Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sorcerer's apprentice

Recently I took a 13 year old greatniece (K), her 11 year old brother (M) and her 13 year old friend (C) Christmas shopping at Woodfield Mall in exurban Chicago. Once the largest indoor mall on the continent, it's still #3 to my knowledge, so I figured that my downstate relatives would enjoy it.

I set some ground rules before we set foot in the mall. We'd split up - K with C and M with me. Both girls had cellphones, and we preprogrammed all of them with each others' numbers. We synchronized watches and agreed to check in at a certain time, after which we'd reunite and take it from there.

Some might doubt how good an idea it was to turn the girls loose like that in a huge mall 100+ miles from home during Christmas rush. But with both of them armed with cellphones and sticking together, and with blessing from both sets of parents, I figured we had everything covered. As it turned out they played by the rules and everyone seemed to have had a good time.

K and C might have had even more fun if they had had credit cards, but hey, I'm not a total idiot. After we regrouped and ate, we made a second pass to pick up what K and M had picked out for Christmas (C was on her own, and her parents had sent plenty of cash with her - everyone knew the plan).

M wasn't too much trouble - a couple of computer games, some cheap clothes at JCPenney and that was it. But his sister...nothing but Abercrombies or Hollister's would do. Merely passing through JCP on the way in and out of the mall was as much as she could be expected to bear.

And then we got to Victoria's Secret. It turns out that K wanted to take a look around.

Hey, I like the scenery too, but today I'm in Daddy mode and well remembering a generation ago. Then I had K's aunt and her friend with me as I drove them around shopping for prom dresses. It seemed that about every time I had young girls in my car I'd get pulled over for something, and that night I wound up in jail (long story later). With that vivid memory in mind, the thought of being seen paying for some clothes for an underaged and overdeveloped 13 year old girl (the little squirt is already sporting a C rack on a small frame, and she knows it) just didn't appeal to me.

Well, I could have sucked it up and gone into the store with her. I'm no coward or prude and my pants were baggy. But I told her that I wouldn't be buying her anything from there, and that was that.

I can hear it now. I just can't deal with "budding sexuality". I'm repressive. I'm treating a young woman like a child. I'm part of a patriarchy seeking to deny women power. And so on.

No. But I'd like to see the kid happily married before she gets knocked up, as disgustingly quaint as that sequence of events might seem nowadays. We don't need another sorcerer's apprentice toying with things she doesn't understand yet. She'll attract enough attention without Victoria's Secret togs. And if by chance VC sells anything that isn't particularly provocative, I dare suggest that she can find it cheaper somewhere else.

Anyway, K didn't pout or anything when I stopped short of VC. She already had plenty of swag in any case, and from what little I see of her she's a good kid.

And whenever I get a chance I'm gonna help her stay that way.

Words of love

That old charmer Garrison Keillor...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Policy proposal

Perhaps we should hire children to be govt officials. They'd work cheaper, wouldn't perform any worse in many cases, and there's always the chance that they won't be as immature and utterly selfish as some of the bastards we have now.

Victor Davis Hanson notes that 3 of the biggest critics of the conduct of the Iraq war (John Murtha, Richard Clarke and Wesley Clark) have another thing in common - they didn't get enough strokes from the Bush Administration. So the creeps did what creeps do.

LBJ used to say that he didn't trust a man unless he "had his pecker in my pocket". Let these men be rendered trustworthy at the earliest opportunity.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Friday, December 02, 2005

She's Back!

Give up, Michael Eisner - richer and smarter villains than you have failed to kill Kim Possible.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Another day on ScrappleFace

I read Scrappleface a lot more often than I link there. Good grief, what to pick? - this guy always has something good. I'd probably do better just to rename this blog "Scrappleface West" or something and to link to all of his posts.

Well, one day won't hurt. Go to the top and scroll down.

Consolation prize

You don't have to be a doctor to know that getting fat is bad for your heart.

Of course this can lead to heart damage.

Certain types of heart damage can be treated effectively with adult stem cells.

And it appears that these adult stem cells can be derived from.....fat.

Long distance dedication

No, I'm not Casey Kasem. I don't know if LDDs were his creation or not, but he used to feature them on his weekly radio show "American Top 40".

Alright Casey, I'll dedicate this song to you and the peaceniks currently being held hostage in Iraq.

Y'all may be scared, but don't lose your heads. Better people than you are working to get your sorry asses out, so you can spread more nonsense like this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Engineers get horny too

There's a website for everything, and now Boing-Boing points us to Homemade Sex Toys and their instructions for expanding the entertainment potential of an old Atari 2600 controller.

Radioactive consumer products

I'll bet that there's a lot more of them than you think. Check it out here.

Attention gay Iraq War vets

How about dating Ted Rall?

Never mind - you've sacrificed enough already.

Stolen from The Corner.

Lest we forget

Greyhawk has put together a timeline from 1998 showing events from Iraq and the Clinton Administration. As usual with Greyhawk, there's a lot there - keep it for reference.

Via RSS (Reynolds's sloppy seconds).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

He must have inhaled

Way back in HS I was a wrestler. I had a winning record and all, but was nothing spectacular, and if I wanted to go to the state finals I would have needed a ticket.

But I had started late and wasn't ready to quit. Title IX hadn't decimated college wresting teams yet, so I wrote off to a couple of schools where I had applied to engineering school. I got some letters back and...well, I'm a pack rat, but I had those letters for years just for being acknowledged by some very successful programs.

Nothing came of it all. I was running late for the first practice in college and took a nasty fall down some concrete steps. I tried to wrestle through it and wound up with an injury that ended my season. I never went back.

What if...?

And Bill Richardson wants me to believe that he really didn't know whether he had been drafted into major league baseball by the KC Athletics?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Woman with food allergy dies after kiss

Right here.

Her boyfriend had had peanuts hours before. Sheesh!

Stolen from Medpundit, who has more.

Move over Detroit

Check out the latest in brazen crime in Baltimore:
Thieves are sawing down aluminum light poles. Some 130 have vanished from Baltimore's streets in the last several weeks, the authorities say, presumably sold for scrap metal. But so far the case of the pilfered poles has stumped the police, and left many local residents wondering just how someone manages to make off with what would seem to be a conspicuous street fixture.

The poles, which weigh about 250 pounds apiece, have been snatched during the day and in the middle of the night, from two-lane blacktop roads and from parkways with three lanes on either side of grass median strips, in poor areas and in some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods. Left behind are half-foot stubs of metal, with wires that carry 120 volts neatly tied and wrapped in black electric tape.

"It's a newfound phenomenon; I have to say we haven't seen this before," said David Brown, a spokesman for the city's transportation department . "Apparently, the culprits know what they're doing because we're talking about 30-foot poles here. It's not like you can stick one in a grocery cart and get rolling."
How about this?
"If the cops can't catch guys who're cutting down 30-foot poles, how are they going to crack a major drug gang?" said Chip Franklin, a talk-show host on WBAL Radio, a local news and talk station. "What's next? Someone taking a downtown building?"

But Lynn Smith, the manager at the Modern Junk and Salvage Company in Baltimore, said the thieves' quest for quick cash did not surprise her. "They find any way they can to get the metal and then the money in Baltimore," Ms. Smith said. "They don't care how they get it."

She added that she and other local dealers in scrap metal were "on alert" for sections of aluminum light poles and would not buy them. But, Ms. Smith suggested, thieves may be cutting the poles into pieces, then heading out of town to sell the scrap aluminum, which goes for about 35 cents a pound.

It will cost about $156,000 to replace each pole, the metal arms that extend over roads and the glass globes, city officials said.
250 lbs/pole * 0.35 $/lb
= $87.50 worth of aluminum as scrap, and that certainly isn't the only cost for the thieves. Surely thieves with enough talent to pull this off can make better money doing something else.

Such as reinstalling them for $156K or so a pop....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The power of the Internet

Admit it, you've never heard of Princeton, IL. The college went to the one in New Jersey, the big Toyota plant went to the one in IN. But our Princeton, halfway between Chicago and the Quad Cities on I-80, has its high speed Internet delivered over power lines.
The Princeton service, which began testing this spring, is being watched by small communities across Illinois. One member of the Illinois Commerce Commission hopes other towns will experiment with BPL to spread Internet connectivity and drive down costs.

About 15 customers are served by Princeton's BPL test deployment, which demonstrates the service is robust and works well, said Jason Bird, superintendent of Princeton's municipal electric utility.

"From the utility's standpoint, this hasn't been difficult," he said. "The equipment is similar to what we work with every day."

Customers seem to like the service, especially the in-house portability BPL offers. A computer can move from one room to another and go online simply by plugging its modem into any electrical outlet in the house.

