November 30, 2004

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

The Kerns went to the backwoods of North Carolina for Turkey Day again this year. It was nice and quiet, save for a nasty virus that gave Matthew a 104 fever and had him at the hospital at 2 AM. He's better now, and Melissa's fighting it off at home. Other people had more interesting holiday experiences, however.

As a Pre-Thanksgiving gift, my brother found out that he passed the California Bar Exam! Congrats to him and beware to any Hollywood people who cross "Rob Kern, attorney at Law".

Justin spent the day with Stacey and her kids in their old home in New Mexico on an Indian Reservation. Now that's what I call a DOWN-HOME thanksgiving.

Chris: Wow. Thanksgiving with the Indians? Were there any hard feelings?
Justin: Not really. They were surprisingly friendly, all things considered.

Then there was our friend, David (who is Sam to Melissa's Frodo in their Lord of the Rings group). After a harrowing trip northwards to spend the day with his girlfriend's family in Indiana, he hit trouble again coming back to Raleigh, NC. After two delays on the first leg to Chicago...

I met a man and his daughter who were on my flight from RDU to Chicago a few days prior. He suggested we book ourselves on a flight going to Greensboro, and take a cab or rental car to the Raleigh airport. While this is going on, an irate woman and her grandmother were having the same problem, so we offered them the same solution and agreed to it.

Now, we have me, a middle-aged doctor, an eight year old girl with A.D.D., her narcoleptic bull terrier puppy, a spastic middle-aged woman and her 93 year old Hungarian grandmother all lined up for a flight to Greensboro, NC. (You will henceforth be known as "The Fellowship of the Wing".)

Well, that flight was delayed several hours (big shock). Once we were all on board and cozy we notice 2 guys in orange vests with screwdrivers in the cockpit, and a panel hanging by some wires...Damn. Apparently there was a mechanical problem. So, the aircraft was taken out of service and we were asked to deplane. We were all herded to the other side of the airport and put on one last plane. We arrived in Greensboro without much further of a problem and I was asked to rent the car for the group. The luggage of course was not available in Greensboro because it had been forwarded to Raleigh (easy for the luggage, not for the people).

Well, after an hour drive through fog and a quick stop to drop off Grandma at her retirement village in Chapel Hill, we finally arrived at RDU. We pulled up to the terminal and the doctor ran in and got our bags fairly quickly. Score one for our side! He said he got them from a roped off area that said, "Do Not Enter", but by this time our group was turning rather desperate as you can imagine.

Next it was off to return the rental car and after a brief skirmish about the price (of course) it was off to get my car in the lot. As I drove home from the airport (another hour drive) I was able to see the sun rise. It was about 7:15 a.m. when I pulled into McDonald's for my First Breakfast. I was supposed to get into Raleigh at 7:42 Saturday night, not 7:00 Sunday Morning... Talk about late. When I told my grandmother my adventure she asked me if I would do it again if given the chance. My response was simply, "In half a heartbeat".

November 19, 2004

LinkNews Digest [11/19/2004]

Hooters Chain Defends "Copyright" on Scantily-Clad Waitresses

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hooters of America and a rival restaurant chain began arguing in federal court over who has rights to the concept of using scantily clad women to sell food and beer.

Atlanta-based Hooters of America accuses Ker's WingHouse of Kissimmee of poaching the idea coined when it opened its first sports bar in Clearwater in 1983, Hooters lawyer Steve Hill said in opening statements Wednesday in Orlando.

"The evidence will show WingHouse has copied the Hooter girl almost from head to toe," Hill said. "For want of a better expression, the Hooter girl is our Ronald McDonald."

But Crawford Ker said he based his chain on Knockers, a failing restaurant with an all-female staff in Largo that he took over after retiring from the NFL, according to pretrial deposition.

Hooters said in a trade dress infringement lawsuit filed last year that Ker's WingHouse stole everything from the design of its parchment menus to staff calendars and celebrity photographs on the walls.

Hooters said other ideas swiped by its rival include hula hoops for waitresses, Christmas lights and surfboards hanging from the ceiling and traffic-style signs on the walls warning "Double Curves" and "Caution: Blonde Thinking."
LINK


David Lee Roth Training as EMT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Rocker David Lee Roth, the former Van Halen frontman, is taking up a new trade.

Instead of screaming "Jump," he'll be yelling "Clear!"

Roth, 50, has been riding for several weeks with a New York ambulance crew in training to become a paramedic, The New York Post reported Tuesday. "I have been on over 200 individual rides now," said Roth. "Not once has anyone recognized me, which is perfect for me."

