Sunday, December 31, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
For those of you who don't know, my father died about 20 years ago. I was 12 at the time, my brother would have just turned 8 and my sister would probably have been 3 or 4 at the time. We were all pretty young. Being the oldest, I'd had the most time to get to know our Father and without being presumptuous I think I can say that, of my siblings, I was probably the closest to him. At that point in time, he was my best friend. As you might expect his death was catastrophic to my immediate family. I won't presume to speak for the rest of my family, but I was devastated. My best friend and one of my only male role models is suddenly taken away. The thing that I would have hoped would have happened at that point in time is for my extended family to help fill in the gaps left by my Father's absence. Oh, they tried, some of them more than others, but ultimately we were left to rely on my Mother's side of the family for support.
My mother is proof positive that mothering skills are inborn and not learned. The reason
I say this is that her nurturing skills were not taught by my maternal Grandmother (Grandma W.). Grandma W. is about as warm and comforting as hugging a frozen cactus covered in ants, bees and broken glass. After my Father's death we spent a lot of time at her house while my mother worked. It was pretty clear that my brother, sister and I were lower on her list than her other two grandchildren (Julie and Bud). I don't really begrudge them that, but her treatment hurt anyway. Eventually, I was old enough to stay at home by myself. Being a latch key kid was far preferable to spending time with Grandma W. I do feel sorry that Zakk and Emillie were left to their own devices at her house.
I guess what I'm getting at is that I'd reached an age where I was fairly autonomous but still in need of some guidance. My mom did the best that she could, but she was only one person. I had free run of a widening radius for the next 6 years. I spent a large part of that time with my friend Bob. He was in a remarkably similar situation. Bob was a few months older than I was and his father had died only months before mine had. He was the only friend of mine that showed up for my Father's funeral. Up to that point we'd been friends, but things changed after that. We were more or less inseparable from that point in time until we found girls. Then we just spent a lot of time with one another. Bob will forever be like a brother to me.
Over those 6 years I was hell on wheels. I did things that if I'd been caught would have sent me to juvenile hall and if I'd been a little older to jail. I think eventually both Bob and I developed a sense of what is right and wrong, but that was our own doing and not because we were taught by anyone.
So what's my point? Where the hell was my Father's family this whole time? We'd see them on holidays and sometimes get a card on birthdays, but that was about it. The one uncle that did try the most was my uncle Jack. He'd stop by on occasion to see how we were doing and for the first few years he remembered birthdays. The fact that he did anything was amazing because he probably had more things to deal with and more family problems than all of his brothers and sisters combined. His wife (my aunt) was more or less bedridden from MS.
Over time I began to feel more and more abandoned by that side of my family. The only interaction that I would have was on holidays. For gods sake, I was only 12 years old and have just lost my father. Show some compassion and have some sort of role in our lives.
Over time I began to realize that I really wasn't getting anything from having an extended family, so one by one I quit talking to them. I'm not sure it was even intentional at first. It was just easier to ignore the fact that they existed. I did this to both sides of my family. I think the last time I remember seeing Grandma E. was at my high school graduation. She'd shown up and I was a little surprised. It was like pulling teeth to get her to come to our side of town. The last time I saw Grandma W. was right around the time my Grandfather passed away. I think I was 19 at the time. He had cancer-of-the-just-about-everything but my Grandmother had the guts to say that he'd died of a broken heart over something my Mother had done. Could she be any more cruel? I think I got a call from Grandma E. a few years later but all I remember talking about was how I never called her. I'm sure there was more but that was all that I recall. Oh well.
By that point in time I'd had a chance to see a very different view of what an extended family could be. I'd been spending holidays and family functions with Danielle's family. It was an amazing difference. At first I was freaked out. Her family tree is a giant gnarled mass of divorces, remarriages, siblings, half-siblings as well as first second and third cousins. The first few times we'd go to a family function she would have to spend the first half of the thing explaining who was married to whom and which kids belonged to what parents. Eventually, I gave up trying to remember it all and just concentrated on names. By the end of our marriage, I'd more or less gotten it figured out but it was a mess.
What made it even harder is that for all of their flaws there was no apparent differences between people. It didn't matter if you were a brother, half-brother, brother-in-law, somebody's boyfriend, cousin, uncle, friend or just a plain vagrant off the street, they treated you like family. I'd never been treated like family, not even by my own family. Every time I was at one of her familes' home, I felt welcome. I'd never had that feeling. In visiting any of my own family I always had an awkward unease, as if I really wasn't welcome there.
I used to really dread and enjoy visiting her family. I'd dread it because it was pretty alien to me but I enjoyed it because it was always nice to wallow around in all of those hugs from a grandma and slobbery cousin kisses. I was genuinely jealous of her family. That's not to say that they didn't have their problems, but that never seemed to dampen that sense of family.
By that point in time I had three examples of extended families: My mother's family who where distant, emotionally stilted and counted the cost of every hug; My father's family who seemed to drift about one another with no sense of center; and Danielle's family. My jealousy about my own extended family in comparison to hers made me even more bitter about my own. What had been a general disregard for keeping up ties with my own family became a willful avoidance. Interestingly this seemed mostly mutual. There were a few occasions where small attempts were made, but nothing to speak of.
