Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'll come and gang by Carterhaugh

I forbid you maidens all that wear gold in your hair
To travel to Carter Hall for young Tam Lin is there

None that go by Carter Hall but they leave him a pledge
Either their mantles of green or else their maidenhead"

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to Carter Hall as fast as go can she

She'd not pulled a double rose, a rose but only two
When up there came young Tam Lin says "Lady, pull no more"

"And why come you to Carter Hall without command from me?"
"I'll come and go", young Janet said, "and ask no leave of thee"

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to her father as fast as go can she

Well, up then spoke her father dear and he spoke meek and mild
"Oh, and alas, Janet," he said, "I think you go with child"

"Well, if that be so," Janet said, "myself shall bear the blame
There's not a knight in all your hall shall get the baby's name

For if my love were an earthly knight as he is an elfin grey
I'd not change my own true love for any knight you have"

Janet tied her kirtle green a bit above her knee
And she's gone to Carter Hall as fast as go can she

"Oh, tell to me, Tam Lin," she said, "why came you here to dwell?"
"The Queen of Faeries caught me when from my horse I fell

And at the end of seven years she pays a tithe to hell
I so fair and full of flesh and feared it be myself

But tonight is Hallowe'en and the faery folk ride
Those that would their true love win at Miles Cross they must buy

So first let past the horses black and then let past the brown
Quickly run to the white steed and pull the rider down

For I'll ride on the white steed, the nearest to the town
For I was an earthly knight, they give me that renown

Oh, they will turn me in your arms to a newt or a snake
But hold me tight and fear not, I am your baby's father

And they will turn me in your arms into a lion bold
But hold me tight and fear not and you will love your child

And they will turn me in your arms into a naked knight
But cloak me in your mantle and keep me out of sight."

In the middle of the night she heard the bridle ring
She heeded what he did say and young Tam Lin did win

Then up spoke the Faery Queen, an angry queen was she
Woe betide her ?ill-fought? face, an ill death may she die

"Oh, had I known, Tam Lin," she said, "what this knight I did see
I have looked him in the eyes and turned him to a tree."

The second-to-last verse contains the Faerie Queen's description of Janet's "ill-far'd face." This seems to have been preserved from the Child Ballad when so much else was jettisoned or adapted.

For instance, the Queen goes on to proclaim that "I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een, / And put in twa een o tree" had she known Tam Lin was angling on escaping her grasp.

This is the Faerie Queen much closer to that of Terry Pratchett than of any Victorian idyllist.

There was a recent discussion on Making Light about whether or not the demigods of the imagination which may thrive on our belief might be conscious of the stories we tell of them now*; I wonder if the Faerie Queen seethes every time I play this song.

*Begun by Abi Sutherland wondering if the ur-Harpy remembers Mommy Fortuna and that wild night she escaped her cage.

(I guess this is all really an exercise in a collective-universe flight of fancy.)

Zappadan: Day Zero

I haven't been honoring Zappadan this year; by the end of the tradition last year I was having trouble finding songs I hadn't posted and I couldn't think of a follow-up this year.

But I will call this out: the Official Zappadan Cupcakes.

For some reason I think I'll pass.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is *That* What They Call It These Days

One morning in the month of June,
As from my cot' I strayed.
Just at the dawning of the day
I met with a charming maid.
'Good morning you, whither?' said I,
'Good morning to you now',
The maid replied, 'kind sir' she cried,
'I've lost my spotted cow'.
'No longer weep, no longer mourn,
Your cow's not lost my dear,
I saw her down in yonder grove,
Come love and I'll show you where'.
'I must confess you're very kind,
I thank you sir,' said she,
'We will be sure her there to find,
Come sweetheart, go with me'.
And in the grove they spent the day,
They thought it passed too soon,
At night they homeward bent their way,
While brightly shone the moon.
If he should cross the flowery dale,
Or go to view the plough,
She comes and calls, 'You gentle swain,
I've lost my spotted cow

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh Dear

Don't let this in your house! That's the first step in their plan!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Preview Panel

A sneak peek at a (very rough) preliminary version of a thing I'm doing with me mum.

Warning: I suck at the digital art right now. It will improve! but this is basically my first try.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Have Obtained A Thing

Oh yeah, nothing's going to stop me from rocking your world with my fabulous digital art skills.

Oh yeah, I just rocked your world!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Have Bombed the Moon

NASA's LCROSS probe crashed into the Lunar south pole early Friday morning.

It had a Twitter feed. I heartily recommend you go read the last few tweets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Funktionide Part II from eltopo on Vimeo.

/me squirms.

I don't want it crawling into bed with me when I'm asleep. Next it'll be getting into the liquor cabinet and helping itself to the silver.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Catblogging

A rather slow-motion waltz from the cast of the Batman movie. The woman in the purple catsuit is Lee Meriwether, unfortunately neither Julie Newmar nor Eartha Kitt.

I gather the black cat is some sort of McGuffin, although why Catwoman would throw it at Batman is something of a mystery to me. Perhaps it is a weaponized cat, and rather than just dump it over the side like he's doing to everyone else, Bats puts it in a rubber dinghy and sets it adrift with no food or water because he's humane like that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Via Pharyngula.

Oh Shit

US Census Worker Found Hanged in Kentucky:

When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drew on years of experience for a warning: "Be careful."

The 51-year-old Sparkman was found this month hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

Oh shit.

Hat tip to skippy the bush kangaroo.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Redefining The Action Figure


The Inaction Figure!

(Picture yoinked from Shakesville.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Final Confrontation

A Day Without Cats, Chapter 6


A Word From Dennis Crane

A Day Without Cats, Chapter 5

William Shatner
see more Lol Celebs

A Three-Hour Tour

A Day Without Cats, Chapter 4

leonard nimoy and william shatner
see more Lol Celebs

A Message From The UFPSPCA

A Day Without Cats, Chapter 3

William Shatner
see more Lol Celebs

To Hug The Mountain

A Day Without Cats, Chapter 2

A Day Without Cats?

Someone has declared today, 9/9/2009, to be a day without cats on the Internet.

Fine. I'm cool with that.

But you risk getting glutted on that other Internet ominpresence...

william shatner
see more Lol Celebs

Bill Shatner!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh, Grand

PeTA continues to grab attention for its issues by exploiting women.

