A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

31 December 2006

And ...

As the last moments of 2006 trickle off over the event horizon, I can only, for some reason perhaps having to do less with the bottle of Aussie plonk I had with dinner that the two I had in the following hours, think of Woody Allen:
"I wish I had a positive message to leave you with. But I don't. So would you please take two negative messages?"

All the best to you and yours. In fact, hey you! What are you doing reading this blog? Go join yours! May you get whatever it is that you most desire out of the onrushing 2007.

For myself? Well ... given that 2006 contained:
A career change.
A home move.
The purchase of my first house.
And my marriage to Mme Metro, for whom I am humbly greatful.

And so many other smaller though no less important moments, I suppose what I'd really like 2007 to be is somewhat less eventful and momentous.

Peace and prosperity attend you.


30 December 2006

Why The ₤µ©λ Isn't This Guy Prime Minister?

What did you do on Christmas morning?

Newfoundlanders are a rare, wonderful, warm group. It's the oldest colony in Canada although it was the last to join Confederation. And we haven't yet had a Prime Minister from there. That's wrong and sad. It's time we corrected the situation.

Think about it--who's more politically aware than a comedian? He's from Canada's most impoverished province, used to be the poster boy for climate change until the Conservatives stuffed the funding, and he's probably more recognizeable than Harper.

Best of all--he's politically liberal, yet is willing to put aside his differences with conservatives to help acheive goals. And to top it all off he's promoting (a charity you should make a lousy ten-dollar donation to before you finish reading this post).

Though he's lately done some things that might be politically opportunistic, such as sleeping over at Steve Harper's place, he is a man whose time has come.

Rick Mercer for Prime Minister!

What's 'The Worst That Could Happen'?

I skydived with a guy we called "D.B."--so did Creatrix, oddly enough. His nickname was short for "Dead Bob" and an homage to D.B. Cooper.

Ever had one o' those days? He came out of the plane just fine. After that the jump went to $#!7. Neither his main nor his reserve opened. He apparently survived falling from 10,000 feet because landing on his side distributed the destructive force better than landing flat.

He was three months in a coma and three months after that learning to walk again. Shortly after leaving the hospital (with a piece of paper explaining to all the people manning {personning?} all the metal detectors he might ever in his life have to walk through that he had 181 steel pins, plates, and screws holding him together), he was skydiving again.

This seemed to me to be tempting fate. But when I queried him about this he said:

"Well think about it: what's the worst that could happen?"

I had to admit he had a point.

In The News

Saddam Hussein is dead. It was perhaps all he deserved. But this is as bad as or worse than the victor's justice of Nuremberg.

By killing Hussein, the new Iraqi government has managed to do what Hussein himself never truly could: turned him into a religious martyr.

Benefits of killing Saddam: a few people felt better about not ever getting back the loved ones who were tortured, murdered, gassed, or simply disappeared under his hand.

Bad effects of killing him:
1) It pissed off Iraqi Sunni muslims.
Today there was mourning in Tikrit, as Sunni Hussein loyalists celebrated his elevation to martyrdom.

2) It pissed off non-Sunnis.
Did someone forget to tell the government that it's a bad idea to go through with a religiously-charged execution during a holy festival?

And yet the government seems to have understood this idea sufficiently well to postpone the execution of his co-condemned until at least next Thursday.

3) It sent a garbled message.
A government that has been calling for reconciliation and co-operation, to the extent of mulling over re-installing Ba'athist army officers and officials, sent a message that there is no forgiveness. So what's the motivation to co-operate and reconcile?

Saddam was more valuable in jail. But Iraq is still a backward place. And the nation that either liberated the Iraqis or plunged them into civil war, depending on your point of view, is itself so backward that it still has the death penalty in the midst of it's "Culture of Life".

The toast I give (if and when I need an excuse to lift a beer to my lips) is "Death to all tyrants." But I could have waited a few dozen years for this one.

29 December 2006

On the Bright Side:

Now the fat kid in school will have a lot of company. In fact, maybe the fat kids'll gang up on the skinnies.

I have a picture of myself that I often think of while I'm sitting here thinking about my weight--a not inconsiderable figure--it shows a skinny brown 10?-year-old kid in a bowl haircut with an oddly delighted grin and a baseball mitt on one hand.

And I think to myself:
That kid looks pretty £µ©λin' smug for someone wearing a polyester shirt.

Seriously: he's got a go-to-hell, top-o'-the-world smile on him. Which seems to belie a lot of my memories of that odd and turbulent time.

One day I'll tell you how that kid wound up eighteen and working at Burger Thing, with only two pairs of pants that fit him. And perhaps I'll see if you'd believe that he went on to gain another thirty-five pounds.

We're talking about the same kid, the kid in this picture. But that kid never worried about his weight.

Honey, I Really Hate to Tell You This

That's why I never do the dishes or laundry, darlin'. I'm not-doing it for you!

File Under "The United States Does Not Torture*"

A Bush administration official yesterday cleared the oil industry on Alaska's North Slope of any blame for the polar bears' woes. "The 30 years of experience we've had on the North Slope has proven to us that the oil industry has no impact," Fish and Wildlife Service director Dale Hall said.

Absolutely no blame attaches to the Bush/Cheney team's best friends; those people like Becthel and Halliburton who have been doing such a heckuva job in re-building Iraq.

Just as the Alaskan drilling would have no harmful effect, presumably.

