Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Yes, I am a few days late. Indeed. It happens, you know? Anyway, there were not really compelling stories that I *needed* to blog. Just some that I wanted* to blog.

First, Noah Feldman did a very interesting piece about suicide bombers, nuclear weapons, and Islam. The article discusses whether there is anything inherent in Islam (Sunni or Shiite flavor) that makes Muslims more dangerous with the Bomb (as we called it when I was a kid) than others. I can't summarize the whole thing. For god's sake, do some reading on your own! In any case, the two things that were most interesting to me were: (1) the slow, steady expansion of the doctrine that non-combatants were not to be killed in war; (2) the statement that bin Laden has never advocated an end-of-the-world view.

With regard to (1), apparently killing *any* women or children was an atrocity. Then Israelis were all "fair game" because all Israelis are required to undertake military service. Then Americans were all "fair game" because Americans voted for George Bush. This, apparently is without precedent in Islamic thought. With regard to (2), a bunch of the jihadists (although not certain "Twelver" Shiites) are seeking to reinstate the Caliphate, with themselves in charge. This actually militates against suicidal use of nuclear weapons. There would not be much of a Caliphate if a significant part of the Muslim world is incinerated. Interesting analysis.

Honestly, that is the only thing that I am still thinking about on Tuesday, and perhaps that's a good guide for what to blog.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I have posted spam I received before on this page, but generally I try to reserve that kind of post for the very special times when a spam really nails the truth (however inadvertantly). I just received one that qualifies:
We’re glad to propose a new offer you just won’t never reject. It is worthy occasion to earnmoney without the risk of losing them. No doubt, it’s a stable bargain.

We do have thoroughly verified message according to the new boom on the market tomorrow. We anticipate remarkable news gonna be ventilated on Friday, they will tear you to pieces! The reason is in (WBRS . PK) that is rapidly starting up but you can still take a position to dig in and benefit from it. The price will pick you up to the heaven, join it now while its low and be the king. You outta remember that such a chance doesn’t last long.

Forget about your old failure (if this has ever been); show what you are able to do now! Once you decide to put your money in, you will notice earning greenbucks with (W B R S) is such a pleasant and easy work with no need to be worried on it.
An offer I "just won't never reject" is as true as anything I have ever seen in an e-mail. In addition, I think use of "gonna be ventilated" is a nice cautionary tale about the combined use of familiar speech with a bad dictionary when writing. Finally, I have always noticed my "earning greenbucks" but I have not generally found that experience to be "pleasant and easy . . . with no need to be worried." Of course, violating the cardinal rule of spamming, the e-mail has no links, and no way to contact anyone so I can earn my greenbacks.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Check it out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Tonight I took a cab home from work. Things started out unusually when there were no cabs available. What is that? Anyway, a cab finally came roaring up to get me. The driver looked like Florida Evans. I am not even kidding. She was a woman, and she was Florida. It was . . . dyno-mite! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Anyway, things were proceeding apace. We were at Lawrence and Ashland and a news story came on the radio that a judge in Cook County had decided the case of the contested circumcision. In this case a divorced couple was in court fighting because the mother wanted the eight-year old to have a circumcision (click the link. I dare you), while the father was fighting it. The judge decided that the kid would have to get his own circumcision as an adult if he wanted one.

Now, I can see Florida Evans looking a little cock-eyed (no pun intended). I have this sinking feeling as she looks at me in the mirror and starts to talk. Oh yes. She went there. I believe the quote was "eight year old? Aren't most boys circumcised? Are you circumcised? I mean, if you don't mind my asking." If I don't mind her asking? Really? Is it possible that I would not mind? Florida Freakin' Evans is asking about my genitals. Do I mind? Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

By the way, I played the lawyer to the end and deftly avoided her question by simply saying that it was much more common in the United States than Europe, so maybe the parents were European immigrants. Then we were quiet for the last, long mile home.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Today the New York Daily News reported that the super-genius running against Hillary Clinton for Senator said, in front of a reporter, that Hillary used to be ugly, but that now that she has had "millions" of dollars worth of "work" she looks "good." He also said that he doesn't understand why Bill Clinton married her back in 1975. The super-genius denies saying it. The reporter stands by his reporting. The Daily News is a rag that is loving every second of it. Don't expect the Daily News to let this story go any time soon.

