Monday, January 31, 2005

Sandmich Blogging #2

Oh to have a real blog and not this unmodifiable Blogger POS. I had, of course, given up on a real blog when I determined that I didn't feel like babysitting bandwidth and maintaining the hardware and software required to run it. I also didn't feel like paying someone a chunk a change every year to maintain those things for me because I'm liable to have to take time off at a moments notice.

As it is, I'm boned anyway since I had another cheap-o Chinese hard drive die in my system that I do most of my bloggin' from. That's the third in four years for those that are counting. I have a newer system, but the less said about the god-awful Intel chipset it uses the better; that was the LAST homebrew system I'll ever put together.

On top of that, my job that's usually slow enough to justify some blog posts has picked up and I've had to do like, real work! Of course real work here isn't like Egyptian pyramid slavery where you're part of building something great which will be admired for ages. It's more like being a rower on a garbage scowl where each thrust of the oars brings you closer to a huge pile of crap.

On the plus side, I almost have sufficient resources to dive into my next hobby. This is not to infer that I'm a fountain of talent (see dancing 'sandmiches' above). My hope is that practice will make perfect.

In the meantime, check out the slick games made with the Torque engine over at Garage Games, I may be there myself some year!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sandmich Blogging

I just checked out my archive list and I realized I've been bloggin' for a year. Of course I took off three months last year before I moved over to the now ad free blogger; but hey, I'll take what I can get!

Jr. Pornsters

Looks to be the end of civilization (if it even still existed). Check out this prom dress from http://www.nypost.com/style/39213.htm:

I mean...really. Do these brats even have parents?
I do know that the fathers of these girls should be dragged out into the streets and shot.

Update: apparently that company makes all kind of classy duds. They even have some homoerotic shots to round out their skanky dress line.

Brilliant Ohio Government at work.

The DoD is looking to shut down and consolidate different operations in order to save money. It looks like some Ohio jobs might be on the block. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
DFAS, as it's known, employs 1,200 people, mostly civilians, at the Federal Office Building downtown. The accounting-and-finance work force handles pay and pensions for some 2.7 million active and retired military personnel across the country.
I've always been somewhat leary of areas striving to get and retain government jobs. The government takes money from the area, and you are then forced to grovel to get some of it back. The government does no one any favors if it has a bunch of labor overhead it doesn't need. Of course what puzzled me all the more is this bit:
Nance heads up the alliance, which has budgeted $600,000 for a save-DFAS effort. Half of the money came from the Ohio Department of Development, which has doled out $2.5 million to six Ohio cities working to save Defense Department facilities.
Okay, so Ohio taxes it's citizens, so that it can get money to lobby the federal government, to get some of the money back that the feds took in the first place. What about this doesn't look insane? Yeah, it makes sense on some level, but geez! Wouldn't it be better to give that 2.5 million back to the people of Ohio?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Power Plant Blues

Looks like someone is having a little coal burning power plant blues. From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
About 40 property owners - including some lifelong residents - have signed onto a lawsuit against Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co., saying excessive pollution from its Zimmer power plant has damaged their health, safety and property values.
These residents are complaining about the notorious Zimmer power plant in Moscow, Ohio (east of Cincinnati). Sounds like fun!
But over the same five-year period, citizens made 119 nuisance complaints, ranging from odors and smoke to excessive particulates in the air and plume "touchdowns" - a phenomenon that happens about weekly in the summer, when atmospheric conditions force the plume from the plant's smokestacks to settle at ground level.
Of course the plant isn't notorious for any of the current reasons, but because in the late seventies, early eighties it was originally designed and built to be a nuclear power plant. It was converted, at a great expense to CG&E customers, to coal burning when, for mostly political reasons, the plant failed to attain the proper certifications. Of course the political reasons revolved around supposed concern for public health, as if coal is devoid of any ill effects. You don't have to be a physicist either to figure out that coal and nuclear power plants don't have many innards (or "outards") in common. I think the whole "conversion" idea was cooked up by some clueless idiot who figured it was a logical possibility. Of course anything is possible if you throw enough money at it, that doesn't mean you should do it.