28 December 2006

Another Good Argument

For some reason, justice and death seem to be inextricably entwined in the teeny tiny mind of George Bush the Lesser. Otherwise, why is he encouraging the new model Iraqi government to kill Saddam Hussein?

Bush himself is fond of death. Aside from dealing it to Iraqis on a wholesale basis and to Americans who unlike him are brave enough to volunteer to serve their country on the front lines, he signed over a hundred death warrants as Texas governor without a murmur. Let's face it: Mr. "Culture of Life", he ain't.

I have stated elsewhere my opposition to killing Saddam Hussein. Sure, it's probably what he deserves. But thanks to this failure on the part of the current management to put in place a modern justice system, Hussein is apparently looking forward to his execution:
"He told them he was happy he would meet his death at the hands of his enemies and be a martyr, not just languish in jail."

--Via Yahoo! News

Forgive me if, aside from fundamentally opposing capital punishment, I also view with disfavour the creation of martyrs for internicene slaughter.

The deepest irony, aside from the fact that the people who delivered Hussein up to be hanged are his former allies, is that Hussein had no use for religion until he was dethroned.

Now the Sunni minority will use him as a martyr and an example of their "persecution" at the hands of the Shiites. Regardless of whether said persecution actually happens or not.

From this will come inspired Jihadis and suicide bombers. And the final bitter pill is that as they pull their triggers, some of them will be mouthing the names of the great martyrs.

Like Saddam Hussein.

Who should languish in jail, ideally at The Hague, until he rots.

POTC 2.0

Hi, how's everyone? Did you have a happy Christmas?

I always do. Even the year when I spent Xmas at what is now the Travelcenters of America truckstop in Ontario, California, though it didn't seem like a load of fun on the day, I can tell you.

No matter what anyone wishes to say about religion or about consumerism, I believe the season has a deep and true meaning. Admittedly it may be stronger in the Christian Western tradition than elsewhere, but I think everyone gets it, sorta, within their own traditions.

Christmas is a season of hope. Whether expressed by brightly-wrapped parcels, a faith that someone who's been dead two thousand years will be back in this one, or just a vague sense of optimism despite the current burning world, there is hope.

We'll talk in more detail about that later. Right now I want to wish all the best to my Avid Fans as the New Year approaches. I'm sure I have at least three these days.

Oh yeah, I'm trying to make changes to the blog without making resolutions--ideas are welcomed. All ideas.

Pirates of the Carribean: A New Hope

Mme Metro and I just saw the end of Matrix of the Carribean II, and the beginning, and the middle. Another "moviemakers-surprised-by-success-of-first-effort-struggle-to-create-a-trilogy-from-a-single-story" film.

All it needed was a mysterious super-powerful weirdo that they had to go visit right at the end of the film, who would ask them to make a choice regarding saving their friend and give us a cliffhanger ending to ensure that we'd come back ... No, I'm kidding. It has that too.

Davy Jones was unconvincing. The disgraced Commodore Norrington was unneccesary. Jack Sparrow wasn't as funny or interesting. Keira Knightly held the film together, in fact, which tells one all one wishes to know.

Now they leave us with a dead Captain reborn and Han Solo--sorry, I mean Jack Sparrow, in The Belly of the Beast.

In the next film, Liz Swann will turn out to be Willy Turner's long-lost twin; They'll have to blow up a giant death star--sorry, I mean squid ... and I forsee a scene with the Mssrs Turner senior and junior:

Bootstrap Bill: Will, help me get these barnacles off. I want to see you with my own eyes.
Will: (weeping) I'll not leave you, father.
Meanwhile the rest of the crew will be partying with the Island Cannibals.

In another twenty years we can look for Pirates of the Carribean Episode I. In which we learn why Davy Jones became a twisted monster who wears a squid for a mask it begins with his childhood on a desert island.

Verdict: POTC II was darker than the last film, and not as much fun.

The one-off success of the original Pirates raised my expectations. I had previously, and in light of the execrable Country Bears movie, reasonably, expected it to be a turd. But it was terrific. Light-hearted, most of the death was actually necessary, it was upbeat, and the main character was this Jeff-Spicoli-meets-Pippi-Longstocking kinda dude.

But unlike the Matrix, Disney pretended it had planned a trilogy all along. So I wasn't as prepared for let-down. Still, hearts were broken, mysteries were 'ravelled, and buckle was swashed like blazes. So as the last new film I'm likely to watch this year, it was okay.

But I'm still waiting for the film version of the best pirate book since Treasure Island: The Pyrates.

22 December 2006

There Are Advantages

To living in our valley paradise. For one thing Raincoaster's out of comission, so I can post this long before the Moist Maven spots it.

Possibly the first actual film of a giant squid.

Update: It's not. The first video of a giant squid was last year.

And a hat tip to Archie, who pointed out that a significant hazard of posting plastered is a failure to actually embed the link. It's fixed now.

21 December 2006

Some Things You Gotta See

From Weebl's Stuff, the Elfman-esque Death Kitty and the Fat Man.

You know, that title's definitely going in the "If I ever formed a rock group I would call it ..." file.

MADD Cuts Ties With Teen Queen--Like That's Bad?

Scandal-plagued temperance movement Mothers Against Drunk Drivers has ditched Miss Teen USA because she'd gone out partying with Miss USA.

I can only expect Miss TUSA's stock to rise on the news.