Personally, I think (a) the super-genius probably doesn't have to worry about getting votes from many women now, and (b) he's pretty harsh. I mean, it was the 1970s. Sure Hillary looked like this back then, and looks like this now, but so did everyone else. I mean, look at David Bowie, then and now. How about Sean Connery then (Sean, what the hell, dude?) and now. Compared to either the 1970s Bowie or Connery pics, Hillary looked great in what can only be described as an unattractive era. To single Hillary out for looking goofy in the 1970s is just harsh.

By the way, if I could find a picture of myself in my favorite wide-collared synthetic button up shirt with little puppy dogs, I would sooo post it here. That shirt was sweeeeet. It was synthetic, so it always had static cling, and the collars were wide enough that a stiff wind could have carried me away. Thankfully my bell bottoms cut the aerodynamics and helped keep me on the ground.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Tough issue of the New York Times. First, some lawyer actually wrote to the so-called Ethicist because the lawyer had a client ask him what his responsibilities were to a client who asked him how suicide would impact the will he was writing for her. The Ethicist answered. Here's a clue, J.S. from Oak Park, Illinois: the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee has an "Ethics Inquiry Program" just for people like you, and unlike getting advice from a newspaper columnist, it might even help you keep your license!

Second, there was an article about the cleanliness of airplanes. Turns out they're filthy. Turns out that when you (a) stop serving food yourself, and (b) cut back on what you pay to have your planes cleaned, while (c) lessening the time to clean, you end up with food garbarge on airplanes. Who knew? Anyway, it just goes to show that commercial aviation is being turned into the same experience as taking mass transit in most big cities. Cheap, not very comfortable, and not as clean as you'd like.

Finally, the Christian Science Monitor has an article about an issue being raised in Boston right now. The issue is satellite dishes on the fronts of dwellings. The article talks about issues with Federal law that make this prolematic, as well as laws in York, PA dealing with the same issue. However, the article brought up an interesting issue. Have you ever noticed apartments that have three or four dishes in front of the windows and wondered what sort of service they have? It turns out that the issue may be that previous tenants abandoned their dishes when they moved out and "installers cannot remove old dishes because the original customer owns them." What? You mean, if the tenant before me left a microwave over in the kitchen I am stuck with two microwaves? Does the theory of abandoned property not apply to dishes? What the hell?

Friday, October 20, 2006


Today the Associated Press reported that the United States government has decided to spell the name of the capital of Ukraine "Kyiv" instead of Kiev. They say that "Kiev" is the "Russian" spelling, while "Kyiv" is the Ukrainian spelling. That is fascinating, since both Russian and Ukrainian are written using the Cyrillic alphabet. As near as I can tell, "киев" is Russian while "Київ" is Ukrainian. Perhaps when spoken these two sound different, but "Kiev" is not a "Russian" spelling. For some reason this sort of thing just bugs me to no end. Anyway, I'm glad we cleared that up while Ukraine is still independent.

By the way, check this picture of the tight sculpture of the founders of Kyiv. Their names are Kyi, Scheck and Khoriv. Kind of like Romulus and Remus in Rome, but without the cool wolf.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


On cnnsi.com the following was reported:

The A's need a new manager, and former Giants skipper Dusty Baker says he'd "be interested."
-- Contra Costa Times

This is just bizarre. The Oakland A's were the subject of the book Moneyball. The person on Wikipedia wrote what I believe is a fair summation of the part of the book I am referencing: " . . . real statistical analysis has shown that on base percentage and slugging percentage are better indicators of offensive success and that avoiding an out is more important than getting a hit." The A's, the book says, have really bought into this.

Meanwhile, in another dimension, Dusty is on record discussing on base percentage (with walks being an important part of that statistic) with MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, saying:

Do the Cubs need to improve their on-base percentage next year? They currently rank last in the National League with a .318 OBP.

"On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me. The problem we have to address more than anything is the home run problem."

That was August of 2006. The Cubs Chronicle has similar comments going back to March 2004.

