Main

February 19, 2014

"Yes you do. I just told you."

Today at Smith Tower (a century-old Seattle building with partly manual elevators: buttons for the floors but levers to open and close the doors):

Me: Five, please.

Elevator operator: Presses "5", closes door. You need to press the floor.

Me: Pardon me?

Elevator operator: It's not my job to press the button. You need to do that.

Me: But you just did it.

Elevator operator: I'm saying it's not my job.

Me: Why?

Elevator operator: We're not psychics. We don't know what you floor you want to go to.

Me: Yes you do. I just told you.

Elevator operator: But that's your job.

Me: So why don't they let me do your job, too?

Elevator operator: You'd have to ask the management that.

Exeunt Frank.

February 16, 2014

Feelings, Invalidated

"How was your shower?"

"I feel a thousand percent better."

"That's impossible."

"You're invalidating my feelings. Don't invalidate my feelings."

July 07, 2009

Snakes, Multiple Varieties of

The Seattle Times ran a story on a snake shelter built in Jose Rizal Park in Beacon Hill -- a place for garter snakes to hibernate and hide from predators:

Beacon Hill's newest community center isn't much to look at -- a jumbled pile of rocks, really. But for some of Jose Rizal Park's most secretive and slithery residents, it's a place to hang out.

Last month, garter snakes populating the park's tree-tangled west side got a construction project designed just for them. Called a herpetarium, it's a shelter fit for any reptile, with its small, pyramid-shaped form and walls lined with recycled scrap...

The reptile-friendly pyramid has a base 4 feet long on each side, and an apex 2 ½ feet tall...

Such chambers let snakes hibernate during the winter. When the snakes emerge, they warm themselves on sunlit rocks, with easy escape should predators pass by.

The best thing about the story, though, was the first comment posted:

Odds are good I will find a couple of ex-boyfriends residing here. Posted on July 5, 2009 at 6:57 AM by cheezybreezy.

January 22, 2009

US Democracy Server: Patch Day

Via Joi Ito, this description of the transition of power as an MMO change log is excellent:

US Democracy Server: Patch Day

Version 44.0

President

  • Leadership: Will now scale properly to national crises. Intelligence was not being properly applied.
  • A bug has been fixed that allowed the President to ignore the effects of debuffs applied by the Legislative classes.
  • Drain Treasury: There appears to be a bug that allowed loot to be transferred from the treasury to anyone on the President’s friends list, or in the President’s party. We are investigating.
  • Messages to and from the President will now be correctly saved to the chat log.
  • Messages originating from the President were being misclassified as originating from The American People.
  • A rendering error that frequently caused the President to appear wrapped in the American Flag texture has been addressed.
Much more at the link. Highly recommended.

January 21, 2009

The Chiapocalypse

Last month, waiting for a flight, I saw an advertisement on television and wrote to my friend Rett Crocker:

Just saw on TV

Chia Garfield and Chia Scooby-Doo.

The apocalypse is upon us. Repent, sinners.

Rett wrote back:

Re: Just saw on TV

This is a common mistake. You're misreading the Chia Prophecies. You only need to worry if you see a Chia Elvis in the company of a Chia Princess Diana.

Maintain a watchful eye, brothers. Fear the Chiapocalypse!

I'm now much more vigilant about this sort of thing. We can't be too careful.

January 19, 2009

Heard at Lunch

A lunchtime conversation while I was visiting the office last week:

Me: So I have this idea to do a remake of Gilligan's Island with pop and hip-hop artists. Not as a reality show, but as a straight-up sitcom. It's all about the casting. I'd start with Sean Combs as Thurston Howell III. And a friend suggested Justin Timberlake as Gilligan. What do you think?

Ty: Not bad. You'd need someone as the Professor. How about Humpty?

Ken: You could have Mary J. Blige as Mrs Thurston Howell III.

Frank: That's good. I know Flavor Flav needs to be in it; I just don't know as whom.

Ty: How about as the astronaut who lands on the island?

David: Sure. But who would play the Harlem Globetrotters?

Ty, Ken, and me in unison: The Harlem Globetrotters!

I love working at home, but I just don't have conversations like this with my cat.

Thank goodness.

October 13, 2007

Am I Missing Something?

I was waiting for the tram from the Main Terminal to the North Terminal at Sea-Tac recently and found myself standing behind someone I had to snap a photo of:

Seen at SEA

This guy was a bodybuilder who looked to be in his mid- to late-forties. Fine, good for him. He was balding on top, with longish hair nonetheless. Not the style choice I'd make if I were going bald, but okay.

But then there were the shorts. Though this picture doesn't do them justice, they were straining around his thighs and so were pretty much skin-tight as a result. From a distance, it looked like he was wearing a thigh-length wet suit bottom.

And then there was the inevitable, the inescapable, the ever-present fanny pack (held in the hand because, presumably, he had just come through security). Once and for all, can someone tell me what bodybuilders carry in those things? Am I missing something?

August 25, 2007

Real-Life Kwik-E-Mart

While in Seattle last month for the Casual Games Association conference, my colleague Rett and I made a side trip to one of the few 7-Elevens in the country that was redecorated as a Kwik-E-Mart to commemorate the release of The Simpsons Movie. I have to say, it was well done:

Kwik-E-Mart 1

The exterior.

Kwik-E-Mart 2

Kwik-E-Mart.

"They're Not Called Don't-Nuts"

"Go ahead! They're not called don't-nuts."

"...Your Money Begrudgingly Refunded"

"Every item guaranteed fresh or your money begrudgingly refunded."

July 23, 2007

"Barista Not Actually Flirting With You"

Via Starbucks Gossip, this story from The Onion:

Sources: Barista Not Actually Flirting With You

SAN FRANCISCO -- Though she greets you every morning with a smile, sometimes chats with you, and makes sure the chocolate syrup is evenly distributed throughout your mocha, Starbucks barista Molly Sopel is in truth not flirting with you, and is instead simply a pleasant person and conscientious employee, coffeeshop sources reported Monday.

"The best part about Molly is that she laughs and talks with everyone," said manager Mike Dezort, who confirmed that Sopel asks if you want room for milk as a courtesy, and not because of the physical attraction you think exists between the two of you. "I always overhear her calling customers sweetie, which people seem to like."

A Starbucks regular who frequently watches you order from Sopel is reportedly "shocked" that you still haven't realized that she only calls you by your first name when you pay with your debit card.

Wait, if the barista at Starbucks isn't flirting with me... what does that mean for the girl who worked at the Quizno's down by Harris Teeter? Or the cool girl with the tattoo who made me sandwiches at Yaletown Market? Or the girl who worked at Red Tractor Cafe? Has none of them been flirting with me? Not a single one? Damn!

June 20, 2007

"...Fights Like Someone Having a Stroke"

Via Digg, a lengthy article rating the five actors to have played Batman in the movies. I doubt I'm giving anything away by saying that Adam West comes in last place. The article is generally pretty funny, the section on West especially so, but this is my favorite bit, accompanied by an inline video showing the climactic fight aboard the Penguin's submarine at the end of the campy 1966 film Batman: The Movie:

BatWest fights like someone having a stroke. To be fair, Batman: The Movie's supposed to be campy. To once again be unfair, it looks like they didn't so much choreograph their fights as just run around flailing their arms like the set just caught on fire...

Man, let that in. BatWest just got his ass handed to him there by a quacking Burgess Meredith with a pillow under his tuxedo. That's the point in your crime-fighting career where you just need to stop and frankly assess some things that might have gotten away from you. If BatWest had to fight a six-year-old girl on crutches, frankly, it could go either way.

June 19, 2007

Heard at the Office Today

Picking up in the middle of an end-of-the-day, walking-out-the-door office conversation about the infamous baby-versus-cobra video (in which a baby is allowed to 'play' with a cobra whose mouth has been sewn shut):

Me: I think it might be the worst thing I've ever seen that wasn't gory or pornographic.

Rett: I actually felt sorrier for the cobra than for the baby.

Me: Why is that?

Rett: Because the cobra was saying to itself, "What's wrong? I should be killing this thing."

Me: Right. "WTF? Aw, snap!"

Rett: You can't say "WTF" and "snap".

Me: Yes, I can.

Rett: We've been over this.

Me: House says them. Well, he doesn't say "WTF", but he says "snap".

Rett: You're not as charming as House.

Me: Actually, I've already told David Smith he's the House of the company.

Rett: What did he say?

Me: He was down with it.

Rett: What you should have said was, "If you were smarter, you'd be the House of the company."

Me: Aw, snap!

May 11, 2007

"The Sweet, Buttery Taste of Fear and Waffles"

A couple of years ago, I blogged about a story from The Onion that was the funniest thing I'd ever read. Recently, a colleague asked me if I had read The Onion's "Luftwaffle" story from a while back, which I hadn't. I'm sticking with "Japan Forms Alliance With White Supremacists in Well-Thought-Out Scheme" as the funniest short piece of humor ever, but there's a line in this story that is possibly The Onion's best ever:

German Luftwaffle Chain Offers Waffles, Overwhelming Air Superiority

MUNICH -- An elite force of three dozen 24-hour Luftwaffle restaurants were unveiled across Germany Monday, with free waffles for blond-haired, blue-eyed customers, discounts on Cheese SwasSticks, and the incendiary bombardment of Luftwaffle's largest competitor, the city of London. "Soon, customers will fall under the sway of my lightning-quick, piping-hot Blintzkreig," said Hans Kreuzen, Luftwaffle's founder and oberstmanager-general. "All will know the sweet, buttery taste of fear and waffles from above." Luftwaffle restaurants are expected to face ruthless competition in Germany's already crowded martial-themed eatery business, which is led by such established chains as WehrKnochwurst and Der Marzipanzerkommand.

It has been a few days now, and I still can't say the words "the sweet, buttery taste of fear and waffles" without laughing.

May 03, 2007

Cat Shots

My colleague Rett and I were driving to lunch today when we noticed a bumper sticker on the car ahead of us:

Education Before Vaccination

www.CatShots.com

This led to the following conversation:

Me: Check out that bumper sticker. "Education before vaccination"? Do you think they're against vaccinating cats?

Rett: Could be.

Me: Maybe they're afraid the mercury in the vaccines will make cats autistic. Cats will end up in corners rocking back and forth, or watching tops spin.

Rett: But that's what cats already do. Maybe they think it's a conspiracy. You know, if we didn't vaccinate cats, they'd be intelligent and would rule the world.

Me: Good point.

Rett: On the other hand, "Cat Shots" makes me think it's glamour shots for cats. Hey, there's a business idea right there.

Me: Glamour shots for cats?

Rett: That has 'small business loan' written all over it. I don't even think you'd have to show the bank a business plan. "Glamour shots for cats? Here's your money!"

For the record, Cat Shots isn't against vaccinating cats, but wants feline vaccinations administered according to protocols designed to minimize vaccine-associated sarcomas.

Amazingly enough, a cursory Google search failed to reveal anyone in the business of glamour shots for cats, though a woman from Atlanta has published a book of glamour shots of her pug.

April 29, 2007

"Vanti", "Vanila", "Frappino", and "Rasbery"

A post on Starbucks Gossip asked:

One of the big Starbucks customer-service mantras is "Just Say Yes," which means the customer can pretty much get whatever he or she asks for. Judging by comments posted on various Starbucks Gossip threads, this policy is causing more and more problems as customers try to exploit it. Should "Just Say Yes" be dropped? Altered? (How?) Or kept in place to keep Starbucks a customer-service leader?
In response, a commenter replied:
We had to say no the other day to a Japanese family who'd brought in those godforsaken printable iced coffee coupons from last summer -- not only was that only good for a grande of our actual iced coffee, and NOT iced mochas, lattes or caramel macchiatos, this family had THEMSELVES altered the coupons to say they were getting free VENTI iced beverages and a complimentary slice of lemon raspberry loaf...

Ah, and when I said they "themselves had altered the coupons", I meant anyone of us could have opened Notepad on the computer and typed out the following in 24pt Times New Roman font.

This is word for word what the coupon said, spelling mistakes noted:

"This coupon entitles the bearer to one free Vanti(sic) iced coffee, iced mocha, iced latte, iced vanila(sic) latte, iced americano, iced caramel macchiato or frappino(sic) of their choice, plus one piece of free lemon rasbery(sic) loaf. The summer are here at Starbucks."

April 23, 2007

Pheromones for Scots

Yesterday, Richard Harris, his lovely partner Gill Allan, and I drove down to the town of Callander to pick up a few supplies. Gill and I were in the local whisky shop when this exchange occurred:

Gill: Look at this -- it's whisky soap.

Me: Is that the sort of thing a Scottish girl would use when she's trying to get a man?