So why am I writing about this now? Two reasons. First, families are addictive. After my divorce from Danielle I lost the only real extended family I'd ever had. I got a taste of a big family again and I realize that I'm hooked. As if I needed another reason to love her, Jennifer's family is huge. I've really only met them once, but I'm already jonesing for Christmas. The second reason that I'm writing this now is that I've got a Christmas card sitting on my couch. It is from Grandma E. It showed up yesterday and I just put it down. I haven't opened it up yet, and I'm not sure when I will be able to work up the guts. See, I've always felt guilty about not trying harder with her. I really don't care if I talk to Grandma W. again. Grandma E. on the other hand was never mean or cruel, maybe just not as caring and concerned as I wish she would have been.
Among the piles of my personal papers there are probably three unfinished drafts of letters to her. I can never seem to finish them and get them in the mail. It looks like I'm about to start another one. I might wait a day or two before I open the card. I've got a cold now and I'm not sure I've got the mental stamina to go back over the 20 years of history right now.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
I suspect that I'm the friend that Space Cadet is speaking about. I too am reading The God Delusion. So far, I'm satisfied with the factual treatment and position that Dawkins takes. As for his tone, I am a little less satisfied. I agree that the logical and factual free ride that religion has had up until recently has to end. All "truths" must to be questioned. One of my favorite all time quotes is this one by Thomas Jefferson:
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, thanMaybe there is a need for Dawkins' tactics. He could possibly be the Bad Cop in a Good Cop / Bad Cop approach. However, I think that his tone is likely to piss off the ones that are most likely to be persuaded by his arguments. Once they are pissed off it is unlikely that they are listening any more. Once that has happened any further discussion is at best masturbatory. Ideas are not subject to respect, but individuals are. I am perfectly capable of translating Dawkins' harsh statements into the velvet covered bat that will make them palatable to someone else, I just think Dawkins' failure to do so means to that his message will go in one ear and out the other of those with whom it will make a difference. If that is the case he is left preaching to the converted, or unconverted in the case of his message. By tailoring his message to get through the filter that people have erected in their minds to protect their sacred ideas, he has a better chance of undoing the work of the meme that has taken hold.
that of blind-folded fear.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
One of the other things that I noticed was that the required distance between the poll and electioneering is only 25 feet. That meant that there were weirdos next to the poll entrance trying to convince me to vote against proposition 2. It also meant that there were signs right outside the door. The funny thing was that there were competing signs right next to one another.
Finally, there was a lot less privacy than what I'm used to when voting. Not that I care if people see what I voted for, but I thought it was supposed to be a secret ballot. We just went into a gymnasium and filled out our Scantron ballots. We weren't shoulder to shoulder, but if I wanted to, I could have looked up and seen exactly what the guy next to me was voting for.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
What a turd of a commercial. Who wants to wait 15 years for a cure? Possibly people whose disease takes longer than 15 years to kill them. GRRR.
The right way:
I really only posted on this subject so that that link so I could post a link to an article on Fark entitled, "Rush Limbaugh says Michael J Fox exaggerates his symptoms in commercials. Michael J Fox shakes his fists... accidentally" Is it wrong to laugh at that? Yes, I know if you have to ask, you probably already know the answer. It is wrong to laugh at another's misfortune. Limbaugh is still an asshole. I find laughable the notion that a collection of cells no larger than the head of a pin is causing this much of an uproar. An embryo is not a human. If experimenting on small collections of cells shows promise in curing cancer, spinal cord injuries and diseases of the brain, then go right ahead.
Updated (10/26/2006 8:22 AM): To correct my idiotic grammar.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I ran across these pictures and I find them breathtaking:
Shuttle Launch Seen From ISS. Those pictures are taken from 220 miles. That is about 30 times higher than I've ever flown. The discernible horizon and the deep blackness of space above is amazing.
There seems to be quite a bit of furor lately over religious matters. Wired's cover article is about a new breed of atheists who are no longer willing to quietly coexist with people of faith. Here is a quote from the article that sounds eerily familiar, "Contemptuous of the faith of others, its proponents never doubt their own belief. They are fundamentalists." I recall very recently being called one of these fundamentalists. That's OK, I regularly get told that I'm paranoid and that I should be wearing a tinfoil hat. I'm used to it, but I think both are unfair. I will leave the defense of my so called paranoia for another day. For right now let me ramble on about my spiritual side. I believe that I have a soul and that by extension other human beings do too. Kind of a poor man's Cogito Ergo Sum followed by an inarticulate man's rejection of solipsism. I don't know whether our soul has any existence outside of our observable physical existence and by extension I don't know if that soul is immortal. (It is a nice dream to think about sometimes.) I believe that we are an imperfect reflection of the divine. I believe that we are capable of approaching a beautiful perfection, but due to our flawed nature we are destined to fail. What is most beautiful about our souls and our divinity is when we reach for that perfection. That brings me back to the pictures of the shuttle launch that I linked to above. Those pictures, to me, represent what is most divine about humanity. It is our meager yet triumphant attempt to reach beyond our limited environment. Finally, I do have faith. I have faith that humans, while flawed, are a reflection of the divine. Furthermore I have faith that humanity on average wants to be good and that if given the right conditions we are happy to be good and fulfill our potential. It is my sincere hope that we all work for a world where as many people as possible are given that opportunity.
