Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Spam is funny.

Behold Spamusement.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Wrinkle Neck Mules

Experts advise it is poor policy to drink and blog, so I'll at least keep this to a minimum. If you have the opportunity to go and see Wrinkle Neck Mules perform, you should. They're even more evocative of Uncle Tupelo than they (at least Andy, singing lead) would like to be, but they're damn good in any event. Any other venue might not be as cool a bar as the Stillwater Tap Room, but what am I, an expert? Jeez, just go and enjoy'em. Especially if you like alt-country, country-rock kinda stuff.

And that, ladies & gentlemen, is maybe the best I can do to keep things concise.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Speaking of Fametracker

This is brilliant stuff, on the subject of Shatner:
When the world zigs, he zags. When the world zags, he zigs. When the world zigs back, he records an album with Ben Folds. When the world chuckles, he pantses the world.
via Jonah Goldberg, weeks ago.

McCain suppressing science

Incidentally, the story in the NRO article Glenn Reynolds pointed to in his post that I linked to in my last is yet another good reason to oppose John McCain.

Plates vs. Scales

While it was novel for me as a beginning blogger, I wasn't all that surprised when I got a bunch of hits from Google and Yahoo searches about the Schiavo case. I didn't really expect, though, I'd get hits from people searching on "Shrimp vs. Prawns." I just posted about it because it interested me. So I was surprised and delighted when I got hits from two different people searching for precisely that.

It makes perfect sense, though, considering my coworker Eric's (Clamberto on the web, apparently) insight that people love stuff with "vs." in the title. In a discussion referencing "Alien vs. Predator" and "Freddy vs. Jason," he declared that what we need are more movies that have someone vs. someone else. People love that stuff, he said, and offered from his fertile mind "Alien vs. the AFL/CIO" and "Drop Dead Freddy vs. Jason and the Argonauts."

His point began to resonate when, within a day or two, I discovered through Epitonic Radio songs entitled "Amelia Earhart vs. The Dancing Bear" and "Stephen Hawking vs. the Galactons."

I found Clamberto's theory further borne out upon my discovery of Fametracker and its Celebrity vs. Thing feature, in the form of Catherine Zeta-Jones vs. Bagels. (Incidentally, Eric and I both disagree with its author--we'd each take the bagels.)

After that bit of which-would-you-rather-do-without, I was naturally taken aback when, on my recent trip to visit my friend Christian Scales in San Antonio and to enjoy the hell out of New Orelans in general, I discovered a display in the seahorse exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas that included a paragraph entitled "Plates vs. Scales."

"Uh-oh," I thought, "this is troubling. I really like Scales. He's one of my best friends. But, dammit, I appreciate plates, too. They're just damn handy to eat off of."

Fortunately, the text turned out to read as follows:
Most fish have a covering of thin transparent scales, but seahorses have interlocking bony plates beneath their skin. These plates protect them like a coat of armor. Because these plates are semi-rigid, a seahorse's mobility is restricted, making it a slow swimmer.
Whew. Just a sensibly-placed little lesson in marine biology. Finally, a world in which Christian Scales and helpful dinnerware can coexist peacefully.

Gmail invites

I've still got 50 Gmail invites if anyone wants one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

With Cheese!

The guy from Farm Accident Digest is back! And he's using his real name now, which takes a little getting used to.

Monday, April 11, 2005

What we can do for Lebanese freedom

With all that's been happening in Lebanon lately in their push to be free of Syrian domination, I'm happy there's something individual persons, including Americans, can do to help further their effort. This project from Spirit of America will allow us to contribute to the protestors' presence and persistent pressure on Syria to end the occupation.

This page also includes at its top the means to donate to the aforementioned fund, but it's principally a blog detailing the present state of the movement in Beirut.

Populations of Penguin Species

There are 17 different species of penguins. The most populous species is the antarctic chinstrap penguin with maybe as many as 15 million, while the least populous appears to be the Galapagos penguin with as few possibly as 800 breeding pairs. A couple others, the yellow-eyed and the Humboldt, have been estimated at, variously, 1500 & 2000 and 6000 to 10,000 breeding pairs, respectively. Most of the others seem to have populations in the hundreds of thousands.

Is it finger food or fraud?

The story of the woman who claims she found a human finger in her Wendy's chili is starting to look a little sketchy. Being unable to find the finger's original owner anywhere, police have searched the complainant's house. It appears she has a history of prolific lawsuit-filing. For more, see here.

Friday, April 08, 2005

No more Farm Accident Digest

This is really disappointing. I hope I don't have to wait too long for his new site.

Basic facts about Che Guevara--Hero or Murderer?

