Friday, September 22, 2006

...wherein I seek my lost relevance...


Another day, another semi-random link dump. I seem to have fallen into a blogging rut: When I'm not posting amusing riffs on misc. news items I've run across, I'm posting riffs that try to be amusing but fail miserably. As I've mentioned before, I often feel guilty that I don't cover weighty political topics more often. We live in in the midst of a global crisis, no, crises, and nobody can afford to take things lightly, but I do anyway. I shouldn't, but I do. I try to justify it by saying I live by the old H.L. Mencken quote:

The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by such learned dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe--that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power, and hence a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.

While we're talking about Mencken, I'd like to recommend his essay "Gamalielese", if you can find it. I don't see it on the net anywhere, so I suppose it's still under copyright. Search your local library. It reminds us that Dubya wasn't the first brain-damaged wingnut to occupy the White House, although Warren G. Harding was merely stupid and corrupt, and he didn't actually go around starting wars in every corner of the globe and then bungling them. In lieu of the actual essay, perhaps you'll enjoy this post about ol' Warren G.. In a similar spirit, you might also enjoy James Thurber's take on Admiral Byrd exploring the south pole and claiming large chunks of Antarctica for the grateful US taxpayer, but that may be even harder to find. (And again, nothing on the net anywhere.)

On an unrelated-but-serious note, the photo is of the never-used cooling towers for the cancelled Satsop nuclear complex, part of the ill-fated WPPSS (pronounced "whoops") project. If you're driving to the Olympic Peninsula, you can see them near the town of Elma, on US 12 between Aberdeen and Centralia. I realize they were never used, and there's nothing radioactive about them, but I still get a case of the creeps every time I see them.

So anyway, I don't really have anything original to contribute on the political front right now, but I've interspersed a few serious-ish items amongst all the frivolity, just to break up the rhythm a little. So without further ado, let the links commence:

  • Happy birthday, Bilbo & Frodo.
  • Every day, a new haiku about beer. Finally, poetry that doesn't make me cringe.
  • Today's cute echidna.
  • Audio clips and quotes from Tron, the best SF movie ever. Don't even try arguing the point with me. Sure, the plot's corny, but Metropolis is much, much cornier and far less coherent, and everybody forgives it because the visuals are so great.
  • Tron may have to give up the crown soon, though. Turkish Star Wars 2 is on its way. With genuine CGI and everything, apparently.
  • Local businesspeople don't think the downtown retail environment is doing very well. Funny how the same urbanist types who freak out whenever a business opens in the 'burbs don't bat an eye while their beloved Pearl skims off the top end of the retail trade downtown.
  • OTOH our local craft brewing industry just had a great first half of '06. I'm happy to say I've done my part to help out with those numbers. Mmmm.... beeeer....
  • The very latest in local Republican sleaze.
  • The Guardian informs us that, like the Northwest, the UK has its share of bike Nazis and creepy nuclear bungling.
  • Friday's cephalopod pic from Pharyngula.
  • Microsoft is thinking about a free web-based version of MS Works. I didn't realize there even still was such a thing as MS Works, but then, it's been about 10 years since I've bought a PC with Windows on it, so maybe I'm just not up on this stuff. On one hand, I think MS considers Works their cheap-n-crappy alternative for home users who can't afford MS Office. On the other, I seem to recall that it does most of what an average home or office user might need to do, without all the dancing paper clips and cryptic toolbars full of esoteric options and whatnot. Still, what you really want is OpenOffice.
  • Mars Express has taken some new pics of the notorious non-face on Mars. The Bad Astronomer marks the occasion by making fun of that Hoagland asshat. I've been rolling my eyes at Hoagland since his "alien spaceship in Saturn's B ring" days (what ever happened with that, btw?), and it just never gets old. The BA story's been linked to by Slashdot and Fark, and now by me as well, so Phil's pretty much hit the trifecta here. (Ha, I kid! What is this 'Fark' of which he speaks? I bet there's no such thing.)
  • Jesus appears to the faithful in ever-more-mysterious ways.
  • Well, nothing else is working, so maybe this will save the world. It's worth a try, anyway.
  • From World-o-Crap: Batman vs. the Nazis. They just don't make movie serials like they used to.
  • Preemptive Karma and Empire Burlesque cover Dubya's recent "Third Awakening" creepiness.
  • But there's plenty of religious ickiness to go around: Two more PK bits, covering Der Pope and Ahmadinejad (and the fundies who fear him).
  • And a deeply scary and unsurprising WashPost story about bungling and cronyism in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. Ideology and blind loyalty win out over basic competence. Film at 11.
  • Willie Nelson getting busted for possession is another "film at 11" item, but check out the photo of his stash. Dang. I never touch the stuff, myself, but even I'm impressed. Free Willie!
  • Grandpa Simpson, I mean, Bojack wonders who Storm Large is. It's one thing not to be hip to that noise the young'uns are jiving to these days. I fall squarely in that category myself. And I never saw a single episode of Supernova. But not even knowing who Storm is? That's just... unpatriotic.
  • Olbermann is at it again. When's he going to learn how to cravenly suck up to power, the way real journalists do?
  • Suddenly, the wingnuts love the International Criminal Court. Some of the time.
  • The latest mission update for the DSCOVR (nee Triana) probe: Still gathering dust in a warehouse.
  • On YouTube, a snippet of the famous "Turkey Drop" WKRP episode. But be warned, the period hairstyles are most alarming.
  • Another movie I'm afraid to see. Radioactive carnivorous flying brains are one thing, but red state true believers are another thing entirely. Yikes!
  • SCO hit a new 52-week low today. $2.01. That's still overpriced by about $6, but it's a good start.
  • Karen Armstrong has a piece in the Guardian about anti-Islamic prejudice. Sure is too bad that "religion of peace" (as in any religion) is an oxymoron. And that comes on top of being false, and anti-rational. I try to take a pragmatic position here: if it's false but Mostly Harmless, I'll let it pass without serious criticism. But when people devote their lives to murdering one another to appease some imaginary Bronze Age desert boogeyman in the sky, well, I just sort of have to draw the line.
  • And yes, it is possible for a religion to be Mostly Harmless. Fundies tend to have a cow about pagans and call them all sorts of ugly names, but if you add up the body count over the last 2000 years, the Christians hold an insurmountable lead. As far as I can tell, the worst offense our fair city's local pagan community has to answer for is some truly dreadful amateur poetry.
  • Lately I've been waking up to Lebanese coffee from Cafe Najjar in Beirut. I found a packet of their vacuum-packed, ground coffee at a stall in Pike Place Market last time I was in Seattle. I've used up nearly the whole packet, and so far the coffee doesn't appear to contain any WMDs. If you're shocked by that, or you think I'm being brave or foolhardy by "risking it all" here, well, I feel sorry for you. Truly. It's your loss, not mine. The other ground coffee in the house right now is French Market Coffee from New Orleans.
  • A few Flickr links that're about to spill off the 200-photo limit, while I dither over whether to buy the "premium" account: [1] [2] [3] [4].

    Updated 9/14/2013: I was working on an art post about Cobbletale and vaguely remembered I had an ancient 2006 photo of it, and I wondered where I'd used it. Turns out the only place I'd used it was in the "A few Flickr links" item above, where I merely linked to the photos and didn't even bother inlining them. Not sure why I did that; it's possible we still had dialup back then, I'm not entirely sure. In any case, I'm fairly sure that any reasons I may have had then are obsolete now, and I'm going to go ahead & inline those photos, dammit. So here they are, in all their circa-2006 point-n-shoot glory:




    Rose, 12th Avenue

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