There has been a lot of chatter about atheism lately. It probably has something to do with Richard Dawkins promoting his new book as well as a lot of other authors out there doing the same for theirs. Here is an interesting clip from The Colbert Report. As always, you are never sure who wins the debate in the end. Maybe that is why Colbert is so good.
On a completely tangential note, I spent most of this weekend tearing up carpet and sanding floors in the front part of the second floor of my house. It is surprising how much difference the little work we've done has made. I've probably got another couple of hours of sanding left to do, but I can already see the difference. I will post some pictures when I get a chance.
OK. I might be able to sleep now, so I think I will just run a quick spell check and hope this makes sense.
Friday, October 20, 2006
- Nacho Libre
- "flatulence, repeatedly"
- "man pinching his buttocks together in tights to influence/entice a woman"
- "attention to posterior"
- "below navel skin threatening to expose that which follows"
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- "sexual innuendo about a little girl not touching a male squirrel's anatomy"
- "facial piercing" (WTF?)
- "series of pity me because I'm black"
- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
- Offense to God
- tale of man not being the most intelligent life on Earth
- claiming man is an ape descendant, repeatedly
- How To Eat Fried Worms
- lots of energy spent on vomiting
- It's A Wonderful Life
- Wanton Violence/Crime
- near drowning
- light adult tantrum
- adult tantrum before children
- Impudence/Hate (I)
- lie to keep bad news to self
- Meet the Fo...s (They can't even spell out Fockers)
- "man on commode"
- "Always question authority"
- Monsters Inc
- little white lies to protect
- implication of nudity
- crotch hit (what kind of freak considers this to be sexual?)
- Napoleon Dynamite
- drawing of flatulence
- five uses of the euphemism for the most foul of the foul words (WTF does that mean?)
- two uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary (that statement alone contains two and three of the same)
- Office Space
- Wanton Violence/Crime
- a death to heart attack (How is this violence or crime?)
- gamming -- maximizing exposure of upper legs in a dress while sitting (Oh My!)
- pornographic background music (what makes music pornographic?)
- Offense to God
- hypnotherapy to alter character and integrity (WTF?)
- Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) -- Foreign language version of Vanilla Sky
- The reviewer couldn't be bothered to finish the movie because it was subtitled:
- The Passion of the Christ (I include these because the wording makes me laugh)
- Wanton Violence/Crime
- continued beatings/whippings of our already mutilated Lord
- kicking our near-dead Lord
- hand/foot impalement with spikes (I bet he was surprised to see that)
- spear impalement with exudates (exudates? blood maybe)
- flash nudity, clearly non-sexual but nudity nonetheless (clearly)
Open Your Eyes (R) was a subtitled movie and the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model does not lend itself well to subtitled movies. The CAP Model requires the Investigator to annotate the findings for input to a computer application which generates the scoring and influence density. While this system of recording findings is well suited for non-subtitled movies, in the sometimes incredibly fast pace of presentation of ignominy, the Investigator cannot afford to lose the time or attention it takes to read the subtitles. However, when subtitled movies come out on video tape, which enables pausing of the movie to record findings, the CAP Model can be well applied. I will offer that which I was able to gather in the few minutes I was there. No scoring had been computed.
The first scene was one of a nude male in bed (covered), followed soon by his nude paramour (partial nudity). Foul language, including the most foul of foul words, was printed to the screen. Constant in the first few minutes was a strong theme of malcontentism. That is all I can tell you about "Open You Eyes."
What I find most funny is the notion that flatulence and face piercing are examples of impudence and hatefulness and that nudity while depicting the asskicking that Christ recieved before he died is clearly not sexual when in any other movie it would have been categorized as sexual. How I love the prudes. They make me giggle.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
"Weasel is a funny word. You can improve the humor value of almost any situation by injecting a weasel into it." -- Dave Barry
This is born out by so many things. Futurama for example. Who wouldn't love a spice weasel. What about an ice weasel?
Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come. -- Matt Groening
or how about
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. -- John Benfield
it would appear that the weasel is a truely great animal
Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.Matt Groening
Then there is this classic by Hunter S. Thompson.
Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether. -- Hunter S. Thompson
With HST you never know, did he think that there were really weasels closing in or was it a metaphore for the what J.R "Bob" Dobbs would call pinks. As you can probably tell I'm in a weird mood and my humor is veering into the juvenile. Oh Well. Goodnight all.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
In one interview a camp mother shares her thoughts about science and evolution. She explains how science really doesn’t explain anything and is a big waste of time. She was doing this on tape, in a house powered by electricity, with a television and the comforts of modern life in the background. If science is so fucking bad, go back and live in a cave. These people often forget that the people they are throwing stones at usually are the people either saving their life or at least making it more entertaining.