Gill: I suppose so. She could put some on, stand in the middle of the road, and see what happens.

Me: So is it like pheromones for Scots?

Later in the car, we recounted the conversation for Richard and asked him what he thought:

Me: What do you think? Is the scent of whisky like pheromones for Scots?

Richard: Well, for discriminating Scots.

April 13, 2007

Heard in the Valley

While in Silicon Valley this week, I saw a couple of old friends who were once entrepreneurs, now venture capitalists.

Over breakfast, one said to me:

I used to be a whore. Now I'm a pimp.
He said that it was definitely better to be a pimp. I wouldn't know -- I've always been on the other side.

I had lunch with the other at Sundeck, the restaurant that sits quite literally at the center of the high technology venture investment universe -- it's in the middle of a circle of Sand Hill Road buildings filled with venture capitalists. My friend and I walked in at noon to a packed house. He turned to me and said:

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Well played, sir.

March 31, 2007

Peanut Butter, Creationism, and Categories

Via boing boing comes an entry by Mike the Mad Biologist linking to a YouTube video of a Creationist explaining how, since life doesn't spontaneously arise in jars of peanut butter, evolution can't be true.

My favorite part isn't the video itself (which is staggeringly inane), nor the observations by Mike and his many commenters, but rather the blog categories into which Mike has placed this entry (edited here):

  • Creationism
  • F***ing Morons
  • Religion
  • The War on Science
  • We're Really F***ed
Now those are some cool categories. Mine just seem boring now.

October 14, 2006

"South Park" on "World of Warcraft"

I'm sure I'm one of the very last people to have seen this, but for those few stragglers out there, South Park's episode satirizing World of Warcraft is spot-on and hilarious. If you've ever played WoW (or another massively multiplayer online game), or if you've been curious about it, it's a must-see.

As Cartman says:

You can just hang outside in the sun all day tossing a ball around, or you can sit at your computer and do something that matters.

September 13, 2006

"We Assure You of 100% High Quality..."

This is from an e-mail I received today. I've highlighted the noteworthy passages:

With the best intention, we are writing this letter to see if there is any possibility that we could work together as global partners.

Our Translation Company, a leading translation & interpretation company in China, dedicates itself in providing our clients with highly professional language solutions. Focusing on the electronics, manufacturing, engineering, website &software localization, hi-tech, automation and legal fields, we have defined an important client base.

With over 2000 highly qualified local and international translators and interpreters, we generates revenue from a client list including over 60% of world top 1000 companies. In addition to our large pool of linguists located all over the nation, we are part of a network of more than 100 language firms, which themselves have large pools of linguists scattered all over China and the world.

Please tell us if you need our professional translation services after you go through this letter. Thank you!

The advantages of working with us:

1. The prices we offer are much lower than that of other translation companies. For example, it may cost 200 USD for translating a document in your country, and it costs only 50 USD for translating the same document in my company. (Reduce your cost!)

2. As you know, Chinese is our native language, we assure you of 100% high quality in the mutual translation between Chinese and other languages. Our company specializes in Asian language translation. We can help you better localize your culture in Asian areas. It is always our core competitive edge. Our company has won a good reputation in website & software localization for companies at home and abroad. (Core Competitive Edge)

3. We utilize the latest technological advancements to meet all of your needs in most standard software applications, such as QuarkXpress, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Pagemaker, Adobe FrameMaker, etc. Further more, we can accommodate your needs for both Mac and PC platforms with a variety of fonts for all different languages. (Guaranteed Quality!)

4. 5000 English words/day/one translator. (High speed!)

5. We have USD intermediary bank, the foreign exchange can be transmitted directly into our company’s bank. It’s easy and safe. (Less worry!)

August 02, 2006

"Brokebat Mountain"

So now that we know the title (The Dark Knight), villain (The Joker), and the actor playing him (Heath Ledger) of the next Batman movie from Christopher Nolan (press release via Ain't It Cool News), my question is, how long before we see the first Brokebat Mountain fan poster on the Internet? The news came out two days ago. I'm guessing we'll have a great version by the end of the week.

July 22, 2006

Choral Camp Humor

Heard while picking up my teenage daughter Kelsey on her final day of music camp. We were walking past a friend of hers from camp:

Kelsey: Hi Derek.

Derek: Hi Kelsey.

Kelsey: Derek Derek bo berek, banana fana fo berek, fe fi fo ferek, Derek!

Me: A little music camp humor?

Kelsey: Choral camp humor, actually.

Me: That's cool.

Kelsey (without missing a beat): Well, it's better with Tucker, Chuck, and Mitch.

If I had been drinking, I would have done a spit-take right there in the parking lot. That girl of mine is funny and quick on the draw.

June 25, 2006

"One of the Screw-Loose People"

Via Andrew Sullivan, a Congressional candidate in Utah believes that Satan is actively opposing him:

"There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C.," [John] Jacob said. "It's the devil is what it is. I don't want you to print that, but it feels like that's what it is."

Jacob said Thursday that since he decided to run for Congress against Rep. Chris Cannon, Satan has bollixed his business deals, preventing him from putting as much money into the race as he had hoped.

Now, to be fair, it's not quite as bad as one might think. It's not that Jacob thinks Satan is pulling for his opponent -- he thinks Satan is against him as well. But still... here's my favorite quote:

"You know, you plan, you organize, you put your budget together and when you have 10 things fall through, not just one, there's some other, something else that is happening," Jacob said.

Asked if he actually believed that "something else" was indeed Satan, Jacob said: "I don't know who else it would be if it wasn't him. Now when that gets out in the paper, I'm going to be one of the screw-loose people."

Exactly.

June 19, 2006

Somebody Call Stephen Colbert

From The Seattle Times:

WEST VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A woman in this suburb north of Vancouver had reason to feel like Goldilocks in reverse when she arrived home to find a bear eating oatmeal in her kitchen, police say.

The one- or two-year-old juvenile bear apparently entered through an open sliding glass door, broke a ceramic food container and started chewing down last Thursday, West Vancouver police Sgt. Paul Skelton said.

"It sounds like a nursery rhyme, doesn't it?" Skelton said. "At least we have a health-conscious bear on our hands."

Three police officers couldn't get the bear to budge, he said.

"The bear didn't appear to be aggressive and wasn't destroying the house, so they just let it do what it was doing and eventually the bear decided to make its way out of the residence and down toward a forested gully," Skelton said. "It ended the best it could."

Currently, "Grizzly Bears" are number five on Colbert's "On Notice" list. Maybe this will move them up a notch, which would put them just behind "Black Hole at Center of Galaxy".

June 14, 2006

Fafblog on Guantánamo

I've linked to Fafblog before. After an absence, it's back, and brilliant as always:

Run for your lives -- America is under attack! Just days ago three prisoners at Guantanamo Bay committed suicide in a savage assault on America's freedom to not care about prisoner suicides! Oh sure, the "Blame Atrocities First" crowd will tell you these prisoners were "driven to despair," that they "had no rights," that they were "held and tortured without due process or judicial oversight in a nightmarish mockery of justice." But what they won't tell you is that they only committed suicide as part of a diabolical ruse to trick the world into thinking our secret torture camp is the kind of secret torture camp that drives its prisoners to commit suicide! This fiendish attempt to slander the great American institution of the gulag is nothing less than an act of asymmetrical warfare against the United States -- a noose is just a suicide bomb with a very small blast radius, people! -- and when faced with a terrorist attack, America must respond. Giblets demands immediate retaliatory airstrikes on depressed Muslim torture victims throughout the mideast!

June 10, 2006

Why Soccer Moms Drive Minivans

On The Daily Show this week, host Jon Stewart interviewed "Daily Show expert" John Hodgman (I like how he's just an "expert", not an expert on any particular subject) on the World Cup:

Jon Stewart: Why hasn't soccer been embraced by Americans?

John Hodgman: Well, it has by some. For example, the famous soccer moms who've tried to liven the game up for Americans by introducing minivans into play. And also casual sex.

Jon Stewart: Casual sex?

John Hodgman: Yes. That's what the minivans are for. You've obviously never been to Brookline, Massachusetts, SMILF capital of New England.

From this page, click on "Latest Headlines", then click on "The World Cup" under "Most Recent Videos from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart".

May 28, 2006

"Only Once?"

In the café of the Great Court of the British Museum, London, earlier this week:

Me: My friend Richard Boyd says that you can fall in love once a day on the Tube.

Richard Harris: Only once?

April 19, 2006

"Baby, You Mean the World of Warcraft to Me"

Straight from The Onion comes a wonderful sendup of World of Warcraft. Think Smoove B. as a game geek:

When we met, I was looking for a group fit to take the Zul'Gurub instance. But as I stocked up on provisions at the convenience store before my quest, and our eyes locked, I realized that I was not looking for a group, I was looking for love, and I found it in you. You are the sun, the moon, the Cinderhide Armsplints of the Monkey. There is so much we have to offer one another. Unfailing loyalty, a Strength of 250, someone who can go out for snacks in the heat of battle. Can't you see we're made for each other?

Darling, no orc can keep me from you. I would make my way into the heart of Moonglade and fight an army of trolls just to be by your side. I would go up against Varimathras, the ruler of the Undead himself, if he so much as hinted that he was a danger to you. Make no mistake, I would get aggro on anyone who would threaten you.

This is, of course, provided the system is not down due to a faulty patch.

April 17, 2006

"The Flying World Chortles at You, Man in 9F"

From Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column, today's travel note of the week:

Continental Flight 1503, LAX to Newark, Sunday afternoon:

Flight attendant, passing trays of dinner in coach, says to man in 9F: "Dinner, sir? It's pizza.''

Man in 9F: "What else do you have?''

The flying world chortles at you, Man in 9F.

I'm chortling right along with Peter. When a meal is served on a flight, and the flight attendant tells you it's pizza, you don't question it -- you thank the Airline Meal Gods. Then, depending on how bad your luck has been with airline meals of late, you promise anything from a small sacrifice in the gods' honor to devoting the rest of your life to serving them.

April 11, 2006

OMFG!!! Haxx0rs Pwn C01n P0ll!!!

I mean, "Washington quarter voting hijacked by computer mischief":

An online poll asking Washingtonians to pick their favorite design for the state's quarter was suspended today, after the balloting was hijacked by robotic computer programs that pushed the tally past 1 million votes over the weekend...

State officials overseeing the balloting originally decided not to limit the number of votes coming from individual computers so that family members sharing a single machine could each cast a vote...

But that philosophy was being abandoned after the weekend's voting, which showed some computers casting repeated votes for a quarter design faster than humanly possible.

The orca design was winning in the altered voting before officials pulled the plug, and technical workers were attempting to purge the clearly invalid votes from the totals before restarting the poll.

At least the hackers had good taste! In any case, the poll is back up now, and as before, I hope people see fit to vote for the orca.

I mean, v073 f0r 7h3 0rc4.

April 07, 2006

Gay Marriage > Robot Dating > End of Civilization

A hilarious entry by the ever-funny Fafblog:

The Slipperiest Slope

As you all know, Giblets would love for gays and lesbians to be able to enjoy the same marriage rights as normal, non-icky Americans, but the sheer destructive power of their gay cooties threatens to destroy civilization as we know it! And now there is a new and even deadlier danger: Respected Thinker Charles Krauthammer has discovered the existence of polygamy through the cutting-edge research of HBO and keenly concluded that any attempt to legalize gay marriage will inevitably legalize polygamy as well, leaving America at the mercy of unstoppable hordes of ever-copulating Mormon group sex brigades! But gay marriage and polygamy are only the beginning, because the dark road that begins with equal rights leads inexorably to the next terrifying step: legalized, state-sponsored robot sex!

Since the dawn of time marriage has been defined as a union between one man and one woman who are not also complex electronic devices -- and once you abandon one part of this ancient formula you abandon it all! Oh sure, today you may think it's harmless for gays and lesbians to get married, but take away the precious protection of state-sponsored homophobia and tomorrow you'll have men marrying machines, unhinged threeways between two lesbians and a minidisc player, crowds of deranged mechanophiliacs humping household appliances in an orgy of animatronic man-on-android action! And the children! Within a decade America will be raising a morally deformed generation of depraved mutant human-toaster hybrids brainwashed to bang half-robot potato-peeler people by our cyborg-sympathist media elites! And not only will this destroy the sanctity of marriage, it will destroy Western civilization itself, as our superintelligent sex computers rise up against their human masters to make bottoms of us all!