A nearby bar where I like to go to see bands play has its walls covered with hip posters, whether of a James Brown, general rock music, movies, or counterculture theme. Toward the back is a large one bearing the iconic image of Che Guevara. Now, I like The Soul Bar just fine--it's a good bar, and they often have terrific bands play there. (Macha was phenomenal there in the fall of 2004.) But the Che poster really irritates me.

I think the glorification of Guevara first annoyed me because I just generally knew he played an important role in bringing to power Castro's regime, of which I am no fan. [Enumeration of specific flaws and evils would be worthwhile here; in the meantime, see Babalu Blog for a start.] But the evils of Che himself really began to come into focus after I read this article on Slate. Especially compelling is the opening paragraph, which includes these claims:
Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster....Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction....[he] presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In [a] famous essay... he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams".... He was killed in Bolivia in 1967, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy—a tragedy on the hugest scale.
That's chilling stuff. It's hard for me to think of such a man as a hero rather than a villian or to appreciate people glorifying him. After reading that, the next time I was in the bar and saw that poster, I ranted at a friend, who seemed to defend Guevara. When later we were both sober, I pressed him to clarify his view. His comments included the following:

I don't know everything he has done, but he does remain a fairly romantic figure for the Left, standing up to the gangsterism of Batista, along with the other July 26 rebels in Cuba. As far as his role in Castro's regime once it took power, I don't have all the facts, but his activity in terms of liberation movements in Africa and Latin America could be said to be of the best of intentions....If anything, I think it's the cult around his personality, as the romantic liberator of the peasantry and proletariat, that enthralls people.
In response to the last statement, I agreed that it is the cult of personality and the idea of him as liberator that enthralls people but added that it's an impression I think is misguided and twisted. (Berman's word in Slate, again, was "totalitarian.")

Sara Lequerica de la Vega and Val Prieto say Guevara "ordered the execution of countless human beings while in charge of the notorious La Cabaña prison in Havana,...terrorized Cuban society and...denied freedom to thousands of citizens whom he considered 'deviants' or 'anti-revolutionaries'" and "during the Cuban Missile Crisis actually preferred a nuclear holocaust so that his 'New Man' could rise from the ashes of millions of dead human beings."

This guy makes similar assertions, including
Killing thousands of 'enemies of the revolution' without trial, he proudly boasted that he had no time for judicial evidence, declaring it an 'unnecessary, archaic bourgeois detail'....He tore men (approximately 2,500 by his own count) found to have governmental links - starting at the top but quickly regardless of status - from their screaming wives and children in midnight raids. Pre-power, he had robbed banks to finance operations; when a boy in his forces stole food, Guevara ordered him shot. He personally signed death warrants for men he knew to be innocent and honourable...
Of course, all this leaves unaddressed my friend's point about Guevara's intentions in Africa, Bolivia, and elsewhere. In short, though, if the assertions of Berman and the others are true, it's a. rather unlikely Guevara was much more noble outside of Cuba and b. insufficient anyway, if so, to excuse his actions against the Cuban people.

Specific details to document such assertions are warranted, and I will continue seeking to accumulate them. (This list is only a start.) In the meantime, anyone who leaves these claims unrefuted--or at least undisputed--and venerates Che Guevara on a T-shirt, sign, or poster celebrates the villian described in them.

"A nice, fresh cliché"

I think it was otherwise a very clever putdown of the movie Sahara to call it "a mediocrity wrapped inside a banality, toasted inside a nice, fresh cliché," but can there be a "fresh cliché"? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Mark Steyn says Russia's doomed

Interesting claims from Mark Steyn about Russia:

A lot of places are [doomed]. Russia, for example. It’s midway through its transition from “superpower” to ghost town. Russian men already have a lower life expectancy than Bangladeshis; not because Bangladesh is brimming with actuarial advantages, but because being a Russian male is to belong to an endangered species. By 2025, the country’s population will have fallen by a third. By mid-century, vast, empty Russia will have a smaller population than tiny Yemen. The decline in male longevity is unprecedented for a (relatively) advanced nation not at war. Russia has a serious AIDS problem, though not as bad as Africa’s, and it’s a measure of the nation’s decline that for once nobody seriously thinks the HIV pandemic can be solved with free condom distribution. AIDS, along with extraordinary rates of drug-fuelled hepatitis C, heart disease and TB, is just one more symptom of what happens when an entire people lacks the will to rouse itself from self-destruction.
I tend to trust him, but I very much like cited sources, which he's not offering here. This warrants further investigation. In the meantime, fascinating assertions.

(The column requires registration. BugMeNot comes to our rescue. Also, the column is mostly about Canada.)