Let me first say that I've not seen this movie, but I plan to. For that reason, for the time being, I will have to accept Lady M's description of the scene as being accurate. With that out of the way, Lady M's statement got me thinking. Is science an all or nothing thing? Can someone reasonably at the same time accept the fruits of science while rejecting the basis under which they were developed? Having said that let me pose this question: Is it right to deny the fruits of science to those that actively work to destroy its basis? Yes, yes, I know that Ayn Rand's ghost is jumping for joy. (Ayn Rand was a fool. Not because she was wrong for wanting the kind of society that she wanted, but because she thought that sort of society is possible. But I digress.) Rand's idea was for the human engines of society should not be coerced into supporting those individuals who are unwilling to work for themselves. Her story "Atlas Shrugged" portrays the near collapse of society when these engines decline to participate anymore. Since they were the ones holding things together for so long, without their efforts society begins to collapse. Can and should a similar principle be used in relation to the anti-intellectual movements afoot in the world today? Is it morally wrong to turn the lights off on someone who actively tries to destroy the basis for scientific research in society? Some might say that the point is a bit too obscure and that those that are affected would fail to see the point. I can concede that. I realize that this is all really just ridiculous, but it is fun to run the gedankenexperiment and imagine the anti-intellectual religious zealot attempting to pray the lights back on. So to answer my own question, "Is it all or nothing?" probably not, but I can dream can't I?
Update: To make the thought experiment more relevant I'll change the conditions. Rather than turning off the lights let's deny access to the fruits of modern genetics. Since the field of genetics (by way of neo-darwinism) is dependent upon the principles that many of these anti-intellectuals rail against it makes a more appropriate target for denial. This would include the field of molecular biology and the advances that are likely to be seen in disease control and prevention. Advances in the treatment of Diabetes, Alzheimers disease, Cancer, Haemophilia, Leukemia and a number of other disease that have a genetic component. How would people react if they were told that they couldn't have access to these lifesaving advances? Most of those advances are still hypothetical but will be available in the very short term. Even closer would be the genetically created products like human insulin and human growth hormone and the hepatitus B vaccine. OK. I'm done.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
You don't call retarded people retards. It is bad taste. You call your friends retards when they are acting retarded. -- Michael Scott (Steve Carell)
A pearl of wisdom from My Name is Earl:
Do monkeys worry about their looks? -- Randy Hickey (Ethan Suplee)
If monkeys worried about their looks they'd wear pants.-- Earl Hickey (Jason Lee)
In other news, today was my company's day to attempt redeem our collective souls for the damage that we do to our society. Today was the day that my company donated it's employee's time to Christmas In October. We were told that it was going to be organized chaos. That was the truth. I'm not sure exactly how many houses we did, but I think we took on a total of eight houses. I spent some time working on two of them. The first was a large family's house. We spent most of our time painting. I hate painting so I looked for something else to do. The bottom two of their basement stairs were loose and likely to kill someone if they didn't know it. Me and a coworker spent most the morning patching together new bottom stairs. When they were done, they were functional, but by no means pretty. Fortunately for us the whole mess was covered by carpet. After we'd finished with that, most of the painting was done, so I wandered off to find something else to do. The other four houses in our neighborhood were in about the same shape. There were just a few jobs and in most cases there were twice as many people as needed working on them. Most of us were just standing around picking our noses. At about that time, the organizer of the event drove up and asked if anybody had a hammer. I raised my hand and they asked to borrow it. They said they needed it to rebuild a porch. I told them that I had a screw gun and a bunch of decking screws. At that point they nearly dragged me into their SUV and whisked me off to the other house. That is where things got pretty miserable. The rest of the day was spent pounding together a porch for a little old lady. It was raining the whole time and we were all wet, tired and miserable by the time it was over with. The little old lady ended up with a very nice astro-turf covered porch and bead board wainscoting on half of her kitchen. I then spent about 45 minutes trying to retrieve all of the tools that I'd brought to the house. One of the things I hate most about these types of events is that if you have tools you are always asked to bring them. On top of that there is the expectation that you will allow other people to use them. People are never as gentle with your tools as you'd be. I'm now missing one extension cord and am now the proud owner of three stripped driver bits. Oh well.
Monday, September 18, 2006
On a house related note, I'm sitting here watching the movie Life as a House. It pisses me off that a movie like this can choke me up. I have two things to say. First, Mary Steenburgen is smoking hot for being 53 years old. Second, Hayden Christensen is still a horrible actor who's voice is a perpetual whine.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
Juror #11: I beg pardon...
Juror #10: "I beg pardon?" What are you so polite about?
Juror #11: For the same reason you are not: it's the way I was brought up.
Juror #10: Bright? He's a common ignorant slob. He don't even speak good English.
Juror #11: Doesn't even speak good English.
Juror #11: Oh Come on, you're like everybody else. You think too much, you get mixed up. You know what I mean.
This movie is such a fascinating exposition of our prejudices and how we can so easily be lead by our emotions.
On a happier note, I got back earlier this week from visiting my family in Portland. I always feel refreshed coming back from Oregon. Seeing my niece Abby and listening to her shouting for me to play the Benny Hill theme song again. "Play the Silly Song! Play the Silly Song, uncle Aaron!" She'd started calling it that after I'd played it on my cell phone. I think we spent about four hours bouncing on the air mattress that I was sleeping on. By Tuesday night, it was nearly deflated. It was such a privilege to be able to read her a story before she went to bed. I got to hold my new niece Charlotte a couple of times. She's so new that she is still mostly a giant screaming poop factory. I suspect that by Christmas she will be much more interesting.