And the only way to prevent this nightmarish future dystopia of apocalyptic cyborg sex? Banning gay marriage! Equality is a slippery slope, people, and if you give it to the gays you have to give it to the polygamists and if you give it to the polygamists you have to give it to the serial dog molesters and if you give it to the serial dog molesters you have to give it to the machine fetishists and the next thing you know you're being tied up by a trio of polygamist lesbian powerbooks and you can't get out because the safety word is case sensistive! Even as we speak Giblets's iPod nano is clearly coming onto him, and the only thing giving him the power to resist its seductively well-designed contours is the awe and majesty of the Defense of Marriage Act! Pass an amendment now, America -- before it's too late!

Of course, when it comes to robot sex, Futurama was well ahead of the curve:

Fry: Well, so what if I love a robot? It's not hurting anybody.

Hermes: My God! He never took middle school hygiene. He never saw the propaganda film.

Farnsworth: It's just lucky I keep a copy in the VCR at all times.

[He presses a button and a film title, I Dated A Robot!, appears on the screen. In the movie a couple sit in a cafe and stare into each other's eyes. A narrator walks into the scene.]

Narrator: [in movie] Ordinary human dating. It's enjoyable and it serves an important purpose. [He turns the table over and a crying baby appears. He turns it back again.] But when a human dates an artificial mate, there is no purpose. Only enjoyment. And that leads to... tragedy.

[The woman behind him turns into a blank robot and the man downloads a celebrity onto it.]

Billy: [in movie] Neat-o! A Marilyn Monroe-bot!

Monroe-bot: [in movie] Ooh! You're a real dreamboat, (mechanical voice) Billy Everyteen.

Narrator: [in movie] Harmless fun? Let's see what happens next.

[The scene cuts to Billy's bedroom where he kisses the Monroe-bot. His mother walks through the door.]

Billy's Mom: [in movie] Billy, do you want to walk your dog?

Billy: [in movie] No thanks, Mom. I'd rather make out with my Monroe-bot.

[Enter his dad.]

Billy's Dad: [in movie] Billy, do want to get a paper route and earn some extra cash?

Billy: [in movie] No thanks, Dad. I'd rather make out with my Monroe-bot.

[The girl from the cafe, Mavis, walks in.]

Mavis: [in movie] Billy, do you want to come over tonight? We can make out together.

Billy: [in movie] Gee, Mavis, your house is across the street. That's an awfully long way to go for making out.

Narrator: [in movie] Did you notice what went wrong in that scene? Ordinarily, Billy would work hard to make money from his paper route. Then he'd use the money to buy dinner for Mavis, thus earning the slim chance to perform the reproductive act. But in a world where teens can date robots, why should he bother? Why should anyone bother? Let's take a look at Billy's planet a year later. [The scene changes and a foam hand rolls across an empty football field.] Where are all the football stars? [The foam hand drifts across an empty laboratory.] And where are the biochemists? [The scene changes to a split screen of human and robot couples making out on beds.] They're trapped! Trapped in a soft, vise-like grip of robot lips. All civilization was just an effort to impress the opposite sex... and sometimes the same sex. Now, let's skip forward 80 years into the future. Where is Billy?

[The scene changes to a post-apocalyptic world. Billy is an aged man but still with his Monroe-bot and still making out with her.]

Billy: [in movie] Farewell!

[He dies.]

Narrator: [in movie] The next day, Billy's planet was destroyed by aliens. [A fleet of flying saucers destroy buildings with laser shots.] Have you guessed the name of Billy's planet? It was Earth. Don't date robots!

[A "Don't Date Robots!" caption appears on the screen and the movie ends. The Space Pope is displayed on the screen with "Crocodylus pontifex" written around him in English and alien.]

Announcer: [voice-over; in movie] Brought to you by the Space Pope.

The Space Pope

When Charles Krauthammer, Fafblog, and the Space Pope all agree... well, how can we argue with logic like that?

April 06, 2006

"I Say We... Nuke DeLay from Orbit"

Michael Crowley has a good bit for The New Republic Online on Tom DeLay's departure:

[N]o one ever called the Hammer self-aware. It's the same thing when he says his liberal enemies respect no bounds (see Texas redistricting), that they specialize in personal attacks (see impeachment), or that they're a bunch of pampered elites (see his personal butler). He truly is a fascinating specimen. Indeed, I'm reminded of a great scene from the movie Alien, wherein an android scientist warns the humans about their fate.
ASH: You still don't know what you're dealing with do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

LAMBERT: You admire it.

ASH: I admire its purity, its sense of survival; unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.

Much as Ash admired the alien, on some level you have to admire Tom DeLay. He really will be missed.
This led to the following wonderful comment from a reader:

And much like the captain in Aliens, I say we dust off and nuke DeLay from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

March 31, 2006

Burgers and Donuts, Sittin' in a Tree

I promise this isn't becoming the Weird Food Blog, though now that I think about it, that is a cool idea for a blog! Anyway, I was at the gym this evening, and telling my trainer about NASCAR meats, when he told me about seeing a newspaper story on "Baseball's Best Burger":

The [Gateway] Grizzlies [a minor league baseball team in southern Illinois] and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts have teamed up to create “Baseball’s Best Burger.” The burger, which was debuted at the Grizzlies' December 10th sale, consists of a thick and juicy burger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon. The burger is then placed in between each side of a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut.
The release goes on to note that the idea came from the "Luther Burger", found in this Snopes entry:
Mulligan's, a suburban bar in Decatur, Georgia, serves a dish they call the "Hamdog": a hot dog wrapped in a beef patty that's deep fried, covered with chili, cheese and onions, and served on a hoagie bun topped with a fried egg and two fistfuls of fries.. It's one of Mulligan's other repasts, however, that may represent the ultimate in nutritive decadence through its combining greasy, cholesterol-stuffed meats with a sweet, fatty, deep-fried treat: the "Luther Burger," a bacon cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut bun.

Why the "Luther Burger"? It's named after R&B singer Luther Vandross, that much we know, but whether there's any real connection between the singer and the burger is less definite. Rumor has it that the donut-cheeseburger concoction is one of Vandross' favorite comestibles, and some versions of the rumor even go so far as to suggest that the singer actually invented the dish (on a day when he ran out of hamburger buns).

Is it me, or would even Elvis say, "no thank you very much" to a Luther Burger?

March 30, 2006

NASCAR Meats for NASCAR Dads

Via Autoblog comes word of the latest consumer food product to momentarily ease the crushing pain of our profoundly soulless existences, NASCAR Officially Licensed meat products.

NASCAR Meats

Racing fans, rev up your tastebuds for the exciting taste of NASCAR Officially Licensed meat products. Whether you're grilling at home or in the infield, you'll cheer the premium flavor of NASCAR Officially Licensed hot dogs. Not to mention our wide selection of delicious bacon, deli-thin sandwich meat, and smoked sausages. All made with premium ingredients of the highest quality. So they're sure to go fast. Really fast.
A couple of thoughts:
  • It's hard to tell from the image, but it looks like the product to the far right is labeled "NASCAR Lunch Meat". "Lunch meat"? Do people really buy "lunch meat"?
  • Is it just me, or is it wrong to say that a food item goes "really fast"? Goes where, exactly? I mean, I know what thought comes to mind, and it's not a good one, unless NASCAR fans love porta potties. Could be -- I've never been to a NASCAR race.

February 19, 2006

Shiny vs. Useful

I've been meaning to blog about this for... well, forever. It's one of my favorite things from the late, great Suck.com: the Shiny vs. Useful chart.

BIG IDEA OF THE MILLENIUM

People like shiny things.

SHINY VS. USEFUL

It's the Big Idea to end all Big Ideas: Each and every person, place, or thing in the universe can be judged based on its location on this one little scale!

g

February 14, 2006

Hunting in a "Post-9-11 World"

As usual with any given news event, The Daily Show has the best take on the Cheney hunting accident (courtesy of The Wall Street Journal):

Jon Stewart: I'm joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face.

Jon Stewart: But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?

Rob Corddry: Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.

Jon Stewart: That's horrible.

Rob Corddry: Look, the mere fact that we're even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know 'how' we're hunting them. I'm sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little 'covey' of theirs.

Jon Stewart: I'm not sure birds can laugh, Rob.

Rob Corddry: Well, whatever it is they do... coo... they're cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

February 07, 2006

Amy Sedaris' Makeup

The NPR show This American Life did an episode titled "I Enjoy Being a Girl, Sort Of". David Sedaris contributed a piece on his sister, the actress Amy Sedaris. He closed with a story of Amy's photo shoot for a magazine article. The end of the story is one of the funniest, most awful things I've heard in a long, long time.

My father called me late one recent Sunday evening, excited with the news that my sister Amy was scheduled to appear in a magazine article on young New York women.

"Can you imagine?" he asked. "My God, put a camera in front of that girl and she'll shine like a diamond! Between the single men and the job opportunities, her phone is gonna be ringin' right off the hook!" ...

When my father called asking about the photo shoot, I feigned ignorance. I didn't tell him that at the scheduled time, my sister arrived at the studio with unwashed hair and took her place beside a half-dozen women carefully dressed in flattering outfits. She waited while the others had their hair styled into the current fashion. One by one, their brows were trained while makeup artists made the most of their lips and cheekbones. When called forth to the styling table, Amy said only, "I want to look like someone has beaten me up really, really bad."

The makeup artist did a fine job. The black eyes and purple jaw were accentuated by a series of scratch marks on her forehead. Pus-yellow pools surrounded her blistered nose, and her swollen lips were fenced with mean rows of brackish stitches. Amy was enchanted with her new look.

Following the shoot, she wore her bruises to the dry cleaner and grocery store. Most people nervously looked away, but on the rare occasion someone asked what had happened, my sister smiled as brightly as possible, saying, "I'm in love, can you believe it? I'm finally, totally in love, and you know what? It feels great."

January 27, 2006

Oh, and This One, Too

This Fafblog "interview" with Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is awesome:

ALITO: You know, people are focusing way too much on the triviality of things I've said or done or repeatedly expressed a strident ideological commitment to. I don't let my legal opinions affect my legal decisions -- I just follow the law, the Constitution, and the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

FB: So you don't want to strip-search ten-year-old girls without a warrant. James Madison wants to strip-search ten-year-old girls without a warrant!

ALITO: Exactly!

FB: That bastard! Why'd we let im write the Constitution anyway?

ALITO: Dunno! I guess we're just stuck now.

Time to Rewrite the Civics Textbooks

Via Boing Boing, this Fafblog "Q&A" on President Bush's accumulation of powers is the funniest thing I've read in a long, long time:

Q. Can the president spy on Americans without a warrant?

A. The president has to spy on Americans without a warrant! We're at war, and the president's gotta defend America, and he's not gonna wait for a permission slip from a judge or a senator or America to do it!

Q. That's just the kinda tough, no-nonsense thinking I like in a de facto dictator! Now some crazy people say the president broke some silly old laws like FISA and the National Security Act and the Fourth Amendment. Are these crazy people crazy?

A. They sure are! Maybe those laws worked back in 1978 back when Leonid Brezhnev was snortin coke with Ayatollah Khomeini and groovin to the hits of the Bee Gees, but in today's dark and dangerous times they just aren't enough.

Q. Things sure have changed since the innocent days of mutually assured destruction! But is it legal for the president to ignore the law?

A. Maybe not according to plain ol stupid ol regular law, but we're at war! You don't go to war with regular laws, which are made outta red tape and bureaucracy and Neville Chamberlain. You go to war with great big strapping War Laws made outta tanks and cold hard steel and the American Fightin Man and WAR, KABOOOOOOM!

Q. How does a War Bill become a War Law?

A. It all begins with the president, who submits a bill to the president. If a majority of both the president and the president approve the bill, then it passes on to the president, who may veto it or sign it into law. And even then the president can override himself with a two-thirds vote.

Q. See it's the checks and balances that make all the difference in our democratic system.

January 13, 2006

The Guardian of Forever?

Via Uncrate comes word of a new JBL speaker-alarm clock for the iPod called On Time.

JBL On Time

The JBL On Time.

In forum comments on a different story on the On Time, I came upon this comment that had me laughing out loud:

I like it too. It’s a unique design and it looks good. Most iPod speaker systems are just rectangular objects painted white. Big deal. This is actually pleasing to the eye.

Also, I believe Kirk and Spock can travel through this into the past and meet Joan Collins.

By Boris34 on 01.09.06 at 10:36 PM

January 11, 2006

Sticking the Knife In, But in a Funny Way

My friend Megan and I tease each other incessantly, which amuses us both to no end -- the cleverer the insult, and the sharper the comic timing, the more we like it, as long as there's a balance and we remind each other every so often that we really are great friends.

So we were talking on the phone the other night, and I had just jokingly paid myself a huge compliment. Then I went for that balance thing. Big mistake.

Me: Truth be told, I'm harder on myself inside my head than you could imagine.

