere, with degrees being granted through technical colleges and universities. Anyone will still be able to put up a Blog, but to be taken seriously, professional Bloggers may need to join associations and pay dues and to have their work audited by standards committees.

Which brings me to my next quibble. Hugh states categorically that it - meaning Blogs - is all about content, using his website as an example. By his own admission, his Blog's layout is pedestrian, at best, and yet he gets great traffic. Yes, his content is good, and that's why I read it. But Hugh ought not to discount the fact that a good deal of the traffic to his Blog is driven by his radio show - which is precisely how I learned of it. (He has a great show, by the way.) As Hugh points out, being a technophobe - or for that matter design-impaired - needn't be a barrier to successful Blogging, but I don't think that means one shouldn't pay attention to technology like RSS, or to Design.

Design is important in houses, newspapers, cars and computers. And it's important in Blogs. The fact that Hugh doesn't get this is to his detriment, especially since he gets so much of the rest of it, spot-on. As the Blogosphere matures, like the Web, amateurish-looking Blogs may still survive, but they will not likely be taken seriously. Hugh gently mocks those who would chide him for missing this point, but I suspect he will recant and, in due time, hire someone to make over his website - although Lileks has already done the job for free...

One other minor point on which I disagree with Hugh is the issue of comments. He recommends not turning on commenting features when starting a Blog because 'you end up with the problem of nuts if you are any good.' I dunno. When one has a Blog as popular as Hugh's, perhaps it becomes too much of a liability to police the comments. And certainly, any Blogger worth her salt is going to attract a kook or two. But part of the fun of Blogging at 'the tail,' as I do, is the ability to comment and receive comments. I will only turn them off on my Blog if wading through them each day becomes too time-consuming, or if they draw readers into flame-fests that I don't wish to have associated with my Blog. Until then, they stay.

Which bring to something that Hugh didn't mention, or at least that I didn't notice in the book: the impermanence of the Blogosphere.

It's bad enough if you host your Blog on your own domain and/or webspace, but when you publish on Blogspot or Livejournal or Typepad, you are at the mercy of the organization from which you are renting your server space. If they go out of business overnight, or suffer a catastrophe, your months and years of posts could vanish.

But much more disturbing, to me, is the very nature of the Web.

Blogs, by definition, are WebLogs. Blogs link to each other and to other content on the Web, much of which is ephemeral and transient. Many news organizations don't keep their content up for free for more than just a few days. Other smaller websites and organizations go out of business, or move their product to different servers or domain names. Unless you are writing entirely original content and hosting on a system from which you are able to back up regularly to more permanent media, the Blog you write today could be largely gone in a month or a year from now.

(It is a good thing, I think, that Google purchased Blogger, because if any company can figure out how to offer a way for Bloggers to save their writing in perpetuity, it will be Google. In the meantime, perhaps it might be useful to think of Blogging as a kind of digital performance art.)

In the end, this is good and useful book. And I expect it will prove to be an influential book, as well. Buy it and read it, then pass it to friend. Or buy your friend their own copy - or two. I'm sure that Hugh, and the fetching Mrs. Hewitt, will approve.

There Was Something In The Air That Night

JB Doubtless, one of the always-on Freedom Brothers, took in Mama Mia, so you wouldn't have to.

Congratulations, Dr. Rice!

After all the lies, slurs and slander from the likes of the allegedly-former Kook Kluxer Senator Byrd, and the apparently-cowardly goofball Senator Dayton, Dr. Condi Rice was confirmed today by the United States Senate as Secratary of State of the U.S. of A.

Despite the fact that Ms. Rice is only the second female or person of color - and the first African-American female - to hold the post, the leftists aren't about to rejoice over the diversity of a second-term Bush cabinet. They never will.

Understand that all those diversity sessions you've had to go to for your job, and all the diversity classes you've had to attend as a student, were never about 'diversity' at all, but only about Leftist ideolgy. And Conservatives, whether they be female or persons of color - or middle-age white guys like me - do not count in the Left-Wing Playbook.

