Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye, 2006.

Being but men, we walked into the trees
Afraid, letting our syllables be soft
For fear of waking the rooks,
For fear of coming
Noiselessly into a world of wings and cries.

If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.

Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.

That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.

Being but men, we walked into the trees.

-Dylan Thomas, "Being But Men"

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Apostropher drew my attention to the fact that it looks like last call at the Whiskey Bar has come and gone. I've always had a favorable opinion of Billmon, even if he never made in into my regular reading rotation. But Billmon's retirement from blogging is not what I'm going to write about here.

In Billmon's penultimate post, he draws our attention to this quote from Condi Rice:
This [Iraq] is a country that is worth the investment because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you'll have a very different kind of Middle East. And I know that from the point of view of not just monetary costs, but the sacrifice of American lives, a lot has been sacrificed for Iraq, a lot has been invested in Iraq.
Billmon points out that to speak of American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq as an "investment" seems cold and heartless. True enough, but that's not what I'm going to write about either.

The bit that really caught my attention was this:
once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you'll have a very different kind of Middle East
I've heard and read variations on this assertion countless times before. For various reasons I've never really focused much attention on this particular assertion, but I think it is long overdue for careful scrutiny.

Certainly no reasonable person would question the potential for a broken, war-torn Iraq to have a destabilizing influence on the region. But what would it really mean for Iraq to be a "stabilizing factor?"

Close your eyes and imagine for a moment a magical world in which a reverse-Murphy's-Law begins to operate in Iraq. If anything can go right it will. Sunnis and Shiites see the futility of civil war and stop fighting each other. Insurgents from other countries pack up and go home. The infrastructure is repaired and made better than it ever was before. Free and fair elections are held, and the losing parties accept defeat gracefully and vow to work within the system to try to achieve their goals. The Iraqi police and armed forces become exemplary keepers of the peace, able to maintain civil order and protect against foreign threats.

Heck, while we're at it, let's even imagine that we find a huge stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles with the latitude and longitude of major U.S. cities programmed into their tracking systems, thus proving that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was entirely justified. Having disarmed these weapons, the coalition forces are able to go home, secure in the knowledge that the flourishing democracy that Iraq has become is safe and secure.

Gee, that sure would be great, wouldn't it?

But I still don't see how it would make Iraq a "stabilizing factor" in the region.

How, specifically, would the fact that things are going swimmingly in Iraq make the fundamentalist ayatollahs in Iran any less crazy? Would the Palestinians stop fighting the Israelis and each other simply because the people over in Iraq are savoring their freedoms? Is anyone seriously suggesting that Hezbollah terrorists in Syria and Lebanon would lay down their arms and espouse nonviolence purely out of a desire to emulate the peaceful, democratic ways of their Iraqi neighbors?

I'm not saying that a peaceful, stable, democratic Iraq wouldn't be a great thing; it sure as hell would. But first and foremost it would be a great thing for the people of Iraq. And for that reason and that reason alone I hope some policy genius comes up with some way reversing the downward spiral of violence and chaos in Iraq.

Let's stop imagining the Middle East to be some sort of Rube Goldberg contraption where the stabilization of Iraq magically leads to the establishment of democracy in another country, then another, then another. Instead, let's put all talk of broader strategic aims aside and put our heads together and see if there is any way, whether by leaving or by staying, by working with our friends or those we call our enemies, to undo even in small part the mess we have made of Iraq. And let's do it for the Iraqi people. Because they deserve it, and we owe it to them.

Elect 'em if you got 'em.

John Edwards announced today that he will seek the nomination of the Democratic Party for president of the United States in 2008. I caught part of the announcement speech. He tackled foreign policy, particularly Iraq, head on. I think he's put a workable [read: electable] platform together.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Rorschach Test

In the unlikely event that you read this blog and don't also read Unfogged or apostropher, you owe it to yourself to check out this photo.

As I noted in the comments at Unfogged, the picture is amazing because it captures everything that conservatives adore these men for and everything that liberals despise them for.

And as snarkout said, "If they just keep going down that road, Cheney's going to get a heart, Bush is going to get a brain, and Rumsfeld is going to get a medal that proves he has courage."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best Self Portraits Ever

Check out Noah Kalina's Flickr photostream. Do you have any self portraits that are better than these? Any that are even remotely as cool as these? I submit to you that you do not. You are therefore allowed to be jealous.

If you get the feeling you have seen Noah before, you might have seen him here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


A close friend of mine tried unsuccessfully to take her own life the other night. As a result, I find it deeply appropriate that I will be greeted with this image every time I use the Google today:

Thankfully, my sense of humor is such that I am of a mind to appreciate the aptness of this image on this particular day.

Life is funny. There is humor to be found in all aspects of it, even the darkest parts. If my friend had been able to find some humor in her situation, perhaps she would not have taken the action she did.

So on behalf of my friend, take a look whatever it is in your life that gets you down and have a good laugh at it. You'll feel better, and you will thereby make the world a slightly better place than it was.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Zeno's Paradox?

A fellow named Zeno takes me to task regarding my avowed goal of growing wings and antlers:
This comparison to Bush's words is the most unfair of all. As a man who is close to the earth—a gentleman farmer and rancher who is practically a naturalist—the president is well aware that wings and antlers are not compatible in nature.
As a man of learning—a gentleman loser and rauncher who is practically unnatural—I believe what I read in books. I meet Zeno's challenge to my credibility with the most hallowed of academic traditions, the citation. Here is the source that sparked my dream:
Gygax, E. Gary. 1977. Monster Manual. Lake Geneva: TSR Hobbies, Inc.
For those whose university libraries are not fortunate enough to have this rare volume on their shelves, I reproduce the relevant portion of page 78.

I stand vindicated! This combination of features is found in nature, and I shall grow them on my own body!

I do not, however, believe in imposing artificial timetables on my dreams. My wings and antlers will grow in their own good time. Until then, I will adapt to win.

Maybe I'll try some Rogaine. I hear that stuff works miracles.

Friday, December 08, 2006

S = r * t

In his joint press conference with Tony Blair yesterday, President Bush was asked whether he was capable of admitting his past failures with regard to the Iraq war. In response he stated "I do know that we have not succeeded as fast as we wanted to succeed," and went on to say "I thought we would succeed quicker than we did, and I am disappointed by the pace of success."

Brilliant! Sheer genius! I tip my hat to the master of rhetoric behind these words! By applying this approach to my problems and those of the people in my life, I am able to see the world in a much more positive light. For example:
  • I am disappointed by the pace at which I am winning the powerball lottery.
  • I have not succeeded as fast I had hoped in convincing my wife that twice-daily blowjobs are necessary for our mutual happiness.
  • My nephew who dropped out of high school and is now dealing crystal meth? We are all disappointed by the rate at which he is finishing his doctoral dissertation.
  • My plan to grow wings and antlers is slightly behind schedule.
There now, I feel better already!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I read the news today. Oh, boy!!!!!