Although I've never seen the Moscow plant, I have seen the Lawrenceburg, Indiana coal plant - what a friggin mess. Mountains of coal, train cars and barges full of coal, smoke stacks, etc. Sure there's "clean burning" methods to processing coal, but this is like using clean dirt for farming. By contrast, I flew over one of the nuclear power plants on Lake Erie and it leaves almost zero foot print beyond the area where the plant operates. Check this bad boy out:

Of course this is the Davis-Besse plant which a rep of it's own, but it demonstrates the hatred people have for the technology upon which their lives depend. It had some minor maintenance issues, but I can guarantee that if a coal fired plant had worse issues it wouldn't have made the news beyond it's immediate area. But maintenance headaches and all, I'd rather live by Davis-Besse than Zimmer, and the Zimmerites have pretty much just themselves to blame. Oh and here's a coal plant for a comparison (sorry, can't recall where I got the photo):

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Musical Huh?

(Update 1/24/05: Mr. Kendall informs me that the porn star turned music 'artist' that I was thinking of was Samantha Fox)

Who knew Traci Lords put out an album? Who knew she was from Steubenville, Ohio? I thought she was British for some reason. More here(unsurprisingly, the link is not safe for work, and don't point out the irony that this post was written during working hours).

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So what's it sound like? Well Mr. Kendall will be grateful to learn that I now have something that goes good with my Lords of Acid disk for our next Cincinnati road trip!

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Quick quiz, there was a different version of that album cover when it was released in Japan, was it more, or less graphic? Click here for the answer. (If you guess correctly, you'll know whether or not to open at work/in front of mixed company).

The S.S. Sinkable

I swear, if I here one more idiotic comment on Social Security I'm gonna scream. It would be one thing if everyone was arguing from the same information, but a certain segment (George Will included) seem to be living in the FDR dreamland where the government paper doth not lie. So for every idiot out there who has any delusions as to what this is really about, I, The Evil Sandmich, kindly will fill you in:

Delusion 1: The problem isn't the funding for Social Security, the problem is too much federal spending.
Spoiler: About when I retire, two workers will be supporting 1 retiree. On what planet is this viable? How many benefits can I expect? Will the taxes required on those two poor workers kill the economy? (Ans: None, None, Yes).

Delusion 2: The trust fund will save us all!
Spoiler: Despite those mailings from SS telling you how much (pretend) money you have saved up, that money has been spent. Sure the government can track the monies paid toward SS, but that money goes into the same pot as all the other money the government takes in; it actually wouldn't make sense any other way. Riddle me this, what would the government do if it didn't spend the money? Buy treasury bonds so the government can pay itself interest on it's own money?(!?!) Run a corrupt pension plan? Stuff it somewhere so that inflation can eat it? C'mon, throw me bone here! These idiots, some who are well educated, who say the program won't go out until 2042 are just blowing smoke your ass. Here's how it works for the 500th time: government gets money->government writes IOU to SS->government spends money->when government needs to pay off IOUs, it's time to raise taxes. When does "government need to pay off IOUs"? 2018, end of story.

I'm still wondering why anyone would think this is a good idea in any form anyway. What on earth makes the government competent enough to run a retirement fund? Logically, if the government ran a good plan, it would make sense to put more of your paycheck into it. Who wants to sign up?

These people who want to keep this bloatfest around are basically saying "F-U Sandmich, I got mine, and I'll be dead by the time you find out you're not getting jack!".

Pet Store Munchies

Yeah, this story about the kid who cooked two animals from Pet Supplies Plus for his home ec class is old news at this point, but I can't resist!
...where killing - and then eating - wild game is fairly common.

The hunt, however, usually doesn't take place at Pet Supplies Plus.
The boy went to the Chardon store and purchased the Guinea pig and rabbit after coming up empty in the great outdoors.
'My skin's crawling over this,' said Linda Schempp, a spokeswoman for the pet store chain. 'We sell our animals to be family pets - not food.'
Maybe Ms. Schempp could describe the difference between her rabbits and the skinned and gutted ones they sell down the road from me at the West Side Market.
The student told Gage that he butchered the animals at home before bringing them to school and placing them in the class refrigerator Wednesday. His living skills teacher, Diana Stevens, sets aside that day for her students to prepare a meal of their choice, Gage said.
The boy had asked Stevens if he could catch and cook a wild rabbit.
Here's a quick tip: wild animals are petri dishes for every known type of parasite and virus known to nature, whereas your average pet store bunny is (comparatively) nothing but clean, tender goodness. If the teacher knew anything, she would've insisted on fresh pet store viddles!