"I'm much more active on the Interent now because the speed is much better than with dial-up," said Leslie Lund, who began using BPL in March. "I don't get interference, even when my husband uses his power tools."

The electric line connections get their Internet signals from a 12-mile loop of fiber that Princeton installed last year as a means of attracting industrial development. After one factory left town in 2003 and the manager of another complained about the town's lack of advanced communications infrastructure, the city decided it needed fiber, said Mayor Keith Cain.

"We already had our own electric utility, so that gave us a real advantage," he said.
In addition to the above, it keeps competitors honest:
Since the city installed fiber and started testing BPL the local cable and phone operators upgraded their systems and cut service rates, he said.
Woe to the early adopters:
One downside to Princeton's BPL experience has been an inability to get enough equipment to begin the commercial rollout sooner, Cain said. The town's BPL vendor ran into financial difficulty and stopped producing equipment while it went into reorganization.

Under new ownership, the vendor now says it can ship the products needed for the rollout, said Steve Brust, vice president of Connecting Point Community Centers, the Internet service provider that manages Princeton's broadband service.

"The equipment works fine, but it's proprietary," Brust said. "There are a lot of companies in BPL right now, but there are no standards and no one company dominates the market."

Lack of standards is common with any new technology, said Raymond Blair, vice president for BPL initiatives for IBM Corp. Broadband technologies like Wi-Fi that are based on standards enjoy popularity because the equipment is interoperable and less expensive than proprietary systems.

At least three industry-based committees are working toward BPL standardization, Blair said. The emerging industry should benefit from their work within a year or two, he said.

"The best case for BPL right now lies in creating a smart electrical grid," Blair said. Utilities can spot trouble, read meters, improve efficiencies and generally boost reliability once they install fiber to monitor their grids, he said.

Once BPL standards are in place, equipment costs will drop, making a stronger economic case for offering high-speed Internet to residences, Blair said.
If this be pork, it's my favorite kind:
There will be another $5 million available next year, and he hopes that some BPL projects will receive a portion of that Digital Divide infrastructure funding.

Also, Lieberman said, the ICC and state lawmakers need to provide incentives to electric utilities to install smart grid equipment that makes BPL to residential customers possible. Texas lawmakers recently adopted such incentives, and legislators in New York are considering doing so, he said.
And if that doesn't work:
Power lines aren't the Internet's only new avenue into homes. There's also interest in using natural gas pipelines.

Broadband in gas, or BiG, has been proven to work in concept, although field trials haven't yet been launched, said George West, a senior analyst with West Technology Research Solutions, a market research firm based in Mountain View, Calif.

BiG would rely upon ultra-wideband radio waves traveling through gas pipes to bring Internet to customers. The Federal Communications Commission approved ultra-wideband applications a few years ago but requires they operate at very low power to avoid interference with wireless phones and other appliances.

Pumping ultra-wideband signals along gas lines buried underground would shield them from interference, enabling them to operate at higher power, West said. "BiG has the potential to serve 18 million homes by 2010."
I just got my latest bill for broadband. This can't happen soon enough.

Stuffing staff stiff

The inventor of Stove Top stuffing has died.

Link thanks to Doctor Frank, who needs to follow this link and get his act to Chicago!

Stop it or you'll go blind

Just now on the tube a law firm advertised for people who went blind after using erectile dysfunction drugs.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

So it goes

I used to have some intellectual respect for Kurt Vonnegut. I started with "Jailbird", then went back and read all the earlier stuff and eagerly awaited new releases. You never used to know what was coming next in his books, such as the * he'd put next to characters' names in "Galapagos" so you'd know they'd be dead soon. Hi ho.

But alas, the craziness has escaped his books. Now he has made the news for saying something too far out for even a Kilgore Trout book. That's too bad for *his reputation.

I've got it. Have you read "Mother Night"?. He's playing the "hero", a broadcaster who ostensibly is a propagandist like Lord Haw-haw or Peter Arnett, but who is actually sending coded information to the Allies in his announcements.

Or maybe he's just senile.

Yeah, he's always been a liberal, but he used to have some sense. I'll submit this as evidence.

At least they don't like ties

I'm not a big fan of ties. It turns out that it puts me in some swell company.
And this just in about neckties: (1) Our friends the Saudis ban them in Saudi Arabia as symbols of Zoroastrianism, a religion originating in the Persia that is today's Iran; (2) Iran bans them as symbols of the cross.
That and other wisdom found right here.

Adolescent doll

No, this isn't about some Lolita I met. I've just seen too many toy ads for this Christmas, and the latest was a doll that burps.

But it was just another baby doll. Yawn - how about something different? Of course adult dolls (inflatable or otherwise (NSFW)) have a bad rep, but why not adolescent dolls? Now that we have burping technology, let's use it.

And while we're at it, what else would an adolescent doll do? Pout? Slouch? Whine?

And what would it say? "You never let me do that!" "All my friends are going!" "You never make him/her do that!"


Sunday, November 20, 2005

List of CDs affected by Sony rootkit folly

Right here.

I haven't bought a CD from *any* publisher since this hit the fan. Do you suppose that the next time we hear the big music companies complain about declining sales, they'll attribute any of it to stunts like this?

Monday, November 14, 2005

It keeps getting worse

Sony really goofed with that rootkit-based copy management software that they installed on entertainment CDs. And it's not over yet. Here's a timeline of the entire debacle from BoingBoing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Still a dirtbag after all these years

from this

Former president Bill Clinton called Congress' impeachment of him an "egregious" abuse of the Constitution and challenged those who say history will judge him poorly because of his White House tryst with Monica Lewinsky.
That's right. There's plenty of other things to judge him poorly for. Where do I start?

Speaking at an academic conference examining his presidency here Thursday, Clinton challenged historian Douglas Brinkley's comments in a newspaper interview that Clinton would be deemed a great president were it not for his impeachment.
But for the wrong reason. This man has the brass-balled effrontery to suggest that he really was a great President. He wants to claim credit for Middle East peace initiatives (regardless of their abject failure), and "turning around the economy" (as if Reagan's policies, the end of the Cold War and Bush 41's paying the bill for the S&L fiasco had nothing to do with it). And that's not to mention the cancers that he let grow that metastasized into 9/11.

Oh yeah, the impeachment was "about a blowjob"? If it was trivial, why did our erstwhile law professor lie about it? Protecting his wife, my eye - you do that by keeping your hands to yourself. Or at least by being more selective - all those women in Washington and elsewhere and he couldn't find someone with some discretion? Hint - try someone who can abstain from showing off her thong for a meeting or two.

But oh no - he played chicken with Ken Starr, he lost, and then claimed it was Starr who lacked discretion.

The fact is that he knew his sleaziness was a big deal with the electorate, which is why he made such a big show of going to church, sending goons after his "bimbo eruptions" and otherwise being phony. His only enduring legacy will be how he and his minions cheapened public discourse just to spare his degenerate carcass from a fate better than what he deserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Am I the only one...

...who thinks the two main characters of "Law and Order:Criminal Intent" look like Penn and Teller?

Talking sense about abortion

Jane Galt goes on at length here and for several more posts down.

And let's get real. Repealing Roe v. Wade would not make abortion illegal. It would, however, return control of our laws to voters, and right a historic wrong. Lefties won on abortion - now let the people have the Constitution back.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Should we send troops to help France?

After a couple of weeks of riots the French might need bailing out again. Of course bloggers are on the cutting edge of analysis, pondering the ramifications and potential responses. One potential scenario is investigated here.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Energy Webring

You'll find a link at the bottom of this page, or you can click here for a list. There's a small but diverse selection of blogs, and perhaps the seeds of yet another Carnival...


This post is both an excellent brief statement of the case for capital punishment and an interesting example of what could be academic bias.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The last word

IMO anyone who isn't blindly partisan knows that Dan Rather was working with faked documents when he tried to screw George Bush on 60 Minutes. But I can't resist pointing out this item I stumbled across looking for something else.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Save money this Christmas

I'm terrible about impulse shopping, but I'm getting smarter. This year I'm waiting for the first day after Thanksgiving - Black Friday - to see what the big retailers will be up to. I'll be sure to look over the sales flyers before I spend any serious money.

And it turns out that there's a sneak preview of many big retailers' ads here. For instance, will you really be able to get an HP desktop or laptop from Walmart for $398?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rosa Parks in context

No one covers the history of racial policies worldwide like Thomas Sowell. Here he covers the background of discrimination in public transportation before her famous ride. Such as this:
Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem. Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races.

These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about.

It was politics that segregated the races because the incentives of the political process are different from the incentives of the economic process. Both blacks and whites spent money to ride the buses but, after the disenfranchisement of black voters in the late 19th and early 20th century, only whites counted in the political process.

