Monday, March 31, 2008

We've all thought of it

I probably watch more television that most people. Well, maybe watch is not the correct word -- I turn the TV on for background noise, and have the History Channel or NG Channel or something similar on all day in the corner of my computer screen. It works better for me than radio.

So, it's possible that you haven't seen the new Cheetos ads. The animated Chester Cheetah has become a dark, oily sort of character who urges people to do bad things -- put Cheetos up the nose of a snoring airline passenger, squish Cheetos in a neatniks laptop, throw a handful of Cheetohs in someone else's white dryer load. Here's an example:

I'm not quite sure what to make of them, except to think, "this is going to make me buy cheetos? So I can be an asshole?" None of those things are terribly funny to me, and my response is to cringe in horror...probably not what the marketing department wanted. I am obviously not their demographic.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Yeah, I'm a Survivalist. NOT.

As everyone probably knows by now, I had a major freakout about a year and a half ago about being quarantined in my house and not being allowed to leave. No, it's not something I really worry about, but apparently I had a bad stretch where I just...obsessed.

But -- and you'll be happy to know this -- we would survive locked in my house for 378 days. Of course, that assumes we eat the dogs, I think.

How Long Could You Survive Trapped In Your Own Home?

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I don't know what is says about my culinary sophistication, but Bacon Wrapped Tater-Tots sounds awfully tasty.

I linked to the recipe, but it's pretty easy - wrap a tater tot in slightly pre-cooked bacon, and bake until crispy. Voila.

Well, It's OK in OK

A bill has been proposed in the OK legislature that tries to legislate religious "free speech". I'm all for free speech, I think all of us are, but this particular piece of legislation could be stepping a wee bit too far :
The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student’s religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student’s incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill. [op-ed in the Edmond Sun]
Now, I'm not entirely sure that the bill is designed for this purpose, but could easily be interpreted in this way (and given the specifically vague language, it is obvious that the writers are hoping for an equally vague enforcement. I actually support the idea that students should not be penalized for expressing their religious beliefs. School groups and organizations should not be banned from campus just because they are religious in nature. They shouldn't be given any special status, but they shouldn't be penalized either.

Expressing your faith, and having an open and honest discussion of it is fine. Up until the part where they could spout religious doctrine instead of reality. Chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and the hard sciences just don't have any relevance for religious faith. They deal in observable, empirical evidence. An answer that doesn't conform to this evidence is not valid. Period.
House Bill 2211 declares that students may "express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments" without being penalized or rewarded as long as their viewpoint is on the otherwise permissible topic. Under the bill, the otherwise permissible topic is always decided by the school.
The text of the bill can be read here. Not only can it be construed to apply for test questions as noted, but it also is very clear that schools can pick and choose which religions they allow to have free speech and an open forum, and favor certain religious ideas in that forum.

This doesn't seem like a good idea for anyone, least of all the students in OK. The "religious views are just as valid as science views" idea is going to sabotage the chances of OK students to attend university outside out their own state, or seriously damage the job opportunities for those people who graduate with this sort of nonsense in place.

The danger? Well, who defines which religions are acceptable? They don't agree on everything, so whose answer is allowed? Whose opinion is going to get the support of faculty for the valedictorian speech?

Another blogger posted the following as a hypothetical answer to just about anything:
I am a last-Thursdayist.

When was America discovered? It was never discovered, because the world was created last thrusday, and it was already discovered. it was created in a state of discoveredness.

What is 1+1? According to Last Thursdayism, mathematics cannot be counted upon as being reliable, because date calculations do not give accurate results. Until it is determined if this is due to a problem with the concept of mathematics in general or just date calculations, no part of mathematics can be viewed as accurate, leading us to the conclusion that the answer may be any number.
Would this be acceptable? It's just as logical and rational as many other religious expressions. Would this be considered a valid answer to anything? Sure, the Thursdayist blogger could stand out in the quad and talk about his beliefs, could form a new student group for Thursdayism and hold meetings in the library -- but how well is this sort of thing going to be tolerated in the history classroom or the mathematics class when he stands up to dispute the dates for Columbus or the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Under what criteria are the school administrators going to decide what is and what is not ok to express? And if they disallow Last Thursdayism or FSM-ism, or Satanism or any of the other non-standard is that ensuring free speech for religious beliefsPublish Post?

