Friday, October 29, 2004

Compare and Contrast #2
Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman. You have two hours. Anyone found still writing after the command "Pencils down" will viewed with a sneer.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

New On The Sidebar
Sharp eyes will notice the new section "looks" on the sidebar which is intended to feature art. The links were (very briefly) in the "links" section but I thought that since the other links are to blogs, it would make more sense to separate the art links.
Art is kryptonite to my descriptive powers so I won't go into effusive praise of PoW's first two artists. But please click the links. Two more different artists would be difficult to find in the same place but two more talented artists would be even more difficult to find anywhere. Full disclosure requires that I admit to knowing both of these artists for many years. I've even sat for a portrait by Irving. And, if I lived in Florida, there is no way I would not have one of Mary's gloriously imaginative pieces on my wall. As it is, I want one of her canvases but given what I already have, her work would likely start arguments with the other art. And probably win most of them.
Also, the "longings" section will be dedicated to a wonderful artist of another type for the month of November: Atoosa. She was one of the artists at the IC Benefit of which I blogged earlier. I haven't posted of her yet as I wasn't quite sure what to say. I'm now in possession of a couple of her CDs (and eagerly anticipating the arrival of her next) to which I've been listening obsessively. I love this woman. Her music is sweet, tough, personal and just a huge damn delight. Keep in mind that I do tend to rather like folk music. What really impresses me, and it's what I have enormous problems with, is her ability to lay her heart open in her music. That ability to make art out of vulnerability is, to me, both amazing and a little frightening. She's good at it. No - great at it.
It doesn't hurt that she is a gorgeous woman as well - eyes as deep as wells, a spill of raven ringlets and the face of a pre-Raphaelite angel out of Asia Minor. I'll stop gushing over her just to say that there has never been a woman in the "longings" section more deserving of the section title. Go. Listen. Thank me later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

A Data Day Thing
Brent Spiner is going to appear on the New Star Trek franchise "Enterprise." I think somebody out there is going to have the steamin' undies.
I'm Above Average!
I just heard on the radio machine that over the last 40 years "the average American has gained 25 pounds."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We'll Always Have Paris
I was considering the infelicitously named Paris Hilton the other day as I was listening to the puke news (entertainment report). The thought did strike - wouldn't she have been more accurately named "Bangkok Hilton?"

