Metroblog

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

25 September 2008

Avoidance of Blame #3

I ducked some responsibility today. Ironically it's for something good.

I went to the publicly-available website for my company and logged in using the internal password.

At the top of the page that resulted was this string of text (I paraphrase):

Hey diddle-diddle
The cat and the fiddle
This is some text to see what happened here.
Here's an embedded link
Here's a plain link:
www.toostupidtobepresident.com
Jenny and Lisa are lovers
Below that was the usual content, and above it was a graphic (trademarked graphic!) belonging to the Enormous News Corporation (ENC)--which has no place on our site.

There was more. The address of that page was (I paraphrase again) "www.jennyloveslisa.companyX.com" instead of the usual "companyX.default.asp" or whatever.

Jenny and Lisa are the product managers. This is becoming our flagship product. Naturally I raised the issue with Jenny. Jenny is an older woman, computer-savvy, but not what one could call a power user. She also occupies an odd niche position, her history with the company is such that many people still see her as the department manager she used to be before her "lateral promotion" into electronica. Technically she's higher up the totem pole than I am, though theoretically off to the side.

She conducted an investigation, and concluded that everything was fine. However, when I logged in again later, the same glitch was visible ...

What to do, what to do?

So I called a friend in the IT department and explained the problem.

"However," I explained, "I don't want it to seem as though I'm doing an end run around Jenny--she's just out of the office right now," (which was true--she'd gone for a meeting with the head of IT), "So I was just wondering if you could take a quick look at this and see if you see what I see, you see?"

"Sure."

"And I'd prefer it if you didn't, uh, well ... this is Jenny's baby and ..."

"No problem--I visited the page and spotted the problem, 'sall I need to say."

I love it when people really understand what I'm trying to tell 'em without saying. The faults can get corrected, it doesn't look like I had to duck 'round the communications chain around here.

Now if I only stopped blogging and got some work done I could be a star!


***

Interlude

I was sitting with the narcissistic gen-y yutz from marketing, discussing politics, when he said:
"In my opinion, only those who don't vote get to bitch, because it's not their fault who got elected."


I have taken no further action, but only for lack of a place to hide the body.

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24 September 2008

Hey, As Long as You're off to The Nag's Anyway--

Read this post:
Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’

[. . .]
For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining?
I have one thing to add here.

One could replace the word "women" in this post with "Iranians." With "Chinese." Or indeed with just about any ethnicity, race, creed, citizenship, or colour.

Vote. For the sake of those who cannot vote for themselves. If you squander this right, neglect this duty, then you might as well move to Putin's Russia.

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Because I'm Still Discomboobulated #71

Which is presumably worse, somehow, than being comboobulated ...

In any case, I haven't had eight good hours of sleep all week, or even four strung together. My lungs seem to be smouldering, which I attribute to the recent rain having knocked down all the forest fire smoke from Oregon (yeah, Oregon--hell, we get smoke from friggin' California, no lie).

I was reminded of this by a post over at Nag's terrific blog.
Here's the most surfing-terminology-strewn four minutes of classic Batman ever. Proving once again that everything lives on on YouTube.

--Even stuff better forgotten, or indeed buried decently at midnight at an unmarked crossroads with a wooden stake through its heart.



Love the cheesy music, especially the way it stays utterly unchanged at the most dramatic moment. It has all the depth and nuance of the acting.

I always remember the quote from this episode:

Chief O'Hara (Watching a Joker-sponsored surf band):
"I've heard of longhair music, but never greenhair music!"

I was watching this as a rerun somewhere around 1985, and one of my favourite bands was Sigue Sigue Sputnik.



This is Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Chief O'Hara is presumably gently revolving wherever they stuck him after the series was cancelled.

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22 September 2008

Speaking of Health

I'm in allergy hell right now. Dunno why. I was up all night wheezing, despite repeated applications of various chemicals to my lungs.

Thank the FSM I can work from home.

Anyway, hope you're having a nice day.