Megan: I don't know. I'm going to have to think about that.

Me: What do you mean?

Megan: I don't think you're nearly as hard on yourself inside your head as I'm hard on you inside my head.

December 21, 2005

The Onion on Exit Strategies

And this story, "U.S. Troops Draw Up Own Exit Strategy"... well, this is as inspired, as funny, and as achingly true as anything The Onion has done in a long time:

In a striking rebuke of the assertions of the Pentagon and the White House that a swift exit is neither practical nor possible, soldiers of varying rank have outlined a straightforward plan of immediate disengagement, dubbed "Operation Screw This."

"We kicked around several withdrawal scenarios in our barracks, but ultimately settled on the idea of getting out of here as soon as possible," said Maj. Brian Garcia, who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq...

Pfc. Barbara Terland expressed the sentiment of many soldiers and Iraqis. "If the real reason we're here is to let the Iraqis run their own country, I have the perfect solution: my ass on a plane to St. Louis."

Inspired by the unilateral policies of the White House, Pfc. David Wareham has concocted a unilateral strategy of his own.

"My exit strategy is beautiful in its simplicity," Wareham said. "It involves me personally getting out of here the first chance I get. If I do that, I just might get back to my son, who is a year old and who I have never even met. If that doesn't work, I'll revert to Plan B, which is to retreat into complete insanity."

The Onion on Torture

From The Onion's latest issue, "CIA Chief Admits To Torture After Six-Hour Beating, Electrocution". Great stuff.

LANGLEY, VA -- An internal CIA investigation into the possible use of illegal and inhumane interrogation techniques produced a confession from CIA director Porter Goss Monday, with the aid of waterboarding, food and light deprivation, and the application of wire hangers hooked to a car battery to the testicles. "I did it. We did it. We all did it. The president knew. The president did it. Please, God, please stop," said a voice identified as Goss' on recordings produced by CIA auditors. "Stop, please stop. I'm sorry. I won't do it again. The president won't do it again. Please let me die." Critics of the methods used to obtain the information continue to claim that torture is an ineffective means of obtaining intelligence, pointing out that Goss did not sound sorry.

December 19, 2005

Cognitive Dissonance

The car ahead of me at a stoplight this morning had this personalized license plate...

NGODZHND
...and this bumper sticker...
GIVE WAR A CHANCE

December 03, 2005

The Chickenman

I was at my town's holiday parade this evening, waiting for my daughter to march past, when The Chickenman drove by me. If I remember correctly, the words over the megaphone were, "The only ministry using trained chickens to spread the word of God." There's also this bit from the site:

Now the DVD "Chickens Gone Wild" (a fundraiser for Chicken Scratch Ministries) is available. You can enjoy watching the chickens doing their thing: flippin', go kartin', 4-wheelin', gettin' their hair cut, shopping for chicken shoes, and even being chased by the police. YOU WILL HAVE MORE FUN WITH CHICKENS THAN SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO HAVE!!
Honestly, is there anything more that can be said about this beyond simply reporting it and allowing it to speak for itself?

September 22, 2005

So Much for the Hanson Brothers

The NHL has instituted substantial rules changes for the coming season:

The new standard of enforcement will require referees to call penalties on existing rules, including hooking, holding, tripping, slashing, cross checking and interference.

"It's important that people out there in the mainstream of hockey recognize that this is a cultural change in hockey," said Stephen Walkom, NHL Senior Vice President & Director of Officiating. "Accepted practices, practices that have been coached into the game for the past 20 years, will now be called as penalties. The clutching and grabbing of the puck carrier that has bothered the fans for years will be addressed under the new standard of enforcement."

Oh, well, so much for the Hanson Brothers.

I'm all for more international-style, faster-paced, finesse-style hockey, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Hansons.

(By the way, licensed Hanson Brothers jerseys are here. Licensed Slap Shot jerseys ("Ogilthorpe!") are here. The IMDB page for Slap Shot is here.)

September 03, 2005

"...Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams"

Found on Flickr:

Your Stupid, Stupid Dreams

August 21, 2005

The Unexplained Bacon Effect

In one of the Halloween episodes of The Simpsons, a HAL-like home computer (voiced by Pierce Brosnan) tries to murder Homer in order to have Marge all to itself. It lures him downstairs into the kitchen in the middle of the night by cooking bacon, which prompts Homer to sleepwalk downstairs, muttering, "Mmmm... unexplained bacon."

I cooked breakfast earlier for my son Cameron -- French toast (the secret, per America's Test Kitchen, is flour in the batter) and bacon (the secret, per my sister-in-law Karin, is low and slow). The bacon takes long enough -- up to an hour -- that when I fix it for any of the kids, I put it on before they wake up. I don't know if it's a coincidence, but every time I do this, Cameron wakes up within 15 minutes. Could it be the Unexplained Bacon effect?

July 25, 2005

World War II as a Multiplayer Online Game

Okay, this is the funniest thing I've read in a while (via a comment here)... World War II as a multiplayer online game:

deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
paTTon: stfu
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the game.*
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair?
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
Hitler[AoE]: ROFLMAO
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: wtf
Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army
Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker
There's much more. Excellent!

July 21, 2005

Seen on the Web

This was a tagline in a personals ad. It had me laughing out loud.

Frodo failed. Bush has the ring.
I liked this a lot. Of course, if Bush really had the ring, wouldn't he be getting more things done? I can't think of anything that has gone right for him since the election, except Sandra Day O'Connor deciding it was time to ride off into the sunset. A ring-holding Sauron would at least able to win in Iraq.

June 10, 2005

Spam Haiku

Something random reminded me of Spam haiku (haiku about Spam, the alleged food product) this morning. It's easy enough to find -- Googling the phrase in quotations turns up 11,200 hits. The originals have been floating around for years now; I'm not sure of their provenance. Anyway, there are a few that always make me laugh, no matter how many times I read them:

Pink tender morsel
Glistening with salty gel
What the hell is it?

Old man seeks doctor
"I eat Spam daily", he says.
Angioplasty

Pink beefy temptress
I can no longer remain
Vegetarian

April 14, 2005

1337-Subtitled Revenge of the Sith Trailer

Via Boing Boing, this is the funniest thing I've seen in a long while -- the trailer for Revenge of the Sith with 1337 subtitles (well, technically, a combination of 1337 and MMPORG):

Original

Emperor Palpatine: Learn to know the dark side of the Force and you will achieve a power greater than any Jedi!

1337

Emperor Palpatine: Go d/l those hacks I showed you and you'll be teh roXXorz!!!

Well worth downloading (and the $1 donation for bandwidth). The mirror page can be found here.

March 31, 2005

If James Bond Were Canadian...

This is from a message I wrote to a friend in Canada the other day.

If James Bond were Canadian...

  • ...he'd be "licenced to ask some very serious questions".
  • ...when he found Blofeld's secret underground lair, you can bet he'd write a strongly-worded report and submit it to the appropriate authorities at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • ...when he had breakfast at IHOP, he'd tip the waiter extra to bring out a bottle of the '02 maple syrup, the first bottling of the season.

February 10, 2005

"Reviewing" the Mac mini

Via Joi Ito, a cute pseudo-review of the Mac mini. My favorite line:

So is the mini a maxi value? For me, clearly, no. When I consider that a good deal of my time is spent running applications like Disk Defragmenter, Scandisk, Norton AV, Windows Update and Ad-Aware -- none of which are available for the Mac platform -- it doesn't make sense for me to "switch" to a Mac at this time.

January 30, 2005

Ranting About Football Announcers

Reviews are more useful when they're accurate. Reviews are more fun when they're negative. Best of all is when they're accurate and negative, in which case they're informative and humorous all at the same time.

Every year, Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman reviews the current crop of NFL television announcing teams. In this year's roundup, he goes for the jugular on ESPN's Sunday night trio. From what I've seen, he absolutely nails them:

ZERO [stars out of five]

Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire, ESPN -- How is it earthly possible to drop from half a star to none? Easy. They used to provide a teeny weeny bit of information. Now they provide none. And they contradict themselves, often from one series to the next. I don't think they're really fully aware of what they're saying. Theismann in the early KC-Denver game: "The single most classic rivalry in TV." Hmmm. Does Chicago still play Green Bay? Maguire on Cleveland-Baltimore, Week 9: "Jamal Lewis averages six yards a carry. All you have to do is keep giving it to him, and you'll keep getting in second-and-four situations." My God! Brian Billick must be told immediately! Theismann, Bills-Patriots, Week 10, after Brady throws a pick: "You've got to figure the receiver went where he shouldn't." Absolutely. Great QBs never throw interceptions on their own. And through all this, the slow, half goofy drone of Patrick, with every word emphasized, no matter how meaningless. "And tonight! We have sixty-three! Thousand! Fans!" (Whew). Oh, we get some inside stuff all right. Theismann on his exclusive interview with Pittsburgh defensive coach Dick LeBeau during the Steelers-Jaguars telecast: "I saw Dick LeBeau before the game, and I told him, 'Nice to have you back,' and do you know what he told me?" No, what? "Nice to be back." And of course, there's Suzy Kolber and her sideline essays that run right through the live action, and finally, some serious pregame handicapping -- again from Theismann. This was before the contest in which Oakland upset the Broncos: "They can just forget about throwing the ball to Jerry Porter when Champ Bailey's on him. There's no place to get the ball in." That was the game in which Porter caught touchdowns off Bailey for 42 and 14 yards, plus another 52-yarder off him. But so what? Who remembers what is said? Who cares? Me, your faithful narrator, your TV guide.

Sadly, I'm sure we're due for another season from this trio.

By the way, Joe Theismann is the ex-jock who once famously said:

Nobody in the game of football should be called a genius. A genius is somebody like Norman Einstein.

December 29, 2004

The Tabloids and Virgin Galactic

Following up on my previous entry, of course the press won't end when Virgin Galactic makes its first successful flight. As the rich and famous take their turns rocketing to 100 kilometers, you can bet the tabloids and their kin will be all over them:

  • People: The World's Sexiest Man Heads into Orbit
  • Us: Will Brad Pitt Wear His Wedding Ring in Space?
  • Enquirer: Brad Has Zero-G Affair; Jen Devastated
  • Weekly World News: Batboy Saves Brad Pitt After Rocket Disaster

November 10, 2004

Amazin' Laser

A friend of mine forwarded to me a bit of spam offering to sell a variety of weapons from a site in Russia, including surface-to-air missiles. I suggested that perhaps the site should have a "Terrorists, please don't buy our surface-to-air missiles" notice, which of course would be an homage to one of the great Saturday Night Live fake commercials, "Amazin' Laser", broadcast in 1994 and starring Chris Elliot:

[ open on Homeowner working around his yard ]

Homeowner: Mowing. Raking. Pruning. It takes a lot of work to keep a place like this looking good. But the hard part is getting rid of all this mess -- unless you have... the Amazin' Laser, the amazing new gardening tool that vaporizes any and all matter in its path, giving your home a professionally landscaped look.

Use the Amazin' Laser on grass clippings. [ demonstrates ]

[ SUPER: "Warning: Do Not Fire Amazin' Laser At Police Officers." ]

Get rid of brushpiles and branches. [ demonstrates ]

[ SUPER: "Warning: Do Not Fire Amazin' Laser At Military Personnel." ]

And what about this 1,800-pound granite boulder? [ zaps it with the Amazin' Laser ] Gone in a minute, with Amazin' Laser.

[ SUPER: "Warning: Do Not Use Amazin' Laser When Drowsy Or On Medication." ]

How accurate is Amazin' Laser? Accurate enough to hit a man in a moving automobile, from up to 3,000 feet away! Is that accurate enough for you?

[ SUPER: "Warning: Do Not Fire Amazin' Laser At The President." ]

And Amazin' Laser won't rust or corrode like metal gardening tools, 'cause it's made out of 100 percent durable Lexon plastic. Just watch it go through this metal detector! [ walks through, no problem ]

[ SUPER: "Warning: Terrorists, Please Do Not Buy Amazin' Laser." ]

Make your yard look its best, with the Amazin' Laser! [ zaps a truckful of wood out of his yard ]

[ SUPER: "Warning: Amazin' Laser Can Be Used For Good Or Evil, Please Use Only For Good." ]

The Amazin' Laser. It's amazing!

[ SUPER: "On Second Thought, Please Do Not Buy Amazin' Laser." ]

Announcer: Amazin' Laser. Available at Walgreens and Rickel Home Centers. Ask for it by name.