Mashups and remixes of Beatles songs by Sir George Martin and his son Giles, using the original master tapes of the entire Beatles catalog at Abbey Road Studios!

Download the new "Strawberry Fields Forever", which mashes the original song together with bits of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Penny Lane," and "Piggies," and among others.

Wow. Just wow.

Via BoingBoing.

Update: I went out and bought this new album, titled Love, during my lunch break and started listening to it on my drive home.

Good god, what an album!

I don't want to overhype this or anything, and this may be a bit of a stretch considering I haven't even listened to the whole thing yet, but I think strong case could be made to support the claim that this is the greatest album of all time. Seriously.

A strong recommendation for those of you who haven't bought the album yet: do not look at the track listing before or as you listen to it the first time. That way as you listen you won't know what's coming next, and boy oh boy will you be in for some surprises.

I've got some driving to do later tonight, so I get to listen to the rest in a short while.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

From the special edition DVD, perhaps?

Via LeisureGuy, one of the most wonderfully sick and twisted things I've seen in a long time: an alternate ending to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An endorsement.

I don't usually watch continuing-plot-format television series. Even the much hyped and critically acclaimed cable-TV series of recent years such as The Sopranos, Deadwood, and The Wire have gone unwatched by me. The main balking point for me has been the time commitment involved. First there's the need to schedule your viewing. Sure, I know I could get a TiVo and this problem would disappear, but as of now I still don't have one. Yes, I could use my VCR to record each episode and watch it at my leisure, but I don't feel like making the effort. OK, OK, I know that past seasons of these shows are available on DVD, but the sheer bulk of the accumulated material intimidates me. According to the DVDs of season 1 of The Wire have a run time of 780 minutes! Yes, I've done the math, and that's only 13 hours, but 13 hours is a lot of time. Time I could fritter away quite unproductively on the Internet, thank you. To sum up, I've got all my excuses lined up, and I will not be watching any of these series any time soon.

But I have made an exception.

I happened to catch one of the first episodes of Showtime's new series Dexter. I kept watching, and now I'm hooked. I find everything about the show to be exquisitely well done. The central premise (a Miami police forensics expert who leads a double life as a serial killer) is one that a mediocre writing team could have made into something gimmicky, but the writing has been consistently sharp and delightfully dark throughout. The multiple plot lines are well balanced and engaging. The production values are great, and the casting is excellent; though I admit that the actress who plays Dexter's sister annoyed me at first, she has grown on me. In short, the show is fucking awesome. I almost hope that they limit it to one season, though, because it's hard for me to imagine that they could maintain this level of quality over multiple seasons. I would prefer to see this show end its run at the top of its game.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is sending more troops to Iraq the solution?

Not if the additional troops we send are anything like these dickheads.

To be clear, I support the troops, and I know the vast majority of our men and women in uniform are not insensitive bastards like the ones who made this video. But goddamn, as an American it pisses me off that anyone who represents my country thinks pulling shit like this is even remotely funny. This is the kind of insulting treatment that causes kids to grow up to be terrorists.

Link via LeisureGuy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I am one-to-twenty with the universe.

The fact that we grew up watching stuff like this, and especially this(!!!), on Sesame Street is one of the many things that has made my generation so awesome.

God, I love YouTube. I've been wanting to see those clips again for years.

OWL Music Search

I haven't actually tried this out myself yet, but when Lawrence Lessig describes something as "easily the coolest technology I’ve seen in years", I know it has to be pretty amazing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A step in the right direction.

Thank you, fellow voters of the United States of America, for coming to your senses.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Amerika Votes!

If you want me to believe that the U.S. can establish a democratic government in Iraq, first prove to me that we can hold free and fair elections in Ohio.

Bonus points to the first Republican to claim that nobody could possibly have foreseen these problems.

Via apostropher.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chromatic Harmony

There are some people out there who will find this endlessly fascinating, even when not under the influence of mind-altering substances. I am one of those people.

Via Crooked Timber.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


This is a product designed with people like me in mind.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lady was a Tramp Toad-Sucker

And this was the other story on All Things Considered yesterday that really got my attention.

Again, via BoingBoing.

Hospitals and Other Institutions Dumping Patients on LA's Skid Row

I heard a report about this on All Things Considered yesterday, and I could not believe what I was hearing.

Read, and be horrified. Here are a few of the horrifying details, but do click through and read the whole thing.
Police have long suspected that several institutions, including law enforcement agencies from outside the city, were using the downtown neighborhood as a dumping ground for homeless people. This is the first criminal probe by the LAPD into the practice.

In one case, a man dropped off at Skid Row was in fact not homeless, said Smith, the LAPD captain. A police officer took him home and the man's family was "outraged," he said.

"Not only did they not know that he was discharged, but the fact that he had been brought to Skid Row instead of being brought home was what further outraged that family," Smith said at a news conference Tuesday. [emphasis mine]

Six-word SF stories.

This Wired article, (via BoingBoing) features short stories by dozens of well-known science-fiction and fantasy authors. Very short stories. Six words long, to be precise. Here are a few of my favorites:
Vacuum collision. Orbits diverge. Farewell, love.
- David Brin

Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so.
- Joss Whedon

With bloody hands, I say good-bye.
- Frank Miller

It cost too much, staying human.
- Bruce Sterling

It’s behind you! Hurry before it
- Rockne S. O’Bannon

The Axis in WWII: haiku! Gesundheit.
- Howard Waldrop

God to Earth: “Cry more, noobs!”
- Marc Laidlaw
We would not dare claim to be writers of the same calibre as those above, but this challenge is too enticing to pass up. Here, therefore, are our humble offerings:
Identity diverged into multiple snarky fragments.
- My Alter Ego

Giant mutant cockroaches liveblogged the apocalypse.
- Giant Mutant Cockroach
Why not give it a try yourself?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Way Cool

Photos of a Space Shuttle launch as seen from the International Space Station!!!

Via MetaFilter.

Update: The consensus among the MetaFilter commenters is that the photos are not from the ISS. But they are nevertheless way cool.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Beyond Awesome

Via BoingBoing, a website featuring scans of the cover pages of 1520 issues of Italian pulp SF magazine Urania. The oldest ones, dating from the early 1950s, are my favorites. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Your choice of car indicates that you are compensating for something.

Schrodinger's Cat is back . . . and he's really pissed!

Really, really pissed!


I have seen the future . . . and it is teh hott!!

Pick your favorite and insert here.

