Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Fun

I don't want to completely bum everyone out on a Friday with deep questions, so here's a fun little ditty that's all about God and his wrath. (Caution, contains some not-safe-for-work language.)

Hat tip to the Ron and Fez show.

Toeing the Hard Line

I support the war on terror. I value my safety, and the nation's, over just about everything else. I support the stated goals of bringing to justice Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, who were directly responsible for the attacks on 9/11, as well as those who granted them aid or support, past or present, such as Afghanistan's Taliban regime. also support the unstated benefit of freeing frequently oppressed peoples living under dictatorial regimes, introducing democracy into that part of the world, and hopefully setting up areas in a turbulent region that will at least deal with the West diplomatically, if not as outright allies.

But a very disturbing question came to me during the early stages of the war on terror, not long after we had officially vanquished the Taliban government in Afghanistan and was preparing to set up a constitution and a system of free elections. I've asked it of virtually everyone I've spoken to about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and no one, including myself, has been able to provide me with a satisfactory answer. And that question is this: Given the population makeup of the region, what will the U.S. do if the citizens of one of these countries elect a hardline Muslim government that is unlikely to be friendly to Western countries and interests?

Now, an Afghani man has had to flee his homeland under threat of the death penalty, his only crime being his conversion to Christianity. The U.S. and other free nations have, of course, denounced this. And if this were Iran or Syria, something like this would be glossed over with hardly a second thought, just "business as usual", a token denunciation, and back to the latest Jessica Simpson gossip. (OK, that last part pretty much happened anyway.) The salient point here, at least for me, is that this radical Islamist government is one that we enabled. We set up the elections, we made sure they were handled fairly, and we endorsed the new government when it took power. Aren't we, in some small way, responsible for this government's actions that are so clearly at odds with everything that we stand for? Are we correct in giving them the freedom to choose not to be free? Just how many liberties does the populace as a whole have the right to surrender on behalf of every single individual, including those who didn't vote to surrender said freedoms? These aren't rhetorical questions--I'm still searching for the answers. And I suspect I still will be for a very long time.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Searching for Barney Gumbel

Texas cops go into bars to arrest drunks

In my neverending "erosion of personal freedoms" series, I bring you this little nugget from the state that defines common sense. Thank you, Papa Government, for protecting us from ourselves! Who needs relaxation and enjoyment when we can have the relaxing sensation of total security? Here's my favorite part of the article: "[Alcoholic Beverage Commission] spokeswoman Carolyn Beck says drinking is fine, but people who drink too much can be a danger to themselves and others." Sure--if they drive, they're a huge danger. But not all of us shotgun as many beers as possible then jump behind the wheel. What's next, cops entering cigar bars to arrest smokers? After all, secondhand smoke is harmful, right? Why not come into my house and arrest me for the bag of laundry supplies at the top of my basement steps that I haven't brought downstairs yet? You wouldn't want me to fall and break my neck, after all. Be sure to go into gyms and make sure no one's using the equipment properly. And since once you do that no one will want to work out any more, better outlaw fast foods and delicious desserts--got to keep society safe from obesity and heart disease!

I just hope it doesn't take too long before someone gets the stones to challenge this law--it can't possibly be constitutional to arrest someone in anticipation of a minor crime they're about to commit.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Or it could be a crackhead!

Hat tip to the O&A show.

March Madness

I love NCAA tournament time. And I think my parents and I have the system down pat:

march madness

Yep, that's four screens with four different games on them--every single game being played at any moment. My folks have the March Madness package on the three TV sets and my 15" widescreen Sager notebook serves as the fourth thanks to March Madness On Demand. Add to that fact that I'm near the top of the leader board in Blowhard's pool, and I just have one thing to say:

joel and tvs

Friday, March 17, 2006

Spring Fever

Ah, what a great time of year. The weather's warmer (usually), I'm wearing green and putting The Pogues up in my Recent Experiences section, and I'm all set to watch more of the NCAA Tournament. Only a couple of more weeks till the baseball season--I think I'll get ready by loading up this season's version of one of the many MLB video games for my PC.

MLB signs exclusive game deal with Take-Two Interactive

Dammit. Things like this are the reason why all of the doomsayers keep saying that PC gaming is dying . Take-Two, you see, publishes Sega's 2K Sports line. The 2K Sports line is only released for consoles. So now, if I want to play the 2006 MLB season, I have to either scour the web for a roster update for last year's MVP Baseball or shell out a bunch of money for new gaming hardware (i.e., a console) after I've already spent bundles of money making my gaming PC all it can be. Thanks a lot, Major League Baseball, for buying into the hype and leaving PC gamers out in the cold. At least when the NFL sold its soul to EA Sports and John Madden, it made sure that everyone could get a little piece of the action.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Darwin Award nominees

I'm sure there's a special place in Hell for me for some of the things I laugh at--the deaths of stupid people being foremost among them.

Fortunately, I'm not alone. I'm sure most of my readers know of the Darwin Awards--they're named for Charles Darwin and awarded to dumbasses who help humanity evolve by taking themselves out of the gene pool in ways that suit their intelligence (or at least common sense).