I have no idea who Nia Long is, I'll be frank, but I'm glad to see PeTA is continuing to value animals over women so much.

I grabbed this photo over at Photoshop Disasters, who put it up because of the awful 'shop job done on putting in the subway, but also because PeTA is aggravating.

I'm more concerned that they chose a photo of Ms. Long that was not entirely artfully arranged. They have a couple spots to cover up, and by coincidence the two are almost vertically aligned, so the art department decides to put in a pole to preserve modesty.

"It's a subway, right? There are poles in the subway cars to hang on to, right? So who'll notice this?" I imagine they said.

Except it's right in front of the doors, and the way they've put it in makes her look like a pole dancer.

While they were busy airbrushing out all her moles and her belly, couldn't they just have covered over her naughty bits?

Nope, it's easier to try and evoke sexy times than put in a bit more work.

And who wears fur? Are straight men and gay women really the largest consumers of fur? Are there no straight women who buy fur? How is this ad supposed to appeal to them? Where are the naked Bruce Willises and Matt Damons demonstrating their abhorrence for the fur industry?

Now That's A Senator

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) draws a rough map of the United States.

Wow. I so want to hear what he's saying as he draws this map.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Onh-Honh, Onh-Honh

Wow, what a sparse month I'm having. Just got the blogging blehs. That might come out to blegging, but I know lots of people who use that term to reference the act of drumming up donations. I suppose you could spell it blehgging, but the potential for confusion is still pretty high.

Anyway, a bit of anthologized nostalgia for your amusement.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jesus Christ!

Bill Maher interviews Jeff Sharlet about his new book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and it turns out that the Family teaches our congresscritters that if they have amassed power, it's because God wants them there. Forget feeding the poor, afflicting the comfortable, all that rot: Hitler rose and fell at God's whim, and Pinochet, and you, and while you're up, you don't have to worry about all that morality and ethics shit; that's for the little people. That's for the Jews and the Chilean street. So go ahead, hike the hell out of that Appalachian trail; you're just like King David, indispensable.

Oh, and they also briefly mention a tank lieutenant who painted his tank up with "Jesus killed Mohammed" in Arabic and drove down a street in the Middle East somewhere, and then had the gall to claim fear of violence in retaliation. I can think of nothing else more likely to evoke a violent response out of the Muslims we are currently occupying. Bet he wouldn't have the balls to do that with Jesus, Joseph Smith, and Salt Lake City.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Steampunk Mask

Look at this picture ... then right-click this link and select "Open in new tab" for the best effect. (Speakers on!)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Absolutely Awesome

John Williams never sounded so good.

Via comments on Making Light.

Next, They'll Label Ahmedinijad (D-Nigeria)

Stupidity, or malice?

When they label the latest Republican with his hand in someone else's bloomers a (D), it's malice.

When they label Iraq "Egypt," however, I'm more inclined to accept abject stupidity as an explanation.

Which is worse? Discuss.

Totally stolen from Sadly, No! which in turn totally stole it from Media Matters.

Thursday, July 23, 2009



Monday, July 20, 2009

Russia Is Awesome

They raise bears by hand there.

They domesticate fishing cats there. Or perhaps we ought to say that Russian fishing cats suffer themselves to be offered catfish in bathtubs and live chickens.

They were taking color photographs a hundred years ago.

And some enterprising Russian blogger got really blitzed on vodka one night and took a raw sausage and stuck uncooked spaghetti through it and created hairy sausages ... which have become a minor deity of the Russian intertubes.

All of this I discovered because Teresa Nielsen-Hayden wondered if this was an authentic Roman fort on an island in a Siberian lake.


There are those who think that there's a knife in the backs of every one of our Vietnam veterans. (I have personally heard a proponent of this idea gas off about a Vietnamese general, as late as the '90s, claiming that the Communist Party in Vietnam were paying American war protesters to protest. I tried to convince said gasser that this was a Vietnamese general, and not to be implicitly trusted, but the story supported his world view, and was thus unassailable.)

It stuns me to learn that there are those who think this knife has Walter Cronkite's fingerprints on it.

h/t The Editors.

EDIT: I suppose the Walter Cronkite of my generation, when we could be arsed to watch the evening news, would have to be Dan Rather, who wasn't allowed to retire gracefully like Cronkite, but was pushed out by a bunch of Skins incensed because he looked like a Shirt.

Friday, July 17, 2009

From The Archives

The Onion's Archives, that is.

But why should we trust the propaganda arm of the astrocosmonautical fifth column? We all know the moon landing was faked! Everything in that photo is casting a shadow! That just doesn't happen on the moon!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brian Kilmeade: Lying Nazi Whore LANGUAGE WARNING

Kilmeade: Leave it to the Finns and Swedes to come up with something. Because that's a -- we are, we're a, we keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other --


Kilmeade: I mean the Swedes -- the Swedes have, uh, pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes. Because that's the rule. Finland -- Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society. In America, we marry everybody. So we marry Italians and Irish and --

Dave Briggs: OK, so this study does not apply.

Kilmeade: It does not apply to us.

Emphases mine.

This emphasis also mine:


So Sweden does a study of the benefits of marriage, and Brian Kilmeade goes on Fox & Friends yesterday morning and claims that Scandinavians have kept their genes pure by marrying each other, and not any of the other icky Europeans to be found slightly south and east of them.

But we, this great melting pot that calls itself the United States, we marry Italians and Irish and "--" (whoever they are) so this Swedish study of the benefits of marriage don't apply to us. Not to mention marrying people from Africa or Asia or the New World. Or even (heavens!) Jews.

Brian Kilmeade spent a lot of time getting that stupid little stache to sprout just under his nose, but he had to shave it off to go on Fox & Friends. I bet his idol Dolf was just devastated....

Via Crooks & Liars. Go there for video.

Title shamelessly lifted from Bartcop.

Alfred Hitchcocks' "The Cats"

Put the hors d'oeuvre down and back away ... slowly ....

Friday, July 3, 2009

We Won't Have Sarah to Kick Around Anymore

Sarah Palin decides that governors in their second first (sorry!) terms who decide not to run for office again generally take the King Lear route, dividing their territories among their lieutenants and kicking back in the governor's mansion. And she decides that she's not going to do that. Rather oddly, she also says that lame-duck governors conduct overseas trade negotiations (??).