The singer, who spent a decade with Van Halen before embarking on a solo career, except a collaboration with the band for two new songs on a greatest hits album, has been riding along with crews in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn several nights a week.

His training seems to be going well.

Several weeks ago, Roth saved the life of a heart attack victim in the Bronx by using a defibrillator.
LINK (CNN)

...When asked about the reasons for this change of trade, Roth replied that the scene in his video for "Just a Gigolo/I Aint Got Nobody", in which he gives a geriatric censor a heart attack by suggestively dancing in front of him, "Really moved me. I mean, The director meant for it to be funny and all, but heart disease is the number one killer in America, and I didn't find it funny at all."

Segway Aross America

Dean Kamen designed his Segway transporter to serve as a cheap, clean and flexible form of urban transit, not as a platform for traversing national parks and encountering wildlife.

But that hasn't stopped former vacuum cleaner salesman Josh Caldwell, 27, who has put the Segway to perhaps its most grueling test yet by piloting the scooter across the length of the United States.

His journey is scheduled to conclude when he arrives in Boston on Tuesday, a little more than three months after he and a small support crew started out from Seattle with a single Segway scooter, more than a dozen spare batteries, one loyal dog and a Jeep Cherokee filled with filmmaking gear to document the trip.

The "America at 10mph" project, hatched by Caldwell and buddy Hunter Weeks, began as something between a joke and a dare but quickly turned into a serious expedition to see America in a new way. Caldwell and Weeks plan to produce a documentary film from footage shot during the trip, showing what small-town America looks like from 6 inches off the ground.
LINK

Ebay pulls "Virgin Mary Sandwich"

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- The people at eBay were no believers in this cheesy miracle: half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich whose owner claimed it bore the image of the Virgin Mary.

Diana Duyser put the sandwich up for sale last week, drawing bids as high as $22,000 before eBay pulled the item Sunday night. The page was viewed nearly 100,000 times before being taken down.

An e-mail Duyser received from eBay said the sandwich broke its policy, which "does not allow listings that are intended as jokes."

But, Duyser, a jewelry designer who has bought and sold items on eBay for two years, insisted this was not a laughing matter.
LINK

Government Tests "First Light"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A Boeing Co.-led team has successfully fired for the first time a powerful laser meant to fly aboard a modified 747 as part of a U.S. ballistic missile defense shield, officials said on Friday.

The test, dubbed "First Light" by insiders, lasted only a fraction of a second but gave the project an important boost at a time it was deemed at risk of cuts or cancellation.

The Chemical Oxygen Iodine laser is built by Northrop Grumman Corp. It includes breakthrough optics designed to focus a basketball-sized spot of heat on a missile's skin to rupture it up to hundreds of miles away.

Pentagon officials envision several such aircraft flying by turns near North Korea or another potential foe's territory. The goal is to detect, track and destroy a missile when that would be easiest, before it releases a warhead that could be tipped with chemical, nuclear or germ weapons.
LINK

"...In a previous test-firing of this laser, the targeting system malfunctioned, causing the laser to strike a home in southern California. The laser itself did minor damage to the house, but the laser struck an unusually large container of popcorn, which caused serious structural damage when its contents popped."

Human Microwave Gun Goes Airborne

It was only a matter of time, I guess. First, the Air Force builds a real-life, microwave-like pain ray. Then, it gets a company to strap that real-life, microwave-like pain ray to the back of a jet.

For years, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has been working on a millimeter-wave beam that penetrates a 64th of an inch beneath the skin. That causes the water molecules there to bubble. And that hurts like hell; people tend to run -- fast -- in the other direction. Small wonder, then, that non-lethal weapons experts call this "Active Denial System" the "holy grail of crowd control."
LINK (DefenseTech)

Hunting by Internet in Texas

Hunters soon may be able to sit at their computers and blast away at animals on a Texas ranch via the Internet, a prospect that has state wildlife officials up in arms.

A controversial Web site, www.live-shot.com, already offers target practice with a .22 caliber rifle and could soon let hunters shoot at deer, antelope and wild pigs, site creator John Underwood said Tuesday.

Underwood, an estimator for a San Antonio auto body shop, has invested $10,000 to build a platform for a rifle and camera that can be remotely aimed on his 330-acre southwest Texas ranch by anyone on the Internet anywhere in the world.

