Sunday, December 30, 2007

And Good Riddance.

2007 is nearly over, and I will not mourn its passing. It's not that 2007 was a really bad year, for it had its share of good moments and positive developments, but it had more than it's share of bitterness as well. All in all it was one of those "that which does not kill me makes me stronger" kind of years. Not so terrible in the grand scheme of things, but I'm thankful I'll never have to relive it.

Here's to 2008.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

We Two Kings

It seems I haven't posted anything for some time now. Time flies when you're . . . doing things . . . and stuff . . . and something or other. 'Cause I've been real busy, doing a little of this, a little of that, and serious stuff like pondering the mysteries of the universe. For example, just this morning while I was trying to remember whether I had already taken my meds or not, my brain presented me with a sudden realization: Jesus and Elvis had a lot in common. How had I not remarked on this before now? The more I thought about it, the more connections I saw. For example:

  • The names "Jesus" and "Elvis" both have 5 letters, and both end with an "s."
  • Jesus was born on Christmas, and Elvis often celebrated Christmas.
  • Jesus had a disciple named Thomas; some of Elvis' fans are named Thomas.
  • Both Jesus and Elvis often wore flowing white robes with gold trim.
  • Elvis drove a Cadillac; Jesus thought so highly of the donkey that he rode into Jerusalem that he referred to it as “the Cadillac of donkeys.”
  • Television audiences in the 1950s were shocked by the sight of Elvis’ gyrating pelvis; Jesus has never gyrated his pelvis on television, but if he ever does I’m pretty sure people will be shocked by it.
  • Jesus fasted in the desert for forty days and was tempted by the Devil; Elvis suffered a dip in popularity and shook hands with Richard Nixon.
  • Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, who was later beheaded at the request of some mean woman whose name I can’t remember; Elvis was probably baptized, and whoever baptized him is most likely dead by now.
  • Both Jesus and Elvis were taken from us at a young age, and followers of each believe that, had they lived longer, they would have had many more #1 hits.
  • People have reported seeing Jesus and Elvis alive even after they were declared dead.
  • Judas shot Jesus in a theater and fled to a warehouse; the Beatles shot Elvis from a warehouse and fled to a theater.
  • When there was only one set of footprints in the sand, Elvis was carrying you, and Jesus was carrying Elvis, and Jesus was standing on a turtle, and below that it's turtles all the way down.

Astounding, isn't it? Those are far too many parallels and similarities to be mere "coincidence." It has to mean something! But what??? The answer still eludes me, but I'm sure it is very significant.

But I bet some of you are skeptics who remain unconvinced. So I did some searching and found that I am not the first one to have stumbled upon this cosmic connection. Check out these links:

More amazing similarities!: Elvis vs. Jesus

O Come All Ye Faithful: The First Church of Jesus Christ, Elvis

From the Louvre to your living room: Velvet Elvis & Jesus in Heaven

That's all for now. Join us next time when we investigate the many amazing similarities between Norman Podhoretz and the homeless guy who told me that aliens from Sirius are giving nuclear technology to zoo animals.


Friday, August 31, 2007

John Leonard Rides Again

On this lazy latesummer Friday afternoon, I offer for your consideration the following fine example of spam gibberish. Not email spam gibberish this time, but blog spam gibberish, copied from a spam blog long since gone and lovingly preserved until it reached its peak of ripeness. If you like this sort of thing, then this will be the sort of thing that you like. Read, therefore, and enjoy.

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onlinegambling

Enjoy the long weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In which I revise my opinion of Reagan upward.

Update: Ogged informs me I've been hoaxed! Arrgh! I knew it was too good to be true. I shall let the post stand as a testament to my gullibility. Oh, for shame!

And in which I steal the entirety of LeisureGuy's post:

Direct quote from the just published The Reagan Diaries. The entry is dated May 17, 1986.

A moment I’ve been dreading. George brought his ne’er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I’ll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they’ll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.

The Gipper was clearly a shrewd judge of character.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Protecting the Rights of the Accused

President Bush spoke recently about a very serious matter:

When Congress returns in September the Intelligence committees and leaders in both parties will need to complete work on the comprehensive reforms requested by Director McConnell, including the important issue of providing meaningful liability protection to those who are alleged to have assisted our Nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

When I first heard that there are people in our country who are alleged to have assisted our country following the 9/11 attacks, I was deeply, deeply shocked. These are very serious allegations, and it is hard for me to believe that there is any truth to them.