This is ... odd. Anyone care to bet how long the other shoe will take to drop?

Via practically everywhere, but I first saw it on Shakesville.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Didn't Start the Flame War

Major language warning.

Hat tip to Cannonfire.

For your reference: We Didn't Start the Fire, Billy Joel.

RIP: Ed McMahon

Paradise Clearinghouse: You may have already won!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Farah Fawcett

The next celebrity mortality on this grim trip through the mortuary which it seems is the whole of my blog lately is Farah Fawcett, who actually died close to a week ago of cancer.

It is human nature to ignore problems until they become personal; who in this world pays any attention to cancer until someone they know and care about is told their body is killing itself? Farah funneled a lot of attention and money into cancer research in her last years; call it enlightened self-interest, perhaps, but her refusal to go quiet into that good night has helped find a cure.

I also wanted to post a picture of her that wasn't that dumb swimsuit pose, which started to look painful to me after the fiftieth blog post. So here she is looking a lot more candid. Fifteen seconds on teh Google, it took me: bloggers, take note.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy Mays Dead At 50: Discovery Channel Devastated

Billy Mays, star of the best infomercials you always turned off, has been found dead in his Florida home, apparently after a rough jetliner landing that resulted in a bump to his head.

Authorities are careful to keep the noggin impact and the fact that Mays was found dead in bed separate.

Mays has most recently starred in the barrel-scraping reality TV show Pitchmen, on the Discovery Channel, in which he and partner Andrew Sullivan try to find new products to shill.

Discovery's going to have to find something to fill the first hour timeslot of the two-hour gap between the new episode of Mythbusters and the midnight rerun of the new episode of Mythbusters.

I do feel genuinely sorry for Mays' son, who's only 22.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP, Michael Jackson

MSNBC is reporting that Michael Jackson has died of undisclosed causes in Los Angeles.

He had a stellar career in the 80s, followed by a crash and burn so hard he was only now coming out of it. He was apparently rehearsing a comeback performance in London later this year.

Whatever he was searching for, whatever demons were riding him, I hope he has now found peace, at least.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It Cutened The World

It... it got Dr. Myers. He didn't even slow it down.

Maybe it won't see us here. Maybe it'll pass right by.

Oh god ... what are we going to do?

Wait, wait! Do you hear something?

Oh no it's here!


Friday, May 29, 2009

Shorter Elizabeth Wurtzel

Beauty Fades, Loneliness Is Forever
Prozac Nation's Elizabeth Wurtzel confronts her fear of aging and losing her good looks

I was a prom queen, but now I'm over 40 and I'm a horrible ugly hag and my One True Chance At Happiness threw a half-full bottle of liquor at my head and told me I'd never really be happy without him so it's like some kind of evil fairy godmother has cursed me to be unhappy because I feel guilty about cheating on him.

(Seriously, though, if society tells you the only reason you could possibly be worth anything is if you can win beauty contests, and you proceed to do so, then it must be awful to believe that once you find that one wrinkle or that sole grey hair the only option is a crash-and-burn. See this article at Pandagon for a fairly sympathetic reaction to this column.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It Could Have Been Worse, I Suppose

Star Wars isn't the most cerebral or deep of movies. It relies far too much on hand-waving and armed conflict to move the plot along, it's got a Doomed Home Moisture Farm, not to mention a Doomed Pacifist Planet, and the editing is perhaps a smidge too ADHD; I think it held the record for the number of edits for a movie when it came out.

But at least Lucas didn't go with the early script where Leia gets lippy and "Annikin Starkiller" "has" to punch her out.

Thank goodness for small blessings, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shorter Sam Schulman

The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage
It isn't going to work.
by Sam Schulman
06/01/2009, Volume 014, Issue 35 [The Weekly Standard]

Nowadays gays get to marry for love. This is entirely unfair to the thousands of years of men and women who had to get married and produce heirs not for love, but for money or land or politics, regardless of their thoughts on the whole procedure. Incidentally, I'm not homophobic, I just don't like to have Them around me*.

*Something that was actually said in my actual earshot several years ago, regarding racism and black people. Oy vey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

OMG Re-Dead Of Cute!!

The important thing to remember here, peeps, I say the important thing to remember, is...

Can he teach you the ways of the Jedi?!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It Has Become A Law

No film may be produced in Hollywood in the 21st Century that is not targeted entirely to the 18-to-45 male moviegoer. Don't even try to get your movie produced unless it has at least one big explosion and an extended melee choreography.

So let it be written.


So Kim Graham seems to be a costumier who's determined to let people play a giant Mr. Tumnus or perhaps the Minotaur.

I would worry about back and leg pain after prolonged use, but otherwise it looks simply awesome.

Via Steve Jackson Games.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ten-Year Anniversary

Ten years ago, to this very day, starting around 8:30 or so tonight, George Lucas ruined my childhood.

We all got tickets, me and my friends at Centre, and we all went out en masse to watch it. I remember the theater was just packed. There was a pillar in the seats and that was the only place left when we got inside, so I got stuck (or did I volunteer?) craning around the thing to watch the movie.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kreative Blogger Meme

Onoez! Tagged by a meme by my mother! Mama, how could you!? Now I have to update my blog! :P

So I guess I stick this thing here:

And now I list seven things I like, in no particular order and by no means exhaustive:

1. Star Trek: As Lance Mannion says, Star Trek is a story about a shipful of nerds who go out and explore the galaxy.

2. Rain in the predawn light when I can snuggle in bed and just listen.

3. Music. I am constantly listening to something on the radio or on the computer.

4. Cats. When they're being loving and companionable, less so when they've just sent their dinner back to the kitchen ... three hours too late.

5. Horses. Wonderful, wind-swift horses in all their grace and strength and irritating stupidity. My high school band once commissioned a piece of music inspired by all the horse farms in the Bluegrass. That wasn't so great.

6. Pizza. There are a couple of Mellow Mushroom franchises in Knoxville, and there you can get all kinds of gourmet pizza. It doesn't have to be Papa John's cheese and two toppings deep-fat-fried gunk.

7. The Intarwebs. All kinds of information, and any number of pinatas at my disposal, there for me to find if I'll only look.