As for the guinea pig, I think the Peruvians know how to do them up right. From the BBC:
Spanish colonial paintings of the Last Supper in the old Inca capital of Cusco even show Christ and his apostles feasting on some roasted cuy [guinea pig].
If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me!
I think I feel a trip to the pet store coming on.....

Dolt-a-mite

I've had this link hanging around on my desktop for a while and I better post it here before I nuke it. I found this page in my journeys over the net and I am amazed at the lack of pride the proud papa of this site displays. I can here his train of thought (or lack there of): "Why honey, this is such a magical moment that I'm going to put pics of doctors TEARING OUT YOUR GUTS during a c-section!"

I'm sure we all know the type - the overly excited, picture happy, make you sick, obsessive freak. The type of guy for whom sympathizing with his wife isn't enough, he has to empathize. After a certain point it stops being sweet and starts becoming weirdly obsessive and mildly, well, gay.

He also has pictures from his daughter's birth on the site, I'm surprised he didn't shove the camera up his poor wife's birth canal so that he could create an animated gif of all the action!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Japan #10 - J-viddles #1

(At the end of August/beginning of September 2004 I took a pleasure trip to Japan. I meant to have all the blog postings done in the first week, I'm now on track to have it done within 90 days months of the trip.)
(UPDATE 1/20/05: Justin responds)

For the most part I like Japanese food, and I have to say that I liked 95% of everything I ate over there. The only problem is, that in general, 95% of it was the same food everyday. I'm spoiled rotten living in America, and rare is the week when I take in only one ethnic group worth of food. I loved the salt fish and rice for breakfast the first several days, but by about halfway through the trip, I was done with it. Add to this the fact that bacon simply doesn't exist over there, and it made for slim pickin's. One morning they had a little hit of ketchup with the Japanese omelet (which I never got tired of, the omelet or the ketchup) and I was as happy as a brain eating zombie (I was quite tired and didn't realize it, but my wife said that I was sucking the contents out of the packet). I got the definite impression that the Japanese don't make a habit of coating their food with anything (ketchup, BBQ sauce, gravy, or even wasabi).

Here in Cleveland, we went out to a well known Asian shopping location one weekend and stocked up on some much missed Japanese goodies. We picked up some Pocari, Kirin bottled tea (no one makes bottled tea better), and the bottled 'milk tea' product of which my wife is a fan of (I still don't know what to make of it; I think it tastes way better than it deserves to taste). We also picked up some okonomi sauce and I took it upon myself to try to replicate the okonomiyaki that we had eaten in Hiroshima.

I was amazed with my first attempt as it came within 80% of the original version. I didn't think it would matter, but the okonomi sauce makes all the difference. You could coat a roofing shingle with the stuff and still come within 40% of the taste. I don't have any pictures from my first attempt because I ate all the evidence, but here's a pic of my follow up try:



On the griddle

The batteries in the camera died when I flipped them over, and I failed to take pictures of the other two three four times I made them because I ate them before I thought about taking pictures.

I also picked up some tsubo ume(brand name?) at the store. For anyone who watches that Top Model show, these were the things they made them eat at the end of the first Japan episode. It's a type of pickled plum that I had in my rice for breakfast several times. Mashed up in rice, it gives a pleasant, mild 'zing'. However, if you eat the large ones straight up like they made the girls do on that show, it's strong enough to bring you to your knees.

Other viddles of note:
  • At the quite fancy wedding reception, they served a quaint little fruit plate. It featured a slice of melon that had the taste of honeydew, and the skin of a cantaloupe. I wondered why I'd never seen them before, but when I learned they were $30 a pop (in season) I wondered no more.





  • I learned the melon factoid while we were at a nice buffet in Kyoto. You could get all the shrimp you wanted, and could then cover it in copious amounts of that mysterious brown curry gravy found only in Japan and the U.K. However, the access to the fruit was tightly controlled (think Oliver Twist). And it's weird how at least my brain works. When I'm at a buffet in the states, I rarely fish out any watermelon from the ten gallon bucket of it they have on the bar, but when I suddenly have little or no access to it, I start craving it incessantly!