Just before watching Twelve Angry Men tonight, I watched the last bit of the Buena Vista Social Club. I got a chuckle out of the fact that the Cuban musicians couldn't identify a JFK doll while wandering around New York, but new about and could identify the Statue of Liberty.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Billy Ray Cyrus
George Dubyuh Bush
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Recently at work I've had to pick up some new technologies lately. The first is Visual Studio. I've got friends that use this tool on a day to day basis, and swear by it. I find it to be clunky and cumbersome in comparison to the corresponding Java based tools. This is of course of no consequence, but I wanted to take the chance to bitch.
Friday, August 04, 2006
First and foremost, I am an uncle again. Zakk just called and told me that I now have two nieces. The first is of course Abby and the newest is Charlotte Louise. Charlotte or "Little C" as I will be calling her is 20 inches long and 7 pounds and 6/10ths of an ounce. I will post pictures as soon as I have some.
The second thing that makes me happy is this clip. It of course pales in comparison to the news of my niece's birth, but I'm smiling anyway.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
If man is five and the devil is six then god is seven. This monkey's gone to heaven. My, isn't that convenient.
On another equally banal note, I'll mention that I bought a laptop and it shows up tomorrow. I'm staying home to meet it. Invariably when I do this, the delivery will show up in the 15 minutes when I run to taco bell to get some lunch. Not tomorrow. I have a Cup O Noodles and some oatmeal set aside for just this type of occasion. It's not actually Cup O Noodles brand but rather some upscale crap that I paid 5 times more than the standard 75 cents. Hey, it comes with extra flavor packets. Here's to noodles and computers, a match made in heaven.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
There's just something about Kim Deal's voice that makes me want to cry and smile all at once. Up front I should admit to be a bandwagon Pixies fan. I wasn't there from the start. Like so many out there I found the Pixies through the people that they influenced or from exposure to Frank Black and Kim Deal's post Pixies projects.
Recently I've been on a Pixies kick. It is obviously something that I missed out in my youth or rather my early youth. I'm not quite ready to give up my youth. To be honest I'm not sure I was mature enough at the time they were big to appreciate what they were doing. Since then I've been making up for lost time. In the process I think I've fallen in love with Kim Deal. What did it for me? I think it is her ability to (in concert) sincerely deliver an angst filled lyric with a crazy look in her eye, a smile on her face while obviously trying to suppress a laugh and enjoying herself the whole time. What an awesome recipe for happiness.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I've been a horrible tourist. I've made no attempt to learn the language other than the phrase "Sprechen Sie English?". I've made it my goal to survive on that phrase alone. How's that for the ugly American? Hey you sons of bitches, if you don't learn my language, you won't get my American dollars. I went to an ATM and got some euros. I accidentally fucked up and tipped the bellman in dollars. He gave me a funny look. For a second, I couldn't figure out why. "What, ain't my money good here?"
Here are the things I've learned so far:
1. Don't make your first meal in Germany Sauerbratten, it will go right through you. You will be crapping purple cabbage and dumplings the minute you can find a seat.
2. Everybody speaks a little English. If they don't, then just shout at them. This will anger them so much that they will find someone that does.
3. It is possible for German person to speak English with an Irish accent.
4. You can only watch free German porn on the hotel tv for about 10 minutes before they turn it off. Hey it's free porn, you don't change the channel.
5. The German Countryside looks like Missouri.
6. Germans don't use sheets, just blankets.
Friday, May 19, 2006
This measure however, signals to me a very disturbing change. The idea that Iran and Israel hate one another and that they exchange barbs in the international forum doesn't bother me. The fact that Iran doesn't get along with most of the West doesn't really bother me either. But, rather than focusing it's anger externally it has decided that it will move to isolate the Jews and Christians who I'd imagine are proxies for Israel and the West in the eyes of many Iranians. The fact that Iran wishes isolate it's own citizens does bother me. This is a symptom that, if ignored, could be a red flag of a coming problem. A situation like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Sudan or on the extreme end of things Nazi Germany.
In my opinion most religions, as practiced by most people, amount to little more than an organized superstition combined with a really nice social club. Having said that I'm 100% behind everyone's right to believe and practice their religious beliefs without having to worry about isolation and persecution from neighbors or the government. Having to wear a badge, patch or visible external sign goes a long way towards making this impossible. This movie by the Iranian government makes me nervous and should frankly scare the shit out of the religious minorities that live within the borders of that country. I hope that those effected by this policy, if it is enacted, have the brains and the wherewithal to get the fuck out of that country. I guess if you can't get out, let's hope there is enough sanity within the country to point out that this is a ridiculous law that has no place in any modern society.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
So, I've been bald, or nearly so for six days now. There are a few things that I've learned.
- Your hair provides more insulation than you realize. My head has been cold non stop for the last week. The weather hasn't cooperated much in this area either. I'm going to need a sunny day soon.
