Sunday, December 31, 2006

Magazines with Disclaimers

Like many people, I sometimes have to sit in a waiting room. During a recent wait, I picked up a financial magazine and started thumbing through it. Apparently, the individual who picked up the same copy of this magazine (that shall remain nameless) had puh-lenty of time to kill. He (or she, I really should not assume here) decided to add the following disclaimer to said magazine:

|- quoted material -- author unknown -|

Notice: This magazine may be read only by those that meet the following qualifications:

  • You are male-born-male.
  • You voted for Bush and believe he can do no wrong.
  • You believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and Mars is a much better planet.
  • You are white.
  • You are heterosexual and homophobic.
  • You have no mannerisms that could possibly, in any way, be considered even slightly feminine or wimpy, such as feelings, emotions, concern for others.
  • You are Republican.
  • You voted for Bush and believe he should be king.
  • You are pseudo-Christian (as opposed to real Christians, who don’t skip those parts of the bible that mention Jesus’ concern for the poor and disadvantaged, overturning the moneychanger’s tables, etc).
  • You can be Jewish, if you are sufficiently right-wing, willing to suck up to pseudo-Christians, and agree to sell your soul when the Rapture comes. But be advised that we can revoke this privilege at any time. Also, we have a strict quota on the number of Jewish subscribers. (This is “affirmative action”, after all.)
  • You are eager to lay off workers and outsource their jobs, and can do this as easily as flicking a crumb off your table.
  • You are eager to make money off the backs of those who don’t meet these qualifications.
  • You believe Bush should be king and that he can do no wrong.
  • You equate capitalism with democracy.

If you do not meet these qualifications, you are nothing but a scraping from the bottom of the barrel and we don’t want you as a reader.

|- end quoted material -| That unofficial disclaimer was more noteworthy than anything else I found in the mag. Seriously.

Resolutions

Flickr Photo: Times Square Ball as seen via television.

Ah, yes. New Year's Eve. A time for reflecting on the past year, reviewing one's performance, and making resolutions. My blogging performance, sad to say, has been dismal. Part of that has been due to the change in my day job. I am still playing the technical writing game. But in my new location, I have less time and rarer opportunities to make updates here at Prophet or Madman. And whenever I have had a few minutes to do some blogging, I wasted it. I couldn't choose what I wanted to write about, or how I wanted to approach a subject. So I just skipped it. Of course, blogging isn't everything (it's the only thing! Kidding). This year has also been about recuperating. Last year at this time, I was recovering from an emergency appendectomy. This year, as some of you regular visitors may recall, I broke my left foot over Memorial Day weekend and it required surgery. Well, I had the screws removed on Thursday afternoon, so I am currently recovering from that procedure. So here are my resolutions for 2007:
  1. I resolve to be kinder to my body. To listen to it, and to work on improving my overall health.
  2. I resolve to spend some more time on this blog. I'll probably have to do it early in the morning or late in the evening, but I want to do my best to ensure that there is some quality content here and have it updated a few times a week.
  3. I resolve to manage my time better. With a longer daily commute as well as a paid position at the theater, I'll have more deadlines to face in the coming year. But I will have to find a way to manage them so that I can also complete projects around the house.
  4. On top of all of this, I resolve to deepen my spiritual walk. I recently completed a 2+ year study in world religions while digging deeper into the spirituality of my ancestors. I now have to find a way to bring all of that into my daily life. Perhaps I'll share some of that journey with you here.
That's all I have for now. Best wishes to everyone in the blogosphere for a fantastic 2007.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Operation: Pat Robertson Freedom!

Background Info: I believe that most folks are familiar with avengelist Pat Robertson's prayer campaign against the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). In case you are unaware of the program, I'll provide a few details here, and you can also check out CBN's page for Operation Supreme Court Justice. Now Pat Robertson started requesting prayers for certain Supreme Court Justices as far back as 1996, but the actual campaign did not officially kick off until July 2003. Shortly after Robertson's announcement, People for the American Way released their own press release, critical of the cleric's plan. An Interfaith Campaign: I propose an Interfaith campaign to counter-balance Robertson's naive extremism. Hey, it's all freedom of speech, right? Maybe I'll work on an actual home page for the campaign, and it will be a send-up of Pat's own site. In the meanwhile, check out this nifty banner ("loosely" based on the header graphic for the page describing Robertson's own -- and in my opinion, misguided -- prayer request):
Operation Pat Robertson Freedom Banner -- Tell Pat to SHUT IT!
And remember:
People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them. --Dave Barry, author and columnist (1947- )