  • Speaking of which. When at a hotel on one of the Fuji lakes, we partook in an all-you-can-eat beef dinner. This was quite a change from the all-you-can-eat fish flavored stuffs to which I'd grown accustomed (good fish stuffs in Cleveland are nearly impossible to find). I think I ate half a cow that night... (at least I hope it was cow)



    Bring on da meat!

  • Noodle places are copious, and I have a deep love for spaghetti, I ate half a (ok, whole) box of spaghetti just last night. Fortunately, although they can't spell it, Japanese make respectable plate of spaghetti. (This compares unfavorably to my brief stay in an outlying area in Wales. Boiled starches of any kind (i.e. the best kind) were not to be found at all!)


    $5 for a bowl of noodles, sweet!

  • Also on the beef night, I had something for the first time during the trip - raw squid. Now I don't mind the cooked kind, and the flavor didn't bother me, but the texture.... The most polite way of putting it is, imagine if a stranger hocked up a big, thick, mildly fishy loogey and put it in the fridge, and the next night you accidentally dined on it. It sounds gross, but the first thing that popped into my mind was much more disgusting (it's best not to think about it). I found my out when I cooked the squid briefly in the boiling water for the beef.

  • Later on at a Tokyo sushi bar though, I did not have an out. This place featured a couple things that were good to try once. For whatever reason, I didn't take many pictures of the cool food here (I think I was pictured out by that point). In many meals in Japan, they would put these dried, tiny, baby sardines as sprinkles over a dish. I didn't mind these one bit; but in this place, they weren't so dry, and weren't so tiny. To add insult to injury, they were served in a bowl with cold, greenish noodles that were about the same texture as the fish (sans eyes of course). I hesitantly ate my 'snot noodles', but I couldn't bring myself to choke down the fish snot sitting at the bottom of the bowl, it makes my stomach light just thinking about it. They weren't done with me yet though. They then brought out more raw squid (which my wife and son gladly shared with me, thanks!) and...........raw shrimp sushi. The sensation of the gray, wet, cold, fishy, slightly salty, sticky goop that raw shrimp turns into in your mouth is (almost) indescribable. My mouth screamed "that should not be in here, get rid of it!". Needless to say, it took quite an effort to keep from gagging that bad boy up!

  • What's that at the bottom of the bowl? Some mysteries are best left unsolved.



    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Birthday Boy

    The HR lady makes stuff for employees when it's their birthday and she whipped up some brownies:

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    Brownies by themselves I can resist, but brownies with walnuts are gut magnets to me.
    Also, I brought my first lunch in which was largely based off the bento cookbook my sister got me for Christmas:

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    And then on top of that, Launchcast had a rare repeat in the same day when it played Tear For Fears "Shout" in the morning and afternoon (though their system counted it as two different tracks since it was pulled off two different albums).

    My wife is also spoiling me rotten by making me lasagna for dinner (I'm a glutton for Italian flavored starches!), as well as the only cake I find consistently edible: German chocolate!

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    '24's' Latest Plot Twist Pains Some Muslims

    I really want to like '24'. I saw a couple episodes of the first series of it and liked what I saw, but I didn't have the discipline to watch it every week and it fell off my radar. I made a point of watching the first two, two hour chunks of it's latest iteration and I found it moderately enjoyable.

    The twist is that it's supposed to have a more realistic display of international terrorism by depicting Muslim fundamentalists as the perpetrators. However "realistic" isn't the first word that springs to mind while watching '24'. 'Tiring' and 'exhaustive' come a bit closer. Each episode is supposed to depict an hour of real time, which is hard enough to believe to begin with, but while taping I noticed that there's a scant 35 minutes of actual product delivered during it's hour of airing. The show is interrupted so frequently with ads (it runs about 50/50 towards the end) that the continuity of the show lies in ruin and your brain is on snooze (from watching the same six ads over and over) by the time you're done watching it.

    As for how it displays the Muslims, I think it's kind'a unreasonable. Westerners have a hard time grasping the fact that they aren't Muslim fundamentalists per se, but they are animals who who feed off their twisted beliefs to justify there abhorrent actions. In the show, the terrorists actions seem disconnected from everything and they could have very well have been depicted as dissatisfied McDonald's customers.

    I guess there's a limit to what TV can display though...