The idea came last year while viewing another Web site on which cameras posted in the wild are used to snap photos of animals. "We were looking at a beautiful white-tail buck and my friend said, 'If you just had a gun for that.' A little lightbulb went off in my head," Underwood said.

Underwood, 39, said he will offer animal hunting as soon as he gets a fast Internet connection to his remote ranch that will enable hunters to aim the rifle quickly at passing animals.

He said an attendant would retrieve shot animals for the shooters, who could have the heads preserved by a taxidermist. They could also have the meat processed and shipped home, or donated to animal orphanages.
LINK (CNet)

I hope they remember to disable the gun when the attendant is on the field. Golf Driving Ranges have a "Friendly Fire" rule, and we see how well THAT works...

November 17, 2004

JesuSonic

Finally, a product that answers that age-old question: "What Guitar Effects Processor Would Jesus Use?"

The Jesusonic CrusFX 1000 is designed to offer all of the flexibility of a general purpose computer for its effects, without the traditional computer side effects (moving parts, lengthy boot times, questionable stability for live performances, added latency).

For those who are not yet ready to acquire the CrusFX 1000, or those who want to integrate the Jesusonic effects into their computer-based work environment, can try the Jesusonic Software, which offers much of the same feature set and extensive interoperability with the CrusFX 1000.

Using the Jesusonic, you can combine any number of effects in whatever order you choose. Effects can interact with eachother (for example, a volume detection effect can trigger a tremolo effect), or (especially in the case of the Jesusonic CrusFX 1000) with the user (you can assign triggers to effects like loop samplers, for example). A wide assortment of built-in effects are included, and you will be able to share effects with other people, through the User Resources page here on Jesusonic.com.

November 13, 2004

Those Pesky Judges

In keeping with his policy of blasting anyone who opposed his "Big Brother" policies like the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft now contends that the Supreme Court has no business mucking up the President's plans for war.

In his first remarks since his resignation was announced Tuesday, Ashcroft forcefully denounced what he called "a profoundly disturbing trend" among some judges to interfere in the president's constitutional authority to make decisions during war.

"The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war," Ashcroft said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers group.
LINK (Yahoo)

Yeah, that whole "System of Checks and Balances" thing sure gets in the way of a single person ruling with absolute power, doesn't it? I wonder why we ever had it in the first place?

So the outgoing Attorney General blasted the Supreme Court for upholding the Constitution, and the incoming Attorney General thinks the Geneva Conventions are "quaint" and don't apply to us. I don't know about you, but that doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

November 12, 2004

Monkey to Man

As some of you know, Georgia Schools are the laughing stock of the nation because of textbook stickers that call evolution a theory The stickers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

It's a whole Church-and-State quagmire here in the peach state.

However, blogger Gary Peare has a "Modest Proposal" to even things out for the Christian psuedo-scientists:

Let's allow the religious right to paste their stickers in all the biology texts they want so long as they affix the following text to each and every one of their Bibles:

"This book contains material on Judeo-Christian theology. Judeo-Christian theology offers insight into the origin and meaning of life and is the basis for several of the world's great religions. But it does not encompass the full range of religious beliefs held sacred by members of our diverse American society. Moreover, this material is based on ancient texts, and significant errors may have been introduced through subsequent translations and omissions. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
Linked via BoingBoing)

LinkNews Digest [11/12/2004]

Packs of Vicious Carrion-Feeders, and Coyotes Invade White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Coyotes, the rangy animals associated with the American West, have been spotted in the U.S. capital for the first time, sparking gossip in precincts where talk usually turns on politics.

"On our way home from a party tonight, my son spotted a coyote trotting among the trees," one writer said in an e-mail group for one of Washington's tonier sections.

Residents of the Washington area have reported seeing coyotes for months and The Washington Post warned last summer that household pets could fall prey to the omnivorous creatures.

But coyotes' presence inside the city limits was confirmed only in September by a naturalist on duty in the woods of Rock Creek Park. "I suspect we've had coyotes close by for some time. We've just discovered them recently," Michael Bean, chairman of the wildlife program at the Environmental Defense group, said on Friday.

Coyotes originally roamed in what is now the northwestern corner of the United States, but have expanded their range over the last 200 years to include all of North America except the extreme northeast portions of Canada.

The real-life coyote should not be confused with the hapless cartoon Wile E. Coyote, eternal loser in his desert battle of wits with the Roadrunner, Bean said.
LINK

Does this remind anyone else of Scar's alliance with the Hyenas in "The Lion King"? Maybe it's just me.

