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Am I The Only One?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Right Here In America

There is no other word to describe it... we now have American Refugees, right here in the U.S. Some will settle temporarily with family and friends in other cities, but as is often the case with refugees, it is the poorest who will end up in temporary housing for the foreseeable future.

Fellow Americans, please give generously to the American Red Cross and Samaritan's Purse. These are the two best agencies at getting help to those that need it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The New Orleans Evacuation

The mayor of New Orleans is now saying that the whole city will probably have to be completely evacuated. Everyone.

More photos from http://news.yahoo.com/photos/.

The levies are breaking in New Orleans, and water is literally filling the city.

These people are stuck on the roof of a house as the filthy, oily water rises steadily. I imagine they will have to be airlifted.

It may look like half of the houses are missing from this neighborhood, but that is because the one story homes are completely underwater. Only the tops of the two-story homes are visible, and the chinmys of the one-story homes.


Left My Heart in New Orleans

The scenes from New Orleans are simply believable. A few from http://news.yahoo.com/photos/.

Catastrophic loss -- I'm sure that most of the homes and businesses in these photos will have to be razed and rebuilt. I mention only the material loss because I can't bear to think about the human loss.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Just The Facts, Your Holiness

Boy, everyone's trying to make friends these days -- even the new Pope. I was initially concerned when the Cardinals elected a German pope, but good ole Benny 16 has put my fears at ease by snubbing Israel at his earliest convenience. It seems that when 16 listed recent terrorist attacks, he mentioned the countries of Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq, but inexplicably left Israel off the list.

The right thing to do would just be apologize and move on, right? Nope! Benny decided it was in everyone's best interests if he nitpicked with Jerusalem for a few days. From the Jerusalem Post:

"The two sides publicly traded tit-for-tat pronouncements that culminated with a harshly worded Vatican statement saying the pope couldn't condemn every Palestinian suicide bombing because Israel would so often retaliate with illegal actions that would also have to be condemned."

Nehmen Sie das, Israel! That will show those whiners. Nice work, Benny. Of course, we aren't talking about Israel's "so often" reaction, we are talking about their reaction to the July 12 suicide bombing in the Israeli city of Netanya, which was metered and not at all illegal. So did that attack not happen, Benny? And if it did, did you list it? And if not, why not? How on earth did the Vatican *not* expect this to be taken as a snub?

Some free advice, 16: When you are a German pope, have a quick think back 60 or so years and then decide how petty and argumentative a stand to take with the people of Israel. Apologize and make it right, like an adult.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

International Rules of Thongs

To be fair, now, I've seen plenty of both of these on both continents. Perhaps the overarching message here is: not everyone call pull off the thong look.

In can't help myself when I see this... (sung to the tune of The B-52's "Love Shack")... "Butt crack, baby, butt crack / Butt crack, baby, check out the butt crack!"

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hamas Is Making Friends Again

Well, many predicted it... one of the leaders of the terrorist group Hamas is calling the Gaza pullout a military victory.
"Senior Hamas commander Mohammed Deif, who masterminded the deaths of dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings, also urged the destruction of the Jewish state. It was the latest call for continued violence by Hamas officials as the group refocuses its armed struggle on the West Bank, where most of Israel's 246,000 settlers live."

Lovely. Those darn Israelis finally pulled out of Gaza, so clearly, they have no right to exist.
"'We did not achieve the liberation of the Gaza Strip without this holy war and this steadfastness,' he said, adding that attacks should continue until Israel is eradicated."

I'm starting to think my father is correct when he says that the Palestinian terrorist groups only understand force. When they are backed into a corner, they will relent and listen, but any diplomatic concession is interpreted as a "go for the jugular" moment. For years I argued with him on this point, but perhaps he was right all along.

UPDATE: The fine folks at CenterFeud have a take on this very issue; here is an excerpt, which in turn is quoting Mark Steyn:
"Any honest visitor to the Palestinian Authority is struck by the complete absence of any enthusiasm for nation-building --– compared with comparable pre-independence trips to, say, Slovenia, Slovakia, or East Timor. Invited to choose between nation-building or Jew-killing, the Palestinians prioritise Jew-killing --– every time."

Why does this fact so often get overlooked?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Women Love Those Stinky Shirts, Part II

I warned you that I wasn't done with this subject.