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AWOL (again)

Hey there Prophet or Madman-philes. I have not dropped off the face of the known world. I was just completely wrapped up in trying to meet deadlines in three areas of my life: professional (day job), creative (theater gig), and studies (papers and projects). I am happy to say that any rumours of my demise were entirely premature. In fact, everything seems to be turning out well in all three areas. I will be back to write more on these topics. I just wanted to touch base for now, let folks know that I am alive, and that -- yes -- more Milo & Otis pics will be posted in the near future. Meanwhile, if you are in the area, go to Montgomery Theater and check out the final production of the year: The Desk Set. It's the revival of a 50-year old gem. Written by a local guy, The Desk Set was the toast of Broadway in 1955 and was made into a Hepburn-Tracey movie in 1957. I was the lighting and sound designer for this gig.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scarey Costumes...

...and voter apathy. This recent Foxtrot nails both (click image to go to the comic page). Check it out as soon as you can because gocomics.com limits the free viewing period to only a week or so.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Catanatomy

Mrs. Brainwise has been snapping pics faster than I can upload them to my Flickr account (here). And about 2-4 times more often than I post here these days. But your patience has been rewarded with this up close shot of Milo's cute li'l nose ... and tongue.

tongue-close

Milo thinks Friday Pet Blogging is lip-smacking good!

Check out the rest of the parts in this set: Catanatomy

And one by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Kryptonite?

File under: "Life imitates ... comics?" OK, so it didn't happen in, say, Smallville. But you still have to love a story about finding a "rare" meteorite in Kansas.

Rare meteorite found in Kansas field By ROXANA HEGEMAN, Associated Press Writer
AP Photo: Workers pull dirt away from a 154-pound meteorite as a team from the Houston Museum...

GREENSBURG, Kan. - Scientists located a rare meteorite in a Kansas wheat field thanks to new ground-penetrating radar technology that someday might be used on Mars. The dig Monday was likely the most documented excavation yet of a meteorite find, with researchers painstakingly using brushes and hand tools to preserve evidence of the impact trail and to date the event of the meteorite strike. Soil samples also were bagged and tagged and organic material preserved for dating purposes.

[ Full Story ]

Now, before you start combing rural Kansas for Kents, you should know that "scientific experts at the site were able to debunk prevailing wisdom that the spectacular Brenham meteorite fall occurred 20,000 years ago. Its location in the Pleistocene epoch soil layer puts that date closer to 10,000 years ago." But according to Carolyn Sumners, director of Astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, "Native Americans could have seen it." Hmmm... might be fodder for a decent Elseworlds storyline.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Crate

Left to his own devices, Otis will get into any and everything. Point in case: my folding cart with I used to haul some stuff to a presentation last month:

Hiya! Come down and play!!

You can see the crate love (heh heh) Otis has for this new toy of his at Crate and Otis.

And one by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Sunbeam

Mrs. Brainwise recently spent some quality time with Milo, and got some quality photos out of it, too. Here is the first of several shots of Milo in another of his fave spots: catching the afternoon sun by the back door.

Milo lovin' the sunbeam.

He looks like he is hugging a sunbeam. Just look at him! Oh!! He is certainly a ray of light in our household. I'll post the rest of the set later.

And one by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Leif Erikson Day!

The image “http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d3/LeifErikson1968stamp.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. 1968 U.S. postage stamp honoring Leif Ericson (image at Wikipedia)
October 9 of each year is Leif Erikson Day. So go out and celebrate a European discoverer who actually made it to North America. (Yeah, that's a dig at Mr. Columbus).

