November 12, 2007

Comic Strip - Fall Conversation

I took Matthew out for a walk yesterday morning. The northerner in me loves when the weather spikes suddenly cold in November. It reminds me of August in Chicago.
--------------
"Daddy! Look at all the Acorns!"

"Yes, kiddo, all over the place. And all the pretty leaves too."

"They're all on the ground."

"Of course. This season...this time of year is called 'Fall'. Because the leaves turn colors and fall to the ground, and the acorns fall too. This is daddy and mommy's favorite time of year."

I look over and see his underwear poking up, so I adjust his jeans.

"Jeez, why do your pants keep coming down?"

Matthew blinked and looked up. "Because it's fall?"
--------------

This is just one of those moments in parenthood that you want immortalized somehow. The triumph of Kindergarten logic. If anyone can draw or knows someone who can, I seriously want to commission this as a 4-panel comic. Will pay money. Comment to contact.

October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

For your Samhain Viewing Pleasure, I link-ily present:


Great Cinematic Pumpkins of our Time

October 25, 2007

Product of Atlanta Schools

It makes us cry. The agonizing UN-Pride. From the Palm Beach Post:
Maybe he was joking, but gregarious Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder confessed today he didn't know until Tuesday that people spoke English in London.

Crowder, a former Florida Gator and Atlanta native, apparently isn't sure where the plane is headed when it takes off this afternoon for Sunday's game against the New York Giants in Wembley Stadium.

"I couldn't find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries," Crowder said. "I swear to God. I don't know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I learned that."

"I know (Washington Redskins linebacker) London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That's the closest thing I know to London. He's black, so I'm sure he's not from London. I'm sure that's a coincidental name."
You think they could have left out the part about being an Atlanta Native? And he doesn't think that black people live in London? *headdesk*

October 09, 2007

Matthew K *IS* Jack Bauer

Matthew brought home a serious homework assignment from Kindergarten this week: Write a story. It had to be three sentences long, with the kid spelling and writing all by himself, (We were allowed to sound out the words for him though) and a picture was also required.

Matthew's first idea for a story was this: "Matthew K went to the Mall. Then two bad guys came in and it went BOOM!"

"No, I don't think we'll be turning that one in, Matthew," I said. This isn't a market in Baghdad. We don't want your teacher to label him an Insurgent right off the bat. That's almost as bad as "ADHD" on your permanent record these days.

October 04, 2007

A Halo3 Review I can understand

I'm a gamer. Specifically, I'm a PS2 and recent Wii Gamer. I'll play some stuff on my PC, but I have to play OLD games, because I flat-out refuse to spend $300 on a new video card every 6 months. (I just finished Doom3 this summer, if that gives you any indication. I also enjoy "Transport Tycoon" from 1991.)

I never had an XBOX, nor a 360 and have never really wanted one, save for a few hard months when they announced that any new "Oddworld" games would only come out on XBOX. So I never got into this whole HALO phenomenon. Apparently people bowed own and worshiped this game much in the same way Macintosh users obsessed over MARATHON in the 90's: It was the only decent shooter to come out on the platform at all.

SO after enduring a year of hype from blogs and G4 TV's live events for the release of Halo 3, I am relieved to finally find a reviewer that is as skeptical of the actual game experience as I am. And that person is "Yahtzee Croshaw", my favorite De-Hyping "is it REALLY a good game?" reviewer who posts video reviews weekly at The Escapist called "Zero Punctuation" Check out his other reviews if you like this style as much as I do.

October 02, 2007

DragonCon 2007

Pirates4I just finished transcribing and editing up the DragonCon Trip Report for this year. So if you didn't get to go, or would just like to see it the way I did, read on:

Bill the Pony's DragonCon2007 Trip Report

October 01, 2007

My Social in the Wild

The house should have been on the market 3 weeks ago, but we still have work to do on it. Not like it's the Money Pit house or anything, it's just been slow going coordinating the landscapers' schedule, setting up the contractor to re-do the bathroom floors and painting & cleaning it up. It sucks giving up all my weekends and seeing so little progress. But Melissa's folks have been helping out loads, her mom even paints while I work during the day from the remote desk there.

It SHOULD be ready for the Realtor to take pictures by the end of this week.

Then we get more good news. Apparently a laptop was stolen from a contractor doing work for our company. Of course, he/she was doing work for the HR Department with files having ALL the pertinent info on me and 2000 of my fellow employees. So I'll have to keep the credit bureaus on alert for any fraudulent stuff coming through. Greeeeeeat.

My company's response: A letter and 1 year of free Credit Bureau Fraud monitoring. You'd think a company that's mainly a Title Insurance provider could do better for its own.

My Suck Runneth Over

September 27, 2007

Nickelback Plagirizes Self

from All Things Considered NPR - Can a band plagiarize itself? One listener in Canada has implied as much by taking two songs by the band Nickelback and superimposing them over one another to emphasize the similarity. Listen for Yourself

It is technically still a "mash-up" if the songs are identical to begin with?

September 11, 2007

The Heavy Sleeper

Matthew arrived home from school today without a bear (the Kindergarten teacher's symbol of good behavior for the day), ant it was for not listening to instructions. He's been very good in class since the first week, so this was not the norm.

We sighed and realized it was going to be one of THOSE nights. Because his Not-Listening behavior is usually an all-day affair. We just have to suck it up, deal with him for the evening and his mood will hit the reset button during the night, without fail. Lucky for us, these days are few and far between, but they're still no fun when they happen.

By his early bedtime, he was kissed goodnight without a story (for turning on the shower on daddy while daddy was bathing him) and he went to bed amidst some noble protests. An hour later he was asleep in his room, and I poured myself a glass of chardonnay. Never while he's awake, that's my rule. I was starting to finally relax downstairs, watching Ice Age on cable when we heard the boom of something heavy falling on the floor above us.

At first I thought Melissa had fallen, because it sounded louder than a 45 pound child. We called up, and Melissa said it came from Matthew's room. We rushed up the stairs and looked inside. The ceiling fan had fallen. Wires were dangling from a hole in the ceiling and slivers of broken light bulb were on the floor.

By some miracle of Allah, it fell just past the end of the bed Matthew was sleeping in, and only one light bulb was broken on the floor. And Matthew? He slept through it all. He'll be woken up in a panic by cicadas outside in the trees, but a ceiling fan falls three feet from his bed and he's comatose. Ron said the cast-aluminum bracket holding it in the ceiling had broken in three places.

I put the kid in our bed while we cleaned it all up. Our hearts eventually slowed down to normal and Ron took the fan to the Chop Shop, returning later to stuff a towel in the hole. I returned Matthew to his bed and he never even awoke from all the moving around. He'll wake up for school tomorrow and probably say he had a good night's sleep.

And you better believe we're sleeping with OUR fan off tonight.

August 29, 2007

It's Dragon*Con Time

Melissa and I are off to Dragon*Con this weekend for a little vacation from reality. And the Dragon*Con LiveJournal springs to life about two months out, and the closer we get to the Con, the less and less you see of your friends' posts, in the sea of room requests, party announcements, Calls for models in the annual "Men In Kilts & A Girl with a Leafblower" calendar... and UNIQUE posts like this one:
"DragonCon Culinaria"
danceswthcobras wrote:
Folks who feel like drooling can click here for my con packing list:

I like to process my own meat, and I'm picky about buying organic small farm raised critters, so I fill my freezer with some amazingly good stuff. A good chunk of it is coming with me to con for provisions and possibly to share. I dry rubbed a six pound sirloin in sea salt and spices and slow roasted it just now, and the aroma in my house is incredible. I may do another roast-to-go tomorrow so there will be enough to share with the deserving.

I'll swap a big steak every day (well, a steak sized slice of incredibly yummy slow roasted beef) for a couple of cubic feet of storage in any hotel room on site and access to it maybe two or three times a day for a few minutes to change costumes and dump dealer room swag. Plus additional consideration to be negotiated, if desired. My hotel room (way off site) has a fridge and a freezer and I'm bringing a chest of dry ice for further cold storage insurance.