I am so glad that I live in a country where the law presumes that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the court of public opinion offers no such protection. That is why I look forward to the day when the victims of these smears can face their accusers in court and prove to the entire world that the charges leveled against them are nothing but vicious lies. On that day, they can hold their heads high and proclaim, "The allegations against us are false! We did not assist our nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001!"

Sadly, though, our justice system is not perfect, and sometimes the innocent are wrongly judged to be guilty. That is why Congress must act to offer meaningful liability protection to them.

So I praise the president for his call to action, but I wish he had been even more bold. The truth of the matter is that the world is full of people who make false accusations for their own nefarious ends. Therefore I call upon Congress to extend liability protection not only to those who have been accused of helping America, but also to those who are alleged to have volunteered in soup kitchens, those who are alleged to have helped old women cross the street, and those who are alleged to have given milk to stray kittens. Until the day when libel and slander are no longer commonplace, we must be vigilant in protecting the rights of the accused.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ow!

I think a bee just stung me! On the heel, of all places! I didn't see him, but it must have been a bee.

This Banal Moment in the Life of Someone You Don't Know™ has been brought to you by Blogger, the Internet, and the letter X.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Death Cat's a Cutie


Oscar the cat knows when you're going to die.

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.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Consider the Alternative

I must agree with Josh Marshall--the only possible explanation for the fact that Alberto Gonzales remains Attorney General of the United States is that, were he to resign, his successor would surely feel compelled to do at least a minimal amount of investigating, which would inevitably lead to prosecution of numerous high-level administration officials, and the president is not about to let that happen.

In other words, the President George W. Bush is choosing to allow the ongoing public exposure of the fact that the Justice Department of the United States, during his presidency, has become a gross, exaggerated caricature of incompetence and corruption because the alternative would be something even more embarrassing.

At this point no other explanation makes sense.

“an azimuthally equidistant projection showing all the countries in one circle,” flanked by crossed olive branches

It had never occurred to me to wonder who was originally responsible for that logo we've all seen thousands of times. Now, thanks to Michael Bierut at Design Observer, I know his name: Donal McLaughlin.

Monday, July 16, 2007

In other news, 15% of Americans think the voices in their heads have a liberal bias.

So this morning I had a look at Instapundit (don't ask me why I keep doing it) and noted that Mr. Reynolds was shocked (shocked!) to see the findings of a recent Rasmussen poll:

By a 39% to 20% margin, American adults believe that the three major broadcast networks deliver news with a bias in favor of liberals. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 25% believe that ABC, CBS, and NBC deliver the news without any bias.

That proves it, right? There really is widespread liberal bias in the media!

But wait a minute. How good are people at evaluating bias in news reports? Do these numbers really tell us anything meaningful about actual bias in the news media, or does this tell us more about the ideological lenses through which people view the media? Here is what Rasmussen Reports has to say about that:

Not surprisingly, there are huge partisan and ideological differences in the data. For example, among self-identified liberals, all of the media outlets are believed to have some net bias in favor of conservatives. . . .

Conservatives throughout the nation see things entirely differently. Sixty-two percent (62%) see a liberal bias at the major broadcast networks and 55% say the same about CNN.

So, believe it or not, biased people tend to see evidence of bias in the media! Conservatives and liberals can look at the very same news networks, and liberals will see conservative bias, and conservatives will see liberal bias! Astounding!

Is there bias in the media? Of course there is. Anyone who looks hard enough can find evidence of both liberal bias and conservative bias. But the really sad thing is not that there is bias in the news media, but that we are slowly but surely losing our sense of what unbiased journalism is even supposed to look like. We have been led to believe that balanced journalism means giving liberals and conservatives equal time to try to spin the facts their way. If we add the 39% who see liberal bias to the 20% who see conservative bias, we learn that 59% of Americans see pervasive bias of some sort the news media. And once we see begin to distrust the media, we are less likely to believe actual facts that might contradict our political beliefs; we can just dismiss anything that makes us uncomfortable as yet more evidence of bias. We will have forgotten that somewhere out there there are actual facts, facts that are not biased one way or the other, just plain old facts.

There is one more thing worth noting in the Rasmussen poll results, something truly astounding.

There is one major exception to the belief that media outlets have a liberal bias—Fox News. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say it has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias.

Yes, you read that right. Fifteen percent of Americans believe Fox News is biased in favor of liberals.