I'm supposed to tag seven other blogs, but I'm a small fish in a big ocean. I doubt the big fish like Pharyngula, Pandagon, Slacktivist and Shakesville would even notice me were I to stroll up and nibble (all links can be found in this elegant and finely-crafted sidebar -->).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dell: Stop Digging Now

Dell Computers have launched Della, a website geared towards women.

It tells you how to accessorize with your laptop, reminds you that your laptop can do a lot more than check e-mail, and hosts videos addressing a wide range of topics, from searching online databases for new recipes to a how-to video concerning searching for the best deals in vintage clothing stores.

That hole's six feet deep, Dell. I'd advise you to stop digging.

h/t Correntewire.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Doot Dee Doo, Checking The Web

Oh, Burger King has a tie-in deal with the new Star Trek movie. Ho-hum, I stopped really paying attention to them when they had Apu (a Hindu!!) pushing their burgers around the time the Simpsons movie came out. Whole lot of fail there.

Oh, all right. Curiosity mildly inconvenienced the cat. Let's see how they're getting it wrong this time.

(click to embiggen)





Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whoops, Forgot the Title 2: The Entitlement

At a town hall meeting in Missouri:

Obama then noted that the real fiscal problem facing the United States is the skyrocketing costs of Medicare and Medicaid, not the Recovery Act or bank bailouts, which he said are "one-time charges." "If we aren't careful, health care will consume so much of our budget that ultimately we won't be able to do anything else," he warned.

Oh, don't worry, Mr. President. I'm sure we can find enough money in the education budget to cover all of our other expenses for the time being.

As far as "not being able to do anything else," poppycock. Defense spending can only increase, you know. Haven't you learned anything from your time on Capitol Hill?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

*Excited Gasp*

Via Nodwick:

Dr Who: Gillian Anderson Is The Rani?

*deep breath*


*Runs around, lifts arms in air, trips over cat, knocks china cabinet down, lies amidst shards with one hand lifted in a triumphant thumbs-up*

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Bit of Fry and Laurie

I have been reminded of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie by Patrick Nielsen-Hayden over at Making Light.

So here's some Friday Fun:

The Daily Mail is, of course, Britain's hateful-old-man newspaper. "Immigrants get offa my grass!" is a good way to summarize it.

EDIT: Oh what the heck, here's one more, a honky tonk piece out of a Jeeves & Wooster episode:

Jeeves appears to be what in the vernacular the man on the street might call "turned on" by the process of observing rather comely young ladies traveling at high speeds and attempting what for all intents and purposes might best be considered bloody murder upon each other and which is more commonly considered sport by the refined and educated.

Friday, April 17, 2009


The National Organization of Marriage will now protest with deep flustration:

This goes out to ma homey Lia.

We Both Know It Was A Girl, Back In Bethlehem

I must shake my finger at PZ Myers. He says,

As I'm sure many of you are aware, one of the more superficially off-putting elements of the Catholic church is to walk into one of their buildings and see it decorated with images of writhing, tortured men in loin cloths — it's like stepping into a S&M fantasy, and I'm really not into that (not that there's anything wrong with it, of course, if that's your thing…).

He then says he sees nothing wrong with this, and in fact would encourage the Church to use it:

He got that from here, which provides this description:

Raquel Welch, called by Playboy Magazine the "Most Desired Woman" of the '70s, is captured being crucified while wearing nothing but a loin-cloth on the set of the 1970 film, "Myra Breckenridge." The photo was devised for the poster of "One Million Years BC" and reflected [artist Terry] O'Neill's view that the Sixties were a decade that "crucified" the ideal of womanhood because it valued women only for their sexuality.

Let us not dwell upon the recursive nature that is showing us Raquel Welch in a hide bikini in order to get us to recognize the injustice of looking at Raquel Welch in a hide bikini.

I'm not sure how the "It" girl of the Seventies is supposed to show us anything about the Sixties, but seeing as virgin/whore has been the archetype and largely the sole judgment axis of Woman throughout much of the known world for much of recorded history I don't think the Sixties bear more approbation than average.

And really, PZ, if you can't take men being tortured to death, it's not kosher to accept women being tortured to death, even in hide bikinis.

And What, Prithee Tell, Was Wrong With Dad's Star Trek?

The tag for this trailer is "This is not your father's Star Trek." It seems to involve a set piece in which Kirk, Sulu, and someone else sky dive onto a platform in order to engage in a heavily-choreographed fight scene. They'd better have an explanation for why they can't beam down, especially since in this next clip Spock can't figure out how Kirk and Scott beamed up while the Enterprise was travelling at warp speed:

So Spock, holding the idiot ball, demands to be told something he should be able to figure out, and Kirk refuses, apparently because he merely wants to get Spock's goat. Judging from the glimpses of a fight between Spock and Kirk in all the trailers, I think Kirk spends a lot of the movie trying to get Spock to show emotion: which is a damn fine way to relate to another species, there, farm boy.

And that's Kirk and McCoy. McCoy's fear of the transporter seems to have been expanded to fear of space travel in general. Or perhaps he's merely bitching, but since he went and hid in the toilet before this clip starts I'm going to say it's not all just complaining for complaint's sake.

Not to mention the shaky cam and all the bright lights washing out the image in the second clip. Great Cthulhu I wish they'd stop using shaky cam to enhance tension all the time. Why can't they trust their actors?

So far I'm seeing a generic action movie wrapped up in the Star Trek branding. There are things that make Kirk, Kirk and Spock, Spock that are more than being played by Shatner and Nimoy and these glimpses aren't showing them. I oughtn't pass judgment unless I see the whole thing -- which is out in a week -- but the prognosis is not looking good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Meet Again, My Old Nemesis

But this time, the advantage is mine! ... just as soon as the room stops spinning....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Pretty fly ... for a smart guy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


More Easter British Goodness:

Does that count as White & Nerdy?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Oh no, my green-eyed sister," quoth she, "do not think I wish to steal your beau away from you; for then it shall surely be the river, and the miller, and the passing minstrel for me. I wist not to become some motley busker's harp, poetic justice notwithstanding, thank you!"

This Book Is Not Helping


Via Pharyngula, I have run across one of the most horrible books in existence: The Professor and the Dominatrix. The author is a self-professed atheist, and his magnum opus here handily illustrates the fact that atheist does not automatically equal decent human being.