I don't bother eating steak in restaurants any more, even the nice ones, since it's pretty sad stuff compared to what I have at home. A few chefs do go to the lengths of buying organic small farm "microbrewed" beef, but you'll be paying $40 a plate and up for the experience. Or you can buy the whole cow like I do. :)

Or just say hi at the con and I may be persuaded to share. :)

In short: "Will sell personally prepared steaks, in exchange for on-site hotel storage space." It's THAT kind of convention, where crap like that happens all around you.

And I can't wait for it.

August 20, 2007

Great Ideas (Vol. 2)

Mel: Matthew, What do you want to be when you grow up?
Matthew: I want to be a SUPERHERO! Zoooommmm Pyow pyow!
Chris: and what super-powers would you have?
Matthew: I'd have um, the power of Fire... and Fish... and... BOOM!
Mel: And what would your SuperHero name be?
Matthew: Super Matthew K!
Chris: Yeah, good way to keep your secret identity, there, kiddo.

I wish I could draw, because a guy in tights throwing flaming, exploding fish would be so damned cool.

Farewell, Casa De Kern

It has begun. Melisa and I have moved the bulk of our belongings out of our house, Thanks to some heavy-lifting help from Craig and Ron. We are now living with Mel's parents about 20 minutes down the road, and Matthew is attending school in the new place. Over the next few weeks, we'll be cleaning out the rest of our belongings and cleaning up the house, prepping it for sale. The bathrooms need new linoleum, the walls need paint, the carpets need steam cleaning, the outside needs pressure washing, and some serious landscaping needs to be completed before we can put this house on the market.

The plan is to sell the old house, stay here for the schoolyear and save up some money for a new down payment, and find a new place in Gwinnett or nearby.

I know this might come as a bit of a shock. But 30 year-olds do NOT take the idea of moving back in with Mom & Dad lightly. It's a major lifestyle shift for all parties involved. Not only will the bulk of our possessions remain in U-Haul boxes, but now we have 5 people living under one roof. Sharing one kitchen. Sharing one laundy room. Everybodies skivvies appearing folded in visible laundry baskets. And lack of Private Nookie Time for both couples.

But there are also positives: I pitch in to do a portion of a flat lawn, instead of doing 100% of one that is mostly a 45-degree incline. We have an experienced chef that can help us eat decent food for a while, instead of falling back on take-out food as much as we have for the past few months. We can put Matthew to bed and leave for a late movie every now and again, without a lot of hassle. Both parties will be spending less on food & utilities, since we'll be sharing the expenses.

We're hoping to catch a break selling the house, because our luck has not been so great lately:
(1) A/C, Transmission sensors broken in Mel's car, emitting loud noise
(2) Lightning strike from last month eventually killed the A/C unit outside the house, so Cats had to be moved from 96-degree house to basement of new place before it was ready.
(3) A/C unit in MY car is faltering, nearly stranded Melissa and her mom on Jimmy Carter Blvd one friday.
(4) Matthew is re-testing every boundary in the new house, seeing if he'll still get punished here like he did in the old place. (Or, "Raptors testing the fences" as I call it.)

The good news is that Matthew's apparently doing well in Kindergarten, and not giving the teacher the amount of difficulty he's giving us. Good to know. Here's his account of his first day of school:


Update: We did get some good news the other day. The neighbor across the street runs a landscaping business, and I asked him to give us an estimate on tidying up the old house's yard. He came back with a price 1/2 of what some other guys wanted to charge us. He even knows a guy that does heavy-duty pressure-washing that might be able to get the oil spot off the driveway (from My car's LAST big repair). I was very grateful to him.

Update#2: There will definitely be some adjustments made to living here. Brenda just opened the door on me when I was using the bathroom. Luckily, I was hunkered down, not standing up, so she didn't see anything. I'll have to learn to lock the door.

August 13, 2007

First Day

Matthew starts Kindergarten today. Melissa and I waited with him at the bus stop and he's off to school.

*Guh* I'm sure it'll be a bit scary at first, but Matthew's always been a very social kid. The teachers may have trouble keeping him quiet if he finds a bug, but I think he'll learn the way things work fairly quickly.

[Aside to Teacher Friends: Is "Fairly Quickly" correct? A double adverb?]

August 07, 2007

Little Rock Trip Journal

A diary of my business trip to HQ in Little Rock, Arkansas last week:

Sunday, July 29th
5:30 PM - Dropped off at Hartsfield-Jackson-Turner-YourNameHereFor$1Billon Atlanta International Airport, plenty early for my 6:55 flight to Little Rock. Once I see the departure boards, I realize there's even MORE time, since it now shows the flight leaving at 7:10. No problem, I head to Concourse A and walk the mile to gate 33 at the end, but there's no flight to Little Rock on the board, this one's going to Columbia, SC. I check this set of departure boards and the only flight to Little Rock is at geat D-26, and is now departing at 7:30. A dash to Concourse D later, the departure boards THERE claim the flight is now departing at 8:10.

I knocked off the first few chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows while I waited, interrupted briefly by an announcement that a flight was cancelled due to the crappy weather. Luckily (for me), it was a flight to Toronto. But 20 minutes later, my spider-senses were tingling - something wasn't right here. I double-checked and my flight number didn't match this gate either. A quick check with the gate agent confirmed my suspicions: My flight WAS actually at gate A-33, but it had been delayed until 9:50 PM. With such a late departure, it was no longer listed on the Departure boards as "current" since it was over three hours off, causing my re-direction.

So not a great start to the trip. And I was even denied a beer to pass the time, as the Budweiser Tap Room and the Houlihan's had an hour wait. But because of that, I can pass this processed nugget of wisdom to you: Don't believe Krystal Burgers about their Black Angus burger. Even if it really IS made of Black Angus Beef, they don't specify which PARTS of said cow that they use. By the taste, I'd say the nostrils and the soft inner part of the Hooves. (You know, the part that trudges around in their excrement all day in the fields.)

8:12 PM - The flight has been delayed until 10:25 PM
8:32 PM - The flight is departing at 9:50 PM again, but now at gate A3, at the other end of the terminal
8:53 PM - After just getting settled, the announcement comes over the PA that the flight has been moved again to gate A15.
9:50 PM - Finally we are loaded up and push away from the gate. I'm in the window seat with two gray-haired ladies sitting next to me. I try to read as we slowly taxi out to the runway, but the two old ladies seem intent on pointing out every other plane they see and wagering on how many planes have to go in front of us. Every two minutes, when another plane is visible out my window, the nearest one points a finger at it, within two inches of my face.

10:30 PM - Looking at the light pollution from the city below, I think about all that energy is wasted sending light bouncing upwards where it's not needed. I wondered to myself if science could ever create "Heavy Light" that would be affected by normal Earth gravity, and thus only brighten things directly below it, without the photons traveling back upwards. It would save energy, since these streetlamps would only need do be half as bright, and there would be none of the light pollution that we get in cities, so the stars would be visible at night, instead of the haze of the city (or "loglow" as Neal Stephenson called it). Light, imbued with mass, flowing along the path of least resistance like water. (I realize that would be an invention tantamount to invisibility, having light not bounce and return in all directions.) Anyway. Just a thought.

11:52 PM - Landed, Car rented, drove to Company Guest House where I'll be staying for the week. Not a bad little cottage, nice amenities, but I can never sleep in a king sized bed, (unless you count diagonally). Best part: There's a lobby, probably for entertaining clients that might be staying on-site, complete with couches, HDTV and a stocked bar. A glass of Dewar's later, I'm thinking this might not be so bad after all.

Monday July 30th
A little more poking around in the guest House revealed a professional-level kitchen, like you may find in a small restaurant. Cereal, milk and breakfast bars were also available for the culinarilly challenged like myself. The Guest house is just across the complex from Building 4 where I'll be working, so it's almost as good as telecommuting. I set up in an empty manager's cube and wait for Bob, the upgrade consultant to show up. I picked him out immediately from the crowd of regular employees because he was wearing a tie. This is Little Rock, Arkansas, where "business casual" means "No Flip-Flops or Daisy Dukes."