- The number 666 wasn't tattooed on my scalp. I'm only a little dissapointed.
- I know a lot of very generous people. With the help of a lot of generous people, I've been able to raise $6000 so far.
- Apparently, I bare some resemblance to Billy Bob Thornton.
- It also sounds as if my original hair do wasn't doing a whole lot for me.
- My hair grows really fast. It looks my scalp will be back to it's original level of visibility in a week or two.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
When I was young, rather than an actual pool, many of my friend's parents bought cattle tanks to use as pools. I know this sounds pretty low rent, but it is pretty common where I grew up. The tanks are usually about twenty feet in diameter and about 3 foot deep. One of the fondest memories of these tanks is when a group of kids would take up spots along the rim of the tank and we'd all walk in circles until we'd got the water moving in a giant whirlpool. After we got the water going at a good clip, we'd plop down into the water and let it carry us around in circles. This is one of the simple pleasures that I remember from being a kid. In an attempt to recreate this experience I directed all ten of the whirlpool jets in the same direction while I was in the tub. The results were less than spectacular. I got out and dried off. After I was half dressed, I noticed that I'd left the tub running. I went into the bathroom and found that the whirlpool tub was living up to it's name. The water had formed a wonderfull little whirlpool. There was a nice three to four inch deep indentation in the center of the water. I then drained the tub and that's when the magic started. OK, not really magic, but it was cool anyway. A column of air formed from the surface of the water all the way down to the drain. The colum was at least four inches at the top and narrowed to about two inches at the drain. What was even cooler was that the funnel was completely stable with almost no ripples.
This put an idea in my head. What if the jets are pointing the other direction. Fifteen minutes later I had the jets reconfigured and the tub refilled. I wanted to see if the same results happened if the water was spinning the opposite direction. It took another ten minutes to get the water spun up with the same four inch dimple as before. Now, here's the interesting part, when I opened the drain, I didn't get the same beautifuly symetrical whirl pool as I'd gotten earlier. The whirlpool with the opposite rotation whipped around wildly and wasn't nearly as wide as the one earlier.
I did some poking around and didn't find anything conclusive to explain this. From what I've read, the corriolis effect is quite negligible. This is obvious since the tubs maintained the draining direction established by the orientation of the spin of the water. I guess the small differece made by the corriolis forces could have a destabilizing effect on the whirlpool.
So the fact that I spent almost 45 minutes filling and draining a tub to do an experiment that was nearly meaningless is probably proof that I'm just about the biggest nerd you've ever seen.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
- "It doesn't matter where you are drunk as long as you are somewhere." -- This is of course both true and a little pathetic all at once.
- "Orgy Pile" -- I can't really reproduce the context in which I heard this, but the fact that I heard this, out loud, is all that really matters.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Why is it that the hair in my sideburns grows faster than the hair on side of my head? Yeah, I know that my sideburns are technically on the side of my head.
And on a completely unrelated note, I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. I don't particularly expect anything special out of this. It would appear from what I've read so far that the book will help to confirm and crystallize things that I've known intuitively for quite some time. While I was sitting in a coffee shop this evening, reading the book, I started overhearing conversations that were strikingly appropriate to the topics that I was reading about. It was as if real life was providing footnotes to the book as I read. While reading Gladwell's description of the Stanley Milgram's experiment to prove the small world theory (AKA Six Degrees of Separation). At that very moment a guy two tables over at the coffee show was talking about meeting in Mexico someone who he didn't know from his old neighborhood in his home town who was the parents of someone he did know and that he'd gone to school with. Later, as I was reading Gladwell's description of the "stickiness" of an idea the same guy was talking about the new movie Snakes on a Plane which happens to have a weird internet meme attached to it.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I just watched James Lipton do a beer bong after shouting, "We who are about to die, salute you." I'm now going to bed.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Two posts in the same day. Can you tell that I'm already in vacation mode? Recently, I've severely restricted my intake of carbonated beverages. This poses a problem because I'm constantly thirsty. I need a drink in front of me at all times. I've switched to water and at work the water comes from special pedestals that have a water filter built into them. Instead of bottles, they are fed via a pipe with tap water. As I'm standing there bent over with my ass in the air filling up a water bottle, I'm wondering to myself, why the hell is the spout so low on this damned thing? It could just as easily have been placed at waist height or higher. Don't get me wrong, I understand why you'd do that with a dispenser that used water bottles, but why with this setup. I blame it on laziness and lack of imagination.
It turns out that I'm considered, by 2000 randomly chosen persons, to be outside the moral boundary of our nation. I’m among a group more vilified than any other minority in this country. They hate me more than Muslims and gays. How about that? From the article, "Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism." I eat children and kick puppies as well.