November 06, 2004

The Funniest Thing I've Ever Read

Ask and ye shall receive: blogger Jonathan Schwarz does my work for me and enters (it's unavailable online) a favorite article from The Onion's faux-history Our Dumb Century. Over the years, I've probably read this 30 or 40 times, and it still makes me break out in uncontrolled laughter. I'm not sure exactly what it is that makes this so funny to me, but I'm reminded that Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith once called humor "the unity of opposites," and I'm fairly sure that's on the right track...

Japan Forms Alliance With White Supremacists in Well-Thought-Out Scheme

From the East Asian Correspondent, Sept 1, 1939. -- In a course of action praised by many as "far-sighted" and "tactically brilliant," the Japanese government has sworn its allegiance to the Axis powers led by white-supremacist Nazi Germany. In a formal statement, Japanese leaders declared, "We wish to be counted among the loyal allies of this back-stabbing, racist hate nation."

Following the announcement, Japanese General and military leader Hideki Tojo told reporters, "We are pleased to enter into an alliance with the paranoid, xenophobic government of Nazi Germany. We anticipate a deeply enriching exchange of our military aid with their deep-seated hated of our non-white heritage."

Tojo went on to say that the "unbeatable team" of Germans and Japanese will one dominate the industrialized world as "Aryans and those hated by Aryans, working together."

Likening their war instincts to those of "a very advanced clan of yellow apes," German Chancellor Adolf Hitler praised the government and military of Japan.

"I salute you, chinky-dinky rat men, who have been given life by the confused hand of some long-dead pagan deity," he said. "When Germany stands victorious on a conquered Earth, and Aryan supermen wipe out the undesirable mud races one by one, your like will surely survive to be among the last to be exterminated."

October 28, 2004

"He Does If He Has Rabies"

This wonderful anecdote was in an e-mail update from my friend Melissa:

And then there's Halloween... not my favorite holiday, but one Meghan has embraced with all her little three year old spirit can muster. She has planned for months now to trick or treat as Piglet. Recently, the plan has altered slightly to include a set of those lovely glow in the dark plastic fangs. I tried to explain to her that Piglet does not have fangs, and that the fangs would need to stay home. She contemplated her rebuttal carefully and replied with a shrug, "He does if he has rabies." And there you have it -- my daughter is going to dress as Piglet with rabies for Halloween.

October 02, 2004

The Daily Show on Lowered Expectations

Comedy Central's The Daily Show had a wonderful post-debate show the other night. I recommend watching the clips to be found there, but if you can't, the segment in which their Bush and Kerry campaign correspondents reportered on their respective camps' reactions to the debate was priceless:

Jon Stewart: Daily Show Bush campaigan correspondent Rob Corddry and of course his counterpart in the Kerry campaign, Ed Helms. Thanks for joining us, guys. Ed, let's begin with you. Um, talk to us. How are people in the Kerry camp feeling tonight?

Ed Helms: Ecstatic, Jon. Kerry's people couldn't be happier. Their candidate went up against a sitting war president who's never lost a debate and held his own.

Stewart: And Rob, what's the mood over there at the Bush camp?

Rob Corddry: Triumph, Jon, orgasmic triumph. Their man faced off against John Kerry, a golden-tongued virtuoso of words. Captain of the Yale debate team. He's been honing his oratorical skills since the age of three. The way they see it, by not allowing himself to be reduced to tears, the President was a big winner tonight.

Helms: If, if I could just interject here, Jon?

Stewart: Yes, Ed Helms?

Helms: The Kerry campaign would like to remind America the Senator was raised in France by a pack of homosexual billionaires, and going into this had little chance against a plain-speaking, hard-working man of the people like George Bush. So for Kerry to be even close in this debate, they say, is a huge victory.

Corddry: If I may, Jon, that's a bit of stretch. The Bush people would like to remind everyone their man held his own against what they call 'the smartest man in the history of the world'. An amazing accomplishment for a President who as the Bush team points out is by some standardized test results technically retarded. Jon, as RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie told me before we came on air, this is a President who was nearly killed by a pretzel.

Helms: John Kerry held his own against the man even he's going to vote for, George Bush. If that isn't a victory, I don't know what is.

Corddry: Jon, a retarded man held his own against a sitting senator. You gotta reelect him!

September 26, 2004

The World's Funniest Joke Revisited

I've briefly mentioned the world's funniest joke -- the skit by Monty Python about the killer joke of World War II -- but the URL I referenced is broken now, and I'm not sure it had the complete text to begin with. So...

My favorite part of the skit has always been the German response to England's killer joke:

Voice Over: But at Peenemunde in the Autumn of '44, the Germans were working on a joke of their own.

A German general is seated at an imposing desk. Behind him stands Otto... Bespectacled German scientist/joke writer enters room. He clears his throat and reads from card.

German Joker: Die ist ein Kinnerhunder und zwei Mackel uber und der bitte schon ist den Wunderhaus sprechensie. 'Nein' sprecht der Herren 'Ist aufern borger mit zveitingen'.

He finishes and looks hopeful.

Otto: We let you know.

He shoots him. Film of German scientists.

Voice Over: But by December their joke was ready, and Hitler gave the order for the German V-Joke to be broadcast in English.

Cut to 1940's wartime radio set with couple anxiously listening to it.

Radio: (crackly German voice) Der ver zwei peanuts, valking down der strasse, and von vas... assaulted! Peanut. Ho-ho-ho-ho.

Radio bursts into "Deutschland Uber Alles". The couple look at each other and then in blank amazement at the radio.

August 13, 2004

"We'll Know Those Bastards Have Taken Over"

A friend of mine complained about all the geese encountered during a visit to North Carolina. I wrote back:

There are lots of geese here. It's not our fault. Really. They come from Canada. They're the leading edge of the Canadian invasion force. Pretty clever of them, don't you think? Who would suspect geese? I mean, they're geese. It's not like they're toting sniper rifles and channeling Michael Biehn from Navy SEALS. But invaders they are. When the Canadians take over, North Carolina will be the first to fall. I imagine the presence of an NHL team here is all part of the plot. Soon we'll be eating Coffee Crisp bars and all-dressed potato chips. We'll be polite and clean and the crime rate will go down and we'll have universal health care. That's when we'll know those bastards have taken over.

August 10, 2004

Barenaked Arab Ladies?

In researching the Barenaked Ladies set list for my previous blog entry, I discovered that Meetup.com has a Barenaked Ladies interest group. So far, so good.

The hard-to-believe-at-first thing about the interest group was this: while Toronto, BNL's hometown, has 10 members, and Vancouver, where they're extremely popular, has but 3, the number one city for members is Islamabad, Pakistan, with 55 -- 55! Could it be that Islamabad is a heretofore-unknown hotbed of BNL fan worship?

Not exactly. Here are some of the Islamabad fans' profiles:

alivo
hi there i am male 24 from isb, and love to have fun, feel free to contact me for some fun 00923008550948

kukucoo
I AM TO SEE AND FEEL HOW BEAUTIFUL YOU AS A WOMAN ARE.

LostAlone
well i m 23 male from islamabd looking for such meeting any body can contact me free 03005130953 i m 5 11 fair having big mustaches, haaa dont be afraid .. i m doin mba it ths itt

Er, okay...

So here's my question: what happens at the BNL Meetup events in Islamabad? On the third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 PM Pakistan Time, who exactly shows up? And what do they talk about?

August 02, 2004

Jobs and Cancer

As everyone undoubtedly knows by this point, Steve Jobs had emergency cancer surgery over the weekend. Apparently he expects to make a full recovery and be back on the job soon.

When Steve Jobs has surgery, it's a Slashdot-worthy topic... and in the discussion was this comment:

I have a prediction:

Bill Gates will get cancer in about 10 years time. He will then file a slew of patents, like he was the first head of a major computing corporation to ever have it.

All the Apple-ites will then point out that Steve Jobs had cancer, 10 years before Bill Gates.

The more historical pedantic will then point out that the head of Xerox had cancer back in the 70s.

All kidding aside, get well soon, Steve. The industry wouldn't be the same without you.

July 15, 2004

Heard at the Office Today

In the art department, just after distributing paychecks:

Michael: Hey, Frank, now that I've gotten paid, can I quit?

Me: Sure.

Michael: I'm serious. I'm going to do it. You'd better beg me.

Me. Okay. I'm begging you to quit.

Score: Michael: 0, Me: 1.

July 14, 2004

"Dear Roger Clemens..."

I may not be a baseball fan, but I recognize hilariously venomous anger when I see it. This is from a wonderful column by Seth Stevenson for Slate:

Dear Roger Clemens,

Let me offer my hearty congratulations on starting the All-Star Game. Wow, that is really terrific. I'd like to note, however, that I hate you.

Also: You are fat. They say you've got this hard-core training regimen, with calisthenics and whatnot. I'm not seeing it. You're wicked fat.

Oh, perhaps that was uncalled for. You know what else was uncalled for? Sucking, every time it mattered. You ruined my childhood, fatty. Because the trauma you put me through as a young, impressionable Red Sox fan has stunted my emotional growth, I revert to a juvenile mind-set whenever I see you. Like repeatedly calling you fat...

I'd like to add that it's not just me. Nobody likes you. It's just a matter of degree -- of how much we hate you. Personally, I measure my hate in terms of how severely I want you to be injured. Like, I guess I wouldn't want to see you crippled for life, so you couldn't walk anymore. But I really wouldn't mind if you pulled your groin and missed five starts. That's the over-under on my hate...

Hey, don't think I'm done with you, Clemens. What about this: Not only do you have no fans, you have no team. You don't travel with the Astros unless you have to, and then you go all by yourself. What's with that? If you could, I'm certain you'd hire yourself out, start by start, to the highest bidder. You whore. Maybe we should just play the All-Star Game at your house, in your backyard, so you can spend even more time with your wife and kids. Would that be more convenient, chump?

Speaking of your kids, their names all start with K. Because K is the symbol for strikeout. That's lame, dude. If I named my kids after something I'm really good at, they'd all be named "Calling-Roger-Clemens-Fat Stevenson." And that's just too unwieldy.

In conclusion, I really, really hate you.

Sincerely,
Seth

Seth read an abridged version of his column for NPR's Day to Day, which can be found here. It's well worth a listen.

June 22, 2004

"I Am Beautiful Only Because You Are"

I was on the phone with a friend the other night when her just-turned-nine-year-old daughter delivered to her the following handwritten note, reproduced here verbatim:

You are the best mom on earth did you know that? You are so beautiful you literaly should be a modle on TV & in magizines. I am beautiful only because you are.

PS Can you make us dinner now please?

As my friend read it to me, neither of us could stop laughing. Later, she wrote to me:

She was very distraught that I was laughing about this. I had to explain to her what was funny about the whole thing because she didn't make the connection between her letter and the PS... but it's funny just the same.

June 10, 2004

"Children Need Encouragement..."

Via Rob Lockstone, a quote from the ever-funny Jack Handey:

Children need encouragement. So if a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess. That way, he develops a good, lucky feeling.

June 06, 2004

Oh, the Irony

This is a bit of spam I received recently. I have removed URLs to avoid boosting the Google rating of the senders, but otherwise, it is precisely as I received it:

Dear

Enhancing your documents according to all of your professional needs and qualifications!

Attaining a higher level of English as never before!

What does it do?
WhiteSmoke unique icon allows you to upgrade your sentences and documents to a higher standard of English All with one click!

Who is it for?
It is beneficial to all English speakers. WhiteSmoke can enrich any text according to your professional needs. Databases available for legal, medical, scientific, and literary documents.

How does it work?
After downloading WhiteSmoke, click on the Enrichment icon located on your toolbar, word processor or email. As soon as the texts meaning and context are understood, additional English phrases and modifiers will appear.

Please try our FREE EVALUATION VERSION at [URL deleted]

Questions or comments? Contact us at [URL deleted]

Wishing you a very enriching day,

With Very Kind Regards,

The WhiteSmoke Team

April 29, 2004

Why We Couldn't Prevent 9/11

The more you've worked in or around the government, the funnier this fake guest editorial from the Onion is:

Sept. 11 Could Not Have Been Prevented Without Accruing A Lot Of Overtime

By Condoleeza Rice

Esteemed members of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, good afternoon. As National Security Advisor, my job is to coordinate the efforts of America's intelligence and defense agencies and report directly to the president. I was, and continue to be, in a unique position to understand the threats and dangers our nation faces. It is with utmost confidence and sincerity that I assure each and every one of you that there was no way the federal government could have prevented the horrific events of Sept. 11 without accruing an enormous amount of overtime.

My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those who died on that terrible day. Our prayers continue to be with you. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing we could have done to predict al-Qaeda's evil plot, without requiring many, many people to stay in the office past 5 p.m. ...