It was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of the white voters to demand racial segregation. If some did and the others didn't care, that was sufficient politically, because what blacks wanted did not count politically after they lost the vote.

The incentives of the economic system and the incentives of the political system were not only different, they clashed. Private owners of streetcar, bus, and railroad companies in the South lobbied against the Jim Crow laws while these laws were being written, challenged them in the courts after the laws were passed, and then dragged their feet in enforcing those laws after they were upheld by the courts.

These tactics delayed the enforcement of Jim Crow seating laws for years in some places. Then company employees began to be arrested for not enforcing such laws and at least one president of a streetcar company was threatened with jail if he didn't comply.

None of this resistance was based on a desire for civil rights for blacks. It was based on a fear of losing money if racial segregation caused black customers to use public transportation less often than they would have in the absence of this affront.

Just as it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of whites to demand racial segregation through the political system to bring it about, so it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of blacks to stop riding the streetcars, buses and trains in order to provide incentives for the owners of these transportation systems to feel the loss of money if some blacks used public transportation less than they would have otherwise.

People who decry the fact that businesses are in business "just to make money" seldom understand the implications of what they are saying. You make money by doing what other people want, not what you want.
No, I didn't quote *all* of it, but only out of a nod toward "fair use". Read it all, and when you're finished read every other word he's written.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A dirge from the den

Momma Bear is gone. She's one of countless bloggers I wish I could have met, and I only knew one of her personae (mainly from here).

More here and here (links courtesy of Instapundit).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Acidman's all stars...

...are manning his blog while the ornery ol' cuss dries out here. Check it out - they promise to keep the NSFW pictures below the fold now.

Hang in there, Rob.

Goodbye Rosa Parks

Too bad these things aren't negotiable. I'd gladly trade Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Julian Bond and the entire Congressional Black Caucus to have her back. She was the real thing.

Why must we care?

Astros first W.S. team in 52 years without black player

Is this resulting from discrimination of some sort? No? Then shut up, go away and find something less tiresome to talk about.

Blood for URLs?

Thanks to Chaz for pointing to this, describing how the Internet would be run under the UN.

Go figure

KJ Lopez from National Review likes the latest Rob Schneider movie? Would I lie about something as earthshakingly significant as this? See for yourself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Selling point

Lately I find myself producing more and more documents with Adobe Acrobat - the familiar .pdf files.

This is just one reason why.

I wonder if this was really an accident?


Editors's mouths are watering worldwide at the prospect of writing about the US's 2000th fatality in Iraq. They can't even bear to wait until it actually happens. So already we're seeing articles like this one, which tells us "Iraq Insurgency Shows No Signs of Slowdown".

Oh, really? How about these reports?
  • the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum and the start of Saddam Hussein's trial four days later passed without major bloodshed and destruction
  • [Iraqi and US officials] also are upbeat about the growing efficiency and number — 200,000 at present — of Iraq's security forces, although some U.S. commanders say the Iraqis need 18 months to two years before they can fight the insurgency unaided.
  • Recent operations in western Iraq, especially in towns along the Euphrates River close to the Syrian border, are said to have been effective in disrupting the insurgents' supply lines and reducing the number of car bombs.
  • Stepped-up security has forced insurgents in recent weeks to largely abandon using car bombs and resort to indirect fire, such as lobbing mortar shells from afar, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said.
  • Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said troops captured more than 300 foreign fighters and killed 100 members of al-Qaida in Iraq the past six months. Other successes include the detention of 600 insurgents in the two weeks before the referendum, said Maj. Gen. William G. Webster, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad.
All those bullets are found further down in the very same article. You have to wonder just what it would take to make this reporter and his editors happy.
But experts contend the fighting could soon begin to take dramatic turns, more heavily influenced by outside events and possibly bringing new factions into the fight.

For example, they say, if Washington and London continue to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, Iraq's Shiite neighbor could be tempted to encourage radical Iraqi Shiite factions to stage attacks on U.S. and British forces.
Oh yeah, like they aren't already. It's absurd to think that Iran wouldn't seek influence within Iraq, and the easiest way is through the Shiites.

The article closes by repeating a point mentioned repeatedly earlier in the body:
"As long as there are Americans in Iraq, Islamists will want to go and fight them," said Dia'a Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Muslim militant groups
OK, except he's too specific. As long as there are *Americans*, Islamists will want to go and fight them. The only answer is to kill the bastards. And I'd rather do it in Iraq with our servicemen and women than in the US with cops and lawyers.

Brendan Loy, weather boy

If you've been following Katrina or other hurricanes and you've been watching blogs, you know where to find the latest info. The Weather Channel? Of course not - see Brendan Loy's blog.

Apparently the Washington Post knows this too - they profile Loy here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cry me a river

When my high school wrestling team visited other schools our coach insisted that we all wear ties and sport coats. We weren't all exactly affluent, but we all managed to comply.

Apparently that's too much to expect of NBA players - some of them are moaning about a dress code.

One jackass said that the NBA players ought to be paid for the clothes they needed to wear to meet the standards - you know, as if they were underpaid. Sheesh, the real issue is the ostentatious and classless display of wealth.

Another complained that it was aimed at "young black men". Well, it might have more impact among them for sure. But IMO it's aimed at anyone with no class, for the excellent reason that the league has an image problem. If these hyperprivileged individuals want to continue to appeal to mass audiences they ought to realize that while maybe we tolerate individual "gangstas" getting rich, we don't need a league full of wannabes. Heaven forbid that our nation's youth should see a bunch of young black men looking sharp in reasonably traditional dress.

Oh yeah, we heard the obligatory BS that...well, let them say it - "Hey, a guy could come in with baggy jeans, a do-rag and have a Ph.D., and a person who comes in with a suit could be a three-time felon. So, it's not what you wear, it's how you present yourself." If they really believe that, then what's the problem with abiding by the new rules?

Friday, October 14, 2005

I went to college with a bunch of frustrated engineers. Not being Lotharios by nature, and outnumbering the women significantly, they spent much time sing women's praises.

Quite often this took the form of what ordeal they would suffer for what reward. For instance, of one woman I heard someone say that he'd slither on his belly over a mile of broken glass just to hear her pee in a bucket over the telephone. Greater love hath no man.

Others became cynical. They would propose alternative designs for ideal women. These prodigies were usually about waist high with no teeth, and had flat heads to rest your drink on. Or maybe they'd turn into a pizza and a six pack immediately after sex.

But I don't recall anyone proposing any fundamental changes to breasts. Individuals might need adjustments for size or attitude, but the Ideal remained unchallenged as Perfect.

Apparently those days have passed. We've been stuffing or otherwise altering breasts for about half a century now, but at least that showed respect for the Ideal.

It's true that breasts have often been used for functions other than the esthetic, erotic or maternal. Easyriders may still be running their "perfect ear warmers" ads, for instance. But that's a collateral benefit that still respects tradition. The Ideal still stood.

But no more:
Computer chips that store music could soon be built into a woman's breast implants.

One boob could hold an MP3 player and the other the person's whole music collection.

BT futurology, who have developed the idea, say it could be available within 15 years.
A rack-mounted stereo, eh? Is this the future Ray Kurzweil and Glenn Reynolds have been promising us? Yeah, today's areolas will be tomorrow's Ipod controls (and in the meantime maybe Apple should consider some new color schemes).

Why stop there? Implant coils in vaginas and magnets in penises et al and you can generate power. (Low on energy? - reverse the power).

Sheesh, I really must have something better to do. Blame this on the Ananova link above, via Best of the Web.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Crack lexicographer needed

You name the body part, I'll give you a nice clean Latin name for it. Except one.

Something happened at work today that led to a long-awaited resolution. I was trying to express the relief in colorful terms and started to say something like "removing a carbuncle from..." and then I couldn't think of a good word for what I had in mind.

It's the part you probably associate with plumbers. I'd really rather reserve "cleavage" for other contexts. "Cleft" is too poetic, and "crack" is just too crass.

Alright, wordsmiths - is there a good term for this?


Michelle Malkin seems to think that the Georgia Tech incident from yesterday was a prank.

That sounds about right to me. Tech is a very highly rated technical school with the requisite large geek contingent. If you want those geeks to put a man on the moon, no problem.

But if you want those same guys to put a *woman* anywhere, forget it. Social awareness tends toward nil. They're definitely clueless enough to make things go boom next door to a football stadium when people are antsy about terrorism. (Yes, they have some geeky women too).

And what were the "bombs"? Quoth the article, "Two Georgia Tech freshman dormitories were evacuated Monday when a plastic water bottle found in a courtyard exploded with a loud bang in a campus custodian's hands."

