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    Monday, December 18, 2006

    I Will Never Get Money From The Tobacco Lobby

    EUGENE, Ore. — An Oregon State University study suggests that anti-smoking ads by the tobacco industry targeted at youths and their parents do not work and might actually encourage some teens to smoke.

    At best, the ads have no effect, said Brian Flay, a professor in Oregon State's department of public health in Corvallis, one of nine researchers who studied tobacco-industry ads. He said some ads, particularly those aimed at parents, may actually encourage smoking.

    Cigarette maker Philip Morris USA disputes the results. Philip Morris says not only has it spent $1 billion to develop and disseminate advertising aimed at deterring youth smoking but it also has research that shows the ads work. It says the ads are based on widely accepted research and don't carry hidden messages.

    That's the Seattle Times.  Via Fark, and oh, how Fark rocks.
    1.  Tell your children not to smoke.
    2.  Tell them more than once.
    3.  If you smoke, try like Hell to quit.  It will kill you.
    4.  If you don't smoke, don't give people Hell that do.  Believe me, they want to quit and can't.  Be encouraging if you can, though.


    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Finally, The Excuse We All Wanted

    "The real sweet spot, as you would expect there to be in any biologic system, is around an hour a day," said Dr. Mehmet Oz, a surgeon at Columbia University and co-author of "You: The Owner's Manual." "After that, it's hard to show a great benefit."

    There are no widely accepted recommendations for when adults should lay off exercising partly because health officials are worried about Americans being too sedentary, not too active. But it's also difficult to say with precision when healthy exercise becomes unhealthy among a population that includes extremes from triathletes to couch potatoes.

    "It's so idiosyncratic, that's the tough thing about it," said Carl Foster, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

    William Haskell, professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, says that in general the risk of harm begins to outweigh the benefits for adults after more than an hour a day. Above an hour, it's questionable whether you're going to get much more from it, he said.


    That makes sense in my worldview.  Moderation, baby.


    Friday, December 08, 2006

    So Close

    I'm sure that everyone knows about James Kim by now.  I've been reading his stuff off and on for years.  I say hero.  But I grate at just how close he was.

    CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — The San Francisco man who sought help for his stranded family and got lost in the snowy wilderness died of hypothermia near a fishing lodge stacked with food, authorities said.

    James Kim, 35, had no way of knowing about the Black Bar Lodge. His body was found in shallow water feeding Big Windy Creek, about a mile away from the lodge, where he could have found shelter, warmth and enough food for months, authorities said Thursday.

    Arrgh.  Arrgh.  Arrgh.  So close, yet so far away.  Rest in peace, Mr. Kim.  At least you went out on your feet, trying to save your family. 
    The world sighs, James dies, and that's about the extent of the poetry in it.


    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    And On The 8th Day God Said, "Don't Get Cocky"

    I would consider mass deaths of large primates to disease to be... disconcerting.
    In parts of the Republic of Congo in equatorial Africa, nearly all the gorillas are gone. Since 2001 gorilla and chimpanzee remains have showed up near and in the Lossi Sanctuary, close to the Gabon border. Just what was killing these great apes was unclear. Now researchers finger the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus as the culprit. "No doubt that's what killed them," says Peter Walsh, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He and his team estimate that the virus has killed 5,500 gorillas in the northwestern part of the country.

    Of four subtypes of the Ebola virus, Ebola Zaire is the nastiest, Walsh says. This virus has about an 80 percent mortality rate and infects primates, including humans. The disease begins with a headache and leads, in about a week, to hemorrhagic fever and organ failure.

    Oddly, I haven't heard about any Ebola outbreaks in human populations in a while.
    Knock on wood.
    Tom Cullen sure is tired... M-O-O-N, that spells tired.


    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    I Heard A Rumor

    SUVA, Fiji - The military ruler who led a coup against Fiji's elected government forcibly dissolved the South Pacific island's parliament Wednesday, installed a new prime minister and warned that he could use force against dissenters.
    Commodore Frank Bainimarama, leader of the country's fourth coup in 19 years, also dismissed the country's police chief, who had publicly opposed him.
    Armed troops entered Parliament and demanded senators end budget deliberations that had resumed despite the government's ouster. Bainimarama said he had formally dissolved the legislature.
    Every time I read a story about this tension filled situation, when I see the name "Bainimarama", I always think of a successful 1980's new wave girl band  and wonder, "What the hell are they doing in Fiji?"  Is that wrong?  Should I not be doing that?


    Save Interest Dough

    Financial weblog Sound Money Tips says that chances are you can lower your credit card interest rate with one simple phone call, especially if you've done your homework.
    Notice how I've been posting all of these things about credit, consumerism, and shopping lately?
    Why, you ask?
    'Tis the season.  Save some cash, and don't let the holidays bankrupt you this year.



    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Note To Self: Get Rich

    TWO per cent of adults command more than half of the world's wealth, while the bottom 50 per cent possesses just one per cent, according to a United Nations development institute study.

    While income is distributed unequally across the globe, the geographical spread of wealth - which includes property and financial assets - is even more skewed, the study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the UN University showed.

    "Wealth is heavily concentrated in North America, Europe and high-income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively hold almost 90 per cent of total world wealth," the survey said.

    The Helsinki-based institute said this was the first global research on the topic, for which there are only limited data. The study is based on figures from 2000.

    Institute director Anthony Shorrocks said if the world's population was reduced to a group of 10 people, one person would hold $US99 and the remaining nine would share $1.

    That's completely obvious, and is either great or disgusting - I guess dependent on which country you're reading this in.
    But then again, if you're reading this at all you should count your blessings.


