Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Mardi Gras



It's Mardi Gras. I took one of the young FlipFlops to buy a King Cake for his French class today. They put the baby on top, so he gets to decide whether to push it down or mark it as the lucky spot.

I'll be wearing a few beads on my way to NYC today. And I'll be doing something VERY typical for Mardi Gras - eating at Benihanas with clients. One of these years I'm going to make it down to NOLA for the party. (At least my beads are authentic...I got them when I was there last May for a week.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Oy, my aching back



My back is killing me today. I lifted weights with my boys yesterday, and when I was doing my last set of squats I got a jolt in my lower back. Ever have that sensation in your lower back where you feel like if you just turn wrong just-a-little-bit that you're going to go down for the count? I'm there right now. Sitting down on the couch and working. I expect that to work. Oh, and six Advil so far today.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A new way to enter passwords: passclicks

Passclicks

Here's an amazing way to look at entering passwords. From the site:
Passclicks is a new way to login to websites without users having to remember their old style textual password.

Studies have revealed that humans are way better in remembering visual things than textual things.

With passclicks your normal textual passwords are replaced with a sequence of clicks on an image.
Take a look.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bridge Over Doubled Water



My buddy from BH Int'l sent me this picture and caption:
Even after you see it, it is still hard to believe.

Water Bridge in Germany...what a feat!

Six years, 500 million euros, 918 meters long...now this is engineering!

This is a channel-bridge over the River Elbe and joins the former East and West Germany, as part of the unification project. It is located in the city of Magdeburg, near Berlin. The photo was taken on the day of inauguration.
I looked it up. This one's not Photoshopped...it's the real thing.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Junk mail in my inbox today

Here's what junk mail was in my inbox this morning (the subject: lines):

Quentin Whaley
Whitney Collier
Savannah Ford
Can abreat be toledo?

Idiots. The new junk mail seems to be names this round. Buh-bye. (Those are cool names, though.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The World's Best Office Stamps



This is a set of the World's Best Office Stamps. Man, I would have loved to have these when I worked in a corporate job.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I might need reading glasses

I was coming back from lunch a few minutes ago and saw this bus parked on 18th Street. The sign on it gave me a pause. And made me think I needed glasses. I know kids are growing up more quickly these days, but what the heck?




Here's a straight-on shot, that shows the outline of the "F" more clearly. I think they might want to go back to their graphic designer for a touchup.

Pax Romano's Meme: The iFlipFlop Edition

Pax posted his Homemade Meme. Now it's time to play along. Tag, you're it.

****************************************************

1: Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies? I'd love to say black-and-white, since that would make me sound more intellectual. And Casablanca is one of my real favorites. So is Young Frankenstein (And what did you get from the monster?) Gaslight. The Philadelphia Story. Hmmm...lots of black-and-white, but I do love color. The Godfather. The Big Chill. The Big Easy. The Big Lebowski (NOT). Dirty Dancing. Dave. The Dreamers. Pretty Woman. Pretty Baby. Pretty in Pink. So...color, yes, color.


2: What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death? Neighborhood parties where the main subject line is "What do you do?"


3: MP3’s, CD’s, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music? I grew up in the LP/8-track era, so I do have some nostrlgia for American Woman by The Guess Who blaring out of my 8-track and playing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road until it wore out. But, I'm iPod Nano-boy (and it takes a strong man to be able to admit to being nano), so I'd have to say MP3s.


4: You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run? Bloody tempting when things get overwhelming. Who doesn't harbor the "runaway" fantasy from time to time? But, no, $10 million wouldn't do it. Now...that $365 million lottery ticket....;-)


5: Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now? War. And not just Iraq. It seems like we're standing on the edge of a real problem. And I guess I thought that in the full disclosure, 24/7 news cycle that people would wake up. But they don't. So, either it's war, apathy, or stupidity. All are very dangerous. Oh, can I add global warming to the mix?


6: How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue? About war...more talking, less threatening. It's not as simple as George Bush would like to make it...if they're not with us, they're against us is plain ignorant.


7: You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be? I'm pretty happy with where I am right this second, so I wouldn't want to jinx it. Given a chance to change something, I might have had my dad live a lot longer and get a chance to see my guys grow up. He never even met them. Ah well, as I get older I sound like and say nearly the same things he did. It's a proxy.


8: You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be? Ah, the sticky wicket...I'm not sure. Change one, change all that follow. I guess I'd say it'd be pretty good if the atomic bomb never was invented.


9: A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry – Which do you choose? I like country music, but a night at the opera (in my best Groucho Marx voice), my dear, would be splendid.