Consequences? "The employee, who complained of ringing in his ears, was taken to a clinic for evaluation, but was not seriously injured."

Believe me, this campus could pritnear put a Daisy Cutter in a bottle. Somebody was playing.

My money says that we'll find some freshmen in need of, um, counseling.

Don't miss PhotoDude, who adds a bit more about Tech and the mysterious appearance of a jet in Gwinnett County, GA, just northeast of Atlanta.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Fetus farming

from MedPundit

Pharm team

In Hollywood or New York I'm told that about all the waiters are really actors. But from this it appears that some wanted to be doctors.

Maybe most of the people who read that post and found it to be a riot were medical professionals of some sort. If not, why did so many know so many different drugs and what they're used for? Is that common knowledge nowadays, and if so, doesn't that say something about us?

Or should I just take a pill?

Link via Medpundit.

Monday, October 03, 2005

One for the lefties

Just about everyone seems to be chewing on President Bush today, so it's as good a time as any to pass on this joke.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dr. Elmo

You may well have heard of him, believe it or not. He's famous for a Christmas song.

For lots of information even more worthless than this, check this out.

Rules for thee and not for me

Talk to a liberal long enough and you're bound to hear some diatribe about White Collar Crime!

Fine. It's a problem.

It might well be that my experience is unrepresentative. But I can't tell you how many times I've heard gripes about white collar crime from people who wouldn't hesitate to cheat on their taxes and insurance claims. Or from politicians who don't play by the rules on campaign finance.

And I don't ever recall the day that people feared walking down the street because someone, say, looted an S&L.

And how many of us pay lower prices because of illegal aliens? That's right - employing them is white collar crime. Good grief, I never see anyone sweating outside a health club nowadays unless he's Hispanic - who would do the work in this culture if they left?

Bottom line - be careful what you ask for.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Friday, September 30, 2005

Washington v. business

My new employer has a PAC, and recently has been trying to get employes more interested in the political process.

Gosh, what has taken them so long? After all, any good liberal can tell you that businesses are on the offense in Washington, afflicting innocent legislators with their incessant desires for favors.

Shouldn't Wall Street be giving them favorable press? "XCo rose 2 points on knowledge that they'd started a PAC. Amalgamated WTF fell 3% after their chief lobbyist went to work for their chief competitor."

Or could it be that in fact it's the other way around - that businesses have to cover their backs in Washington lest they get their pockets picked or get legislated out of existence?

Jonah Goldberg knows the answer and talks about it here.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Abusable information

My nephew recently had a birthday. It's hard to believe that the varmint is in his 30s now. Or that I'd still call him something like that.

Anyway, I probably taught him most of the obnoxious little tricks every adolescent boy loves to learn. Inadvertantly, of course - I'd always tell him he shouldn't do X, and then explain X in detail. Things like "if you answer the phone and it's a boy asking for your sister, don't tell him 'she's taking a huge dump right now'". Somehow he kept getting the wrong idea.

(It was probably good for him though. I wasn't always around to help him. So, like the boy named Sue, he learned how to fight for his life against older, bigger, dirty fighters, which could serve him well in later life.)

We're both older now, so we wouldn't do things like that any more. We have younger relatives for that.

Anyway, in a few years my nephew might even be in the market for products like Rogaine. So he, and perhaps you, should know that you can't let cats consume Rogaine, because it can cause a fatal drop in blood pressure. And if you get any bright ideas like treating baldness on a cat with Rogaine, you should know that the cat will wind up consuming it as it licks itself.

This and other tidbits on the Hair Loss Blog.

Retailing riddle

Is it fair to say that if a man has a larger waist size, that on average he's taller?

That being so, why do retailers stack the small sizes on top and the larger sizes on the bottom? The short guys are closer to the floor already - why shouldn't they have to bend over or get on their knees to shop instead of the larger ones?

And the fat guys have a harder time bending over - if they weren't so politically incorrect someone would be hollering "Discrimination!"

Monday, September 26, 2005

Credit card security

Among my many past contract jobs was a 2 year stint in the credit card industry. It was interesting to see how the credit card industry really worked.

In particular, I found that according to Federal law, companies such as MasterCard and Visa are not permitted to have information that would permit them to identify the names and addresses of cardholders. Therefore they could not have contacted any customers impacted by security problems.

Banks are the card issuers. They are the ones who could notify cardholders if they chose to, if they knew the numbers of the affected cards. I'm guessing that the banks have that card number information.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Moonbattus rusticus

A relative tells me that her junior high aged daughter learned something interesting in school in downstate IL a while ago. It seems that the hurricanes are God's punishment for our involvement in war in the Gulf.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

If this were the Clinton Administration the Dems and Europeans would be saying that what the President does with his penis is none of our business.

Chernobyl a generation later

I was working in the nuclear power industry when Chernobyl happened in 1986. It was a very nasty accident, compounded by the fact that the Russian govt was trying to deny it happened even as outsiders could see the fire via satellite pictures. They couldn't very well evacuate people if nothing had happened, could they? What could we expect from a society that couldn't even run a farm?

The predictions were frightful. Fortunately for me, I was working around a bunch of people with the technical knowledge to show me that what had happened at Chernobyl simply couldn't happen at a US commercial power reactor - such a reactor never would have been licensed under US regulations. What's more, most Soviet reactors couldn't fail that way either - it was peculiar to RBMK models as opposed to the more common VVERs.

However flawed the design was, to call Chernobyl a failure is to be unfair to it - it simply wasn't designed to be operated the way it was at the time. The only reason why it was operated so was - are you ready for this? - to demonstrate how *safe* the design was.

Here Michael Fumento writes of a recent report on Chernobyl, produced by the UN with the benefit of almost 2 decades' worth of study of the aftermath of the accident. He writes
Indeed, “the largest public health problem created by the accident” is the “damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information,” the Chernobyl Forum found. “These problems manifest as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.”
Well, now we have some accurate information based on years of observation.

And environmentalists have no excuse for failing to inform the public of the truth about Chernobyl.

Don't hold your breath.

When Nike was a missile

Recently I looked into Nike missile history, and I was surprised to find how many bases were near me. As in just a few miles' drive. This was true around major cities in much of the country during the Cold War. This document describes a bit of the Nike history and some bases in Illinois.

As if it mattered...

I'm not fully settled in Chicago yet, but I'm getting there. Now I finally have a comfortable place for the PC and high speed internet, so the world must once more suffer additions to this blog.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Me too

Ain't it great about how everyone can seize upon a disaster like Hurricane Katrina to advance their own political agendas?

No, I'm not innocent.

I see Glenn Reynolds pointing to the by-now familiar photo of flooded school buses in NO. It seems like one heck of an oversight when these buses could have been used to get people out of town.

Of course, then what do you do? NO at least owned the Superdome, so presumably putting people there would be cheaper in terms of transportation and lodging if people didn't have to stay too long. Maybe someone just made a really bad bet.

But then whenever I see a really questionable decision, I usually find that lawyers were involved. What do you think will take longer - reconstructing NO, or settling the last of the lawsuits?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Where to stop?

Eugene Volokh posts about same-sex marriage and slippery slopes.

Yeah, yeah, a slippery slope is a metaphor and not an argument. But the previous statement is not an argument either - invocation of the slippery slope metaphor does not invalidate an argument.

In this case IMO everything boils down to one question:

What legal, logical or moral argument(s) would a supporter of gay marriage use to oppose extending marriage beyond permitting same-sex couples? If these are unsound or nonexistent, then in fact we have a slippery slope - if we can't limit marriage to a pair consisting of a man and a woman, can we limit it at all?

Don't expect me to trust people not to push beyond a certain point. They will, if only out of orneriness.

Or for tax benefits.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Re Vioxx

I want to sue the jury. And whoever these idiots are who would justify a lack of caps on jury awards.

Let's suppose that the company was just the absolute incarnation of guilt (as opposed to the reality, in which there was no direct tie between Vioxx and the meal-ticket's victim's head). Suppose that the event warrants liquidation of the corporation down to the very last dime. Does it not make sense to hold a little something back until you know how many people were harmed, so there can be some equity in the recovery?

Or if the first plaintiff is permitted to suck a corporation dry, then let subsequent defendants sue the first to get their fair shares. Whatever its' drawbacks, this at least has the benefit of siccing the jackals on one another, permitting the productive sector of the economy to go back to producing the wealth that pays for these asininities.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Advice for the young businesswoman

Don't do this. Or if you do, don't try to explain it.

It's a video, for you poor benighted dialup users.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thither with Yon

Bless Michael Yon for his Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Jungle Law dispatch:
...Iraqis joke among themselves that they would pay 5,000 dinar per night to stay at Abu Ghraib prison. It's air-conditioned, the showers are good, the food is good, and the water is good.
There's so much more to read at his site in this item and many others - it should be a regular read.