So yes, it's become widely accepted that gals get turned-on when they smell a man's sweat. But wait! It's not quite that simple:
"All male pheromones are not equally attractive, and some of the myths stem from an understandable confusion over their names. The male pheromone androstenone is not the same as androstenol. Androstenol is the scent produced by fresh male sweat, and is attractive to females. Androstenone is produced by male sweat after exposure to oxygen - i.e. when less fresh - and is perceived as highly unpleasant by females (except during ovulation, when their responses change from ‘negative’ to ‘neutral’)."

Is this why women oogle construction workers, but not their sendentary unwashed boyfriends? This must be it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Robots Are Attacking!

No, I'm not joking. It is funny, though.

It seems that the Prime Minister of Japan was touring a local mall which was patrolled by one of these new "security robots". Still not kidding, they really have them -- the T63 Artemis. Anyway, the robot came face to face with the Prime Minister, identified him as a threat, and attacked him with a smoke screen. Fortunately, the robot is not equiped with more sophisticated weapons.

See, this is what happens when robots listen to Pat Robertson.

Monday, August 22, 2005

We're One... But We're Not The Same

I remember a cold November evening in 1991... My then-girlfriend, now-wife was throwing me an impromptu birthday party when I heard the opening chords of U2's new song "One". Now, I'd been a big U2 fans since 1982, but I'd been disappointed with albums like Rattle 'n' Hum and was starting to write them off -- but this song, with its beautiful guitar work and sad lyrics, changed all that.

I mention all this because several music mags have rated "One" as a top rock song. Q Magazine named it the #1 rock song of all time -- although any list that puts Eminem and Destiny's Child in the top 10 is obviously discredited. Rolling Stone put it at #36 of all time, which is probably closer to it's rightful spot. In the accompanying article, however, The Edge points out some funny misunderstandings about the song.
"I often come across people who've told me they played it at their wedding," the Edge said. "And I think, 'Have you listened to the lyrics? It's not that kind of a song.'"

Quite! For those not familiar with the song, it appears to be about a couple with a legacy of marital problems, sung from the perspective of the one asking for forgiveness for an extramarital affair:
"Is it getting better / Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you / Now you got someone to blame?"

An odd song to pick for your wedding, that's for certain.

Personally, I've always picked up an alternative message in the song: a metaphor for the Jewish-Palestinian relationship, ostensibly sung from the perspective of either side:
"Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
We hurt each other
Then we do it again"

And then the final verses, about the struggle find common ground in the negotiation for peace:
"I ask you to enter / But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on, to what you got
When all you got is hurt"

Friday, August 19, 2005

Plough, Plover, and XYZZY

Very few of you will know what these words mean. For the those that do, you might be ready for a blast from the past.

You see, way back in the bad old days, there were no computer games. Then one day, a bored software guy realized that you could program a computer to present you with not just a game, but a whole adventure! Thus, the computer "quest" gaming genre were born with Adventure, sometimes called Colossal Caves.

I first played this game as a small child at my dad's lab. They would get me set up with a teletype terminal -- a keyboard attached to a mainframe computer, but instead of a glass screen it typed everything out on a scroll of paper -- and I'd be off adventuring the seemingly endless caverns and pathways.

(No, this wasn't in the 70's. I may be one step past 'young', but I'm not a dinosaur. This was in the 80's, and the equipment was outdated even then.)

My, how times have changed. The other day I thought, "I bet there is a java version of that old game out there somewhere." It took me all of 10 seconds (no kidding) on Google to find it.

If you want a glimpse at the earliest computer games, give it a go. As for XYZZY? Yes, the game has secrets.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Left-Lane Drivers

I heard an interview recently with Indycar über-cutie Danica Patrick. Ms. Patrick may be as hot as a hottie can get without any trace of a rack whatsoever (what is the proper cup size for "not at all necessary"?), but she makes up for it in the sassy department, and in this interview she fingered left-lane drivers as a pet peeve.

This makes me instantly want to drive in the left lane.

Of course, my wife would say that I already do. "What the heck are you doing in the left hand lane?? It's for passing only!"

"Really? Where does it say that?"

"Driver's Ed. Don't you remember?"

"I think that's just a term they used. I don't think it's a law."

"Well, probably not. But you're supposed to pass in the left lane and then get back over to the right."

Ah, but you see, there's a differnce between supposed to and illegal. For instance, I drive about 70-80, and I'm usually passing cars steadily. I drive in the left-hand lane because otherwise I am swerving back and forth between lanes. For that matter, I'm not supposed to drive 80 either, but whattergonna do.