    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Life's Soundtrack

    An idea nabbed from the Assimilated Negro.  What's my life's soundtrack?
    Well, according to my trusty iPod, here it is.  I find it interesting.  You might as well.  Notice that I didn't cheat to make myself look better/cooler/hipper.
    Opening Credits: Award Tour - A Tribe Called Quest
    Waking Up: Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
    First Day at School: Y Control - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    Falling In Love: Get It On - T.Rex
    Fight Song: Beastie Boys - Heart Attack Man
    Breaking Up: The Warmth - Incubus
    Prom: Love Me Two Times - Doors
    Life: Cupid - Jack Johnson
    Mental Breakdown: Kid Fears - Indigo Girls
    Driving: Torn and Tattered - Joss Stone
    Flashback: The Letter - Macy Gray
    Wedding: Hanging Around - Counting Crows
    Birth of Child: Silver Lining - David Gray
    Final Battle: More Than A Woman - Bee Gees
    Death Scene: You're So Rad - Bouncing Souls
    Funeral Song: Cornflake Girl - Tori Amos
    End Credit: Girl Afraid - The Smiths

    Candidate Handicapping

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is holding discussions about and interviewing potential campaign staff for a White House bid in 2008, sources say.
    That's on CNN.
    On that note, perhaps now is a good time to start handicapping the possible Democratic candidates.
    1.  Hillary Clinton.
    Pro - She's smart, rational, and has some measure of experience with the rigors of the White House.
    Con - See above.  Also, she's female, which, unfortunately, might be the kiss of death for her presidental bid in this country, much to our shame.  Also will nobilize Republicans like no other human being on the face of the planet.
    2.  Barack Obama.
    Pro - He's eloquent.  He's a fresh face.  He's the closest thing to a rock star that Democrats have.  Shockingly, he's also religious and pretty honest.
    Con - He's black.  That's a big problem, unfortunately, for the American people.
    3.  Tom Vilsack.
    Pro - He's a governor, which is usually a springboard to the White House.
    Con - He's an Iowa governor.  Very few people know who he is.
    4.  Evan Bayh.
    Pro - He's a Washington insider, and knows how the system works. 
    Con - See above.
    5.  Al Gore.
    Pro - Very intelligent.  Very qualified.
    Con - Ran once and lost.  That might be enough to kill any additional bid.
    All choices come with natural flaws.  Other people that should run but won't include:
    John Edwards
    Wesley Clark
    Brian Schweitzer
    My Dad
    So it goes.


    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Happy Birthday To Me

    Actually, I'm typically very low key about birthdays.
    But today is mine, and I'm definitely not low key.  Why?
    All of the nicotine is out of my system.  The last cigarette that I had was Tuesday, and that was only one.  Therefore, it's all gone.  All that's left is beating the habit.
    What method did I use?  Nothing.  Willpower.  Cold turkey.
    Personally, I endorse this method, because lozenges, patches, shots, gum.... they all have nicotine.  That's the part that you have to break.  Ever wonder why cigarette companies are quick to endorse these quitting methods?  Well, I'm thinking that it's no coincidence.
    That was my birthday present to myself, and my daughter, this week.  I've tried to do it before, but for some reason, I think that this time it will stick.
    I'll keep you updated.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Credit Cards...Of Doom

    A day late, I find that I missed this on the Consumerist.
    PBS has joined forces with the New York Times to reveal, "The Secret History Of Credit Cards." The show airs tonight at 9pm EST.
    The bad news is that special was on LAST night.  The good news?  If you navigate to the article via the handy link provided here , you can find a link to the online version.  That's The Consumerist for you. 
    Interestingly, myself and the significant other just had a discussion about credit cards last night.  Our advice?  Scan your bills carefully, even if you get online bills like I do... because every now and then, they like to sneak in a couple of extra unannounced fees (say, an oddly-named purchase fee), and if you call them on it, they might remove them.  She's says she's saved $150 this year that way.
    That's a lot of eggs and milk.


    Blogger The Sequel

    Well, it's been a while, but I know that I'm having more blog hiccups that even switching to Blogger Beta hasn't been fixing.
    They tell me that it's the fault of Gmail, but hey, same company.  Has been for a while now.  Meh.
    For this, I apologize.  I'm hoping to have the problems cleared up soon.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Of Course They Knew

    Many EU member states were aware of secret CIA jails and transfers of terror suspects, a European Parliament draft report has said.

    The report follows months of investigation by a special committee of MEPs led by an Italian, Claudio Fava.

    "Many governments co-operated passively or actively (with the CIA)," said Mr Fava, quoted by the AFP news agency.

    No one should think this is the slightest bit strange... except for that whole torturing prisoners in foriegn jails part.
    9-12 should be remembered as the day that we started losing the War On Terror.
    And yippie, hopefully Blogger will post this perfect.  Please?

    Mother Of The Decade

    DAYTON, Ohio - An infant girl who died in August 2005 of a high body temperature might have been put in a microwave, and her mother has been charged in the death, authorities said Tuesday.
    Get the disgusting details on Yahoo.
    I'm not a death penalty supporter, really.
    Therefore, I am resisting the temptation to say "BURN HER!!"
    I am finding resistance may be futile.



    We Are Becoming Just As Bad As Them

    Many EU member states were aware of secret CIA jails and transfers of terror suspects, a European Parliament draft report has said.

    The report follows months of investigation by a special committee of MEPs led by an Italian, Claudio Fava.

    "Many governments co-operated passively or actively (with the CIA)," said Mr Fava, quoted by the AFP news agency.

    No one should think this is the slightest bit strange... except for that whole torturing prisoners in foriegn jails part.

