Friday, January 30, 2009

ANNOUNCEMENT: First sporadically periodic photo captioning contest!

I would call it "first annual." But there are a bunch of things wrong with that. The obvious is the picky gripe that the first in a series is not the "first annual." There actually has to be 2 of them to qualify. (I am still guilty on that charge.) Secondly, annual seems like a long ass time. And third: I find it really hard to tie myself down to a calendar based schedule. It just is not me. Maybe it should be the "first occasional." I don't know -- but its the first, anyway.

The prize: bragging rights that you are, in fact, the wiener.
The reason: I saw this at The Walmarts1 parking lot. The absolute flood of smartass captions to this photo was so huge that I thought my head might actually asplode. I had to sit right down, set my milk on the asphalt and breathe into the plastic bag to settle down my hyperventilation.
The rules: Rules? Why do we need rules. It's not like there's a real prize or anything. Enter as often as you like. Have your friends, relatives, pets, enemies and livestock enter. I don't care. It is a blank canvas. Please scrawl on it with spray paint like you're spraying graffiti. Pull up your damn pants. Besides, if there were rules, I would probably change them as the contest went along...

The photo

Ah, the Jesus Gas Cap. My god, it's beautiful. And Jesus must be so honored to be proudly displayed here... in a place of honor.

Let me get you started:
  • Jesus cries every time you use fossil fuels: Dinosaur juice doesn't exist and the world is 6000 years old. Drive a horse.
By the way: I am still waiting on the "Bathtub Jesus" photos that were promised to me so so long ago.

1If you live in the country, you absolutely must pronounce it this way. It must be preceded by 'the' and must be plural. Period.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Spork's Congressional Proposal

I have been biting my lip for a couple of days. You see, there is this idiot in congress.... (Hold on. I crack myself up. As if there was one idiot in congress...) Anyway, there's this idiot in congress that wants to make it illegal for your cell phone to take pictures without going 'click'.

I think everyone's first thought is "oh good. We've solved all the other problems in the world. Now we can finally fix those pesky unclicking cameras."

The proposal is supposedly going to stop exploiting children. Mmmkay. Sure. The obvious answer to me is to make child porn illegal instead of legislating the crappy pixilated camera market. Oh wait -- It seems child porn is already illegal. Weird.

This is a fine example of just how out of touch congress is with technology. In fact, it seems like they should generally keep their grubby paws out of techie issues entirely. It's like making encryption software illegal in the 90's. (And a big "You're welcome" goes out to all the encryption software companies outside of the US that suddenly owned 100% market share.) Or like making links to illegal copies of copyrighted documents illegal. (As if me telling you "there are drugs for sale on the east side of town" is equivalent to selling drugs.) Or it's similar to saying storage of child porn on a computer you manage is illegal -- when the "computer you manage" is a proxy server with 20 thousand users with their own twisted brains. (Don't arrest the guy requesting the porn -- take me instead.) Or maybe it's similar to fixing some of those previous problems with the DMCA but in the same bill making it illegal to research existing encryption technology. (You want to know what's wrong with your encryption? Sorry, it would be wrong for me to figure that out for you. I know a Hungarian hacker that would do it for you. Call him.)

...but I digress.

What congress needs is a technology advisor. I suggest they use a 14 year old boy. The reason being: the 14 year old boy has a whole lot more sense in these matters than you do. Let's imagine our Representative (Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.) bringing up these matters to our imaginary advisor. (Let's call him Myron. He needs a geeky name.)

Rep. King: So, Myron. I've got this great idea. It will keep you from taking dirty pictures of the girls in your class. I am going to make all cell phone cameras make a click noise when they take pictures. Gotcha, didn't I?
Myron: Couldn't I just cover up the little speaker with tape?
Rep. King: Doh! I didn't think of that. Okay, in addition to the click, we're going to require an internal speaker -- a really loud one with no external holes for you to cover up.
Myron: I guess I would have to open the case and snip the wire.
Rep. King: Rats. Okay, the cell phone manufacturers will have to have a self destruct that makes the phone inoperable if you open it.
Myron: I could use one of the 15 old cell phones we have in a drawer at home.
Rep. King: We will issue immediate recall and destruction of all cell phones that don't click.
Myron: I could use my friend Sven's phone. He's an exchange student and can get me phones from overseas really cheap.
Rep. King: International travel rules will require no external cell phones ever be brought into the country.
Myron: I could fake a sneeze.
Rep. King: My god child. You're a genius. There's no way around you is there?