Lastly, and since I'm sure she reads this blog, a personal statement: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, we are proud of you for the way you conducted yourself before the lefty zanies on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and we look forward to your most excellent service. Congratulations!

Fashion Statement

Look, I'm no fashion maven. I don't even understand men's fashion. In fact, when I have had occasion to leaf through the fashion sections of men's magazines, whether Esquire, GQ, FHM or Maxim, I'm befuddled. I always have been.

I've always figured I'm the odd one out, that other guys must get it, or at least that they have girlfriends/wives/moms/sisters who do. We men can't all be fashion idiots, can we? Yet how do you explain otherwise intelligent men wearing tassled loafers with their expensive tailored suits?

They are all over downtown: attorneys, bankers, executives, you know. There are a few who will wear a pair of proper wingtips with a nice grey suit, but a significant number are wearing black and brown tassled loafers, which in my never-to-be-humble opinion, is the fashion equivalent of passing gas at a dinner with the in-law's.

No wonder 'Queer Eye' was such a hit.

Follow Up To The Previous Post

After re-reading my previous post, I went to my private journals for plunder, as I often do, and came up with the following riff that seemed to fit well as an adjunct to the other, written in October of 2003:
Two Things That Happened Today (That Made Me Feel Old)

The wife and kids were over for supper with Grandpa this evening. (Grandma is out of town for the weekend.) Since I had had to work a little late and couldn't join them, I traced a more leisurely route home from work.

I had a little time on my hands, so I stopped at a small, upscale store near the University to buy a dish of my favorite pasta for a quick supper. It was there that two things happened that reminded me of how rapidly we age, and how far along this mortal coil I am today.

1) Thing the first

As I was coming into the store I looked up to see one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid eyes upon. She was tall, with long blonde hair, a perfect figure and a lovely face, wearing jeans and a black long-sleeved top.
(Yeah, I notice these things. I'm a guy. I'm a happily married and very settled guy, but I'm a guy, nonetheless. We notice. Actually, and just for the record, I'm partial to brunettes and redheads, but attractive blondes are alright, too. Yes, my wife knows I appreciate feminine pulchritude; I think she'd worry if I didn't. And, no, she doesn't seem to mind, as long as I admire from a very safe distance.)
The young Betty got into her red, two-door sedan, gave me a sideways glance and a scowl that told me she noticed - but didn't entirely approve of - my slack-jawed admiration of her loveliness, and sped off into the night.

Aside from the obvious embarrassment at having been busted sneaking a 'look,' I sheepishly mumbled an oath to myself that, given the fact that she is probably only in her early to mid-twenties, I am most certainly old enough to be her dad. And, if you asked her, she would most certainly say her dad is old - very old - which of course, makes me ancient.

2) Thing the second

I went inside the store, bought my supper and sat down in the small cafe area to eat my pasta. The overhead radio started to play U2's New Year's Day, which - for those old enough to remember - came out in 1983. If you count all yer fingers and toes, it comes out to 20 years past. Jeff and Carol and I were in the 6th row (center) for U2's War tour concert here in town, that year. I was young at the time - all of 26 - and it seems like it was just yesterday.
The lesson(s), then? Life is short. Don't put off too long the things you really want to do. As a young person, you may be tempted to think you have forever. You don't. Do you realize? It's the great existential question of mankind, how to live with the knowledge that you will age and die. I haven't sorted it all out, and I doubt I will. But it's probably good to be reminded of these things, once in a while.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Musings On Beauty

This past weekend I was watching a tape of a Public Television special on the music of Peter, Paul and Mary. They were a folk music singing trio that was hugely popular in the 1960's, and were influential in the civil rights and anti-war movements.

As I watched the footage of current-day interviews with the band members and performance video of the group in its heyday, I was struck by how absolutely beautiful and alluring Mary Travers was in her twenties - and how today she is only but a caricature of her youthful pulchritude. Unfair and cruel of me to say so? For sure, no doubt. But most normal people, on viewing the same television program, would have thought the very same thing.