"Pass The Ammo" - The Home Edition

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Angry parishioners chained shut a church in central Mexico on Friday in protest at the firing of their priest, whose habit of tucking a gun under his robes has earned him fame and the nickname "Padre Pistolas."

Hundreds of people from the town of Chucandiro demonstrated outside the cathedral in the city of Morelia after Catholic church leaders there defrocked their gunslinging priest, Alfredo Gallegos, local media reported.

"We have closed the church with chains and that's how it will stay until Father Alfredo comes back," protester Gilberto Moron was quoting as saying, adding that locals would accept no other priest.

Gallegos is wildly popular with parishioners but has angered his Catholic superiors with his habit of wearing a shiny pistol beneath his robes, despite strict laws in Mexico banning private citizens from carrying guns.

Also known for his love of cowboy boots and country music, Gallegos says he only carries a gun for protection, noting several of his friends have been killed over the years.

Locals say he has brought them huge social benefits, helping the marginalized and raising money for roads and hospital projects. "He has united us as a people," said Moron.

Church leaders gave no reason for sacking the priest.
LINK

"It's Like Gravy, With Bubbles In It..."

SEATTLE (Reuters) - After the startling success of its turkey and gravy-flavored soda during last year's U.S. holiday season, a Seattle soda company will be serving up green beans and casserole, mashed potatoes, fruitcake and cranberry flavors.

"Last year, the response to our Turkey and Gravy Soda was overwhelming, but we really didn't have side dishes to go with it," Peter van Stolk, chief executive of specialty soda maker Jones Soda Co., said on Monday.

The tan-colored turkey and gravy-flavored soda sold out last year in three hours after it was offered on the Web and later fetched prices over $100 on eBay Inc.

This year, Jones Soda is offering the turkey and gravy sodas as a set in 15,000 "holiday packs" for $16 each, complete with utensils.

Particularly noteworthy on the menu is the green beans and casserole soda, van Stolk said, adding, "We're proud that we accented this dish with fried onions."

The pack was available nationwide at limited retail locations, including Target Corp. stores, beginning on Monday.
LINK

November 11, 2004

Exit Ashcroft, Stage Left

Ashcroft is gone, but his replacement, Al Gonzales, is not much better. As Oliver Willis reminds us, Gonzales was the author of the infamous memo to Bush, suggesting that totrure of prisoners would be legal, since the Geneva conventions were outdated and "quaint", and only apply for REAL wars on tangible countries, not the current, ambiguous war on Terror:

"As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war," Gonzales wrote to Bush. "The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians." Gonzales concluded in stark terms: "In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions."
Link (Newsweek)

November 10, 2004

"SAW"

Mel: Hey Chris, what movie did you see tonight?
Chris: "Saw."
Mel: Okay, fine, what was the movie that you SAW?
Chris: I told you, "SAW."
Mel: Yes, we've been through this already. Did you see a movie or not?
Chris: Yes, of course. I just TOLD you, I went to see "Saw" with Justin.
Mel: Aren't you a little big to see-saw with Justin?
Chris: No, they won't let you see "Saw" until you're 17. It's a bit violent.
Mel: Violent? I don't know how you do it, but when I was a kid it was pretty tame. Did you go to a park?
Chris: NO! I just finished telling you I went to the movies!
Mel: You told me you just went to see-saw!
Chris: Yes, You've got it now.


Ad infinitum, ad nauseum, hilarity ensues.

In any case, "Saw" is a top-notch thriller with some incredible plot twists, brilliant setups and an ending that will make you say "M. Night Shama-WHO?" It's a great Serial Killer flick in the vein of Seven and Memento. Honestly, I only wanted to see it because the ads promised Cary Elwes cutting off his foot with a hacksaw. Much to my surprise, it ended up being the best thriller I've seen in years. Definitely go see this one while it's in theaters, if horror is your thing. You can thank me later. (Thanks to Justin for inspiring the "Who's On First" bit.)

Inventions

Teenagers' Wish List Item #10



Keep Out signs are all very well, but they're not much of a deterrent to determined parents and irritating and nosy brothers and sisters. What's needed is some serious armament, and the Room Defender is it. Mounted on three gun-turret style legs, the Room Defender will protect your privacy from prying snoopers. It has a motion sensor alarm, so when someone enters your room it will give a verbal warning to the intruder, then fire a warning shot (in the form of a foam disc).