In related news:

The Donald is, as usual, a prick.

He was never exactly Mr. Personality--until he got famous for being a TV @$$#0!3 he was famous for being a money-grubbing real-estate @$$#0!3. The success of "The Apprentice" a "reality" show where The Donald gets to crap on B actors and the like who want to play corporate presidents, is the best proof of the ascendance of the moronacy.

The story of Trump's megalomania, his well-publicised continual search for a trophy wife worthy of the name "Trump", and his bankruptcy--showcasing his fitness to judge "businesspeople" on a TV show*--are all well-known, if oddly absent from his portfolio as media star. Now he's desperate for more publicity, and he thinks he's found it.

The story's old and formulaic: get famous, get caught doing something stupid after having a couple of beer, get into rehab and church and claim you've seen the error of your ways (step forward the Misses Bush). Now you're still the same @$$#0!3, only you're sober. So you get a pass for some reason.

Only in the case of Miss USA, Tara Conner, The Donald is forcing her to do it.
Why? Because some time ago, she drank under-age.

And may have done something vaguely sexual. The horror!

She's now 21--legal age even in the Benighted States of America. But this self-righteous joker with the bad hairpiece--a twice-divorced, "greed-is-good" sleazeball--can tell her to go get dried out?

She's an adult now. She oughta tell him to go £µ©λ his wig.

One of the most moralising and hypocritical aspects of American life is their laughable drinking age laws. There are men dead in Iraq who never touched their lips to a beer.

MADD is partly responsible; so are hypocrites like The Donald, the Bush, and all their red-blooded, white-ribbon, blue-balled friends.

Instead of finger-pointing and moralising they should use this to make a case for sane drinking laws.

*Read that piece. If only for this:
"Which, in an admittedly roundabout way, leads us to the problem that now gives Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts all the financial sex appeal of a visible sore on one's personal parts: enough debt on the balance sheet to scare off a Romanov."

20 December 2006

What's With the Three Herpetologists and the Frankincense?

Flora, a Komodo dragon housed at the Chester zoo, has been a very busy girl: she got herself pregnant; literally.


Richard Dawkins denies the truth of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (MHTUWHNA**) right out in public. As published in McSweeney's.

This blasphemy must not be allowed! I am writing a thinwa, a most holy document, to urge all believers in the Flying Spaghetti Monster to fulfill their mission to the Noodly One by rubbing Dawkins in tomato sauce (As usual, anyone using alfredo sauce is an apostate and must die). Stoning with meatballs will also be considered favourably.

* Some terms that need to be expunged from the English language: "heresy", "blasphemy", "intensive interrogation techniques" and "indecent exposure". There are others.

** May He Touch Us With His Noodly Appendage

Irving's History

As I said earlier: criminalizing these idiots only allows them to whet their hatreds.

David Irving "self-taught historian" has been released from jail in Austria and is being told to get out of town by sundown.

To restate the old saw: "A self-taught man has a fool for a pupil" (and that goes double for home-school parents).

"The seriousness of theses offences," though, "cannot be underestimated" according to the prosecutor.

She's absolutely right. It is only through being constantly dragged into court that these people get their views aired.

Let these people say what they like. Let Irving and his ilk howl and gibber on the margins of history.

It is much more important to educate those living in countries like Iran, who haven't even heard the word "Holocaust".

19 December 2006

The Best That I Can Do

I scoured the 'net for Britney Spears (not Brittany Spears) nude in a hijab. Will you settle for Lil' Kim in a ...

Well whatever it is, given the purpose of the burqa, it's not one.

There. Are you smut-surfing semi-simians satisfied?

Okay--Let's Get This $#!7 Straightened Out

It's "Britney" not "Brittany"! "Britney Spears beaver shot" is the search term you're looking for. You sub-literate porn-pirating pygmies.

Not that I mind the extra hits. Believe me--although why my top hits are all "Brittany" Spears and "hijab" in that order I'll never know. And If I happened to have nude pics of Britney (or Brittany) Spears IN a hijab, you can believe I would post them.

So: "Britney Spears beaver shots" are what you seek.

Good hunting.

On the Way to the Choir Concert

Mme Metro and I were just coming around the corner when a scared-looking sixty-something gentleman came haring around the corner. Behind him came a big, bearded man with wide eyes, stabbing at the air with a closed fist. The older man turned around as they came alongside the building on our right, and put up his arms in a classic defence posture.

The older man was dressed in wool pants, a heavy jacket, and a sweater.

"David," he kept saying "David, stop it. Please stop."

'David' was dressed in black cotton trousers, a bulky black jacket, and a Tilley hat. He said a few nonsense words, but was mainly focussed on battering at the man's upraised arms.

"Grab his arms!" the older man appealed ... to me? To someone.

Me and another passer-by closed in. David didn't struggle against us. He was concentrating on trying to hit the older man. As we backed him up he surged into the old man and bit savagely into his jacketed shoulder. I yelled a warning, but was drowned out by the surprised yelp from the bitten man.

Something about the situation gave me the clue: The older man was his father. David was probably within a decade of my own age.

The three of us pushed David against the wall and held him there. From time to time he surged under our hands, stamping at his father's feet.

"David," I said "You have to calm down."

He looked at me blankly, for a moment I thought he might try to bite me, then David dismissed me and went on stamping. His father cried out as David's knees pistoned into his legs.

After a while, David stopped fighting. He relaxed against the wall.