What about the guys, Peter and Paul? Well, they've gone to seed, too. But Paul Stookey was already balding in his mid-twenties; he comes off today as merely a more ancient version of himself. And for his part, Peter Yarrow hasn't held up very well, either, but then again, he was never terribly attractive.

But I am only being honest in saying that the men were not what stood out. It was the change in Mary's appearance that got my attention. Why? I dunno. I suspect it has something to do with western standard of youthful beauty - particularly feminine beauty - that permeates our culture. But male or female, most of us are deluded into thinking that somehow we will escape the ravages of time. We're all fools. Take me, for example:

Although I was a moderately attractive child, I went through a period of extreme homeliness during my high school and college days. Then, by a combination of wardrobe and grooming changes, I was able to remake myself into a rather dashing young man for several years in my late twenties and early thirties. But it's been a downhill slide for the last ten years, and now I'm well on my way to a grotesque old age. Yet I still harbor illusions that I'm going to beat the odds. I've even considered trying monoxidil, to stem the hair loss.

Yeah, I'm a fool.

(I was reading the British Rawk Journal Uncut and saw a couple of photos of Keith Richards of the Stones and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. Migawd, time has not been kind to them, either!)

This Is A Great Site

Activist Cash.

Leggo My Ego!

Lotsa little plastic bricks here.

Very Interesting Site

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill maintains the Documenting The American South project, consisting of: "seven thematic collections of books, diaries, posters, artifacts, letters, oral history interviews, and songs." As I said, it's a very interesting site.

I Want One

Is that 2 gigs in your pocket, or... Nah, too obvious: New 2GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive From Corsair.

Monday, January 24, 2005

No Justice, No Peace

Well, Some Justice, Some Peace, really. (Demo) Lawmaker's Son Charged in Tire-Slashing:
AP via Yahoo - A criminal complaint said the defendants originally planned to put up Democratic yard signs, placards and bumper stickers at the Republican office in a scheme they called "Operation Elephant Takeover." But the plan was dropped when they learned a security guard was posted at the GOP office, the complaint said.

One witness told investigators the five defendants, dressed in "Mission Impossible" type gear, black outfits and knit caps, left the Democratic Party headquarters at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 2, and returned about 20 minutes later, extremely excited and talking about how they had slashed the tires.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Seth Boffeli said the five were paid employees of John Kerry's presidential campaign, but were not acting on behalf of the campaign or party.

"This is not something we engage in, or encourage. We had to make it clear that this is something these individuals were doing on their own," Boffeli said.
Sure, Seth. Whatever. But will you repeat that under oath?

Who Reads What

I copped this from the always-excellent As The Top Of The World Turns. Yeah, it's funny, but not too far off the mark:
1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country - if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.
To that list, I'd add this one:

12. The Minneapolis Star Tribune is read by aging hippies in their trust-fund Kenwood estates, by Nick Coleman, who prolly wishes he ran the country, and by, well, I suspect, very few others. But they use a pretty decent ink that doesn't come off on your hands, so it is quite useful for lining birdcages, house-training puppies and wrapping fish.

A Chat With Senator 'Turing' Boxer

Day By Day, 01-24-2005

If you really need to an explanation for Chris Muir's Day By Day cartoon of 01-24-2005, please read the article on Senator Byrd from this past Friday's New York Post, as well as this article from 2001 on Senator Byrd by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin.

(If this were a Republican Senator, with the same past, obstructing the confirmation of an eminently qualified African American Female presidential appointment, the other side would have gone berserker. But in this case, they condone what Senator Byrd is doing because there is no low to which they will not sink in their ongoing attempt to harass and embarrass the duly-elected President of these United States. Just remember what I told you during the election campaign: they are the Party of Hate.)

It Was A Good Day

Straight Outta Compton In An SUV.