10: What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve? Since Who Killed Roger Rabbit is out, I'd go with Jack the Ripper.


11: One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal? Hemingway. He came late. We drank. Passed out. Had breakfast. He left.


12: You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky: what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact? LOL. I think I would continue to lead my ascetic and morally forthright life as is. Or, if I won the lottery, I'd be super mean to everybody who was not nice to me...and there are some people at the top of my list.

White House Sign: Days Without a Hunting Accident



The White House now has Days Without a Hunting Accident prominently displayed on the fence overlooking The West Wing. Who knew that George Bush and Dick Cheney were so safety minded?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sadness is a losing Powerball ticket - especially one for $365 million



One of the losing Powerball tickets from Saturday's $365 million drawing. Sadly, that ticket is mine. One lucky bastard in Nebraska won the whole enchilada. C'mon, that's more than the GDP of Nebraska. It would have been sooooooooo much better for that winning ticket to have been bought on the corner of 18th and Chestnut in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By me.

Cheney's Got a Gun: The Music Video



Via the GammaSquared Newswire comes a notice about Cheney's Got a Gun: The Music Video. You can get your Cheney's Got a Gun Wear here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cheney Joke

My 14-y-o son, Matt, came up with this Dick Cheney joke yesterday at dinner:
What did Dick Cheney say as he jumped in the Presidential limo?

I'm riding shotgun.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dick Cheney accidentally shoots Michael Moore and a host of others

"I didn't do it, my hand did it" is Dick Cheney's defense. I found this article describing the tragic circumstances surrounding Dick Cheney's gun "accidents" via Blatherskite.

George Bush's State of the Union: In Brief



Better than playing it backwards, here's George Bush's State of the Union speech boiled down to its essential elements.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Chuck Pennacchio for US Senate in Pennsylvania



Chuck Pennacchio for US Senate in Pennsylvania. Albert has the persuasive reasons why. Chuck's the one, Casey's just the son.

Pax's 70s and Now Essay

I grew up in the same generation as Pax, so his essay comparing the 70s and Now is a knockout and a walk down memory lane. Read all the way to the bottom...there's a great payoff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Trust Gap: The NYT's Editorial is the Perfect Set of Talking Points for Democrats

The New York Times published The Trust Gap as its editorial on Sunday. At the risk of cutting in too much (namely, the entire piece), it's the perfect set of talking points for Democrats (Democrats like Chuck Pennacchio know this already, DINOs like Bob Casey will never know):
February 12, 2006
Editorial
The Trust Gap

We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.

This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time. But last week produced a flood of evidence that vividly drove home the point.

DOMESTIC SPYING After 9/11, Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the conversations and e-mail of Americans and others in the United States without obtaining a warrant or allowing Congress or the courts to review the operation. Lawmakers from both parties have raised considerable doubt about the legality of this program, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made it clear last Monday at a Senate hearing that Mr. Bush hasn't the slightest intention of changing it.

According to Mr. Gonzales, the administration can be relied upon to police itself and hold the line between national security and civil liberties on its own. Set aside the rather huge problem that our democracy doesn't work that way. It's not clear that this administration knows where the line is, much less that it is capable of defending it. Mr. Gonzales's own dedication to the truth is in considerable doubt. In sworn testimony at his confirmation hearing last year, he dismissed as "hypothetical" a question about whether he believed the president had the authority to conduct warrantless surveillance. In fact, Mr. Gonzales knew Mr. Bush was doing just that, and had signed off on it as White House counsel.

THE PRISON CAMPS It has been nearly two years since the Abu Ghraib scandal illuminated the violence, illegal detentions and other abuses at United States military prison camps. There have been Congressional hearings, court rulings imposing normal judicial procedures on the camps, and a law requiring prisoners to be treated humanely. Yet nothing has changed. Mr. Bush also made it clear that he intends to follow the new law on the treatment of prisoners when his internal moral compass tells him it is the right thing to do.

On Thursday, Tim Golden of The Times reported that United States military authorities had taken to tying up and force-feeding the prisoners who had gone on hunger strikes by the dozens at Guantánamo Bay to protest being held without any semblance of justice. The article said administration officials were concerned that if a prisoner died, it could renew international criticism of Gitmo. They should be concerned. This is not some minor embarrassment. It is a lingering outrage that has undermined American credibility around the world.

According to numerous news reports, the majority of the Gitmo detainees are neither members of Al Qaeda nor fighters captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The National Journal reported last week that many were handed over to the American forces for bounties by Pakistani and Afghan warlords. Others were just swept up. The military has charged only 10 prisoners with terrorism. Hearings for the rest were not held for three years and then were mostly sham proceedings.