Monday, October 25, 2004

Good News For Honorary Pug of War Marshall
Marshall, although born with the dubious distinction of being a Labrador retriever ("I say Lovey! Bring me a Labrador, will you?" -Thurston Howell III), gets honorary Pug of War status after surviving a house fire by getting CPR from a couple of firefighters. CPR. As in mouth-to-snout resuscitation. But one paw down to the ingracious comment of rescuer Jason Poole who said "The only reget I have is I still have dog breath." (Don't elide the next line: "But I'd do it again in a minute." -Ed.) Marshall, I hate to tell you this but you've got human breath. Have an Alpo mint.
Can We Afford This?
The excellent Donald Lambro reports in last Tuesday's Washington Times on the National Taxpayers Union's look at "John Kerry's Legislative Priorities: 1991-2004" though at the moment, I don't have a link to his article. And it seems that the Times only has a 7 day free archive so it behooves me to just type in what I want from the article. Unless, of course, it were in the (sarcasm) "Creative Commons" (/sarcasm).
The Times headline is "Kerry backed costly legislation." As much of a "duh moment" as that is, it is quite useful to have explcit evidence of just what the Poodle's economic record is. The record, I hasten to emphasize, he is not running on. Lambro:
Legislation that Sen. John Kerry has proposed would have increased federal nondefense spending by an average of nearly $75 billion for each Congress, according to a tabulation of bills the lawmaker from Massachusetts has offered since 1991.
I heard one of the demobots - probably MacAuliffe - respond to a question about Kerry's plan for Social Security that Kerry would bring back Bill Clinton's balanced budgets and that would be the salvation of FDR's Ponzi scheme. Oh fer lying through yer teeth! First, the budget "surpluses" of the Clinton years were not surpluses. If Social Security taxes had been taken from the government and locked up (now where did I put those boxes!), there would have been just smaller deficits throughout the entirety of the Clinton administration. Secondly, if it had been up to Clinton, per se, those deficits would have been hugely greater. The only good the Republican congress did was force a reduction in real deficit spending. But this isn't about Clinton as much as Clintonoid MacAuliffe would like it to be.
This is about Kerry and Kerry is (wait for it!) an absolutely stereotypical tax-and-spend ultra-liberal. Don't get me wrong - I don't care for the current president's excessive spending. It buys him no goodwill with the left (Senator Hindenburg) and the deficit it adds to is not a good thing. But the fact remains that as bad as Bush is in spending, Kerry is just so much worse. And he can't be counted on to support national defense.
Here is the NTU on Kerry's spending from the Lambro article:
  • "During that same period (since 1991), he was proposing legislation which, on average, would cut defense and homeland security spending by $101 million" for each Congress.
  • Mr. Kerry "proposed either no increases or a decrease in defense spending in four of the last seven Congresses."
  • Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Mr. Kerry has "proposed $84 in increased nondenfense spending for every dollar of defense spending increases that he has sponsored or co-sponsored."
This is the very nut of the problem. We are at war. The single most necessary thing on which to expend our national treasure is the defense of the United States. Homeland security spending should be rational - I'm as against waste, fraud and abuse as the next blogger. But our defense spending has been in retreat since the Reagan years. And we just can't count on Kerry to support it. But he will spend your tax money! Count on that.
There is one final argument I have against Kerry. He seems to think that the war on terror is not a military one. It is one run on law, reaction and intelligence. Taking those points seriatim, law is not sufficient to handle the depredations of those set against Western civilization. Jails will not hold those who blow up the courthouses and temples of commerce. Reaction is the road to our demise. The only way to defeat supra-state organized terrorists is to find where they are given sanctuary and destroy them before they bring the terror to the civilian population. Finally, one thing he's right about: intelligence. We will only win this war with better intelligence than we even now have.
Yet Kerry "did propose S.1826 ... which included a $1-billion cut in 1994. That measure also would have frozen intelligence spending at that reduced level through 1998, allowing it to rise only by the rate of inflation. That could fairly be called a $5-billion cut spread over five years." (source: The justly-criticized intelligence failures that led to the maligned WMD-based decision to take down Saddam came from an intelligence service that Kerry would have given even fewer resources. And one aspect of intelligence that I have seen little discussed is why should President Bush be called to account for the failures of a CIA that was in the hands of the Clinton Adminstration until mere months before the 9/11 attacks?

More Belated Posting
Continuing the use of blockquotes and catching up on things I noted in the paper, this time last Tuesday. I'm getting better. My last belated post was two weeks late; this one is just a week late. Yay me!
An Associated Press article from October 19 (the link is to a different version than was printed in the WT) goes into efforts by "Artists and scholars who believe the current copyright system unduly stifles creativity [to] push... a less restrictive alternative that they call the Creative Commons." How nice for them. I'm sure there are a lot of students who feel that the current plagiarism "system" "unduly stifles" their "creativity" when it comes to writing term papers too.

Fair use is fair use. The point is to allow some limited (make that
limited) use of the work of other people so that new work can be created. New work (make that new work). If you require the wholesale appropriation of someone else's efforts, it's not fair (make that not fair). One example cited is a low-budget documentary called "Class of '83" which focuses on classmates killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The editor had to cut "most of" the song "The Rose" as sung by a children's choir out of the show. If the song were in the "Creative Commons," the entire thing could have been included and the editor's job would have been made much, much easier. Boo frickin' hoo. If the documentary were not trying to make money off such as the use of a song written by someone else and, in this case, even sung by a group of someone elses, then they could have done the leg work to clear its use. I'd even be willing to bet that the owners of the song's rights might have allowed its use in such a documentary. Instead, the documentary makers just want their job made easier. I wonder if they've released their work into the "Creative Commons?"
I won't even go into the "Tragedy of the Commons" as every reader should already be aware of this. Though I will pimp for a blog I haven't yet added to the blogroll yet: The Commons Blog. A beautiful Sekimori design and intelligent content. Check it out.
What made this post necessary (here's where we get the blockquote fired up again right?
-Ed.) is this paragraph:
"The (Creative) Commons encourages sharing and makes explicit that creativity depends on easy access to raw materials," said Siva Vaidhyanathan a New York University professor critical of current copyright laws. "Right now, you have to assume you're going to get in trouble if you quote from somebody extensively or build upon a previous expression."
Excuse me dumbass, "raw materials" for art are paint, paper, filmstock, ink, canvas, and a hundred other things that do not (make that not) include the intellectual property of other people! I use the term "dumbass" as this alleged academic has a weblog that demonstrates he's just another standard issue left-wing professor. I look forward to seeing others make extensive use of any and all of his writings since he is such a believer in the "Creative Commons."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

