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Am I The Only One?

Friday, December 31, 2004

Help the Victims

I encourage everyone to donate generously to the relief agency of their choice. While the Red Cross is an excellent choice, they are already well-funded and some smaller groups are filling in the gaps left by the RC. The best of these agencies is Samaritan's Purse (click on the link, then Give Now near the center of the page). My family just pledged online, and it's easy. Please take a moment now to help provide food, water, medicine, and shelter to the hundreds of thousands of helpless survivors.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sometimes A Hoax Is Harder

Here's a puzzler: it turns out that the guy who created a web site allowing surfers to turn the Christmas lights on his house on and off via the internet... was simply faking it. He took pictures of his house from several "camera" angles, at varying times of the day, with varying weather. He even went so far as to mount a camera in a neighbor's yard with decoy wiring.

So this was basically Subservient Chicken with Christmas lights. Except that it would have been far easier to simply hook up the website with a AC control switch and skip the hoax.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

A warm Merry Christmas to my readers, especially those nearby that are without power this Christmas day.

Yes, without power. My power went off for about 14 hours on the 23rd, and my house was getting mighty cold in that short time. I can't imagine how people are coping without power for days on end with temperatures in the teens.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Question of Blethics

I hope I just invented that word. The perfect smoushing of "Blogging Ethics".

I have been reading a somewhat popular anonymous blog, and I believe I have stumbled upon the author's identity. It was a hunch, something that was triggered by a combination of details mentioned in the blog. The problem is, I believe the person is a somewhat "known" national public figure.

Let me stop here and say that it is NOT one of the blogs linked from this site, nor has it ever been mentioned in my blog. You folks can breathe easy.

Now, how can I be sure of the author's identity, you ask? Well, of course, I have no proof. But this public figure has another site with many details of the person's life, and a striking number of them mirror events from the anonymous blog. In addition, the blog contains a picture of the author with the face obscured, and the un-blurred features closely resemble photos from the public figure's site. There are numerous other details which line up, so suffice it to say that I'm fairly certain it's the same person.

So the Blethical question is, do I continue to participate on this anonymous blogger's site? Reading, posting comments, exchanging emails and so forth? With every new post, I feel like I am reading someone private diary without their knowledge. As bloggers, do we owe our fellow bloggers the right of anonymity?

UPDATE: Google tells me that the word "Blethics" already has a meaning - Business Law and Ethics. Well, screw the MBA's, I like my definition better.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

What's Next, Bin Laden On Ice?

If you really, really want to get shot in the stomach, do as this brilliant guy. Wear a Bin Laden mask and jump out at passing cars with a BB gun in your hands.

Monday, December 13, 2004

A Buckeye Wins Survivor!

Let me start by apologizing for blogging about a TV show -- and again for blogging about a reality show -- but Chris Daugherty's victory in Survivor Vanuatu last night is notable for a couple reasons:
  • He had a remarkable come-from-behind victory, facing 6-against-him odds at one point.
  • He might be the most likable Survivor champion since Ethan.
  • He's a Buckeye! (For the malinformed, that means he's from good old Ohio USA).
LONG UPDATE: How did Chris do it? Since more than a couple people have asked me this today, here's a summary.

An alliance of six women had control of the game and had proceeded to vote off each of the remaining men until only Chris was left. The women's alliance did a have a pecking order, which turned out be important:

1. Ami & Leann -- The alpha-female and her loyal sidekick.
2. Scout & Twila -- The older and wiser sages of the group.
3. Julie -- Supposed to be allied with Twila before the merge.
4. Eliza -- The usual cute young loudmouth that makes few loyal friends because she won't shut up.

Generally when there are 7 left, it is important for each player to make sure they are in a solid group of 4, and the top two pairs in this list were supposed to be that solid group.

However, two things happened that opened the door for Chris: first, Leann and Julie made a new alliance for the final 4 which they did not do a good job of hiding, leaving Scout and Twila wondering which of them was left 5th in line. Second, the women inexplicably felt there was no hurry to vote off the last man, and decided to vote off Eliza because they were tired of her blathering.

This gave Chris room to work. He told Eliza that she was next -- and he didn't even have to lie. She was furious and agreed to work with him. They next worked on Scout and Twila, pointing out to them that one of them had been bumped to 5th in line by Julie, and they could guarantee a final four spot by voting with Chris and Eliza.

Thus, the new foursome voted off Leann (who was stunned at tribal), Ami, and Julie. Down to 4, Eliza was next when she failed to win immunity and had two votes against her automatically from Scout/Twila, leaving Chris no choice but to vote Eliza or risk a tie. Scout was next, as Chris continued to dominate immunity challenges. To go with him to the final 2, Chris selected Twila, who had made more enemies on the jury than anyone, and coasted to an easy 5-2 win. Bravo, Chris!

Some lessons from this season: at 7, you should have 4 rock solid. I don't know what on earth Ami/Leann were thinking by bringing Julie on -- they had a solid 4 with Scount/Twila, and what good is a "solid" 5 when there's only 7 left? Having a solid 3 means that the bottom 4 have no choice but to organize together to stay alive.

What Ami/Leann should have done was make a secret alliance with Eliza, voted with Scout/Twila until 5, then use Eliza's vote to get rid of Scout/Twila. I'll go one step further and say that any of the top women should have been looking to bring Eliza or Twila to the final 2. Regardless, a woman like Julie is poison to ally with, since she has no enemies on the jury.