I've struggled with the label atheist for a long time. I'm not sure how I feel about a god, but I'm pretty sure that whatever book you are going to point me to or whatever idea you are going to try and get me to buy into is baloney. That more or less makes me an agnostic, but I think "agnostic" is kind of a chicken shit stance. Like admitting that I don't have the balls to say that you are wrong. What really galls me is the notion that I somehow lack a moral compass just because I choose not to take my marching orders from an imaginary man in the sky. I'm done writing for now, my neighbor's dog wants to have a conversation.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I've been going on a lot of dates recently. Probably averaging about one a week. Is that a lot? I think so. Most of these have been pretty anticlimactic. Either she's not interested or I'm not interested or we are both not interested. On most of these dates there's been a palpable feeling in the air that one or both of us had a strong desire to run screaming from the table. This evening did not feel like that. I won't go into details because they really aren't that important, but things just seem to go well. We had a late dinner (8:30) at Lidia's. I arrived a little early and she arrived on time. The restaurant was running a little behind so we stood at the bar and had a glass of wine. At first I was nervous. Would she bolt from the bar while she had a chance? Would we ever get seated? What the heck was taking so long? About 20 minutes later we were seated. The restaurant was packed We got one of those tiny two person tables that is barely big enough to hold two water glasses and the salt and pepper shakers. Eventually, the dinner began. I won't bother to recount the details of the food. It wasn't spectacular or memorable, but her company more than compensated. We were then until well after the restaurant closed. We talked on things all over the map. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed myself. It was one of those conversations where there weren't any of those uncomfortable silences. There were a few lulls in the conversation, but none where I had that panicked feeling of, what the hell do I say now. We ate dinner and had dessert. We finished off most of a bottle of wine. We were there well beyond closing time. Eventually we decided that we'd kept the staff there long enough and it was time to clear out. On the way back to the car, as we were exchanging goodnights, she nonchalantly shook my hand and leaned in for the most chaste of kisses. I was stunned, flattered and relieved. How wonderful. It is pretty obvious that I'm not the smoothest of characters and I'd just been out smoothed by this pretty girl with the sparkling blue eyes. We then walked back to our cars. I drove home with a nice buzz and a tingle on my lips. I'm not sure how much was from the wine and how much was from the kiss. What a wonderful evening.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I've been struggling to fairly describe this movie. I didn't think it was that great, but I don't want to give the impression that it is without merit. I wouldn't want to prevent people from seeing it. I was chatting with someone about the movie and I think that conversation best expresses my feelings. I'm lazy, so rather than edit into something coherent, I will copy and paste it here and let you sort out the mess.
(11:04:14) Somebody Else: did you see the movie this week?
(11:04:24) Me: oh. yes.
(11:04:25) Somebody Else: and
(11:04:28) Somebody Else: how was it
(11:05:14) Me: I'm tempted to say ham handed, but so many people are raving about it that I feel like I'm kicking somebody's puppy.
(11:05:42) Me: I think if it had been made 10 years ago, it would have been a classic
(11:06:54) Me: The premise is still a good one, but some of the lengths that the director had to go to, to pull it off, are a bit tired.
(11:07:39) Somebody Else: interesting
(11:07:44) Me: He has to sling around as many racial stereotypes and epithets in a comical manner that it looses its power.
(11:08:02) Me: I think Spike Lee did it much better in Bamboozled.
(11:09:23) Me: But that's just me. I know a lot of people are raving about it. I think it is still worth seeing, but it definitely didn't feel ground breaking to me.
So there you have it. Once again, this movie is a valiant effort, but not a classic in my eyes.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Monday, February 27, 2006
I'm a book junkie
Friday, February 17, 2006
Now, I'm not going to make excuses for these companies. They do what they do to make money and for the most part are amoral. On the other hand, I think to criticize them for doing business with China after lowering the trade barriers is a little disingenuous. This is morally equivalent to beckoning a chained dog from right outside the arc of packed dirt that represents the length of his chain and then laughing when he's jerked back having reached the extent of the chain. If China is so evil (I think it is), then why are we doing business with them at all. Is it OK to trade with them or not? I would argue that despite the controls that these companies are helping put in place the access that it promotes is justified.
I'm going to make a little aside here. I was about to quote Stewart Brand by saying "Information wants to be free", but I wanted to check the attribution first. It turns out that my interpretation of Brand's intent was flawed. I'd always thought that he was describing the memetic nature of information. I was wrong. He was making a statement about the value of information. The full quote is:
"Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine---too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, 'intellectual property', the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better."
I was not aware of anything past the first sentence. His statement is insightful, but not appropriate to the argument at hand. Given that disclaimer, let me misuse his words. Information Wants To Be Free. Information Wants to Be Free. Information Wants To Be Free. The internet is a powerful medium. I believe that the internet is a useful tool to insure the freedom of information. The open access to information is a key in the search for truth. The more open that access, the easier the search for truth. So the restrictions placed by the Chinese government are ultimately counter to that search, but I believe that the greater good of access to the medium (though restricted) is much more valuable. Without that access, the search for truth and power and self determination are stymied. I'm of the opinion, where the internet is concerned at least, that limited access and unlimited access are or will ultimately be equivalent. Whatever barriers that are put in place to restrict access will ultimately be circumvented. That's just the nature of the beast. The flip side of that coin is that no access to the medium means no opportunities to circumvent the barriers. Example? North Korea. I also believe, that given the choice, most people will choose enlightenment over ignorance. Sometimes it is a painful choice to make but enough people will make the choice to make the difference. People just need to see that there is a choice to make.