For some inexplicable reason, my favorite is this one:
I haven't posted in awhile. I was planning on working more on my chibi characters.
But I admit, this one is hard to beat.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pimp My Roach

The ultimate fashion statement! A real, live giant Madagascar hissing cockroach! A roach you can wear! But this is not just any roach! No, when you step out, this roach brings the bling! Order yours today!

Via MetaFilter. (Click through for more weirdness.)

A lame joke, in poor taste.

Former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) recently got the boot because of his fondness for "naughty" emails and instant messages.

What are his two favorite keys on the computer keyboard?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet estimates that 655,000 Iraqis have been killed as a result of the U.S. invasion of and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

And those deaths have not made me, nor anyone else in the U.S., nor anyone anywhere in the world, any safer than they were before the invasion. On the contrary, we are all now less safe.

And all those deaths have been in vain.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Things that go "boom" in the night.

We woke up today to a world in which North Korea has demonstrated unambiguously* that it possesses nuclear weapons.

So how did we get here?

If there is any doubt in your mind, read what Josh Micah Marshal has to say on the matter.

* Update: Maybe it's not so unambiguous after all. Most bizarre.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Olbermann Redux

There is one word in Dan Froomkin's take on Keith Olbermann's "special comments" that sticks in my craw. Can you guess what it is?

If you can't figure it out, there's a hint in the comments.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Good luck, indeed. We'll need it.

Why aren't there any Democratic politicians* with even half the eloquence of Keith Olbermann?

Watch Keith take President Bush to task in his latest commentary. Part 1. Part 2. Transcript here.

Via LeisureGuy, whose blog consistently delivers the trifecta of no-nonsense politics, cat pictures, and shaving lore.

* with the possible exception of Barack Obama and the obvious exception of William J. Clinton, ret.

I said "Terraplane," not "Terror Plane."

Given that Robert Johnson is on the no-fly list, and there's no way he's getting off it, his decision to "catch a Greyhound bus and ride" seems very pragmatic.

Now available without a prescription.

When the time comes to do a rigorous scientifc study of this new cure for hiccups, what will they use as a placebo?

Monday, October 02, 2006

And that's not a euphemism.

"The nearly four-acre basin was constructed about two years ago and 'took some of the load off of the pipe downstream'. . . "

Via Grow-a-Brain.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh yes she did.

Whoever did this writeup for Daily Candy was clearly having fun.
Time to refurbish your special no-no place with a jazzy fall color: Put your triangle’s tresses in the capable hands of Betty, the first dye created especially for your down-there hair. The easy-to-use formula is safe enough for your sensitive lady place. And if your orchid is wilting, fear not — Betty easily covers grays.

Decorate your fuzzy éclair with a variety of icings, like subtle auburn, blonde, brown, and black. Not enough options (or unsettling euphemisms) for ya? Feather your nest with FunBetty, an oh-no-she-didn’t pink. The dripless formula guarantees that no dye will sully your pee-pee’s teepee, and your new plumage is more than certain to attract plenty of male attention.

Via, which thoughtfully adds that this product works for men, too. (No reason to think it wouldn't.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bumper Sticker

This post has taken me months to write. I'm still not satisfied with it, but this post by LizardBreath over at Unfogged prompted me to get off my rhetorical ass and just post the damn thing.

Some time earlier this year as I was driving home from work I noticed a bumper sticker on the SUV in front of me. When I read it, it disturbed me, perplexed me, pissed me off, made me sad, and all sorts of other things at the same time.

On the left it had a depiction of the Confederate flag, and on the right were the words "Never apologize for being white."

Thought 1: Does that really say what I think it says?
Thought 2: Racist.
Thought 3: Apologize? For being white??
Thought 4: I'm sure people have told you that you have plenty of things to apologize for, but if you think the pigmentation of your skin is one of those things, then you are missing the point.

One of the things I think is so insidious about this bumper sticker is that the explicit meaning of its text is easily defended. Of course nobody should ever have to apologize for their skin color or ethnicity. But the implicit meaning of those words is another thing altogether, especially when written next to that flag, that flag that has been waved so many times by people whose hearts were filled with hatred . . .

What does "being white" mean to the person who thinks putting this bumper sticker on their car is a good idea? I cannot help but think that it means something entirely different to that person than what it means to me.

The abovementioned post at Unfogged helped crystallize some of my thinking about this. As a white person in America whose grandparents were all born in the United States, I do not have any real claim to any ethnicity other than "white American." I'm not even "Irish-American" or "German-American" or anything else with a hyphen in it, just plain old undifferentiated "American." Which, right or wrong, I've always sort of thought of as no ethnicity at all. As part of the dominant culture, my culture becomes invisible to me except when I am looking for it, or comparing my culture to those of others.

(I just noticed that in the above paragraph, I shifted to using the word "culture" rather than the word "ethnicity" without thinking about it. Interesting. I won't explore what that means at this time, or I'll never finish this post.)

Anyway, since my culture/ethnicity is something I don't spend much time thinking about, it is not something I feel I would ever have to apologize for.

Wait, that's not quite it. I criticize the dominant culture in the U.S. all the time. I criticize it for being sexist, racist, classist, narrow-minded, xenophobic, and a host of other things. But whenever I do so, I am distancing myself from it. I am saying, "This is what's wrong with the U.S." or "This is what is wrong with our country," rather than "This is what is wrong with my culture." I am criticizing rather than apologizing. Whenever I hear someone else making similar criticisms of the dominant culture in the U.S., I never take it as a personal attack on me. In short, I don’t have any emotional investment in my ethnicity. “Being white” is not something I am either proud of or ashamed of. I just happened to be born with this skin color.

But what does "being white" mean to the person who bought that bumper sticker and put it on their car? I really have no idea. I could make all sorts of guesses based on my understanding of what white supremacists believe. I could describe such beliefs, but only in the same way that I could describe the beliefs of people who think the earth is flat. Those beliefs seem self-evidently absurd. And yet people believe those things, and those beliefs fill people’s hearts with fear and hate.

I just don't understand. And in a sense, I don't want to. But it bothers me.

As I said at the outset, I’m not satisfied with this post. I’ve rambled on and on but I still don’t think I’ve gotten at the heart of what bothered me so much about that bumper sticker. But sometimes when I am driving home from work I will look down the long dirt driveway that I saw the SUV pull into, that driveway that disappears off into the woods, and I feel ashamed that the worldview encapsulated in that bumper sticker is any part of a culture I could call my own.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will they also be giving out free raincoats?

I would love to meet the person who dreamed up this marketing scheme:
During the first weekend of its annual Halloween festival, Six Flags Over Texas will let guests skip to the front of the Titan roller coaster line if they eat a live cockroach.