Blizzard Blogging

ASV's Michele - from Long Island, NY - blogs the East Coast Blizzard of 2005.

Happy Days Are Here Again...

I'm sure lefties will seethe at this, but Supergirl Melissa - I love her graphic, it's so cool - posted these two photos that put a smile on my face.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

There's Johnny!

Well, Johnny Carson died today.

Johnny was the King Of Late Nights, for nearly 30 years. He didn't create the late-night TV format - Jack Paar and Steve Allen get that trophy - but he perfected it. There have been others, some good (Leno, Kilborne), some not (Conan, Daly, Costas), but Johnny was the best at what he did, ever. Although he's been off the air for years, I still miss him. RIP.

And one more thing: over the next few days you will hear many a story told about Johnny Carson. This one and that one are false - warning, links to somewhat rather ribald content.

But you will also hear tales of Johnny's legendary generosity - and a great many of those stories are true.

One you may read only here: back in the mid-80's I knew a girl from L.A. whose Dad worked in a nice restaurant in Beverly Hills. His daughter told me that Johnny would regularly bring in a group from his show after work. He would always ask for her Dad's section, and would routinely leave him tips of $100's of dollars, sometimes exceeding the cost of the bill itself. Sure, he could afford it, but not many would. He was a classy guy.

(Doug points to this piece from The Moderate Voice that says it all better than I ever could.)

In Another Billion Years: Opposible Thumbs

And most of all, I'd like to thank all the fans, without whom none of this would be possible:
  • Higher Beings
  • Mortal Humans
  • Playful Primates
  • Large Mammals
  • Marauding Marsupials
  • Adorable Rodents
  • Flappy Birds
  • Slithering Reptiles
  • Crawly Amphibians
  • Flippery Fish
  • Slimy Molluscs
  • Lowly Insects
  • Crunchy Crustaceans
  • Wiggly Worms
  • Multicellular Microorganisms
  • Insignificant Microbes
Hmm. Doesn't say if I'm a Chicken or an Eagle, though...

Praying For The President

I have it on good authority, from a reliable source, that during morning prayers today at an ostensibly Evangelical Christian church in the area, petitions were offered to the Almighty for peace, peace and more peace, between Jews and Palestinians, in Iraq, between nations, and between all peoples. Prayers were even offered to the effect that the 'newly-elected leaders' (presumably ours, at all levels) might deal fairly and justly with the peoples of the world. But the Praying Parsonette couldn't bring herself to mention directly the President of these United States, and most certainly not by his Christian name. This omission, coming as it did on the Sunday following the inauguration ceremony of said President, was likely no oversight, but a seemingly deliberate omission designed to signal passive contempt for a disapproved leader, done in direct contradiction to the commandments given followers of Jesus to pray for those in power. Whether she voted for the President or not - and I find it highly doubtful that she did - she is enjoined from such displays by the Christian Scriptures. Yet this sort of thing goes on in left-leaning mainline Protestant Denominations across the land, Sunday in and Sunday out. Despite how it may appear, I am not offended by such things, but I do find such behavior bizarre and sad. If the center does not hold...

OK, This Is Very Weird

I went to bed last night, with the sounds of the MOB Gathering ale-fueled revelry still ringing in my ears. I expected to spend my sleeping hours immersed in dreams of Bloggers and Irish Music and Waitress Sarah filling - and refilling - my bottomless glass of Pepsi. I expected The Expected. Instead, I was treated to The Utterly Unexpected:

I dreamed I was at a computer/video gaming convention, held in a large hall. There were Segas and Nintendos and XBoxes, as well as a souped-up desktop machnes, set up on tables, all connected to each other via networks of various kinds, and to 20-30 inch screens, for the viewing pleasure of all. There were hundreds of conventioneers in attendence, and the latest versions of modern classics like Doom and Halo and Hit and Run were being played, as well as various incarnations of slightly older games like Myth and Tony Hawk. I was trying my hand at an early version of Tomb Raider, and wasn't having any luck at all. I couldn't make my digital Lara Croft jump any better than I can, in real life. (It was a bit surprising to me that I was even trying to play the game, given that in my waking hours I can't manage to play anything more frantic than The Sims.)