Objectivity is dead.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rock, Paper, Scissors

President Bush says, "I strongly believe that democracy will trump totalitarianism every time."



That's a fine thing to believe, but how is that relevant to the current situation in Iraq? Yes, our democracy made mincemeat of Saddam Hussein's totalitarian regime, but that regime is long gone. What replaced it was neither democracy nor totalitarianism, but chaos. The current situation is, according to the best information I can gather, a free-for-all. Whoever has the most firepower in a given locale controls it, but only for as long as they remain. The U.S. could arguably keep the peace in any given Baghdad city block indefinitely by keeping a sufficient number of troops there, but our troops can't be everywhere at once, and by all accounts chaos returns the moment they move on to the next block.

I know that Bush would like to frame the issue in terms of fighting totalitarianism, or "Islamofascism," but that's not what we're fighting in Iraq. We're fighting anybody and everybody with a gun or an improvised explosive who feels like taking a shot at us. And Bush consistently fails to give us any indication that he understands this. He wants to fight totalitarianism, and while a totalitarian regime may eventually emerge from the chaos of Iraq, there is no totalitarian regime there today. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we must deal with the enemy we have, not the enemy we wish we had.

Rock may beat Scissors every time, but we're not fighting Scissors right now.

Friday, June 29, 2007

As seen from the perspective of those who speak "crooked head."

Via Haydesigner at Chaos Digest: "A very lengthy, but absolutely fascinating, article about a very isolated laguage from The New Yorker." Well worth taking the time to read.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Leonard

I once received an email from "spam" with a subject of "subject". Some people are not even trying.

The email had an attachment, a .gif file named "return nuclear". My antivirus software tells me there's nothing nasty in there, but I'm still afraid to open it.

The text of the email was gibberish, of course, and repetitive gibberish at that. However, as is frequently the case with spam email gibberish, some of it was rather amusing. The best bits were as follows:
To return nuclear gay marriage among ballot? Leader, install, new pm in, two weeks, ustop news.
Hosts poop, says nkorea, agrees to return.
Spam bots you need javascript enabled view it send.
Is being protected spam bots you!
Nkorea, agrees to return nuclear gay. Topnewscom contact top module empty main feeds latest newsmiami.
Leader install new pm in two. Issuesnew judge, expels defiant saddam from, genocide trialthai. Send, an enter your name. Spam bots you, need javascript enabled, view.
Ballot, issuesnew judge expels defiant. An enter your name message subject back copy. Nkorea agrees to return.
Install new pm, in two, weeks ustop. Enabled view it, send an, enter?
Several thoughts, with varying degrees of relatedness:
  • The gibberish texts of spam emails often resemble the writings of William S. Burroughs, particularly those he produced using the cut-up techniques he developed with Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville. For those with any interest in the topic, I recommend reading Burroughs' essay "It Belongs to the Cucumbers," which can be found in his book The Adding Machine: Collected Essays. In that essay, Burroughs noted similarities between the writings produced by such techniques, texts transcribed by Konstantin Raudive of so-called "electronic voice phenomena," dream speech, words spoken in delirium, and the speech patterns of those suffering from schizophrenia. Had Burroughs lived to see the age of spam emails, I wonder what he would have thought of them.
  • Spam gibberish also resembles poorly-translated text ("Somebody set up us the bomb!") and the jokes of Yakov Smirnoff ("In Soviet Russia, protected spam bots you!")
  • It occurs to me that spam emails would be an excellent way for people to pass coded messages to each other. One could send a message that looks like spam to thousands of recipients, but only the intended recipient (for example, a deep-cover CIA agent stationed in Berzerkistan) knows to look within for his instructions ("Install new pm, in two, weeks ustop.") to topple the government and make sure a new, US-friendly prime minister takes office within two weeks. Or maybe the message carries instructions destined for a terrorist cell. Who would suspect?--It's just spam. And even if the authorities were wise to this technique, with thousands or millions of spam emails being sent each day, and with thousands or millions of people receiving each spam email, distinguishing the code-disguised-as-spam email from all the others and then finding the one recipient the email was actually intended for would be a nearly impossible task for any counterespionage agency or an anti-terrorism task force.
  • If anyone from the CIA, FBI, NSA, or any of the other three-letter agencies is reading this: Dudes, I just thought up that last bit on my own. I'm not a terrorist or an agent of any kind, so don't go disappearing me. If you want to round up the spammers and indefinitely detain them in one of your secret prisons, though, that's fine by me.
  • Spam emails could also be messages from dead souls drifting in limbo. I wonder what Raudive would say about this.
  • An enterprising con-artist could probably make a nice chunk of change by convincing the public that spam emails really are messages from dead relatives. I can imagine the TV ads now: "Is there an email from beyond the grave in your inbox? Forward your spam emails to Miss Cleo! She will interpret the messages from your loved ones in the afterlife! Only $3.99 for the first five emails!"
  • I hereby coin the term "spamomancy" to describe divination, the telling of fortunes, or communing with the dead by use of spam emails.
  • This blog has featured posts on many diverse topics since its birth nearly two years ago. Increasingly, this has resulted in people arriving at this blog via Google search results that happened to pick up on an odd phrase or other that was used here only once. This post will surely do much to contribute to this trend.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Is there an entomologist in the house?