One Small Step
I think I have the blockquotes thing sussed out now. Look for its overuse in future posts!
Bereavement in the Public Square
I've been sitting on this post for a while as I haven't been able to decide whether to make it a research post or to just go on about the story at hand. The Washington Times in its October 11 issue had a London Telegraph story titled "Landfill remains grave to 9/11 ash." And since I decided against Googling up a link, the lead reads as follows:
The remains of hundreds of victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks are to be permanently buried in the world's largest garbage dump, to the consternation of their grieving families.
Relatives were assured that the ashes resulting from the fireball would be returned to the World Trade Center. Then they would form part of a planned memorial after being sorted from the half-million tons of debris from the Twin Towers that was taken to the Fresh Kills landfill site on Staten Island.
I have a problem with this. First, who in his right mind assures families that ashes from the flaming destruction of two of the world's tallest office buildings is going to be sorted from the resultant debris? This beggars belief. First, the percentage of ash that could be attributed to human remains has to be a slight fraction of the total ash, much less the total debris. Are the families of the most famous group of people murdered in America really so in need of a physical reminder that they must have those ashes? Even those ashes are likely to be of copier paper and office furniture? I'm sorry. I'm sorry for their loss but I'm even sorrier that they are so unable to move on that they insist on the separation of ashes from the landfill.
But even more than that. The families of the victims of 9/11 have received compensation from the government that is in excess of anything received by any other group. And as sorry for their loss as I am, it isn't right that they should have gotten so much taxpayer money. Shouldn't the families of the victims of the bombing of the Murrah Building be compensated then? Where does it end? The answer is that it doesn't. I'm not saying that 9/11 families should have to give back what they have been given but there must be a point at which the cost of their grief, which has been more shared by a nation than any mass grief in America's history, the pure dollar cost must come to an end. Here are the further details from the story:
City authorities have since balked at the estimated $450 million cost of moving the ashes again and have promised the creation of a 2,200 acre park on top of the dump - whose rotting contents smell of methane gas - and erect a memorial instead.
Relatives of the 1,169 victims have yet to receive any remains of their loved ones, and many are outraged at the authorities' decision.
Your outrage rings a bit hollow at this point. How many military families have a framed flag as their only memory of a husband or brother lost in the service of the country? I don't know but the possibility that the number is greater than 1,169 seems good.
I think the idea of a park on the landfill seems absurd. Isn't the site of the WTC being dedicated to the memory of our loss? There's the park. It is the place for a cenotaph. Make a plaque for each life lost and give the families each a plaque cast from the same mold as the one on the cenotaph. As it already stands:
The office of new York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pointed out that the coroner's office was still trying to identify 10,260 fragments of remains gathered at Fresh Kills. Those that remain unidentified would be interred in the official memorial at the Twin Towers site.

The expenditure of $450 million, however, is absurd. The families were overpromised. The person who overpromised should be identified and demoted. He or she is no proper steward of the public's money. No one would gain from this exercise in government waste - not even the families. It is time to stop public grief from overwhelming common sense.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Cholesterol Drug Advertising
I see (and hear) (far too often) Patrick Stewart is pimping for Crestor. Oh my aching back are the ads annoying! Jean Luc Picard channels Dr. Seuss. Shut up. Shut UP!
Religion as a Marital Aid
I believe in same sects marriage.

Question for a Commenter
As a baseball fan, what do you expect to happen in tonight's Janquis-BeauxSox Clash of the Titans? You will not be held to account for any divergence of your prediction from reality. I'd just like to know.
Hat Tip to the Former Mrs. BlogDog
The original pug behind Pugs of War, Spike by name, is still soldiering on at an amazing 13 years of age. However, I hear that he has been re-christened (as is the wont with pugs - a breed that acquires name changes about every other week from their smitten owners) as the CORNdog. CORN being the acronym for "Calliope Of Rude Noises."
And we love them none the less.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Another Moment of Pure Cruelty
Does anyone remember Louise Woodward? She was on one of the tabloid TV shows the other day exhibiting an utter lack of remorse and apparently is now on her way to be coming one of those droll forms of British lawyer.
Seeing her puffy, pale face again reminded of my old riddle:
Have you heard about the British Nanny Special at McDonalds?
A small fry and a shake.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Will be in a holding pattern this month. No new music will be added. Though I just might throw up a gratuitous link to a talented lady. Pugs of War: regurgitation a specialty.
My Book
My readers should know that I finally have a contract to write a self-help book. I'm really excited and enthused. The title will be "Finding Someone To Help You Through Co-Dependency." I think it'll sell.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Ow, Ow and Double Ow
I have gout. My right great toe is red, warm and painful. This really sucks. You'd be surprised how remarkably painful this is. Jebus, I just have to stop eating. Of course if fate is what I expect, I'll be metabolizing my own fat which would be a richer diet than I'm eating now. That would be perfect - more gout when fasting. At least I share this condition with my favorite immigrant.
It's more frustrating that the condition now alights in my right foot as my left hip joint is my worst on-going problem. When both sides are afflicted, I walk like a major cripple instead of just a regular cripple.
This being as it is - and I think it's on the mend since yesterday was worse - I should get some more long-form blogging up today. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: Kim Du Toit has been added to the blogroll. He is "Out of the (Gun) Closet" though I have the suspicion that most of you will have already figured that out.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Emm's coming back in November! I'm there.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

