Saturday, July 31, 2004

This Land

In the I-know-you've-probably-seen-it department, check out this Bush vs. Kerry Flash animation from JibJab. Would you believe Woody Guthrie, the guy who wrote "This Land," wants to sue them for it?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cheap Japanese hotel

Would you believe I am the second site listed if you search Yahoo! for "cheap japanese hotel, because of my post about our living quarters?  How funny.

Secularize America

Oliver Willis reminds us of a shining moment in religious tolerance from Jerry Falwell, who is giving the opening invocation at the Republican National Convention.

"The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"

Hey, he managed to insult me and all of my friends in just one sentence!

Seriously, I disagree with the Republican platform on just about every issue.  Nevertheless, I recognize that there might be a fair number of people who are simply old-fashioned economic or social conservatives, but don't believe in hate.  Unfortunately, it becomes clearer and clearer as every day goes by that the Republican leadership, from President Bush on down, does believe in hate, and the people they hate are us.  There is no excuse for honoring a person who could say something like the above.  No excuse.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I switched over to Haloscan comments, mostly because Blogger doesn't do trackbacks yet.  Your old comments are still visible at each post's permenant link (the # in the byline).

Abortion t-shirt

Planned Parenthood is selling t-shirts that say "I had an abortion" on them.  I think this is a marvelous idea.  We need to eliminate the stigma attatched to procreative liberty.  The only problem is that very stigma preventing anyone from wearing them.

[via die puny humans]

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The death penalty

To me, the problem with the death penalty is really twofold.  First and foremost is reversability.  We live in a world of imperfect justice, in which people get away with crimes and people are convicted of crimes they didn't commit. About a hundred people on death row have been exhonorated in the last twenty years.  A hundred people could have died for no reason.  Thanks to ever-improving forensic techniques, the success rate of proving or disproving crimes is increasing dramatically.  But until it is 100%, without fail, I could never even consider supporting the death penalty.  This isn't jail.  It isn't even caning.  It is killing, and the dead just don't come back, regardless of what they taught you in Sunday school.  I think that if an executed person is later found innocent, those responsible for sentencing him should be tried for manslaughter.

However, assume that advances in forensic science do reach the 100% certainty level.  While I don't see that happening, it's not inconceivable, though certainly decades away.  Then my second objection to the death penalty would still apply: the good that would come from killing the convict would not be worth the bad.  I don't believe in karma, but I do believe that in order to distinguish the good from the bad there must be a difference between them.  Killing should always be a last resort, done only when there is no other choice.  There is another choice for murderers, even psychopaths: life in prison without the possibility of parole.  Killing them only makes the loved ones of the victims feel better, and I believe that "feeling better" is not sufficient reason to take a life. 

I had a bit of a debate with somebody on the VeggieBoards (a vegetarian message board I enjoy) first about President Bush but now about the death penalty.  I use the term "debate" loosely since he didn't do much more than attack strawmen, but it inspired me to write about it.  Read the thread here, if you like.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A comedy of errors

Here's an amusing tale from my daily life.

I left with three tasks: deposit some money, arrange to take defensive driving for a speeding ticket, and fax something to the university.  I get to the bank, drive up to the ATM, and realize that my check isn't endorsed and I don't have a pen.  So I decide to postpone the deposit.  However, I need gas and head to the gas station.  Unfortunately, my check card hasn't been activated since I lost my old one; the ATM would have done that.  I have to take $20 of the cash I planned on depositing and pay inside.  As I'm leaving I realize that I still have my bag from school in my car with has a pen in it.  I go back to the bank and make my deposit.

Next I head over to the justice center to sign up for defensive driving.  Everything is going well until I hand her my insurance card: it expired in April 2004.  I tell the clerk I must have grabbed the wrong one and head back out to the car.  I seem to remember getting the new card in the mail but not putting it in my car; luckily, since we're in the middle of a two-month move, I have a bag in the car that has miscellaneous junk including the new card.  So I take it back inside, but it turns out this card is for October 2004 to April 2005!  Both I and the clerk are dumbfounded, and she has to undo everything she just spent five minutes doing.  When I go to the car something makes me check the bag again and sure enough: there is the April 2004 to October 2004 card, right where the other one was.  I go back in and do the whole thing all over again.

When I get to Kinko's to make the fax, a woman is taking the only working fax machine so I have to get an employee to do it behind the counter.  That machine doesn't work and he has to take it into the office.  It take three attempts before the fax goes through.