A live, wingless, 3-inch long Madagascar hissing cockroach that can run at 3 mph.

Chew and swallow one of these crunchy, wiggling critters and Six Flags will also give you a Flash Pass for the evening that will let you bypass the line on many thrill rides.
So, let's review the plan: Find people willing to eat something really gross, and then get them on a roller coaster as quickly as possible! What could possibly go wrong?

Link via Boing Boing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Alter Ego Roundup #1

This is My Alter Ego. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Here are some others that are not mine . . .

"With a dark brilliant colour, the nose offers a fruity aroma mingled with floral and peppery notes."

Alter Ego: The Game

"It is the music that stands in the middle for all that Alter Ego Distort radiates."

"She's part green cat, part... winged... creature... thing. She's got cool purple hair and a funky hat and a scar on her right eye. She basically is Skye's eternal torment, like Luna, and she does it oh so well. And as you can see, she's armed with the Frying Pan of Doom from Random Object Space, probably to smack Skye or me over the back of the head. I'm betting it's Skye."

"You've all seen those marriage cliques, right? The celeb you'd marry, the character you'd marry? Well, this is the same idea, only this is for the character you'd like to be."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My kinda robot.

From Lockwasher's Flickr photos. See more at LockWasher Design. Lots of neat stuff.

Via Mr. Sun.

Infinite degrees of separation.

You know that whole "six degrees of separation" thing? The idea that you can be connected to anyone else on the planet by a chain of people who are acquainted with each other, and that in most cases that chain will involve no more than six people?

It turns out that the research that served as the basis for the original claim has some serious flaws.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Something to do.

I'm not usually one to participate in blog memes. (Incidentally, I really do not care for the word "meme"--it is a dreadful, ill-defined word, and the sound of it causes me to wince.) But for some reason the one addressed recently by A White Bear intrigued me enough to participate.

How long have you been blogging?

The Ego began blogging in 2004. A different alter ego of his began blogging a few months later, and this Alter Ego has been a drain of mental resources since July '05.


The Alter Ego, being a purely mental and electronic phenomenon, looks like a colorless green dream. The Ego is a somewhat tall, skinny (less so, of late) fellow who many say looks (and some would say acts) younger than he really is.

Why do readers read your blog?

This is the question that made me consider participating in this, uh, meme. The answer is: Damned if I know. I don't even know why I write it. Maybe some readers were intrigued enough by one or more of my comments over at Unfogged or on their own blogs to click on my URL. I guess some of them liked what they read enough that they decided to add me to their blogrolls.

What was the last search phrase someone used to get to your site?

As far as I can tell, it was "alter ego shirt". I'm guessing that person went away disappointed. We can't have that happen again, can we? As a public service to the next such searcher, I now link to the "My Alter Ego" t-shirt. [Disclaimer: I am not associated in any way with the makers of that shirt, so buying one will not contribute to my personal wealth. If contributing to my personal wealth is what you are interested in, let me know in the comments. I'm sure we can work something out.]

Which of your entries unjustly gets too little attention?

I don't regard any of my entries as particularly attention-worthy; whatever attention they receive is probably more than they deserve. That said, I'm still fond of the link in this post from the earliest days of this blog.

Your current favorite blog?

I am still addicted to Unfogged, even though there are far too many comments these days for me to even consider attempting to read all of them. I tell myself I can quit any time I want . . .

I can't single out any other blog as my favorite; there are several that I love equally for very different reasons.

What blog did you read most recently?

I obviously read A White Bear's blog to copy and paste the questions for this. A better question might be What is your most recent addition to the blogs you read frequently? But I don't really have an answer to that question.

Which feeds do you subscribe to?

I subscribe to the feeds of most of the blogs in my blogroll. There are some blogs in my blogroll whose feeds I do not subscribe to. There are some blogs whose feeds I subscribe to that are not in my blogroll. More than this I will not say.

What blogs are you tagging with this meme and why?

I tag no one and everyone. Just because.

On second thought, I tag frequent-commenter Ruth. Because she hasn't posted to her blog in a while.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

This one is headed for extra innings.

A group of avid fans of a certain Major League Baseball team decide to form a fan club. While trying to decide on a name for their new club, one member remarks that the name of their beloved team could be read as implying that team members are on the receiving end of a certain action. He suggests that the club be named to indicate that club members are the ones who perform said action on the team members. This suggestion is approved.

Within this fan club, there is a tight-knit group of members who all happen to live near each other in a city adjacent to the city that is home to their favorite team. All the members of this group coincidentally share a number of other defining characteristics; all have been diagnosed with a type of mental illness which, fortunately for them, only afflicts them at night. During the daytime their behavior is quite normal, such that they are all able to maintain high-paying jobs in well-respected financial institutions.

The members of this clique become quite wealthy as a result of said employment, and one evening after watching a game they decide to pool their wealth and invest it. They decide to invest in a shipping company. As their wealth grows, the eventually gain a controlling interest in the company. Up to this point, the shipping company had owned only cargo vessels; the investors decide that the company needs to diversify. Seeing that world demand for oil is not going away anytime soon, they decide to purchase two ships for transporting oil from the oil fields to refineries.

One of these vessels is in poor repair; the ventilation system on the ship often breaks down, causing all the ship's cabins to be perpetually cold and moist. None of the maintenance problems, however, affect the seaworthiness of the ship, so the owners are understandably quite shocked upon receiving news that this vessel has sunk in calm waters. They immediately suspect foul play was involved, and the ensuing investigation confirms their suspicions. It turns out that a particularly irritable member of that ship’s crew (a tall, thin fellow) had been caught masturbating while on duty. The captain had informed him that this behavior was unacceptable and that he would be fired and put ashore at the next port. Enraged, this crew member sabotaged the ship, causing it to go down.

This tale may be related more succinctly as follows:

The Yankees fans are Yankee-Yankers. The Yankee-Yankers of Yonkers are bonkers. The bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers are bankers. The bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers bought two tankers.

Who sank the bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers’ danker tanker?

A cranky, lanky wanker sank the bonkers Yonkers Yankee-Yankers bankers’ danker tanker.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'll have what she's driving.

Not being female, I do not know what a female orgasm feels like. But the sensation has been described to me as a warm feeling that washes over one's entire body and infuses one with a sense of well-being.

Driving my new Prius to work today for the first time felt like that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't Panic, Part II

Now that I've come to my senses, realized that the solar system is not collapsing in on itself, and had a chance to calm down a bit, I urge you to read this very sensible essay by Bruce Schneier. For those not inclined to follow the link and read the whole thing, here are the juicy bits:
It's time we calm down and fight terror with antiterror. This does not mean that we simply roll over and accept terrorism. There are things our government can and should do to fight terrorism, most of them involving intelligence and investigation -- and not focusing on specific plots.