Bob is a mid 40's guy with gray-blond hair and a soul patch on the chin, who chortles when he laughs, but he's easy-going and fine to work with. He professed to like Moby, so he didn't mind one bit that I like my electronica playing while I work. We get along fine, and he's a good talker, or perhaps just doesn't like silence as we worked. We've each already told about our work history, family, kids, where we live, and he's already covered how his father was a fine art painter and died at age 64 after 10 years of dealing with Alzheimers. And that's day one. What the hell are we going to talk about tomorrow?

I won't bore you with the drudgery of details, but I'm responsible for a website tracking tool called WebTrends, and he's helping us upgrade to the latest version. The version we had was so old, the only help that the support line was allowed to give us was help on how to upgrade. Day one was "Devil-in-the-Details Day" where we checked every little thing to see if it was all working and validated properly, and MAAAAAAN do I hate checklists. But progress was eventually made, and I think we'll be ready to start (on schedule) tomorrow morning.

5:36 PM - Most of the staff here works 8:30-4:30, but I still have work to do. My other areas of responsibility have not stopped for me while this one has taken sudden and total precedence.

8:15 PM - Apparently all of the movie theaters in town start at 7 or 9, and I'm not going to just wander around their lobby waiting. So I take a drive down Cantrell Road, one of the main drags in Little Rock, trying to get my bearings again and remember where places are. Melissa calls and says she had to leave work early tonight because it feels like there's something jammed in her eye. She's heading up to the hospital to have it looked at.

Notable scenery: A townhouse complex whose units are barely visible from street-level due to a severe drop-off. Name of the complex is "Valley Heights".

11:30 PM - After driving around most of the evening, which includes becoming completely lost in some bad areas of town, I'm back in my room, ironing my suitcase-crumpled clothes and waiting for Melissa's call from the Hospital. Ends up she has Pink Eye. We thought Matthew's bloodshot eyes were related to his fever, but apparently not. (It's not at all funny, Melissa's in a lot of pain, but I can't help but think about that South Park Halloween special. Worcestershire Sauce....)

Tuesday July 31st-
The issues we had yesterday with the program are gradually working themselves out, but it's tedious work. At least things are easier to diagnose today, and I feel like we've gotten somewhere. By the end of the day, after backing up the current state of things, we start part 1 of the upgrade and it works fairly quickly. We're out of there by 6 PM, saying we'll meet up later in the guest house's computer room and see if the files are processing correctly.

Wednesday-Friday
The week passed quickly, and rather uneventfully. We made gradual process with the Software upgrade, and everything went well, but nothing worth writing about. It ended with two half-day training classes for me and the other two people who use it. Bob and I went out each night for dinner, I took him to the places I knew in town, and down to the RiverWalk downtown.

One night, we sat at the bar of a BrewPub called Bosco's facing the constant CNN coverage of that highway bridge that collapsed in the MidWest. It was a terrible tragedy, but like always, there was no real need to keep watching the same 6 video clips playing over and over. We left there, a relatively upscale joint, when our food had not arrived 50 minutes later, and Bob distinctly saw his plate of pork chops sitting on the serving shelf for 15 minutes. We hopped across the street to The Flying Saucer, a bar with regular pub fare, and received beers and ordinary sandwiched in very little time. The place was loud with friendly-talking patrons and no televisions to be seen, which made for an infinitely better atmosphere than before.

Bob picked up my tab for the sandwich and two beers, and in return, I picked up his meal at Hunan Chinese restaurant the next night. Amazingly, we've kept up the friendly conversations all week, and my good opinion of him has not changed.

Last night, I left him smoking a cigar on the guest lodge porch and went out to catch "Knocked Up" at the local movie house. The print was so scratched up in places, it looked like JAWS used the film to floss with, and the sound cut out in a few places. Funny movie, but I think it stretched the premise a bit too far: upwardly-mobile hottie has drunken fling with unemployed, bong-smoking adorkable slob, they decide to keep the kid and form a relationship, each one trying to be a little more like the other in order to get along, fights happen and are resolved, complications during the Labor, hilarity ensues. But at the end, the inevitable transformation of the guy happens WAY too quickly in a 2-minute montage to be believable. And the only other family we see is a bitter, unhappy couple where the over-bearing nag of a wife kicks the husband out of the house for sneaking out once a week to play fantasy baseball. So while the story is cute, the couple's odd-couple chemistry is good and the jokes are there, there's just to much depressing, bad-marriage plot and a bit more drug use than even I care for. I expected a little more funny from the director of "40 Year-Old Virgin". [C+]

Friday - 1:28 PM
Waiting at the gate for my flight back to Atlanta, and Little Rock National is not a large airport. It only has 10 or 12 gates, but I've never left out of one over #3. (Case and point, the gate steward calling out two passengers by name and saying "If you two want to go to St. Louis, now's the time.") And it's the last place I'd expect to hear a PA announcer lady with a British accent, but there it is again, asking someone to return to the TSA inspection site if they've lost a bracelet. I've been able to re-read most of the last Harry Potter book this week at a more leisurely pace, mostly at night. This explains my dreams last night of Melissa and I taking Matthew to some sort of Potter-esque theme park with Voldemort chasing us. In any case, I'll be glad to return home, see the wife and kid again, and get a decent night's sleep in my own bed.

July 27, 2007

LinkNews Digest [07/27/2007]

Can You Hear Me NOW??!?!?

MELBOURNE, Australia (Reuters) -- A man appeared in court in Sydney on Saturday after taking an armored personnel carrier on a rampage through the city's western suburbs in which he destroyed six mobile phone towers, Australian media reported.

Suburban Mt Druitt police Chief Inspector Guy Haberley said the 45-year-old man had been arrested on his way to damaging a seventh tower, according to News Ltd. "He continued to destroy mobile tower communications sheds by crashing through the perimeter fence and colliding with structures, causing significant damage," Haberley was quoted as saying.

The charges included malicious damage, break and enter, predatory driving and driving in a dangerous manner.(LINK Video)

UK Boy Buys PS2 from Ebay, Gets $90,000

Police are trying to trace the owner of 65,400 euros (~$90,000) mistakenly sent to a 16-year-old boy who bought a Playstation Two for [$195] on eBay.

The cash arrived in a box at the house in Aylsham, Norfolk, with the games console, but minus two games. Police are holding the money under the Proceeds of Crime Act while the matter is investigated.

An eBay spokesman said the parcel's contents were "somewhat unusual" and it would help police with their inquiries. The boy's parents, who are not commenting, alerted police when the parcel arrived on 20 March.

Magistrates have given Norfolk Police until September to hold on to the money before the case comes up in court again. But, if the money remains unclaimed the family could potentially apply for it to be returned to them under the Police Property Act. (LINK )


"Dr. CATvorkian" Predicts Dying Patients

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) -- Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.

"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.(LINK )

NASA:DUI Astronauts Driving Space Shuttle

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - At least twice, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk, an aviation weekly reported Thursday, citing a special panel studying astronaut health.

The independent panel also found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch that was within the standard 12-hour "bottle-to-throttle" rule, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, which reported the finding on its Web site.

A NASA official confirmed that the health report contains claims of alcohol use by astronauts before launch, but said the information is based on anonymous interviews and is unsubstantiated. The official didn't want to be named because NASA plans a news conference Friday to discuss the panel's findings.

The panel was created following the arrest in February of former space shuttle flier Lisa Nowak, who was implicated in a love triangle.(LINK )


July 26, 2007

A Case for Just 49 States

While some good has come out of Texas (My friends Jim, Joni and Troy, ZZ Top, the Fajita) the state is in desperate need of some good press. Besides providing us with our self-serving, sharp-as-a-bowling-ball President, they just churned out this little gem:

Texas Appoints Creationist Head of Board of Edjoocation

From Bad Astronomy:
Texas Freedom Network president Kathy Miller noted that in 2003, Dr. McLeroy was one of four board members who voted against proposed high school biology textbooks because he felt their coverage of evolution was "too dogmatic" and did not include possible flaws in Charles Darwin’s theory of how life on Earth evolved from lower forms.

