Monday, April 29, 2002

Astronaut Dreams

If you've got an IMAX near you playing Spacestation 3-D, I can definitley recommend checking it out. I went this afternoon and, despite Tom Cruise's earnestly braindead narration, I can honestly say I was floored. When Cruise would shut his piehole and they just played some music over scenes of the astronauts and cosmonauts working both inside and outside the station, I could perfectly understand why rich bastards would pay millions of dollars to hitch a ride up and hang out. If I were a filthy rich bastard, I'd consider it myself.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Tom Tomorrow, Blogger

Tom Tomorrow seems to have recognized the void left by the disappearance (?) of the underutilized Yo! That Shit Is Whack! site. Notice how he closes his post on The Bachelor.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

We Are Not Barbarians, Are We?

Federal judge about to declare death penalty unconstitutional?

Cutting through all the arguments about whether it serves as a deterrent, costs society more or less than incarceration for life, whether certain heinous crimes cry out for it, how the death penalty is racist and applied disproportionately to the poor ... I keep coming back to the underlying hypocrisy of the ultimate punishment. Look: if it's wrong to kill, then it's wrong to kill. How can you sanctimoniously decree that murder is so vile and despicable that the only suitable punishment is murder? If your position on the death penalty is based on eye for an eye logic, I don't see how you can argue the position consistently. What then is the appropriate punishment for someone who robs a house? Does the state then get to go in and rob their house? Who's going to rape the rapist? On it's face the argument appears rational; but, as soon as you try to apply it, you find it's really not. Plus, there's that whole problem with sending people to death row who didn't even do the crime. That's a problem; we probably shouldn't be executing people for no reason.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Mash-Ups

Speaking of alternate histories and 'what if?' scenarios ... what if Christina Aguilera were lead singer of the Strokes? Or, Missy Elliott had been born to Mr. & Mrs. Cobain? Check out the 11th and 12th bullets here. (found indirectly via The Shifted Librarian / more stuff here at boom selection)

Friday, April 19, 2002

The Years of Rice and Salt is Brilliant

Reminder to self: there's more than just sports radio on the dial. I barely listen to NPR anymore and missed this interview with Kim Stanley Robinson, which I also can't get to play on my pc here at work. Grrrrrr.

I just finished reading Robinson's newest, The Years of Rice and Salt and hope to have a review here shortly. I'll probably reread it first, but I can tell you not to wait for my review ... just get it and read it. The reviews and descriptions of it I've seen so far really don't do it justice by making it sound like a tedious 'What if?' novel about the Black Plague wiping out European civilization. (Salon's Laura Ellis does a fair job here / David Dalgleish's review at January Magazine is actually quite good.) Robinson's after a something more like a Grand Unified Theory of History; his ability to weave that into a story about two souls reincarnating through history without degenerating into New Age twaffle is pretty remarkable.

I'm pretty sure I've got the germ of an essay stewing about the role sports (lacrosse in TYoRaS, softball and ping-pong in The Gold Coast...) play in Robinson's novels that I can plug into Sports Takes or possibly submit for m.a.d.'s consideration over at PopMatters. That's just me thinking aloud, as it were. We'll see if it actually happens.

Last joke for the night

I can't remember where I heard or read this one, so it's from memory (ie., probably not told right) but here goes:
This guy needs to get these penguins to the zoo for the grand opening of Penguin 2K2. It's like this big new exhibit of penguins, or all the old penguins died, but anyways this guy's got a truckload of penguins and the zoo opens in an hour and he's got to get them there quick cos the mayor's going to be there and it's being filmed for Animal Planet. About 20 miles from the zoo, his truck breaks down on the interstate. Or he gets a flat and doesn't have a spare. In any event, he's screwed. He's contractually obliged to get the penguins to the zoo *on time* and if he doesn't he'll never get work transporting animals again. For zoos. He calls a garage from one of those emergency roadside phones. The mechanic tells him he must stay with the truck and that they can be there in 1 to 5 hours. "Holy Effin Shite!" the guys yells. Ok, he thinks, how am I going to get these penguins to the zoo? Just then, a guy pulls up in a huge SUV. "You need any help?" SUV guy asks. "Sure do! I have to stay here for the mechanic, but can you take these penguins to the zoo for me -- I'll give you $100?" The SUV guy takes the $100, says he will, and starts piling the penguins into his SUV. Then, in a cloud of dust, they're off and the guy is left with his truck.