Quotable | Two Pastorals

And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. -- William Shakespeare (As You Like It II, i) The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks. -- Tennessee Williams (Don Quixote's last words in Camino Real)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mashed Veggie(Tale)s

NBC has a problem with Bob the Tomato. Well, not so much with the li'l red guy himself, but with Bob and (his buddy) Larry's penchant for talking about God and the Bible. Seems that network execs placed an unusual requirement on the show in order to be broadcast: Edit out God. Well, to be fair, I should point out that the show's producers don't have to edit out every reference to God ... just the non-historical ones. Now, keep in mind that NBC is the same network that was behind the (cancelled) series, The Book of Daniel. So, one might feel obliged to forgive these execs for being a tad God-phobic as it were. But while the aforementioned TBOD featured a pill-popping priest who had full on conversations with a rather laid back Jesus (and a rather varied supporting cast), Bob and Larry of BigIdeas' VeggieTales series don't do anything more controversial than offer watered down versions of Bible stories and morality plays for kids. And the conservative Parents Television Council is not happy with the decision. The CNN.com article quotes L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC:
"What struck me and continues to strike me is the inanity of ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product and not thinking that there will be consequences to it. The series is successful because of its biblical world view, not in spite of it. That's the signature to `VeggieTales."'
Now, I'm not exactly a fan of VeggieTales (though I suppose it is slightly less grating than Barney, and significantly less cheesy than BibleMan), but I find NBC's move to edit religious references out of a religious program to be counter-intuitive at best. I mean, wouldn't that be akin to purchasing the rights to air episodes of The Crocodile Hunter, but then mandating that all footage of Steve Irwin (rest in peace, mate) wrestling with crocodiles be edited out. Crikey! What's next?
  • Preventing the cast of The Biggest Loser from using the words "exercise" and "diet"?
  • Cutting doctor-to-doctor conflicts from ER?
  • Putting a gag order on all courtroom activity in Law & Order?
  • Forbidding cameos of Stan Lee in a movie based on Marvel Comics' characters? (OK, so that might actually be a good idea).
I'm just wondering out loud here. But if the point behind this move is to not have any station-sanctioned prosyletizing, then maybe the network will have to cut all public service announcements, political ads, and spots for Sunday Night Football. You see, I'm not getting down on NBC simply because they are cutting Christian messages. I couldn't care one whit about that. I'm not gonna watch the show anyway. But I am going to call them on the fact that they are cutting out the essence of a show they paid for. So, I say to them, if you are uncomfortable with a show's message, don't buy the show. If you're too lazy to develop your own show for that Saturday morning slot, just air some more infomercials, 'kay?

Update | Blog Roll

If you will kindly turn your attention to the right sidebar, you will see a new addition under my "Fave Bloggage." Please welcome Bjorn Grimnir and his fine project, which is titled A Heathen Blog. Go ahead and check it out. I am humbled by the breadth of his subject pool, and the depth of his analysis.

Friday, September 29, 2006

9/11, the Spiritual Climate, and Charity

September's just about over, but I still have time to squeeze in one more 9/11 reference. Here's an interesting article that looks at the effects that 9/11 has had on the spiritual climate in America. Research has found that, though church attendance rose significantly after the attacks, it has since leveled off. Despite the attendance numbers, studies show that Americans are continuing to grow more generous, with charitable giving rising 12 percent since 2001 ... Now, Americans are rather spiritual. Don't let the not-going-to-church thing fool you into thinking otherwise. It's like these researchers are saying, "Hey, only church-going folks give to charity, so what's going on here? What accounts for these numbers?" But is that really the case? I don't think so. And I don't think there is any true mystery behind the increase in charity. For one thing, since 2001, the world has experienced the December 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina (2005). And people dug deep (monetarily and literally) to help out in both cases. For another thing, the research is only looking at giving as tied to a function of Christianity. But Christians are not the only people who do outreach work. They are probably the most recognized, but that is mainly due to societal conditioning. (This is not to say that Christian charities are unworthy of recognition. I'm just saying that there are lots of fine people out there, of all sorts of religious persuasions, who are doing good work and giving to charity). If there is a mystery to the numbers, I would say it lies in why the mainstream press does not do a study on Pagan, Buddhist, Heathen, etc. approaches to charity.

Friday Pet Blogging | Design Feline

Milo, though a bit cautious or skittish, is insatiably curious. And he really has a thing for my books and such near the couch -- particularly my backpack. Well, while I was out on Sunday, and had the backpack with me, Mrs. Brainwise snapped some excellent shots of Milo milling about my stuff. He was probably looking for the backpack. Instead, he found himself on (digital) film. Now, you tell me: Doesn't he look like he is ready to unleash a life-changing design?

My slipcover is orange, of course .... it is covered with my divine fur.