All of sudden, I felt a tap on my left shoulder, and heard a pleasant female voice ask me if I needed any help. The woman's face was hidden in shadows, and I didn't recognize her, but her voice had a ring of authority to it so I said, sure. She spoke in a low, calm voice and explained what I needed to do to guide Lara through each level. When she seemed to feel certain that I understood, she wished me well, and turned to walk back to her table. I watched her go, trying to figure out who she might be. Suddenly, as she approached her table, she started into a loud argument with Billy Bob Thornton. Billy Bob? Of course. Migawd! I thought I had heard that voice before. Angelina Jolie, in the flesh - well, in my dream, really - had just showed me how to play Tomb Raider, and was now fighting with Billy Bob Thornton, at the next table over from mine.

Weird.

Fade to black.

The next part of the dream I remember must have been later that same day - or the next - in DreamTime. I was walking through the Skyway on my lunch break when I came upon a pretty 30-something dark-haired mom trying to manage two rather unruly kids, one a toddler and one a little older. The older child kept trying to run away, and the mom kept trying to restrain him, all the while trying to attend to the younger one. I asked if she might like some assistance, to which she replied, yes; she asked if I might occupy the older child while she dealt with the younger.

Then I recognized whom I was helping: it was Angelina Jolie. What were the odds? I told her how much I'd appreciated her help earlier with Tomb Raider, to which she smiled and replied that she was happy to have been of help. I asked her about the argument she'd had with Billy Bob. She told me that she and Billy Bob Thornten had split for good, that she was taking the kids and was now dedicating herself fulltime to her new mission: to travel the world, helping people, offering assistance to all, in any way she could. She finished with the toddler, thanked me for my time, and told me she would have her publicist send me an autographed photo, and copies of the Tomb Raider DVD's. She turned, nodded and waved, and disappeared, with her two tots, into the crowd.

Weird.

And then I woke up.

It was all just a dream, right, me meeting Angelina Jolie, she showing me how to play Tomb Raider, me helping her with her kids?

Well, this morning I logged onto the internet for my daily blog fix. The first time I clicked 'next blog,' I was taken to a random blog that had a photo of, get this: Angelina Jolie, as part of the most recent post to that blog. I started to read the page, but right then I was called away to breakfast with the family, so closed my laptop. I also inadvertantly closed the browser window, so that when I came back to the computer, I was faced with a blank screen. I have the History Tracking feature turned off on my browser, so I can't even find the blog with the photo.

Like I said, weird. Very weird.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Safe At Home

OK, just to set the record straight, I really was live-blogging the MOB event, but it wasn't exactly my life I was blogging. Sarah, the lovely waitress - or must I call her waitperson? - served many a brewski to the assembled horde, but my libation tonight was strictly Pepsi, straight. I suspect that more than one blogger left the establishment well into his cups. But I came alone, and met my homies there, so I was my own designated driver. All in all, the evening seemed to me to be quite the success.

Keegan's
is a charming Irish-style pub near Saint Anthony Main, that serves full meals, and expensive imported bottles of various adult beverages. It's a nice place for a gathering. But, I do have a couple of quibbles: tonight, with so many people in the joint, it very quickly became quite loud, which made conversation difficult. Additionally, although Keegan's certainly can't be called a small venue, there isn't much room for groups to spread out, so people tend to congregate where ever they can, often making passage difficult, making it hard to move around and chat with others.

Still, the Northern Alliance dudes made the effort to mingle and introduce themselves to one and all. My chums and I commented to each other how much we appreciated the effort expended to make everyone feel welcome. They deserve a Laurel, and Hearty salute. (It's an old joke.) It was nice to put faces with some of the names - well, some of the blog names, at least - I've come to know, enjoy and appreciate. Maybe next time I'll leave my laptop at home and socialize a wee bit more. Maybe.