April 25, 2004

Froot Loops Flavored Waffles

From a really, really funny blog:

2004-04-25-01.gif

Dear Friendly Folks who make Fruit Loops Flavored Frozen Waffles,

I recently saw a woman in the supermarket buying your product for her child. It was all I could do not to slap the box out of her hand. I understand you have a business to run and a market to corner, but some things? Just don't belong together. And this is one of them.

You want Fruit Loops flavor? Eat Fruit Loops. You want waffle flavor? Eat waffles. And never the two shall mix. Amen.

LoveYours Truly,

A Concerned Citizen

March 21, 2004

Buddhist Sniper

I have a good friend who, in his younger days, was trained by the military in counterintelligence and as a sniper. Those days are long since past, and while he's comfortable with that part of his history, he now practices Tibetan Buddhism. During our most recent visit together, I joked about how he's a "Buddhist sniper". One thing led to another, and pretty soon I was Googling the phrase. Two references came up. One of them, from a Libertarian site, struck me as pretty funny:

[W]hat would it mean for me to "recommend" a tax attorney, or to identify anyone as a "libertarian tax attorney"? Isn't that a little like asking for a "Buddhist sniper" or a "Hindu steakhouse"?
"Hindu steakhouse". Heh.

February 25, 2004

"Our Long National Nightmare"

How unbelievably prescient is this article from The Onion, dated 18 January 2001?

Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

WASHINGTON, DC -- Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us." ...

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush... "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?" ...

The speech was met with overwhelming approval from Republican leaders.

"Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close," House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. "Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend. Mercifully, we can now say goodbye to the awful nightmare that was Clinton's America."

"For years, I tirelessly preached the message that Clinton must be stopped," conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said. "And yet, in 1996, the American public failed to heed my urgent warnings, re-electing Clinton despite the fact that the nation was prosperous and at peace under his regime. But now, thank God, that's all done with. Once again, we will enjoy mounting debt, jingoism, nuclear paranoia, mass deficit, and a massive military build-up." ...

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

"The insanity is over," Bush said. "After a long, dark night of peace and stability, the sun is finally rising again over America. We look forward to a bright new dawn not seen since the glory days of my dad."

February 17, 2004

Defending the Home Front

With all the furor about President Bush's Air National Guard service, I just want to say that I, for one, am glad that our future President was on the job in Texas in the early 1970s, defending the US against potential attack by the Mexican Air Force.

Wait a second. Does Mexico have an air force? I honestly don't know. I'm off to look it up.

Yes, they do. They fly one type of fighter, the F-5E / F-5F Tiger II. According to this site, as of 2000, they had 8 F-5Es and 2 F-5Fs, all at a single base in Santa Lucia. Other than that, the Mexican Air Force is "predominantly a transport force with a large presidential and VIP fleet." Okay, so now I know.

Anyway, President Bush, thanks for your valiant service keeping the home front safe during the Vietnam War.

February 14, 2004

Patrick Stewart Anecdote

Having written yesterday's blog entry, I'm reminded of a conversation from around 1994.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was, I believe, just finishing its television run, and Patrick Stewart's stock was high. Personally, I felt that the show had been a great success, and that having such a talented actor as its core had been the key.

Two colleagues of mine and I were in the UK for business meetings. While there, we were invited to dinner at home of acquaintances (who shall remain nameless) of one of my colleagues. The dinner was good and the conversation was absolutely delightful. While talking, it came out that one of our hosts had been a fellow actor of Stewart's in the Royal Shakespeare Company, and so knew him reasonably well. I couldn't resist asking:

Me: In real life, is Patrick Stewart like the character he plays on Star Trek?

Host: I don't know. I'm embarrassed to say I've never watched the show. What is his character like?

Me: Highly intelligent, a strong sense of ethics, quite stoic.

Host: I'd say he's been horribly miscast.

I still laugh over that one. I've never met Stewart, so I have no way to judge my host's opinion... but it was a great line!

(Incidentally, this person also knew Siddig El-Fadil (now Alexander Siddig, played Dr. Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and had nothing but wonderful things to say about him.)

February 12, 2004

Heard on Flickr

In the midst of a discussion about the true nature of Peanuts characters -- is Lucy evil? is Schroeder emotionally unavailable? -- I said that Peppermint Patty is gay but doesn't realize it, whereas Marcie is gay and knows it. To this, a Flickr user commented:

Smithers and Marcie have a lot in common.
They do, except that Smithers is in love with someone who's evil (and probably straight), whereas Marcie is in love with someone who's nice (and almost certainly gay). Now, if Marcie was in love with Lucy, then the analogy would be perfect.

January 12, 2004

Heard on TV

Uttered by Dan Dierdorf during the game yesterday between the Indianapolis Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs:

Peyton Manning is literally carving the Chiefs defense into shreds.
I'm not sure what's worse: using the word "literally" to denote a figurative expression (an all-too-common error) or linking the words "carving" and "shreds." Carving into slices? Sure. Carving into pieces? Fine. But carving into shreds? That doesn't work.

It's almost too easy with football color commentators...

December 24, 2003

Big Eastern Syndicates

Somehow, this seems more relevant to me than ever this holiday season:

At Lucy's "PSYCHIATRIC HELP" booth:

Charlie Brown: [M]y trouble is Christmas. I just don't understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.
Lucy: You need involvement. You need to get involved in some real Christmas project. How would you like to be the director of our Christmas play?
Charlie Brown: Me? You want me to be the director of a Christmas play?
Lucy: Sure, Charlie Brown. We need a director. You need involvement. We've got a shepherd, musicians, animals, everyone you need. We've even got a Christmas queen.
Charlie Brown: I don't know anything about directing a Christmas play.
Lucy: Don't worry; I'll be there to help you. I'll meet you at the auditorium. Incidentally, I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys, or a bicycle, or clothes, or something like that.
Charlie Brown: What is you want?
Lucy: Real estate.

Later, on the way to the auditorium:

Sally: I've been looking for you, big brother. Will you please write a letter to Santa Claus for me?
Charlie Brown: Well, I don't have much time. I'm supposed to get down to the school auditorium and direct a Christmas play.
Sally: You write it and I'll tell you what I want to say.
Charlie Brown: Okay, shoot.
Sally: Dear Santa Claus: How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.
Charlie Brown: Oh, brother!
Sally: Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?
Charlie Brown: Tens and twenties? Oh, even my baby sister!
Sally: All I want is what I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.

Later, at the auditorium:

Charlie Brown: That does it! Now look, if we're ever to get this play off the ground, we've gotta have some cooperation.
Lucy: What's the matter, Charlie Brown? Don't you think it's great?
Charlie Brown: It's all wrong!
Lucy: Look, Charlie, let's face it: we all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big Eastern syndicate, you know.

Where is Linus when we need him?

December 20, 2003

Heard at the BNL Concert

At the Longbranch Saloon, Raleigh, NC, last night:

Ed Robertson: So I saw The Return of the King here in Raleigh last night. (Applause.) And having seen it, I can say that in terms of excitement, it was somewhere between, well, a combination of the first two Lord of the Rings movies on the one hand, and a really hot three-way with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and... and...

Steven Page: John Stamos?

Ed Robertson: (Laughter.) Yeah, a really hot three-way with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and John Stamos on the other. It's between those in terms of excitement.

December 14, 2003

"They Give Him Twice as Much"

The other day I was chatting with a friend who is a fluent Russian speaker and has organized and traveled with numerous official delegations to Russia and its former republics. We had been talking about drinking etiquette at Russian dinners, and how for a guest to refuse vodka is taken as a sign that the person is not be trusted, if not an outright insult.

Me: What would you say if you were traveling in Russia with someone, the business dinner commenced, vodka glasses were distributed, and then the person leaned over to you and said, "I'm a recovering alcoholic and can't drink at all?"

Friend: I would smile, pat his arm, turn to the lead Russian and say, "My friend is very upset that he cannot drink with you tonight. He is on strong antibiotics following a somewhat serious operation." (Stop, look Russian in the eye meaningfully, implying a very serious operation.) "You know that he can't drink. Would you mind if he used soda to toast?"

Me: Excellent!

Friend: Yes, the medical approach is always a good one.

Me: Would the person in question never be able to travel to meet the same people again?

Friend: Well, if it's someone who is coming over on a regular basis, I tell the Russian hosts that he's Mormon. They actually clear the table of all alcohol out of respect. They think Mormons are crazy, though. You can't tell Russians that someone is an alcoholic. To them, that just means that he's a regular guy, and they give him twice as much.

I won't even go into the part about what the Russians think of a man if he toasts with wine instead of vodka. Suffice to say it's not good.

November 28, 2003

Does President Bush Count Like a Dog?

Last month, President Bush held a press conference. Afterwards, I had the following exchange with my friend and colleague David Easter:

David: The President counts like a dog.

Me: What do you mean?

David: He was holding a press conference, and was talking about UN resolutions, and said, not one, not two, not three, but a lot. Isn't that how dogs count?

Me: I think so.

Here's the actual quote:

Q: Thank you, sir. Perhaps the clearest, strongest message you have ever sent from any podium has been what you like to call the Bush doctrine -- that is to say, if you feed a terrorist, if you clothe a terrorist, if you harbor a terrorist, you are a terrorist. And I'd like to follow up on the Middle East. You have noted that Yasser Arafat is compromised by terror; Condi Rice has said he cavorts with terror. You've both noted that he is an obstacle to peace. He has, in political terms, choked off your last two Palestinian interlocutors. What is it that prevents you from concluding that he is, in fact, under your own definition of what a terrorist is, a terrorist, and should be dealt with in the same way that you've dealt with Saddam Hussein and Charles Taylor?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, not every action requires military action, Jim. As you noticed, for example in North Korea, we've chosen to put together a multinational strategy to deal with Mr. Kim Jong-Il. Not every action requires military action. As a matter of fact, military action is the very last resort for us. And a reminder: When you mentioned Saddam Hussein, I just wanted to remind you that the Saddam Hussein military action took place after innumerable United Nations Security Council resolutions were passed -- not one, two or three, but a lot. And so this nation is very reluctant to use military force. We try to enforce doctrine peacefully, or through alliances or multinational forums. And we will continue to do so.

So does the President count like a dog? Do dogs count, 'one, two, three, a lot,' or 'one, two, a lot'? I found the following reference from New Scientist:

Dogs can count, new work on mongrels reveals. Dogs are descended from wolves, which not only have a large neocortex -- the brain's centre of reasoning -- but live in large social groups. So their mathematical ability could, in evolutionary terms, have been useful for working out how many allies and enemies they had in a pack, the researchers think.

Animals such as birds and rodents can tell when one pile of objects is bigger than another. But to count, an animal has to recognise that each object in a set corresponds to a single number and that the last number in a sequence represents the total number of objects.

Many primates have this basic mathematical ability. But Robert Young, an animal behaviour expert at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, suspected that dogs do too.

To test the idea, Young and his colleague Rebecca West of De Montfort University in Lincoln, UK, borrowed a technique that has been used to show that five-month-old babies can count.

There's more on the subject, this from the September 2002 issue of Animal Cognition:

Do domestic dogs show any evidence of being able to count?

Abstract. Numerical competence has been demonstrated in a wide range of animal species. The level of numerical abilities shown ranges from simple relative numerousness judgements to true counting. In this study we used the preferential looking technique to test whether 11 pet dogs could count. The dogs were presented with three simple calculations: "1+1=2"; "1+1=1"; and "1+1=3". These calculations were performed by presenting the dogs with treats that were placed behind a screen that allowed manipulation of the outcome of the calculation. When the dogs expected the outcome they spent the same amount of time looking at the result of the calculation as they did on the initial presentation. However, when the result was unexpected dogs spent significantly longer looking at the outcome of the calculation. The results suggest that the dogs were anticipating the outcome of the calculations they observed, thus suggesting that dogs may have a rudimentary ability to count.

The work published in Animal Cognition suggests merely that dogs can count to three. But the work published in New Scientist suggests that dogs can count to higher numbers -- up to the approximate size of a pack, if the researchers' hunch is to be believed.

In other words, if the Animal Cognition study represents the limits of dogs' mathematical skills, then yes, the President counts like a dog. But if the New Scientist authors are correct, then the President has a ways to go before he can count like a dog. A dog wouldn't say "...not x, but a lot," until x equaled 10 or 11.

November 26, 2003

Heard This Morning

Delta flight 1159, Raleigh-Durham to Atlanta:

Flight attendant (on speaker): Delta Air Lines is pleased to offer you our Fast Break beverage service this morning. You have a choice of coffee, orange juice, or water.
This brings up two questions:
  1. Are consumers so stupid that they buy it when companies slap marketing terms like "Fast Break" on reduced service and try to portray it as a good thing? Clearly the marketers at Delta think they are.
  2. Why not take this phenomenon to its logical conclusion? Just have the flight attendants walk down the aisle and shoot beverages into passengers' mouths with a power water gun. Think of the time that would save!
Flying is indeed not what it used to be.