One by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity (but I don't miss it much)...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Extreme Synchronized Napping

As you can see, my internet connection has been restored. And not a minute too soon. Otherwise, you might have missed this rare occurence of Milo & Otis taking synchronized napping to new heights. What Nap-thletes!

One by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity (but I don't miss it much)...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging is Delayed

delayed
[Photo from The Visual Dictionary]
Today's installment of Friday Pet Blogging is delayed. I had no Internet connection last night, so I could neither upload new photos nor enter a post about an existing photo. I think things are worked out now. I will try to upload a sampling of new photos and then select an excellent specimen for your viewing pleasure. Please accept my apologies. I apprecate your kind consideration and patience.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lessons from Hellblazer

While I was laid up with a broken foot this summer, I fell behind in my comic book reading. I just couldn't maneuver around the store on crutches. Heck, it would have been too much of an effort to get to the store in the first place. But now I've now been off the crutches for about two weeks. So on Sunday, I stopped by and picked up my books. Fortunately, it was a short stack -- John Constantine: Hellblazer is the only title I collect on a regular basis these days. Still, it was about 3 or 4 months worth of stories, and I got to read them all in one sitting. While reading, I noticed that there are many practical lessons packaged with these tales of British occult horror. And I decided to share a few with you... John Constantine on relationships:
"If I've learned one thing about relationships, it's this: Friends believe the best about us. They need to. Because they feel what we feel. And given a choice between feeling good or feeling bad … no one's picking up the shitty stick."
Evans (supporting character in current storyline) on hiring help:
"Honestly, lackeys these days..."
John Constantine on art appreciation:
"I know a lot about art, but I don't know what I like."
And JC on work ethic:
"I was up all night grinding fairies to make this stuff."
OK. So maybe that last one doesn't actually convey a lesson. But it is laugh-out-loud funny.
Other Hellblazin' links:

Friday, September 22, 2006

Quotable | Best

Sometimes it is not enough to do your best. Sometimes you must do what is required. -- Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Friday Pet Blogging | Too Close!

Still using some older shots. This one is from July of this year. It illustrates an important adage in photography: You don't always get the shot you want. This is particularly true of a camera-averse kitty like Milo.

Milo in "witness protection" mode.

This reminds me of the video that often accompanies news stories about obesity. Have you ever noticed that all those people are shot from the neck down? Not that Milo is obese! He is pleasantly plump, right boy?

And here come the opportunities to see more pet blogging posts...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Controversy Nabs Prizes

That presidential snuff film I mentioned on this blog a few weeks ago ("Yes, But Is It Art?" August 31, 2006) won the critic's prize at the Toronto Film Festival. Apparently, the jury liked it "for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth." Story at Yahoo News: "Bella" Wins Top Toronto Film Festival Award.

Quotable | Elephants

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. -- Kikuyu Proverb
I think today's quotable is quite appropriate in light of the skirmishes, both verbal and physical, that are in effect around the globe today.

The Pope Said ... What?! (Part II)

A few astute people have shown me that the Pope might have known exactly what he was saying when he quoted a 14th century document that was critical of Islam. (See my previous post and these news items). In fact, two of those people left rather thoughtful comments here. And now ... I am doing some more reading ... and I see that the Pope is taking shots at the Jews and the Pagans. What is he thinking?? Shortly after -- or "minutes after" as the Age reports it -- offering an apology for the speech that incited Muslims around the world, the Pope was commenting on two recent Roman Catholic festivals relating to the crucifixion. He slipped this little gem into his commentary:
"We preach the crucified Christ — a scandal for the Jews, a folly for the pagans." --The Age
Do you recognize that statement at all? Here is a hint: Try cracking open 1 Corinthians. The Pope has paraphrased the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23: "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." Note that he has changed "stumbling block" to "scandal". And he has exchanged "Pagans" for "Gentiles" (or "Greeks" in some translations). Now, why would he do this? And why would he use it on the same day he offered an apology for his apparent verbal gaffe of a few days ago? If you take the time to read the Biblical passage (1 Corinthians 1:18-30 NIV | KJV | NRSV | CEV), you will see that it deals with wisdom. Particularly, the supremacy of God's wisdom. And, by extension, I suppose the wisdom of the Christian path as well. So, we have to ask, in sharing this bit about preaching "Christ crucified" and connecting it to the wisdom of God, could the Pope in fact be claiming that he acted with great wisdom and forethought in what the media is calling his "blunder" that has enraged the Islamic community? Remember, now, that the Pope -- for millions of Catholics around the world -- is the representative of Christ on Earth. He is considered to be the only person who is in direct contact with God the Father. And he is considered to be infallible. So, there was no mistake for which to apologize. Something more is certainly going on, and this bears watching. (Aside: If I am not mistaken, the concept of Papal Infallibility is only applied to statements he makes that can be considered solemn papal definitions or ex cathedra teachings. So, if he was at a conference of scholars in Germany, can those statements be taken as ex cathedra? And if the statements are not ex cathedra, then are we back to calling the whole thing a mistake, thereby cancelling out everything I just wrote?)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Pope Said ... What?!