Despite having a cockroach as an occasional coblogger, I know very little about insects. So I need your help in identifying the pesky pests that staged a large-scale invasion of my house yesterday. Do you know what these are? How do I get rid of them and discourage them from returning?



Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yet more evidence of pro-dog, anti-human media bias.

New York Sun editor John B. Bogart once said, "When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news."

Everybody knows that al Qaeda is made up of bad guys. Really bad guys. Guys who hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings, killing thousands of innocent people. Guys who recruit young men and women to be suicide bombers. Guys who kidnap people, gruesomely behead them, and videotape the whole thing just so they can show the whole world how bad they are. There is ample reporting in the media of the evil things that they do. The fact that al Qaeda is made up of evil people who commit evil acts is, frankly, not news.

So consider the case of those who allege that some news organizations are biased because they didn't give sufficient coverage to a particular piece of evidence of how utterly evil al Qaeda is, and, in the same breath, imply that the media overhyped evidence of torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

Such people are morons.

I'll try to make this as simple as possible, for those who still don't understand.

When the people who are supposed to be the good guys do bad things, it is something that we the people need to know about. Reporting such things is not evidence of bias. It is just reporting, plain and simple. Such stories naturally get a lot of attention because people expect the good guys to act like good guys, and we are shocked and disappointed when they don't.

When bad people do bad things, that's newsworthy too. But when we read repeated accounts of the same bad people doing yet more bad things, we might be saddened, but we are not shocked or disappointed, because it is not so surprising to learn that people we already know to be bad have done bad things yet again. And when the news is already full of stories about the same group of bad people doing bad things over and over again, the failure to report on any particular horrible act is not evidence of bias. To allege otherwise not only reveals your own bias, it also reveals you to be an idiot. So you should stop making such foolish allegations, for your own good.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Moustache of Understanding


Bask in its insane glory.
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"
You don't think, you know, we care about our open society? You think, this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow?
Well, Suck. On. This.
Okay.
That, Charlie, was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia; it was part of that bubble. We coulda hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could. That's the real truth.
(The quoted section starts about 5 minutes in.)

Via Atrios.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All the world loves a lover.

My nomination for the greatest ad ever: Charles Bronson for Man Dom.

Via DS in the comments at Unfogged.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What my proposed system would look like.


(Click to enlarge.)

Back in the day, the G-men had style.

According to Wikipedia, boaters "were supposedly worn by FBI agents as a sort of unofficial uniform in the pre-war years."

I for one think the world would be a better place if this tradition were to be revived. To give it a modern twist, they could match the color of their hat bands to the current terror threat level. I realize this could lead to abuses of the system if the higher-ups simply wanted to wear their red hat bands once in a while, but I think it's a risk worth taking.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Holy Shit

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern accuses Vice President Dick Cheney of being behind the Niger forgeries.

I know that at this point this is just one man's accusation, and as of yet he has offered zilch in the way of hard evidence to back it up, but goddammit it has such a ring of truth to it.

Via.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Instapundit gets letters! Of marque!

One of Instapundit's many readers wrote in with an idea, and Glenn Reynolds thought he’d share that idea with all his readers. And add a few links to other people thinking along the same lines. But I'm sure this doesn't mean that Glenn is endorsing the idea or anything.

So what is this great idea?
Thing is, I've enough money to hand to train, equip, and deploy six people for six months in the area between Baghdad and Kabul. I'm ex-military, and I'm young enough to be up for a challenge.