    9-12 should be remembered as the day that we started losing the War On Terror.


    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Day Of The Robot

    The dawn of the Robot Age draws ever nearer.

    Oh great. As if the potent, robotic cocktail of self-replication, self-awareness, and wireless power weren't bad enough, along comes Cornell University with a robot capable of not only discovering its own nature (something we can't even do) but then adapts to overcome injury. This four-legged robot starts out knowing only what parts it has, not where they are or how to use them for locomotion. It applies a scientific method of theory and experimentation to develop computer models and ultimately, a set of commands to turn its motors for that first cautious step. Even when researchers remove part of the toddling robot's leg, the little guy still figures out a way to limp forward.

    Check it out! Engadget! They can still bring the goods.

    Notes to self:
    1. Incorporate company called Cyberdyne Systems, vigorously defend name of said organization through the legal system.
    2. Develop network of contacts throughout the Western Hemisphere where, if necessary, I could hide out.
    3. Find, and warn, Sarah Connor.

    Actually, I wasn't about to use that overworked cliché, but it was just too much for me and I had to.

    All that being aside, Cornell does it again. That's pretty interesting. The question is, can I make that robot clean my house? Will it abide by the Three Laws of Robotics? Should I be worried?

    I want one.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    More Blog Updates

    You may have noticed a couple of changes.
    This website now has labels, which is the fancy Google name for "Categories".  What this allows you to do is click any of the topics under the "Labels" section of the sidebar, and that will immediately take you to all of the posts in that section.  Pretty spiffy, huh?
    Also, you'll notice that almost all of the posts now have a "Labels" tag attached.  This allows me to categorize each post I make.  I only ask that you allow me a few hours to get new posts correctly tagged.
    Now, I haven't yet categorized all of my posts, as I have been doing this for a while and had a lot more posts than I thought, so might take a hot minute for me to get up to date.  Also, there may be some post that are categorized where they don't belong.  If you happen to come across any of these, let me know.
    I'll probably post later how I did it.  It's not a particularly simple process, as I did not upgrade my original Blogger template to do it.
    I would also expect that I'll be posting a few more Blogger how-tos.  I have numerous hacks already built into my site, as you might have guessed.
    The layout will probably also be changing.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Caption Of The Week

    First, let's look at the article.
    Birdwatchers rushed excitedly to see a swallow that hasn't been seen in Britain for 20 years - then got a nasty surprise when eaten by a hawk in front of their eyes.
    Article in Metro UK.  Found via Fark.
    Now, *ahem*, the picture and caption.
    A sparrowhawk: I'M IN UR SKIEZ,
    No, seriously.
    That caption was, "I'M IN UR SKIEZ, EATIN UR SWALLOWZ"
    Those that don't understand this particular Internet meme should take a look at this post on Boing Boing .
    I love the parrot in the macaroni.  I'm not sure why.


    Well, I switched to new Blogger in beta.
    Let me know how it went.  If things get too goofy then I will be making other changes.  Did my template change?  Are comments still working?
    As a result of this change, you will be seeing plenty of new things, and first on my list... categories!  That's something everyone seems to want.
    More later!

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Working For The Man

    It's funny that when people reach a certain age, such as after graduating college, they assume it's time to go out and get a job.  But like many things the masses do, just because everyone does it doesn't mean it's a good idea.  In fact, if you're reasonably intelligent, getting a job is one of the worst things you can do to support yourself.  There are far better ways to make a living than selling yourself into indentured servitude.

    Here are some reasons you should do everything in your power to avoid getting a job:

    Found via The Hack.
    I've been toying with this idea for some time now.
    Really, I have been.
    The problem is that, after so many years of working, your soul is beaten down to a pulp.  You can't think straight:  you get confused, then all verklempt.  However, it IS possible to make money and not work like a dog.  I've seen it happen.  At one telecommunications company that I worked at that will remain nameless, we used to joke that you could actually feel your soul, dripping out of the soles of your feet, and pooling under the desk chair in your tiny cookie-cutter cubicle.  Bleech.
    However, this man, he does have some very good idea.  The question is: Do you have the guts to implement them?  That's something to truly think about.
    So.  There's your good news from me today.

    Eat Meat, Get Cancer

    CHICAGO -- Eating red meat may raise a woman's risk of a common type of breast cancer, and vitamin supplements will do little if anything to protect her heart, two new studies suggest.

    Women who ate more than 1 1/2 servings of red meat per day were almost twice as likely to develop hormone-related breast cancer as those who ate fewer than three portions per week, one study found.

    The other - one of the longest and largest tests of whether supplements of various vitamins can prevent heart problems and strokes in high-risk women - found that the popular pills do no good, although there were hints that women with the highest risk might get some benefit from vitamin C.

    Consult for that nugget of wonderful news.
    Seriously, I wonder if before the advent of pumping up meats and such with hormones that this was an issue?  I mean, people are meant to eat meat and vegetables, right?  Isn't that the way it was supposed to work out?
    I'll keep watching.
    In the meantime, I suspect that there will be a lot of frustrated sons, husbands, and boyfriends out there very, very soon, when they can't eat a steak at home.


    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Gay Marriage

    Top ten reasons why gay marriage should be illegal.  Tongue firmly in cheek, of course.  Here were three of my favorites.
    02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

    03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

    04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all like many of the principles on which this great country was founded; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

    Via  Ha!
    I had an interesting discussion with someone this week about gay marriage; we debated the theory from opposing points of view.  However, I went away feeling disoriented and disillusioned, simply because I can't for the life of me figure out why gay marriage should be illegal.  It simply doesn't resonate with my worldview.  In my opinion, it seems that gay people should have the same right to get married and die as happy (or unhappy) as your average, everyday straight person.  Maybe I'm nuts, but marriage would seem to be a basic human right.
    It would seem, anyway.