Lay English

Russian born Eugene Volokh interprets "lay English" for us here. That's a particularly apt term because it's about getting laid (or not), and someone is putting a lot of English on it.

For instance, we have people tell us with a straight face that abstinence fails to prevent pregnancy. Sheesh, I hope they're wrong. Could it be that sex has nothing to do with conception? Is any woman subject to becoming pregnant at any time? Wow, it sounds almost as if they believe that *DIVINE INTERVENTION* is involved.

Yet somehow I suspect that people who spread this nonsense would argue energetically against the idea of a virgin birth. And if you really wanted to spin them up, tell them that by their definition, George Bush abstains from war.

(Condoms, OTOH, are beyond the reach of product liability even though they fail regularly even with perfect application by the users.)

How could someone reach a conclusion as stupid as what we're hearing about abstinence? Maybe it's something like this - 1) I abstained from sex with Julia Roberts, 2) she popped anyway, ergo 3) abstinence does not prevent pregnancy. This doesn't account for the women, but then an older relative who had had many kids used to tell me that she'd had 6 before she knew what caused it. (She was kidding)

No, the anti-abstention crowd isn't this stupid. They're just dishonest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Gump

There's more than one way to wave a bloody shirt. One would hope that the one doing it would do so consistently with its owner's implicit wishes. And in this case Cindy Sheehan's son Casey, who was lost from our all-volunteer Marines last year, presumably would be mortified to have his memory abused so.

I have no idea how I might react to a loss such as hers. And being 48, maybe she's dealing with menopause too. But we can say that many others (well over 1000 for this war) have suffered similarly without such effects - whether her behavior is understandable or not, it certainly isn't "normal" in any statistical sense.

No doubt the rest of her family feels the loss too. But they're mortified by her behavior, to the point where they've contacted the press. And her husband is divorcing her.

She made reference to the "man responsible for Casey's death". Apparently she believes that this man is President Bush and not those who made, planted and activated the device that killed him. It would be interesting to see if she also blames President Bush for the deaths on 9/11.

The whole thing reminds me of "Forrest Gump". A bunch of filthy antiwar nuts grabbed and put him in front of a mike to say something against the war while he's in uniform.

Fortunately for him, someone managed to cut off the PA systems so he couldn't embarrass himself. Too bad someone couldn't have done the same for Cindy Sheehan.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Still slow

I'm in IL, camping in Chicago during the work week until I come up with better arrangements. Last week I wound up somewhere where there was no broadband (horrors!), so no blogging happened.

It'll probably be this way for a while yet. But the least I can do is point you to Charles Austin's site, where he's raising money for the MDA.

And his friend did it?

Right here. Sheesh, what do his enemies do to him?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Slow blogging

If you've felt particularly ignorant lately I can explain it - I haven't been blogging much.

OTOH I've had crunch time for a project while I'm trying to move back to Chicago (my nominal job location) after a three month stay in Baltimore. And if I weren't such a slacker I'd be jamming more stuff into or atop my SUV for the trip right now. The weather forecast looks good, so it should be smooth sailing.

Alright, enough - it's off to Chicago...

Naming a planet

Dean Esmay's gang has this crazy idea that there might be a rational basis for naming a new planet.

More Greek and Roman names? Ha! Forget about it, you would-be cultural imperialist. That planet must be named something Culturally Inclusive, reflecting the Common Heritage of Mankind.

As for me, I propose "Teapot".

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nobody knows the troubles I've seen...

If someone wanted to avoid military service, they'd have done well to be born when I was. I was in HS as people were being flown off roofs in Saigon in helicopters as the Democrats implemented their go-to-hell-Vietnam policy. Draft registration was gone, and by the time it was reinstated I was exempt.

So I was never in danger of going to Vietnam against my will. I'm sure I would have if it had come up if only because every other man in the family had served in WWII, Korea or Vietnam, as had most of the older men I knew. I'd rather face the Viet Cong or anyone else than that crew.

But I wasn't looking forward to it. I had heard plenty:miserable weather, pungee stakes, booby traps, Jeremiah Denton blinking out Morse Code for "torture", and the heroism of the late James Stockdale.

No, none of that happened to me. I had better things to do, like going to bachelor parties at strip joints.

Never been to one? OK, pal, I'll play along.... Anyway, a bunch of guys would get the poor sucker and take him to someplace like Big Al's, talk to the MCs, money would change hands, and next thing you know a well-lubricated bachelor (or birthday boy) was onstage in a roomful of rude drunk horndogs.

Women in scanty clothing would rub up against him. DJs would ask how many of the crowd had slept with his wife to be, and everybody would hold up their hands and flip him off. The girls might strip him to the waist, use his tie for a loincloth, smack his bottom, make him crawl on the stage on all fours, pull their lingerie over his head and suchlike. And by the time the victim got home he had probably passed out or even soiled himself.

Little did I suspect that I was getting a foretaste of the horrors at Gitmo. What a moral failure I must be - not once did it occur to me to bring up the Geneva Convention.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Let the punishment fit the crime?

Do we need a law against this? "No, you sickie, that's not how you mount a horse!" Of course I'm assuming that this was a mare and he wasn't trying anything associated with Catherine the Great.

Exactly what is the appeal here, anyway? Is there something erotic about horses that I've missed? And why am I asking? - I really don't want to know.

No, I didn't get this from With Cheese, which is usually all over weird Seattle news. But then he posted something else that's disgusting in its own way. Let's OD the creep on Levitra and lock him in the stable with that horse.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Class act...

From this:
May 24, 2005
Examiner Slams DC101's Elliot For Abortion Contest
An editorial in the Washington Examiner takes DC101 morning man Elliot Segal to task for having hosted a recent on-air contest offering a prize to the listener who claimed to have had the most abortions. "Segal thought it was hilarious when a woman called in to say her father forced her to get an abortion at age 13 after she was impregnated by her cousin. He jokingly offered a 'posthumous' award when another caller recounted a deceased woman's multiple abortions." Adds the Examiner: "The local station is owned by Clear Channel, which dropped shock jock Howard Stern's show last year for on-air obscenity. Segal's 'contest' doesn't fall under FCC definitions of indecent or obscene, although his trivialization of abortion is far worse than Stern's predictable vulgarity."
Yep, it's legal. But IMO anyone who's proud of their abortions is sick.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Last call for Virginia Ball

Yes, the Virginia State Ballroom Championships are going on tonight and tomorrow. You'll see terrific professional dancers and top amateurs live and up close, and during breaks you'll get a shot at the dance floor with live DJ music.

Oh, alright, here's the address - the Hyatt Regency Town Center at 1800 Presidents Street, Reston, VA 20190 near the Dulles airport.

There's not too much else going on in competitive dancesport this weekend or next. But on 7/27/2005 there's the Volunteer State Dancesport Challenge in Nashville, TN. So you have two weeks to plan - get ready for a good show!

Incidentally, one of the best American Smooth couples ever is based in Nashville - Ben and Shalene Archer Ermis (if you see a guy who looks like Roy Rogers dancing with a redhead, it's them). And they teach at the American Ballroom Center in Nashville. If you want to learn from or possibly tour with top pros, you can hardly go wrong with them.

And now I'll try to suck up to Glenn Reynolds because it's been a long time between Instalanches around here. So I'll give you all 8 months of warning before the next Smoky Mountain Dancesport Championships in Knoxville. They haven't posted a date for the next one, but last year's show was in February. Hey, if you start now you'll even have time to learn a few things and maybe even compete there, eh?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hero worship

Thomas Sowell can pack more good stuff into one column than anyone I know of.

From above:
Will even the bloody terrorist attacks in London put a stop to the media's hand-wringing because they don't think we have been nice enough to some of the cut-throats who are locked up in Guantanamo? The media have never shown any such interest in how prisoners are treated anywhere else on the island of Cuba, such as in Castro's prisons.
Now try to imagine Castro lying awake wondering "why do they hate me?"
There have always been people without judgment but this is the first era in which being non-judgmental is considered good -- though how anything can be considered good if you are non-judgmental is another puzzle.
Really. Similar logic applies to "tolerance".
The next time someone demands a timetable for the war in Iraq, ask them to name just one war -- anywhere -- that had such a thing.
"Alright, Roosevelt - if you're not in Tokyo in two weeks we're pulling out of the Pacific".
None of the people who said that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction -- and who said it before George W. Bush became President -- is accused of lying. Neither are foreign leaders or foreign intelligence services that said the same thing before or during this administration.
But of course there's nothing *partisan* about this.

Thank you Thomas Sowell, and here's hoping you're good for another 75 years.

