Thursday, February 23, 2006

While typing out the previous rant I remembered this old chestnut. Just to show you this stuff goes back a day or two, we had this posted in the teamroom back in 1985.

Nine useful phrases when traveling an Islamic country

Thank you for showing me your marvelous gun.

I am delighted to accept your kind invitation to lie on the floor with
my arms above my head and my legs apart.

I agree with everything you have ever said or thought in your life.

It is exceptionally kind of you to allow me to travel in the trunk of
your car.

If you will do me the kindness of not harming my genital appendages I
will gladly reciprocate by betraying my country in public.

I will tell you the names and addresses of many American spies
traveling as reporters.

Whatever you say!

The red blindfold will be lovely, excellency.

The water-soaked bread crumbs are delicious, thank you. I must have
the recipe.

I'm sitting here feeling enervated after what has been a very rough week (and there are still two days left to go!) and checking through a few blogs.

It's been my feeling for a very long time now that if Muslims really want to break down western preconceptions and biases against Islam, they need to take stock of themselves and their own actions. Bombing pizza parlors, school buses, airline terminals, aircraft, pushing old men off cruise ships, beating Navy men to death, bombing discos, bombing embassies, bombing peacekeepers in their beds and flying aircraft into buildings packed with thousands of people after gutting stewardesses with boxcutters—that's all Islamic territory. The Basques and the Irish separatists don't even rate on the global scale against what the Muslims have done. Pikers all.

There have been a few—a very few—lukewarm condemnations of 9/11, but that's about it. A few governments (Qatar, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi) have pitched in, but by and large the people are not behind the actions of their governments.

I have at least three books on the relationship between Islam and the west. All are written by Muslims and I thought that I could read them and learn. I have been unable to plow through any of them because each of them begins at page one saying the problem is that the west doesn't understand Islam. That certainly is the case, but the world is a two way exercise. Islam doesn't understand the west, either, but the west has so far resisted using the middle east as a nuclear testing ground. Now, as of late we have indeed invaded two countries, but that my friends, is a matter of finally having had enough. Afghanistan was a vacuum, most of which was ruled by the Taleban, a vicious group of fundamentalists who fully supported terrorism and took great delight at whipping women bloody with automobile aerials. That part of Afghanistan was acknowledged as one big terrorist training base. The Taleban was never a legitimate ruling party. They sheltered bin Laden, we asked them to turn him over and in the name of some all-consuming Islamic fundamentalism they allowed themselves to be destroyed and lose control of Afghanistan all over one man. Despite the shoutings of the left, Saddam also supported terrorism and had weapons of mass destruction. We know he did, because he used gas (defined as a WMD) on his own people and either VX or Sarin (maybe both) have been found in Iraq since the invasion, although the left keeps raising the bar on what they'll consider a WMD. Saddam murdered his own people by the tens of thousands, he imprisoned tens of thousands on trumped up political charges and the children of political prisoners were themselves jailed under horrific conditions for the duration of their parents' sentences. So yeah, we finally invaded two of your countries, but it was a long time coming and richly deserved.

So, with all of that on my mind I found this post at RofaSix. Like NOTR says: “About Sez it All”.

It's not safe for work and definitely “R” rated, but absolutely recommended viewing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Well, I'm set up to skew television ratings. Got a postcard a while ago saying that we had been selected as a "Nielson Family". I never replied, but they kept up and yesterday we received a log along with five crisp one dollar bills. They only ask that we keep the log for a week, so I figure "why not?".

BUT--while no one family can actually skew ratings, I'm going to do my best. I'm not unaware of popular programs (though I never heard of "Ghost Whispers" until local moms starting begging off of planned activities so they could watch the show rather than watch their daughters growing up), but I just don't watch them. I've never seen "ER", I've never seen the crime scene show or any of its spinoffs, I've seen "JAG" once and thought it was the most unrealistic piece of garbage I've ever seen (hot babe aside), I've never seen "Beverly Hills 9whatever", I've never seen "Friends", and I only ever watched "Seinfeld" twice. The second time was the farewell show, which referenced previous shows. Needless to say I was utterly baffled.

I guess I'm a legitimate demographic--the networks need to know that at least some of us don't watch their garbage--but it feels weird. On the other hand, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel might get a boost from our log.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I came across this quiz at Toni's website and just had to take it. Thing is, Toni came out 60% weird and I, of all people, only came out 50% weird. I'm a bit concerned about Toni at this point...

You Are 50% Weird

Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!
I have tried to avoid watching opening ceremonies for the Olympics since the Winter Olympics in France, because the "entertainment" frankly resembles what I imagine a hallucinogenic trip to be.