You can program it to shoot in 'warning shot mode' where it will fire off a 1/4 of its payload, 'ambush mode' will fire off half the magazine, or 'assault mode' when it will empty it's breach completely at the unsuspecting intruder. It makes great Robocop type noises on start-up, activation and shut down, and comes with a remote so you can program and control it from anywhere in your room.

Link (via Gizmodo)

(Now just imagine if you loaded it lith something more substantial, say aluminum washers? Bwahahaha!)

Lock Up Your Daughters!


File this under "Why, God? WhY?!?"
Announcing the World's First Complete Digital Accordion Roland is pleased to introduce another milestone in digital musical instrument history —the V-Accordion. Models FR-7 and FR-5 are the first instruments of their type to successfully integrate powerful digital technology such as new Physical Behavior Modeling (PBM) into a traditional accordion design, offering performance features and authentic sounds that appeal to a wide range of musical styles.

Link

Global Warning

I think we just figured out why Bush refuses to acnowledge the growing dangers of Global Warming:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rising global temperatures will melt areas of the Arctic this century, making them more accessible for oil and natural gas drilling, a report prepared by the United States and seven other nations said on Monday.

It predicts that over the next 100 years, global warming could increase Arctic annual average temperatures 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over land and by up to 13 degrees over water. Warmer temperatures could raise global sea levels by as much as 3 feet.

Such a change would threaten coastal cities, change growing patterns for vegetation and destroy habitats for some wildlife, but an energy-starved world would have new areas for oil and gas exploration, according to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report.

The Arctic region, particularly offshore, has huge oil and gas reserves, mostly in Russia, Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Norway. Warmer temperatures would make it easier to drill and ship oil from the Arctic, the report said.

"Offshore oil exploration and production are likely to benefit from less extensive and thinner sea ice, although equipment will have to be designed to withstand increased wave forces and ice movement," the report said. Energy companies would find it easier to transport oil and gas because the warmer temperatures would open sea routes
Link (Yahoo)

We warm the arctic by burning fossil fuels, so we can find more fossil fuels to burn. Talk about a downward spiral.

November 08, 2004

The Roman Connection

My Brother is taking Bush's re-election pretty hard. But he makes a few good points in his requisite post-election rant:

About a week or two ago I got a forwarded email titled "The Fall fo the Athenian Republic" - It purported to tell about how an 18th century political scientist said that all Democracies fail after 200 years or so because they vote for Liberals, and that voting for Kerry would cause the fall of American democracy. When that was supposed to have been written, there had only been two democracies in the world - Athens and Rome. Athens fell when they were conquered because they were too proud to keep up their allies. Rome's democracy fell because they allowed a leader to scare them so much about an outside threat of barbarians from another culture that they gave him emergency powers to fight the threat, and he used those powers to make his absolute power permanent. Do either of those sound familiar?
(Link for full text)

I remember having similar thoughts about Rome earlier this year, when some republican was predicting that allowing gays to marry would spell the end of America, suggesting that it was the "Decadance" of the romans that caused the empire to fall. No, it was not that. Actually, it was the fact that Rome built roads out to the far corners of the empire and overextended themselves taking over other countries. Eventually, some low-tech barbarians came IN on those roads and pillaged the cities. That has a familiar ring to it as well.

November 06, 2004

Inside Conservative Christianity

Many bloggers and journalists dismiss LiveJournal as nothing but whiny high school kids complaining about life not being fair and losers who think others would care what they had for breakfast. Given, maybe a few, but there is occasionally that diamond in the rough. Just like my Blog, not every post is thought-provoking and well written, but every now and then we have some special insight to share with the rest of the world.

I found a link to This LiveJournal Entry from Metafilter, and it really helped me understand the Southern Conservative Christian mentality a bit better. It's scary, but it makes sense when this filter of their logic and beliefs are applied to everyday life, and the recent election.

November 05, 2004

Lessons Learned 2004

[Blogger.com has been almost unreachable from the fever-pitch posting over the past week, having a server load stress-test comparable to what the cellular networks experienced on 9/11. So I'll put in my two cents now that I can connect again. ]

So What Went Wrong in 2004? Let's descuss.

1) People need a strong candidate to vote for.

It's not enough to believe in your party and be diametrically opposed to the other guy, your candidate must be directly supportable by at least SOME of your party. Dukakis didn't win in 1988 beacuse he was less appealing than George Bush version 1.0, which is a feat in itself. Gore lost in 2000 because while his party was trying to hit the Repeat button on Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," some soft-line Democrats couldn't face the idea of Al being the man in charge.