So, yeah, Dusty seems like a great fit for the A's.


I was listening to the podcast for Sound Opinions yesterday and was intrigued by some of the music they were discussing. It was show number 46 on the web page. They started talking about Lily Allen. She apparently made her name through her myspace page, where her music got a following. The music is very poppy and sounds like it could be teenie bopper music, but the lyrics are fantastic. Her web page is here, and you can download her tunes there (for 99 pence a piece) and learn more about her.

Anyway, my favorites are Knock 'Em Out, and Alfie. Knock 'Em Out could easily be a tune by The Streets. Alfie could too, but check these very funny lyrics to Alfie:

Oh deary me,
My little brother's in his bedroom smoking weed,
I tell him he should get up cos it's nearly half past three
He can't be bothered cos he's high on THC.
I ask him very nicely if he'd like a cup of tea,
I can't even see him cos his room is so smokey,
Don't understand how one can watch so much TV,
My baby brother Alfie how I wish that you could see.

Oh I only say it cos I care,
So please can you stop pulling my hair.
Now, now there's no need to swear,
Please don't despair my dear, Mon frere.

Oh Alfie get up it's a brand new day,
I just can't sit back and watch you waste your life away
You need to get a job because the bills need to get paid.
Get off your lazy arse, Alfie please use your brain
Surely there's some walls out there that you can go and spray,
I'm feeling guiltier yeah for leading you astray.
Now how the hell do you ever expect that you'll get laid,
When all you do is stay in playing your computer games?


Oh little brother please refrain from doing that,
I'm trying to help you out, so can you stop being a twat.
It's time that you and I sat down and had a little chat,
And look me in the eyes take off that stupid fitted cap.


Please don't despair
Please don't despair
Mon frere

Now that's funny. Well worth a listen, although I fear that Lily Allen will be marketed in the United States as a teenie set musician. She does have some tunes you could easily sell to 15 year olds. That would be a shame, and I would never hear the end of it. Oh well. Sometimes that's the problem with being cutting edge.


A couple of things. First, last Sunday's New York Times was brutal. Nothing blogworthy in the entire thing. How can that be?

Second, with regard to the Bears last night, I committed the ultimate sin. I went to bed once the Cardinals appeared to go up 29-10 in the fourth quarter. At 23-10, I understood that the Bears were only two scores from a win. When it looked like 29-10, that was that. I went to bed. However, even from the news reports here made clear that the Bears had no business winning that game. Of course, notwithstanding Dennis Green's meltdown, at the end of the day the Bears are 6-0, the Cardinals are 1-5. If the Cardinals did not suck, they would not have lost. Both of the first half field goals Rackers (UI grad) had should have been touchdowns. Had either have been converted for a touchdown, the Cardinals would have won. In any case, that was not the performance of a Super Bowl team. Let's hope the Bears get their heads out of their collective asses.

Third, the Cubs hired Lou Pinella. ESPN reports that Pinella wants A-Rod on the Cubs. Indeed. Good thinking, Lou. ANyone else we should pursue. This video is bad quality, but get used to this at Wrigley Field. Pinella is a hothead and a bit of a lunatic. If he is counting on bringing A-Rod in (plus Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee, per the Sun-Times), this may end in frustration and loathing. Maybe Pinella will be what the Cubs need. I have grave concerns though.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


The fotoblog has pictures uploaded from Homecoming weekend. Check them out, unless Champaign-Urbana gives you hives. Then don't check it out.


I have explained before that I build up links over time when I am busy and don't get to blog. Every so often I need to clean my links out. Guess what! It is that time again. I defy any reader (sorry, I meant "either reader") to find another blog that stretches from Australia to Russia by way of Denver in one post.

Proving that nothing is new, I came across an article about the Catalpa Rescue. Any idea what that was? Yeah, me neither. Anyway, apparently in the 19th Century the movement for Irish independence from the perfidious English turned violent. The English responded by deporting a number of Irish Republican Brotherhood members to Australia, which appears to have been the Guantanamo of its day. While a number of IRB members were released (generally after promising not to return to Ireland), some hardcore members were left in Australia. In 1876 an American ship, the Catalpa, anchored off the coast of their prison and while the guards watched a regatta, the prisoners escaped. Interestingly, the group that rescued them, Clan na Gael, is an American group that twice invaded Canada hoping to hold it hostage in exchange for Ireland's freedom. It didn't work, but it is an interesting idea. Open question whether the Brits would have swapped an empty frontier country where the most important cities spoke French for Ireland, but worth a shot.