I think that says all that needs to be said about my day so far.  Now I need food.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Our living quarters

Remember when I told you we packed the cables? I lied.

Really, though, it's not bad here.  We almost have as much room as a cheap Japanese hotel!  This room is supposed to be an office.  Just two more weeks and we'll really be in a cheap hotel . . . and two weeks after that and we'll actually be in our new place.  Finally.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

I believe that qualifies as "ill"

Leela, from Futurama, on the Beastie Boys:

"Impressive. They're busting mad rhymes with an 80% success rate."


I was going to make a photoblog of our living conditions here, but alas, we packed the digital camera's cables.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Torture is bad

Two-thirds of Americans believe physical torture should never be used.  What I find disturbing is that this means 100 million Americans think torture is OK.  As you walk down the street, one out of every three people you pass thinks it is acceptable to inflict pain and injury on others for information.  Don't get on their bad side!

Self-cleaning clothes

Hong Kong scientists have developed nanofabric capable of cleaning itself when exposed to light.  This takes those stain-resistent Dockers to a whole new level.  And it's about time, if I do say so myself.  Maybe in fifty years, the washing machine will seem as quaint as the outhouse.

[via BoingBoing]

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Meet Your Meat

Now, I'm not a huge fan of PETA.  They've got their hearts in the right place, but they're over the top and I think they've got their tactics completely wrong.  They just piss people off.  However . . .

If you want to know why I am a vegetarian, watch this video free online.  Be forewarned: it is graphic and may be disturbing, but that's the point.

Flash fiction

She asked him, "How are you doing?"

Somewhere in his brain, a chemosynthetic drug gland pulsed and released a flood of dopamine-x, washing over his synapses while current flowed through nanofilaments to tickle his pleasure center.

"I'm good," he replied.  He smiled and savored his soma.

Life (not) as we know it

Things are a-changin'.  It's been a while since I posted anything about the goings on in my life, so here's the latest news.

Rachel and I are graduating on August 7 from the University of North Texas.  I will have a commandingly rare Bachelor of Arts degree in English composition and a minor in political science.  That very same day, we're moving out of Amy and B.J.'s apartment and into places unknown.  I am (hopefully) transferring down to an Olive Garden in Austin for the time being, to keep at least one source of income in the transition.  I am applying to be a substitute teacher at both Austin ISD and Georgetown ISD, and my goal is to work all three jobs at once.  In theory, the teaching won't be an everyday thing, so with luck it'll just be a mish-mash of different work every day.  If I get enough teaching gigs, I'll quit at Olive Garden.  If I actually like it, I'll get teacher certified and corrupt young minds professionally.

Meanwhile, our new apartment lease doesn't begin until August 21, which means that there are two weeks that we will be homeless.  We'll just stay in one of those weekly-rate hotels, probably.  If I can't transfer to the Olive Garden until, say, the 15th or so, we might just take a week's vacation in Houston with my parents.

The writing is coming along nicely.  I've got a decent little story cooking, and I actually know where it's going for a change.

I guess that's the big stuff.  Needless to say, if in three weeks my posting gets spotty, don't worry: I'll be back!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Point and click, baby

If you read a lot of blogs, like I do, you need to look into a news aggregator.  I've started using Bloglines, which is a free web-based aggregator, but you can find any number of other options.   Basically, when you see "site feed" or "XML" or "RSS" or "Atom" buttons on a blog or other page, you can subscribe to it.  In your aggregator, you get all of the blogs, and you just click on them to read the latest posts.  In other words, all of the day's news and blog posts are on one page, aside from those who don't yet syndicate.  No more tedious surfing to every page you want to check out.  Highly recommended.  I can't believe I never jumped on this sooner.

Hit me!

I realize I am probably the last person to see this, but it is pretty funny, so if in fact anybody else hasn't seen it, check it out.   At least a passing familiarity with Raging Bull is advised.  I've never actually seen it, but I still recognized some lines.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Indulge in any hilariousness

This is strangely relevant.

The appearance of Eastman's cameras was so sudden and so pervasive that the reaction in some quarters was fear. A figure called the "camera fiend" began to appear at beach resorts, prowling the premises until he could catch female bathers unawares. One resort felt the trend so heavily that it posted a notice: "PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO USE THEIR KODAKS ON THE BEACH." Other locations were no safer. For a time, Kodak cameras were banned from the Washington Monument. The "Hartford Courant" sounded the alarm as well, declaring that "the sedate citizen can't indulge in any hilariousness without the risk of being caught in the act and having his photograph passed around among his Sunday School children."