(Doug, from Bogus Gold did, in fact, socialize properly - I got to meet him, and I even caught a glimpse of Mama Ellen from across the Pub - and posted a rather extensive inventory of the luminaries in attendance. And the other Doug, from Belief Seeking Understanding, posted live - from my laptop, via WIFI - on the event, with a thorough account of what and who he found down the rabbit hole.)

Liveblogging The MOB Event

5:00 - Beer
5:30 - Beer
6:00 - Beer
6:30 - More Beer
7:00 - Newcastle Brown Ale
7:30 - Bailey's Irish Creme with Guiness Chaser
8:00 - Fifth Of Tullmore Dew
8:15 - Cheap American Beer
9:00 - Coffee
9:15 - No Doze
10:02 - Limo To Hazelden
10:45 - Detour To Mystic Lake

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Not much bloggin' today, as I had to get up early to run the snow-blower, then went to work, and have been doing my duty as Mr. Mom all afternoon. And this evening I'm headed down to meet up with a couple of college buddies for the MOB (Minnesota Organization of Bloggers) gathering at Keegans's, NARN's Big Event. (Mondo Cognito has threatened to show up in a proper Kilt, but I'm not sure there is such a thing as a proper one... Heh.)

Friday, January 21, 2005

New Yahoo

I don't know if you use Yahoo much, but if not, you should consider it. Just this week Yahoo made available a feature to its free My Yahoo service that allows for users to aggregate RSS feeds, right into their personalized My Yahoo page. Also, they just added a new image search feature that Yahoo claims has over a billion images categorized, just for you.

Spymac

Alot of readers of this humble blog are using Macs - and good for them, I say - but I wonder how many are familiar with Spymac? Spymac has alot of great features but one of the most intriguing is the free package of services that includes 1 Gig of free online email storage, and 100 Megs of free webspace. I gotta say, I have yet to find any catch, and to my eye Spymac offers many of the features of .Mac, at an even better price: free. Check it out.

Imprimis

In the current issue of the Hillsdale College free newsletter Imprimis, Senator Zell Miller explains Vietnam, Iraq, and the 2004 Election.

Just Like At The New Yawk Times...

Blogger Influence Raises Ethical Questions.

(Wizbang and Rebecca Blood have already pondered the subject.)

Moses Sez:

Bush talks to me!

Letters To Martha

Sam Jellico writes Letters To Martha.
Bob says it's fiction.
Sure, Bob.

Are You A Single Dude?

Good news: I may have discovered your next S.O. Or at least your next ex.

I rode the 270 bus into downtown on the way to work today, and ended up sitting next to most lovely young woman: she looked to be in her mid to late 20's, was quite tall and very pretty, with beautiful, long blonde hair - and, importantly, was not sporting a wedding or engagement ring. She was wearing only a hint of makeup and had on sensible pumps, always a good sign of a low-maintenance woman.

(Hey, just cause I'm a happily married guy doesn't mean I've lost the habit of noticing these things. Do you ladies think you are the only ones who pay attention?)

But the most important thing - THE most important thing - guys: she was reading the Sports Section of the local paper. What's more, she was actually reading each page, slowly and deliberately, not just checking the scores, in some kind of transparent attempt to glean the info needed to fake having a clue when talking with the boys. She was into it, I tell you. She was into it.

Of course, then it hit me, she seemed TOO perfect. Yes, she was pretty, which to most guys - being the shallow and pathetic sorts we are - also means she must be sweet and intelligent, right? But into sports? Like that? I dunno. Maybe she plays for the other team, as it were - not that there's anything wrong with that. Or maybe she's just perfect.