    The Cosmic Irony of the MLK Memorial

    I find this interesting.
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Presidents, civil rights icons, celebrities and ordinary citizens gathered Monday on the National Mall, where construction is getting under way for a monument honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
    Via CNN.
    Why do I find this interesting?
    Construction of the $100 million monument is scheduled to be completed in 2008, 40 years after King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

    Backers have raised more than $65 million, according to The Associated Press. Most of the funding has come from corporate donors including Tommy Hilfiger and General Motors.

    While I support the monument, I find it interesting that $100 million dollars is being spent on a monument for a man that probably would have wanted that $100 million dollars to help the poor instead on being spent on a monument for him.
    Ponder that.


    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Yes, I Know

    Yes, I know that my fonts have been going odd lately.

    It's only one thing in a pattern. Bear with me. Thanks.

    So, just to let you know that I know what you're talking about, I'll post this:

    Blog From Email

    I've been blogging from email for some time, but this particular app seemed quite well timed for me, especially since I have had so many problems getting that to work lately.

    Software blog Download Squad gives the scoop on BlogMailr, a free tool that lets you add posts to your blog just by sending e-mails.

    Glory be to Lifehacker! We love you, Gina.

    Incidentally, the link to the BlogMailr is right here. Yippie!

    I'd also like to add that you should expand your mind and listen to Littlefeat. I am doing that right now.

    Update: The first time I posted this today failed. What timing. In other words, you need this app.
    Update x2: The second time that I've posted this today failed. Arrgh.

    More Blogger Woes And A Shout Out

    Just so it's out there, for some reason, Blogger was blowing up my posts earlier this week.
    I only say that for those of you that were wondering, "Why hasn't Clark posted anything on Election Day?"
    Needless to say, things seem to be working again.  Ack.  If you posted a comment anywhere (this means you, L!), then you might want to repost your comment.  Sorry!
    In the meantime, let me give a shout out to all these places that have visited lately.  Lately I've been getting a heck of a lot of hits, and that I appreciate, but it's making it harder to give out the appropriate shouts, as the list is getting a bit long.
    *deep breath*
    Erie, Lafayette, Parker, and Denver, Colorado, Florida, New South Wales, Austrailia, Denmark, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (go Panthers!), Chicago, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Berlin, Newfoundland, Canada, Bainbridge Island and Gig Harbor Washington, Australia, Portland, Oregon (yes, I did go there!), Stockholm, Sweeden, and finally, my boys in San Antonio, TX - where I love my guys at KKD.  Keep on keepin' on.
    There's quite a few more, but my hands are tired.
    Keep coming around.  I'll get you listed on a shout out sooner or later.

    Election Night In Denver

    Oh my God.


    I arrived at the voting center in Denver last night at 5:20pm.  The line to vote, by that time, had already stretched down the block, around the corner, and up the NEXT block.


    I despaired.


    People (I assume volunteers) were walking around the line, telling people that the line was very, very long (duh), but to NOT GET OUT OF LINE.  Everyone that was in line by 7:00pm would be able to vote.


    I said to one of that there was no way in Hell I was getting out of line.


    That was 5:30.


    At about 5:45pm, people started walking around the line, handing out water, cookies, and donuts.  Bless those that brought the pizzas.  They kept us fed.


    At about 6:15 or so, someone gave me a peanut butter sandwich.  I noticed, to my great shock, that this guy was making the sandwiches IN HIS HOUSE and bringing them out to voters.  Stunning.  Others were running down to the grocery store down the street to buy food to bring to us.  These people I cannot thank enough.


    Voters were starting to mill about aimlessly.  People were angry.  Others were saying, quite vocally, "Stay in line!  Don't leave!"  It was, quite honestly, a remarkable show of unity on behalf of my neighborhood.  I was so proud, I almost cried.


    However, at about 7, at the time that the polls were supposed to be closing, I started to lose hope.  One young woman in front of me was wearing heels.  She kept kneeling on the ground, trying to get some circulation back into her legs.  Her feet were starting to get tired.  She was losing steam, and I knew it.


    She looked at me.


    "Don't leave." I said.


    "I won't.  I'm already invested." she remarked, with some thinly veiled frustration.


    I left it at that.  We talked quite a bit more that night, but that really isn't pertinent to the story.


    Right around that same time, a volunteer came around telling us that the Election Commission was giving out tickets at the end of the line, to make sure that they knew who the last person in line should be - who could be the last voter.


    I remarked, "So.  Then, what you are saying, is that if anyone walks up to this line, and says that they want to vote, then I should close my eyes and kind of trip or something, and then open my eyes again, with them ahead of me."


    "Yes." she said.


    "Damn right I will."


    At about 7:30, one man remarked to me that he thought this vote was rigged, anyway.  We were in the process of being disenfranchised, and we all knew it.  He said that this kind of line to vote for something was a violation of our civil rights, and that this bordered on criminal.


    I know, I said, but nothing, even if someone called in a bomb threat, could get me out of this line.


    At 8:00pm came my first thoughts of filing a class action lawsuit.


    At about 8:20pm, in the middle of the Corona Presbyterian Church, I finally got my opportunity to vote.  I had already researched my votes.  I knew what I was voting for.  Voting took about five minutes.


    I walked out of the voting booth, and an election official asked me if I wanted one of those "I Voted" stickers that they hand out every election.  Hell yes, I said, but I was too tired to snatch it from her with disdain like I had planned on, for many of those minutes in that insane, god-awful, 4000 person-plus line that was still three or so city blocks long.  At the back door, where I exited, a woman saw my sticker.