More Psychic Hardware
I just can't resist trying new stuff. F'rinstance a new mouse for the laptop. I like the mouse I've been using even though it acted up on me the other day. But it is a wired mouse. And I am tired of wires all over the desk. I even want a Bluetooth headset for my cordless desk phone so I don't have a wire running from the handset to the headset. And yes. I prefer to use a headset over pressing the electronic equivalent of a bar of Irish Spring to my ear.
So, a wireless mouse with a tiny little wireless connector that fits my USB port and, when I pack up the machine, the connector actually tucks into a little pocket in the mouse itself. Nice design. But. There's always a but. I went to the website. I downloaded the driver. I installed the driver. I plugged the mouse in. I adjusted the scroll speed. And I pushed those itty-bitty buttons to connect the mouse to the USB plug. And the pointer didn't move. (Insert noises indicative of aggravation here) Do I have to return this? What a hassle.
I won't give up without another try. I leave it a couple of days (that would be until today, right?
-Ed.) (shut up Ed.) and do all those connection rituals again. Pointer sits on the desktop. Oh grrr! Errant click on the right button. Contextual menu appears. Hunh? It reacts. But it doesn't move. What's up wid dat? What am I missing?
Short answer - the mousing surface. I have a deskpad that's composed of some synthetic, sort-of leather-like surface with a thin foam pad underneath. It's called something like "rhino hide" which has the feature of "healing" if you accidentally cut it. My new mouse doesn't like running on a rhino (that reminds of a joke ... no, now's not the time). So I'm now I need a mouse pad. What looks good with a PowerBook?

Holiday - Madonna Sang It
We welcome the return of Ramadan! Though why The Prophet has a holiday to celebrate inexpensive lodging is beyond me.
Movie Dog Yacks on a Bone
I borrowed a copy of "The Butterfly Effect" from a friend the other day and last night's "debate" provided the perfect opportunity to watch it. What a piece of crap. I only borrowed it after another friend recommended it to me. ... Let me just say that I will accept that you liked it but, and I quote now, "what a piece of crap." Foremost, I'm no fan of Demi-tapper Ashton Kutcher (Don't be hatin' - Ed.) but I approach his movies with an open mind. The burden of proof is on him to convince me and so far he hasn't. A reviewer on the IMDB page linked above points out that Kutcher is a comic actor and his dramatic turn is, at least, problematic: "He is a comedic actor and his transition to serious acting puts him in the forefront of bad acting in a year of bad leading male performances."
I will give the movie this - the FX in the transitions to the past are pretty interesting. But it's like using a Chrysler Maybach for the sole purpose of taking your recycling to the dumpsters.
I found myself being much more interested in Melora Walters who plays Kutcher's mother. She is ... cute. But her voice is just so wrong. Too tiny, too high-pitched. And I put the ellipsis before calling her cute because I could never engage with her character. It was so poorly written that I could never relax and accept her as anything near real. And the suspension of disbelief is a necessary thing in the flickers. I was surprised to see that Ms. Walters was a character in "Cold Mountain" because she made absolutely zip/zero/nada impression on me in that movie. It was, I'll admit, a small part. In looking at her roles, I'm tempted to go to the vid store and make myself a Melora Walters film festival with about a half dozen of her movies just to see if she's to my taste and I don't see it because I didn't like "Butterfly Effect" or she really isn't to my taste.
Which leads me off on a tangent about actresses. I had the same feeling about Sandra Bullock. I first remember seeing her in "Demolition Man" and can still recall my reaction: I'm not sure if she's really cute or just weirdly strange looking. I finally came to the conclusion that she is very attractive as long as she smiles. Great smile, a light-up-the-room smile. And her looks are otherwise quirky and individual - which I do like. Give me an interesting face over a plastic Barbie-doll any day (Kate Jackson - yes, Jacklyn Smith - no). Maybe I just need to see more of Melora Walters to reach such a conclusion.
That being said, "Butterfly Effect" is awful. The concept is ludicrous, the execution pitiful (except the effects) and the writing is cliche-ridden crap. At least half a dozen times I said the precise words put in the characters' mouths by the script writer. That's bad writing.
I'll leave you with the silver lining to this dark cloud: I didn't have to spend a dime to see it.
Coming Soon to PoW as an Actual Link
My new e-mail addy. I am Blog.Dog(at symbol)
I need to noodle through the putting up a link that will not lead to its being harvested by the spambots. Death to spambots. I wouldn't mind the death penalty for spammers themselves but that's an overreaction. Assholes.
Oh great, after using that word I then turn around and thank my true and good friend Paul for the invite to join Gmail. You Rock! Mr. Mac!