Dubya is nothing if not a strong figure, I'll grant him that. He's a man who stays the course, no matter what. However, while determination is a good quality in general, when you refuse to listen to logic, advisors who are experts in their fields, and public opinion, and continue just because not doing so would make you look "weak," it becomes a hinderance. A husband refusing to stop and ask directions is annoying for a wife, but a President doing it puts our whole nation in the firing line.

Democrats need to regroup, employ some of the ousted senators and congressmen, go off to some remote camp for a year and have some sort of gladiator competition to find the next candidate. Sadly, they'll have nothing better to do for the next four years. In 2008, we'll need the strongest candidate for the party, not just the least offensive one. If the Republicans think that America will vote Dick Cheney in on Bush's Coattails, we might not have much of a fight, but we still need to be strong.

2) Sadly, Prejudice buys more votes than Logic.

How did Bush make loads of middle-class republicans forget that they were losing jobs and paying more for healthcare and gas? By putting homophobia on the ballot. Sure, you might be shelling out half your unemployment check at the Chevron station, but at least gays can't marry in most states now! That's a victory, in some people's minds. "Sure, I may be destitute, but at least groups of people that I don't know, but are nontheless inferior, are refused the same freedoms that I enjoy."

The point is that with the exception of a two or three states, same-sex marriage wasn't legal in the first place, so it was never really an issue. Continuing his policy of pre-emtive strikes, Bush brought the issue to the forefront of America's mind as if it were a national crisis. All eleven states that voted to amend their state's constitutions to ban gay marriage, passed by an overwhelming majority. The glacial pace of progress made by pro-gay groups to slowly gain acceptance as humans, with the same right to breathe air as the rest of America, has been slowed even further.

3) Fear Tactics Work, If Done Right

The prime example of this was Cheney's assertion that if Kerry is elected, the Terrorists will attack again. After seeing the poll numbers jump at this statement, Kerry made his own doomsday prediction about the possibility of a nuclear device being set off in a major city. However, it just lacked that certain "spooky" vibe that only Cheney and Rumsfeld can infuse into a press release, and was not very effective.

And every four years, there's the Ad so horribly bad that you have to laugh. My 2004 favorite was Bush's Ad insinuating that packs of hungry wolves are poised at the borders, ready to descend on an unsuspecting suburia, if the wrong man is elected. That's right, Junior. If you can't move your audience with big words, drop hints that they might not be on top of the food chain if they make the wrong choice. Someone explain the link to me: Are the wolves all disgruntled Democrats, or does Kerry have some sort of mind-control over animals, like AquaMan?

4) The Unpredictable Rationale of the American Public.

Finally, there are always reasons that no one expects for candidate preference. I spoke with my grandmother the other night, and she revealed that she voted for Bush because "That Laura Bush is SO much better a first lady than that Kerry woman would have been." My jaw dropped at this. "What's her name? Theresa. She is just rude. She's the kind of woman who's had everything given to her for so long, she just doesn't know how to act." Agreed, the president's family IS an important part of a candidates PR image, but I never thought of it as a make-or-break issue. But that's my Grandma, manners and social graces have always been very important to her.


To wrap up, here's my personal "Moment of Zen". The Daily Show's Ed Helms sums up what changes can be expected in Bush's second term: "Word of advice, If you want to have gay sex or visit a library, it's probably your last night to do those things. Personally, I'll be killing two birds with one stone."link

LinkNews Digest [11/05/2004]

The Vatican Writes a Sex Book

A Vatican-sanctioned sex guide is encouraging churchgoers to make love more often in an effort to offset "impotence and frigidity" and address papal concerns over declining birth-rates among Italian Roman Catholics.

The controversial book, It's A Sin Not To Do It, written by two theologians, promises the reader answers to "everything you wanted to know about sex but the Church (almost) never dared to tell you".

In both style and content, the guide - published earlier this month - marks a radical break with traditional Church pronouncements on physical intimacy. Forty years ago, the Vatican published a notorious set of guidelines for courting Catholics that outlawed even French kissing before marriage.

Another chapter likely to raise eyebrows unearths theological justification for post-coital masturbation for women who fail to achieve orgasm during intercourse.

Beretta told The Telegraph: "The Church is not against sex. In view of the trivialisation of sex and the rise of impotence and frigidity in consequence, as well as the increasing number of only children, it is better for the Church to promote sex in the right circumstances, instead of just focusing on prohibitions and perversions."
LINK (Telegraph UK)

Nothing Says "I Love You" like Liposuction

LONDON (Reuters) - If larger breasts, fuller lips and fewer wrinkles are on the Christmas wish list, cosmetic surgery gift vouchers could be the answer.