"Are you gonna let me go?" he demanded.

"Not yet, David." answered his father.

David's mother was using Mme Metro's phone to call the home where David lives. The worker at the home was alone, and couldn't leave his other charges to come collect him.

"David," the father asked him "Are you going to be good if we take you home?"

"I wanna go to your house. I wanna go to your house, dad. I wanna be with you and Mom."

"Well we'll see about that." I could see the old man's face. He was staring into the eyes of this stranger. He looked stricken.

"You gonna let me go? You're choking me."

The father was exhausted. He said nothing, but relaxed. David tensed up, testing the resistance, then subsided again.

"Autism one!" he began declaring loudly, "Autism one!"

"Oh boy. Someone's having one of those days. Sometimes those days come." he said "Autism one."

Autism won, today. I thought.

Someone had called the police. Two cars arrived. His father went to talk to the police, who kindly agreed to help take David back to the home.

"I wanna go home with you, dad."

"David," said the cop "Is it going to be okay if we give you a ride back home?"

"Okay." said David agreeably "Somedays are tough. Autism one."

I watched the big man get into the back of the police SUV. His father, bravely I thought, got into the back seat with him. I wondered what it might be like to sit in a locked, sealed back seat with a violent stranger.

I thought about the future. David stood taller than me. About six-foot-two. And he weighed about the same. His father was six inches shorter than I and about sixty pounds lighter. And he was about sixty years old--a well-maintained and vigorous-looking sixty from what I could tell. But not getting any younger.

But while we were battling to keep control of his son I had seen his eyes. And I had seen in them a wonder and despair at this powerful, giant stranger. Whom he loves, but cannot understand or communicate effectively with.

One day he and his wife will be eighty. And their son perhaps fifty or sixty. And they won't be able to take him out anymore. Their fragile bones won't hold up if he does this then. I felt sad for them, and for the distance that age will surely put between them.

Yesterday I saw David in his black jacket and Tilley hat, walking the aisles of the local liquor store with a man about his own age. I couldn't see his father anywhere. I hope they get some good time together this Christmas.

Autism one.

Family zero?

18 December 2006

From His Own Mouth

"This is not comedy, this is not juggling. This is stupidity.

Number One Way I Hate to Start a Post:

By saying: "Ahmadinejad has a point."

Courtesy of its crazy president, the theocracy of Iran held a Holocaust denial conference. One of the things Ahmadinejad has said is that nations that criminalize denial of the Holocaust criminalize free speech.

Holocaust deniers speak to the same tired themes all the time, and all require but a moment's intelligent thought to wash out their truthiness. If you have an iota of doubt that the Nazi regime in Germany systematically and deliberately wiped out six million or so Jews, go educate yourself here. Or read the Time-Life series on the Nazis. Or watch the series "The Winds of War" or indeed any document written by anyone who is not an active Holocaust denier. These loonies are generally noisy but harmless when kept clear of schools.

However, this places me in a difficult position. I feel that Ahmadinejad is a prime candidate for the laughing academy. And I don't feel his positions stem from some sort of religious mania--just the regular sort that in any country but Iran would make a man unelectable. But I feel he's right.

Criminalizing this sort of idiocy only gives its funny and inarticulate proponents a stone against which to grind their axes; resulting in this wonderful Iranian affair where brown people who loathe Christians and Jews rub shoulders amicably with white Christian racists and Nazis who hate Arabs.

Isn't it nice that all these people who think each other totally inferior can be brought together in harmony and brotherhood by their common mania? It's a celebration of racist diversity!

They're as important and convincing as a convention of furries, or trainspotters, and should get about the same amount of attention.

It is also worth noting that Holocaust deniers are monomaniacal. They argue passionately and pointlessly against the possibility that the Nazis deliberately killed millions of Jewish people. But one rarely hears them carping that the Nazis were unjustly accused of murdering three million or so Poles.

Nothing to Fear But Michael Crichton Himself

First, he taught us to fear the viruses.
Then the dinosaurs and/or the science of genetics.
Then he told us to tremble at chicks in the office.
He, rather dully, instructed us to shiver at the prospect of secret vessels from space.
He cried the first warning of the new Yellow Peril.
Most lately he took The War Against Terror to the enviro-whackos who blindly support well-researched scientific reporting over partisan "science" paid for by Exxon-Mobil et al.

Today, Michael Crichton has acheived a new high: he has torn the cover off of another liberal plot and pointed out the new enemy: people who criticize his books.

His hysterical, racist, sexist, dull-ish, paranoid-fantasy books. Oops--sorry.

Possibly there will be a character called "Metero" in his next novel who enjoys wearing women's clothing while masturbating vigorously in the ape house in the San Diego Zoo for the benefit of anonymous Asian sailors?

--Via Jesus' General.

In the spirit of full disclosure I must admit to reading and enjoying "Jurrasic Park" and "The Andromeda Strain". I must also admit to reading and yawning through "Sphere", and giving up on "Rising Sun".

Modern writers seem to eventually reach some sort of peak where they start suffering delusions of grandeur. But Crichton's been on a downslide since about 1981.

15 December 2006

Today's Animation

I loved the show. What can I say?

... Except hahahahahahaha!

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas

Honking in the streets, bitter complaints in the paper about rude clerks. And this little gem from a co-worker.