    "Good for you!" she said.

    "Yeah.  Good for me." I replied.

    It was past 8:30pm.  I had voted.


    But I had to fight like Hell to do it.


    The system in Denver is broken.


    That breaks democracy everywhere.


    Tell your friends.  Tell your relatives.  Tell the world.  I know that I want the system fixed, and I'm going to do it - by complaining right here.  I live in the most population concentrated area of Colorado.  Yet, we had the LEAST amount of voting centers.  I don't want to say that it's a conspiracy.  But what else would you call it, really?

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Children And Bad Stuff

    Fetal and early childhood exposures to industrial chemicals in the environment can damage the developing brain and can lead to neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs)--autism, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), and mental retardation. Still, there has been insufficient research done to identify the individual chemicals that can cause injury to the developing brains of children.
    From the Science Blog.  Show them some love.
    Look.  How hard is it to try to keep kids (and senior citizens, frankly) healthy?  As the world's weakest citizens, they should be the ones that we protect the most.  Instead, we give our kids chemical poisoning, hormone-stuffed food and liquids, too much sugar and salt and Ritalin, which is, interestingly enough, chemically similar to cocaine.
    Thank Wikipedia for that cite, by the way.
    Perfect.  And I didn't even mention the school shootings.
    Society, stop sleeping.

    Friday, November 03, 2006


    SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (Reuters) - President George W. Bush challenged Democrats on Friday to offer their plan for winning in Iraq as he swept across Republican strongholds in the U.S. heartland to try to help his party's candidates survive on Election Day.

    Encouraging audience participation from thousands of Republican loyalists at a rally, Bush said Democrats should be asked, "What's your plan?" for winning in Iraq and a host of other national security issues separating the parties.

    "What's your plan?" the audience yelled back

    What's your plan, indeed?
    Alright.  Let's put events to a time line.
    1.  9-11 happens.
    2.  We identify al-Queda as the culprits.
    3.  Every politician in Washington decides to collectively lose their minds.
    4.  We invade Afghanistan, which makes perfect sense.
    5.  Despite having little or no proof that Iraq is involved, despite the fact that there were and are worse despots on the planet, despite Iraq having no WMDs (a word that somebody just made up out of nowhere), we invade Iraq with far, far too little people to actually do the job of stabilizing the area after our invasion.
    6.  In a surprise to only the most rigidly optimist or naive or our citizenry, lots of people die.  Lots.
    7.  Widespread Panic ensues.
    I'm all about supporting the troops, because, my God, they've been shot at and bombed to smithereens.  Equally, I can tell without hesitation that I am not brilliant.  I'm a very simple man.  It says so right at the top of the page.  But.
    How could anyone really have thought that invading Iraq was really a good idea?  Really?!
    How ridiculous.
    Even worse, now we are STUCK there.  Stuck.  As in quicksand.  Or quagmire.
    Washington DC, as a whole, has much to answer for.  Too much.  We have succeeded in kicking out a dictator and destabilizing an entire region of the planet.  We don't have more oil.  Terrorists are being spawned in alarming numbers in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern and African countries as we speak. 
    Time to face facts, people.
    We blew it.
    Every politician that participated in this garbage should be tossed, really.  But they won't be.  Worse, no matter whether you intend to vote for a Democrat or a Republican next week, nothing, nothing good will come of it.  Our soldiers will still be in Iraq, and unfortunately, they aren't going anywhere for quite a while.  Mark that as a promise.  Deep in your heart, you know that I'm not wrong. 
    Don't you?

    Tuesday, October 31, 2006

    Political Ads

    Dear Politicians of All Persuasions:
    Today, once again, I turned on the television in the morning to look at the news and get the weather.  Unfortunately, today, more so than every other day, every political ad that I saw was a negative attack ad. 
    You see, as a past political science major, politics does hold some interest for me.  Election season, however, brings out the absolute worst part of the process: negative marketing.  I can't stand it.  No one can.
    I don't care who paid their student loans and when they paid them.
    They had a bankruptcy ten years ago?  So?
    Weak on crime?  What is that, actually?  Does actually mean that someone is pro-crime?
    Gay marriage is bad?  Evil, even?  Why?
    Mythical Television Campaign That I Expect To See Any Day Now:
    Candidate #1:  My opponent is soft on crime.
    Candidate #2:  I am not soft on crime.  But my opponent will raise your taxes.
    Candidate #1:  I never said that I will raise your taxes.  My opponent, however, supports illegal immigration.
    Candidate #2:  I do NOT support an invading illegal immigrant horde.  But I have heard from several good sources that my opponent kicks puppies when his team loses in football.
    Candidate #1:  I love puppies, and have several well-adjusted puppies of my own, but there are whispers in Washington that Candidate #2 eats babies.
    Candidate #2:  Those babies were going to grow up to be terrorists, and Candidate #1 knows it.  Therefore, Candidate #1 supports terrorism!
    Is this the state of political discourse today?
    Negative political campaign ads are a symptom of a much larger disease.  Democracy in the United States is sick, and getting sicker by the cycle.  Political candidates, be a part of the cure, and not part of the problem.  Tell people what you intend to actually intend to do for them while in office.  That's really what every voter wants to know, anyway.
    It's only for the good of your country.
    Isn't that why you're running for office in the first place?
    Shouldn't it be?
    Best regards, and good luck,

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    She Keeps Trying, Darn It

    Yet again, despite continual and mounting evidence to the contrary, Oprah still tries to prove that humanity is not dead .
    On a show that aired Monday, Winfrey gave more than 300 audience members $1,000 debit cards sponsored by the Bank of America to donate to a charitable cause.