Sounds a lot like cameraphones, doesn't it?

[via BoingBoing]


Have you ever seen this page before? Google dominates the search market, we know this. But what can you do with all of those countless search queries? You can compile them, and see what people want now, and in the past. Apparently, in 2003, britney spears was the most entered query. I'm glad we live in a world where pop stars rule. Or not.


Amy and B.J. have been renting just about every episode of Oz from Blockbuster and we've been watching them.  That was a good series, and until now I've only seen a handful of episodes scattered throughout the seasons.

Monday, July 19, 2004

New blog design

You have no idea how many versions I went through before choosing this one.

Saturday, July 17, 2004


Having now established myself as a Blogger user again, I'm going to be giving my site a facelift, so if things get a little wonky, I apologize.

Friday, July 16, 2004


It seems remarkably coincidental that these three stories are out simultaneously.

A brief fanboy moment

Bruce Sterling just invited me to attend the Turkey City writer's workshop, apparently simply because I linked to his blog and my profile says I'm a writer.  How cool is that?  Now I've got motivation to really get serious and finish a decent story!  Luckily I have something in mind . . .

Thursday, July 15, 2004


This really sort of rambling, now.

I was thinking about ethics, and a thought occurred to me. Usually, I tend to think of ethics the same way someone might think of the Ten Commandments: "thou shalt not." As a vegetarian, I am often thinking of where the consumption line should be drawn. For instance, it's safe to say that a bivalve mullosc like a clam or an oyster, while technically an animal, doesn't have enough of a nervous system to care whether it's eaten or not. The same goes for insects who, while I wouldn't eat them, I might swat. But then there's crab, and lobster, and squid, other invertebrates without central nervous systems. They probably can't "think" about pain in the way even a fish can by virtue of a vertebrate central nervous system. And even a fish doesn't have a whole lot of proccessing power in the ol' CPU. You'd have to get up to the level of birds and mammals before there's any animal emotion involved.

The point of this is that when I think about these things, I'm thinking about it from the standpoint of "Why shouldn't I eat animal X?" If I think about buying something expensive when I know the money could be used to benefit someone less fortunate, I think, "Why shouldn't I?"

I have been giving thought to a new way of looking at ethical dilemmas, and it's really pretty simple. Take whatever ethical system you follow (I'm a utilitarian; it might be the Bible, or your own ad hoc rules) and simply reverse the question. Instead of asking, "Why shouldn't I X?" ask "Why should I X?" For example, why should I eat an animal? I don't need it nutritionally. What it comes down to is that I just want to, and that's no reason to kill something. As I think about it, most situations in which this sort of question arises boil down to being simple desires. I just want to eat an animal, I just want to show off my fast car, I just want X.

I'm not saying any of these things are in and of themselves wrong. In fact, getting as much of what you want is positvely good, as long as it doesn't deprive anyone else of what they want. But "why shouldn't I" thinking leads us to rationalize our decisions after we've made them. "Why should I" thinking leads us to decide based on the merits. Maybe the sentient, conscious pleasure you take from eating a steak outweighs the suffering the simple-minded cow experienced. Maybe the increased income to construction workers, utility workers, auto workers, and sweatshop workers to produce your big house, fast car, and designer clothes outweighs a couple of starving Ethiopians.

Seriously, it might. The point is that you thought about it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Speak of the Devil

My First (and Last) Time With Bill O'Reilly

"I'm Not Going to Dress You Down Anymore"

I was listening to the Al Franken Show online, and he interviewed Jeremy Glick, whose story I was familiar with from Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Long story short, Glick's father was killed on September 11 and Glick signed an antiwar petition and actively protested the war in Afghanistan. He was on the O'Reilly Factor and Bill O'Reilly got so enraged that he told Glick to shut up.

O'REILLY: All right. You didn't support the action against Afghanistan to remove the Taliban. You were against it, OK.

GLICK: Why would I want to brutalize and further punish the people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father!

GLICK: The people in Afghanistan...

O'REILLY: Who killed your father.

GLICK: ... didn't kill my father.

O'REILLY: Sure they did. The al Qaeda people were trained there.

GLICK: The al Qaeda people? What about the Afghan people?

O'REILLY: See, I'm more angry about it than you are!

GLICK: So what about George Bush?