You get my drift. So please write your congressmen and ask for the Spork proposal for all future technology legislation.

Williams says it, then it happens

It was only yesterday when Walter Williams explained how economic stimulus works. Or doesn't. I encourage you to read it.

This morning on the news, in an ironic 60 second bit on the stimulus package we were given a startling example. Irony is always funny. But when the folks saying the irony don't realize what they've said, it is all the more fun.

The bit starts with how all the infighting is going on with the stimulus package. It tells of the woes of the previous packages. It tells of how we've given an unspecified amount of money to Citibank and how they wanted to buy a $50M dollar business jet. Lots more talk. Treasury Department convinces Citi not to buy the jet. mumble...mumble... Bipartisan...blah blah... bastard Republicans... blah blah... unyielding Democrats... yadda yadda. And then someone (I already forget who) from the Democratic party whines about how we have to pass this package now because the lack of sales have caused layoffs at Starbucks, Microsoft, Boeing, IBM, ... wait... go back. What?

Don't let me suggest that Citibank's purchase of a Falcon (made by Dassault) directly impacts the employees on a 747 line at Boeing. But it absolutely illustrates the point. Normally the tradeoff is more vague... I.e., if the government spends an extra $100 million on a bailout, there is $100 million less spent on dry cleaning or booze. Wait, scratch that. There's probably a constant spent on booze.

But in this case the government has whined about spending on airplanes and the direct visible result is people buying less airplanes. Nice.

Oh, there are so many things wrong with this picture: The Gubment should not have a say here -- but they do -- because they've dumped an unspecified amount of cash into them. Nothing the gubment does should ever be unspecified (except maybe a few national security bits and bobbles.) And what damn business do they have putting cash (specified or otherwise) into a business? A failing business I might add. Why Citibank and not Mom & Pop's Dry cleaners? (And when I say "Mom & Pop's Dry Cleaners," I mean 500,000 different Mom & Pop's Dry Cleaners.) I'll tell you why: because if Mom and Pop run their dry cleaning business badly enough to need a bailout -- they probably should be doing something else. And if they were to sell their business right damn now instead of in 18 months when it really fails, they might actually get half of their money back.

It's a stimulus you paid out, dumbasses. So when the stupid bankers use that money to stimulate the aircraft industry (which is failing and you are going to have to stimulate) you stop them. See -- irony.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Guess who?

For some odd reason, I've always liked the woodpecker. They seem particularly happy. And of all of the woodpeckers, my favorite is the pileated -- the one Woody Woodpecker was fashioned from. Ever since we moved to the woods, we've had a pair. They are very shy. They seem to have a strong mate bond (or she distrusts his cheating bastard ways). You never see one without either seeing the other or hearing the other one cackle nearby. If you've never seen one... they're pretty darn big. They are about the size of a large crow. (There is nothing in the photo to show scale... and even after watching them, when they took off I was resurprised at their wingspan.)

Before today, the closest I've ever gotten was about 50 feet -- and that was deep in the woods. But today they seem to be digging a hole in a small oak tree right outside my window. The top photo is the boy. His flaming Joker red hair is a little bit more over the top. And if you look really closely (you'll have to click on the photo) you can see a tiny little red "mustache." I had been taking his picture for about 20 minutes when the girlie showed up and joined him.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

oops. He did it again

Okay, it was sort of silly that they made Obama retake the oath of office because it was slightly wrong the first time. But, for one small moment, let's assume that he needed to. If that's the case, he still isn't president.

Take One: I do solemnly swear that I will execute the Office of President of the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me god.

Take Two: I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me god.

But... the old constitution says: I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Take three?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I am a skeptic. I am a skeptic about pretty much everything -- a "Show Don't Tell" sort of guy.

So while the majority of the world seems all a titter over Obama, I don't. I don't hate him (yet). I just don't get all a titter. Don't get me wrong: I am not a Bush apologist. But just because I don't like Bush does not mean I do like Obama. It's not either-or, okay?

I guess the optimism of the country is good in a way. There is some amount of self-healing and placebo effect of a positive attitude. So in a way, I am glad that attitude is there. But I also think that attitude is dangerous. Well, maybe dangerous isn't the right word, but it's in the ballpark. There has been a sort of messiah complex built around the man, which I don't think is a good thing. Firstly, it allows him to do get a pass when he does bad things. He's the messiah, he must be right. Secondly, there is this little gnawing fear that if he disappoints, people will over react in the opposite direction. And, quite honestly, that may be worse than getting a mulligan on doing the wrong things.