    Winfrey called the show her "favorite giveaway ever."

    "I can honestly say that every gift I've ever given has brought at least as much happiness to me as it has to the person I've given it to," the 52-year-old talk-show host said. "That's the feeling I want to pass on to you."

    People can give the entire sum to one person -- relatives aren't eligible -- or they can split it among charitable causes. Audience members also received a DVD recorder to tape their stories for a future show.

    Oprah.  The Queen of Chicago.
    The sheer audacity of her continued attempts to make the world a slightly better place is truly remarkable.
    Oprah, you give us hope, my dear.  Don't ever change.

    Write A Novel In A Month

    So you've always wanted to write a novel, eh? Well you've got 2 days to brainstorm your plot because November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) Join thousands of other wrimo's who've committed to pounding out a 175-page (50,000 word) novel during the 30 days of November.
    Thank Lifehacker for this.  Heh heh.
    From the actual website:
    National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

    Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

    Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

    Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

    You know, I think that I might try this, since I've been working on a book idea anyway.  Scary, but it sounds fun.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    It's Halloween


    Want to hear a true story?


    I was a teenager, living in the Denver suburbs with my parents and brother, many, many years ago.  We lived in a nice little place not far from where I now work.


    One day, my mother was out doing something - no one can remember exactly what.  My dad, brother, and I were preparing to go out on a little excursion somewhere on a Saturday afternoon.  Nothing really remarkable was happening, unless you count the fact that all of us were together and it was a nice day.  It takes many years of seasoning to learn to appreciate how nice it is to have memories like that. 


    But I digress.


    Well, on this particular day, all of us men were preparing to leave the house - and being just a little silly, from what I can recall.  You know, just being guys.  I believe that I had pulled some dishes out of the dishwasher - they were not hot, as the dishes had been washed some time ago, and had put some away.  I specifically remember putting a clean glass on the counter relatively close to the sink.  But we were in a hurry.  My brother ran upstairs for some reason, while my dad went to the front door.  After a moment, I joined my dad at the front door, in the hallway, which was just adjacent to the kitchen, to wait for my brother to come down.


    During the course of one's life, I believe that a person can look back on certain events, both large and small, and say without hesitation that sometimes very, very small things can have very, very important outcomes.  Sure, big decisions, like, for instance, where do I go to college, or should I take that job are big too.  But truly, sometimes the tiniest detail can have a stunningly important impact.  And in this case, the tiny little detail that probably changed my life in some fashion was that I had left the kitchen.




    Because a few moments after I left the kitchen, everyone in the house heard an enormous BANG coming from the kitchen.  It was as if someone had been shot.  My father and I recoiled in shock.  My brother ran downstairs to see what had happened, and with some trepidation we all walked into the kitchen.


    A glass, one that I had just touched, one that I had left on the counter just seconds before, had exploded.  Not cracked, exploded.  It was as if someone had put a tiny time bomb inside the glass.  The base was mostly intact.  However, the rest of the glass had disintegrated into a million tiny, sharp pieces of glass.  We found shards of glass behind the refrigerator, in the family room 20 feet away, all over the kitchen sink.  Glass was everywhere.  Many months later, I was still finding glass by the fireplace where my family watched television. 


    What we did not find, however, was an explanation for what actually had happened. 


    Nor have we ever.


    The "Story of the Exploding Glass" is legendary in my family.  What I do know is that the glass was NOT hot, it was NOT cold in my house, I did not break the glass, and no one was in the room. 


    But I do not know what made the glass explode, although we were all thankful that we weren't in the room when it happened.


    This I do know, however.  There was some... feeling, that we had come shockingly close to witnessing something happen that was... unnatural.  Perhaps supernatural.  My brother, father and I still feel that to this day.


    Was it someone or something trying to send a message?


    Was it, like we have all whispered amongst ourselves for many years, a ghost?



    Or perhaps not.





    Happy Halloween.

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    A Good Idea That, If You Really Think About It, Will Make You Sick

    An Oklahoma retired veteran and state school superintendent candidate is campaigning to have bullet-proof textbooks. Bill Crozier tested traditional textbooks to see what, if any kind of bullets a textbook would stop. The traditional textbooks were able to stop handgun bullets, but not rifle bullets. Crozier is suggesting making the covers out of Kevlar.
    Via Gizmodo.
    Here's an idea. 
    Instead of worrying about making textbooks out of Kevlar, why don't we concentrate on trying to make schools safer, for God's sake?!  Is this truly what the world is coming to?  Is society really THAT DUMB?  Seriously, now!  This is not rocket science. 
    Here's a thought: how about more security at schools INSTEAD OF Kevlar textbooks?!
    I have a two-year old who will be attending pre-school late next year.  Should I be expecting Kevlar LEGOS, next?
    This is actually a perfect representation of the theory of "Treating The Symptom, and Not The Problem" thinking that is so prevalent in today's society.
    These are certainly not humanity's brightest moments ever.


    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Nature Eats Amok

    Families and tourists in a London park were left shocked when a pelican picked up and swallowed a pigeon. The unusual wildlife spectacle in St James's Park was caught on camera by photographer Cathal McNaughton. He said the Eastern White pelican had the unfortunate pigeon in its beak for more than 20 minutes before swallowing it whole.
    Don't believe me?  Write the BBC.
    That would be two extremely odd snacking events in nature lately.  This one just happened recently as well.
    LYON, France -- Visitors to the Botanical Gardens in Lyon, France, should watch their fingers after a carnivorous plant there ate a mouse.
    That's on
    I find this trend disturbing.  Aren't we at the top of the food chain?
    I suppose that it's time to start eating pelican and pitcher plant salads.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Open Source Madness

    Seriously, I'm so sorry that I forgot to mention this particular bit of info.  Want Open Source?
    We post scads of free downloads here on Lifehacker, but today instead of pimping yet another Google product, I'd like to tip my hat to the open source developers who release innovative, useful products that make our lives that much easier every day - because it's our right, not privilege, to control our own data.