19 September 2008

Does Health Canada Have a Sense of Humour?

I've been wanting to read up on Bill C-51 for some time. It's probably the only Harperite legislation I've liked. Basically it regulates the "Natural Health Product" (NHP) field; which is so described because chewing willow bark is presumably much more natural than taking an Aspirin made from the same willow bark, I guess.

There's been some reaction, including street protests in Hometown--which is ridiculous. Except that as a semi-hippie-ish community we have plenty of practicioners of woo* here. Rumours are rife that C-51 will require you to get a permit to give your kids vitamin tablets, ban chiropractors, and cause a variety of other unpleasantnesses. Including, critically, the idea that such treatments will fall from the "approved" list on our single-payer health care system, and from various private plans.

I tend to sneer at alternative and complimentary medicine. But I also don't deny that what makes us feel good makes us feel good. I visit a chiropractor myself, when my back hurts, and I feel there's some benefit. So if they're going to force me to pay full freight for my own bonecracker appointments, I figured I'd like to find out what the Bill is actually proposing.

First, I should point out that the stated reason for the new regs seems specious to me. The site waffles on about the poisonous toothpaste business (where South African tubes labelled "Colgate" and "Made in China" made it onto shelves). But really I think the two central points were to enable the responsible ministry actually to enforce consumer product recalls instead of just issuing warnings, and to regulate the increasing flood of NHPs

Basically, it comes down to two things. C-51 would:
1) Make sure NHPs had a list of ingredients on the label, and conversely, enforce a rule that what's on the label is in fact what's in the bottle.

2) Make sure that claims of efficacy were scientifically backed.

In other word, it would essentially hold NHPs to a standard of proof roughly comparable to that required to sell anything else to the public, from furniture to forks. Which only makes sense. After all, would you go for laetrile therapy, knowing that's it's not just garbage but actually harmful? Yet there are places where it's still touted as a cancer cure, in the face of the actual science on the issue.

Nothing about the bone benders, either. So it's pretty much all good.

However, the humourous note comes on the FAQ page here. Scroll down and read the last FAQ.



(*Woo is a term borrowed from Orac over at Respectful Insolence. It refers to bunco cures and other fraudulent "health" paraphenalia)







Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Reminded ...

Former Frontier Editor, in a casual comment on my post below, has reminded me of a man I knew (and still know to this day, thanks to the miracle of social networking).

"Mack" was a truck driver in the Canadian Armed Forces back before they changed its name to simply the Canadian Forces ... dunno why, I mean it's not like they're unarmed or anything ... although they're definitely underequipped. In 1996, he was on his third military trade.

We met back during our militia days (for the benefit of US-based Avid Fans I should point out that in Canada the Militia is one branch of our equivalent to the National Guard and not, as I have observed to my horror, a bunch of people who would wear camouflage to their Neighborhood Watch meetings if their wives permitted it, and feel that there just aren't enough guns in the public school system).

I have to say that it seems odd to me that they ever allowed Mack to enlist as a safety systems tech. Like me, he'd never finished high school, and he was exactly the sort of big, bearish, friendly kind of dope you need to lug the mortar base plate (the 100-lb slab of steel that holds the base of a short-barrelled artillery piece) in an infantry section.

But recruitment depends on a remarkable number of factors--What unit and trade the recruiting officer or NCO comes from, whether they like you, what the actual recruiting targets are, whether the moon is in Pisces, how big your boobs are ... In any case, he wound up servicing Tutor jets on the tarmac in Moose Jaw, which was where I met him for the second time.

His early months weren't happy ones. Nine months after arriving he managed to set fire to two aircraft and part of a hangar in a mishap involving aircraft brake fluid and oxygen--two substances that spontaneously and happily combust in one anothers' presences.

Three months after that he was apparently servicing an aircraft which had undergone some sort of retrofit. He had had familiarization training on the new system, but hadn't worked on it for a year or more since. He had finished servicing the line of aircraft and was turning his mule (a little tow truck used to move the service cart around) toward home when there was a godawful WHHHHEEEOOOOSHHHHHH followed by a loud BANG.