It's only free speech for approved religious beliefs. Which means that the intent is not free speech at all.

Try again.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Really? I mean, really?

This might be the saddest (and yet, most hilarious thing) I've read in a while.

I seriously thought this was satire when someone sent me the link. As far as I can tell, it's quite serious. Yes, folks, the earth is motionless in the universe, and this disproves evolution and all sorts of "science". Really. And teaching evolution has a religious agenda and as such is illegal in schools. Well, that's a novel approach, I guess. They really ought to regulate this guy's meds a little better.


And it gets better - this site is linked in to anti-evolution materials in a memo sent out by Texas state representative Warren Chisum, the Republican chair of the Texas state House Appropriations Committee. He liked what he read, and deemed it important enough to copy the memo and distribute it to every member of the Texas state House of Representatives. He later claimed that he hadn't "vetted the material". Oh, ya THINK?

I cannot believe that anyone is this stupid. The Earth is fixed? I mean, really?

The Pursuit of Perfection

Can you imagine the excitement of the first round of computer programmers in the 40s? How they realized that they could do things with the computer that would change the world? Programming one of the new Zuse or ENIAC machines to run calculations that were finished in a fraction of the time of human mathematicians, expanding that programming to make decisions, track information. It must have been a heady time for those scientists.

As computer programming got more complex (early versions of the ENIAC were reprogrammed"by actually re-wiring) , it also became abundantly clear that this new "programming" thing was going to open up vistas of opportunity.

We might be working in an object-oriented word, writing java code and perl and ASP and .net now, and making computers do things that these early pioneers couldn't even conceive of. But there are some things that we still struggle with:
"As soon as we started programming, we found out to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs."
-Maurice Wilkes, 1949
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Well, you'll either find this very, very cool, or it will freak you out to no end.

A few months ago, we saw a car driving around with cameras mounted to the roof and hood, and commented that they must either be making maps, testing GPS, or something similar. We were right!

Google has offered aerial view of most maps in the last few years (and if you've ever used Google Earth to find things, you are familiar with the satellite images), but now, if you enter in an address, many of them display with a thumbnail picture offering 'street view' images.

Click on the link, and you're in an interactive, 360 degree photo image of the actual street -- you can actually take a virtual tour of the neighborhood. Our house is in full bloom, so we assume they were here last summer; the half-painted pictures of our old house are from about the same date. Not every address is covered, of course, but I checked a few for friends and family, and lo and behold! Full color, panoramic pictures of my house and my neighbors. I think it's pretty cool, actually.

Try it here: Google Maps. Type in a full address, and see if you're covered.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Far We've Come

I have no idea who did this (it showed up awhile ago on one of the photo sites that I browse), but it's a stunning tour-de-force of illustration, if you ask me.

Humanity Through the Ages (not terribly child-friendly, despite being cartoon drawings).

Sex, War, more sex and more war, and changing fashion, then technology and bombs. A rather succint summary of history. Love it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Holy Crap!

Well, this is a new one. A man came home to find his house being ransacked by people waving a fake Craigslist page that said all his stuff was FREE for the taking. Even though he caught some people in the act, they refused to return his stuff -- some even argued that if it was in print on the internet, that made it legal for them to take things!
The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.

But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.

On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

The fake ad was apparently placed by a disgruntled tenant, but c'mon people! What on earth makes you think that because a page on the internet says so, you can ransack someone's house while they are standing there telling you no. What sort of person actually tries to argue about that?