I got out of much of the opening events as one of the Bear's friends was planning to go to Fun Night at school and asked Bear to go with her. At the last minute the friend's mom, who had planned the whole thing, opted out so she could watch something on TV called "Ghost Whispers" (I have no idea what "Ghost Whispers" is, but it must be compelling as that's the second time a mom has derailed premade plans in favor of watching it). Nice guy that I am, I picked up her slack and took the girls to Fun Night.

Got home too soon, unfortunately, and the wife and son were watching the opening ceremonies. I was OK until the US contingent entered the stadium. Right off the bat, some moron broke ranks so he could do Hulk poses in front of the camera. Next, the camera focused on some piece of fluff who was showing utter contempt (or, more likely,ignorance) for the import of entering the Olympic Stadium as a member of the United States Olympic Team by yakking on her cell phone as she slouched into the stadium. Some day when she wins the gold at the ice licking event, her grandchildren will see clips of her squawking into a cell phone, utterly ignorant of the fact that she was marching into history. And Hulk Boy, well, he may never really grow up.

Lastly as regards the US contingent—whoever designed those hats should be maimed and left to die on an ice floe.

I'm intrigued by the skeleton sleds. It's a new sport, but they look to be incredibly fast and the sledders must be pretty ballsy. Apparently the standout male in US skeleton sledding has been using a hair restorative that contains a compound that can mask steroids and allegations were made against him. He went to some international sports court with the issue and they looked at records and ruled no wrongdoing on his part. He just happened to be using that particular product. Fact is, he is getting pretty bald, which lends credence. Nonetheless, the anti-US International Olympic Committee banned him from this years Olympics. This would be the same committee that was revealed as big-time partying, hooker-buying toads during the ramp up to the Salt Lake City Olympics.

As far as the Olympics as a whole, I'm just not sure any more. Time was you had to be an amateur. Remember, Jim Thorpe was stripped of gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon because he'd once made a few bucks playing semi-pro baseball. Baseball has nothing to do with pentathlon or decathlon, but as far as the committee was concerned, he'd been a pro. It was an open secret that the Soviet teams were state supported and the athletes received stipends. In fact, for many years the Soviet hockey team was made up entirely of active duty Soviet special forces troops. But for a long time we rose above it and sent our amateurs, who actually beat the Soviets at their own game from time to time.

Then, suddenly somebody somehow convinced the Olympic committee that professional basketball players should be allowed. So we sent teams of loutish NBA players who didn't do all that well in competition and managed to embarrass us with their behavior all the same. Then pro tennis players were given the clearance. I haven't kept track since then, but my impression as of this Olympics is that pros aren't barred at all.

Takes something away from the event for me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Had an interesting encounter this morning. After dropping the kids off at school I came across a small truck sitting dead at a stop sign. Figured I'd see what I could do.

I got out and walked up to the truck and sked the girl driving it if I could help. She told me she's had trouble starting it, and now it had stalled and she couldn't get it started. My first thought was that the alternator croaked and she had a dead battery. The cross road had a nice downhill slope to the right, so I considered shoving it down the hill and push starting it. Of course that only works with manual transmissions, so I asked her if she had a manual or automatic transmission. She told me she didn't know.

300 million people in this country and I manage to find the only one who doesn't know whether she's driving a manual or an automatic. I looked at the floor and there was a clutch pedal--sort of a giveaway. I said "You know that stick thingy you move around? That's a manual transmission". "Oh".

She turned the key at that point and the engine cranked, so the alternator theory went out the window. She just wasn't getting fuel. After she cranked it a few more times I told her I could either pull her back into the parking lot or push her down the hill where she could pull over to the curb. She opted for the second choice, so I gave her a push. While I stood there yelling "Turn, turn", she went straight across the road and onto a sidewalk at the middle school.

I ran across the road and she told me she couldn't turn the steering wheel. Sigh. "Turn the key on so the steering wheel lock disengages". "Oh".

At that point she turned the key all the way and the engine finally decided to fire. I left, but not without misgivings--Some people simply shouldn't be allowed access to motor vehicles.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Well, rodent girl strikes again.

The Bear just has this thing for rodents. We've had hamsters, miniature hamsters and a gerbil. The first two hamsters died of natural causes, the miniature hamsters met their maker at the hands of the father hamster who then died either from his own meanness or from the gastric results of consuming his family. The next hamster got caught in an access tube in its cage and most recently the gerbil passed, apparently due to natural causes.

Well, now the Bear is the thrilled owner of a guinea pig. It's about two years old and like all of the above save one hamster, it was a giveaway, cage and all.

I never thought I'd say this, but I kind of like the thing. It's big enough to feel like you're actually interacting with something more than an animated dust bunny, it makes interesting sounds and it's very docile, unlike the gerbil who was just a mean, aggressive SOB.

On the other hand as I'm reading up on guinea pig care I'm learning such tidbits as I'll have to clip its toenails--oh, and do it somewhere where you won't drop it when it bites you. Nice.