I do totally get the celebration of the black community that they actually feel represented. (I have pretty much never felt represented, though I never had to sit at the back of a bus or eat my lunch out back.) And I guess they really should celebrate that. Though I think the real progress on that front occurs when race is not even so noticed. Both sides are guilty here: there are sub-camps that like him and dislike him because of his race. The real celebration occurs when there is no celebration. Ironic.

I didn't actually sit down and watch the inauguration. The TV was on. I was in and out of the room. I heard bits and pieces. But it is interesting that with partial deafness and full inattention I picked up on the same phrases that the media did:

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Maybe I am being too picky here, but immediately 2 things really bothered me (beyond the point that he is a politician and I already doubt he really is looking for something that works.)

  • First, I am bothered by the fact that the question is "does it work?" instead of "is it right?" While "it works" is seriously important in the evaluation of something, it cannot be the sole justification. We could probably act like Somali pirates and steal everything of value on the international waters to finance our failing economy. That might work. But it isn't right. In the same regard, we can steal money from an increasingly unemployed population via taxation. That might work. But I don't think it will. It may make the problem bigger and put the pain off for another day. And it isn't right.
  • Secondly, history has shown us what works. And I doubt seriously that will be considered. In the history of the world, the more free the economy, the more successful it has been. The less intervention, the more the return. What works would require -- not doing nothing -- but UNdoing lots of things. The sad part of this is: it not only is the answer to "is it right?" but it is also the answer to "does it work?" And yes, there would be those god awful selfish people making tons of money. Odd that selfishness is so successful, huh? Odd that our culture teaches how evil it is even when it positively answers both "does it work?" and "is it right?".

The one thing Obama seems determined to do (and I am slightly optimistic about) is attempt to be inclusive. There is the possibility that this means he will just get everyone's hands dirty so blame goes all around, but there is also the (slight) possibility that he might actually listen to someone that holds an opposing viewpoint. He did say:

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers."

This. This does give me a tiny sparkle of hope. I don't know that I have ever heard any public figure acknowledge that we were anything but a Judeo-Christian society. Often they even try to say we were founded on those beliefs (even though that statement is categorically incorrect). But the fact that there is a slight acknowledgment of non-christians and (gasp) even non-believers among us does at least inspire a tiny spark of optimism. Maybe, in my own skeptical tiny way, I suffer from a diminished form of the same messiah complex, but it sure beats "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots."

Monday, January 19, 2009

The ramble: an introduction

[Note: With this installment, Spork Industries Incorporated (A SporkCo Company) is proud to introduce a new feature: The ramble. The ramble is a disjointed uninterrupted thought about very little or nothing -- the voices in the head of an alcoholic street person with multiple personalties. Run-on sentence you say? Fie on you.]

There are too many whiners in the world. And there are just too many important things going on to whine about the unimportant. That is why I have chosen this moment to speak to you about something very important to me: TV. And I'd like to ramble a bit. When it comes to blogs, this isn't just the Quitter's Blog, it's the blog about nothing: The Seinfeld of blogs.

First off, let's talk Grey's Anatomy. It's a fine show with real writing and lots of ironic humor. It's set in a hospital and is about real world stuff. NOW EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THERE IS A FRIGGING GHOST IN IT RECENTLY! Now, oddly enough, while I do not believe in the mystical or the magical, I love stories about said topic. Give me a vampire story and I'll be as happy as a tractor full of diesel. But when I am enjoying a story about something real, I'd just prefer it to stay real, okay? Is this some sort of means to get even with Katherine Heigl for being a real bitch to the writers last season? I mean, if it is, then I totally support them for it. I was so totally into her and would totally have put her on the list until she got all uppity about the roles she had been in. And while I am on the subject: why the heck did she fix her teeth? I loved her cute snaggly little teeth. They made her not look like every barbie doll that walked out of L.A. And now she has perfect white teeth that look fake. Really, folks, have you ever seen teeth? You would think if you were wanting your teeth colored you would want them the color of, let's say: teeth. And what's wrong with a hot chick that looks... real? And while we are talking about hot chicks on Grey's Anatomy, let me just say: I do not buy the whole lesbian thing that is going on. It's not that I dislike lesbians. As a one-track minded male brought up on too much Penthouse Forum I can honestly say that lesbians are just fine with me. I know all about their secret pillow fights in lingere. It just doesn't bother me. But I ain't buying the whole Callie/Erica/Sadie lesbian thing. It isn't working. They aren't bad actresses, it's just bad writing and it doesn't work. Move on.