But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.
Hear, hear! Be not afraid.

Via BoingBoing.

Solar System Collapsing in on Itself!

The planets are going to collide with each other! We're all going to die!!!!

What's that you say? These pictures are just fancy collages used to pretty up a boring old story about a group of scientists changing their minds about something?

Oh. Sorry for scaring you. My bad.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I noticed some pink flowers in front of a house near my office yesterday, and I got to thinking about pink. What is "pink"? It is, in fact, "light red".

But that's silly, you say. There's no such thing as "light red". There's "red", and then there's "pink". They are two distinct entities.

But we have "green" and "light green", I counter. Observe, green suffers no similar loss of identity as it fades to white.

Even the palest green belongs unquestionably to the family of green; it does not cease to be green until it is so desaturated that it becomes white. To be sure, catalog copywriters and interior designers have fancy names for each of these shades, but to the layman they are all more or less green. Similarly, we have "blue" and "light blue", "yellow" and "pale yellow", even "purple" and "light purple". Why no "light red" or "pale red"? Interestingly, we do have "dark pink", but it is unquestionably not "red". Although different individuals may disagree on the shade where red stops being red and enters the land of pink, anyone who grew up in America would pretty much agree that such a border exists.

The history of pink is a very interesting one. Pink is the one color, to Americans at least, that unquestionably has gender implications. It is interesting to note that those implications are of very recent origin--see the Wikipedia entry for "Pink" and especially the Google answers post linked therein for more on this.

The part I left out of the story at the top of this post is that when I noticed the pink flowers, I happened to be wearing a pink shirt. This was only the second or third time in my life that I'd ever worn a pink shirt. It is entirely possible that I would have lived to the end of my days without ever wearing a pink shirt had Mrs. Ego not waged a persistent campaign to get me to start wearing pink shirts. I consider myself very secure in my sexuality and not homophobic in the least. So why did that pink shirt hang unworn in my closet for several years before I finally got around to wearing it?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mystery Word

When the cats awakened me this morning demanding breakfast, there was a word in my head. It was an unfamiliar word. I repeated it to myself so I would not forget it. I fed the cats and went back to sleep.

When I awoke several hours later, I still remembered the word. I looked it up and found it was a real word. For the life of me, I can not recall ever encountering this word before.

The word is Rocambole.

How did this word get in my head?

Update: Of course I had encountered this word before. So now the question becomes: What was my dreaming brain trying to tell me?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Panic

I had never seen "the show with zefrank" before, so I can't say if this installment is a particularly good one or not, but I am saddened by the fact that no one in our government or mainstream media has either the courage or basic common sense to say this. (The stuff towards the end, that is, not the stuff about sucking goat balls.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cause for concern?

Should I be worried about the fact that I sometimes think of the relationship between my Ego and My Alter Ego in terms similar to those described in the links provided by apostropher in this post and (more theoretically) this post?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reading List #1

When I was younger I was an avid reader of books. In recent years, however, I've rarely found time to read anything longer than a magazine article. I recently realized that it's been years since I read an entire book.* From time to time someone will recommend a book to me, and I'll nod, smile, and say, "Sounds fascinating. I'll add it to my reading list," knowing full well that if I were actually keeping such a list and did in fact add a book every time I said this, the list would have hundreds of titles on it. Occasionally I will start reading a book, but events conspire to impede my progress, and before long I will have forgotten what was contained on the few pages I managed to read, such that if I wanted to pick up the book again I would have to start from the beginning. Which I never end up doing. Net effect: no books get read by me.

This state of affairs is unacceptable. It is time for things to change. What I need is a little self-discipline, a few rules, a system. So I've made an actual reading list. My inaugural list is made up of books I've already started reading. (Being the ADD sort, I typically find myself unable to read just one book at a time.) My self-imposed rule is that I don't get to start reading any new books until I've finished reading all the books on the current list cover to cover. Then and only then I get to construct a new list and begin the process anew.

Here, then, is the current list:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract
Francis Bacon, Of Empire
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews With Hideous Men
Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann

I'll let you know of my progress.

* Not entirely true. On the last leg of a voyage earlier this year, I picked up Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People in an airport bookstore and read it on the flight home.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Do robotic cockroaches dream of electric fleas?

Time to call in the Blade Runners of the cockroach world to hunt down the replicants:
A team of researchers in France, Switzerland, and Belgium has created matchbox-sized bots that can infiltrate a group of cockroaches and affect their collective behavior. The machines are programmed to act like the insects and are even doused in pheromones that mimic eau de roach – the primary way cockroaches recognize each other. . . . The droid enters a roach nest, charms the locals with movements and scent, and then slowly lures its minions into a better-lit area . . . .
It wouldn't be so bad if they could at least make it look like Sean Young or Daryl Hannah.

Via Boing Boing.

The Sultan's Elephant

This is creepy, bizarre, and beautiful all at the same time.

The story behind the video is here.

Via Dr. Razavi.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Tit for Tot

I find it both uproariously funny and deeply sad that something like this would be a big deal in 21st century America.

My favorite quote from the article:
"I'm totally supportive of it -- I just don't like the flashing," she said. "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."
No, dearie, you don't want your son or husband to accidentally see a breast that you didn't want them to see. Your son and husband, they're fine with accidentally catching a peek. Trust me.

The other quote that caught my attention:
"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old. [Emphasis mine.]
What has society done to you so as to so thoroughly and completly destroy your maternal instinct? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. But I guess it's no use crying over spilt milk.

Friday, July 21, 2006

And I would have gotten away with it if the burning dog hadn't set fire to the school.

For a reporter, it must feel like you've won the lottery when you get to begin a story with a sentence like this:
A Chinese headmaster, who tried to buy off colleagues by cooking dog meat for them after secretly selling off trees around the school, ended up setting fire to classrooms when the meal burst into flames, a Chinese newspaper said Friday.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Death no longer rides a pale horse.

Nowadays, Death drives a minivan.

Update: There's nothing mini about Death's ride in China.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Dollar Diplomacy

This comment by apostropher over at Unfogged got me to thinking. According to the CIA World Factbook, the estimated population of Iraq as of July 2006 is 26,783,383. Estimates vary, but it looks like somewhere between 39,000 and 43,500 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the start of the war. Not taking into account the deaths of those in the Iraqi military, that puts the pre-war estimate of the Iraqi population at somewhere around 26,826,883. Now then, according to the LA Times, the Iraq War has cost the United States about $291 billion thus far. Dividing the cost of the war by the pre-war population of Iraq, we have spent nearly $11,000 per person in Iraq on this war.