My office, like many others--too many--is sponsoring a "Christmas family" of (we assume) deserving poor people. They were encouraged to write down their Christmas wishes, and the older boy (shoe size 9, shirt size large, waist 29 ...) expressed a desire for an MP3 player.

Shoes were also on that list, and I wanted to donate specifically to that cause, it being an article of what little faith I have that most human conflict in the world is caused by economic inequality, followed by people being crabby from having to wear uncomfortable footwear.

However, there seems no mechanism by which I can assure that my donation will go towards a decent, strong, comfy pair of shoes for each kid (and the FSM knows I'm not going to pop for a pair by myself--not on my salary).

So I was looking at ideas for making a $20 donation go farther, and ran into a 512 Mb MP3 player, complete with speakers, at my local Canadian Tire. For $40. I pointed this out to one of the ladies at work, hoping she might suggest splitting the cost or inviting several others to pitch in.

"Oh," she said, peering at the flyer, "Only 512 meg? He won't be able to put many songs on that ..."

Perhaps I am the one missing the point? I feel that anyone who receives a free MP3 player and feels hard-done-by because it will only store 30 songs instead of 60 qualifies as a whingy bludger.

Mme Metro bought me, at considerable expense shortly after we met, a 256-Mb player/recorder. I still use it. It holds up to 20 songs or so.

14 December 2006

Runcible Behaviour

In my earlier posting I mentioned that one of the weird things about me is that I have an accent that adapts to every situation.

Raincoaster claims that I gave my wedding vows in an "Anglo-Aussie accent."

Others say they hear some sort of received English accent when I read aloud. This is more plausible. My father was born in an area where the local accent is incomprehensible to many, even within their own country. His brother still speaks with a broad Lancastrian accent. My father, who went to university, seems to have had it ironed out.

Last night my father's annual Yule letter arrived. It's a two-sided page concerning the family. About one-third of it has to do with his grand-kids these days, possibly because he's spending only about one-third of his time in Canada.

I read it through, with certain selections aloud to Mme Metro. When I was done I popped into the living room and stood a moment in puzzlement. Discovering that I'd forgotten what it was I meant to do, I turned around and went down the hall. From behind me came merry peals of laughter.

My interest piqued, I went back. My face must have asked the question for me:

"Do you know," quoth Mme Metro, "that you're walking just like your father?"

Since I sometimes think in the privacy of my own head that my father walks a bit like Chaplin in colour, I protested.

"My back's out!"

But she continued laughing.


Lori's Book Nook fronts today with an Al Purdy poem, which includes images and memories of working with the fat brown sacks of animal blood that are used in so many sectors of modern life.

In a previous lifetime I picked up a flat-deck load of dried animal blood from a plant in Stockton, Ca. The bags billowed red dust.

I unloaded it at a Prince George plywood plant, and the dust, exposed to rain that winkled its way under my tarp, had turned to blood again. It was slippery and dangerous.

But what I'll never forget was the smell of that place. It was an enormous concrete building in the middle of a barren brown field. There was one employee, and I wandered the building trying to find him, staring at the grey sky through unglazed windows high in the wall. I felt like some last survivor, every caveman instinct shrieking at me to get out of this deathplace.

The smell of blood could never be scrubbed out of that artificial stone. If the plant closed down it would have to be razed, knocked down, and ground into powder before the shrecklicheit and the cursed feeling left it.

Humans are fairly accepting of blood. Less so of the psychic taint that accompanies massacre. Perhaps that's why we close places down or alter them after violence takes lives in those places.

We preserve them sometimes, as memorials. The words "never forget (this)" are engraved on tablets in places with names like Berlin, Auschwitz, Srebenica, Calcutta, Montreal, San Ysidro, Dunblane, Hungerford and Port Arthur.

Maybe that's why nothing has been erected at the former World Trade Center sites. Because what it comes down to, really, is that we can't stand the smell of blood.

13 December 2006

Can I Ask a Question?

Or what?

Actually, I need to find a good resource for information on re-cutting and re-scoring video clips. I have a brain-buster crying out to be made, but I must keep mum on it until I figure out how to do it.

On Google this is one of those searches that produces more results than are really useful, and narrowing my search may be knocking items off the list that I need to know about.

My ideal re-cutting tool should be:

  • Free

  • Easy to use

  • Graphically interfaced

  • Any advice from the Avid Fannery?

    Belly-Busting Bull

    It's always been difficult for me to expound on my feelings about fitness.

    Fitness is, to me, as much or more an economic issue as anything else. That is, we all benefit from a healthier society. And this is true even in those uncivilized places that don't believe in socialized medicine, or have been trained by the medical industry not to. These days it's a profit-making fad.

    But it's also quite personal. Especially right now. Six months ago or so I shifted from a very physically intense job to desk work. How intense was the old job?

    Each oil filter drum averaged about 130 kg (270 lb), anti-freeze weighed about 150 kg (300 lb). I loaded between 20 and 30 of them on average, mostly wrestling the drum along on its rim without mechanical help. Four days a week, ten hours a day.

    I lost 25 pounds in my first three months. Then muscle gain met the weight loss coming the other way and I stabilized around 105 kg (230 lbs).

    Six months after quitting that job I weigh the same. But now it's starting to hurt.

    There are millions of daft ideas out there. You can restrict calories, control portions, or take speed, cocaine, what-have-you. But the most important thing is that they're all fads.