Recently I came across a founding myth of the east and north slavs. The story is that there were three brothers, named Lech, Czech, and Rus. Apparently the three brothers went hunting together, but took different paths in pursuit of prey. They must have been around Brest (the one between Poland and Belarus, not the French one) because the myth is that Rus went east, Czech went west, and Lech went north. Brest seems geographically appropriate for this trip. In any case, Rus apparently decided to settle in the east and founded the Russian, Ukrainian, and White Russian nations. Apparently Rus got around a little. Czech got to the Říp Mountain in Bohemia and settled, founding the Czech nation. He may or may not be the father of the Slovak nation. Watch the next Maury for the paternity test results. Meanwhile, Lech went north where he came across a white eagle guarding her nest. He settled where the eagle was and adopted the white eagle as his coat of arms. He also founded the Polish nation.

This is a fun story. It reminds me of the story of Isaac and Ishmael. This page provides a very succint summary of the story of Isaac and Ishmael, helpfully using Legos to set the scene. Very nice. Anyway, the story is that after Ishmael and his mother Hagar were sent away from Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac Ishmael became the father of twelve tribes that settled from the Persian Gulf to Egypt. In other words, he is believed to be the father of the Arabs. Isaac, meanwhile, stayed in Israel with Abe and Sarah and is believed to be the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. The parallel goes even deeper when we realize that the Slav cousins have had a couple of really brutal fallings out (especially the Poles and Russians, including this, this, and this), while the Semetic cousins seem to be right in the middle of one now.

Finally, this blog dedicated to Denver's "infill development" had a funny post. Frankly, I don't know what infill development is, and I am pretty sure I don't care. However, the Subdivision Naming Chart is brilliant. It definitely does not apply only to Denver either. I like The Dominion at Thunder Edge Highlands as the name of a subdivision. How about The Plantation at Harvest Valley Ranch? To me that evokes a scene from the antebellum South, where slaves harvest salad dressing. Oh wait, that's Hidden Valley Ranch. Fortunately it is only important that these names be evocative, and not accurate, since there probably is not a Thunder Edge Highlands in Denver, right? Right?

Monday, October 09, 2006


L and I were out of town until about 11:30 last night, so the Times post was delayed. I also did not read the paper as closely as I sometimes do. That means there are only three articles in today's post.

First, the magazine had the most amazing article about elephants. It turns out that elephants are tremendously social, smart, communicative, and otherwise the sorts of creatures we should be protecting. It turns out that humans have been destroying the social structure of elephant society, and elephants suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. The elephants suffer from "abnormal startle response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and hyperaggression." These are very similar to some of the descriptions here. The article is amazing.

In addition, Chris Wallace was interviewed for the magazine. It was a very short snippet, but Chris Wallace is an asshole. From a summary that is not even a full page of text we get these gems:

Q: As the host of “Fox News Sunday,” you recently became a news item yourself by seeming to cause President Clinton to have on on-air meltdown. Do you think it was fair for you to mention that his administration had failed to capture Osama bin Laden?

I think it was a straight news question, and I think it just touched a very raw nerve. The business I am in is asking probing questions and trying to get interesting answers. I think I succeeded admirably in my job.

* * *

You became host of the show only three years ago, replacing Tony Snow, who later became the White House press secretary. Why did he leave television?

Because he was interested in becoming a radio star.

That doesn’t sound very convincing.

I am sorry you’re not persuaded.

* * *

Did he give you any good advice?

He just said he was basking in my reflected glory.

If I have a follow-up question, may I call you tomorrow?

You’re done. I didn’t have an opportunity for a follow-up question with Bill Clinton. You get your chance, you take advantage of it.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Wallace was kidding about anything I found rude. I gotcha. "I am sorry you're not persuaded." Interesting Chris. I'm sorry you're an asshole. This guy is like a C list celebrity in the news business, for God's sake. How did he merit showing this kind of attitude?