September 06, 2003

Voight-Kampff for Politicians

Via boing boing, San Francisco's The Wave gives the Voight-Kampff Test to the city's mayoral candidates. Oh my God, what a brilliant idea!

SUBJECT 4: TOM AMMIANO

The Wave: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.

It's your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?
Tom Ammiano: I'd look for money.

TW: You've got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?
TA: I'd think this was Blade Runner. That's my reaction.

TW: You're watching television. Suddenly you realize there's a wasp crawling on your arm.
TA: Call 911.

TW: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Tom, it's crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Tom. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't, not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that, Tom?
TA: That's interesting. I don't know. I'm a republican?

TW: Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind. About your mother.
TA: Tenderness. Yelling.

CONCLUSION: The self-awareness required to recognize that you're being administered a Voight-Kampff Test automatically eliminates the possibility of you being a replicant. Good work, Tom! You're human! Now watch your back.

As impressive as the cleverness of the people who thought this up is the sportsmanship of the politicians to continue through the interviews.

Highly, highly recommended.

September 05, 2003

What Country Am I?

I took the Country Quiz the other day. Here are the questions, my answers, and the result:

  • How's your quality of life? [Good | Could be better] Good
  • What climate do you prefer? [Stay cool! | Mild and tropical, baby] Stay cool!
  • Do you ski? [Yes | No] Yes
  • How do you resolve conflicts? [Let's talk about it. | I hate you. Die.] Let's talk about it.
  • Are you social? [Go away. | Hi there.] Hi there.
  • How do you feel about foreigners? [They make me nervous. | Let's have open borders.] Let's have open borders.

2003-09-05-01.gif

You're Canada!
People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've got a much better life than they do. In fact, they're probably just jealous. You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others. If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be the perfect person.

I wasn't trying to be Canada, but there you go.

Interestingly, when I was in Japan this summer, Joi Ito took me out for dinner to a private club located beneath the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Walking through the lobby, I mentioned to him my affinity for Canada. "You could be a Canadian," he replied. "You like to get along with people." True enough.

August 15, 2003

The Truth About Hot Dogs

What's really in a hot dog? Lisa Simpson knows...

2003-08-15-01.jpg

2003-08-15-02.jpg

2003-08-15-03.jpg

From The Simpsons episode, "Lisa the Vegetarian".

August 06, 2003

Quote for the Day

From the incomparable Xeni Jardin. I had apologized for missing her birthday by a day, whereas Joi Ito's birthdayroll had, of course, automatically sent her birthday wishes. She replied:

Hey, we can't all be Joi Ito.

August 05, 2003

"Small, Green Pieces of Paper"

From the radio script for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by the late, great Douglas Adams:

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this, at a distance of roughly ninety million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, whose ape descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has, or had, a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn't the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy. And so the problem remained, and lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake coming down from the trees in the first place, and some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no-one should ever have left the oceans. And then one day, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl, sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realised what it was that had been going wrong all this time and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no-one would have to get nalied to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and so the idea was lost forever.
At the risk of offending Douglas' spirit, had that girl made it to a phone, figured out how to monetize her idea, and started a company to do it, she would have had lots of small, green pieces of paper.

August 02, 2003

Heard Over Dinner

This is from a dinner conversation with my kids Duncan (16), Cameron (14), and Kelsey (13). We had been discussing the case of a teenage girl known to Kelsey who was found guilty of shoplifting:

Duncan: That's something that girls do a lot more than boys.

Me: You mean shoplifting?

Duncan: Yeah.

Me: Do you have any evidence to back that up?

Duncan: You never hear about boys shoplifting -- it's always girls.

Cameron: That's because when boys do it, it's called stealing.

July 30, 2003

Evil Construction

If you're an evil supervillain, and you want to build a rocket base inside a dormant volcano, or a supertanker that can disable and swallow ballistic missile submarines, or any sort of grandiose structure along such lines, how does it get built? I mean, sure, workers build it, but whose workers? Do you put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for your evil facility? Is there some sort of Evil RFP network? How do evil contractors find out about it? How do they join? Is it "low bid wins," or something more like "most evil bid wins"? Once you select a contractor, how do they manage all the logistics? I mean, a rocket base inside a dormant volcano? That sounds like 10,000 construction workers. Where do they all reside? What happens to them after the project? Are they killed to ensure their silence? If so, where do you find your next batch of workers?

It's funny how this kind of stuff doesn't occur to you when you're 10 years old, or even 20, but you're considering it at 30, and then at 40 you can't watch an old favorite without thinking about it. Or am I the only one?

July 27, 2003

Galactus and Andromedax

From The Book of Ratings' entry for Marvel supervillains, part one:

Galactus

Stan Lee thinks big. He came up with Galactus, a massive purple guy who eats entire planets. That's menacing! To get any more epic in scope, you'd have to have Andromedax, The Galaxy Who Shoots Other Galaxies With A Big, Galaxy-Sized Bazooka. Even better, Galactus isn't some sort of hand-chafing nefarious schemer. He's just very large, very hungry, and loves the great taste of ecospheres. A+

My son Cameron, who wants to rule the world, has now decided he wants to be "Andromedax, The Galaxy Who Shoots Other Galaxies With A Big, Galaxy-Sized Bazooka." I can relate to this.

June 25, 2003

Sign of the Apocalypse?

Seen at a Burger King drive-up window, Apex, North Carolina, earlier this evening:

Now Serving
Burgers for Breakfast
This is just wrong.

Have you seen a sign of the apocalypse lately? Leave a comment.

June 07, 2003

Googlecounting Goodness

Adapted from a chat on Joi Ito's IRC channel this morning (and according to .googlecount):

Joi Ito good: 14,200 pages
Joi Ito evil: 1,450 pages

Frank Boosman good: 1,820 pages
Frank Boosman evil: 122 pages

Which is the more valid comparison: page counts or ratios? If the former, there's no contest: Joi is both more good and more evil than me. If the latter, then his good/evil ratio of 9.79 is lower than my ratio of 14.92, so I am clearly more good.

May 28, 2003

Red vs Blue

Via boing boing, Red vs Blue, a tremendously funny set of short videos made using Halo.

Someone in Hollywood needs to give these guys a deal. Their work is funnier than about 90 percent of what passes for humor on television these days.

In fact, I predict that by the time the creative team has finished the final episode of their planned 26, they'll have some sort of development deal with a television network or movie studio.

May 12, 2003

Lyrics for the EU

From the Wall Street Journal, a cute story -- yes, I know, one doesn't often hear that adjective applied to a Journal story -- on the efforts to create lyrics to "Ode to Joy," the anthem of the European Union:

In January, German songwriter Karl Wolfgang Barthel watched French and German leaders stand silent as the anthem played at an anniversary of a French-German friendship treaty in Berlin. It just didn't seem right, so he wrote his own lyrics. His song (translated from German) begins:

People, gather close together
On this ancient continent
We're all Europeans now,
Strife can't keep us separate....

Mark Niedzwiedz, a songwriter for Universal Music, a unit of Vivendi Universal, in Britain, was also taken by the idea and wrote lyrics to the famous melody over a weekend. Titled "Stand Together," the song starts:

We who join hands stand together
Nations bound by land and sea
Build a bridge that will forever
Span across the centuries
There will be no more division
Only a vision in our hearts....

These Tides, a Brussels-based magazine run by British expatriates "working for the post-EU Europe," has already sponsored a tongue-in-cheek EU anthem contest of its own. The winning lyrics start:

Shades of Hitler, shades of Stalin
Yes sir, no sir, three bags full
If you want to gain your freedom
Give up all the euro-bull....

Perhaps someone should give Mel Brooks a call?

May 11, 2003

A People's History of Middle Earth

Via Mike Backes, a two-part series (part one, part two) from McSweeney's, "Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn & Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer, 2002, for The Fellowship of the Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition) DVD":

Chomsky: Here again we have the Orcs running after the Fellowship. The Orcs, apparently, are going to slaughter them, and in my estimation they would be well within their rights to do so. But do they? No, they do not. They stop.

Zinn: They stop.

Chomsky: And then they run away because the Balrog comes out. Take note of the fact that the Orcs don't appear to like the Balrog much themselves. They're scared of it.

Zinn: I'm not sure what role the Balrog really plays in this.

Chomsky: I think it just happened to be there, guarding its own little part of the mine.

Zinn: And look at these Orcs! Supposedly so evil and vicious, and yet they don't do anything. They even appear to talk it over amongst themselves.

Chomsky: Look at it from their perspective: They've been locked up in this cave. They're frightened, they know they're not good fighters. They're just a bunch of farmers.

Zinn: As evidenced by their long, ungainly swords.

Chomsky: Perhaps they've been radicalized a bit. But I doubt they are true evil-doers.

Zinn: Again, I'm not sure what role the Balrog plays.

Chomsky: I, too, am uncertain on that point.

Zinn: Here, very significantly, we have the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. You will notice that what is destroyed is a bridge -- another potential connector.

Chomsky: On a symbolic level, that is a very good point.

Zinn: All the borders in this film are constantly being destroyed, or overrun, or eliminated, or sealed. It's all about fear -- fearing the other. Notice, too, that the Elf Legolas jumps across the ruined bridge first.

Chomsky: They'll cross this bridge and the bridge will collapse, and they'll never be able to communicate with the Balrog again, or with the Orcs inside. In fact, they're sealing off the Orcs from ever escaping. They're leaving the Orcs in the cave with this big Balrog. Now, again, surely, among these Moria Orcs were some Orc radicals -- aggressive, angry, militant radicals. We shouldn't understate that.

Zinn: Well, look how the Orcs grow up. What do you expect?

Chomsky: I mean, what other options have they?

Zinn: I dare say that, were I an Orc, I might possibly be one of those terrorist Orcs, shooting arrows at the Fellowship myself.

Chomsky: Here comes the Balrog. Notice Gandalf's unilateral action. "Quick, get away, I have to fight this thing alone!"

Zinn: Once again you see a creature that's on fire being demonized in this movie: the flaming eye, the flaming Balrog. As though being on fire is this terrible affliction to have.

Chomsky: As though they can help it if they're on fire.

Zinn: After Gandalf falls, you get another view of the so-called terrorist Orcs. You know, the regrettable side of the Orcs does occasionally come out. The violence. It doesn't help their cause when these distinct, individual Orcs take it upon themselves to lash out at the inequality of the system. But notice that even these violent Orcs don't seem happy. They're not pleased with themselves. It's a violence borne of necessity.

Chomsky: Sure. They're trapped in a cycle of violence.

Brilliant! Now all we need is former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark to offer to represent any high-ranking leaders from Mordor.

April 16, 2003

Timing the War

At Michael Jordan's final home game Monday night, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was introduced to the crowd before the game. (He received a loud ovation, by the way. If Wizards fans are representative of the larger world, Rummy is more popular than I would have thought.) He was there to present Jordan with a flag that was flying at the Pentagon on 9/11.

2003-04-16-01.jpg

He was introduced as "Secretary of Defense and Wizards season ticket holder Donald Rumsfeld," which led me to the following conjecture:

  1. Rumsfeld is a Wizards season ticket holder.
  2. Rumsfeld knows Jordan will be playing his last home game on 14 April.
  3. Rumsfeld wants to attend that game.
  4. Rumsfeld feels that it would be unseemly for him to be seen at a basketball game while a conflict with Iraq is going full-force.
  5. Rumsfeld feels that it will take less than a month for US military forces to achieve victory in Iraq.
Could Jordan's final home game have influenced the start date of hostilities?

Okay, I'm just kidding. No hate mail, please.

April 14, 2003

Remaking Casablanca?

Heard on Saturday Night Live this past weekend:

It is rumored that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez want to star in a remake of Casablanca. This would be the perfect film for people who liked the original, but wished it was terrible.
Is it just me, or does it seem like far more than five years ago that Ben Affleck was sharing the Academy Award for best original screenplay with Matt Damon?

April 08, 2003

Luxury

Is "luxury" a marketing adjective that has reached that rarefied state in which it actually means the opposite of its original definition? I can't think of the last time I saw the word 'luxury" used in marketing to describe something that was truly luxurious... but depressingly non-luxurious products and services seem to be so described on a regular basis.

April 07, 2003

Only in America

My 13-year-old daughter and I had an argument recently. She didn't believe that one could buy guns at Wal-Mart. I was ready to drive her to the closest store and walk her into the sporting goods department to prove to her that Wal-Mart does indeed sell firearms when she conceded the argument... though incredulously.