That link above goes to an extensive review of this horrible book. You can read the whole thing, if you're really sure, but to sum up, I'll list a few of the really awful aspects of this book:

1. The Dominatrix of the title isn't a very good one; she meets the Professor and immediately starts talking babies and marriage. They're married after they've known each other a) for a week, and b) twice (hem, hem). The Professor, on the other hand, is no more than a giant Mary Sue and Author Avatar.

2. The Mayor of this little college town is the only black man in the book, and while everyone else talks exactly like a college professor might, Mayor Stereotype speaks like Steppin Fetchit and curses about every other word.

3. Every woman in this book is either a frumpy, ugly old crone who continuously commits the mortal sin of not turning on the Professor, or a ditzy young thing who is simultaneously pure as the driven snow and built like a pr0n star.

4. The murder victims in the scant plot are both gay men; you'd think then the plot would be sympathetic to people of a non-normative sexual orientation; you'd be wrong. The gay slurs are up there with the women and Mayor Remus. Oh, and the text refers to a trans person as "he-she" and "it."

5. The sex scenes. Good lord, the sex scenes. There are only two, which apparently qualify this book as "dripping with sex," in the author's words (oh -- forgot all the sexual evaluations going on in connection with 3. above), and they suck. There are references to "whangs" and the text constantly refers to the Professor's "whang" as "Captain Marvel." Captain Marvel. I'll never be able to look DC in the eye again.

6. And finally, there's the arguments against religious people. This book is full of straw men and women who exist only for the author's abuse. There are author filibusters -- whole chapters of incoherent ranting with no plot or tension, just the author barfing all his pent-up frustrations onto the page. The philosophical climax of the book occurs at a televised debate between the Professor and the Dominatrix and a man-woman team of evangelicals, and it ends when the Prof (an accomplished boxer) goads the other man into attacking him so that the Prof can lay him out flat in as violent a manner as possible. Meanwhile, the Dom rips the other woman's clothes off. And then everybody points and laughs. Oh, and there's a man dressed as Jesus in the audience getting a hand job. Ew.

So, to sum up, this book's author may be a professed atheist, but his book reads like it was written by a right-wing hater, with all the unreconstructed opinions about the value of women and the jabs at gay people.

Being an atheist is a moral-neutral stance; it doesn't automatically make you good or bad. It's your own actions determine that, and this book is dripping with Bad. In the philosophical debate between atheists and theists, this book is absolutely a harm to its professed side, and not any help at all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fool's Was Awesome This Year

ThinkGeek's Tauntaun sleeping bag.

I'm not sure whether to be excited or horrified that there was enough of a public outcry on the ThinkGeek site to convince them to at least try to get the rights to actually produce this from LucasFilm.

My favorite part? The lightsaber zipper-pull.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

The rap music blares from the Toyota that the Latinos are working on at the side of the quiet suburban street: Ah, America.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shorter Jeff Emanuel at Red State

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: House GOP Accepts Obama’s Empty Offer to Debate Budget Proposal

Lament, my brothers, for the days have gone down in the west and the courage of man has failed and we can no longer brutally club our political opponents over the head on the floor of the senate, nor can we show our courage on the field of honor by shooting those with whom we disagree; but if only we could, I'd show this Negro President a thing or two!

Seriously, this guy thinks it is a mark of our decadent times that we can regularly have nonviolent disagreements. Oy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Night Max Wore His Wolf Suit ...

That looks like it might actually be a really good movie.

I'll have to wait and see how much CGI it involves. I believe they've animated some of the faces with computers, but the Wild Things themselves actually look like people in costumes -- which is a nice parallel with Max himself.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Words I Wish I Had Written

Kung Fu Monkey:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Via Lance Mannion.

The Amazing Self-Actualizing Woman

There are lots of stories about heroic knights rescuing princesses. In fact, some of our favorite epics follow that same trope: Star Wars, Zelda, The Princess Bride.... But sometimes you've got to mix it up a little. You don't feel like sitting around playing the damsel in distress, patiently waiting for some Y chromosome to come to your aid. In fact, you might have to rescue some poor, wayward princes on your quest, which is okay. As long as they don't get in the way.

I think it would have been awesome if Luke and Han and Chewie had bumped into Leia on the Death Star in the process of seeing herself out. But maybe that's just me. As it is, she starts bossing them around after they spring her and I think we're supposed to be exasperated at that, jeez-can-you-believe-this-woman eyerolling sort of thing, but Luke really did have no exit plan and Han tends to do without plans, so someone needed to take charge.

It's an interesting aspect of her character that is sadly not explored in any of the films.

But then, I grew up reading The Paper Bag Princess, which did a lot of good work counteracting the usual dynamic, which I also experienced in Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Star Trek.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852), daughter of Gordon, Lord Byron, was the world's first computer programmer.

When Charles Babbage put together his Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelace was there to program the punch cards that ran it. These punch cards were an idea borrowed from the Jacquard Loom, and would continue to be used well into the 20th century. Ada Lovelace was among the first to see computers as more than glorified adding machines.

So now, on March 24th, the blogosphere is honoring Ada Lovelace by honoring the women who are her legacy. There's a pledge involved, but really all one has to do is put up a woman who creates or uses technology in meangingful ways.

I choose to honor Karen Ellis, whose semi-autobiographical webcomic Planet Karen records her trials and tribulations in modern London, from scraping up enough to pay the rent to battling depression, and most lately watching her flat burn down with all her worldly possessions inside.

Far be it from me to apply such cliches as "gripping" and "compelling." I raise my glass to Karen Ellis, for having the courage and tenacity to keep a graphic journal of her struggles, her defeats, and her triumphs. May she live long and prosper.

Well, There You Go

Seen at the Orlando Tea Party, March 21, 2009.

So, that's what, 21 days in March, 28 days in February, and 11 days in January, makes 60 days. 60 days to calls of impeachment, and all because they believe that all those banks that failed last summer and fall are Obama's fault.

The truth is, Obama has basically adopted the Bush administration's bailout strategy. I guess it's only okay when it's their guy giving all the money handouts. When our guy does it, he gets compared negatively to Robin Hood, Che, Castro, Mao, etc.