    The Men's Health Belly-Off Club is better than most, but like most of the weight-loss industry it has no new ideas and often contradicts its own advice. A great example is on this page. Note the two titles:

    "Don't Mess With Your Metabolism" and
    "Fire Up Your Metabolism"

    It's all faddy crap. The only long-term solution is to eat less and/or exercise more. Given that I'm no fan of the sort of exercise that forces you to waste time at a gym, and even less of a fan of the sort of exercise that involves pushing yourself out the door into the winter wonderland of my home town at 6:00 AM, my options seem a little limited.

    I read somewhere lately that the decision to live fitter isn't about improving your young life, nor your mid-life. Rather, it's about how you will live the last twenty years of your life. I'd like to make mine as pleasant, and involve as few doctors, as possible.

    I also feel that life without beer and pizza would not be worth living.

    Wonder if I could find some sort of miracle diet on the internet?

    12 December 2006

    SNL Re-Cuts Apocalypto

    See it the way Mel Gibson meant you to see it:

    Via BoingBoing

    December is Literary Month

    Well it sure seems that way, what with Lori and Ærchie waffling away about terrific first lines, and even the Doyenne of Damp Rot hitting on HP Lovecraft for drinks.

    So I invite you to look at these poems, archived at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. These were some of the poems that could have become the official American paen to Xmas.

    11 December 2006

    I'm Asking You

    Hey--we've known each other awhile, eh? And in all that time I haven't asked you for anything.

    But I'm asking now.

    If you're anywhere that Christmas, Hannukah, or any one of the midwinter festivals religious, secular, or just plain wack, is celebrated in any way, then you're probably digging deep to find that special gift for that special someone, to stock up with food for the annual feast, or to get enough booze together to get decently tight before you have to deal with your in-laws.

    This will all cost you a pretty penny. In fact, it will cost you a downright gorgeous dollar.

    Did you have a cup of coffee today? It probably cost about a buck-fifty. Will you drink eight of those this week?

    Of course, if you're addicted to the sweet frothy coffees served at the trendy chains you could be spending five dollars or so. D'you think you'll drink two of them this week?

    How about saving a life? Do you have ten bucks to do that?

    I'm asking you to do this: before you run out to fight the hordes at the mall for another piece of noisy plastic that'll be trashed as soon as its batteries run out, visit Spread the Net and make a ten dollar donation.

    It's tax-deductible and you'll feel a little better as you walk by all the festive holiday panhandlers while deliberately avoiding looking at them, or duck in through side doors to avoid the Salvation Army Santas at the main entrance. That's what I do. But I feel okay. Because I contributed a sizeable chunk of my daily salary to fight malaria.
    Ten-dollar gifts may seem like drops in the ocean. But Regina Rabinovich of the Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic agencies in the world, says small private gifts complement official aid in multiple ways.
    --Even The Economist--that bastion of loony left-wing thinking--believes in the simple power of $10 bed nets to make a difference.
    If you need any proof whether this is a worthwhile effort--it's a UNICEF project, by the way--ask Mr. Rick Mercer. Or The Economist. But Mercer's more fun.

    It's ten lousy dollars people. You spent that much on ice cream last week, on coffee, on unleaded gas to ensure you didn't have to walk all the way to the corner store.

    Check your sofa cushions, then pony up. Donate here.

    I'm asking you. Please.

    Howling MADD

    I don't much like MADD.
    I know, I know, it's like being against mothers themselves.

    To be against an organization whose goal is allegedly to stop the carnage caused by drunken drivers every year is surely to be the type of person who crushes puppies for fun and profit, no? But that's only if you believe that that's what MADD is for.

    And it's not. It is becoming increasingly clear that MADD is a charity benefiting, primarily, MADD and its associated lobbyists, lawyers, and PR firms.

    Documents, in part pried from the fingers of Andrew Murie (who it seems is earning for his work as MADD Chief Executive Officer something above $70,000 a year), have revealed that from every dollar put into MADD's coffers by trusting donors, roughly 19¢ goes to that laudable goal. The rest is spent on raising more money--presumably increasing the number of 19¢ given out.

    I was indoctrinated in and by MADD when I underwent my Young Drivers of Canada training. I believe in their declared mission and I still do. But lately they've become preachy and prescriptive. Instead of trying to enlist the next generation of the Canadian driving public they have been campaigning to reduce the allowable blood-alcohol content for drivers to zero.

    We have a legal blood alcohol concentration limit because the safety engineers felt 0.08 BAC is probably okay for most people; Because it was felt neccessary to draw an enforceable line while allowing people the freedom to have a few beers away from their homes; And because MADD favours an allowable BAC of 0.08 (or lower).

    Part of the problem is that MADD has been too successful. Until 1982 no-one really thought much about the risks of drinking and driving. Now most people at least pay lip service to the idea that drinking and driving kills. But having raised public awareness and having gotten near-100-percent buy-in from the public--that is, having succeeded at their primary mission--what's an organization to do?

    The answer was: become an anti-drinking organization. In their newfound role as nouveau-prohibitionists they managed to raise the drinking age across the states to a ludicrous new high--21. In the land that actually enacted and abandoned full federal prohibition of booze--if you live in the US did you have a commemorative drink on the 5th?--they have campaigned for increased booze taxes, limiting the hours of alcohol-selling business, and just lately tried to push for an ingnition interlock system which would ask for a random breath sample and shut down your car (possibly on the highway) if you blew over the legal limit--for everybody.