The voyeur's guide to ballroom dance competition

They probably wouldn't let me in the ladies' dressing rooms at the dancesport events. No, I haven't tried - not even in the name of that most self-sanctified of all callings - Journalism! But I have a pretty good idea about what I would see anyway (not that that's ever kept me from taking a good look before...).

There'd be women of all ages for pro-am events, but the competitive pros are between about 18 on the low end to about 40 or so on the high end. Latin in particular is very physically demanding, so the women retire fairly young. Then they typically go on to get their own studios and teach, or take students to pro-am competitions, or they become judges or other officials for dance events. They don't have anywhere near the coaching opportunities men do, because the amateur competitors in my experience number around two women for every man.

If you're looking for "diversity" this isn't the place. If you were expecting to see a lot of Latins in the Latin dancing, sorry. Competing is expensive for amateurs, especially on the road. (Even top pros can't make much money consistently - the purses just aren't there.) So if you look into the backgrounds of top amateur dancers you'll find that they are often well compensated professional women and all that that implies demographically. In particular, it seems lily-white - I recall two black male pros from Miami and a woman amateur from DC, but that's about it, and the audience isn't much different in my experience.

Physically the amateurs would be all over the map, with some downright hefty girls competing. Heights ranging from tiny 6 year olds to 6' plus. The pros all seem to be in a range of about 5'2" to 5'10", roughly estimated, and they're buff - the years of training and practice trim and shape them as few other things can. But they still look like women.

Well, some of them want to look more like women. There's falsies, particularly in the standard/smooth where the girls are more covered. For the rest there's Wonderbras, but there's only so much that upholstery can do. The meatier amateurs are often willing to let it all hang out, but I don't recall seeing many pros over a B cup or so. My goddess Charlotte Jorgensen from "Dancing with the Stars" is typical, and that's fine with me.

There would be lots of instant tanning compound. A lot of those dancers are naturally very fair-skinned, and bright lights on the floor make them all but disappear. So you'll see many "tanned" palms and soles, and no doubt some strange looking effects once you get to what the costumes cover. I hear that the stuff is expensive too.

Likewise the makeup is overdone for cameras and lights. They wear enough so that close up they're almost clownlike, but somehow they keep it from running during long energetic dance events. Like in theater and on TV, some of the men wear it too. I can only imagine how hot that must be.

The hair! Good grief, they way most of them do it you'd think it would never move again. It's usually longer than what you see, anyway. It's true that you don't want anyone stepping on it or to have it dragging on the ground (these girls are flexible), nor do you want it used as a weapon, but I think I'd rather have them all wearing helmets than what they do wear. Even the women with short hair plaster it down. Many of them dye it bright colors.

Psst, wanna talk underwear? Well, experience has shown that it's necessary to have some rules what with the short skirts and very flexible women out on the floor. A certain minimum amount of coverage is required in the rules to avoid this. Stockings are found, regular or fishnet, but they don't last long.

As for dresses, the ones for smooth or standard dances(waltz, etc.) are long and snug in the body. They'll come nearly to the floor. There might be a lot of skin showing, or long slits in the skirt, but the dances are more about grace than glamour so there's a practical limit.

The Latin outfits are another thing. Even the men usually wear something open all the way down the front, and the women...well, there's not much there, They use strategically placed transparent straps to hold things together, and I wouldn't be surprised if some used glue in places.

("Wardrobe malfunctions"? You betcha - I've seen a few. Usually it's a heel caught in the hem of a dress, and in an energetic dance like jive they can do this with a very short skirt. I've been told that a top competitor once had a top split right down the front in the middle of a number, but she managed to keep it together long enough to finish and get off the floor. There's no stage, and nowhere to hide - the only way out is through the audience)

Now really, what other blog could offer you such inside dope with a twisted angle? Or would resort to such a lame device to end a post?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Double standard

The Baltimore City Paper has a big article on solar photovoltaic power. It notes that the stuff is expensive, so only affluent people are installing it.

It also pushes for programs to subsidize installation and operation of solar PV.

IOW they want programs to make it cheaper for affluent people to buy something they'd buy anyway.

Isn't this what lefties like to call "welfare for the rich?"

Armadillos breeding

I'm not kidding. Publishing this probably says something about my own breeding.

The video itself is from a Letterman show, so it's tame enough for TV. But lots of other stuff on the site is NSFW.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lit Lileks-lookalike launcher

Kim DuToit calls this guy the moron of the year, and it's hard to argue.

Some commenters offered alternate candidates, such as the guys who let fireworks explode in their mouths. The guy with the M-80 lived, the one with the M-100 did not. The pictures are nasty.

I don't know if the commenter's story about the .22 bullet used as a fuse is for real or not, but who cares? - it deserves to be true.

Who should be on the next "Dancing with the Stars"?

Hmm. I have a few suggestions, not all of which are serious. Chelsea Clinton. Monica Lewinsky. Gary Coleman. Kathy Lee Gifford. Al Gore. Keith Olbermann. Ruben Studdard. Ken Jennings. Jenna Jameson. Terrell Owens. The guy who does the "6 Flags" ads. Michael Richards. Tara Reid. Kelly Ripa.

Come on, let's have some suggestions....

Close call

After the final dances by the finalists on DWTS, MC Tom Bergeron was introducing the judging segment with his usual patter.

The final dance for the finalists in DWTS was unique in that it was not restricted to a particular style. I don't know for sure who did the choreography, but presumably it was the professional half of each team. That would have been Charlotte Jorgensen for John O'Hurley and Alec Mazo for Kelly Monaco. As it happened, both dances had included segments where the woman grabbed the man's shoulders, jumped into the air and wrapped her legs tightly around his waist while leaning backwards.

I suppose the true aesthete sees such a positioning as pure Art. As for me, well, there's this thing called a "kneetrembler"...

Tom Bergeron, the co-MC, must have been thinking along similar lines. After the performers had finished and standing before the judges he went into his patter mumbling something about the parts of the show that would be on Pay per View. And just behind him you could see Charlotte Jorgensen swinging her hand at him as if to pop him upside the head.

These women are feisty, I'm telling you. Last week Ashly DelGrosso, Joey MacIntyre's partner, looked like she was about ready to go rounds with the judges when she and Joey were told that what they had done was "not foxtrot". But you don't insult the alligators until after you've crossed the river, and that week they were eliminated.

And the winner is...

Alright, you have two women competing for a job. One of them is fresh from a good college but has no experience. The other is a bit older and has been doing a very similar job for several years but doesn't have the degree. Which one gets hired?

The one with the biggest boobs, of course. (Gimme a break - what do you expect from a feminist joke?)

Justly or not, that's also what happened on "Dancing with the Stars". Kelly Monaco, once picked to be one of the first to go, wound up winning over John O'Hurley and his incredible professional partner Charlotte Jorgensen. Ms. Jorgensen could make anyone look good, including O'Hurley, but in the end he was just too much of a load.

Should O'Hurley have won? Well, I won't call myself a good enough judge for that. The consensus of the pros I've asked who saw it was that O'Hurley should have won. I'll assume that the fact that the input included no straight males had nothing to do with that decision. Anyway, I'd like to see how well he would do in a social setting without a world-class partner to backlead him.

IMO O'Hurley overdid it much of the time though. And his strengths were in the standard rather than the Latin dances - the latter are more telegenic IMO, and Kelly Monaco had the figure for it (oh, did she...there had to be a lust factor here).

Ah, Kelly Monaco. Her strengths weren't technical. She could stretch and spin and could survive some of the more elaborate footwork, but if she winds up dancing professionally it'll be about her presence, not her chops.

Both O'Hurley and Monaco had made tremendous progress in a short time. But men have more to learn to reach a given level of dancing in any case, so O'Hurley started out in the hole. In the minor leagues where I labor, men and women ordinarily don't compete directly for that reason.

Injustice or no, I hear another season will be coming soon.

Nonlethal weapons are lethal

After the recent show of barbarism in the UK I'm not so sure I like this idea. Good grief, after all the silliness about Gitmo, next thing you know our troops in the field won't be permitted to kill anyone either. That might be a great concept for a movie like Terminator 2, but combine that with opposition to the death penalty and we won't be able to eliminate anyone no matter how much of a threat to society they are.

"But we can imprison and rehabilitate these people!" Yeah, right - don't even get me started. We can't execute people, in practice we can't keep them locked up (it's been alleged that the bombers in the UK had recently been released from Gitmo) - the minute technology permits, we won't even be able to kill people who are actively trying to kill us on a battlefield. If the aliens come a la "War of the Worlds", ten minutes later we'll have a lobby crying out for their rights.