I wonder, what would have happened if GWB had gone on television in March of 2003 and said the following?
The United States has as its goal the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. We are fully prepared to invade Iraq, but war would inevitably result in the deaths of U.S. soldiers as well as many Iraqis, both civilian and military. Therefore, we propose the following: If the Iraqi people will rise up, remove Saddam from power, deliver him to our custody, and establish a democratic government willing to cooperate with the United States in our effort to eliminate the threat of terrorism worldwide, we will give every man, woman, and child in Iraq $11,000 in U.S. currency. Cash. No questions asked.

The Iraqi people have thirty days to respond to this offer.

Would have been worth a try, wouldn't it?

You know, it's not too late to make a similar offer to the people of Iran. Or North Korea. Or anywhere else we're thinking of invading.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Big Day

Ogged goes under the knife today. I am fully confident that he is in capable hands and that the outcome of the surgery will be optimal. But a few extra best wishes can't hurt. So best wishes, ogged, and speedy recovery.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It's a series of tubes.

I humbly request that the voting public elect U.S. Senators less clueless and less incoherent than Ted Stevens.
There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service isn't going to go through the interent and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

. . .

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
Download and listen to the audio of Stevens' rant if you want to bask in the full glory of his incoherent ramblings.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

We hold these truths to be self-evident

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

I don't want a revolution. I don't want our government to be abolished. If we had to replace it with another form of government, I can't imagine of a system of government that would offer any significant improvement over the system we now have in place. There is no structure of government so sound that it cannot be shaken to the core by the concerted efforts of evil or selfish men and an indifferent voting public. I believe our system of government is fundamentally sound, but the people need to wake up to their own responsibility, to claim and fully exercise their rights as citizens. Ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Ultimately, if there is anything wrong with our government, we, the people, have no one to blame but ourselves.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not a very bright idea.

To the list of places I'd rather not fall asleep in, add Pakistani prisons.

MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Fateh Mohammad, a prison inmate in Pakistan, says he woke up last weekend with a glass lightbulb in his anus.

Mohammad, who is serving a four-year sentence for making liquor, prohibited for Muslims, said he was shocked when he was first told the cause of his discomfort. He swears he didn't know the bulb was there.

As a sidenote, I really like the fact that Yahoo News has a photo slideshow devoted to this story. 'Cause, you know, some readers might not know what a light bulb looks like.

Before the flood.

Early last week, I had a dream in which I was walking outside a large hotel in the downtown area of a large city. I was there to attend a friend's wedding reception. Suddenly I noticed I was standing in ankle-deep water. Then it was knee-deep. Then it was up to my waist, and I was swimming against the growing current to try to get to the door of the hotel. By the time I made it inside, the water was up to my shoulders. I woke up thinking, "What an unusual dream."

I'm sure that any similarity between my dream and events that have taken place since then is just a coincidence.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Bat-eating Centipede

What with me being a giant bug and all, shit like this isn't supposed to creep me out. But I sure as hell do not want to come face to face with the bat-eating centipede in a dark alley. Don't click through if you don't want to see a video of a big fucking centipede capturing a bat in mid-flight. Seriously.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I don't have a dog in this fight.

This little guy won some awards for something, and I'm guessing the contest wasn't even close.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I'll stick to my alarm clock, thank you.

When staying in Japan, be sure NOT to ask for the morning wake-up call.

(Via Grow-a-Brain.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Maybe I should reconsider my coffee habit.

But I definitely should have had my morning coffee before watching this. (Via Boing Boing.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Got your goat.

For those in search of a life philosophy, I refer you to the Institute for the Study of The Goat, The Pole, and Their Relative Positions.
Goatonapole is the philosophy of being that holds that there is a Goat and a Pole and that the Goat is on the Pole. In the relation of Goat and Pole we Goatonapolists find an eternal thread of unfathomable cosmic significance, a point of reference in which all opposites dissolve into a unity of infinite breadth, a universal truth underlying the very fabric of existence. Upon contemplation of the Goat, the Pole, and their relative positions, one cannot help but realize that we've always been talking about Goatonapole. Whether we accept, reject, or live in ignorance of Goatonapole, we are all Goatonapolists.
The evidence seems irrefutable:

However, when I think of Goat on a Pole, I more typically think of this:

The Goatonapolists should definitely have a meeting of minds with the Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Something I read today.

"The strongest man is never strong enough to be master all the time, unless he transforms force into right and obedience into duty."

- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, chapter 3, "The Right of the Strongest"

Friday, May 19, 2006

I hear the undisclosed location is quite lovely this time of year.

Mr. & Mrs. Ego are heading off for a long-overdue break from the usual routine. As a result, the Alter Ego, the alter-Alter Ego, and all other personalities and mental phenomena deriving therefrom will be offline till after Memorial Day. Try to stay out of trouble while we're away.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Nancy Reagan of Giant Mutant Cockroaches

I understand that many people have an inherent dislike for cockroaches, especially those of us who belong to the giant, mutant variety. I don't know why. Sure we look a little funny, but we can be forces for good! Consider this man's story of his friend's encounter with Rambo Roach and how Rambo helped his buddy to "just say no."
When I was arrested, they placed me in a dimly-lit cell alone. During the night I awoke to see what appeared to be a giant mutant cockroach at least 4 1/2 inches long standing on its hind legs in the middle of my chest. He was dressed in a green beret and camouflage dungarees which looked as if they had come off of a G.I Joe doll. At his side was a large sewing needle strapped on like a saber. As my eyes cleared, he began to speak. "I am Rambo Roach and this is my home and you are tresspassing. If you wish to remain here you will have to pay rent to me and my troops." He then informed me the cold sack lunches which the guard brought twice a day belonged to them.

Welcome to my virtual shed.

Who needs a shed to hide out in? Sheds cost money.

By contrast, a blog can be set up for free.

(Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson was unavailable for comment on this story.)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why are conference calls are better than regular meetings?

Because you can post to your blog while in the middle of a conference call.

(There are plenty of other non-meeting-related things you can do during a conference call, but I haven't tried them. Yet.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Simple Question

I have heard many times, and read again recently, that your driving habits (e.g., how fast you accelerate, whether you stick to the speed limit) will affect your gas mileage.

I have also read in many reviews of hybrid cars that one of the really neat features of such cars is a dashboard indicator that tells you your current gas mileage in real-time, so you can adjust your driving habits to maximize your mpg's.

My question is, why don't all cars have such indicators? Why can't every vehicle tell you how many miles per gallon you're getting right now?

Just askin'.

(Link via Lifehacker.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

"It looks just like a Telefunken U-47."