Oh, plus let's not pass this opportunity to link Obama to bin Laden and suggest that the President is going to let the terrorists "win."

Via Correntewire and Media Matters.

Monday, March 23, 2009

None of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Levar Burton.

Brent Spiner.

Wil Wheaton.

"Weird Al" Yankovic.

What do they all have in common?


Aaah! Run! It's a nerdsplosion!!

EDIT: Oh, and this:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Easter Sunday 2009 A Very Special One for Britons

David Jason (Hogfather).

Sean Astin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings).

Tim Curry (Annie, Legend).

Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Dungeons & Dragons).

Christopher Lee (Let's Kill Dracula Again).

Terry Pratchett (legendary).

The Colour of Magic, this Sunday at 7. [SOUND WARNING, but you should definitely check it out for a treat, some trailers, and other promotional material.]

I'll try to tape it, but it'll probably run four hours or more, like Hogfather.

Tip of the rather bedraggled pointy hat to Space Cowboy at Shakesville.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Archival Star Trek Footage

Just poking around on YouTube, I found this compilation of scenes from the second Star Trek pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which I find -- if you'll pardon the expression -- quite fascinating.

I apologize for the poor picture quality -- I'm not sure what's going on.

The only really new-to-me scene is the first one, where Kirk makes this log entry:

Enterprise log, Captain James Kirk commanding. We are leaving that vast cloud of stars and planets we call our galaxy. Behind us, Earth, Mars, Venus, even our sun are specks of dust. Question: What is out there in the black void? Until now our mission has been that space law regulation, contact Earth colonies and investigation of alien life but now, a new task, a probe out into where no man has gone before.

Other than that, the only differences are the Act announcements at the start of each scene, and the radically different theme music.

You can also see fairly easily the zippers that run up Kirk and Spock's left shoulders to the collars. Apparently all the shirts zipped up like this, but Nimoy's in particular had to be larger so they could protect his makeup: I think they could only afford so many rubber ears per season.

See if you can spot George Takei in the scene under the opening credits. Hint: he's wearing a different shirt than usual, since he's credited as "Chief Physicist" in the closing credits. Second hint: If you hit the elevator scene, you've gone too far.

Speaking of the credits, I note that the only character who's named in them is Spock. Of the rest, only George Takei (Chief Physicist) and James Doohan (Engineering Chief) are names I recognize.

Also, it's dated MCMLXV -- 1965. I think these scenes must be from whatever version they screened to NBC after the network requested a second pilot.

EDIT: For comparison, you can watch the broadcast version here. There are advertisements, unfortunately, and often they cut in on the middle of one of Shatner's gripping deliveries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Internets Grassroots Actions

Via Sadly, No! I see that MoveOn.org is circulating a petition regarding the AIG bonuses totalling several hundred million dollars for executives who ran the country into the ground.

My clueless morning-commute radio hosts (SOUND WARNING) were pontificating yesterday that these bonuses were necessary to retain all those brilliant young go-getters who made AIG such a success. Their reasoning was that the bonuses were a non-negotiable part of their contracts, and if the bonuses are not paid the BYGGs will consider the contract breached and leave to find employment somewhere else. I started yelling "But they MBA'd the company right through the floor!" at my unhearing radio.

AIG executives are appearing before a House hearing on Wednesday. Linky to the Petition and sign it if you've a mind to. Maybe we'll get something done.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who Needs Twitter?

The timorous deer in the back yard are not at all concerned with the bold cat who watches them and licks her chops.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Shakespeare Connection

My folks have recently watched a 1980 BBC production of Hamlet starring, among others, Derek Jacobi as Hamlet, looking rather like Commander Riker,

Lalla Ward as Ophelia,

Whoops, sorry,

and Patrick Stewart (TV's General Sejanus) as Claudius (left):

I am sorry to have missed such a glorious sight as that wig on Patrick Stewart. He had a rather better one as Sejanus:

In the course of my perambulations about the Web today, I learn that thirty years later, Patrick Stewart is still playing Claudius, only this time Hamlet is being performed by David Tennant, late of Doctor Who:

Now, all of these actors, with the exception of Patrick Stewart, had larger or smaller roles in Doctor Who, Derek Jacobi only lately as the Master, and Stewart played some kind of role in some little-known knockoff of Star Trek or something, I'm not sure what. But anyway, not everyone who has trod the boards playing Shakespeare has had roles in scifi, but a lot of British scifi actors have trod the boards playing Shakespeare at some point. There's a paper in there, somewhere, but it probably shows that such actors are either actually good at what they do, or they have large egos. Beyond my pay grade, anyway.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dear Clients: I'm A Prole

I don't really care that you come from a "really distinguished family" on either or both of your parents' sides. Is that supposed to grease your way through our offices? 'Cause like I said, I don't really care (see above).

I pride myself on giving really good service to everyone who comes to the office or calls me on the telephone. Just randomly mentioning, while I'm asking for your name, that your folks were such-and-such whom I probably have never heard of is not going to get me to break out the good china, metaphorically speaking: everyone gets the good china.

All that's going to happen when you mention who your folks were is I'm going to get my proletariat hackles up. You won't notice when you're talking to me, but I'm definitely going to come here and complain about you on my blog.

And then you'll be sorry, because I control this part of the internet. If knowledger is power, then when I'm plugged into my blog I am slightly more powerful than I am at other times. TREMBLE BEFORE MY MINISCULE RISE IN POWER, CRETINS! MuAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAA!

Friday, March 6, 2009

It Is A Beautiful World


This is just a wonderful headline.

The guy who discovered it was part of a cleaning crew trying to maintain some green space near Beaulieu, Hants (Hampshire).

“I’d just shifted a tree branch with my foot when I noticed something dark and round slowly coming up to the surface. I got the shock of my life when a Dalek head bobbed up in front of me."

I bet what he thought in the moment was Quick wheres a ---ing sofa mate!

Near as anyone can reckon, the Dalek was dumped in the pond during location filming in the 70s, during Pertwee's reign, or the 80s, during Colin Baker's stint. Odds are it's a Pertwee relic, seeing as there were three Pertwee "the Daleks" episodes (Day of, Planet of, and Death to) and one Colin Baker episode (Remembrance of the Daleks).