Like I said, I'm a happily married guy, so the door to enlightenment in this matter is closed to me. But if you're a single dude, and want to humiliate yourself by sleuthing into this mystery, I'll leave that seat vacant for you the next time I ride the 270. Good luck, and may the force be with you.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

It's Time For Class

Janette, she of the Common Sense, posted several classy bits on the inauguration events today, but my faves are 1) her post on the classy First Family and 2) her post on the classy Bush Twins, with links to photos. And check out the photo of Laura, Barbara and Jenna. Lemme tell you, when Mom is that Classy-Gorgeous, the fruit isn't gonna fall too far...

(I just wonder what kind of outfit Teresa Heinz Kerry would have worn today, if the Senator had won. Thankfully, we'll never know.)

Math Ed

From PatriotBlog, it's The History Of Math Education.

Yikes!

I'm sure Senator Dayton will find a way to blame this on Dubyuh. (Hey, maybe the Bravest Senator will offer to close his offices in Minnesocold, too. Now, there's a thought.)

Is This Necessary?

'Turf" cams' to give Super Bowl view from ground up. I'm not sure we need a turf's-eye view of this. Then again, you know the old saying: a Rolling Stone gathers no Moss, and no Moss goes to the Superbowl. So I guess it's all good. We'll be spared the indignity.

You May Say I'm A Dreamer...

But I'm not the only one: Organizing The Anarchists. (So naive, it's almost touching. Almost.)

Pepsi Cap Codes = Free iTunes Downloads

I snagged over 6 dozen free (and legal) iTunes downloads the last time Apple and Pepsi ran this promotion. If you're going to participate, great - it's a good deal. But in the event that you aren't going to use your codes, if you email them to me I'll be happy to put them to good use.

Caramba!

Woman Gives Birth to Giant Baby.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It's The Counter-Inaugural

Look, I know it's not really polite to laugh at this, but I gotta at least shake my head in bewilderment. I almost wish I could go, but I have a job.

Two Great Blogs

Slowplay.
Truth, Lies and Commonsense.

Hmm

I kind of think they don't like Dubyah. And, what's more, they say the MainStream Media is in cahoots with the administration, and the MSM is just going cover up any protests against the re-inauguration tomorrow. "It's utterly sickening," sayeth: TRUTH, RANTS AND RAMBLING.

Poor But Clever

He may be a Poor Man, but he'll have you know he's a Clever Poor Man.

One Man's Torture Is Another Man's Rosanne

Read MondoCognito's post, and follow the links; it's food for thought.

Please Don't Let Dubyah See This

I fear Dubyah might cancel the re-inauguration festivities tomorrow, and maybe even the ceremony itself, if he should ponder this petition - and its 13 signatories - questioning his 'roll' as President. Tell him the Internet is broken, or something, but for Heaven's sake, just don't let him see it, ok?

This Is Cool

Just what you've been looking for, with zero calories, and good for you: an Online Etymology Dictionary.

Condi Rocks!

Senate Panel Gives Rice Confirmation Nod.

(In a shocking development, John Kerry joined fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and patriot Barbara Boxer in a fruitless vote against the eminent Dr. Condi Rice's nomination for Secretary of State, proving that a lack of intelligence or an inability to grasp the issues of the day need not be a bar to those who wish to someday - soon, one hopes - draw a Senator's pension.)

And The Numbers Keep Rising

Global Tsunami Death Toll Tops 226,000.

Technorati

I understand how Technorati works, generally, and it's pretty cool. But their latest feature, tags, is kind of lost on me. Actually, I understand the concept, I'm just not sure why it might help me. I guess it helps categorize Blogs, but it sounds like a bit of a pain to have to enter yet another piece of meta-data into each post. If I figure it all out, I'll 'splain it here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Phear Phactor, Internet Edition

Weird Foods from Around the World.

Low Tech In A High Tech World

Pencilmation.

Jib Jab

If you watched The Tonight Show, tonight, you saw the TV premiere of the latest JibJab masterpiece. (Remember 'This Land Is Your Land,' from during the election runup?) Well, you can watch it here online, again, or for the first time. Even if you've got a slow connection, it's worth the wait.