Is it just my dirty mind, or does this Reuters article seem unusually suggestive?
Robot gets up close and personal in China

Fri May 5, 8:17 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has manufactured its first "personal robot" that can provide services at home and, among other skills, log on to the Internet and tell its owners the news and weather, Xinhua news agency said Friday.

Liangliang, standing at about 80 cm (nearly three feet), is able to walk and navigate obstacles at ease, as well as perform tasks as instructed by humans.

Its developer, the Shenyang-based Xinsong Automation Co., affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the robot cold "provide services of education, entertainment and security" and act as a personal assistant, Xinhua said.

It did not go into details.
Hmm. . . "personal robot" that can provide services . . . as well as perform tasks as instructed by humans . . . standing at about 80 cm (nearly three feet) . . .

. . . and a flat head you can put a beer on.

It's probably just my dirty mind. Now if this were being made by a Japanese company, that would be a different matter.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Si le silence est d'or, Rrose Sélavy abaisse ses cils et s'endort.

- Robert Desnos, Rrose Sélavy

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Join the 5-minute hate, win an X-Box 360!

I don't even know how to begin to describe this pop-up ad.

If you're more old-school and aren't into videogames, try War on Terror - the boardgame!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Please allow me to introduce myself . . .

Thanks, MAE, for allowing me to share your space here. I promise to only come out from under the refrigerator when you don't have guests over.

For those of you who haven't met me before, I'm just your average giant mutant cockroach, typical denizen of a post-nuclear-holocaust wasteland in which there are fewer of you and more of us. So how am I able to comment and blog in 2006, a world not yet ravaged by nuclear war? More on that later, but suffice to say we giant mutant cockroaches are a clever bunch.

I'll wrap up my first post here with a link to The Cockroach FAQ - everything you always wanted to know about cockroaches but were afraid to ask. While the questions and answers there relate to the regular cocroaches you are more likely to be familiar with, we giant mutant cockroaches have a lot in common with our pre-apocalyptic ancestors, so much of the information found there remains true for us. For example:
Thirst, hunger, sex and safety rule the cockroach life.
See, you and I are not so different after all!
While they keep their bodies clean for their own protection, they are not and can not be 'house broken'. Think of them as an eternal puppy.
Aww! How cute! Don't you want a cockroach of your very own?

Till next time . . .

And these have smaller fleas that bite 'em

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before My Alter Ego spawned an alter ego of my own. (An alter-alter ego? A meta alter ego? A symptom of serious mental illness? Who knows.)

Anyhow, since he seems to have established a semi-regular existence commenting at several of the blogs I frequent, it only seems fitting to welcome the Giant Mutant Cockroach as a co-blogger here. Make of this what you will.

Post de Blog (style américain)

I like the idea of public transportation, but I'm usually too lazy to bother. And for most of places I have to go to and from, driving my own car is a lot more convenient. But with the price of gas so high I've been trying to force myself to use public transportation once in a while.

So today during my lunch hour I had some errands to run, and rather than drive I decided to take the bus. It was pretty crowded. I couldn't help but notice one passenger in particular, a guy who looked to be in his late 20s with an unusually long neck and wearing a funny old hat. Next thing I know, this guy is complaining loudly that the guy next to him was intentionally bumping into him everytime people got on and off the bus. And then he sees an empty seat and lunges for it as if he were playing musical chairs. Wackos like him are probably why I don't take the bus more often.

Update: A few hours later I was in front of the train station and I heard a voice that sounded vaguely familiar. I looked around and I saw it was the same guy from the bus! He was with another guy who was telling him that he needed to add a button to his overcoat.

(with apologies to Raymond Queneau)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Do not click on the links in this post.

Unless, of course, you want to see a hillarious video of a naked man intentionally setting his pubic hair on fire. NSFW, of course.

But that's nothing. The link you really, really, really don't want to click on is this one, which will take you to a video of a man proudly displaying and talking about his penis, which is unlike any other penis I've ever seen. Really. Not anywhere near safe for work, and not for the easily-grossed-out.

Both links via digitaler lumpensammler.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This All Too Mobile Home

I have seen the future, and now I have déjà vu.
When I saw this Boing Boing post about GMC's concept "urban loft with mobility", I knew I had seen this vehicle before. But where? Ark II? Damnation Alley? Stripes? My own blog?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Double Feature

I finally saw Crash last night. Sorry to be late to the party, but I almost never see movies in theaters, and why pay to rent a DVD when the same movie will be on HBO/Starz/Cinemax/Showtime three months later? I'm paying for all those channels anyway, right?

Anyway, back to Crash. Put me in the Crash-haters camp. It had a few good moments, but hardly enough to vault it into "Best Picture" territory. So what was the point of this film? Surely a film this preachy had to have a point. Was it that, deep down, everybody is racist, even the people who go out of their way to prove to themselves that they aren't? Was it that even racists can be good to their elderly fathers and can sometimes act in heroic fashion? That the issue of race in America is really complex? Come on, tell me something I don't already know.

So after watching Crash I needed a chaser, something to wash the bad taste out of my mind. After channel-surfing a few minutes I found the perfect antidote: Soul Plane!

Friday, March 31, 2006

Le Chat

Je souhaite dans ma maison:
Une femme ayant sa raison,
Un chat passant parmi les livres,
Des amis en toute saison
Sans lesquels je ne peux pas vivre.

Guillaume Apollinaire - Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d'Orphée (1911)
illustration par Raoul Dufy

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An Oddsmaker Ascending A Staircase

Although I pretty much understand the hows and whys of it, this Boing Boing post about nontransitive dice still blows my mind. Especially the fact that each of the four dice has a statistical advantage over the die to its right, which in turn has a statistical advantage over the die to its right, which in turn . . . and so on, endlessly. It makes me think of one of those M.C. Escher staircases, always seemingly ascending but never really getting anywhere.

Repeat three times.

The news story I posted yesterday got me thinking that, if it really is that easy to get divorced under Islamic law, it's a wonder any Islamic couples at all manage to stay married. Think about it: during heated arguments people can say a lot of things that they don't really mean and later regret saying, especially people who tend to have a hot temper. And how many many married couples don't include at least one such person? Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time my wife has told me she wanted to divorce me, I could buy a halfway-decent cup of coffee.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blame Ambien?

First it was the reports that some users of Ambien were eating in their sleep. Then reports of Ambien causing sleep-drawing and sleep-sex. But now comes a report of a man in India, apparently not under the influence of Ambien, who divorced his wife in his sleep. For me the best part of the article is the part that describes what the couple must do if they want to fix this "mistake":
The religious leaders ruled that if the couple wanted to remarry they would have to wait at least 100 days. Sohela would also have to spend a night with another man and be divorced by him in turn.
Ah, the wacky things people do for religion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


March 21 is, among other things:More here.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Le Pain

La surface du pain est merveilleuse d'abord à cause de cette impression quasi panoramique qu'elle donne : comme si l'on avait à sa disposition sous la main les Alpes, le Taurus ou la Cordillère des Andes.