And yet the administration continues to claim that it can be trusted to run these prisons fairly, to decide in secret and on the president's whim who is to be jailed without charges, and to insist that Gitmo is filled with dangerous terrorists.

THE WAR IN IRAQ One of Mr. Bush's biggest "trust me" moments was when he told Americans that the United States had to invade Iraq because it possessed dangerous weapons and posed an immediate threat to America. The White House has blocked a Congressional investigation into whether it exaggerated the intelligence on Iraq, and continues to insist that the decision to invade was based on the consensus of American intelligence agencies.

But the next edition of the journal Foreign Affairs includes an article by the man in charge of intelligence on Iraq until last year, Paul Pillar, who said the administration cherry-picked intelligence to support a decision to invade that had already been made. He said Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney made it clear what results they wanted and heeded only the analysts who produced them. Incredibly, Mr. Pillar said, the president never asked for an assessment on the consequences of invading Iraq until a year after the invasion. He said the intelligence community did that analysis on its own and forecast a deeply divided society ripe for civil war.

When the administration did finally ask for an intelligence assessment, Mr. Pillar led the effort, which concluded in August 2004 that Iraq was on the brink of disaster. Officials then leaked his authorship to the columnist Robert Novak and to The Washington Times. The idea was that Mr. Pillar was not to be trusted because he dissented from the party line. Somehow, this sounds like a story we have heard before.

Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dueling Stories: Dick Cheney Wasn't the First Vice President to Shoot Someone



Vice President Dick Cheney's duel with the truth continues. But it does strike me that he's not the first vice president of the United States to shoot someone. Imagine if the Bush/Cheney/Rove was in power when Vice President Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel:
Dateline: July 12, 1804
A Briefing by Scott McClellan on the Unfortunate Accident That Resulted in Alexander Hamilton Being Grazed by Some Unknown Projectile: All's Fine

McClellan: Gentlemen (there were no women reporters back then, and that suited McClellan just fine), there was a meeting yesterday morning in Weehawken, New Jersey between Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. At some time during the meeting, a projectile grazed Mr. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton laughed it off and said, "It's a mere flesh wound. I've had paper cuts from ten-dollar bills that were worse than this." That's all. Oh, by the way, yes, Vice President Burr was doing some target practice, but if anything of Mr. Hamilton's scratch came from that it was because Mr. Hamilton didn't take precautions to protect himself.
Postscript: Hamilton died.

Remember when Dick Cheney made fun of John Kerry for goose hunting?


(Photo: MSNBC)

Remember when Dick Cheney made fun of John Keery for goose hunting during the 2004 election? At least Kerry didn't shoot any of his hunting partners. Then again, shooting people is a Dick Cheney/George Bush passion.

Andy Borowitz says the government plans a Cheney Alert System "to warn Americans if an attack by the vice president is imminent."

Jim Brady Comments on Dick Cheney Shooting a Fellow Hunter

via US Newswire

James and Sarah Brady Comment on the Vice President's Hunting Mishap

2/12/2006 5:40:00 PM

To: National Desk

Contact: Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 202-289-5792

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- James and Sarah Brady made comments today related to Vice President Cheney's reportedly accidental shooting yesterday in Texas.

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kill da wabbit: Dick Cheney shoots a hunting companion


(Photo source: AP via Yahoo News)


Dick Cheney wing shot a hunting companion. It was practice for the upcoming midterm elections, where he's invited congressional Democrats to his ranch for "a little hunt."

Friday, February 10, 2006

What Makes a Hit Song? Popularity. Duh.



Ugh, I clicked on this article about what makes a hit song. Guess what? Hit songs are what other people say they are. Duh.

In a related note, I watched ER last night, something I almost never do anymore. At the end of the show they had this really cool Blues musician sit down at a piano in a tavern and start singing Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers to Cross while they did a video montage. Beautiful. Now that's a great song. I say so. And so do thousands of others. You can hear a little snippet of Many Rivers to Cross here.

Okay, one last little piece of trivia (you know that rabbit hole of internet searching): Here's a database of cover songs - who did the original and who did the remakes. The rundown of Many Rivers to Cross is here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Definitive Proof That Dogs Can Read



From BH International comes photographic proof that dogs can read. Oh, and God Bless America.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My favorite headline of the morning: Afghan police kill four in cartoon bloodshed



So, when Afghan police kill four in cartoon bloodshed does the word "SPLAT!" show in one of the panels? Does a guy's head form into the shape of an anvil when he gets crowned by it? Or do any of a number of Cartoon Laws of Physics apply?