UPDATE: It's there. It's just not a link. Deal with it. Or not.
New on the Blogroll
As you can see, I've added the Grouchy Old Cripple (in Atlanta) to the links list. Denny is funny, tough and honest. More can not be asked from any one. As he makes his transition to retired life, I'd like to wish him less aggravation, greater health and all the wine drinking and SCUBA diving his heart desires.
Not to mention my thanks for posting pics from me and using one of mine for his Monday pun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A Lot of People Are Going to Link To This
So why should be any different. Brilliant.
Actually it's all just a plot to have anyone who stumbles upon this little outpost ("Not The End of The Internet But You Can See It From Here") on the whirled white web to go other places and experience new things. Like that "Next Blog" button up there at the top right corner. Go ahead. I'll be here when you get back.
I Want Psychic Hardware
My usual configuration here at PoW Central HQ (Hindquarters) is that the PowerBook is running the wireless connection to the Linksys router while the desktop Mac is running a hardwire to the same point. Not that the latter matters because the destop box is taking the role of iTunes Playback Device since it has more hard drive capacity and (at the mo') slightly better speakers. The iPD, however, has its own little wireless suite of keyboard and mouse, neither of which is much used. The PB has a hardwired mouse attached so my right hand is mostly cupped around that little lump of plastic-wrapped LED technology.
Every now and then, naturally, I need to adjust something in iTunes - say, switch from "shuffle" mode to continuous play. The trouble is my hand rests on the mouse that's not attached to the iPD. Then, with that wonderful lag effect a modern brain has the ability to create, I wonder why the pointer on the monitor is not moving.
I want a psychic mouse that knows when I want the pointer on the other machine to move with out my having to pick up the daggum other mouse which is well over four inches from where my hand is! I don't think this is too much to ask.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Speaking as a Fat Man Myself
I hate Michael Moore. It's one thing to be fat and neat about it. Dress respectably and minimize the ocular impact on the viewing public. But this left wingnut is just a fargin' slob. From this point on, since he's such a steer (male cow, doncha know), I will only call him Michael Moo-er.
I Look Into The Future
Through a glass darkly I see the Kerry partisans at the end of the Poodle's first term calling for his relection. And since the basis of his election is his service in Vietnam, they are calling out: "Four More Months! Four More Months!"

Monday, October 11, 2004

And Finally, A Moment of Outright Cruelty
"So long, Superman!"
-Barney Gumble to a departing Shary Bobbins

I Want to Start a Rock Band
It will be composed entirely of midgets and dwarves done up in Goth style. It will be called "Marilyn Munchkin."
I Did Not Clap for Tinkerbell
The brilliant Mary Steyn has an op-ed today that is up to his amazing best. I don't normally link to such things as op-eds because they are out there and those who have an interest are already reading them while those who don't have an interest will be bored with the linkage. However, there are uses of language in this piece that deserve to be scribed in stone.
"Mr. Edwards, on the other hand, driveling on like a Depression-era sob sister about how the 'bright light' of America now 'flickering' is one of the funniest acts I've seen in years.
I think the Edwards smarmarama is ridiculous. It's all about oil, as the antiwar lefties say, and on Tuesday night the oiliness was practically oozing through the TV screen and all over the floor. If every Democratic candidate was as unctuous and oleaginous as Mr. Edwards, gas would be 50 cents a gallon and we could tell the Saudis to go to hell."