Here is a letter McLeroy sent out to his fellow State Board of Education members:
My Personal Confession:

Given all the time in the world, I don’t think I could make a spider out of a rock. However, most of the books we are considering adopting, claim that Nothing made a spider out of a rock.

I don’t think I share a common ancestor with a tree. However, most of the books we are considering adopting, claim as a fact that we all share a common ancestor with a tree.

Brilliant! This guy doesn’t understand the most basic principles of biology, and he’s going to chair the State Board of Education. And hey, if he doesn’t understand something, why should it be taught at all?

Here is Don McLeroy’s own website, from the Favorite Quotations section:
The belief seems to be spreading that intellectuals are no wiser as mentors, or worthier as exemplars, than the witch doctors or priests of old. I share that scepticism.

Think that one through for a moment, folks. The new head of the Texas State Board of Education is an anti-intellectual. Note: he didn’t say this himself, he is quoting someone else; but it’s clearly a quotation he agrees with.(LINK )

July 20, 2007

Of Noses and Grindstones

We thought that this would be a quiet summer, with little going on.

We thought wrong.

We've been swamped with work and housework and swimming lessons for Matthew and everything else under the sun. The main task is cleaning and fixing up our house, which, although it is only 9 years old and in good shape, is no simple task. Mainly it's not simple because I am a complete dolt when it comes to tools.

Luckily, Melissa's parents are skilled. Ron can build (or destroy) anything in a house or on a car, and Brenda can paint, decorate and cook anything you can think of. My in-laws are effectively Tim Allen and Martha Stewart. As I said, I am useless with tools, but I always want to help. Mostly I end up hovering over Ron, squinting at whatever he's doing, and keeping an assortment of tools ready for him.

With this big push for home improvement, however, I was determined to do most of it myself. So I've replaced four lighting fixtures in the house with only brief consultation as to the wiring (See earlier post about Ron's electrician skills), and installed new blinds in the Den and Matthew's room. It feels pretty good to have done all of it myself. And I now have new respect for people who work with their arms above their head all day. (Construction workers, Boom operators, chapel ceiling painters, etc.)

UPDATE:Forgot to mention that even my Geek skills were proven this week. Melissa reported a smell of burning rubber coming from the computer desk, and I traced it to the computer's power supply. Dusting and cleaning the fans didn't fix it, and we started to get the Blue Screen of Death, so I knew we had a failure on our hands. One quick trip to Fry's Electronics later, I had a very nice ANTEC PS (one of the top brands) that was on sale, and had it installed in under an hour. *GRINNNNNN* I *CAN* fix things after all!

In other news, Tonight is the release of the final Harry Potter book. I know the general public still largely considers this a children's book, but they have NOT read the past few novels, which feature heavy on dark subjects and political intrigue. Melissa and I will be joining some friends tonight and helping out the Borders at Perimeter Mall in their pre-release festivities. I asked my manager if I could clock out an hour early for this, and her response was:
Absolutely! Have a wonderful time.

I’m so excited – went online and changed my shipping address to my grandmother’s house since that’s where we will be this weekend :-) I’m having a hard time staying away from the spoilers online.
And I just received some bad news about my friend Justin this morning. Just pray for him.

July 15, 2007

Great Ideas

Melissa and I have a little window into our son's mind. I know that soon, the time will come when Matthew keeps all his thoughts and opinions to himself. But for this brief, magical time, he shares them with us freely.

"Mommy, Daddy, I have a great Idea!" It always opens. I don't know how this started, but I'd like to slip whomever it was a $50 for the amount of insight and amusement this one phrase has unlocked for Melissa and I. I'll list some of the more notable ones here from time to time.

Today's Great Idea, provided on the way to church this morning:
"MommyDaddy, I have a Great Idea! What if we took the Aquarium... and put it next to our house? And then we'd take the whole world, and put them on ANOTHER world, except for Matthew, Mommy, Daddy, Grommy & Grandaddy, and Kaleb and Jacob and Brandon and Phillip. They'd all stay at our house and we'd go to the Aquarium EVERY DAY. Isn't that a great idea?

He doesn't want much, just his own alternate Earth populated with all his friends, us and "Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies" magically transported from Gatlinburg, TN to Flowery Branch. And he means that specific one, because he's sort of an Aquarium aficionado now. We've been to Ripley's, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and the Georgia Aquarium, but he only talks about that one. He even makes me read him the brochure for the place as a bedtime story at least once a week.

July 13, 2007

LinkNews Digest [07/13/2007]

Student knits her own Ferrari


Art graduate Lauren Porter knitted a Ferrari sportscar for her honors degree at Bath Spa University.

Art student Lauren Porter, 22, with life size Ferrari she knitted out of wool for her degree show at Bath Spa University.

The classic red bodywork consists of 250 squares of garter stitch made by Lauren and 20 family members and friends. The windows are V-shaped stocking stitch, while the details are crochet and the badge is embroidered. It's all supported by a steel frame which Lauren, 22, of Greatham, Hants, welded herself.(LINK )

Cash in Japan Toilets Triggers Treasure Hunt

TOKYO - Envelopes containing 10,000 yen ($82) bills and well-wishing notes have been discovered in municipal toilets across Japan, media reports said, baffling civil servants and triggering a nationwide hunt.

Local media have estimated that over two million yen ($16,400) worth of bills were found at men's rooms in city halls in at least 15 prefectures (states) in recent weeks.

Each package of 10,000-yen bills, some wrapped in traditional Japanese washi paper, was accompanied by handwritten letters that read "Please make use of this money for your self-enrichment," and "One per person," according to reports.

Officials are baffled over the identity of the benefactor or any motives, the reports said. Packages turned over to police were to be kept for some time in case someone claimed them.(LINK )

ESPN to Air Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament

Not so long ago, ESPN could startle viewers with hot dog gorgers, dogs jumping off docks and extreme TV close-ups of poker hands.

That seems so 20th-century. So ESPN will push the edge of the envelope in prime time Saturday with its debut coverage of the USA Rock Paper Scissors Championship.

Trey Wingo, who hosted coverage taped in May in Las Vegas, says the "unbelievable spectacle" went far beyond the technical aspects of the sport — in which rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper and paper covers rock. Some competitors wore "throwing gloves."

Wingo says he was "shocked" by an event that ran "the gamut of human interactions" even as Vegas sports books took bets on its results and its winner received $50,000. Some competitors, he says, brought posses as they were led by ring-card girls onto a stage set up like a boxing ring. One entrant, he says, “walked about in a robe and oven mitts. He said his hands were on fire and he didn't want to burn anybody. It was ridiculous.”

Wingo doesn't duck the troubling question of whether performance-enhancing drugs affected the action: "There was testing. If a guy shows up with Popeye forearms, you know that can't just come from spinach."(LINK )


July 06, 2007

LinkNews Digest [07/06/2007]

Cash-Strapped Police Sell Ad Space on Cars

The Toledo, Ohio police department needs to replace about 100 of its 140-car fleet at a time when money's tight. When budget deficits are forecast, getting funds can be a challenge, and that's what led the Toldeo department to offer cruiser sponsorships. In exchange for $15,000, the cars will have a 3 by 1 foot ad placed on the rear quarter panels. Four businesses have signed on so far, which means that two cars have been paid for.

Toledo PD Chief Mike Navarre has received more negative feedback than good comments, but the bottom line is that it's going to offset the considerable annual cost of replacing all those cars. The influx of cash means the fleet gets replenished sooner while still leaving money for the many other things a police department needs. Innovative thinking in tough times is a consistent theme in America, and Toledo's not the first department to put ads on their cars. The Fire Department is keeping an eye on how the sponsorships unfold, and could roll out its own effort. (LINK )
Remind anyone else of the current Reno 911! storyline about the force being sponsored by "Hotties Hot Wings"?

5 Year-old Pins Rabid Fox to Protect Family

KINGSTOWN, N.C. - A 5-year-old boy grabbed a rabid fox by the neck and pinned it to the ground during a family cookout, protecting six other children before his stepfather could kill the animal.