Even if the sign says "FREE", if the person there tells you that the offer is rescinded, you go your merry way, you don't argue that you're allowed to steal their stuff just becuase you have a printout!

This isn't the first time it's happened, either. At least this time, the owner was lucky enough that some honest soul had the decency to think, "hey, this seems too good to be true!" and called him.
I want to believe that people are basically honest, good people. That given the opportunity to steal or hurt someone, that they will not take the bait. But obviously, there are people out there who don't have any compunction about doing either one, if they think they have permission to do so (a print out, or someone else telling them they can do something) and if they think they aren't going to get caught. That really sucks.

Friday, March 21, 2008


There's a new "documentary" making the rounds called "Expelled", which is basically how all those mean old evolutionists (who are responsible for Hitler, BTW) are keeping kids from being taught the real truth about "intelligent design". P. Z. Myers, a biology professor and fierce critic of ID on his Pharyngula blog, went to a screening at the Mall of America.

It was a private screening; viewers had to sign up beforehand. Myers, who is featured in the movie, and the rest of his party signed in under their own names and were in line when a security guard came up to him and pulled him out of line. Apparently the producer of the film, who was also there, didn't want Myers to see the movie and write about it. Myers, bemused, agreed to leave, as it was a private showing and the producer was within his rights to ask him to leave. The producer obviously felt it wasn't a good thing to have one of those red-fanged atheist evolutionist types watching his movie.

Here's Myers' report of the incident.

The funny part: they apparently didn't notice Myers' guest - a fellow named...

wait for it...

...Richard Dawkins.

How absolutely brilliant. I'm still laughing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Glasses

Well, I have a new pair of "backup glasses", while I wait for my regular glasses next week. Since I sit in front of a computer screen every day, I absolutely demand that 'invisibles' non-glare coating on glasses and they have to send out the glasses for the coating. (Seriously, if you don't have this coating on your lenses and you either use a computer all day long or work in an office with overhead lights, you need to try them.)

So the "backup glasses" are the same frames as the other pair, but I just got the basic lenses (and they still cost a mint!)...and I'm sitting at my computer and seeing the reflection of my own eyes in the glasses. It's making me nuts! It's so distracting that I have a hard time concentrating and after having the non-glare type for so long, I can't stand them. Luckily, I should have my "real" glasses in a few days.

But the kicker in all of this? I was told quite cheerily by the 12-year-old optometrist (ok, not really, but he looked 12) told me "Good news, you don't need bifocals yet. Most women your age are getting close to bifocals...." at which point, he trailed off with embarassment as I glared at him. Women my age? Gah. Don't remind me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Free to Good Home!

BAD, BAD puppies. I know it's a phase. They're 10 months old, every puppy goes through the Super-Destructo-Godzilla-Eats-Manhattan stage, I know this. But my patience is wearing very, very thin.

In the last two weeks, the puppies have:
  1. Pulled up most of the drip system hose in the backyard and eaten it
  2. Eaten chunks of the 100' garden hose in the backyard. Six or eight times. It is now a 30' garden hose
  3. Eaten a 1 foot deep hole in the yard. Yes, EATEN a hole. They are not digging, they are eating their way to China.
  4. Destroyed a library book.
  5. Destroyed one of my books -- down to little soggy shreds
  6. Disemboweled a recliner
  7. Eaten at least 5 mechanical pencils, a highlighter, and Sharpie
  8. Chewed a chunk off my good leather briefcase
  9. Ate the cover off my electronic book reader (but did not eat the reader itself, or they would be EX-puppies)
  10. Chewed up MY GLASSES.
Tonight they rampaged behind my desk, but did not eat the books. They get points for that. Not many points, but it is an improvement. I spend several hours today getting replacement glasses, though. I'm still pissed over that one.

They are loose in the house every night. This is not when they wreak havok. Oh, no, it's only when we leave them unattended during the daym even for a moment. Each of the above acts was committed when they were either a) alone outside for an hour or b) alone inside for less than one hour.