I go away for one weekend and the Pope puts his slippered foot in his mouth. Or does he? I guess that depends on what you think Benedict's intentions were when he quoted a 14th-century text that characterized some of the prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman." Now, considering the cartoon fiasco that rocked Europe earlier this year, and the general pins-and-needles state of relations between the West and Islamic countries, this seems like an insane mistake. In fact, just yesterday a friend asked me, "Has the Pope lost his mind?" Well, I am in no way qualified to render a diagnosis of Benedict's mental health. But I would like to briefly address the bru hah hah that has kicked up a new firestorm of words and threats. First, in Benedict's defense (and I'm not the Pope's biggest fan), his words were taken out of context. He was in a gathering of scholars, and he quoted from a dusty old text. His point was that violence in service of religion is never appropriate. And this is a modern concept. The Church has its own violent past to deal with. Speaking of which, I find it interesting to note that, at the time of the speech, Benedict never once said whether he supported the view of that particular text. Second, although he was taken out of context, Benedict should have known better. The media is soundbite hungry, and the general public has a 10-year-old mentality ("You said something bad about my dad! I'm gonna kick you!"). One of the best media responses comes from Australia:

Subtle Scholar, But What an Inept Politician The Age | September 18, 2006

Pope Benedict's speech was an academic address at a German university on an esoteric theological theme that had nothing to do with affronting Muslims. The apparently offending remarks were almost a footnote to the discussion… But it seems some elements in the Muslim world are looking avidly for something to offend them. Meanwhile, governments looking to boost their Islamic credentials are only too happy to seize on this, or nurture it, for their own political advantage.
You can read some more responses at NPR, which is where I found the Australian post. I'm thinking that Benedict should have just referenced the text and the conversation in it. He should not have quoted anything from it. He definitely should have pointed out that the text presented an outmoded point of view. At the very least, he should have had a few people in his office review the speech before he left the Vatican. A little vetting never hurt a scholar. So, until we have peer review for every public statment, can we just, like, you know, grow up? Update (09.20.2006): For those who are interested, there is a translation of the speech here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Perfect Fuzzy Faces

This evening I downloaded the latest set of photos from the Nikon CoolPix. I had taken a bunch of shots at rehearsal on Tuesday (The Last Five Years at Montgomery Theater). Unfortunately, I didn't get anything worth sharing. But I did come across a surprise or two. Mrs. Brainwise must have recenlty lifted the camera because I know I didn't take these nice pics of Milo and Otis showing their perfect fuzzy faces:

Milo throws a carefree glance over his shoulder. (Yes, Mom still has that damn camera!)

Otis ponders the miracle of a sunbeam. (Actually ... he's either zoning out or wishing he could catch a bird.)

I gotta leave the camera unattended more often.

And here come the opportunities to see more pet blogging posts...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Quotable | Broken

Good old 'Uncle' Walt. In just a few words from "A Song of the Rolling Earth," he nails a concept that is essential for healing in this Post-9/11 world:
I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete, The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken. Leaves of Grass > A Song of the Rolling Earth [line 100] Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
The men who carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the men who hijacked United 93 were jagged and broken, and they were spurred on by jagged and broken men. This is a quality they carried in their souls, and as such it informed the way they looked at the world. That is why they could do such a heinous thing. I truly think that there is no way a person who has some semblance of completion within him or herself, and how is able to look upon the world as a wondrous thing, could have participated in such violence.