    This is a risk with any organization. A sort of mission creep, a search for new worlds to conquer. MADD has followed that road straight to hell.

    The greatest difficulty in the campaign against drunk drivers is that like any individual responsibility, it cannot be legislated. All we as a society can do is condemn the wrong choices.

    Like the choice MADD has made to push beyond their original mandate.

    A little full disclosure: I have driven plastered. More than once. I have in fact driven in a condtion that probably made me unfit to walk. The last time was probably about six or eight years ago. I feel this doesn't affect my attitude, but my Avid Fans might feel differently.

    Overheard on the Street

    One of the many homeless or faux-homeless who line the main street of town each morning has wedged himself into the corner of the doorway just outside my office. His begging technique is interesting:

    "Hey, hey buddy--you got a quarter ..." a pause "Thass right--just walk on by like I wasn't fuckin' here."

    "Hey bro--you got a quarter? ... Fuck. You wanna know the real meaning of fucking Christmas? It's fuckin' up your old man and your old lady ..."

    "Hey--hey--I'm not a bum here. Well fuck, anyway, ya fuckin' asshole!"

    "You got a quarter miss? Hey--you gotta ... Okay--I don't give a fuck about your fuckin' quarter anyway."

    The litany of complaint and abuse is getting wearisome. But I resist the temptation to stick my head out and ask him to take his chorus elsewhere. It may be all the entertainment he gets. And the longer he bitches outside my door, the more blessed the silence when he finally £µ©λs off.

    What pisses me off is that occasionally he gets money:
    The morons who throw money at these guys are exacerbating the problem. Encouraging him to sit in the doorway and pollute the air. One woman buys him a coffee.

    Of course one or two of the passers-by aren't exactly the charitable types:
    "You're nothing but a goddam nuisance." says one. Others are somewhat more succinct, but reflect this spirit.

    Eventually I hear him discussing strategy with another street person:
    "Fuckit. I'm gonna take a bus home."
    The doorway falls blissfully silent for a long minute. Then:

    "Hey buddy--y'got a quarter for the bus?"

    10 December 2006

    Weirdness Meme

    As per usual I'm about a week late on this. I was tagged some days ago with Raincoasters chain let--er, "meme". The object is to list six weird things about yourself. Since Mme Metro, the Great Wet One, and far too many others have already responded, I felt compelled.

    1) As a child I had three operations to correct tongue-tiedness.

    2) I once sleepwalked into a bathroom that already contained my grandmother, washed my hands and sleepwalked back out.

    3) I have slightly fewer kidneys than average.

    4) I have a runcible accent. It adapts to the person I'm speaking with. Some who know me claim it turns up in my writing too.

    5) To the best of my knowledge I have eaten only one mushroom since I was three years old. The same is true of eggs, as in boiled, fried, scrambled or poached. And I know that wasn't really about mushrooms--don't be pedantic.

    6) This post was deleted by a cat shortly after I wrote it. The weird part is that the cat yet exists in a form other than a tennis racket.

    Good day to you all.

    06 December 2006

    For My Buddy Eugene Krebs

    Just this.

    Oh--but if you missed the earlier ones:

    Part 1

    Part 2

    A Spoonful of Terror

    Okay--saw this on the Disney Blog via BoingBoing and had to plant it here.

    I notice the ads at the Disney Blog are all for vacation packages to visit Disney World/Land. Would you go anywhere that had a Haunted Mansion waiting for you as well as this?

    Speaking of the Haunted Mansion, do you know what the Disney Haunted Mansion ride, Pirates of the Carribean, Frosted Flakes, and Dr. Seuss have in common?
    Clue #1
    Clue #2
    Clue #3
    Clue #4

    Yup: "Theeeeey're Grrrrrreat!".

    A source site for those who enjoy haunting sounds.

    05 December 2006

    Upadate on the Bleeding Blighter

    Mme Metro informs me that she heard on last night's radio that police are still looking for the guy who assaulted the fella I took to hospital.

    When I took him there, I'd thought he might possibly not have been stabbed at all. Perhaps the kid had been wearing a big-ass ring or something.

    Nope. Police say Johnnie was stabbed five times. "Non-life-threatening" wounds all, apparently. An odd term to use if you ask me. The report said that Johnnie claimed to have asked the kid for a cigarette. I don't really believe that, but it's possible.

    What I don't get is the girls with him. Perhaps they like his badass mojo? Maybe they're scared to speak out? Or maybe ... what?

    I don't really care one way or the other. Eventually he'll self-identify to the cops. Unfortunately it seems not beyond the bounds of possibility that the little monster will do so by stabbing someone else--possibly his playmates.

    I've always suspected that this sort of thing is what gives rise to religious faith. Not a conviction of our own justness--I doubt I'd have done anything different had a friend of mine stabbed someone in my youth--but a desire to know that though you couldn't identify them in a crowd, though you'll never spot them on the street, they're going to get it, but good.

    I generally follow the wisdom of Terry Pratchett on the subject: "There's no justice, there's just us."

    03 December 2006

    It's An Addiction

    This site is becoming the internet equivalent of a train wreck for me. You see it starting to happen and you just can't look away. Okay--a really interesting train wreck.