Tragic, yes, all that violence. Religious intolerance of whatever ilk, Muslim Christian, or Jew is all bad. (Ever notice how no one lumps the Buddhists into the word string that includes "religious intolerance"?)

Indian Larry Went to the Great Biker Build-Off in the Sky


(Photo: American Motorcycle Network)

Did you ever see Indian Larry on The Great Biker Build-Off or Monster Garage (okay, two hidden pleasures...along with American Chopper...it's all about the art, man). Well, I watched an Indian Larry tribute show last night. I didn't know it, but in August 2004, Indian Larry was performing in front of a crowd of about 8,000 people, doing what they always showed him doing on The Great Biker Build-Off: Standing on his motorcycle's seat as it wheeled down a highway. So, he was doing that stunt at some motorcycle show. No helmet. The bike wobbled. And Larry cracked his punkin'. In front of everyone. Hmmm. I wonder if there's a lesson in this?

(I crashed my motorcycle a couple of years ago by going too fast around a sharp turn, hit some water in the apex, and was flung into a row of fenceposts. Headfirst. But I had on the finest helmet I could buy. It got a huge gouge in it, and the left side of my body was one giant bruise, but other than the rock that got under my kneecap, no damage. Indian Larry would likely be alive if he'd had a helmet on, too...and yes, I know the motorcycle purists out there who say they Ride To Be Free. Okay, just making a point. Don't lose your head over it.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

An Ergonomic Keyboard for Pirates

Did you see this one? An ergonomic keyboard for pirates. Funny. I also liked the SNL Pirate Convention. Arrrr-kansas.

One of my favorite Super Bowl XL ads: Here's to Beer



I laughed a lot during the Super Bowl. Heck, I even cheered for Pittsburgh. (And they won!) But I mostly was interested in the ads. Here's one of my favorite ads from Super Bowl XL, because it's always cool to be able to say "Cheers" in many languages. Here's to Beer!

All the ads are available at iFilm's Super Bowl site.

TECHNICAL GLITCH: For some reason the movie doesn't seem to run. Working on that. In the meantime you can see all the ads at iFilm (link above).

UPDATE 2 at 8:32 AM: Okay, I'm still working on the iFilm, but as with All Things Google, their videos just work. Here's to Beer and The Magic Fridge are my two faves. (A beer theme this year? I didn't even drink a beer during the game.) You can watch the entire set back-to-back in about 20 minutes here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

1998 RARE DALE EARNHARDT BASS PRO GOLD COLLECTOR KNIFE



Along comes the 1998 Dale Earnhardt Bass Pro Gold Collector Knife and I think to myself, "I bet that'd make a great Christmas gift next year if I bought that on eBay." Current bid; $45.50. A bargain at twice that price. It's either the knife or this....hmmm.

It's Albert's birthday today. Go wish him a happy birthday. Ah hey, there's always that Dale Earnhardt Bass Pro Gold Collector Knife as a gift idea for him.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Punxsutawney Phil Says...Six More Weeks of Winter



Six more weeks of winter says Punxsutawney Phil. Since it's been the ninth warmest January on record in Philadelphia, though, I guess six more weeks of winter won't be that bad. Here's Phil's poem from this morning.
Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/06 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Around the country there are many imitators of me.

In Harrisburg there is Gus who appears on TV
working for the lottery.

Then all around town,
Cute groundhog statues abound.
They all look like me, I found.

Today on the Knob as I'm doing my job,
I don't like this likeness of me.

It's my shadow I see. Six more weeks of mild winter there will be.
UPDATE: The WordMensch from 48 Facets just sent me this fun article from WSJ that says the Chief Groundhog Handler is stepping down after 15 years of service.

The Saddest Words in the English Language: No Powerball Winners

This announcement was on the Powerball site this morning: There were no jackpot winners Wednesday, but 830,517 players across the nation won more than $6.8 Million in prizes in America's Game. Bastards. I just knew I was going to win. Ah well, here's to $20 more wasted for Saturday's drawing. $180 million, baby!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Powerball at $156 Million and My Mind is Wandering



I am the proud owner of $20 worth of Powerball tickets for tonight's drawing. The prize pool is $156 million. As I walked to work today I was wondering what I would do with $40 million or so after taxes. Travel? See Everest base camp? Run with the bulls? Tell some people they can bitemyass? What would you do? I'd like to think I'd do good. But being horrid also has its allure.