"I wanted to protect my little brother," said Rayshun McDowell, who battled the fox in the front yard of his home Sunday in Kingstown, a town about 50 miles west of Charlotte.

The fox bit Rayshun in the leg, but the 61-pound-boy held the animal down for more than a minute. Animal control officials said Tuesday that test results confirmed the fox had rabies, which is fatal unless treated before symptoms appear. Rayshun is undergoing treatment.

"I looked out the window and Rayshun had the fox by the neck and was pushing it into the ground," said his mother, Shinda Linder. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing."

Rayshun's stepfather, Ryan Thompson, pulled the boy off the animal and kicked it. A neighbor fired a handgun three times but the fox continued to advance.

Thompson, wearing a cast because of a broken leg, said he used a stick and his crutch to beat the fox to death. Rayshun, meanwhile, asked only for a Band-Aid and didn't complain of any pain.(LINK )

Possibly Best Job Ever?

Illegal city brothels will proliferate in Melbourne's city centre, according to the owners of legal brothels, unless the State Government cracks down on their operators.

The warning came after the Melbourne City Council last night decided against resuming its former policy of paying private investigators to have sex in illegal brothels, to gather evidence of a breach of planning rules.

Instead, Lord Mayor John So will join with the Municipal Association of Victoria to put pressure on the State Government's Consumer Affairs Department to do more about illegal brothels. Planners say illegal brothels in the city centre are growing.

Under the 1994 Prostitution Control Act, which legalised prostitution in Victoria, Consumer Affairs Victoria is charged with enforcement action against illegal operators. But critics say the department never takes action against illegal brothels.

Municipal Association of Victoria president Dick Gross wrote to Premier Steve Bracks earlier this year complaining that the department had never taken "successful enforcement action against an illegal brothel".

Cr Gross said last night he was pleased the Lord Mayor was taking up the issue. But the Australian Adult Entertainment Industry, the group representing legal brothels and escort agencies, dismissed the Lord Mayor's response as "half-baked".(LINK )
Also, why would a man CHOOSE to go by the name "Dick Gross"? Come on.

Crappy Luck Strikes Back

We had a fun discovery this past weekend. While a much-needed rainstorm hit the Atlanta Metro area on Friday, Mel, Matthew, Shawn and I were hitting the new Steak & Shake at the Mall of Georgia. (Mmmmmm, Strawberry) Save for a drenching on the way home, all appeared to be well, until we tried to check our email later in the evening. After some troubleshooting on my work PC, I found the DSL modem wasn't connecting, so I figured lightning must have struck some telephone lines down the road.

We expected the service to be restored in the morning, but no dice. So I picked up the phone to call BellSou- I mean AT+T, and found no dialtone. Same story in my office: No dialtone on that one either. We figured we must have had a lightning strike at the house, wouldn't be the first time. The phone in the kitchen worked oddly enough, but I figured it was better-made than the others.

Nope. Ends up that the phones in my office and the bedroom were protected through surge protectors that heroically gave their lives to defend our computers from the lightning. The phones still worked, and we now have them plugged through brand new surge protectors. I even bought one for the entertainment center, since we ALSO lost our pre-cambrian DVD player to the storm. I thought it was on a surge protector already, but reading the fine print it was for some insanely low amount of protection, which was blown through instantly.

Then I noticed something outside: One of the fenceposts near the house was splintered, and the 12" long splinters were a few feet away. Right behind it, our air conditioner was making a sickly rattling noise all the sudden. And later, in the backyard, I noticed a line of exposed wood running down the trunk of one of our biggest trees. Looks like we had a lightning strike (or two) IN OUR YARD.

Lightning Post I Think Lightning Hit The Tree Lightning Damage

Ron says that the tree will die in a few weeks, since a lightning strike usually VAPORIZES the sap in the tree, killing it. Great, another chunk of yardwork to add to the load this summer. Fun Fun.

I said it wasn't the first time we've had a lightning strike. It happened back in '99 or 2000 when we were in our apartment, and it blew our TV and VCR. The TV was--honest to god---out of warranty THAT VERY DAY. Luckily Circuit City cut us a break and fixed it. And in a similar bit of niceness this time, Shawn gave us an old DVD player that he wasn't using for a loaner, which was... uncharacteristically NICE of someone who claims to be so evil. ;)

I just hope we don't have to replace our air conditioner, we'd have to make a claim against our homeowner's insurance to pay for that, and State Farm has been dropping people like flies for actually...oh I don't know...asking them to hold up their end of the insurance bargain and pay BACK some of the money we've been giving them for years.

June 29, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/29/2007]

VICTORY! Common Sense Wins Over Lawyers Pants!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge ruled Monday that no pair of pants is worth $54 million, rejecting a lawsuit that took a dry cleaner's promise of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" to its most litigious extreme.

Roy L. Pearson became a worldwide symbol of legal abuse by seeking jackpot justice from a simple complaint - that a neighborhood dry cleaners lost the pants from a new suit and tried to give him a pair that were not his.

His claim, reduced from $67 million, was based on a strict interpretation of the city's consumer protection law - which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day - as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney's fees for representing himself.

But District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff ruled that the owners of Custom Cleaners did not violate the consumer protection law by failing to live up to Pearson's expectations of the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign once displayed in the store window. "A reasonable consumer would not interpret 'Satisfaction Guaranteed' to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer's unreasonable demands," the judge wrote.

Bartnoff ordered Pearson to pay clerical court costs of about $1,000 to defendants Soo Chung, Jin Nam Chung and Ki Y. Chung. A motion to recover the Chungs' tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees will be considered later.

"Judge Bartnoff has spoken loudly in suggesting that, while consumers should be protected, abusive lawsuits like this will not be tolerated," the Chung's attorney, Chris Manning, said in a statement. "Judge Bartnoff has chosen common sense and reasonableness over irrationality and unbridled venom."

Speaking to reporters outside their dry cleaners, the Chungs said they held no hard feelings toward Pearson. "If he wants to continue using our services, then, yes, he is welcome," Soo Chung, a Korean immigrant, said through a translator.

Pearson, who came to court during the two-day trial earlier this month carrying the offending pair of pants in a suit bag, did not respond to a call and an e-mail seeking comment.(LINK )

Robber in Foot Chase Asks For Time-Out

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine police chased down an unfit thief on Tuesday after he ran out of breath and asked his pursuers for a "time out."

"He was panting and gasping for air when we caught up with him after a 500 meter sprint," Erwin Buenceso, one of the arresting officers, told local radio station dzBB.

Buenceso said the man and an accomplice broke into a house in the Philippine capital and stole two expensive mobile phones. Screams from the residence alerted a local police patrol, which gave chase.

The robber asked for a "time out" using hand signals. After he regained his composure, police seized the two stolen phones and brought him to a station for questioning.(LINK )

Rubber Duckie Armada To Storm UK Beaches

For the past 15 years Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking nearly 30,000 plastic bath toys that were released into the Pacific Ocean when a container was washed off a cargo ship.

Some of the ducks, known as Friendly Floatees, are expected to reach Britain after a journey of nearly 17,000 miles, having crossed the Arctic Ocean frozen into pack ice, bobbed the length of Greenland and been carried down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The ducks began life in a Chinese factory and were being shipped to the US from Hong Kong when three 40ft containers fell into the Pacific during a storm on January 29, 1992. Two thirds of them floated south through the tropics, landing months later on the shores of Indonesia, Australia and South America. But 10,000 headed north and by the end of the year were off Alaska and heading back westwards. It took three years for the ducks to circle east to Japan, past the original drop site and then back to Alaska on a current known as the North Pacific Gyre before continuing north towards the Arctic.

Many were stranded as the currents took them through the Bering Strait, which divides Alaska from Russia. Mr Ebbesmeyer predicted that they would spend years trapped in the Arctic ice, moving at the rate of one mile a day towards the Atlantic.