    Essence Of NYC: A Play in One Act

    Bimbo tourist #1: Anyway, so when he pulled it out of me it made this farting noise, and I know it wasn't a fart because it didn't smell, and... It was just really embarrassing.
    Bimbo tourist #2: Quip.
    Bimbo tourist #1: What?
    Bimbo tourist #2: A quip. The farting noise, it's called a 'quip.'
    Bimbo tourist #1: Oh, they have a name for it? Wow.
    Bimbo tourist #2: Oh, totally. It happens to a lot of people.
    Stranger: Um, that's not right.
    Bimbo tourist #2: Excuse me, sir?
    Stranger: No, it's 'queef.'
    Bimbo tourist #2: Wait, what?
    Bimbo tourist #1: I think he's saying his name is 'Queef' or something.
    Bimbo tourist #2: Oh, sorry. Excuse me, Queef?
    Stranger: No... Oh, lord. The sound, it's 'queef.'
    Bimbo tourist #2: Who's a 'queef'? What's going on?
    Bimbo tourist #1: I think he's one of those crazy subway guys you hear about. I think he's telling us he's gay.
    Stranger: I can hear you, and I'm not... What? That's 'queer,' you ingrate!
    Bimbo tourist #1: Here's some money for you, sir. Buy your boyfriend a nice grocery cart or something.
    Stranger: What?! Does it look like I'm homeless to you? I'm wearing fucking YSL over here... I ain't queer and I ain't homeless. You ignorant, you skinny, Paris Hilton-wannabe whores. All I was saying to you was that when your sleazy-ass friend over here pulled her boyfriend's dick out of her STD-ridden pussy, the word...
    Bimbo tourist #1: I'm not following... Is he speaking Cockney or something?
    Bimbo tourist #2: I don't know. Are you allowed to mace crazy hobos?
    Stranger: ...I'm not fucking crazy!
    Bimbo tourist #2: Of course you aren't, sir.
    Passenger: Oh, shut your mouth, both of ya, or I'm gonna whoop both your scrawny asses, you hear?
    Stranger: Thank you. All I was saying was...
    Old lady: Ah, hell no! Can't you see this conversation has gone past anyone in this damn subway's comprehension? Know when to drop it, brother. Know when to drop it.
    Bimbo tourist #2: [Mouthing] Oh my god.
    Bimbo tourist #1: I know. That was intense.
    Stranger, muttering to himself: ... Last time I ever take a subway... Unbelievable shit I put up with... Fucking Civics... Unreliable fuckers...

    --L train

    via Overheard in New York, Nov 28, 2006

    02 December 2006


    For: "Helpless with spasms of laughter that leave you paralytic and unable to do bugger-all for absolutely ages.

    We Leave It to You, Dear Reader

    Hipster girl: On the train into the city this morning, I sat on a baby and almost crushed it.
    Metal guy: There is no internet acronym for how funny that is.

    --Union Square

    Overheard by: esther

    via Overheard in New York, Dec 2, 2006

    01 December 2006

    Olbermann on Gingrich

    Via Crooks and Liars.

    One of the scariest things about the Democrat victory in America is the retreat of paleoconservatives to their old stomping grounds and primitive ideals. And accompanying that unholy ritual, the resurrection of the corpse of Newt Gingrich. Since his pro-family, pro-Jesus (and pro-divorcing your wife while she was groggy from cancer treatments) days, he had been tossed into a hole and covered with a thin layer of dirt. But now he is clawing his way back into the daylight.

    Doubtless it's just clinging dirt that makes his shirt look brown.

    I forward you to the University of Toronto's pro-free-speech censor-busting freeware.

    It's called Psiphon.

    I regard it as possibly the biggest development since the internet itself, created to defeat the censors of countries:
    " ... where political ideas are so barren, and political leaders so desperate, that they put up computer firewalls to keep thought, and freedom, out."

    Like the United States, as envisioned by Gingrich and friends.

    Beaver Shot

    This may at first look like to you, O Avid Fan, like an industrial accident; a typical, meaningless workplace tragedy caused by faulty technique and a disregard for personal protective equipment.

    But I am informed by the Lone Gunmen that in fact someone had the beaver shot, then cunningly arranged to make this look like an accident.

    Doubtless Grissom, or possibly Will Graham, could soon tell us: what time was the beaver shot? Who had the beaver shot? Why did someone have the beaver shot?

    But more likely, Graham/Grissom's cunning eyes may have spotted the jagged puncture wounds near the back of the head. Clearly no-one had this beaver shot. The truth is much more sinister: someone had him jabbed to death with spears. Further examination of the hole reveals a diamond-shaped elongated profile consistent with French spears, particulary those cast in or around Brittany.

    That is, not to belabour the point, someone deliberately and sinisterly chose to use Brittany spears, rather than have this beaver shot. Clearly some sort of beaver mafia message.

    Oh, sorry. Were you looking for something else? Perhaps another beaver shot entirely?

    Perhaps this is what you were seeking.

    I don't believe I just went out of my way to pimp hits for my wife's beaver shots.

    DeVito Dolce

    Danny DeVito apparently turned up pissed for a taping of the show "The View". So we know where this is leading right?

    Nope, we don't. Nothing wrong with drunken interviews as Ben Affleck will surely tell you.

    DeVito did nothing illegal. He made no ethnic slurs, and he didn't cuss anyone out as far as I can tell. Of course, part of the reason I say 'as far as I can tell' is that NBC censored what he actually said. He did call George Duh a "numbnuts", but since when has that been illegal or censorable?

    Self-censoring media, a tyrant's greatest asset.