Then again, we may not need murder anymore. Just incapacitate someone with one of these weapons while they're doing something dangerous and then let nature take its course. No marks, no other evidence left behind, no way to trace the shooter... And the opportunities for use in terrorism are unbounded.

Our only hope will be if our invaders are fetuses. Then we'll be permitted to dismember them, suck their brains out or otherwise destroy them in any way possible.

{edited for closer resemblance to literate English)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I'm in the wrong business

A few days ago I watched a dance DVD. A couple was teaching to the lamest, cheesiest $50 Casio organ music I had ever heard. Alright, I know it costs money to license music, but I had no idea just how much of a racket it was.

"Mad Hot Ballroom" is a documentary about a ballroom dance program in NY elementary schools. Of course that means that they used a lot of music, and much of it was expensive. This article tells about it. Consider this:
Stay Free!: There's a scene where a woman's cell phone rings and she has the "Rocky" theme ring tone. I noticed that you even cleared that! I would have thought that could be an example of fair use.

Sewell: I thought so too. It's only six seconds! But our lawyer said we needed to clear it. So I called Sprint, which owns the ring tone master rights, and they gave it to me for free because they saw it as product placement. But then I called EMI, which owns the publishing rights and they asked for $10,000. I said no way--even the classics weren't getting that much. Luckily, we were able to get it for less.

Stay Free!: How much did it cost for the average song?

Sewell: It depends on how many entities are attached to it. Our typical total cost for a classic was about $15,000-20,000, split between publisher and master rights. With the Rocky theme, the publishers didn't want to overexpose the song. That was the issue with Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack" as well.

and this
Stay Free!: Were there any scenes you had to cut out of the film because of copyright?

Sewell: When we were down shooting the boys playing foosball, Ronnie yelled out, "Everybody dance now!" Just when I think we've finished the film, someone points out that we have to clear that because it's a "visual vocal cue." So I went back to the publishers, and the first publisher, Spirit, says they'll throw it in with the other things we've cleared if Warner Chappell throws it in. But Warner Chappell said, "Look, we've cut you some nice deals, we can't give this to you." They said this three-second bit would cost $5,000. And since they had Most Favored Nation status it would have raised the cost on similar uses, like the Rocky ring-tone. So I went back to lawyer and said we should keep it in because this should be a poster child for fair use. But he didn't recommend taking on the music industry. Those corporations have too much money for us to play Norma Rae our first time out.
Good grief.

Army recruiting problems

Lately we've been hearing a lot about difficulties in recruiting for the Army. It's nothing new. Check out this, describing how things were in WWII.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Upcoming Dancesport events near you

This weekend there are several good events.

The Desert Dancesport Classic is at the Marriott Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, CA.

The Imperial Star Dancesport competition will be at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 1450 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034.

The Twin Cities Open is being held at the Sheraton Bloomington outside Minneapolis.

There are still more events for other types of dancing. The list I'm working from is here.

So get up and go!

Questions for Ingrid Newkirk

Who? Maybe this quote will remind you
“A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals. Ingrid Newkirk, PETA
Yes, she's into animal rights.

Look around on the page I linked for similar thoughts from other animal rights types:

“If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.”
Chris DeRose, Last Chance for Animals

“The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.”
Michael W. Fox, Humane Society of the United States

Of course we shouldn't burden Ms. Newkirk with defending things she didn't say, but what she said is plenty. And in a couple of days (7/9) she'll be at a newly opened Borders bookstore in Timonium, MD. Hmm, I wonder if she'll be answering any questions from the public?

And if she will, what would you like to ask her? Because I'm just brash enough to go there, just a few miles from where I'm camped north of Baltimore, and ask her a few. Any suggestions?


A Russian youth wearing a drag outfit which gave him improbably large breasts has been caught trying to sit an entrance exam for a female friend.
Moscow University security guards first thought the applicant had an oversized bust because "she" was trying to take crib sheets into the exam.

A search unmasked the false bosom, the university told the BBC News website.

Stolen from Dave Barry.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My way or the highway

So now we've had Live 8, a huge series of performances by some of the top performers ever with the stated purpose of helping Africa. Yeah, right.

It's true that it would do little good for all those millionaire musicians to raise money for Africa. The place has been an aid sinkhole for generations. But Bob Geldof et al have the answer
"This is without doubt a moment in history where ordinary people can grasp the chance to achieve something truly monumental and demand from the eight world leaders at G8 an end to poverty"
Yeah, you read that right - they'll hold the G8 nations responsible!

Um, how about holding the African nations responsible?
A 2004 World Bank report on corruption noted that bribery is a trillion-dollar industry, causing far more wealth to flow from poor countries to rich countries than the poor countries receive in foreign aid. Whereas an estimated trillion dollars of foreign aid was given to poor countries between 1950 and 2000, at least five percent of the world's domestic product (amounting to $1.5 trillion in 2001) goes into the financial markets of wealthy countries in the form of money laundering. Focusing on Africa, The Economist reported that 80 percent of the funds lent between 1970 and 1996 "flowed out as capital flight in the same year." Robert Guest, the magazine's Africa editor, estimates that this amounts to about 40 percent of Africa's privately held wealth. In his book The Shackled Continent, Guest goes on to note that although a "Marshall Plan for Africa" (as advocated by many supporters of foreign aid) might be a good idea, "Africa has already received aid equivalent to six Marshall Plans."
And Herb London asks
What happened to the $2 billion raised with Live Aid? Moreover, over the last decade government and private charities have poured over $25 billion into Africa for seemingly little effect? In fact, Africa has had an aggregate g.d.p. reduction of about 25 percent since the Live Aid concerts two decades ago.
If the morally trendy types who support initiatives like this had any grasp of reality, they'd realize that there's exactly one organization in the US that's capable of correcting the real problems that lead to the symptoms they want to address. And that organization is booked heavily in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere right now.

My bet is that the Geldofs would reject that idea out of hand. Far better than the impoverished should remain so until a solution acceptable to the the Geldofs is found, right?

More by Ed Driscoll here and Don Surber here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Whatever happened to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils?

Well, they have this website, for one.

And while we're in the general neighborhood, it seems that some of the members of Black Oak Arkansas have survived. Go Jim Dandy!

Popup Blocker? What Popup Blocker?

Are some popups getting past your popup blockers? See a discussion about why it might be happening here.

From Mark's Sysinternals Blog - part of a site full of terrific Windows ubergeek info and code.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Friday, July 01, 2005


Radley Balko flaunts his insensitivity here. Heavens, any half-wit should realize that use of terms like "Brainstorming" would be offensive to those with brain disorders.

There seems to be one brain disorder that is universal nowadays - Trivial Complaint Syndrome. Having so few *real* problems, we come up with nonsense like the above. You know it's really bad when you start blogging.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Coming soon to a game near you

Interesting animation which might not be work-safe in some places. It's not smutty, it's just....check it out.

From that St. Louis based Pabst-lover who goes through websites faster than Liz Taylor did with husbands. Hurry up and you might catch him yet at With Cheese!

We're from the govt and we're here to help...

...and we think you'll be safer if we charge you close to $100 just to put in a few permanent electrical features in your home. Thus spake Lynne Kiesling here.

This is about the revenue of course, because it's contrary to safety. Why? Because people will avoid this outrageous fee. They'll do it by using inferior contractors such as themselves, or will instead rely on nonpermanent measures like dropcords and power strips.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Requiescat in pacem, Ipse Dixit

Senator Christopher Dodd is still around and as obstructive as ever. But The Dodd - Dodd Harris - is shutting down his blog.

This is a true loss to the blog world. Come on back anytime, Dodd. And if you need a place to vent sometime, you're welcome to do that here or probably at dozens of other sites as well.

Monday, June 27, 2005

You missed it...

The Maryland Dancesport event happened this past weekend, and what a show it was. It's not the biggest, and it doesn't host any "world championships", but there was plenty of talent. If you like "Dancing with the Stars", a competition like this will blow you away.

After the competition Saturday night there was a show by Andrei Gavriline and Katya Kryuchkova. Mr. Gavrilene makes Jim Carrey look downright arthritic, and both he and his partner know how to put on a show. It was based on Latin dances, but on the high end it becomes all but indistinguishable from show dancing.

Some of it is hard to appreciate unless you've tried it yourself, but everyone ought to be able to notice athleticism. They could move very quickly, and very precisely, totally in sync with one another while covering the floor from one end to the other. The sheer energy alone was about enough to make your eyes sweat just watching. And that's from some old t-square and compass left-brained engineer - most of the crowd was "artier", and they were at least as impressed.

Want to see stamina? There was Slava Sergiev, from here in Baltimore. He danced with enough students well enough and often enough to come in second as Top Teacher, then competed himself with his wife as a professional and finished second. In between did at least one show dance number, and that's just what I saw.