"Smarmarama." Wish I'd thought of it.

But the heart of the matter is here:
"Asked about his qualifications to be vice president and thus — in the event of John Kerry being felled by a grisly windsurfing tragedy — president and commander in chief, John Edwards talked about what 'the American people want in their president and in their vice president.' First, he said, 'they want to know that their president and their vice president will keep them safe.'
Oh, phooey. That would be a neat line if the American people had all got lead-poisoning and hired you to file the all-time class-action suit on their behalf. But no president can guarantee safeness in unsafe times."

Exactly. Edwards seems to believe that Americans have a magic wand in their President and Vice-President. And I'm thinking that Americans who engage in such magical thinking will vote Kedwards. I can see them now in their voting booths, squeezing their eyes shut, crossing their fingers and saying, "It was better with Clinton. It was better with Clinton." When they emerge, they can click their heels together three times and repeat "There's no place like home." The likelihood of their being whisked home by Glinda precisely matches the likelihood that they will be safer if the John Boys are elected.
And to explain the title, even as a child I knew that my clapping had no effect on the longevity of that moronic, poison-drinking fairy. And I'm not about to start believing in magic in the voting booth.

Your Political Essay Test for Today
Compare and contrast Arianna Stalinopolous Huffington with Teresa Huntz Kerry.

Yes, I KNOW. I used those middle names as subtle and clever political commentary.

I Am Pro-Military
The Times has a regular column for soldiers' and veterans' issues, including questions from families and the like. It's called "Sgt. Shaft" and I haven't been able to find a link to it. However, the headline on today's column is "Civil War private may be eligible for headstone." I am nonplused. I mean, God love you David G, Noble, deceased December 18, 1871, but is the erection of a headstone (poor choice of words - Ed.) really a problem or an issue at this point? Pvt. Noble is buried in an unmarked grave (Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, PA for the detail-oriented) and a headstone is a good thing on a grave.
On the other hand, I understand the desire of the descendants to have an official recognition of the sacrifice of their ancestor. Yet my Southern blood still wants to say that he was just a damn Yankee anyway. Keeping that Southern blood under control is difficult some times. What the hell. I hope Pvt. Noble gets his stone and that his spirit rests in peace as do his remains in the good soil of Pennsylvania.

Gasoline Floats on Water
At the bottom of the front page of the Washington Times is a story about Hawaiian seawater (desalinated of course) being sold for $6 per bottle. That price is in Japan for Mahalo brand 1.5 liter bottles and actually the price range is $4 to $6 per bottle. As it says:
"Desalinated deep-sea water from Kona is the state's fastest-growing export,
with demand soaring in Japan. Super-cold water sucked up from thousands of
feet below the Pacific Ocean's surface is being marketed as healthy, pure,
mineral-rich drinking water."
First the ungodly expensive coffee and now the ungodly expensive water you can make the coffee with. Though I wouldn't. If the water is sold as being mineral-rich, then it would make lousy coffee. As Martin Short's SNL tobacco executive would say, "I know that. Why would you think I wouldn't know that?"
But that's not all the news from the Aloha state. Here, in its enervating brevity is another item from the "American Scene" page of the WashTimes:

State's gas prices hit record highs
HONOLULU — Hawaii's gasoline prices, the highest in the nation, are now a
little bit higher. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the
islands hit a record $2.37 Friday, well above the national average, AAA said.
Maui motorists paid the most at the pump, an average of $2.649 per gallon.
California had the second-highest gas prices in the nation at $2.28 per gallon.

Boo freakin' hoo. Live on an island, pay some more for things that have to be imported. Ask the people who live in the Caymans. Ask the people who live in Bermuda. It is inescapable. At least the Hawaiians have good, cheap, fresh pineapple. Dammit.
But I don't just offer snark. I'm all about the love. All about solutions. So it behooves me to offer this simple solution. Sell more got-dam water so you can afford to buy more got-dam gasoline.
I should get paid for brilliant economic advice like this.