Sonic Memorial

Whenever I am in my car, I am probably listenting to a podcast, public radio, or an AM talk show (Michael Smerconish). The car radio is rarely tuned to regular ol' stations that play music anymore. While the podcasting interest is still relatively recent for me -- I only got an iPod last December, and then found my way to podcasts early this year -- the public radio interest started on September 11 ... 2001. My office was dismissed early so that we could go home and be with our families. Of course, many other folks got the same idea. So I got stuck in the 309 Northbound traffic for a while. Being confined and isolated in my car -- I say "isolated" even though scores of other people around me were similarly confined in their own vehicles -- I found myself hungering for information. For some kind of connection to the aftermath of the morning events ... to the events still going on. And, frankly, after having shared the horror and anxiety of that morning with my colleagues and co-workers, I just didn't welcome this seeming loneliness in my car. I had already tried to call a couple of family members, with varying degrees of success. Circuits invariably were busy. So, I found my way down the dial to 90.1FM -- WHYY in Philadelphia. And I have been listening to programming on that station ever since. Yesterday, I caught a broadcast of the Sonic Memorial Project. This is as good an argument for public radio as there is. I might never have heard about this if I had not caught it on the radio. The Sonic Memorial Project features material submitted by people across the U.S. who contributed personal recordings, stories and remembrances. There is a recording of the revolving doors at the World Trade Center (sounding eerily like a heartbeat), elevator recordings, and voicemail messages. Sure, just about all of the dialogue is available in a transcript, but I suggest you listen to the whole thing. It's amazing, somber, and at times ... heartbreaking. The project's own website (sonicmemorial.org) seems to be down, but you can catch the entire transcript at American RadioWorks (link). There is a link to download the RealAudio on that page as well.

Quotable | That Old Piece of Cloth

I schooled myself in the writings of Madison and Franklin and Adams and Jefferson. I came to love those noble, indestructible ideas. They were ideas, to my young mind, of rebellion and independence, not of idolatry. But not that piece of old cloth. To me, that stood for unthinking patriotism. It meant about as much to me as that insipid peace sign that was everywhere I looked: just another symbol of a generation's sentimentality, of its narcissistic worship of its own past glories. Then came that sunny September morning when airplanes crashed into towers a very few miles from my home... -- Frank Miller (1957 - ), comic book artist and writer
Go to NPR to read or listen to the full essay (requires either Windows Media Player or Real Player), which is part of their This I Believe series. I highly recommend it. Miller really cuts to the chase, showing how his upbringing and his own sense of rebellion formed his opionions of patriotism and Old Glory ... and how the events of 9/11 reshaped how he viewed both.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Not Exactly Hospital Corners

After confirming that at least one of us is definitely up for the day, Otis usually decides to take a morning nap. He just sacks out at the foot of the bed, or curls up under a (ahem!) dog-eared blanket as shown here:

"You go to work; I'll keep the bed warm."

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More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

By the way, if you are wondering what hospital corners have to do with this post, take a look at this image and compare it to the state of Otis' sheets in the photo above. And if you don't know how to achieve that regulation look for your own bed, then these two tutorials explain how to do it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crikey!

Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died today. At least he went out doing what he loved...

Mr Irwin made his international reputation wrestling crocodiles and snakes.

But the flamboyant naturalist's final confrontation with a wild animal occurred at Batt Reef off Port Douglas on Monday morning, where he had been filming a new documentary, "Ocean's Deadliest".

Taking time off from the main project, Mr Irwin was swimming in shallow water, snorkelling as his cameraman filmed large bull rays.

"He came over the top of a stingray and the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Mr Irwin's friend and manager John Stainton.

"It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I don't think that he ... felt any pain.

Source: Daredevil Irwin dies doing what he loved (theage.com.au)

Sure, it's easy to ridicule the personality we all saw on TV. But Irwin loved animals and wanted nothing more than to share that love with the world. He also loved his family, and my heart goes out to his wife and daughter.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Yes, But is it Art?

I'm sure this little TV broadcast is going to raise strong feelings on both sides of the aisle.

"Death of a President" The Associated Press Published: August 31, 2006 British TV channel to show film of fictional Bush assassination

LONDON British television channel More4 plans to broadcast a dramatic film, documentary-style, about a fictional assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush, the network's head said Thursday. The program uses actors and digital manipulation of real footage to show a fictional account of Bush being gunned down after delivering a speech in Chicago, Peter Dale, the head of More4, told a news conference.