    Open source roots are in the Unix operating system, but these days many "free as in speech" applications are available for Windows as well - and today I've got a list of my top 10 favorites.

    None of these cost a dime to download and use, but do donate whatever and whenever you can to the projects that benefit you the most.

    You know that's got to be Lifehacker.  Sigh.  I would devote some quality time reading that article, if I were you.
    Really, I should do a plug to another long-forgotten post that I made about subjects similiar to this right here in POW - the blog.
    But I won't.
    See what I did there?

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Side Projects

    Lately I have been thinking about, then starting on, a couple of side projects that I thought that I might share with you.


    The first is a yet-to-be titled website.  It's a pretty good idea, and I think that I'm going to run with it, even though the person who sold me on the idea doesn't have it quite... fleshed out.  I think I can work with it anyway. 


    The second is a still-untitled non-fiction book project.  Other people that I have talked to are pretty excited about this one.  I might be able to get to those people that, *gasp*, love it.  If this one goes over, I'm bagging this spot and moving to the moon, and then I'm going to park right there on the moon with a telescope, and tell everyone on Earth to get the hell out of my 1. sunset view, or 2.  driveway, whichever comes first.


    Why to embark on either of these time-intensive, and probably time-killing, projects, you ask?


    Well, it's like this.


    I've been practicing.  I've been practicing quite a bit, actually.  That's kind of why I began this blog in the first place; both as a place to practice and hone my writing skills, and as a website for me to dabble with to increase my web authoring skills.


    Also, I should mention that I might be moving this site soon.  You see, I've been messing around with this other thing, and... well, just don't be too surprised.

    Not A Plug, But Interesting, Nonetheless

    Today I came across a website that claims to tell you how many people have your name in the U.S.
    Not shockingly, the url is here: .
    According to this website, two hundred and seventy people have my name, which I find vaguely suspicious, but eh, well.
    I would also like to add that 268 of them have worse credit than me, extensive criminal records, are tax evaders and are dodgy individuals in general.
    Actually, I have no idea about that. 
    However I have to keep the Justice Department and FBI on their toes.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Marriage, Still Good, Just Not As Popular

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - It is by no means dead, but for the first time, a new survey has shown that traditional marriage has ceased to be the preferred living arrangement in the majority of US households.
    The shift, reported by the US Census Bureau in its 2005 American Community Survey, could herald a sea change in every facet of American life -- from family law to national politics and its current emphasis on family values.

    The findings, which were released in August but largely escaped public attention until now because of the large volume of data, indicated that marriage did not figure in nearly 55.8 million American family households, or 50.2 percent.

    Thank Yahoo News.
    Certainly, there's a lot of reasons that this is the case.  Point one being divorce, which tends to rip ex-husbands to shreds.  Of course, there are a lot of other reasons as well.  I prefer to think of it being a lot of people, men and women, choosing wisely.  Just because two people don't have a piece of paper doesn't mean that they can't stay with each other forever, will each other a mess of money, and make promises to one another.


    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Starting A New Project

    Lately, I've been thinking quite a bit about a new side project.  You know, one that actually makes money and makes my "net" time more productive and lucrative in general.

    I heard a useful rule about predicting success during my (failed) attempt at creating a hit Dilbert animated TV show. While watching the Dilbert pilot being tested on a focus group, an experienced executive explained to me the most non-intuitive way to predict success. Since then I've observed it to be true a number of times. It goes like this:

    If everyone exposed to a product likes it, the product will not succeed.

    Think about that for a minute before I explain why everyone liking something predicts failure. If you get this answer right, I'm guessing that you are already successful yourself. Tell me in the comments if I'm right about that.

    The reason that a product "everyone likes" will fail is because no one "loves" it. The only thing that predicts success is passion, even if only 10% of the consumers have it. For example, I'm willing to bet that when the TV show Baywatch was tested, 90% of the people rolled their eyes and gave it a thumbs down. But I'll bet 10% of the test audience had tents in their pants. Bingo.

    You know who that was?  Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, from his blog.  Hopefully I don't get any issues by linking to him.  He's kinda rich, you know.
    That got me thinking.
    It's not the idea for everyone that you want to have.
    It's the PERFECT idea for SOMEONE that you want to have.
    Kind of like crack.  Not for everyone, but perfect for some.  They have to have it.
    Think about that.
    While you're at it, go visit the Dilbert Blog.  I have a feeling I'll be visiting often.  It may get a permalink.

    The Sendero Luminoso

    Today's genocidal maniac of the day is... Abimael Guzman, leader of The Shining Path
    The Communist Party of Peru ( Spanish: El Partido Comunista del Perú), more commonly known as the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), is a Maoist guerrilla organization in Peru. The more familiar name distinguishes the group from several other Peruvian communist parties with similar names (see Communism in Peru). It originates from a maxim of José Carlos Mariátegui, founder of the original Peruvian Communist Party: "El Marxismo-Leninismo abrirá el sendero luminoso hacia la revolución" ("Marxism-Leninism will open the shining path to revolution").[1]
    Cite from Wikipedia.
    Here's more, if you care not to read all of the nastiness.