Ainsi donc une masse amorphe en train d'éructer fut glissée pour nous dans le four stellaire, où durcissant elle s'est façonnée en vallées, crêtes, ondulations, crevasses… Et tous ces plans dès lors si nettement articulés, ces dalles minces où la lumière avec application couche ses feux, — sans un regard pour la mollesse ignoble sous-jacente.

Ce lâche et froid sous-sol que l'on nomme la mie a son tissu pareil à celui des éponges : feuilles ou fleurs y sont comme des sœurs siamoises soudées par tous les coudes à la fois. Lorsque le pain rassit ces fleurs fanent et se rétrécissent : elles se détachent alors les unes des autres, et la masse en devient friable…

Mais brisons-la : car le pain doit être dans notre bouche moins objet de respect que de consommation.

-Francis Ponge, Le parti pris des choses, Éditions Gallimard 1942


(Photos by MAE.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Come Visit New Ephemera

"Come visit New Ephemera, city of fleeting fulfillment." Thus begins the enticement to visit the most delightful place you'll never go.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Email address? We don't need no stinkin' email address!

You will notice that there is no email address for the Alter Ego posted anywhere on this blog. This is because the Alter Ego does not have his own email address and thus far has seen no reason to obtain one. I mean, who would want to email me? What would they need to say via email that they couldn't say in a comment? Nobody who reads this blog or my comments at Unfogged actually knows me, so it's not like I have anything private to share with anyone. In fact, the Alter Ego would prefer not to have any private correspondences with anyone. We have to keep this whole Alter Ego thing within bounds, after all.

However, I occasionally feel like leaving a comment somewhere where an email address is required. Like right now, with ogged guest-blogging over at Washington Monthly. It is of course easy enough to make up a fake email address to put in the required field, something like "". But every time I do so, I revisit the question. Does My Alter Ego need an email address of my own?

So far, the answer remains "no." If anyone who wishes to convince me otherwise, you know how to get in touch with me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thursday Friday-blogging

Have you ever had the feeling that today is not the day of the week that it actually is? The "I know it's Saturday, but it feels like a Sunday" feeling? Whenever I get this feeling, the reasons for the feeling are usually fairly obvious, such as "Friday was a holiday; therefore, the reason today (Saturday) feels like a Sunday is that it is the second day of my weekend."

Anyway, I've had the off-by-one-day feeling pretty much all week. Tuesday felt like Wednesday. Wednesday felt like Thursday. Today feels like Friday. But the really unusual things about this are:

1) Despite my best attempts to analyze the reasons for this, I have absolutely no idea why I keep feeling this way. There was nothing really unusual about my schedule this week that would tend to prompt this sort of feeling.

2) This feeling has persisted several days in a row and has resisted all attempts to dispell it.

All I know is that the recurring mental double-take of realising that today is not tomorrow is really starting to annoy me.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Otocolobus-blogging

Today we bring you Otocolobus manul, the Pallas' Cat, or, as the Ego and I prefer to call him, the Manul.

(Last two images via some Russian site.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Civil Disobedience

Via Metafilter, "an extrordinary act of public obedience," a very well-done video of some young folks demonstrating the hypocricy of speed-limit laws by getting together and obeying them. Also of interest is the degree of negative reaction to this on the Metafilter thread.

Update: Apparently I'm just about the only person who's seen this who isn't really, really upset at these kids. Oh, well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Good thing ogged isn't around to see this.

Or maybe he is. Ogged, on the off chance you come across this, don't click on the link below. And anyone else who would be utterly disgusted or otherwise offended by an extremely explicit movie clip of bare-assed women farting in the faces of other women, I likewise warn you away from clicking on the link, because it really is disgusting and offensive. But it is comedy gold. If nothing else, the internet is surely a testament to the infinite variety of the bizarre things that people get off on.

But enough yakking, already. Here's the link. Very, very much NOT work-safe. (I can't believe I'm posting this. This is a new low for me.)

Via. (Click if you would like to see a still image from the video to see what you're in for.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday catblogging? Why the hell not!

Update: For the brave: the world's ugliest cat(s). (Via Grow-a-Brain.)

Update 2: Remember Cy, the tragically adorable one-eyed kitten who was in the news last month? Well if this drawing of Cy does not bring a tear to your eye, then you have no soul. (My Spanish is not all it could be, but I believe the caption is best translated as "last hope" or, perhaps more poetically, "last wish.")

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What? Garfield? Again??

I can't believe I'm posting about Garfield again. But trust me on this. This one is not your usual Garfield comic.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Warning of a different sort.

The image in the next post (or previous post, depending on how you look at it) contains partial nudity and arachnid bestiality. If you would be offended by either or both of those, or are using a computer in a location where the screen is visible by those who would consider such things offensive, then do not scroll down. To move the potentially-offensive post off the top of the page, and to serve as a "unicorn chaser," I give you this image (which I stole from Wonkette):

OK, then. On to the squickiness.

Eight-Legged Freaks!

Translation of the message on the posters: "Without a condom, you are making love with AIDS. Protect yourself." (As with all pictures on this blog, click on the image for the full-sized version.)

After seeing these images, I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight.


Friday, February 17, 2006


With a scare graphic this good, who cares what the actual news story is? (But in case you do, here it is. Bonus points for the fact that the lizard is named "Gonzo.")

Friday, February 03, 2006

I'm outta here . . .

No, I am not joining ogged in the great hereafter of blogdom. I will just be away from my normal routine for the next week or so, and as a result the Ego will be spending very little time in front of a computer, and the Alter Ego even less so. Perhaps I will have interesting tales to recount upon my return. Perhaps not. We'll see . . .

Le Dromadaire

Avec ses quatres dromadaires
Don Pedro d'Alfaroubeira
Courut le monde et l'admira.
Il fit ce que je voudrais faire
Si j'avais quatre dromadaires.

Guillaume Apollinaire - Le bestiaire ou Cortège d'Orphée (1911)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nancy, what's a third-stage Guild navigator?

The Ronald Reagan Presidential library has an online list of all the movies Ronald Reagan watched during his term as president. I wonder, did Dune (12/22/84) make any fucking sense at all to the Gipper?

"Look, Nancy -- Baron Harkonnen just pulled out that young man's heart plug!"

Via Grow-a-Brain.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Um, not exactly.

P.S.: Please tell me this isn't a preview of what we have to look forward to in the 2008 presidential election!