...

Dale said he expected the film would upset some, but defended it as a sophisticated piece of work. "It's not sensationalist, or simplistic but a very thought-provoking, powerful drama," he said.

[ Full Story ]

So, Mr. Dale expects the film to upset some people? That's not exactly a long shot. I mean, I'd take that bet. And I would also bank on a fairly large fan base for the flick, too. (Anyone remember a scathing little "documentary" by a certain Mr. Moore?) And, yes, it may be powerful, it might even be profoundly thought-provoking, but is it necessary? And I have to wonder ... what would have happened to the filmmakers if they had been American citizens working in the USA? How far would they have made it before the Secret Service stopped by to visit the set? Will there be any screenings in America? ----------------------- Update (9/20/2006): The film won an award.

Friday Pet Blogging | I'm Hiding

As I have mentioned before, Milo is hard to capture on camera (film or digital). He has a tendency to go off on his own and hide ... or sulk ... or something. But on rare occasions, he can be captured in his natural habitat -- someplace where it is difficult to see him. This is a photo from one of those occasions. Milo was definitely under the radar ... or, at least, the kitchen table:

"Dude! Some PRIVACY, please!"

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More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Meeeeeeew

I feel the need to make up for recent gaps in my friday pet blogging efforts, so here's another shot of Otis. In this photo, he was either uttering one of those long, shallow mews, or just, I don't know, burping:

"Aaaa ... Beee ... Ceee ... Deee ... Eeee ..."

Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Postal Inspectors

I promised that Friday Pet Blogging was coming back. And here it is! First up, we see Milo in his role as a Label Inspector, checking out a potentially suspicious envelope:

"Hmmmm... I'd better take a cautious approach."

Otis, however, likes to throw himself into the work. In this case, he followed a hunch ... right into the envelope:

"Must! Stop! Threat! At! Source!"

I guess you could say today's post is a follow-up to the Postal pet blogging entry from late July. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

FYI

Friday Pet Blogging will return ... this Friday. Milo thought you'd want to know.

"Whoa! I see more cat pics coming this way."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Quotable | Simple Life

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. --John Burroughs (1837-1921), American Naturalist And I dare say he wasn't talking about any of that Paris and Nicole crap. Yeesh.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Quotable | Beggar

The beggar wears heaven and earth as his summer clothes. --Kikaku (1661-1707), haiku master

Whinery?

This story might be of interest to my brother and sister-in-law. (They have their own little winery).
grapes.jpb |  image hosted by arstechnica.com

Multi-Tasking, Memory, and Learning

I have heard that there is no true multi-tasking as far as the human mind is concerned. The mind may be able to jump from one task to another quite rapidly, but it can still only focus on one task at a time. This study would suggest that the more tasks you put your mind to, the less effective you will be at some or all of them. Hmmm... Maybe I should not be listening to music at work.
You can multi-task, but don't expect to learn anything posted at NOBEL INTENT by John Timmer July 28, 2006 @ 2:04PM

The results of a new study on the process of memory that's been released online by PNAS have some obvious implications for the process of learning in our increasingly distracting world. In this study, researchers matched activity in different regions of the brain with different aspects of memory during a learning process. What the researchers term "habit memory" is the ability to perform very specific tasks, which doesn't require much in the way of conscious thought. Acquiring this capacity causes activity in a structure called the striatum. Declarative memory seems to invoke a full recognition of a process, requires more conscious effort, and allows more flexibility, such as applying this recognition to unfamiliar situations. Learning of this type causes activity in the medial temporal lobe of the hippocampus.

Where does multitasking come in...?

[ Full Entry ]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Friday Not-Quite-Pet Blogging | Mothra!

Look who came to visit the Brainwise Research Center:

Behold ... Mothra!!

More photographic evidence here.

Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Postal

Earlier this month, I was going through some mail and I received a 401(k) report from one of my previous employers. As per my SOP, I tossed the empty envelope on the floor so that I could later collect it for recycling. Otis, however, had other ideas:

"Rahrrr ... Envelope makes for good roughage."

"Whoa! That sucker almost got away from me."

"Stay calm, everyone. I've got things under control now."

"Heh heh ... Can't do this with email."