Finally, basically the entire sports section was rife with stories about the Yankees. It turns out that nothing is more traumatic than the Yankees getting pimped by the Tigers. Evidently all of the pitchers (especially you, Moose), A-Rod, Sheffield, and Joe Torre must go. ESPN.com argues that A-Rod ought to stay, and Jeter ought to go. Hilarious.


I just finished two books I really enjoyed. That does not happen so often for me, so I am quite pleased. The first was Crossing California by Adam Langer. I won't write a bunch about it. The review I linked is quite good. Plus, as good as I think the book would be for anyone else, I spent a fair amount of the late Reagan years in the same neighborhoods discussed in the book. That made it all the more interesting, but I have no idea how it would translate for non-North Siders. The second book is Utterly Monkey by Ian Laird. This is the book that sparked a thousand words (or however long this blog post ends up being). By the way, spoiler alert rules apply.

As I was reading Utterly Monkey I realized that the structure, development, and situation in many ways mirrored a great, underappreciated book from the 1980s. That book is Bright Lights, Big City. Keep in mind, literatos out there, that I last read Bright Lights as a high school senior when I had to read The Great Gatsby, Bright Lights, Big City, and Less Than Zero to make a comparative argument of the overly wealthy in literature in the 1920s versus the 1980s. It's been a little while (closer to 20 years than 15 at this point). With that caveat in mind, off we go.

So, in Bright Lights there is a guy who works as a fact checker for a magazine in New York. His boss really hates him, and he doesn't seem to do his job often, or well. The job is apparently good enough for him to live in a nice Manhattan apartment and snort a LOT of cocaine. He also has a train-wreck of a marriage to a fashion model. He parties. He meets people who are vacuous. His life is terrible. Suddenly, he has a revelation. He is outside a club. The sun is coming up. He trades his Ray Bans for some fresh baked rolls, and we realize that he has traded his empty life for the sustenance of fresh white bread. Summary: boy's life is in the toilet from too much partying and hanging out with vacuous people so he gets some bread.

In contrast, in Utterly Monkey there is a guy from a little town in Northern Ireland who goes to London and becomes an associate in a Magic Circle firm. His bosses hate him, and he doesn't seem to be very good at his job. He works plenty, and lives in a nice London townhouse. He is not above smoking some weed, or hash, but cocaine seems to be well beyond him. He has just broken up with his girlfriend. Anyway, a buddy from his bad days in Northern Ireland shows up on the run from some Protestant paramilitaries. This reminds him of the people back in Northern Ireland. He then is assigned to a matter in which his client is going to put 3,000 Northern Irish out of work if their bid is successful (the other bidder will invest in the company instead). He snaps while taking the proposal to the printers, throws it into the Thames, and is reborn as a decent, (soon to be) non-practicing attorney.

So, what have we learned? Back in the 1980s people got their lives in order by quitting drugs, quitting partying and trying to find their way into something approaching respectable company. By the 2000s the key is to quit your very good paying job and hang out with your skid buddies from home. Compare THAT to The Great Gatsby.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I know that I have not posted in a while. I can hear the psychic distress arising from Blogland. And for that a heartily apologize. I am out of town this weekend, but hope to catch up soon. I also put two pictures up on the fotoblog.

Anyway, Boing Boing picked up a really striking piece of information. I have had bad hiccups before. They suck. Sometimes they hurt. They can be very disruptive. I get all that. However, how bad do they have to be to allow the doctors to try "digital rectal massage?" And, just to clarify for you tech types, they mean "digital" in the sense of "a finger" as opposed to "zeros and ones." Thus, taking all of the words together, a man had hiccups so bad that one or more doctors put a finger up his butt. More shockingly, it worked! The report says that "digital rectal massage was then performed resulting in abrupt cessation of the hiccups. Recurrence of the hiccups occurred several hours later, and again, they were terminated immediately with digital rectal massage. No other recurrences were observed."

They say that you ought to scare people to help them get rid of hiccups. Maybe the "rectal massage" doctor had particularly thick fingers and scared Mr. Hiccup.