The landfalls have all been logged on a computer model called the Ocean Surface Currents Simulation, which is used to help fisheries and find people lost at sea. Two children’s books have been written about the saga and the ducks have become collector’s items, changing hands for £500. (LINK )


June 22, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/22/2007]

Tijuana Wants Its Salad Tossed

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) - The Mexican border city of Tijuana, mired in drug violence, hopes to recall brighter days this summer by tossing three tonnes of Caesar salad, the dish invented in the town's U.S. prohibition-era glory days.

The salad was born in 1932 in the kitchen of chef Cesar Cardini, according to the current owners of Caesar's Hotel in Tijuana, a city that flourished as U.S. tipplers flooded its bars and casinos in search of legal alcohol.

While still drawing hordes of U.S. party-goers too young to drink across the border, Tijuana has been plagued by dozens of killings in recent years in a drug cartel war -- an image locals hope a record-breaking side dish will help shake off.

The salad of romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and anchovies will be tossed on August 26 outside Tijuana city hall in a 40 metre-long (130 feet) container. Rodriguez said the current record was held by a 2.5-tonne Caesar salad made in New York in 2001.(LINK )

This Art *ISN'T* Crap!

LONDON, June 12 (Reuters) - Tins sold for thousands of dollars to collectors and museums as works of excremental art by famed Italian artist Piero Manzoni may not actually contain any of the artist's feces.

Comments by fellow artist Agostino Bonalumi, who told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera this week that the 90 tins of "Artist's Shit" had nothing in them but plaster, have provoked a response from a museum which paid more than 20,000 pounds for one of them.

A spokeswoman at the Tate museum in London insisted that the revelation did not invalidate the tin as a work of art. "Keeping the viewer in suspense is part of the work's subversive humour," she said.

Before his death in 1963, Manzoni said he hoped his work would "expose the gullibility of the art-buying public". The suggestion was that anything an artist made could be rendered as valuable, even if it was simply a series of re-labelled tin cans containing human excrement.

Manzoni produced the work in 1961, labelled each tin as "100 percent pure artist's shit" in Italian, French, German and English" and sold them for the price of their weight in gold.(LINK )

New Threat: French Winemaker Terrorists

A shadowy group in France has issued the French government with an unusual ultimatum: raise the price of wine or "blood will flow."

The group's name is the Crav, which stands for nothing more threatening than the Union for Viticultural Action in the Languedoc region in the south. The Crav's deadline to the government runs out this weekend, which marks exactly 100 years since wine-makers in the region led their last revolt. That ended with the French army shooting dead six demonstrators.

No wine-maker will publicly admit to being part of Crav but many sympathise with their demands, if not with their methods.

Grower Francois Thiebaud says "Some [growers] have even killed themselves because they couldn't feed their families on the money they earn." He says that he and many other wine-makers in this region are now fighting for survival. "We're working at a loss. We've lost between 40 and 50% of our income because of falling prices and the big cut taken by the middle-men. I can only afford to carry on working in the vineyards because my wife has another job."

Such frustration has now boiled over into the threats of violence by the Crav, made in a video message sent to France's new President, Nicolas Sarkozy. In the video - shot in a secret location late at night - seven wine-makers, their faces hidden by black balaclavas, read out the spine-chilling warning that "blood will flow" if Nicolas Sarkozy does not act fast to raise the price of wine.

The group has proved that it is prepared to use violence to achieve its aims. Already, several local supermarkets selling foreign wines have been attacked with small explosive devices, with others graffitied with the Crav's initials.

The group has also shot at and hijacked at least one lorry containing wine from abroad - and the fear is that the attacks could escalate unless the government responds to the group's demands, which it so far has not. (LINK )


June 20, 2007

Nike Ad: "Cosplay"

An average day in Tokyo's Akihabara district...

June 15, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/15/2007]

Racy Ad Viewed from London Flight Path

(AP) A giant silhouette of a naked pole dancer painted on a field beneath Gatwick Airport's flight path is disturbing the British countryside.

The 9,300 square metre advertisement is nearly invisible from the ground, but can be seen by airline passengers, Tandridge District Council spokeswoman Giuseppina Valenza said today. She said the ad was painted on the field without proper permission and that the council would take legal action if it was not removed.

Sports Media Gaming Ltd, the company behind the ad, said the council had no grounds for removing it. "I think they're unsure about their own regulations to be honest," director Stephen Pearson said. "We're not going to remove it at all."

The Campaign to Protect Rural England expressed disgust with the latest ad. "It sets such a nasty precedent, using our landscapes just for advertisement," said Paul Miner, a planning campaigner.(LINK )

Kid Proves Fountain Water Filthier Than Toilet

(AP) Middle School student Kyleray Katherman had a hunch something was amiss with the school's drinking fountain water. And right he was.

For an English assignment, he tested the bacteria content at four water fountains and one toilet to challenge a ban on students from bringing bottled water to class. It seems some were using it to sneak in alcohol.

Guess which was cleaner? It wasn't the water fountains.

Katherman, 13, used Q-tips and petri dishes, swabbing the spigots of four fountains and sampling one toilet, dunking the cotton in the bowl's center and then dragging it around the rim for a complete sample.

The petri dishes with fountain water were swarming with bacteria. The sample from the toilet was clean, probably because the toilets are doused with cleansing chemicals daily. He took his results to the North Bend School Board with an eye-opening PowerPoint presentation.

Administrators quickly replaced the spigots and casing at three of the water fountains and custodians gave them all a thorough cleaning. More teachers are providing water in classrooms now, but the ban on water bottles remains.(LINK)

Artists Turn Scrambler Ride into Spirograph

"Good-Time Mix Machine: Scrambler Drawings" I connected a gas generator and air compressor to buckets of paint and secured them into the seats of a Scrambler amusement park ride. Once the ride was in motion, paint sprayed out of the benches onto vinyl tarps placed underneath. The result is a series of enormous hypocycloid designs which recorded the hidden patterns created by the ride as it turned. Two videos were created in conjuction with the drawings. This work was funded by Grand Arts, Kansas City, MO, with assistance from Tony Wight/ Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago, IL; ADA Gallery, Richmond, VA; and Todd Simon
(LINK, VIDEO)

"Adam" For Creation Museum is Pr0n Star

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The man picked by the Creation Museum to play Adam leads quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden.

Records show that Eric Linden owns a pornographic web site called "Bedroom Acrobat." He's been pictured there in a T-shirt brandishing the site's sexually suggestive logo.

The 27-year-old appears as Adam in 1 of 55 videos featured on visitor tours at the Petersburg, Kentucky museum. The museum -- which opened last month -- tells the Bible's version of how Earth was created.

Museum officials today stopped airing the 40-second video after learning from The Associated Press of Linden's online appearances.(LINK )


June 08, 2007

LinkNews Digest [06/08/2007]

Baseball Team Plays 24 Hours Straight for Charity

NEW YORK -- The staff of the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team played for 24 hours nonstop over the weekend, battling little leaguers, circus clowns and waiters, among others, and raising $2,500 for local food pantries.

The team, which included its general manager and assistant general manager and personnel from ticket sales, media relations, graphics and other departments, played 13 other teams at KeySpan Park in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.

The first pitch was thrown at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and the last out was made about 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

Assistant General Manager Kevin Mahoney, who served as starting pitcher, threw straight for five and a half games, or 11 hours, the team said. He came out in the third inning of the 2 a.m. game -- with a pitch count of 500.

The team won 10 games and lost three. Opponents included staff from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's office; circus clowns from King Henry Entertainment; waiters, cooks and bus boys from Gargiulo's Restaurant; and even Cyclones fans. (LINK )

Amsterdam Students Invent Powdered Alcohol

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch students have developed powdered alcohol which they say can be sold legally to minors.

The latest innovation in inebriation, called Booz2Go, is available in 20-gramme packets that cost 1-1.5 euros ($1.35-$2). Top it up with water and you have a bubbly, lime-colored and -flavored drink with just 3 percent alcohol content.

"We are aiming for the youth market. They are really more into it because you can compare it with Bacardi-mixed drinks," 20-year-old Harm van Elderen told Reuters. [He] and four classmates at Helicon Vocational Institute, about an hour's drive from Amsterdam, came up with the idea as part of their final-year project.