"Phew ... Postal work is hard work."
See more pics of Otis' paper match here. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Getting Fizzy With It

A friend sent an interesting link to me. It's to a site that sells something called ... The Fizz Cup. My first impression is that it is one of those things that could only exist in a movie or tv show that was trying to capture the feel of ... I don't know, something like the 50's crammed into the 80's. Here, take a look for yourself: So, what do you think? Does anyone have one of these things?

Friday Pet Blogging | Cribbin'

This week on Cat's Cribs, Otis dishes on carpet-covered co-ops. Yeah, the accomodations are cramped, but it's definitely a party pad:

"I'm Otis. Welcome to my crib!"

Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Quotable | Perfect Bureaucracy

The red tape is unbelievable. Egyptians invented bureaucracy 5,000 years ago, and they've really perfected it. -- Donald Redford, a Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Pennsylvania State University, on dealing with Eqyptian authorities. Source: The Penn Stater (July/August 2006) "Have Trowel, Will Travel" Page 16

Dirty Deeds Indeed


"It started out as playing games, but this time she pushed me too far Oh no, the damage is done She's the one to blame, she's got my soul I just can't seem to leave her alone Far too late, I found out what you were up to. I don't wanna live like this, but now it seems there ain't no way back Oh no, I'm caught in a trap."
Now that there is nowhere to run, need an alibi! -- Adapted from Alibi (Vandenberg, 1985)
I cannot believe what I heard on the radio this morning. Michael Smerconish (MASTALK.com), a local morning talk show host, interviewed someone from Alibi Network. You read that correctly: Alibi Network (alibinetwork.com). For a fee, these guys will back up just about any (legal) story you concoct. You want to get out of a boring dinner party? Alibi Network can give you the chance to excuse yourself with a Rescue Call. (It's their most popular service, ya know). You want your boss to think you attended an out-of-town seminar? Alibi Network will set you up with proof of your stay in a hotel and provide you with a certificate of completion for the seminar! Told your wife you are going fishing with the boys instead of your real destination? Alibi Network can purchase the fishing equipment, have "the boys" (a few actors) pick you up, provide a phone service for where you are "staying", use the equipment (for added realism, natch), and then have the boys drop you off home again and wave to your wife. Depending on your situation, AN can even provide you with a dial in center so that your calls home or to your boss will look like they are coming from the location you specify -- even if you aren't anywhere near that location! Sound shady? It sure sounds that way to me! Now, supposedly, there are legitimate reasons for going to all the trouble of a professional alibi. Such as, um ... covering your tracks when planning an elaborate surprise party. And if you use this service, at least you're not dragging a friend into the lie du jour. I guess that's something. But my gut tells me that most of these folks are up to no good. Is it any wonder that trust and honesty are seen in increasingly rare supply? You have been warned. Trust no one!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Kool Kitty

Sometimes, Otis just wants to get into that window behind the couch -- the window that holds the air conditioner -- like a kid who wants a toy. And he can be pretty insistent. I guess he can get some quality bird-watching in while sitting on the AC. Last month, I was in a good position to take a few pics:

"Suprise! It's me!! The *real* Slim Shady."

"Whoa! Head rush."

See the whole set. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts! Here are some suggestions...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Soooo Steamy

OK. Get your minds out of the gutter! I'm merely gushing over this steam powered iMac I saw posted over at TUAW:
Now that's a computer that Jules Verne could love. Smokin'!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tobacco to Kill 1 Billion!

Puff ... One Beeeeee-leee-on!
Tobacco expected to kill 1 billion this century Associated Press Updated: 7:07 p.m. ET July 10, 2006 Smoking accounts for 1 in 5 cancer deaths, new reference guides report

WASHINGTON - If current trends hold, tobacco will kill a billion people this century, 10 times the toll it took in the 20th century, public health officials said Monday. Tobacco accounts for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year, according to two new reference guides that chart global tobacco use and cancer. Lung cancer remains the major cancer among the 10.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Cancer Atlas...

[ Full Story ]

OK. My local paper posted the headline as "Tobacco to kill 1 billion this century". Other outlets posted "Tobacco may kill 1 billion this century" [emphasis mine] as the title for the story. All I want to know is ... with that kind of potential, when will the Bush Administration declare war on Tobacco exporting countries? And before you cast your ballot, check out the map from the story:
Oh, I also want to know how many people subscribe to the Cancer Atlas mistakenly thinking it is an astrology publication.