I'm having visions of a shock-collar set to De-Fur.

It's only a phase. Only a phase. I need to keep repeating this until they hit 2 years old, aren't I?

Monday, March 10, 2008

BAD puppies

We were gone for about 90 minutes. Maybe less. The puppies have been so good, we felt pretty confident leaving them loose in the house while we went to grab food.

They ATE the CHAIR.

The CHAIR. Pulled the foam and stuffing out and shredded it all over the living room. (I was too pissed off to takes pictures, which, in a few months, may be funny to me. Sorry!) They totally evicerated the back of the recliner.

It was the ratty green recliner we've had for fifteen years. We were looking to replace it anyway. But they ATE the CHAIR!

Does anyone want a free puppy or two? Shipping should be cheap, in a box with no air holes or anything....

Not on my Salary

What is with politicians and prostitution rings? NY Governer Spitzer has been implicated in a prostitution bust involving "escorts" that are charging 5K . The details are a little vague, but it looks like Spitzer is joining the rank of lawmakers who have been tripped up by their little picadillos. It's almost reassuring that a Democrat was finally implicated in something -- I was beginning to worry that they weren't human, you know?

I mean, really. Five thousand dollars? Just what exactly to these women do? And what kind of job do we peons have to have in order to afford that sort of perk? (not that I want to hire an expensive hooker, but having the bank balance to pull it off might be nice)

I find it a little disengenuous for Republican lawmakers to be stating that he has to resign though, "immediately, now now now!" when their own party has its share of scandals that have not drawn the same recriminations. (Remember Vitter, anyone?). But, I hope he does the honorable thing and resigns immediately -- once again, it's not the act that I have such an issue with, but the hypocrisy of his publicly stated views and "mr Clean" warpath compared to his actual behavior. Can't clean up vice in the state if you're part of the problem, and how much arrogance does it take to try? Frankly. I consider hypocrisy worse than prostitution.

The private life of a politician is usually no one's business, but when it directly and obviously contradicts their publicly stated positions, well, it IS a big deal. If you want to set yourself up as a moral crusader for good and right...well, you'd better be walking the straight and narrows. Do these people simply think that no one will ever find out? Are they that oblivious?

It seems to be a huge karmic kick on the shorts that the people who are most righteous and vocal about how evil or bad something is....are usually the ones we discover later are neck deep in whatever vice they decry. If it wasn't so predictable and sad, it would be funny.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Devil Horse

I have not seen this yet, but a friend's blog posted pics and comments about the new "mascot"(?) for DIA....a horse statue on Pena Blvd. The photo is from his blog.

The eyes GLOW at night. GLOW.

Who thought this was a good idea? (she asks as she stifles laughter).

I have to go to the airport tomorrow to pick up my sister, and I'm SO looking for this!

More Weird Food

I'm on a weird-food binge this month, aren't I? It's a bit strange that I've had so many odd food blog entries, but they just show up in my inbox and I have to share.

For example, this:

You think canned pancakes or sausage-pancake dogs are bad? Try Chicken Fried Bacon.

Yes, you read that right. Battered, deep-fried BACON. With gravy.

The Adorable Husband remarked that they should have an ambulance in the parking lot at all times.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spring Forward

Well, we might use less energy for lighting once daylight savings time kicks in (and it does tonight -- well, Sunday morning), but the idea that DST "saves energy" is a myth. Earlier this year, Congress changed the timing of daylight savings time, and almost immediately, reports started that there wasn't a decrease in energy usage (I blogged about here back in April).

But the kicker was a well-organized study in Indiana. Prior to 2006, each county in Indiana determined individually whether to "join" the Daylight Savings Time change. So, about half the state did, and half didn't. I have to imagine that this caused some issues with towns a few miles apart having different times; I wonder how they handled that...