    Theodore Dalrymple in an article published September 6, 2006, stated that "The worst brutality I ever saw was that committed by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru, in the days when it seemed possible that it might come to power. If it had, I think its massacres would have dwarfed those of the Khmer Rouge. As a doctor, I am accustomed to unpleasant sights, but nothing prepared me for what I saw in Ayacucho, where Sendero first developed under the sway of a professor of philosophy, Abimael Guzman." [27]

    That's right.  "...I think that it's massacres would have dwarfed those of the Khmer Rouge."
    Mercy, mercy me.
    So why is Guzman our special little guy today? Let's show him what he's won!
    A verdict is expected in the retrial of the founder of Peru's bloody guerrilla movement, the Shining Path.

    Former philosophy professor Abimael Guzman faces a possible life sentence for his role in a 12-year rebellion in which around 70,000 people died.

    Ah, those Brits.  BBC does it again.
    So for crimes against humanity, you, Abimael Guzman, win a life long stay at a Peruvian prison.  Enjoy! 
    I hope that he doesn't find it a rich recruiting environment.  God, I really hope so.


    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Blog Like An Idiot And Pay

    You know, if your mother taught you that it's not right to post nastiness about someone on the Internet, she was right.
    A Florida woman has been awarded $11.3 million in a defamation lawsuit against a Louisiana woman who posted messages on the Internet accusing her of being a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud."

    Legal analysts say the Sept. 19 award by a jury in Broward County, Fla. — first reported Friday by the Daily Business Review — represents the largest such judgment over postings on an Internet blog or message board. Lyrissa Lidsky, a University of Florida law professor who specializes in free-speech issues, calls the award "astonishing."

    I can think of a "blogger" right now that probably hurriedly erasing past posts.


    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Finally! The Answers To Everything Financial

    ...and it's in a Dilbert cartoon.
    Want to see it?
    'Unified Theory of Everything Financial'
    Quietly hidden in Adams' groundbreaking work is a financial formula so simple it rivals Einstein's E=mc2. In its original form Adams' formula was apparently so heretical and so explosive that no major house would touch it when he proposed publishing it as a one-page book. After initial rejections, he announced sadly that "if God materialized on earth and wrote the secret of the universe on one page, he wouldn't be able to find a publisher" either.
    Fortunately for America's 95 million investors, Adams' secret nine-point formula was finally revealed in "Dilbert and the Way of the Weasels." Notice its simple brilliance in the exact reproduction of his formula:
    1. Make a will
    2. Pay off your credit cards
    3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
    4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
    5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
    6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
    7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
    8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
    9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio
    Where?  MarketWatch.
    Now, articles like this are the reason that I blog in the first place.  What am I doing of the above?
    Well, I *was*doing at least two of these.
    However, I will START doing all nine.
    People, you know you should bookmark this post.


    The Aristoc... er, Diplomats

    SEOUL, South Korea, Oct. 10 — After a unanimous condemnation of North Korea's apparent nuclear test, signs of disagreement appeared among its neighbors today, as Japanese officials pushed for tough sanctions and raised the possibility of military action, which China called unthinkable.

    In Tokyo today, Finance Minister Koji Omi said that Japan would consider imposing more financial sanctions on North Korea, while two other cabinet members said Japan might consider imposing a trade embargo.

    And Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, declared today that his government was considering "all possibilities," while officials in China and South Korea were saying that they would oppose any use of force.

    A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said at a briefing today that "taking military action against North Korea would be unimaginable."

    Let's get real for a second.  I have a friend who is from Korea who has given me a little insight into the whole goofy madman problem that North Korea has.  Based on this, China and South Korea aren't NEARLY as worried about North Korea having nukes as they might let on.  Why?  Because North Korea would probably never use missiles on the peninsula.  Certainly, China has only a little to worry about.  They could overrun North Korea in a heartbeat.
    Who should be worried? 
    I thought this was common knowledge.  Does anyone read a Korean or Japanese newspaper in the White House?  Does anyone in the State Department speak Korean?  How about the CIA?  Come on, now.  Naturally Japan's freak out would be a heck of a lot bigger than anyone else's freak out.
    Something substantial needs to be done on the Korean Peninsula, and fast.  I was thinking about buying my daughter a Japanese video game this Christmas, but Japan still needs to be there for that to happen.


    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Quote of the Day

    WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 — North Korea came under international condemnation today after boasting that it had tested a nuclear weapon, with strong criticism even from its allies, but there were doubts in the intelligence community about the strength of the device.
    The United Nations Security Council today began working on a resolution condemning North Korea's action, shortly after President Bush denounced the announcement of the test as a "provocative act," one that requires an "immediate response."
    Mr. Bush said he had spoken this morning to the leaders of China, South Korea, Russia and Japan, and that they were all agreed that North Korea's actions "are unacceptable and deserve an immediate response."
    From the NYT.
    Yippie.  Things were going so well from an international perspective anyway.  Yay.  Hooray.  Hug your kids and enjoy life now, boys and girls.  The real fun is just about to begin.  You thought that the War On Terror TM has been exciting?  Just wait.
    Which leads to my verbatim quote in the comments from Fark on this wonderful development (reprinted with attribution):
    "rka: Jesus Christ, if India and Pakistan can both explode nukes and not use them on each other despite *their* history I think this situation can be handled without Seoul be leveled or thousands of US soldiers invading or millions of Koreans dieing."

    2006-10-09 01:42:56 AM thejoyofpi
    "Crucial difference: Neither India nor Pakistan are ruled by batshiat insane Bond-villain wannabes."
    Yes, you read that right.
    Where's Superman when you need him?


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