What's the moral to the story? Make up your own.
UPDATE (2/19/2006): I just ran across this article and I think it demonstrates my point.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
-- Stephen Jay Gould
Oh how I appreciate this statement. It so captures the sentiment of the social and philosophical war that is currently taking place between the side of sanity and the side of the religious right. I've been thinking about this topic alot lately. I'm very dissapointed at how gullible some people seem to be. People's willingness to accept that a supposedly loving god would willingly create a universe in such a way that the observable laws of the universe would work in a way counter to what we are told by certain believers in this god.
There are two things that are going on that I think that this quote speaks to. The first, is of course the despicable attempts to poison our science education with the notion the notion of Intelligent Design. The second is this incident . For those of you too lazy to read the article the gist of the article goes into bullying performed by a Bush appointee. There were efforts to suppress science that ran counter to the administration policy. There was also a demand that all mentions of the Big Bang be as prepended with the word theory. These subtle and not so subtle attempts to poison our nation's leadership in the sciences are despicable and underhanded.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Since the internet is truly the source of all knowledge, I decided to do a little research. During dinner, a friend of mine mentioned her personal record for the number of times to have masturbated in one day. Seven. Given that my own personal best is probably in that range I was reassured that this person, who I consider "normal", was at least as frustrated/bored/horny as I'd once been. I know it is weird, but I was reassured by that. This little fact stuck in my head. How much does a normal person set aside for "me time", and how often is "normal"? Am I normal, or did I just manage to meet someone else who was sitting at the far end of the Bell curve? Yes, I knew going into this, that the search was futile, but I was bored and unable to sleep, so what else was I going to do. He he.
When I am in the midst of internet research, my first, last and usually only stop is Google. I googled around for a while and found nothing to answer my question, but like almost every trip to the internet I soon found something to pique my interest. While I do keep a blog I'm not an avid reader of blogs. This one just happened to catch my eye. The only problem was that it was on a for pay site. The site is called nerve. Most of their content is free for the public. There are however sections that are marked as "for premium members only". I managed to stumble across one and was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to see all the pictures. Just for you that don't know, nerve is one of the more cerebral adult oriented sites. Is that an oxymoron? Is it possible to be adult oriented, pornographic even and be cerebral at the same time? That is a mental exercise left to the reader. I don't really care at this moment.
OK. I'm now three paragraphs into this post and I'm not sure why I started it. The titled doesn't seem to match the topic of the post much. Oh well. I guess the point is probably a bad idea to buy a subscription to a porn site at 4 in the morning after sleeping on the couch. Consider yourself warned.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security -- Benjamin Franklin
"We have to remember that we're talking about a wartime foreign intelligence program," he said. "It is an early warning system with only one purpose: to detect and prevent the next attack on the United States from foreign agents hiding in our midst."
This sounds so much like something from the red scare. "We must unite against the enemy among us!" This news story makes me happy. Let's not ever get comfortable with being spied upon. Let's also not let the spies get comfortable as well. They need to fear us and not the other way around.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Does anybody else see the irony in the fact that the Me Generation gave birth to a generation so self centered that we are called pathologically disloyal.
I will say that the statement may be overly broad. As a whole, I think my generation is quite loyal on a personal level. However, on a professional level I think it is probably spot on. Is this because we are selfish? Maybe. I think it has more to do with the fact that there is often very little to be gained by loyalty to one organization. I think we have become cynical enough to realize that an organization (company, political party, government, etc) as a whole can be expected to look out for its own interest and will often do so at the expense of those associated with the organization. That type of behavior makes sense when some lofty goal is associated. I can buy into the "good of the many over the good of the few" argument when we are talking about things like universal education or a cure for cancer. I don't however see what I get out of that type of thinking about a company. What do I get if I'm loyal to a company? A gold watch? Who gives a shit? I don't even wear watches, and if I did, I'd buy my own.
Friday, January 20, 2006
I'm not sure if this dream begins "in medias res" or that's just how I remember it, but that's how I will recount it. The first part of the dream that I remember is lying flat on my back, while straddled by a very beautiful woman. She is someone I know. Have you ever known the identity of a character in one of your dreams, but have the individual not look anything like the actual person? That is the way that this dream was going.
In the dream, she kisses me. After she kisses me, I notice that I have some sort of food in my mouth. Have you ever eaten a meal, and you notice 20 minutes later that there is that little bit of food in your mouth? You can't believe the food has been there the whole time. I'm sitting there wondering if this is from my breakfast or hers. Eventually, I recognize that it is Kix cereal in my mouth. As I'm chewing even more appears in my mouth. Is it there because I didn't notice it or has she kissed me again and filled my mouth up with cereal? I don't know.
After the cereal, I notice that she has something written on her back. It is a large tattoo that written in large script letters that fill her back. The lettering is black ink with sort of a rose-colored shadow behind the letters. How I notice this beyond me, since she's facing me. I try to read what is on her back, but I don't remember what it said.
Next she says, "Let's play a game. It's called comfort zone". I look around and see a couple of dice, little cardboard and plastic game pieces are strewn around the bed. That's about when the alarm went off.
Let the psychoanalysis begin.