"Because the alcohol is not in liquid form, we can sell it to people below 16," said project member Martyn van Nierop. The legal age for drinking alcohol and smoking is 16 in the Netherlands.

In Germany, alcopops -- sweet drinks containing alcohol and in powder form -- caused quite a stir when launched on to the market. Alcohol powder, classified as a flavoring, was sold in the United States three years ago.(LINK )

This Bad Idea Goes to Eleven: Thundercats Movie

It's Thundercats, ho! at Warner Bros. Studio has optioned a script by tyro scribe Paul Sopocy to turn the popular 1980s animated series and toy line into a CGI-animated feature.

Property revolves around a group of humanoid cats (with feline names like Lion-O, Tygra, Panthro and Cheetara) who must flee their planet of Thundera after it's destroyed. Once crash-landing on another planet, Third Earth, they must thwart Mumm-Ra, an evil sorcerer, bent on killing them off.

Sopocy has written the script as an origin story expanding on the major heroes and villains from the animated series, with the plot focusing on Lion-O coming of age as the leader of the Thundercats.

Studio's recently been bitten by the nostalgia bug, pacting with Joel Silver to produce a live-action "He-Man" movie, based on the toy and cartoon franchise, as well as a feature based on the DC comicbook "Teen Titans," a junior Justice League.(LINK )
That's Right, Joel Silver, the man who took a film like THE MATRIX, rife with success and possibility, and dropped the ball on both sequels. This maestro is going to take movies of cartoons that most Gen-Xers are too embarrassed to admit that they watched at all. This is made of fail. *Whine Snarf Snarf*

Way To Disprove A Stereotype!

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's 1,200 troops assigned to
NATO forces in Afghanistan will not achieve full combat readiness for up to several weeks due to stolen vehicle keys, the defense ministry said Thursday.

"We had been told a 10 percent theft rate was likely in convoys brought in from Pakistan, but we had not expected the spare car keys to go missing," defense ministry spokesman Jaroslaw Rybak told news channel TVN24. "We shall have to send away for spares, so it may take from several days to several weeks for our contingent to become combat ready."

According to media reports, Polish troops taking part in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan have been assigned to patrol the mountainous border area with Pakistan to search for Taliban guerrilla activity.

The military vehicles used by Polish forces include Poland's Land Rover-like Honkers and U.S.-built Humvees.(LINK )

June 07, 2007

Nationwide Ad - Downtown Columbus

Some creative LARGE-SCALE advertising going on here.

June 04, 2007

"RISE" Up and Demand Better

I'm going to call Hollywood today and give them my verdict: A 10-year moratorium on the word "Rise" or "Rising" in Movie and Video Game titles. Frankly, it's a cop-out of a title word, especially in sequels. It's a lazy shorthand way of saying "Here's a crappy new character! Oooh, let's see how he/she stirs things up with our existing cast!" or "Here's a new villain to fight!" and more recently "Here's how a famous character started out." And we've had a metric crapload of movies abusing the word, and most to all of them have been box-office failures.

Let's examine the evidence:
  • Black Moon Rising (1986) - Tommy Lee Jones searches for a black Lamborghini and jumps it out of a building. Ooooooh.
  • Rise of the Dragon (1990) - Okay This one was a very cool game in its day. It can stay. But then...
  • Rising Sun (1993) Wesley Snipes killed this Japanese-flavored Michael Crichton flick. Even Tia Carerre as a computer genius couldn't save it.
  • Mercury Rising (1998) Bruce Willis protecting a computer whiz-kid, apparently from a train? (I just watched the trailer)
  • Deep Rising (1998) - Filled that niche "Aquatic Horror" time between "Deep Star Six" and... that shark movie with LL Cool J.
  • Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising (2001)
  • Rise of Nations (2003)
  • Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu (2003). See what I did there? Change one letter from the famous "Art of War" author Sun Tzu's name and now he's a villain! GENIUS!
  • Jet Li's "Rise to Honor" (2003).
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) Not horrible for the box office because of the pedigree... but come ON... a 20-minute segment of Arnold fighting with HIMSLEF, trying not to kill John Connor?
  • Stargate Atlantis: Rising (2004) Never saw it.
  • Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising (2004) Meteorologists can weigh in on this one, but I THINK that Typhoons move horizontally instead of vertically.
  • The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (2005) Okay, this one is acutal PHYSICAL rising, as well as a villain intro. Given the context, I only count this as half bad.
  • X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005) At least they didn't spell it "Apokolips" like in Superman.
  • Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (2005) "Here's a new batch of guys. Fight."
  • Advent Rising (2005) How bad a game could it be with Orson Scott Card writing it? Suprisingly bad.
  • RIZE (2005) Kooky jerky dancing. Woot.
  • Carlito's Way: Rise to Power (2005) Sequel not starring Al Pacino... BUT adding Sean "P-Diddy" Combs? Why did this fail?
    Hannibal Rising (2007) Silence of the lambs was great, but we've worn out the story with bad sequels. So let's try a Prequel! And let's try to rip off "American Psycho" as much as possible.
  • Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj (2006) Van wasn't so funny to begin with. So let's give some equal-opportunity work to his Indian sidekick.

    And the latest and least promising: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) For the love of God, he's not even rising in the FIGURATIVE sense. He's not out to conquer earth, he's trying to stop Galactus. But I guess "Silver Surfer Tries to Make The Fantastic Four Movies NOT Suck" is too long to put on a poster.

    We even have RISING in the future to look forward to:
    The Untouchables: Capone Rising (2008)

    So I ask you to join me in petitioning Hollywood and the Video Game Industry to actually PRESS their writers to come up with a less hokey title device than "Rising" and it's derivatives. Come on people, I could write better than that, and I named my blog "The Kernsville Post". Mainly because "The Rise of Kern" sounded like a pr0n flick.
  • June 01, 2007

    LinkNews Digest [06/01/2007]

    Dutch to Air Kidney-Prize Game Show

    A Dutch TV station says it will go ahead with a programme in which a terminally ill woman selects one of three patients to receive her kidneys.

    Political parties have called for The Big Donor Show to be scrapped, but broadcaster BNN says it will highlight the country's shortage of organ donors.

    "It's a crazy idea," said Joop Atsma, of the ruling Christian Democrat Party. "It can't be possible that, in the Netherlands, people vote about who's getting a kidney," he told the BBC.

    The programme, from Big Brother creators Endemol, is due to be screened on Friday night.

    The 37-year-old donor, identified only as Lisa, will make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversation with their family and friends. Viewers will also be able to send in their advice by text message during the 80-minute show.

    The Dutch donor authority has condemned the show, as have kidney specialists in the UK. "My first reaction, probably everyone's reaction, is that this is as dangerously near as we've got to a TV programme playing God," said Julia Raeside of the Guardian newspaper. "People may live or die on the result of a game show. It's a step too far. (LINK )

    Pakistani Singer Sued to Remove Girl's Name From Song

    LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered a pop singer to change his lyrics after a college girl complained that male students teased her by singing the song when she passed by, a court official said on Tuesday.

    The court summoned the singer, Abrar-ul-Haq, last week after a girl called Parveen wrote to a newspaper saying she had stopped attending college in the eastern city of Lahore because of the harassment.

    "The court has asked Abrar-ul-Haq to omit the name of the girl and some other objectionable words in his lyrics," the court official said. Haq, a well-known singer of Punjabi bhangra tunes, said he would abide by the court decision.(LINK )
    Finally, the precedent has been set for people whose number in the mid-80's was 867-5309!

    "The Fray" Singer Discovers His Aristocratic Past

    Sir Benjamin Slade has spent the past 18 months scouring the world for a relation prepared to take on Maunsel House in Somerset. And Isaac Slade, 24, lead singer with Denver-based Christian rockers The Fray, has turned out to be one of his closest living relatives, reports The Times.

    Sir Benjamin said: "If Isaac moves in he and his band can have huge concerts in the grounds. It would be fantastic and pay all the rotten bills."