While I'm on the subject, I remember hearing a radio talk show where the call-in guest was a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation. A lady called in to complain about drivers that wait until the "last second" to merge in with traffic when there is a lane closure ahead. I was ready for the ODOT guy to politely explain to the old biddy that the lane is free and available for use right up to the merge signs, and that if they wanted us to merge earlier, they would move the signs accordingly.

However, the lady had found a soulmate. The ODOT guy said, "Yeah, most folks get over to the slower lanes early, but then you have those cheaters..." He said the last with an annoying singsong voice, like "CHEEEEE-terrrrrrz....", I wanted to rip the radio out of my car and throw it in his direction.

Ok, ODOT, all of you are ordered back to traffic planning 101 immediately. If there is a legal, open lane available, no one is cheating by driving on it. Go ahead, check, it's probably on page 3. If you really want to create a severe backlog of traffic, post signs that say, "Lane closure in 15 miles, merge left now or else you are cheating." Follow that with one that says, "Lane closure in 10 miles -- snipers trained on right lane." A sign that says Lane Closed 1 Mile tells me that I have one mile left to get over at a time of my choosing. And if the other lanes are choked, then I'm doing no one a favor by adding to it further back than I need to. It's called bandwidth, ODOT.

On second thought, maybe Danica and I have a lot in common.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Helpful Hints About Husbands

A co-worker was telling me today how long it had been since he'd made snarky with his wife. Then his wife asked him, "Honey, are you ok... medically?"

"Sure. Why?" he asked.

"Well, you seem to be spending more and more time in the bathroom lately..."

Make a note of this, ladies: if you find yourself about to ask this question, ask yourself when was the last time you gave it all to your husband. Then smile and count your blessings that you have a man who takes care of business instead of shopping somewhere else.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Girls Love Those Stinky Shirts, Part I

I was browsing through an issue of The Economist I found in (where else?) the restroom when I learned something that helped the world make sense.
"What's a girl to do when faced with the choice between a powerful action man who has great DNA but is likely to love her and leave her, and a carpet-and-slippers kind of bloke who will hang around and bring up the kids but may not be Mr Right in the genes department? Well, ideally, she should fool the latter into bringing up the former's children."
- The Economist, "The Smell of Power"

A-HA! Now we're getting somewhere! Why do men cheat on loving, beautiful women? Because men are pigs, we all knew that. Put in a slightly nicer way, men are genetically inclined to attempt to spread their DNA around as much as possible, and may the best DNA win. Just the way we're wired. But women? How often have we heard this story: "Can you believe that Stacia cheated on her loving husband? And not only that, she's now pregant, with HIS baby! Why would she do this?"

To find out, they conducted another of my favorite studies, where they have men wear T-shirts for a few days and then have women smell each shirt and decide which odor they like the best. And indeed, the women did like the smell of that pushy, aggressive jerk that's going to treat her like crap:
"The upshot of the trial was that women did, indeed, find the odour of dominants sexier than that of wimps—but only in special circumstances. These circumstances were first that the woman was already in a relationship and second that she was in the most fertile phase of her cycle. In other words, dominant males' scent was only more attractive at the point where a woman could both conceive and cuckold her mate. Which, given previous studies that show dominant men are indeed more likely than others to leave a woman holding the baby, makes perfect sense."

It turns out that Stacia was trying the old bait 'n' switch, and now she's holding her head in her hands, wondering why on earth she was SO STUPID...

Well, wonder no more. In a way, it's comforting... "So Bill, your wife's knocked up with the child of a football star? Well, she was just following a leftover bit of instinct, it's nothing personal."

You might wonder why I entitled this entry with "Part I". It's because there is sooooo much to talk about here, I'm sure I will have more to say on this later. Such as, it turns out that women really ARE attracted to men's armpits, for starters...

Monday, August 01, 2005

A Blogger Who Writes

That is, a blogger who writes books and wins awards. I'm talking about David Brin, Hugo and Nebula Award winning author of such books as Sundiver, Startide Rising, Transparent Society, and The Postman. You can find his blog here.

Sadly, he's currently using his blog to air his views on the wars in the mideast, a subject about which everyone seemingly feels the need to vomit their opinion. If you are a fan of the author, though, you owe yourself a look.