A few nights back I was dancing with a couple of the local professionals (dancers, wise guy). On Sunday I got to watch them compete for the first time. Ya know, they've been holding out on me. I seem to recall them dressing more conservatively then too.

Anyway, you'd think they'd have to be bored out of their skulls with someone at my level. Then again, they have some idea what a professional partner might do, and they know he'll do it well - with me they really have to be on their toes. And it can even risk injury - there are elbows flying around, I'm a lot bigger, and duffers have poor balance and don't know when or how hard to hold or let go.

So don't just sit there - go to your local competitions! There's one at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend, the Manhattan DanceSport Championships, and if I get a wild enough hair I might even show up there myself.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Harkin vs. Harkin

Certainly a long-serving US Senator like Tom Harkin wouldn't change his opinion on an issue based purely on which party held the Senate?

Or would he?

Hawspipe settles the issue.

Attention personnel professionals

Hey, I've been through personnel processing many times. And being the public spirited sweetheart of a guy that I am, occasionally I offer wisdom like this.

Now today while on the wrong side of the tracks I found this. NSFW, or at least if it is you need to go get a better job.

Girl, 14, Accused Of Robbing Pizza Delivery Driver At Gunpoint

Right here

What struck me was "According to the bureau of labor statistics, driver-sales type work, such as pizza delivery, is the fifth most deadly occupation when you combine traffic fatalities and homicides.

The bureau says it's a job more deadly than roofing, electrical power installation, farm work, and construction work."

It's not too late...

...to come to the finals at the Maryland Dancesport competition being held at the BWI Marriott just outside Baltimore. You've already missed some good stuff, but there's still more tonight and again tomorrow up until about 4PM.

Yes, I was there too competing in the pro-am division. I racked up win after win in smooth, Latin and rhythm. Of course I probably ought to give credit where credit is due and note that no competition for me ever showed up. So if you're a half-empty sort of person you can say that I finished last in every event too. I definitely should have lost in the American samba, where I must have looked like a man with a bum leg trying to mime a bout of Tourette's.

Two more events occur in the DC area later this summer. The Virginia State Championships event will be in Reston in mid July, and the Capital Dancesport event is in Alexandria, VA in late August.


In an effort to correct budget shortfalls, the District of Columbia has just seized the Supreme Court building and sold it to WalMart.

A DC spokesperson said "We've had problems with money because we have so many Federal buildings here that are exempt from property taxation. Now, thanks to the Kelo decision, we can generate some serious tax dollars to help pay for the next time the chief of police's car is stolen".

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood was disappointed that their bid to turn the facility into the Blackmun Abortion Museum failed.

Meanwhile Wal-Mart spokespeople were exuberant. "Once we kick those nine old folks out, what you'll have here is just us".

If you believe the above you really have no business being on the Internet. Near as I can tell the only part that's true is the bit about taxation in DC and the car heist. Meanwhile I'm sure Scrappleface or Iowahawk have done a better job with this.

The way to a better Supreme Court

Let's see who can guess who voted for the Kelo decision:

Kennedy? Souter? O'Connor? Thomas? Scalia? Rehnquist? Ginsberg? Stephens? Breyer?

Oh come on, this one is easy.

Here's a hint - if they get good press, they voted for it. If they've been the subjects of repeated smear campaigns (Thomas, Scalia), they voted against it. If they were submitted immediately after someone was sodomized by a vicious smear campaign (Kennedy, after the first "borking"), they voted for it. If they were appointed by Democrat Bill Clinton (Ginsberg, Breyer), they voted for it.

How to account for Stephens and Souter? Both were appointed by Republicans, as were all four dissenters (Scalia, Thomas, O'Connor and Rehnquist). But Stephens and Souter were appointed by moderate Republicans facing hostile Dems controlling both houses of Congress. Stephens was appointed by Gerald Ford after the Dems finally succeeded in screwing their old nemesis Richard Nixon - there's no way anyone but a liberal was getting past a Senate loaded with Dems. Souter was appointed by George Bush 41, not so long after the unconscionable nastiness of the Dems' attacks on Robert Bork.

Can we draw any conclusions? (Try and stop me....) How about this?...If you want defensible decisions from the Supreme Court, wrt property rights at least, let a Republican President do the appointing, with a Republican Congress to approve.

And let them come up for a vote.

The real Klan

You know, I can't stand Robert Byrd, the insufferable Senator from West Virginia. If reminding people that he once belonged to the KKK will help get his sorry butt out of office, I say fire at will. But let's show some respect for historical accuracy here.

I followed a link to Wizbang and saw commenter after commenter making ritual denunciations of the Klan. Terrific - we certainly don't need any of what they've come to represent. But when was the last time anyone took a look at how they came to represent it?

The simple fact is that the Klan was popular nationwide until well into the last century. They were even represented as the heroes of one of the world's best known early movies, "Birth of a Nation".

And it wasn't just a Southern thing either. It was found throughout the North too, including central IL where I grew up. I had at least one older relative (deceased for half a century now) who was a member, and his quote was that he couldn't see anything wrong with an organization that required its members to be free, white and 21. Enlightened he wasn't, but he was typical of his generation.

As for the ambient racism, a town not far away (LaSalle-Peru, IL) was known to have signs on each end of town saying "Nigger - don't let the sun set on you". There were few blacks or Jews in the area, and there were enough Catholics to take care of themselves, so it must have been kind of frustrating if everyone was seeking violence and destruction.

Incidentally, we've had entire political parties dedicated to intolerance, such as the Know-Nothings and the Anti-Masonic party.

The Klan is associated with terrorizing minorities, particularly blacks. But have you seen pictures of lynched blacks? Look in the crowds - how many of them are wearing Klan outfits? The fact is that lynching was approved by much of the population once upon a time. It didn't take the Klan to start or even accelerate lynching, and in fact the term predates the Klan.

And it so happens that I have a very distant cousin, who was at least half white for sure, who allegedly was lynched out in western Iowa somewhere. Nowadays no one is quite sure how it happened, but the theory is that he was accused of stealing a horse. Here is an account of a white guy named Bowen who was lynched in Texas.

The recent book "Freakonomics" studies some of the most offbeat things, and among them is the KKK. The book tells of one Stetson Kennedy who infiltrated the Klan - here's a passage:
But if the Ku Klux Klan of the 1940s wasn't uniformly violent, what was it? The Klan that Stetson Kennedy found was in fact a storry fraternity of men, most of them poorly educated and with poor prospects, who needed a place to vent-and an excuse for occasionally staying out all night. That their fraternity engaged in quasi-religious chanting and oath taking and hosanna hailing, all of it top secret, made it that much more appealing.

Kennedy also found the Klan to be a slick money-making operation, at least for those near the top of the organization. Klan leaders had any number of revenue sources: thousands of dues-paying rank-and-file members; business owners who hired the Klan to scare off the unions or who paid the Klan protection money; Klan rallies that generated huge cash donations; even the occasional gunrunning or moonshine operation. Then there were rackets such as the Klan's Death Benefit Association, which sold insurance policies to Klan members and accepted only cash or personal checks made out to the Grand Dragon himself.
Yep, it was a big boys' club for losers. Setting up a local branch of such an organization was a way for Robert Byrd to promote himself and and live off poor people. It's little wonder he became a Democrat Senator - it's the same thing on a larger scale.

(Want to know the ingenious way in which Stetson Kennedy turned the Klan into a laughingstock? Read "Freakanomics".)

How busy was the Klan? In terms of lynchings at least there were some 4000-odd lynchings between around 1880 and 1950, but not all were black and not all of those were by the Klan for sure (not that the Klan wouldn't lynch or terrorize whites too - I'm just trying to come up with some sort of ballpark estimate). In contrast, over less than 5 years 1063 people have been killed by Palestinian violence and terror, yet some people think they're the good guys.

But hey, let's hang 4000 lynchings on the Klan. Literally millions of men had had something to do with the Klan at one time or another over that period. Lynchings by the Klan at least appears to have been fairly uncommon, and chapters who did do it might well have been the exception rather than the rule. When Klan membership is common as it was, it can be difficult to determine whether people were acting as Klansmen or just as people who happened to be Klan members. I don't know - I don't have the data.

Now suppose that every last trace of the Klan disappeared from the earth this instant. IMO something comparable would arise in its place. Dung by any other name would smell as bad, and if we don't want the Klan back then we must avoid creating the conditions that incubated it in the first place.

Is the above a defense of the Klan? Hardly. But let's not make out as if any past association with the Klan is some sort of indelible stain or original sin. Unless someone can dig up some actual terrorism conducted by Byrd's little scam, his past association probably says more about his age and where he grew up than anything else.