That night, the guy is still waiting by his broken down rig for the shifty (non-union) mechanic who keeps putting him off with excuses about how the guy he sent 'didn't see him' and how the directions he gave must've been bad, etc... when he knows for a fact the lazy bastard never even came looking for him. Anyways, he's out on the side of the road having a smoke and doing tai chi to pass the time when he sees the SUV from that morning stop on the other side of the highway with all the penguins hanging out in back drinking sodas and chasing each other around havin' a grand old time. "What in blazes is going on?! I thought you were going to take those penguins to the zoo!" he shouts across the traffic. "I did," SUV guy says, "we had such a good time and some money left over so I thought I'd take them to see a movie next."
Wow. I feel like I'm getting better at this joke thing already...

Bologna Joke

I hereby resolve...

When I hear a good joke, I'm going to tell it here ASAP. I suck at jokes. Can never remember them or tell them right. I always reveal the punchline too soon. This is going to be like Joke 101 for me. So here goes:
An Irishman, a Mexican and a blonde guy were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building. They were eating lunch, and the Irishman said, "Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch I'm going to jump off this building."

The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off, too."

The blonde opened his lunch and said, "Bologna again. If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too."

The next day the Irishman opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and cabbage and jumped to his death. The Mexican opened his lunch, saw a burrito and jumped too. The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his death as well.

At the funeral the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would have given it to him again!"

The Mexican's wife also wept and said, "I could have given him a taco or enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much."

Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife.

“Don't look at me, he makes his own lunch."

Quit y'r groaning. Blame this guy.

I got another good one ... with penguins. Coming soon.

Under-rated Gem: Home Movies

Adult Swim: Home Movies One of the best cartoons ever. Stevie, back me up on this ...

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

It's Better to Regret Something You Have Done

Whoa. I didn't realize Kelly Hu plays the scantily clad sorceress in The Scorpion King. I still won't see it ... but now I'll always have that sliver of regret.

Hypocrites

Bush has taken heat (as recently as today in the WSJ's editorial page) for being a hypocrite when it comes to conservative ideology. It's usually for not being committed enough to free trade -- the tariff on steel imports has drawn the most conservative ire. A better area to investigate might be his commitment, or lack thereof, to that cornerstone of conservative ideology: a less meddlesome federal government. Connecticut is wrangling with whether to put an energy transmission line under the Sound to Long Island. This is a classic example of what conservatives, I thought, would argue states should be doing: deciding for themselves what's best for their citizens and businesses. Bush, however, believes the federal government, presumably through FERC*, should determine where to put the lines. Great. Instead of having local politicians who are accountable to their electorate make this type of decision, let's turn this process over to a federal bureaucracy with no accountability. We'll have power lines running through elementary school classrooms into protected park land before you know it, if they get their way.



*The deregulation issue is pretty thorny. California is an example of what can happen when a state decides to go the All Hail Capitalism, Competition Will Set You Free route. Clearly, states can bungle things. Where the federal government fits into the equation, I don't feel competent to render judgement. In the specific case of the line under the Sound, I know I'd rather CT's legislature and Governor work that out than a federal agency.

Monday, April 15, 2002

Nethack

I had all kinds of plans for today ... at least I took care of the important stuff before I innocently decided to check out NetHack. Where has the time gone?