    The singer and his wife, Anna, 23, and the band's guitarist, David Welsh, and his wife, Janell, are staying in the Grade II-listed house for two days as guests of Sir Benjamin. Slade, a self-confessed Anglophile, said that he was overwhelmed by the sense of history during his visit to the 13th century family seat.(LINK )


    LiveJournal Wises Up After Mass Purging

    And now from a personal note:
    Popular online community LiveJournal is in hot water with its millions of users lately. Over 500 users and communities were suspended due to SUSPECTED indecent content. Right-wing pseudo-vigilante group "Warriors for Innocence" is a batch of crusaders against child pornography and pedophilia, and they took aim at LiveJournal (LJ) Communities that they deemed inappropriate. They wrote letters to the bulk of LiveJournal's advertisers, informing them that their products were being shilled within communites talking about rape and child porn. [Read the letter, posted on May 19th on WfI member's blog ] I'd post the website for the WfI group here, but many users have reported that the site is filled wth spyware and trojan viruses. [More analysis on the Warriors for Innocence group]

    Like 99.9 percent of people, I'm all for shutting down actual havens for pedophiles, but any action taken by businesses are so over-reaching and broad that innocent customers are always affected. Namely legitimate rape and pedophilia RECOVERY discussion groups and Fandom Communities where fictional stories of popular fictional characters like Harry Potter are published. In thie panic, LiveJournal did not differentiate between communities promoting rape and pedophilia and sites posting fictional stories that included these elements. Even communities whose stories included romances between the Harry Potter kids ("PornishPixies" being one of the more popular,) were deemed inappropriate and removed without warning.

    Users, like myself, voiced their support of the wrongly suspended FanFiction communities by joining the newly-created Fandom_Counts group, which garnered over 30,000 users in one day. Thousands (including me) also canceled their paid or advertiser-subsidized Plus accounts as to not give LiveJournal any more of their money or advertiser traffic, and flooded the company boards with derisive comments.

    Yesterday, LiveJournal's parent company, SixApart, wisely rescinded the mass purging and promised to review the suspended accounts, and return them to active status if they cleared an investigation. [Read: WIRED News Coverage of the event and LiveJournal's Apology to its users]

    As LJ user "MarchingOcelot" astutely observed: "You know, Fandom is kind of like Eric Cartman in a way. It looks doughy and silly, and many of its plans fail, but if you seriously f**k with it, it will chop up your parents and feed them to you in chili."
    (Thanks to Erin for bringing most of this information together)

    May 29, 2007

    LinkNews Digest [05/25/2007]

    Web-Head Paid $220 for Original "Black Spiderman Suit" Idea

    Randy Schueller had a million-dollar idea - and he got paid $220 for it. Actually, his idea was worth closer to $700 million - about the amount "Spider-Man 3" has raked in so far worldwide.

    Back in 1982, Schueller was a 22-year-old comic-book fan living in Chicago. Marvel, the publisher of "Spider-Man," asked readers to send in ideas for the hero, and Schueller jumped at the chance. He spent two weeks crafting a story in which Spidey dons a new costume. A black costume. Like in a certain movie currently in theaters.

    "It occurred to me that Spider-Man is this character that creeps around in the shadows looking for bad guys, so why is he wearing this bright red and blue costume?" Schueller says. "It seemed like he should have more of a stealth mode."

    He mailed the pitch to Marvel, and a few months later, he got a letter from then-Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter telling Schueller he liked his idea and wanted to buy it for $220. Shooter also offered to let the novice write the story. "The money was incidental. It was cool at the time, but really, it was the possibility of working on the character that I had loved my whole life," Schueller says.

    "Yes, a fan did send in the idea," confirms DeFalco. "Marvel bought the idea. We went out and tried to turn the idea into an actual story, but for assorted reasons, it just didn't work out."

    Two years later, Marvel was working on a series called "Secret Wars," in which many of its heroes underwent changes. "So we were trying to figure out what to do with Spider-Man, and Shooter said, 'Hey, remember the story that guy sent in where Spider-Man got a new costume?' " DeFalco says. Spidey's black duds debuted in May 1984 and featured heavily in story lines for years to come - sagas far different than Schueller's original one-issue tale.

    He says he's not looking for money - just acknowledgment. "I never really mentioned this story before . . . But now with the movie hitting, I'm like, 'I gotta tell everyone about this!'" "People will say, 'Oh, did you see the new Spider-Man movie?' I'm like, 'Funny you should bring that up.' Then I tell them the whole story. They just look at me slack-jawed."(LINK )

    Tesla's Motorized Pink Bunny Slippers:
    The Fast and the Furry-ous

    Lisa came up with the idea to design and build a pair of giant motorized bunny slippers that we could drive separately but equally. She is one of the only people I know who can think up an idea like mobile pink bunny slippers and have the vision and artistic talent to make it succeed brilliantly. She made me say that, but really it’s what is under the fluff that makes them special. She made me say that too, so that she doesn’t sound conceited.

    So back to my bunny slippers. They are 7.5-feet long and can scoot along at a top speed of about 15 mph. Both feet (yes, there is a left and a right) are covered with plush pink Flokati rugs the exact color of cotton candy. They are, of course, electric battery powered slippers. They each have a 36-volt system using six YellowTop 12-volt Optimas. Anyone who has used these 38 pound, 50 Amp-Hour, deep-cycle, sealed, yellow lead blocks will know that this is way more battery than one needs for a bedroom slipper. The batteries served their first life in my converted electric Honda Del Sol. The two front wheels are chain driven by a 7-inch brushed DC motor made by Advanced DC Motors. This kind of motive power is also way more than any fluffy footware really needs. The motors were surplus from the failed Tropica electric car venture by Renaissance Cars and are much happier working in the big toe of a giant slipper.(LINK )

    Diagnosing Darth Vader

    (WebMD) Anakin Skywalker, the Star Wars character who became Darth Vader, had borderline personality disorder, psychiatrists report.

    Experts from the psychiatric department at France's University Hospital of Toulouse told the APA's annual meeting that Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader could "clearly" be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

    Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness marked by instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior, according to background information on the Web site of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The French psychiatrists, who included Laurent Schmitt, M.D., based their diagnosis on original Star Wars film scripts.

    Schmitt's team describes Skywalker's symptoms, including problems with controlling anger and impulsivity, temporary stress-related paranoia, "frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment (when trying to save his wife at all costs), and a pattern of unstable and intense personal relationships," including his relationships with his Jedi masters.

    Changing his name and turning into "Darth Vader" is a red flag of Skywalker's disturbed identity, note Schmitt and colleagues. Borderline personality disorder can be treated through psychotherapy and with medication. But that wasn't part of Skywalker's script. (LINK )

    Another Creationism Science Fair "Winner"

    Brian Benson, an eighth-grade student who won first place in the Life Science/Biology category for his project "Creation Wins!!!," says he disproved part of the theory of evolution. Using a rolled-up paper towel suspended between two glasses of water with Epsom Salts, the paper towel formed stalactites. He states that the theory that they take millions of years to develop is incorrect.

    "Scientists say it takes millions of years to form stalactites," Benson said. "However, in only a couple of hours, I have formed stalactites just by using paper towel and Epsom Salts."

    This isn't just wrong, it's appallingly wrong. He's wrong on the facts, wrong on the interpretations, wrong on the understanding of how science works. If we're charitable and grant that a 14 year old has some reasonable excuse for ignorance, we can still indict his parents, his science teacher, and the judges at this fair on gross incompetence on multiple charges.

  • This experiment has nothing to do with BIOLOGY.
  • Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate; stalactites are made of calcium carbonate.
  • Stalactite growth rates are estimated to be around 0.1-10 centimeters per thousand years. If we assume his 'stalactite' was 10 cm long and use the slowest growth rate, that's 100 thousand years, not millions.
  • Even if he had demonstrated an accelerated rate of stalactite growth, stalactite length isn't the method used to date the age of the earth.
  • To quote the unquestionable authority, Terry Pratchett: "And all those exclamation points? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head." Mister Benson comes perilously close to the underpants limit in his title.(LINK )


  •