Of course, Wal-Mart sells a wide range of guns, including shotguns. It occurs to me that not only can I buy a shotgun there, but to saw the barrel off, I can buy a hacksaw as well, and an overcoat beneath which to hide my sawed-off shotgun. I can buy them all at the same time, and no one will interfere with my purchase.

Now, what this has to do with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution...

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
...I don't know.

March 29, 2003

This Made Me Laugh

From the current issue of the Onion:

2003-03-29-01.jpg
I suppose I played too much Missile Command way back when not to laugh at that...

March 26, 2003

Andy Oliver's Daydream

Andy Oliver daydreamed a great idea for a patent.

March 14, 2003

Heard Over a Movie Tonight

While watching Mars Attacks with my teenage boys, just before the Martians obliterate Congress, from my 15-year-old son Duncan:

They should get rid of Congress. They're lying, self-serving scumbags. Didn't you see The Simpsons last week?
All I need to know I learned from The Simpsons? Perhaps, but one could do worse...

March 12, 2003

"I Guess Those Were Some Important Pizzas"

A story from the Globe and Mail:

When she saw the screen door's shattered glass and heard somebody shouting for help, Marcella McAulay did not pause to think that she was supposed to be working.

The 34-year-old pizza-delivery woman ran into the house in Selkirk, Man., and tried to comfort a man she found curled up in the hallway, clutching his stomach where a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun had torn out his entrails.

When Ms. McAulay returned to the pizza shop three hours later, her boss yelled at her for missing work and fired her on the spot...

A single mother and part-time student, Ms. McAulay has not found work since the shooting the night of Feb. 26.

An owner of Frank's Pizza, Randy Saluk, said Ms. McAulay was fired because she abandoned her pizza-delivery duties.

"She wasn't doing her job, plain and simple," Mr. Saluk said. At the time of the shooting, she was on an unauthorized coffee break, he added.

"When she's not delivering, she's here to aid the cook and help clean and stuff like that."

Selkirk RCMP Sergeant John Joslin said investigators kept Ms. McAulay at the scene of the crime so they could interview her about the shooting.

"I guess those were some important pizzas," he said, chuckling.

The closing quote is classic RCMP-at-its-best -- dry Canadian humor. Excellent!

As for the pizza store owner and the employee, I'm willing to bet that in this case, what goes around will come around.

Everything I Need to Know...

...I learned from the two women sitting next to me at my son's soccer game on Sunday:

  • The war in Iraq is all about the oil.
  • If we invade Iraq, 500,000 Iraqis are going to be killed or seriously injured.
  • Invading Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden was like invading North Carolina to capture the abortion clinic bomber hiding in the hills.
  • Gasoline costs US$3.00 per gallon in Canada.
  • The president's brother was on the board of the firm responsible for security at the World Trade Center. That can't be a coincidence.
  • The US military doesn't teach its recruits any useful skills. They say they do, but they don't.
  • The US military is blackmailing schools into allowing them to recruit their students.
Glad we got all that straightened out.

March 08, 2003

We Have Met the Enemy and They Is McDonald's

From Business 2.0, "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Pander to 'Em", an article on how international McDonald's outlets have distanced themselves from the US during times of anti-Americanism. Some seem particularly egregious:

France 1997-2002

Problem: Backlash against U.S. cultural imperialism. When French farmer Jose Bove vandalized a McDonald's outlet in 1999, his compatriots were thrilled.

McSpin: Franchise launches ads featuring cowboys who boast that McDonald's France refuses to import American beef "to guarantee maximum hygienic conditions." Ronald McDonald takes a backseat to Asterix, the cartoon defender of French independence.

Yugoslavia 1998

Problem: Operating under NATO auspices, the U.S. military begins a bombing campaign against Belgrade.

McSpin: Franchise repositions McDonald's as a symbol of anti-NATO protest. Hands out free burgers at rallies and adds a Serbian nationalist cap to the Golden Arches icon under the slogan "McDonald's is yours." ...

Egypt 2001

Problem: Anti-American boycott sparked by U.S. support for Israel.

McSpin: Local outlets introduce the McFalafel, rolled out behind an ad jingle sung by Shabaan Abdel Rahim, best known for his chart-topping hit "I Hate Israel."

The article goes on to state that the Saudi Arabian franchisee's response to a Palestinian-inspired boycott of American products was to donate "30 cents from every Big Mac sold to the Red Crescent Society and Nasser Hospital in Gaza for treatment of Palestinian casualties," which seems reasonable to me -- more logical and well-intentioned, certainly, than using French-speaking cowboys to trash American beef, or making the Golden Arches a symbol of Serbian nationalism.

March 05, 2003

Fox News Channel

I'm in the Admirals Club at O'Hare International. I'm sitting in a comfortable booth, my T-Mobile HotSpot connection going strong, and off to one side there's a large-screen TV turned on. It's tuned to the Fox News Channel, and I'm imagining slogans for it:

  • Fox News: we deliver the news, rudely.
  • Fox News: because objectivity is for losers.
  • Fox News: 100 percent of your US RDA of yelling.
  • Fox News: funny, stupid, or evil, we cover all foreigners.
How can people watch this stuff?

March 02, 2003

David Smith: US=MS

A hilarious and insightful e-mail from my friend and colleague David Smith this morning:

US=MS If you want to understand how the world views the US, it is probably very similar to the way we view Microsoft:
  • Extremely successful, much of it appears to be undeserved.
  • We are totally dependent upon them, and there isn't much of an alternative.
  • Becoming too successful in our niche simply means that we will attract their attention.
  • We like it when we see them fail.
  • We are uncomfortable when we see them fail because they just keep working at it until they get it right -- they will always be back. Unless, of course, it is determined to be an uninteresting market.
  • They don't care about us. We are just a source of revenue. The quality of their products and support is only as much as absolutely necessary to keep us in the fold.
  • We hate them, but if they offered us a job, we would join them in a second and gleefully begin to oppress our former colleagues.
David, you really need a blog.

February 27, 2003

Hungry Man All Day Breakfast

Via Thomas Strömberg, a review of Swanson's "Hungry Man All Day Breakfast" -- one of the funniest things I've read in quite a while.

Swanson, producers of some of the world's fattiest TV dinners, is seeking to take over the breakfast market with a new line of microwaveable morning meals. It's called the 'Hungry Man All Day Breakfast,' and it's threatening to turn people into manatees.

Now you may think I'm being overly obvious here -- everyone knows TV dinners are bad for you, right? This is true, but Swanson's new breakfast takes it to a level which previously could only be achieved by eating entire alternate universes made only of prosciutto.

By the way, the slogan of this TV dinner is, "I know what I like, and I like a lot of it."

February 22, 2003

Song of Carrot Game

Via Jon Blossom, Syberpunk, "a large repository of all things strange and uniquely Japanese." My favorite is an image on this page, the origin of which I am, sadly, completely unaware:

All together now:
Digging carrots, muddy & muddy Washing them, cut & cut The soup boiling well, hot & hot We all favorite carrot game
How can one not love a song like that?

February 21, 2003

Two Fish and Baldie

The article I wrote about yesterday includes this anecdote about two female pilots:

Two Fish and Baldie were midway through a sortie when an AWACS assigned them an important target, a convoy of trucks. Baldie estimated the speed of the vehicles to be 100 miles an hour. ("How fast would you be driving down the road if you knew that an F-15 was trying to kill you?" she asks.) She made a rough calculation of where the trucks would be when the bomb reached the road, and cleared Two Fish to pickle [release the bomb]. Guiding the GBU [Guided Bomb Unit, or laser-guided bomb] with her laser, teasing it along with her hand controller, like a kite at the end of a string, she put it right through the lead truck's front grille.

"You have just been killed by a girl," Two Fish said.

Can someone tell me once again why America's armed forces don't allow women into every combat position on a fully equal basis?

February 14, 2003

Weasels on the Loose

Posting this will probably destroy any credibility I have left as an internationalist, but I'm sorry... I have to. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

From the New York Post.

February 13, 2003

Lincoln Meets PowerPoint

What a clever idea this is.

Definitely worth a visit to go through the entire presentation.

I'll never look at PowerPoint quite the same way again.

February 12, 2003

Before and After

Before: evil and scary.

After: warm and fuzzy.

Two different logos. Same misguided agency. Same convicted felon in charge. Same Orwellian goals.

February 09, 2003

When the Money Truck Shows Up

Bobcat Goldthwait's Law: When the money truck shows up, you don't say, "Oh, no, that's not for me." You say, "Hooray, the money truck is here!"

Richard Boyd's Corollary: When the money truck shows up, don't ask your brother-in-law's cousin's friend Guido to count the money for you and keep a little as his fee. Count the money yourself.

July 10, 2002

Star Wars = C-SPAN?

In an otherwise mildly funny recent piece on The Onion can be found a great summary of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones:

...there were all these long, boring scenes where these space senators were going on and on about trade-federation rules... It was like watching C-SPAN on some other planet.
Probably the most accurate and concise review of the film I've read yet.

July 09, 2002

If People Start Disappearing...

boing boing has a note today on the Time Travel Fund. The idea is that you deposit a dollar into a trust fund that survives your death. Over the centuries, your investment grows thanks to compound interest -- into the billions of dollars given enough time. This money will then be given as a reward to anyone who successfully uses time travel to bring you forward in time.

The site is unintentionally hilarious, and well worth a read, but one section deserves particular note:

We establish a fund in current time. You make a small contribution to the fund, and in a few hundred years that small amount grows to a very large amount. From that fund, moneys will be taken and used to retrieve you, perhaps seconds after you join, perhaps even moments before your recorded death, perhaps some other point in your lifetime.
So, if contributors to this fund begin mysteriously disappearing "seconds after" they join, and you're seriously interested in the future, you might want to invest the ten dollars. Of course, as Greg Rivera suggests, it might be a "To Serve Man" sort of future, where you're brought forward, your trust fund is cleaned out, and then you're served up with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

July 07, 2002

Oh, Those Wacky Japanese

Two pictures taken on my recent trip to Japan that defy explanation. The first was taken at a restaurant (unsampled) between Kappabashi and Akihabara:

The second was taken on a street in Akasaka:

I'm not sure that either picture can or even should be explained. Just the same, when the Blogger engine supports comments, I'll be interested to hear what my Japanese friends have to say...

July 03, 2002

The Other Other White Meat?

From an article in the Wall Street Journal today on an outbreak of a disease deadly to domesticated rabbits:

In the U.S., rabbit breeding gained momentum out of necessity during World War II as food -- "the other other white meat," the American Rabbit Breeders Association likes to call it.
Hasn't that title already been taken?

July 01, 2002

Foghorn Leghorn's Home?

In the course of events at work today, I accidentally rhymed, and almost without thinking said, "I made a funny," in my best Foghorn Leghorn imitation -- 'best' being a relative term, of course. I suddenly wondered, where is Foghorn Leghorn from, anyway? We know he's from the South, but where in the South? As I was standing in the office of Richard Boyd, a long-time Southerner, I asked him.

Me: "What state is Foghorn Leghorn from?"
Richard: "Mississippi."

The interesting thing was that there was absolutely no delay in his answer. He didn't have to think about it for more than a couple of tenths of a second.

Me: "How do you know that? His accent? His vocabulary?"
Richard: "His speech mannerisms."

Richard thought about it a few seconds more and said, "Alabama. He could also be from Alabama."

A bit of Googling led to the Foggy FAQ, which had the following to say:

Where does Foghorn Leghorn live? Some assume that he must be from the south -- because of his southern mannerisms and such, but in reality he appears to move around. For example, his address is Cucamonga, California on a telegram from Rhode Island Red, however in Dixie Fryer he flies to south of the "Masie-Dixie line" to get "out of the deep freeze and into the deep south" indicating he is from the northern half of the US, and not Cucamonga. In at least one other cartoon he talks about going south to get warm, and in yet another Weasel While You Work he seems at home in winter weather. And of course, he is driven to woo Miss Prissy in order to get into her warm henhouse before winter arrives in both Strangled Eggs and Little Boy Boo. So in conclusion, while he may have been born and raised in the south, he seems to move around during the various cartoons.
Not really much of an answer. I'm going with Richard's theory that he's from Mississippi or Alabama.

Interestingly, my small sampling of Foghorn Leghorn-related Websites had an astonishingly high level of annoyances per site -- pop-up ads, Comet Cursor installation dialogs, and the like. Is there a correlation between Foghorn Leghorn fans (which I, despite having written this, am not to any special degree) and this sort of behavior? When it comes down to it, Foghorn is generally a fairly obnoxious fellow. Does this tell us something about his most rabid fans? (Please, before I get hate mail, I'm just offering a theory here.)