They're apparently big on fresh vegetables, so I offered it some iceberg lettuce. It snatched it from me with a lightning strike then shook it like a dog trying to break a rat's neck before consuming it with great alacrity. It was an interesting enough performance that I gave it another piece to watch it again. Then it struck me that I now have competition for the iceberg lettuce. The pig and I may come to disagree on this issue. Along the line of fresh greens, apparently white clover is one of their favorite foods. We have white clover aplenty around here. Free food! But also gives them gas. I have a labrador retriever for that. I don't need a flatulant guinea pig as well.

Apparently scurvey is an issue as well. One page recommends feeding them cabbage to address this, another page says to avoid cruciferous vegetables because...they give them gas. Guess I'll have to give it a lime along with its rum tot.

And yes, so far it's an "it". I'm still reading the page on how to sex the things. Suffice it to say it's not as obvious as, say, John Holmes. Fortunately the Bear picked a generic name for it: Fluffy. Although as with all of her names, it's subject to change.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Let the baseball blogging begin!

Well, at least let it creep slowly to the fore. It's still only February.

Had The Big Meeting tonight. Around a week ago the league president called me and asked what i was doing this year. It seemed like something of a trick question. I told him that I knew someone else had picked up the umpire coordinator position, so I wasn't doing much of anything. I honestly had no idea why he was asking me that. If ignorance was bliss, I'd have been positively orgasmic at that point.

As it turns out, he wanted me to take over as commissioner for the junior and senior leagues. We talked a bit about the responsibilities and I finally told him that I'd attend tonight's meeting and consider taking the position. The meeting kicked off with a reading of minutes from the last meeting. Well, miracles do occur in small town baseball. According to the minutes, I accepted the post a month ago!

Well, I thought, at least I know my son will make the all-star team this year...

There are a few hurdles ahead: We only have enough guys for one senior league team, which presents something of a problem. Senior league is high school age and they eschew Little League for high school ball so they can wear their uniforms on game day and pull chicks in their wake as they walk from class to class. Can't blame them a bit. I tried the same thing back when, but the band uniform just didn't work very well.

Scheduling umpires played hell on my cell phone. I'm expecting the commissioner gig to play hell on the answering machine as parents call me to complain about mean umpires. "He called my son out just because the ball got to the base before he did. Little Billy just can't run that fast, he's a husky boy. I don't know what you expect of him. He had to come home and spend three hours on his Nintendo XBox just to wind down after that call".

Or: "Little Zachary's coach only lets him play seven innings out of each game. Aren't there 18 innings in a game, like golf?"

Maybe I'm being pessimistic (but on the other hand, pessimists are never disappointed), but I'm anticipating an "interesting" season.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Another fun survey. Got this one from Righty in a Lefty State. It's pretty close to the truth.

I'm a Dodge Viper!

You're all about raw power. You're tough, you're loud, and you don't take crap from anyone. Leave finesse to the other cars, the ones eating your dust.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Can't find any internet references in a quick search, but the newspaper today reported that John Kerry, the paragon of class who marries rich women and lives their lifestyle, walked out of the senate yesterday fuming over the appointment of Judge Alito. He announced that the Democrats had not brought out their "expletive" knives. Well, that's pretty clear--no need to speculate on what he said.

A US Senator walked out of chambers and announced to one and all that his fellow Democrats allowed Alito to be confirmed because they neglected to employ their "f*cking knives".

Oh, and this is the guy who made a phone call from Davos, Switzerland where he was playing with his jet setter friends to try and set up a philibuster when he couldn't even be bothered to be in DC.

A true class act, he is.
Several years ago the company I worked for was collaborating with another company which was developing a device they were hoping to market as a temporary device to support patients through acute renal failure.

Renal failure is when your kidneys shut down, and it's a death sentence. Sometimes a medical situation will overload a patient's kidneys, causing a temporary (acute) shutdown until the situation is resolved. While complete renal failure always leads to death, if a patient can be supported through a temporary shutdown, they have a good chance of surviving.

The device had been through Phase One clinical trials with surprising results. When testing medical devices they don't want you experimenting with people who might survive (and possibly screwing them up), so trials are limited to people whom the odds say are going to die. The survival rate with this device was astonishing. They had a list of people who "should have" died, but didn't.

For certain reasons I was called in as a cell growth guy to do some work and help out with the project. I did my part, got more thanks than I really deserved and moved on. I can't even remember the name of the company.

It will, of course, be years before the device hits the market--and that's assuming that it meets FDA approval. It may, it may not. I only know about the Phase One trials. There are two more levels to meet before the FDA even thinks about approving it.

In the mean time, relatives of two people close to me have perished due to acute renal failure, and with each death I've found myself thinking back to that project, wistfully, hoping that someday that thing hits the market.