Well, the 2005 awards have already been handed out, but I've got a pair of nominees for 2006 (and yes, I will be submitting them to the Darwin Awards.)

Couple dies naked in running car
Running car+closed garage=dead. It's a simple equation that everyone knows. Well, almost everyone. At least these two went out swingin'...and this line--"experts say carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, can kill within six to eight hours of continuous exposure"--indicates they were in there for a while. Hubba hubba! (Hat tip to the Opie and Anthony show.)

Miss Deaf Texas killed by train
As if the world needed more proof that looks and brains are too often handed out in inverse proportions. Trains are not like cars--they follow giant metal rails and make enough noise to rumble the ground beneath your feet as they approach....I actually think that just about every train death should be a candidate for the Darwin Awards. My favorite line of this report? "A witness told Austin television station KTBC the train sounded its horn right up until the accident occurred." Oops.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Press Your Luck

In Memoriam: Peter Tomarken

When I was just a lil' bugger, I used to love sick days home from school. The ability to lay around and sleep was almost worth all of the vile medicines my mother would force down my throat. And to top it all off were the gameshows. The Price is Right. Card Sharks. But my absolute favorite had to be Press Your Luck. Creampuff multiple choice questions that let me feel smart, flashing colorful things, and cartoon Whammies--I didn't get some of the pop culture references, but they sure were goofy-looking. Heck, the show even ended up creating a true urban legend. Thank you, Peter, for making my childhood sick days a little better.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I've been playing a lot of different games lately, and I thought I'd share a few of them here. In no particular order:

  • Running Molten Core for epic loots with my World of Warcraft guild.
  • Playing the blogger stock market with BlogShares. You may have noticed the tiny little graphic on the bottom left of my web page. My trading account has lots of capital, but unfortunately, my tiny little blog isn't worth much money. I've been buying up all of the shares to try and push it higher, but so far it's still the equivalent of a rip-off penny stock that dishonest foreigners try to sell via spam.
  • Playing a variation of Bizz Buzz with friends (including Faxman) sitting around a table at Murphy's during Alexandria's St. Patrick's Day festivities.
  • Signing up for The Blowhard's NCAA Tournament bracket. I confess to not following much college hoops during the regular season, but now that it's getting down to the conference tournaments, I plan on watching quite a bit of it to get caught up for the Big Dance. I'll still get owned, though.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


While checking over the last post, I discovered that my hit counter has crossed over the "magic" 1000 hits mark. Thanks to everyone who's taken time out to read my inane ramblings. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it going for many, many more.


I'm starting to worry about myself. My long post for last week had a few pretty harsh (in fact, probably overly so) things to say about a president who, for the most part, I respect and support. Now I find myself on the same side of an issue as radical left-wing organization

Fortunately for me, I'm very much an "ends justify the means" kind of guy, so I don't feel at all morally conflicted about this--MoveOn and I want the same thing for different reasons. And it helps that on this issue, MoveOn has been joined by several more moderate groups, and even by one that's their diametric ideological opposite.

All of these various camps are united against one very bad idea: AOL and Yahoo have plans to introduce an "e-mail fee". When you put it that way, it certainly seems like the sky is falling and the internet's usefulness as a personal communication tool will soon be severely restricted. On closer inspection, though, the fee will be an optional component that spammers can pay to make certain that their messages reach your inbox without passing through the spam filters.

Of course, several of these groups have the wrong idea. MoveOn's online petition thinks that the fee will leave "people's friends, families, and favorite causes wondering if their emails are being delivered at all." But this terminology indicates a lack of understanding of exactly what AOL and Yahoo are planning. Senders who opt to pay the fee simply guarantee that their messages don't pass through the spam filters that these providers already have in place. Those who continue to send e-mail to AOL and Yahoo members for free will simply have those messages pass through the same filters as they do right now--and unless they're spam or falsely flagged as spam (an increasingly rare occurrence, as most providers prefer to err on the side of allowing questionable messages through rather than risk filtering legitimate mail), they'll be delivered exactly as normal.

What's not fair is that spammers and other dregs of internet society will be able to bypass these filters at all. It's a matter of privacy--I sometimes come out against privacy advocates, but that's only because I'm a bigger fan of not being blown up than I am of privacy. When it comes to corporate types (who don't protect me from being blown up), I want as little to do with them as possible. I don't want their sales pitches invading on my time--media ads are quite sufficient, as anyone who doesn't want to be subjected to them can avoid them quite easily. But sales calls and spam e-mail is another thing entirely--both of these mediums are essential to my job and my life in general, and the only way I could avoid those advertisements would be to essentially cut myself off from civilization and head off in the woods to eat bugs and wear loincloths. The FTC took a major step in the right direction with their national do-not-call list, but now a pair of large corporations are about to take about three steps back if this dodge continues.

Just this once, I'm going to grit my teeth, swallow my pride, and sign the petition at,making clear the exact reasons why I'm against AOL's plan. Just this once, I encourage all of my readers to do the same.