    Newses

    Humph, from Mark Steyn, in The Spectator.co.uk:
    It's depressing that after three years the Democrats seem incapable of any kind of characterisation of the enemy that approximates to reality. But it's not surprising. In the landscape of modern progressive pieties, there are no enemies, just friends whose grievances we haven't yet accommodated.

    One also has to wonder whether or not the nazi garbed prince Harry would be so chided if he showed up to the party in full Che Guevara atire, would he then be forced to visit the "reddened wall"? I doubt it, those self rightous pricks can shove it as far as I'm concerned.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    On OSes

    I've seen some more noise on the net about alternate OSes, i.e. Linux. This almost always revolves around some security issue within MS Windows. Nevermind the fact that every other OS has to be patched as well. The only thing that protects those other OSes is the fact that their market penetration is so weak that not many people write exploits for the vulnerabilities. I'll mention now, though, that I saw worm viruses on Mac and Linux boxes well before Code Red and it's ilk came out for Windows. Seeing it like this, "software bugs" is just another weak club with which to beat Microsoft.

    And how about those bugs? Critics of MS are quick to attack the front end, desktop piece, but when it comes to IT management, there's more to it than just the part the end user sees. I was helping another IT guy out with a little side work when he made mention of the fact that he was moving "non-critical" workstations to Linux, and moving other people to Open Office. "Well," I asked "If a major bug or virus comes out for Linux, how do you plan on patching them? How will you centrally control these desktops?" Microsoft might come out with a bug, but I go to ONE spot to patch nearly a hundred workstations. It takes me less than a minute. If I want to do anything from changing the default IE home page to changing what folder Word opens into to what wallpaper appears on the desktop, I go to ONE spot to change this, again in mere minutes. Updating virus definitions? Same thing, though third party (built for which platform? Come on, guess!).

    Now how exactly would I go about doing this if I had strictly Linux or Mac systems installed? I'm sure some fanboy would tell me about some horrific kludge that could be deployed, but it's hard enough to get products that are designed and supported for this functionality to work right. Linux may well be able to do anything, but that doesn't escape the fact that it's a pain in the ass to use. It's also a well known fact that the Xwindows shell for Linux is a nasty piece of bloatware, it may run okay on newer systems since PC muscle has finally caught up enough to push that whale, but I don't want to hear any noise about how much thinner Linux is than Windows.*

    That being said, Microsoft still has room to worry. Linux isn't nearly as good as Windows, but it's free (unless you pay for the nearly required support packages, in which case it's about the same). On a sliding scale, Microsoft's product should be, due to it's cost, significantly better than Linux, but, alas, it's only slightly better. And there's further trouble ahead for the MS platform. Dvorak covers some OS pluses and minuses, and Windows only has one real big plus for it: video games. However, what if no one made games for Windows systems anymore? I'm not talking those web games either since they're simple enough to re-do for another platform. This may explain Microsoft's almost obsessive pushing of the Xbox. The gaming consoles have already killed off a great many PC games, and many of the remainders are little more than Xbox ports; the next generation of consoles will probably drive a nail into the coffin of PC gaming. Where will Microsoft be then? It won't really matter much what OS you have on your system at home if you can get what you need to do done on it.

    Of course business systems are a different matter entirely. Besides the centralized management features, home, or non-computer users (this includes clueless executives who depend on others to run their computers), would be shocked at the number of two bit apps that businesses depend on. These are written for Windows (usually poorly), are expensive to acquire (due to their low user base), and have very few equivalents in any other space. It will be a long time coming before any OS threatens Microsoft in the corporate user space.

    In other news, my buddy was pumping the very intriguing Mac mini. It comes with a ton of cool software and functionalities for not too much dough. There is something, though, that I have trouble getting past when it comes to using a Mac: I can't help but feel slightly less than a man for using one. The design says it all. It's sexy, but it's not Arnold Schwarzenegger/Russell Crowe sexy; it's Kirsten Dunst/Natalie Portman sexy: fun to look at, not fun to be (at least if you're a dude). Add to that the fact that Apple's products are openly marketed to idiots ("...and you're not idiot, are you?") and my interest in owning one starts to wane.