In servicing the ejection system, one was apparently supposed to label one handle, move another to a position labelled "disarm", service the unit, re-set the switches and check the physical safeties (release pins and suchlike), then re-set the system by reversing the procedure. He'd done something wrong. The seat landed on a taxiway almost a kilometre distant.

No-one got hurt, but it was a damn near thing. In thirty minutes there might have been a pilot in that machine.

The effect of launching the ejection seat damaged the airframe. The Tutor was probably worth about $200,000 at that time. This one had to be extensively re-skinned and rebuilt.

Now I have only his word for what happened. But I did see the aircraft in the repair shop with most of the skin off of its nose. And it is an observed fact that he was off-duty for three weeks, and then quickly reassigned to the loadmaster trade.

Loadmasters, as the name implies, are responsible for the loading and balancing of aircraft. Yeah ... Your eyes just got a little wider, didn't they? I'll tell you about what happened next in another post.

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18 September 2008

Why the Republicans Keep Having to Lie

Because they'd lose if they told the truth.

Here's a piece from Salon which ably smacks down the truthy McCain/Palin campaign.

Read it.

Here's a piece from Slate which shows how much better Democratic governments are for the US economy.

Read it.

There's the video of McCain flipping his flop.

There's my entry below on Palin's sudden U-turn on the Troopergate investigation.

Their lying is pathetic, their ideas are bankrupt. Tell me again why anyone would vote for these people?

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Palin Wants an End to Palin Investigation

Ah, the rich, deep, well of corruption that is modern Republicanism spews another gobbet of crud onto our screens.

Palin Calling for an End to Investigation She Requested
When the Alaska Legislature's Legislative Council, a Republican-dominated panel of 14 legislators which conducts business when the Legislature is out session, voted to investigate the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan in July, Palin pledged her full support.

But almost immediately after joining the GOP ticket, Palin's Troopergate strategy veered sharply. Despite her earlier vows of full cooperation with the probe, she declared it unlawful. The legislature lacked the authority to investigate the matter, she said. Instead, it should be handled by the state personnel board, Palin asserted -- a panel which is under her authority.
But never fear, she's got friends. New ones. From Texas, even!

Suit Filed to Stop Troopergate Probe into Gov. Sarah Palin
A group of Alaska Republican lawmakers, with the support of a Texas-based conservative legal group, has filed suit to stop the Alaska Legislature's "Troopergate" probe into Gov. Sarah Palin.

A suit filed today aims to stop the Alaska Legislature's "Troopergate" probe into Gov. Sarah Palin.
The suit alleges the legislature overstepped its authority by probing the Republican's vice presidential pick, "conducting a 'McCarthyistic' investigation in an unlawful, biased, partial and partisan political manner" to sway the upcoming state and national elections.
That would be that McCarthyistic (Since Tailgunner Joe was a repub, I can only imagine they mean Gene) investigation that Governor Palin agreed to fully co-operate with? That partisan effort from a Republican-dominated Legislative Council?

Anyone hear a clucking sound over at the Republican campaign?

Perhaps McCain should have vetted her for more than fifteen minutes, eh?

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17 September 2008

Palin's E-mails: Right or Wrong, Some of Them Are Out There

... some are almost as far out as the lady herself.

It appears, according to the article from Gawker (yeah, Gawker), that the perversely famous Anonymous may have hacked her Yahoo! account, which has since been deleted.

The posted items are, so far as I can tell, innocuous relative to what we already know of the far right's most prominent cheerleader. Yeah, she prays a lot. Yeah, she hates the media ... Of course it does say something that the media she's hating on here is a right-wing-wurlitzer member in good standing.

There's some roaring going on as to whether the privacy hack was wrong or right. Me, I have to say I'd go with wrong, with two possible mitigating circumstances:

1) Sarah Palin was already under investigation for an all-too-common Republican trick: Using personal e-mail accounts for government business.