"Husbands buy them for wives, or daughters for their mothers," said Rebecca Johnson, a spokeswoman for Transform, one of the UK's biggest commercial cosmetic surgery groups, which has sold hundreds of the vouchers this year.

They range from 50 to 1,000 pounds ($90-1,800) and are mostly used for non-surgical procedures such as botox and skin peels, she added. Most patients had already expressed an interest in plastic surgery before receiving a voucher, she said, and were not offended by the gift.

"Before, if you asked a woman if she'd had a nose job or a face lift it was like asking her age ... but normalization and a growing obsession with what we look like is key to why cosmetic surgery is growing," said Sarah Winterbottom, spokeswoman for BUPA private hospitals.

Breast enlargement among 31-40 year-old women was their most popular procedure, accounting for almost half of cosmetic operations.
LINK


Canada Courts Rule "Kemosabe" Not A Slur

OTTAWA (Reuters) - "Kemosabe," the name given to the Lone Ranger by his friend Tonto in the 1950s TV western, is not a racist term, a Canadian court has found.

The ruling was delivered by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal last week in a case involving a native Canadian woman who complained that the manager of the store where she worked had created a poisoned environment by calling her kemosabe.

The manager of the second-hand sports store, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, argued kemosabe was a term he used to address customers as well as employees.

The court ruling confirmed a earlier decision by a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry. That decision was made after the board spent a full shift watching "Lone Ranger" reruns.

"When asked what it meant, Tonto responded 'trusty friend,'" the board found. "Both the Lone Ranger and Tonto treat one another with respect...At no time during the episodes is the term kemosabe ever used in a demeaning or derogatory manner."
Link (Yahoo)

Of course, The Far Side has a different translation. Another opinion is that Tonto is saying "qui no sabe" which roughly translates from Spanish as "he who knows nothing" or "clueless.

Web Scammers Teach Lesson in Finance

Russian spammers are targeting thousands of Australians with a work-from-home Web training scam, security experts warned on Monday.

The fraudsters invite victims to sign up for a free two-week Web learning program that purports to be run by financial services company Credit Suisse Group to recruit staff, antivirus company Sophos said on Monday. The program offers to help students graduate in basic finance skills.

The catch comes in the second week, when students are asked to transfer some of their money as part of an exercise.

"They lure you with a false sense of security," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Its intent is to defraud innocent computer users out of their savings. Spam is usually things like Viagra and Rolex watches, but Russian spam tends to be about training courses and business opportunities."
Link (via TechDirt)

Spam Stages A Comeback

LONDON (Reuters) - Spam, the luncheon meat which valiantly sustained Britain's war effort only to suffer so cruelly at the hands of Monty Python, is being relaunched in the UK.

A 2 million-pound campaign will feature the first TV adverts for the brand, portraying it as quintessentially British despite the fact it was invented in America and is now largely produced in Denmark.

"It celebrates all things British from camping to the great British institution of the pantomime," Spam said of the adverts. "With the new ad we will remind lapsed users about the delicious taste of Spam whilst raising awareness among new users," said senior brand manager, Marianne Pollock.

The chopped meat gave its name to junk e-mail because of a sketch by British comedians Monty Python in which singing Vikings kept drowning out a waitress offering dishes such as spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam.
Link (Yahoo)

November 04, 2004

Day of Defeat

A writer for UK's The Guardian Captured a good bit of what half of America was feeling yesterday:

The mistake we all made was in getting our hopes up. Until lunchtime on Tuesday, in accordance with the rules of superstition, lay supporters of John Kerry kept their outlook pessimistic. In bones, waters, winds and related vapours across the land, the election was divined by pro-Democrats to be in the bag for Bush. This is what is known as preparing a soft landing; it is measured in units of unhatched chicks.

When people woke yesterday morning, those for whom Bush's overnight gains were unwelcome weathered two sensations: a slug of shock, followed by a surge of recognition. We had been here before. This was 1992, the morning after the general election when, despite hatred for the Tories having peaked over the poll tax, they still managed to bring home a 21-seat majority. And so, not even callers to 5 Live could summon any outrage; despondency was instant and lethal. On the way to work, the faces of people on the tube looked like chalk pavement pictures after a downpour. (OK, so they look like this every morning; but they had particular resonance yesterday, suspended as they were above front-page pictures of Bush smugly meditating). By 10am, as people got to their desks and began a day of low productivity and high personal email exchange, it became clear that the most pressing post-election question was not, "Where were you when you heard Bush was winning?" but rather, "Where were you when you allowed yourself to think it could ever have been otherwise?" Dismally, people asked each other how long they had stayed up the night before. "Until 4.30am," said my friend Jim. "Long enough to start crying like a girl."