Why not open-source the Global War on Terror?
Ex-military, and young enough to be up for a challenge, eh? Ever consider, you know, reenlisting in the military?? Cause I hear they’re having trouble recruiting enough people. Just a thought.

But you are your own man. And you know better than big, bad, bureaucratic government how this war should be fought. So let’s see how this would play out--private citizens striking out on their own, free from government oversight and accountability, waging war as they see fit. Hmm, what does that remind me of? Could it be, oh, I dunno, terrorism, perhaps? Six people would make a nice-sized terrorist cell, wouldn’t it?

Now then, where was it you said you were thinking of deploying to?
I've enough money to hand to train, equip, and deploy six people for six months in the area between Baghdad and Kabul.
Where? The area between Baghdad and Kabul? Hmm, I wonder what’s in between Baghdad and Kabul . . . As a geographically-challenged American, I have absolutely no idea! Maybe I should get a map and take a look.

All in all, a first-rate idea. If we had more ideas like that, I'm sure we'd have this whole Global War on Terror thing wrapped up in no time.

Friday, March 23, 2007

MAE’s Number Theory of Ducks

  1. If ducks were integers, every other duck would be an odd duck.
  2. If every other duck were an odd duck, odd ducks would not be odd at all.
  3. If there were no odd ducks, I would not exist, as it has been pointed out to me that I am an odd duck.
  4. I think I am, therefore I am (I think.) Therefore, ducks are not integers.
  5. The same logic can be used to demonstrate that ducks are neither natural* nor negative.**
  6. Anyone who has ever tried to reason with a duck knows that ducks are not rational.
  7. The set of real ducks consists of irrational ducks and dead ducks.
  8. The set of all ducks consists of real ducks and imaginary ducks.
  9. Ducks that have a real part and an imaginary part are known as complex ducks.***
* The fact that ducks are not natural has been viewed by some as lending support to the theory of intelligent design. We will not explore such implications at this time.

** We frequently receive reports from those who claim to have encountered negative ducks. In every such case that we have investigated, it was found that the duck in question was not negative but was merely offering valid criticism.

*** An example of a complex duck would be a duck with real wings and imaginary antlers.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I've been myself lately.

The Ego has been busy dealing with all sorts of serious, real world stuff of late. In order to properly deal with this stuff, he's been trying to cut down on distractions and things that eat up large quantities of precious time. As a result, there has been very little time available for the Alter Ego to hang out with the other brains-in-vats he has come to know and love. We expect that this state of affairs is likely to continue for some time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Signing statement.

Once again, President Bush has shown himself to be a man of vision. His creative use of signing statements shows he understands the need to cut through the red tape and hassle that are always involved with trivialities like the legislative process and judicial oversight.

Some people have called for an end to the use of signing statements. This is just plain wrong. No, we must expand the use of signing statements. These things are just too damn useful! But why let the chief executive have all the fun? I say everybody ought to jump on the signing statement bandwagon.

I personally plan to make use of this power when I attach the following signing statement to my 2007 income tax return:
While I recognize the power of Congress to lay and collect taxes on incomes as granted by the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, emergency situations and other extenuating circumstances sometimes call for a streamlining of this process.

To wit, the U.S. Congress in its yearly budget allocates certain funds for the maintenance of law and order in the United States and its territories. These budget items are paid for with taxpayer dollars. However, the process of collecting and accounting for income taxes introduces inefficiency and waste (e.g., the salaries of IRS agents and auditors) into the spending process. Furthermore, the legislative budgetary process often causes long delays in allocating government spending on matters that require urgent attention.

It has recently come to my attention that in the U.S. Virgin Islands there are numerous young women aged 18-25 who are severely in need of discipline. This constitutes a law enforcement emergency. Since our government is a government of, by, and for the people, I hereby appoint myself as a federal marshal assigned to the keeping of law and order in the U.S. territory named above. Further, I hereby budget for this urgent mission the taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been paid to the IRS by me. I assure the Congress and the IRS that I will act efficiently and decisively in this matter, that I will abide by the terms of the Geneva Convention, and that I will administer spankings and body cavity searches only when absolutely necessary.
Thank you, President Bush, for making all this possible.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good for what ailed me.

Aventinus Weizen Eisbock. I am feeling no pain.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Fill in the blanks.

Complete each sentence below with the first word or phrase that comes to mind. Please be so kind as to share your responses in the comments.

Women who post nude photos of themselves on the Internet are ________.

Men who post nude photos of themselves on the Internet are ________.