    (Of course, what do I know about video editing? What do I care to know. Let's face it, I'd rather be an idiot in some areas because I don't have the time or interest to be come an expert; better to let those already trained give the tools to do it. The same can be said for computer idiots. I'd heard it said that math and computers are the only things people will admit to being idiots about; but if that were true, Apple would own at least 80% of the PC market.)

    *(I've put together a couple different Linux boxes built around a specific functionality. In these cases, the OS can be made unimaginably thin, much thinner than any MS box could ever dream of being. This, of course, requires a much larger skill set than the average PC user would care to acquire).

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    A Plan for Cleveland

    No one else may have noticed, but Cleveland was recently named the poverty capital of America. Of course the local politicos are none too happy with the label, so it's time to come up with a solution to a problem which is largely of their own creation! Take this article (please!) from the Cleveland Pain Dealer that goes at length trying not to mention any solution:
    Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones said he favors harnessing existing resources rather than trying to create new ones, but he would like to see the focus narrowed even further, to four areas: education (preschool through college); work force development; economic development and employment; and family structure, which he said should address teen pregnancy and integrating fathers into families.
    Of course the unasked question is "What happened to all the old residents who didn't partake in questionable behavior and stayed and worked in the city to make it great?" Of course those people are long gone: a combination of high crime, poor education, high taxes, and poor infrastructure make for an uninviting place to live. It is still honorable to want to improve the lot of the people who still find themselves living in the city, but you can well bet that once their lot improves, they'll make a break for it as well.

    A radical solution might be to really improve the schools, really improve services, and really lower taxes and/or fees in order to make Cleveland city a tempting place to live. Of course there are more than enough lazy bureaucrats who have another idea.

    This brings me around to the whole "urban sprawl" issue. There seems to be three types of people who are "green space" nuts:
    1. Enviro types (a.k.a. "green bigots") who hate other people despoiling the planet as they see it. These types would be all for abandoning the North American continent, except for their swanky cottages of course.
    2. Guilty, well off, white people who don't want any darkies moving in on their nice digs.
    3. Lastly, big city bureaucrats who, lacking the courage to truly change the way their cities work, seek to trap people into living there by making property outside of the urban centers too difficult to acquire.

    There's an article here:

    State legislators who spent more than a year studying ways to curb urban sprawl and preserve farmland ended up taking what critics say has always been Ohio's approach to those concerns.

    They didn't do anything.
    Thank God....

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    Choosing the correct ally

    Interesting. From Opinion Journal:


    Furthermore, of the wars being fought in Africa and Asia and the Middle East today, nearly all involve Muslims committed to terrorism. As one Muslim journalist wrote this past year: "It is certainly true that not all Muslims are terrorists, however, sadly we say that the majority of terrorists in the world are Muslims.
    Ah, but there's more...


    Why, they [the Muslim generals] went on, did Osama bin Laden choose the methods of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin? Why not the International Declaration of Human Rights? Why the worst of modernity, not the best?
    Why? Well OBL is shooting for as much (if not more so) a political objective as a religious one. If there was a better method that he could undertake to become Caliph apart from Islam, he would no doubt use that instead. Too many Muslims have let lunatics trying to achieve a political end hijack their faith. Of course it doesn't help that the Western Left has a secret love for the kooks as well. I can well guess which Muslim the lefties have sympathies for in this bit (still from Opinion Journal):

    The AP photograph of a killer in Baghdad shooting a pistol into the head of one kneeling election worker--while another lies crumpled on the street--illuminates the face of our enemy. It is the face of Muslim fascists murdering Muslim liberals.

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    Where are the lefties that are supposedly so concerned about Muslims and liberalism in stories like this? Why, they're writing up crap about we should abandon the liberal Muslim to the animals of the former regime and the tools of the local oppressive governments. How about a little bit more, this speaks for itself, from the NY Post:

    Last week, I had an inspiring conversation with a Muslim-American. An immigrant from Pakistan, he hadn't yet been granted citizenship, but he had more faith in America than our native-born elite does.

    "I write to my brothers and sisters," he said, "And I tell them that they do not know true Islam. If you want to see true Islam, you must come to America."

    He meant the social justice and the respect for the individual, rich or poor, prescribed by the Koran. He had not found those qualities in the land of his birth. Nor do they prevail in any Muslim state between Casablanca and Karachi.