The deal is, governments are required by law to retain records and e-mail messages. Private citizens aren't. So if you're dealing with a sticky matter (like firing your ex-brother-in-law, or hiring your classmates to government jobs and contracts), then perhaps you'd be better off keeping that stuff on your private account.

In the most famous instance of similar activity, Karl Rove or someone under his orders is said to have deleted several million government e-mail messages relating to the Justice Department attorney firings. A related memo apparently suggested that all parties should stick to their private e-mail accounts, and use ones provided by the Republican Party, in order to avoid ill effects from subpoenas.

2) Let's face it--she's a public figure in this, the age of the intertubes. Sure, nobody wants it to happen to them, but if you're going to shoot at becoming the most famous sidekick in the world (with, FSM forbid, about a 30% chance of becoming the most famous individual in the world) you're going to be at risk for this sort of thing.

It's one reason Metro keeps very shoddy, poorly-organized records.

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16 September 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Polling Booth

Only it's not terribly funny.

This is in response to the post over at Raincoaster's. Go watch that video. It's funny, and serious. No, really, go watch it. I'll wait right here 'till you get back.

...

Wow. That was pretty quick. Did you watch the whole thing?

No, no, seriously, go and watch it. All of it. Yeah, yeah, I'll still be here. I have nothing more important on my slate today.

...

Okay, so ...

My friend Nom was at poker last night. I like Nom, he's funny, creative, and I take comfort in knowing that although his boyish good looks could get him laid anywhere even while I stood at the bar desperately pumping drinks into co-eds, many people on intial contact think he's gay.

During our conversation, he said (just "said", not "shamefacedly confessed," nor "brokenly wept") that he had never voted.

The man is thirty-eight years old. Thirty-£µ©λing -eight, and he's never cast a vote in any country, at any level.

A The response I should have given was: "So you're just a £µ©λing toob, then? You consume, you excrete, and in between you do what?"

He brought up the same old careworn excuses:

Excuse one:
"Well they all look the same to me. They're all just politicians."

Hey, Mr. Toob--politics is the way the civilized world gets $#17 done with a minimum of blood shed and a minimum level of balance. If you have a better way, one that actually works, then I await the revelation.

Of course they're politicians--they're trying to attract your attention, you moron! They have to preen and strut before the cameras. And because you, Joe Toob, have the attention span of a stunned penguin, they have to translate complex, nuanced positions into three-second sound bites.

Excuse number two:
"Well, I'm just not sufficiently well-informed to make a judgement about these things."

Whose fault, exactly, is it that you have the political awareness of a concussed hamster?

So you're willing to let other people decide your future? People who may know less than you do but aren't so £µ©λing apathetic?

There's an easy way to correct your knowledge defecit:
1) Get yourself a daily paper--I don't care which. Even the Nazional Post would do--their straight journalism is often pretty decent. It's their columnists who need better medication regimes.

2) Watch a half-hour newscast or listen to the radio.

3) Or even--have you heard? There's this thing called the "innernet" or something, I bet you could find loads of political reporting there.

... Okay, so maybe you should stay away from the internet until you develop some instinct for fact versus opinion in news reporting. After all, FOX is out here, and it's pretty out there.

Develop some positions, develop some awareness. Develop some spine and take some £µ©λing responsibility.

Hell, if you must, just listen to me! I mean, my biases are pretty up-front, and we're not politically dissimilar.

For a good metaphor, failing to vote is like asking the other players at the poker table to play your hand, with your money.

You don't have the right to vote. You have the duty to do it. To your country, your fellow citizens, and to yourself.


For Nom, set to theTragically Hip's "38 Years Old".