Infuriating Stupidity and Myopism (UPDATED)

Brazil Girl, Alleged Rape Victim, Aborts Twins
The procedure on the 9-year-old girl draws complaints from Catholic Church

This is a shame. The little girl at the center of this storm must feel awful.

I have a minor quibble with the main headline -- a 9-year-old cannot give consent, so of course she was raped, the only allegations are over who did it -- but the subhead really pushes my buttons. The statements from the Church demonstrate an affliction of rigid thinking coupled with massive ignorance. This unbending attitude and ignorance is borne out in the text of the article:

But Marcio Miranda, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in northeastern Brazil, said the girl should have carried the twins to term and had a cesarean section.

"It's the law of God: Do not kill. We consider this murder," Miranda said in comments reported by O Globo.

Mr. Miranda obviously believes that if a girl is capable of conceiving, she is capable of carrying to term and surviving delivery. This particular girl, this 9 year old, is too small to carry twins to term. Forcing her to attempt it is almost certain to damage her health or even kill her. This abortion is not murder; it's self-preservation.

I can only hope that the Church never finds out who this little girl is. They'd never leave her alone again.

Via Pharyngula. I've also seen this on Shakesville, but I saw it at PZ's site first.

UPDATE: It turns out that everyone who supported the abortion, i.e., the doctors and the child's mother, have been excommunicated by the Church. The child herself was exempted "because of her age." The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife has stated that "God's law is above man's law."

Well, God's law is apparently as blind as ever justice could be, because it still does not see any difference between this particular pregnancy and an adult's.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Woman On Robot

David Gibbs III, a lawyer who in 2005 fought to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo on life support, told rally participants gay marriage would "open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina. "Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?" Gibbs asked. "Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots."


Colorado Man Getting Table Salt Blessed By Priest

A Colorado entrepreneur has decided that he doesn't like the concept of kosher salt. He sees chefs on the Tee Vee recommend it all the time, and decided to jump on an opportunity to sell Christian salt. He gets sea salt blessed by an Episcopal priest and sells it on the Web.

"I said, 'What the heck's the matter with Christian salt?'" Godlewski said, sipping a beer in the living room of his home in unincorporated Cresaptown, a western Maryland mountain community.

By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available at http://www.memphi.net, the Web site of Memphis, Tenn.-based seasonings manufacturer Ingredients Corporation of America.

I wasn't aware that my carton of Morton's exalted Jesus in any way, shape or form. That must be where that little altar built out of cinnamon sticks, flour paste, and paprika in my cupboard came from. Thank goodness it wasn't the roaches after all.

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kosher administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, said marketing Christian salt as an alternative to kosher salt reflects, at best, ignorance about Jewish dietary laws. He said all salt is inherently kosher because it occurs naturally and requires little or no processing...He said coarse-grained kosher salt is named for the way in which it was traditionally used - to draw blood from freshly butchered meat, because Jewish law prohibits consuming blood. Chefs often favor kosher salt because it's crunchy and easy to pinch.

This guy's name is Fishbane? Okay, whatever. I guess he doesn't swim in the ocean much :)

I was interested to learn that kosher butchers traditionally used salt. Probably they also hung their meat up to drain, as well.

Godlewski said his salt, packaged in containers bearing bright red crosses, has at least as much flavor and beneficial minerals as kosher salt - and it's for a good cause.

"The fact is, it helps Christians and Christian charities," he said. "This is about keeping Christianity in front of the public so that it doesn't die. I want to keep Christianity on the table, in the household, however I can do it."

Sodium chloride is sodium chloride, and nothing is added or subtracted from it when people invoke magic spells over it to make it more acceptable to god.

Mr. Godlewski says this isn't about Judaism, but in fact it is. He sees kosher salt as unacceptable because he thinks it's been blessed by rabbis. He also thinks that kosher salt is helping to drive Christianity out of the public view. That indicates an antagonistic and competitive viewpoint on Mr. Godlewski's part.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Comic Book Nerds: The Last Acceptable Prejudice

Anthony Lane has seen the Watchmen movie and has nothing but sneers for it in The New Yorker (massive spoilers).

He starts by working in towards Alan Moore, mentioning that two of his other projects have been made into movies, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V for Vendetta, of which Lane has this to say:

Both of these have been turned into motion pictures; the first was merely an egregious waste of money, time, and talent, whereas the second was not quite as enjoyable as tripping over barbed wire and falling nose first into a nettle patch.

I'm sorry Lane finds the concept of the 19th-century adventure heroes teaming up so dull, and the struggles of a near-future Guy Fawkes so painful.

It quickly becomes clear that Lane has not actually read Watchmen in its original form.

There is Dan (Patrick Wilson), better known as Nite Owl, who keeps his old superhero outfit, rubbery and sharp-eared, locked away in his basement, presumably for fear of being sued for plagiarism by Bruce Wayne.

Or, you know, being prosecuted for violating the 1977 law banning costumed vigilantism. This is a basic bit of world-building. Was Lane asleep, or was this bit not mentioned in the film?

And he has this to say about Dr. Manhattan:

Whether his fellow-Watchmen have true superpowers, as opposed to a pathological bent for fisticuffs, I never quite worked out, but this guy is the real deal.

Nope, they're all Batman-level street brawlers. Dr. Manhattan is H.G. Wells' "one impossible assumption" in this story.

He also doesn't care much for the choice of opening theme:

But must we have “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” in the background? How long did it take the producers to arrive at that imaginative choice? And was Dylan happy to lend his name to a project from which all tenderness has been excised, and which prefers to paint mankind as a bevy of brutes?

One might think that Bob Dylan knows quite well what sort of brutes mankind bevies of. And apparently Mr. Lane does not get that this is a story about loneliness and disconnection.

But it's by the end of the column that I think Lane is in danger of twisting his upper lip right off:

“Watchmen,” like “V for Vendetta,” harbors ambitions of political satire, and, to be fair, it should meet the needs of any leering nineteen-year-old

Yeah, go jump in a lake.

who believes that America is ruled by the military-industrial complex,

Yeah, I guess having the lion's share of the federal budget, one that gets expanded every year like clockwork, outspends all the other military budgets on this planet put together, still can't get the Osprey to work and yet never faces any sort of real criticism or budget cuts isn't really the master of this country. We're really ruled by the banksters and the people who make over $250,000 who are trying to dump their extra income to keep it out of the hands of Obama.

and whose deepest fear—deeper even than that of meeting a woman who requests intelligent conversation

A quality I've noted lacking in this column, actually. Perhaps I've overlooked it. Is it buried under all the smug and sneering disdain for nerds? I should give him credit -- he doesn't try to politely suggest that pimple cream would be a thoughtful gift to the average fan of Watchmen.