The first email I received the following morning read: "F*cked off, dejected, our hopes have been blown to sh*t."

The next one read: "As REM once sang: 'It's the end of the world as we know it.' Only unlike REM, I don't feel fine."

At lunchtime, friends from America woke up and joined the chorus. With a defeated sneer, the Brits among them threatened to move home in protest; it isn't hard to imagine a Republican reply to this. "There's going to be a brain drain from this country which will leave the Red-State [Republican] morons to fend for themselves," wrote an American on the Guardian talk-boards. "I wonder what the immigration requirements are like in the UK?"

A friend in New York wrote: "The one consolation that people are clinging to is that he will f*ck things up so badly in the next four years that the Democrats will move back into favour. That's if we still have a world."

November 02, 2004

Hobbit Halloween

We had some Hobbit-y houseguests for the weekend, some friends we met at DragonCon in September. Matthew refused to wear most costumes, so we dressed him in overalls and a red plaid shirt ad tried to pass him off as a farmer. But he had a Frodo (Mel), a Samwise, a Merry, a Rosie Cotton, a Balrog, and a Shark-bit American Tourist (yours truly) to walk him around the neighborhood.

With the exception of the Samwise Gamgee, they were all girls, so Matthew was hyper having them around all weekend. He especially took to Gayle the Balrog, who was not particularly fond of children.

Something about kids and cats; they always are attracted to the ones who don't like them or are allergic to them. But even Gayle was won over by him when he pointed to her in Balrog costume and happily called out "'Rog!"

For the first time, Melissa and I threw a Halloween party, and it went surprisingly well. 38 of our closest friends packed into our little 3-bedroom house and generally had a good time. I explained it to my friend Larry like this: I've been gone for nearly a month, Fall is our favorite time of year, Melissa's favorite holiday is Halloween, and we haven't seen many of these people in a while. So this party let us do something to fix all of that. We gather all our friends together in one place, so they can meet each other and we can spend some time with them, at least in a fast-food sort of way.

We went a little nuts at Party City for some cheesy decorations. We had a disembodied hand that rolled a tray of candy around the edges of a table, some spooky window clings, cobwebs all over the place, a black-lit hallway where a demon-faced portrait of "Little Boy Blue" was hung, and my personal touch: a bathroom where the shower curtain was pulled down and some blood was running down the drain. And for a Lord of the Rings touch, Gayle carved The One Ring's inscription around a pumpkin, over which we placed a prop Shelob the Spider.


The house is slowly coming back to normal, but it seems strangely quiet without all the guests now. Matthew kept looking around yesterday, expecting to see them all, and was a bit sad not to find them. He will probably wonder what happened to the nice bald man who showed him something called "Dance Dance Revolution."

Now that Halloween is over, the stores are already playing Christmas music and are stocked with holiday toys. Looking forward, it's going to be a weird holiday. I'll get my wish, and Mel, Matthew and I will be together with my brother, mom & dad for the first time ever. It'll be in Los Angeles, which might be even less Christmas-y than Hawaii was, but at least we'll be together as a family.

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November 01, 2004

Fallen

"Fallen" is a narrative video set to the music of Delerium, using the "Star Wars Galaxies" game as the video engine. Some seriously good production values, and well scripted and put together. Definitely worth the download.


Just Shoot Me

After throwing a Halloween party, I didn't have time to make a run to the grocery store for actual food. I ended up subsisting on nothing but hobbit-feet cookies and candy for most of the weekend, resulting in the most disturbing state of strung-out half-consciousness. I felt only partially alive, with dulled senses and energy levels that were swinging wider than a semi truck's left turn.

This 3-day glucose bender, in addition to the 4 weeks eating out on the road, has given me 8 additional pounds "to love". I had to break out some roomier trousers, which I am absolutely swimming in.

It makes me wonder if the statement "If I ever weigh xxx pounds, just shoot me" said to a friend or spouse has ever been carried out and successfully defended as a legal binding verbal contract? There's a law degree research project for you.

UPDATE (11:41AM) : On my way out for lunch, I realized that I left my wallet at home. I had to hit up my manager for a dollar to buy some trail mix from the vending machine. The bender now extends into day four.