He first came of age, in 1988
There was an election, and a buncha candidates
He spaced on the couch, watched some Gilligan's Isle
And whoever won, he didn't notice for awhile

Same poster on the lamp-post
Same speeches and stuff
Like to do his part, but he don't know enough
It might help him if he had the Cliff's Notes
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote

In 1993, he'd just turned 24
When the TV told him it was coming once more
Cast no ballot, didn't know enough about
Which bum to vote in, and which bum to vote out

Same faces on the billboards, the same candidate
All vying for a chance to command the ship of state
He doesn't really care, who wants to steer the boat,
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote

Now it's 2008, and the stakes are pretty high
If we keep spewing carbon then we're all gonna fry
He stayed at home, watched the "Idol" on TV
"Hey if it's goin' shitty then you can't blame me."

Same garbage in the water, same crud in the sky
'Cause some other folks voted for the wrong kind of guy
He's at best apathetic, at worst a Judas goat
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote
He's 38 years old
Never cast a vote

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12 September 2008

Clear Proof of the Buying Power of the Feminine Community



It can't just be interior decorators who have skewed my search results!

Mind you, I'm a bit surprised that a hammers-and-lumber store is carrying hadbags in the first place. Although that's not much compared to my astonishment at the fact that women (who already far more shoes than the average number of feet would normally require) might own as many as eighteen handbags.

Nobody is to show this page to Mme Metro.

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I'm Trying... But They Keep Coming at Me!

With boatloads of hypocrisy from The Daily Show ... or rather, from the Republican Party, courtesy of The Daily Show.



Honestly, I have every intention of beating Stephen Harper about the head and neck like a red-headed stepchild right here in public on the ol' Metroblog, using nothing but his own words. But I've got a wedding this weekend and I'm up against a deadline.

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11 September 2008

I'm Trying to Ignore the Republicans

As our own election is bearing down apace, foisted on us by a Prime Minister pro tempore who repeatedly said Canadians didn't want early elections, or snap elections, or anything but fixed-dates ... But we'll deal with the fundamental dishonesty Harper is bringing to the table in another post.

I'm swamped with elections--federal and civic, for starters. And I can't say I'm thrilled about either, more on the which some other time.

But Margaret Wente is thrilled:

[T]hat's precisely why I'm loving this election. It reminds me why I'm so grateful to live here in Canada, where most of our disputes are small ones. In Canada, abortion is not a ballot question. Creationism is not taught in schools, teachers don't pack guns and politicians aren't required to publicly declare their personal relationship to God. Our politics are not defined by culture wars. Our deepest cultural divide is between people who like Starbucks and the ones who like Tim Hortons.
Good points, all of them. read the piece.

But wrong. There is a serious gulf between people who genuinely want this country to lead the way into the future, and those who would vote for the Conservative Party of Canada.

Wente also reveals something I didn't know before, that Harper's in touch with his fruit self. Which may mean that his recent softening isn't his campaign trying to paste a human face on their droid.

It may simply mean he's overripe.

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10 September 2008

Anti-Science Asshats

So I was waiting for Mme Metro to pick me up. I decided to kill time by dropping in to our local blue-collar bar.

It's an old place I can call "The Drake". The interior is dark, built mostly of roughish wood and festooned with antique memorabilia that wasn't bought fresh from a restaurant supply store or as a job lot on eBay. It's a cash bar, self-service only. I like it a lot. Reminds me of Big Bad John's back before they started playing up the hillbilly angle.

I buy my four-times-the-price-of-gasoline pint and retire to a table near the bar. They're all near the bar, the place is too small to get too far away.

Which is why I can hear the idiot holding forth at the nearby table. He and the two he's talking to are working-class types, but cleaner than the house painters, taper/drywallers, and other mudslingers who populate the place at the moment. I'm not running him down for that: In among the spattered overalls and work boots my kakhis and collared shirt stick out; just a little, but they do.

"Well these scientists--they don't even know what it's gonna do, this Large Hadron Collider. I mean, ..."

Me (thinks) Oh great. Just smurfin' great.

"This thing is supposed to copy the Big Bang, right? So it's gonna create a whole new little universe, right? Or they say it might even destroy the whole world ..."

He goes on to explain his eminently scientific theory.