A Moment of Clarity
You can be divorced from reality but the alimony payments will kill you.
Or blog spasm. I was struck by a number of things in this morning's paper and figure it's worth blogging them all to a fare-thee-well this holiday day. I should probably make one big-ass post but I think I'll set 'em up on their own so they can be knocked down like bowling pins.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Movie Dog Barks Again
I watched "Cold Mountain" the other day and was more impressed with it than I expected. I am growing increasingly resistant to Nicole Kidman. She has talent as an actress but her role in this movie left me unimpressed. I was never able to see her character. All I saw was Nicole Kidman acting the role. "Rain Man" left me feeling the same way. Dustin Hoffman was supposed to be so great playing the idiot savant and Tom Cruise was just playing the slickee-boy brother. But Cruise utterly inhhabited the role - he simply was that man. Hoffman, on the other hand, was so painfully, visibly acting the part that he became a distraction. Kidman is not quite distractingly bad but she's similarly forced.
I do think Nicole Kidman is one of the stunning beauties of our time but she gets colder and colder as time goes by. Her dalliance with Lenny Kravitz doesn't exactly raise her in my estimation either but that's pure personal prejudice (I don't like Kravtiz's faux-hippie persona or his music truth be told) on my part. Give me the Kidman from "Dead Calm" please.
Renee Zellweger, very much on the other hand, is magnificent. She is Ruby Thewes. She doesn't act the part. She becomes her role. I've always liked Ms. Zellweger. She seems like such a nice person. Someone who would be a friend if met under the proper circumstances and not at all stuck up (to use a Monty Python phrase). But that could be wishful thinking on my part. The one part of her looks that bothers me is her tendency to squint. Her eyes have an unfortunate tendency to disappear. It's kinda cute (Oh Lord! Another crush! -Ed.) But she plays Ruby with almost bug-eyed directness. And it just plain works.
I also find Jude Law to be a very good actor. His work in "A.I." was top notch. He does a very creditable turn here as well. This is another of those movies that's well worth renting if you haven't already seen it. And if you ever get to meet Renee, please invite me along!

The Most Amazing Time Sink On The Web
I have wasted so much time playing this that I think I should be taken to a deprogramming expert. Though it's a measure of how amazing computing has become. I remember playing a black and white version of this on one of my old Macs. Everything in remarkably crude outlines and no sophistication in the eeeeevil asteroids. And now it's a game that can be delivered over the web with gorgeous graphics and a heck of a lot of fun play.
If you want to waste some time....