Anyway, the study compared before-and-after costs for all the counties in Indiana -- those that ahd previously not had extended DST and those that did. The change in energy usage was UP, not down -- primarily because of heating and cooling costs, not lighting. If you're up earlier in the dark and in the cold, the heat kicks on earlier, and in summer when you want to be indoors in the "evening", it's still warm outside. Makes sense, in a a common-sense sort of way.

Their finding was clear: The switch to daylight saving time cost Indiana homeowners dearly on their electric bills.

"Just in the state of Indiana, it turns out to be almost seven million dollars a year in increased residential electricity bills," Kotchen said. "And that's at a far lower price for electricity than the national average."

The study found that daylight saving time did save on lighting use but that heating and air-conditioning use more than offset any gains.

Now, DST may have other benefits -- I know that I, for one, like to come home when it's light outside and have those long evenings for leisure. Longer daylight hours in the afternoon may be better for people's moods, I don't know. But it's no longer a money-saving opportunity.

Similar results were shown in Australia in 2000, when some of the states in Australia extended daylight savings time to accommodate the Olympic games -- again, savings were nil. University of WA researcher Hendrik Wolf found that:

"Basically if people wake up early in the morning and go to bed earlier, they do save artificial illumination at night and reduce electricity consumption in the evening," Wolff said.

"Our study confirmed that effect. But we also found that more electricity is consumed in the morning. In the end, these two effects wash each other out."

Well, Australia is probably not representative of the changes here, as the researchers are the first to admit, but the Indiana findings should at least suggest to the powers-that-be that we need to rethink the reason that we are shifting the clocks. The original reason for "summer time" was to take advantage of the long, well-lit evenings. The basis for the claims of energy savings come from a 1975 study that concluded that the US used about 1% less energy per day during the change. That study was contradicted by another done only a year later.

I think I see the problem. How many houses in 1975 had air-conditioning? That seems to be the primary cost effect now: cooling and heating costs, not lights. So the energy savings may well be evened out nationwide (I'm sure Arizona and Georgia use more air conditioning than Idaho and Maine in the summer, just as I'm sure that heating costs in northern Minnesota will be higher than those in the balmy south). But it is really necessary anymore? I still like the long summer evenings, and not being woken up at 4am is pretty nice: most people cite the summer nights as reason enough to continue the change. I'd have to agree with them.

Toddler Nighmares

This made me laugh. I'm obviously evil. What do you get when you turn a teddy bear inside out?

Friday, March 07, 2008

One more chink in the Constituion

Telephones, national IDs, now mail. Feeling safer?

This isn't new, but I certainly didn't know about it. Did you?

"President Bush quietly has claimPublish Posted sweeping new powers to open Americans' mail without a judge's warrant.

Bush asserted the new authority Dec. 20 after signing legislation that overhauls some postal regulations. He then issued a "signing statement" that declared his right to open mail under emergency conditions, contrary to existing law and contradicting the bill he had just signed, according to experts who have reviewed it."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Just Checking in

I was checking the blog and realizing that I've been posting pretty sporadically -- work has been extra-busy and I've got some hard deadlines coming up.

But, just to give you a smile -- This is apparently a full-grown chicken. It just made me giggle, so I thought I'd share.

In case you wanted to know...

Clear instructions on using a squat toilet.

I especially liked the instruction to "hum a little tune". Hee.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Move over, canned pancakes!

While we have been enjoying pancakes-from-a-can (they're quite good, really), someone dropped me a note that there are even weirder breakfast foods out there. Being a collector of "strange food" -- microwaveable pork-rinds, anyone? -- even I had to cringe a bit at this one.

There's nothing wrong with "breakfast corn dogs", I guess -- breakfast sausage wrapped in pancake batter seems like a pretty good idea. But chocolate chip pancakes? Blueberry? Ugh!

And my family used to make Chocolate Chip Pancakes occasionally; they're quite good. But with sausage?

They're from Jimmy Dean. Check out their other products, too! You could eat an entire breakfast either on-a-stick or from-a-can.