And while we are on the subject of Grey's Anatomy, let me quit that an unexplainably jump to Heroes. Did you see the first season of Heroes? It was totally new and interesting. It, unlike Grey's, was about the supernatural -- the supernatural that walked among us. And since that was the theme of the show, I was totally okay with it. And the writing was truely inspiring. If you haven't seen it I would recommend you go right out and get the DVDs for season 1... that is: I'd recommend it if it were not for season 2 and season 3. The real stupid gotcha here is why the hell am I still watching it? I guess because I want it to go back to the way it was. But while I ramble in no particular direction, I ask you to go out and google "heroes continuity problems". Okay, now the fact that there are 895,000 hits should be a teeny tiny warning flag to the writers: some of us have watched the show. Maybe as the show's writing staff, in your spare time, you should go back and watch it. You see: all that stuff in season 3 that referred back to stuff before that never happened? Yeah, we noticed. I'm not talking about little continuity errors like cut away, cut back and the necklace disappears. I'm talking about an entire season that disappeared. And it was the good season. And while you are at it, you might book the next flight to where ever the next solar eclipse is. They don't last 8 hours -- really. And notice I said "book a flight?" Yeah, that's because the complete solar eclipse does not happen everywhere in the entire earth. It's a shadow that doesn't hit the whole thing okay? And it doesn't happen everywhere at the same time either. You see, there is a dark and a light side of the planet. When it is daytime here, it is night somewhere else. Freaky, I know, but that's how it's been for a really really long time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Holy Pope on a Rope, Batman

I am totally busted.
According to this article, the funny hat wearing head of the Catholic church is cracking down on phony arbitrary visions of the slightly tarnished Mary like mine. (As opposed to the "real" visions of a 2000 year old dead figure who's actual existence is arguable in the first place.)

Some highlights from the article [with snarky comments]:

"In some cases exorcists will be used to determine if a credible apparition is 'divine' origin or 'demonic'." [This is of course, because exorcism is a scientifically proven method of ridding people or inanimate objects of scientifically proven demons.]

"The Pope is said to be deeply concerned by the explosion in the number of pseudo-mystics who, claiming a direct line to God, set themselves against the bishops and lure the Catholic faithful out of the Church and into cults." [ compared to the real mystics with a direct line to god...]

"The third step will be to investigate the person’s level of education and to determine if they have had access to material that could be used to falsely support their claims." [So, just to be clear here: If said claimant was raised by abusive parents that kept them locked in a dark closet 24 hours a day, then it is possible the apparitions are real. If they have ever seen a television, newspaper or internet connection then they are automatically deemed to have access to material that could falsely support their claims. Suddenly a big dark cloud of logic surrounds the pope and he is defeated by his own argument.]

"It said that in many cases 'signs from heaven' were exposed as human trickery." [You are kidding me. The grilled cheese sandwich isn't really the holy mother's endorsement of dairy products? What about "blessed are the cheesemakers?"]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Devine Dog, Ma

As I pointed out before the awesome unexplained miracle does happen. And it sets your spine a tingle. Imagine my surprise when visiting my sister to see the image of the virgin Mary appearing in dog slime on her dog door. (By now, she is probably "the only slightly tarnished Mary". It has been 2000 years, though. Give her a break.) This, my friends, is way better than "Mary on a sandwich" or "Mary on the bathroom door varnish" or "Mary on my dirty window." This was created by living, breathing, loving dogs. Surely this must be a sign! Praise Dog. Now if I can only get her to sell this on Ebay and split the prophets with me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The official war on Christmas begins today

As of this morning (at midnight) I want you to know you are all officially "on notice." If your damn Christmas decorations (or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or whatever) are still up, you will be dutifully reported to the Christmas police.
As you should be aware, holiday decorations are regulated and monitored by international committee. The Global Regulation of International Christmas Holiday Committee (aka GRINCH Committee) mandates that Holiday decorations can not be put up until the day of Thanksgiving and absolutely must be taken down and put away no later than the end of the weekend following New Years Day. Any violations of this law should not be reported via normal emergency numbers (911 in the USA) but with the annoyance number (912 in the USA).
You have been warned.