"Yeah, these scientists, they don't even know what they're doing. It's like those guys who messed aroung with the atom, and they got the atom bomb. They didn't know--they thought they might blow up the world, and they went ahead anyway. They just got lucky. So here we are and they spend billions of dollars and they don't even know ..."

I try to tune him out, but it's hard. This dude is emblematic of much, maybe most, of what's wrong with society.

My grandparents were not educated people. But they had faith in science, and in scientists. Why? Because they read enough to understand the level of their own ignorance. They knew enough to step back and let the experts argue things out, and they respected somebody who'd spent their life studying an aspect of science that they perhaps might not have considered.

But now we've fallen for the fallacy that every man's opinion is as good as another's. I watched a "man-in-the-street" interview last week, the question to which was: "Do you think the Large Hadron Collider poses a risk to human life?" or some such drivel.

Don't believe me?

Last week the world watched in horror as John McCain stooped to pander to the rightwing christofascists of his party, who had turned from him in droves, and selected his running mate, Sarah Palin.

Palin:
Bought her governorship in a state so jaded by corruption that her own ideological corruption went largely unremarked.

Is a lifetime member of an organization that believes more guns in public life is a good thing.

Supports abstinence-only sex ed (but fortunately seems unopposed to birth control).

Believes no woman should ever have an abortion under any circumstances except a direct threat to the mother's life.

Believes the world was created, as is, about six thousand years ago.

Is a regular attender of a church that preaches that we are living in the Biblical "End Times".

Thinks the Iraq war is "a task from God."

Believes in censoring libraries.

Is, clearly, a goddamned idiot.

Yet this, this homunculus, this hindering knotgrass maid, this hayseed, is reckoned the stuff of vice-presidency? Hell, even the Rupert-Murdoch-mouthpiece Wall Street Journal thinks she's nuts.

Lord Jesus, defend us from your followers. And from the average.

I think one reason Steve Harper called the Canadian election for next month (aside from his wish to take his ball and his bat and not play anymore if the opposition's just going to keep letting him have his way, apparently) is that he knows that no-one'll be paying attention as long as the US is dithering between a young, dynamic, go-ahead kind of dude whose veep pick is a senator with a track record of hard work, and a has-been war hero who's repudiated everything he ever stood for, crowning his horse$#17 sundae with the rotten and worm-infested maraschino cherry of the Palin nomination.

In what country on this planet would one expect to see the McAncient/Psycho ticket tied with the Charismatic-youth/Forty-odd-years-of-genuine-experience ticket?

Sam Harris probably says it better:
Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the "Who would you like to have a beer with?" poll question in 2004, and won reelection.
Let me leave my US Avid Fans with one last thought:

Do you want, as a person one heartbeat from the presidency, a few seconds from controlling the world's deadliest nuclear arsenal, a woman who believes the end of the world is already well on its way, and that she can do no wrong because her God is in charge and will guide her finger?

If the Republicans actually win the White House with this ticket, then it's time to build a large brick wall, topped with broken glass and patrolled by rabid rottweilers, along the forty-ninth parallel.

We cannot allow anti-science idiots to run the world.

Harper's wrong, of course. The appointment of this imbecile makes it even more important that Canada elects someone who likes actual, y'know, science. Stephane Dion would be okay. David Suzuki would be better. But Harper is to science what Herod was to Bethlehem daycare.

Which brings me back to the bar. As one of the expounder's drinking companions passes me, I am unable to resist saying:

"Say--ask him if he felt anything funny two weeks ago when they tested it for the first time."

Happy Hadron Collider Day. And you know something? If it finds God rather than god particles I'll delete this post and pray the McAncient/Nutjob ticket wins.

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05 September 2008

Hmmmm?

Wandering through the ByWard market district of the National Capital (formerly Bytown), I comment:

"Hey ... doesn't it smell a bit, ... cowish around here?"

"Wonder if Parliament's in session?" says Mme Metro.

Be good. I'll be back soon. Don't wait up.