—is that the Warren Commission may have been right all along.

No, the Comedian didn't kill Kennedy. He was in Dallas, but he was keeping an eye on Nixon. Why was Nixon in Dallas? Alan Moore never makes that clear.

I think there is a large reason why movies made from comic books are not going to appeal to movie critics. They don't know the background that the movies have to accommodate in some portion to appease the fan base. I remember X-Men opened with a scene in a concentration camp, with people being burnt up in furnaces and everything, and some movie critic didn't understand that the Holocaust is an integral part of the background of the villain of that movie. Similarly, Mr. Lane does not seem to grasp how the heroes of Watchmen tie into the plot; for instance, he does not seem to understand how Nixon, in the movie, managed to finagle his way into a "third term," which, given the story is set in 1985, is more like his fifth.

Perhaps Mr. Lane believes his column is humorous. I think it betrays certain prejudices. He seems to think everyone who reads comic books is like the Comic Book Guy off the Simpsons: pedantic, small-minded, and obsessed.

Robo Terror Calls

I just got a robocall that would seem to include phrasing intended to drum up business by making people panic.

It said that this call was the last attempt to legally reduce the callee's credit card debt. That implies that if you wait any longer to reduce your credit card debt, you'd be doing it illegally, and there would be punishments if you were caught.

That seems calculated to make people panic and call the provided number, thus drumming up business for what is no doubt a company that buys your debt and merely transfers your indebtedness to them.

How is that not attempting to provoke certain behaviors through fear?


fnar har har har!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mad Enough To Spit

Everything they teach you in high school is wrong, it seems. Especially since, for the past eight years, we no longer enjoyed much of the Bill of Rights, and the government wasn't telling us they'd suspended it.

Oh sure, there was that mug with the Bill printed on it, of which the parts suspended by the PATRIOT Act would disappear when you poured in your preferred heated beverage. You can make all sorts of excuses about how Congress was stampeded into voting for that piece of work, but there was other paperwork Congress didn't even get a peek at until just a few days ago.

The Obama Administration has released a number of secret Bush Administration documents penned by the Bush DoJ that were effectively the law of the land until just before W left office. These were penned by, among others, John Yoo, but they were not Yoo Memos -- these were laws.

The government secretly suspended the Bill of Rights and didn't tell us about it.

Yes, this sounds like something you'd hear about from the 90s militia movement and tin-foil-hat models the country over. But it actually happened. Glenn Greenwald has the details:

Let's just look at one of those documents (.pdf) -- entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the U.S." It was sent to (and requested by) Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes and authored by Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and DOJ Special Counsel Robert Delahunty ... The essence of this document was to declare that George Bush had the authority (a) to deploy the U.S. military inside the U.S., (b) directed at foreign nationals and U.S. citizens alike; (c) unconstrained by any Constitutional limits, including those of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. It was nothing less than an explicit decree that, when it comes to Presidential power, the Bill of Rights was suspended, even on U.S. soil and as applied to U.S. citizens. And it wasn't only a decree that existed in theory; this secret proclamation that the Fourth Amendment was inapplicable to what the document calls "domestic military operations" was, among other things, the basis on which Bush ordered the NSA, an arm of the U.S. military, to turn inwards and begin spying -- in secret and with no oversight -- on the electronic communications (telephone calls and emails) of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

They basically reasoned that the President speaks, and it becomes law. They specifically weaseled around the Posse Comitatus Act by claiming that the PCA prohibited using the military for police work and claiming that anti-terrorist activities were inherently military in nature.

Good thing our boys and girls in olive drab were up to stopping all the domestic terrorists over the last few years, like all the anthrax mailings, the Beltway Sniper, and the Knoxville UU Church shooting. Warrantless wiretapping sure helped us stop those tragedies.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Six Words

Tesla coils.

Doctor Who.

Oh. Yeah.

Twenty more words: Sorry about the funky disco backbeat and the screaming crowds. This performance was filmed at the Chattanooga Science Fiction Convention.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I Write Emails

So you've probably all heard about these buses displaying the advertisement "There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life." I believe there are some here in the States, but the only website I was able to find on a cursory Google search was that of the British Humanist Society.

Anyway, on my morning commute today, the hosts of the radio station I've been listening to lately discussed an anecdote in which one of these buses broke down just outside the garage due to battery problems. They drew the conclusion that God had smote the bus in order to hush up the message, and they were largely approving of this interpretation.

So I wrote an email to them, the body of which I've reproduced here.

Dear Ashley and Brad,

I missed the first part of your discussion regarding the anecdote in which a bus carrying the advertisement "There's probably no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life" broke down due to battery trouble. The battery trouble was ascribed to divine intervention; I believe the phrase was "God 1, atheists 0."

I must politely disagree about the miraculous nature of this breakdown. Assuming for the moment that it actually occurred, there seemed to be nothing supernatural about it. The problem was quickly diagnosed, and the bus is presumably now back on its route. There is nothing about a battery problem that would induce anyone to remove advertisements from the side of the bus, and indeed no one stated that it had been removed.

Also, given that this was not the only bus to display this particular ad, but it was the only one to break down, this incidence is almost certainly ascribable to independent mechanical error. If God had wanted to stop that bus, He would have had to consider stopping it permanently, rather than delaying it by a few minutes or hours while a part is swapped out.

I do enjoy your morning show on my commute, but I found this assumption that God caused a minor and quickly repaired fault in one bus out of the whole fleet displaying the same message to be casting God as a petty and ineffectual deity. Which is more likely to offend his follows, the statement that he "probably" doesn't exist, or the statement that he's petty and largely impotent?

Thank you for your consideration of my email. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Tom Williams

On reflection, I probably shouldn't have included that rhetorical question about which is more offensive, but oh well. At least I didn't go all fatwah-envy on them.

Comments are welcome!