If I Get Reincarnated
I think I'd like to be reincarnated as a toilet seat. It seems to be the standard of sexual success that men are judged against.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Why Do I Love Mozilla?
Let me count the ways - one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand.... OK that's a slaunchwise steal from Roger Rabbit and highly undignified in such a lapidary post as this is destined to be. But the title is real truth.
I am a Mac user. Have I made that clear in the past? Maybe, maybe not. Which is but proof that I'm not a rabid, teeth-gnashing Mac maniac. I'm an advocate, I'm a user but I'm not insane about it. Specifically, I mostly use a 15" PowerBook (TiBook) with an 867 MHz G4 chip and 768 MB of main memory. I also have a desktop G4 which I use as my iTunes machine as it has a lot more hard drive space for the sound files. But I also have a PC - a home-built 1 gig Athlon-chipped beige box. Right now it is lying fallow as desktop space is devoted to the Macs and power plugs, monitor space and keyboard space are all not rationalized. But it will be back in the mix ere long. I bring this up because browser use seems still to be a function of Mac/PeeCee antagonism. On my hard drive (laptop) are the following browsers: Internet
Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox and Safari. I also tried Opera for a while but found that it added nothing beyond the functionality in Mozilla with which I was already well acquainted so I deleted it.
I would never say that I'm a master browser, that I've delved into the guts of the programs and found Mozilla to be the best but
for my purposes Mozilla absolutely kicks ass. First, to dispense with IE: I'm not overfond of the overlords of computing in Redmond but IE is like Swiss cheese to hackers these days. Leave us not to forget that it was recently demonstrated that IE could be used to hack open a Wintel box by use of code imbedded in a JPEG image. That has been patched but still - yikes! Thus: no Explorer use, at least as little use as is humanly possible.
What makes Mozilla great? First and above all: tabbed browsing. Opera can do this as well (I think very highly of Opera and would consider it as browser of choice on my PC). Firefox does tabbed browsing too but Mozilla has a clickable button at the right of the tab bar that opens a new tab and Firefox doesn't. That alone makes Mozilla preferable to me. Part of the joy of tabbed browsing is opening a link in a new tab by right-clicking on the link. A menu opens which allows the user to open in a new tab, open in a new window, bookmark the link, save it as.... I must use this feature 100 times a day.
But that's not all! (As the infomercial says, "Don't answer yet!") If a site requiring registration opens (say The New York Times's site), a right-click on the window will open a menu that offers "BugMeNot" as an option. Selecting that option opens a small window with a user ID and password for that site from the estimable folks at Bug Me Not (which site is down as I write this). I logged in on my last visit to as "biasashell" with the password "dncshill." Henh. I like it.
And my final preference for Mozilla is the built in search function. I've selected Google as my search engine (does any one not use it now?) and I can just type my search criteria into the address line and the entry automatically drops down as a menu. I can click the drop down or arrow key down and hit enter if I don't want to take my hands off the keyboard. Bing, bang, boom my search is done.
If you are using IE, please go, get Mozilla, get Firefox (which, by the way, is a browser only - no mail functionality and all that other browser crap), get Opera. Safari is nice too if you're a Mac user. But for the love of Hephaestus, stop using Internet Explorer!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Acidman has posted a fair amount lately (par example) about his fondness for pineapple. Normally this wouldn't be worthy of much comment but it illustrates how blogging can infiltrate one's life. I was shopping at Costco (motto: Store this!) in the fruit section and saw the stack of cases of pineapples. At a good price too - under $4 per and I could buy them one at a time. Seeing them made me think of Rob's blogging of them. so, naturally, I had to buy one. And it was delicious. Next time I go, I'm getting another one.
If you haven't dealt with a fresh pineapple (ever or in a while), there are a few things to consider. First, fresh pineapple is just a whole quantum step above what you can get canned. Canned is not bad but fresh is just fabulously better. However, preparing the beast is, well, a beast. I usually take a nice big, honking chef's knife and lop a horizontal (if you have the pineapple standing upright) slice. I've started from both the top and the bottom and I don't see that going one way or the other makes any difference. I then use a freshly sharpened, stiff-bladed paring knife to cut the skin off in sections. I try to minimize loss of tasty pina-flesh to the cutting but that is the way I am. Then I use the paring knife to cut out the "eyes" that are deeper in the fruit than the skin. And thus I've produced an edible slice of fruit (sue me - I eat the fibrous core as well) and a whole lot of juice.
Is there a point to my blogging about pineapples? Maybe. It's all about memory. Back in 1975 I spent the summer in Mauritius. One small fact about this (cough, cough) island paradise is that anything grown on there is harvested small. Perhaps it's harvested quickly to account for that size but fruits and veg are not going to be setting any world records when grown there. And pineapples are no exception. Still, this is not a bug - it's a feature. The pineapples in the market are about the volume of two large fists - man hands fists that is. And they're sold for snacking in the market in just the coolest way: the fronds at the top of the fruit are trimmed back so that they form a sort of stubby handle. Then the fruit skin is carefully pared away (I didn't see this done but I'd guess it's by using a very sharp knife and the skill of much practice) and the "eyes" are taken out with spiral cuts forming little helical trenches around the surface of the fruit. They are then sold whole, half, quarter and maybe by the eighth too. I don't specifically recall the eighths actually.
This was a fantastic market snack. But there's more. You could get the slices (which were, of course, lengthwise) with a stripe of hot sauce laid down one side and even a stripe of salt laid down the other. Sounds strange but it was D-lish. I even have pictures of my birthday that summer where I put away a whole little pineapple. It was an exceptional treat, more pineapple than is really necessary to eat but I took it as a birthday treat.

To go even further in the Wayback Machine, I have another pineapple story set in the early 60s when my family was in Hawaii. Dole Pineapple has vast fields of the delectable fruit on Oahu and, at least back then, actually had a processing plant in or very near Honolulu. To which the whole fam dambly went for a tour. It was a great field trip for a kid. The plant had a big-ass pineapple shaped water tower on the roof and there were "water fountains" in the lobby which dispensed, in order, water, pineapple juice and water. Cold running pinju in the lobby. I loved it. I have no salient memories of the actual processing plant but I do remember getting two rings of 'freshly processed' fruit at the end of the tour.
The fun part was witnessing my brother mess with my sister's mind. He told her that the water tower was full of pineapple juice and she so utterly bought into it that years later (maybe even 10 years later) she was telling a friend of hers about living in Hawaii including the Dole plant and the giant pineapple full of pineapple juice. Festus and I fell out laughing on that one. We couldn't believe that the joke had gone on that long.

Monday, October 04, 2004

How Many Times!
This will be the last post I make saying "sorry for the light blogging." I've been busy and dealing with major annoyances - if you consider a car crash a major annoyance ... as I do. But I've started making notes to myself to blog up things I think are worthy of mention. But for today - just another place holder. More TK. Definitely.