    Islam sets high standards for the daily behavior of its adherents, but all too often the Koran's calls for fairness, charity and common decency are rejected in favor of social strictures misinterpreted by bitter old men and fanatics. The oppression of women, terrorism and the police states of the Middle East were not part of the Prophet Mohammed's vision.

    I'll come out now and say that ol' Mohammed isn't exactly referred to favorably in many communities; but if he were to come back and see the current state of behavior of many adherents, he would be hard pressed to believe that they were doing a bang up job of keeping the faith.

    Update: More Here

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Yawner

    Just got through another heated exchange with my big time Democratic co-worker. What was the topic you say? Taxes? Religion? Terrorism? Nope, we were covering the woes of the stupid clawfoot tubs they carry in the big hardware stores. I mean, look at this crap:


    They're made of the same stuff as a ten dollar trash can, but the fact that they molded it after a centuries old tub makes it worth $1500! I told her that they could just as well stamp "Little Tikes" on the side and sell it as a $50 toy.

    This discussion comes hot on the heels of such exchanges as "when to prune roses", and "what breed of rhodies do you have?". Before I owned a home, I remembered coworkers having 'intriguing' conversations like this and thinking to myself "why don't you both go drown yourselves in the toilet right now?". I figured it was just painful idle chit-chat they felt they had to partake in. But, low and behold, once I was an official homeowner I actually found such conversations interesting.

    I don't know where I get it from. My mom and dad were always too busy to mutz with their house (six kids and job for each will do that), and so I came out of the school of "Do Just Enough To Keep The Court Orders Away" school of home care. I don't when I became such a prude (well, a 'D' grade prude at least) about how my house. Lotax over at SA has covered this effect in depth:
    I hadn't originally given much thought process to the mental effects owning a home would cause. I assumed that I'd be the same dopey jackass that I was before, content to simply slouch around and occasionally glance away from my computer monitor when I suspected something I owned was either on fire or getting urinated upon by my cats. Nobody told me the cold hard truth about becoming a homeowner: it changes you in ways you cannot imagine. Your entire sense of reality and priorities shift in a way that none of your friends will be able to recognize you, like in that one movie where Tom Cruise was all popular and rich and handsome, then he got in a car accident and nobody liked him anymore because he had become ugly and a Scientologist.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Goldberg on the odious UN

    The love of the U.N. has always been something that I can't get my hands around. It would seem that the best someone might say of the place is that "it's better than nothing, and barely at that." I, of course, wouldn't even go that far. Jonah Goldberg touches on one of the many reasons:
    This is why I find it so infuriating when people talk about how the 'nations of the world' voted on this or that in some U.N. resolution. No they didn't. Some nations voted through their representatives, other nations had one criminal cabal or another vote in their name. And if you believe - as so many opponents of the Iraq war did - that barbaric dictators are legitimate rulers because international law says so, then international law upholds the logic of the Fuehrer.
    In my mind, it's one thing to find the U.N tolerable, quite another to think of it as a great instituion like many "New World Order" types do.

    Update: More here.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Clever...

    Anyone who has used the "Next Blog" button on Blogspot has noticed the many spam sites out there. Most appear to be auto generated by some bot to post ads for some product. I came by this one though that took a second to figure out. It looks odd because it is; it appears that they used a bot to auto generate articles so that the spam will be less noticeable. Unfortunately, it makes for some interesting reading (for at least 15 seconds), a kind of stream of consciousness from a machine. It's certainly better than T.S. Elliot!

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Game Jingle

    You know you're bad when you recognize the Japanese artist that sings the song for a video game commercial. I would say I'm not so bad since I didn't recognize the song, but I was one Christmas present away from knowing that as well. As a little history, I'd come by some Utada bootleg videos a couple years back by chance. I thought I was 'culty' in having this pool of videos from what I thought was one of the many, mostly obscure, J-Pop artists. I kinda forgot about the boots, but then I thought to ask my buddy, who has a ton of J-Pop MP3s by way of his Japanese wife, if he happened to have any of her tunes. He congratulated me on finding an artist so obscure that she's one of the most popular artists in Japan.

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    Of course, one can debate the meaning of 'artist' when it comes to J-pop. Most of it is so manufactured that purists would be loathe to admit it's even music. Of course since I love overly engineered dance music, I'm more than willing to give it a pass.