Also, players should just forget *any* alliances once the final 4 is reached. All that matters are immunity challenges. There should be no feelings of "betrayal" at that point -- somebody has to be voted off.

As this season comes to a close, I have one not-quite-so-minor gripe that I hope gets fixed. Every season during the jury vote, we are subjected to an onslaught of tears, vented anger, hurt feelings, etc, and it's time for it to stop already. Why are the final 2 expected to apologize to the players they outwitted? The jury should not be allowed to address the players, in my opinion. I'd rather see a format where the jury deliberates on-camera, away from the final 2. I hope some change is made in the new season of Survivor, which has promised several modifications to the game.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

We Are Sorry, Music World

I was shocked this morning to read of the on-stage shooting of Pantera guitarist Darrell Abbott and 4 other people at a rock club right here in C-bus. I was running errands in that neighborhood last night, yet I did not hear about the news until this morning.

The venue was similar to hundreds around the midwest: a small, run-down venue in a blue collar part of town, with a capacity of about 500. I was struck by the similarities to the club in Rhode Island that burned down during a Great White concert last February. I do not think there is a connection between the two incidents, except that they both point to a possible need to rethink safety measure in clubs of this size; the club last night had no off-duty police inside and no metal detectors or surveillance equipment.

And yet amid the chaos, heros have emerged. Columbus Officer James Niggemeyer responded to the call instantly and without backup, in time to find the perpetrator on stage preparing to kill his hostage. The officer was able to shoot the perpetrator in time to save the life of the hostage. And one spectator apparently lept on stage to stop the gunman, then directed the police officer to the gunman's location.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ahhh, The French...

Somewhere in the world, there is a blue suitcase with a pack of explosives in the side pocket. Put there by the French airport screeners. As a test. Which went wrong. Whooops.

So where will it turn up? L.A.? Rio? Minsk? Delhi? What fun! Post your comment with your guess -- closest guess gets 200 points.

UPDATE: This story gave me a nagging feeling that I'd read something similar a couple years ago. Here it is. (This link is to freerepublic.com, which is not where I read it originally.)

Monday, December 06, 2004

Winner: Best Rant

What do you get when you combine a fiesty young vet student, sleeplessness, final exams, and a certain monthly visitor? A monster rant that still has me in stitches.

Use of Explosives Results in Explosion

This will probably qualify for "poor taste blog of the day", but I couldn't help notice the wording in today's AP story "U.S. Consulate Attacked in Saudi Arabia":
"Smoke rises following an explosion in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Dec. 6, 2004, after Islamic militants, attacked the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jiddah with explosives and machine guns on Monday in a explosion and gunbattle that left seven people dead and several others injured."

So the attack with explosives resulted in "a explosion" [sic]? An attack with machine guns apparently involved a "gunbattle" [sic]. I think the misplaced participle, invented word, and repetitive wording is an example of the "first to publish" pressure which seemingly bypasses copy editors.

Update: the article quoted above has now been edited. The repetitive phrasing is gone, but we are still seeing the invented non-word "gunbattle":
"Islamic militants threw explosives at the gate of the heavily guarded U.S. consulate in Jiddah in a bold attack Monday, then forced their way into the building and held civilians at gunpoint, prompting a gunbattle."

Further Update: The article has now been replaced with a new and better-written article:
"Muslim militants stormed the heavily fortified U.S. consulate in Jeddah on Monday, killing five non-American staffers, before Saudi forces shot dead three attackers and captured two to regain control."

This is a great example of why copy editors are still relevant.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wisconsin: "There Are No Gods"

Superblogger Ann Althouse noticed a sign near the "holiday tree" in the Wisconsin state capitol building.

While I understand that this sign might be a necessary concession to the athiests who protested the presence of a "holiday tree" on state property, I wonder at what point this becomes hate speech. The holiday tree is pretty much a cultural symbol, after all, and makes no literal religious statement, whereas this sign is an affront to anyone who believes in a higher power.

I wonder if we will see some other signs now. What about a sign posted by the state government during Gay Pride day reading "You are not born that way, nor do you have tendancies or natural homosexual instincts. There is only heterosexual attraction. Same-sex love is a fabrication that corrupts hearts and spreads disease." The two signs would be about equally inaccurate and unsubstanciated.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Let's Blame The Fans, Part Deux

Well! We still haven't seen any criminal charges files against any Indiana Pacers players for attacking fans of the Detroit Pistons last month, but never mind that. Let's go after those darn fans, shall we?

After all, one of them actually tossed a (gasp) plastic cup. Solid plastic, I tell you. Ron Artest might have actually felt a slight tap as the cup bounced off his chest. Fear not, citizens of the world-renown safe-haven of Detroit, this menace has been banned from the Palace. The other paying customer was banned for -- get ready -- walking on the basketball court. Walking on it. Man alive, this guy ought to be in jail.

Why stop there? I think the Palace should go after the guy that Artest mistakenly identified as the cup-thrower and slammed into the concrete floor. After all, he failed to flee fast enough so clearly he was guilty of something. Plus, he left his face right there Artest to grab for a floor-slam.

Oh, and what about the guy that was being helped up off the floor when he was crushed by O'Neil's right hook? I mean, if he hadn't been so slow to get off the floor then he wouldn't have been such a tempting helpless target for a professionally-trained millionaire athlete. What was O'Neil supposed to do, *not* suckerpunch someone who's already down?

This is the NBA, after all.