Friday, April 12, 2002

The New World

Reconsidering the human impact on the environment in the New World prior to 1492.
Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

A Mystery (Radio Waves)

When I drive home from work a little after 11 p.m., I like to listen to our local sports radio station here in Providence, 790AM, because they carry the Bob Valvano show and I get Sportscenter updates. What's mysterious is that every night, a country station overpowers the signal for a second every couple of seconds as I drive along. This never happens during the day. It only happens at night and only as I'm driving on RT 7. The signal briefly gets really strong near the church, then starts to disappear and is gone before I get home. I get totally different stations at 780AM and 800AM. No country or sports at all. The thing is, there is no 790AM that plays country anywhere around here. There is a station out of Edmonton, AB and one out of Columbus, OH. Neither of which I think I should be getting. I had a similar experience once driving on the Mass Pike back from Boston at about 2 a.m. where I picked both a Pennsylvania and an NYC station clear as day. It just doesn't seem possible that I would be picking up an Ohio station in Rhode Island. Even less likely that I'd get a Canadian station. I never hear call letters or ads or anything but music cycling in, so I can't get any clues as to where the station is coming from.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Slap Monkeys

I'm all for rampaging monkeys, believe me, but ... please ... spare the library! And what's with the slapping? Slapping? Have these monkeys been watching Dynasty reruns? Somebody needs to sit them down to watch Every Which Way But Loose so they can learn from "Right Turn" Clyde.

Damned Vandals

Restoring the Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban.

Monday, April 8, 2002

Consonant

Clint Conley's (formerly of the-recently-and-briefly-reunited-can't-believe-I-didn't-even-know-they-recently-played-a-show-in-Boston Mission of Burma) new band, Consonant, has a CD coming out tomorrow. [Fenway Recordings website]

Friday, April 5, 2002

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Mark Twain Slept Here

For what really amounts to no good reason at all, I decided tonight that instead of watching Dr. Greene's head explode on the TV in the breakroom, I would learn as much as I possibly could in 15-20 minutes about a country I'd never heard of, picked pretty much at random from The CIA World Factbook: Mauritius. An African island nation in the Indian Ocean discovered by the Portugese, Mauritius was orginally settled by the Dutch (with some African slaves), then was overtaken by the French and British in succession, finally gaining independence in 1968. It was frustratingly difficult to find any info aside from the Factbook page, but I did locate a tabloidish news page for the Mauritian population of London where I learned that they have a new President, Karl Offman, who replaced former Presiden Cassam Uteem upon his resignation over the passing of the Prevention of Terrorism Legislation. One presumes this was not due to Uteem's support of terrorism; hard to say for sure without being able to find the text of the law though. The officicial government website is curiously silent about the issue. A Google search revealed a somewhat barebones tourism site which would lead you to believe the best part of visiting Mauritius would be to ride in a boat full of rotting fish. (Actually, it looks like a gorgeous island with plenty of mountains and some nice beaches.) Somewhere along the way I saw that a professor from UCONN had recently delivered a lecture at the U of M and had discussed Mark Twain's visit to the island nation; I can't find that link again though and wasn't able to track down the text of his lecture. Bummer. The list of public holidays at the Bank of Mauritius site is interesting in that it hints at a culture that may be an interesing mix of Hindu, Christian, and Chinese influences. Stay tuned for another brief overview of an obscure nation coming soon ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Opening Day

The game was a wild ride that ended on a bad note but it was still a great day at Fenway. Allie and I rode up to Ruggles with the promise of a shuttle being there to take us to the park. It never materialised so we walked ... turned out it wasn't far anyways so things worked out perfect. For a minute there I was fearing one of my get-lost-in-the-immediate-vicinity-of-where-I-need-to-be episodes. We were among the first fans in the park. It was a little cool, but the sun came out right before game time and got the first standing O of the day. The opening ceremonies were fun. The Patriots through out the first pitch, there was an F-16 flyover, and Steven Tyler cheesed up the anthem. When Pedro got rocked early, I assured Allie there was nothing to worry about ... our bats would get those runs back, and they did, and then some, but Grady foolishly decided not to stick with the awesome talent and cat-like agility of El Guapo off the mound. Urbina gave it up in the ninth. It was my first home opener at Fenway and, despite the loss, it was everything I'd hoped for. A fight broke out in the bleachers a row behind us in the adjacent section. Saw one guy taken out in a stretcher and another tripped right next to me and cracked his dome on chair in front of me, leaving blood on the steps. A pretty girl fell on me (during the fight melee) causing me to fall on Allie. Gotta love the bleachers.
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