O'REILLY: What about George Bush? He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: The director -- senior as director of the CIA.

O'REILLY: He had nothing to do with it.

GLICK: So the people that trained a hundred thousand Mujahadeen who were...

O'REILLY: Man, I hope your mom isn't watching this.

GLICK: Well, I hope she is.

O'REILLY: I hope your mother is not watching this because you -- that's it. I'm not going to say anymore.


O'REILLY: In respect for your father...

GLICK: On September 14, do you want to know what I'm doing?

O'REILLY: Shut up. Shut up.

GLICK: Oh, please don't tell me to shut up.

O'REILLY: As respect -- as respect -- in respect for your father, who was a Port Authority worker, a fine American, who got killed unnecessarily by barbarians...

GLICK: By radical extremists who were trained by this government...

O'REILLY: Out of respect for him...

GLICK: ... not the people of America.

O'REILLY: ... I'm not going to...

GLICK: ... The people of the ruling class, the small minority.

O'REILLY: Cut his mic. I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father. We will be back in a moment with more of the Factor.

GLICK: That means we're done?

O'REILLY: We're done.
Anyway, this is relevant because my father enjoys watching the O'Reilly Factor. I wonder what he would make of the above.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Dr. Colbert's Divine Health Nutritional Products

The book What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great and Living Longer, explores the actual diet of Jesus Christ in biblical times and explains how it can be applied today for healthier living. For those desiring to safely lose weight and for those seeking a healthier, Bible-based eating program, the only question to ask is, What Would Jesus Eat?

Monday, July 12, 2004

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

I was thinking that I want to make learning languages a hobby. I know a bit of Spanish, and a little more Italian. I think I'm going to go for the gusto and get into some hard ones to my corrupted European ears: Japanese, and then Mandarin Chinese.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Preacher Man

Just seconds ago, Rachel turned on the TV. It was a televised church service of some kind. The preacher said, "God wants you to get the best deal. God wants you to get good deals when you buy a car. He always wants you to get the best deal. But you have to keep obeying the Scriptures." He didn't give a citation for it. Must have been from one of those lost gospels.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Angry Alien Productions

Now this is funny shit. Especially the songs at the end.

Who shares my views?

Luke turned me on to this survey, and these are my results.

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)

2. Cobb, David - Green Party (99%)

3. Nader, Ralph - Independent (94%)

4. Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (93%)

5. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (84%)

6. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (79%)

7. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (77%)

8. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (77%)

9. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (77%)

10. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (69%)

11. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (65%)

12. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (62%)

13. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (40%)

14. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (38%)

15. Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (28%)

16. Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (12%)

17. Hagelin, Dr. John - Natural Law (8%)

18. Bush, President George W. - Republican (7%)

Just so you know

I really want to make good, solid blog posts, but I also don't want to spend large amounts of time blogging when I have so little of it on a day I work a double. So, my bad.

Friday, July 9, 2004

The OG

We went to Olive Garden for lunch today. When I told the server that I worked at the Olive Garden in Lewisville, so as to get the discount, he said, "I'm sorry." I think that says something about working at Olive Garden.


Happy birthday to Rachel!

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Trix are for kids

Devious Rabbit Tricks Bush Into Signing Gun Ban

What's sad is, I bet he'd really fall for it. Actually, I wish he would.


I suppose John Edwards is as good a choice as any for John Kerry's running mate. In all honesty, it really doesn't matter much to me on a "big picture" sort of level. For practical purposes, it does seem as though Edwards gives Kerry the best chance of beating George W. Bush, at least compared to any of the other potentials save John McCain. It is disappointing that both Kerry and Edwards voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, but at least they're arguing that Bush took that authorization and royally fucked everything up. Better to make a mistake and learn from it than to make a mistake and stick to your guns as Bush and company have done.

I was out of the blog scene when I saw Fahrenheit 9/11, but I want to strongly encourage anyone, regardless of political leaning, to see this film. If you disagree with Michael Moore's politics, there is still valuable, factual information to be learned from it. Just ignore the spin. On the other hand, if you agree with Moore's politics as I do, enjoy yourself!

Oh yeah . . .

If I'm linking to you, and you want your name reformatted, let me know. For that matter, if you have any suggestions for links, let me know that, too. I'm not trying to be "link central" here, but I'd like to stay up to date.

A Fresh Start

As you can see, I have decided to begin anew with blogging, and I have moved back to Blogger, since it seems to offer the most flexibility.