Wednesday, March 29, 2006


From The Onion. Where else?
Science-Fiction Novel Posits Future Where Characters Are Hastily Sketched

OREGON CITY, OR—Science-fiction author Morgan Richards announced Monday completion of his long-awaited novel, Zeppelins Of Phobos. The swashbuckling tale of the battle for control of the solar system depicts a terrifying future filled with virtually indistinguishable characters who only communicate through stilted and shallow dialogue. "I've always been intrigued by the concept of the two-dimensional, almost caricatured human race spreading to nearby planets," said Richards in the April/May issue of Asimov's Science Fiction. "I wanted to capture the sense of adventure, lust, and peril that these characters would feel, along with their utter lack of social context or emotional complexity." Richards said the very nature of his characters demanded that they live in the unlikely, unrealistic, and overly cinematic society he painstakingly details in the book.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I heart illegal aliens

The battle over immigration is reaching a head in Washington. In December, the House passed a bill requiring employers to verify social security numbers, mandating the construction of 700 miles of fences at the U.S./Mexico border, and making illegal residence a felony. Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to debate their own bill that would allow illegal immigrants to become permanent residents and creates a guest-worker program. Republicans are split, protestors have flooded the streets of cities across the country, and the issue is fissioning.

First of all, building fences isn't going to stop anyone desperate enough to abandon their entire life for opportunity in the United States. These people aren't just skipping across the border because they want to, they are coming because they have to. They lost their farms when NAFTA shifted the trade balance and made it cheaper to import many traditional crops than to buy locally in Mexico. They can't feed their families.

And then there is the second major component of the immigration debate: do you punish those who are already living in this country -- eleven million of them -- or do you find a way to integrate them into our society? The fact of the matter is that they are already integrated into our society, invisibly, tending our crops and building our houses. We need them as much as they need us, whether we want to admit it or not.

There is no simple solution to the immigration "problem." There are many ways to make it worse. Militarizing the border and creating eleven million new felons, for example. In my opinion, the best ways to deal with the issue are first to make trade fair and work with the governments of these countries to eliminate the conditions that drive their citizens away, and to make it easier for immigrants to become legal residents and continue to play their valuable role in our economy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Colorized political map goodness

For your perusal at your leisure. Now!

Times they are a changin'. Remember the red state/blue state maps that were all the rage after the 2004 election? What happens if you take President Bush's approval rating and color code it the same way to compare...?

[via God is for Suckers!]

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Busy weekend

On Friday we went to see Nine Inch Nails at the Frank Erwin Center, which was as awesome as you would expect it to be. I got to see someone I haven't seen in almost a decade for a solid five minutes afterward, which was neat. Then on Saturday we and some friends surprised another friend for her birthday with a trip to San Antonio for the weekend, including a visit to el Mercado, dinner at the Mi Tierra Café, drinking on the Riverwalk, breakfast at Guenther House, and a day at Fiesta Texas. Which reminds me, if you ever get me into an amusement park, here's my thing: I don't like falling. I love fast, loopy rollercoasters. I don't do the dropping kind, and I don't like going backward. If that utterly emasculates me, I'm comfortable with it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My software load

Just for the hell of it, here's a list of the software I use on a daily basis. All of it for Mac OS X, of course.

Acquisition. A great peer-to-peer filesharing program with iTunes integration. It even makes suggestions and filters junk and spam while you search. It does bug you to pay, but functionality isn't compromised if you don't.

Firefox. Unless you really just don't care about your browsing experience, there's no reason anyone on any platform shouldn't be using Firefox as their Web browser. Here are some extensions that come in handy.
  • Adblock. It is shocking to browse the Web on a computer without Firefox and Adblock. How do you people survive the sheer visual horror of so many ads?
  • Book Burro. I can browse Amazon and compare prices instantly with all the other online sellers; it's helpful.
  • BugMeNot. Bypass free Web site registrations.
  • Greasemonkey. Incredibly powerful extension that gives you control over many aspects of Web site appearance and fucntionality. For example, in this very post I used a Greasemonkey user script to add a tag input field to Blogger's editor to append and format the Technorati tags at the bottom of the post. Or I can get Netflix links on IMDB movie pages. Or all sorts of other nifty things.
  • Tab Mix Plus. Gives a lot of tab-browsing options; the only one I really use is adding close buttons to each tab.
iTunes. A no-brainer; I even used the Windows version when I was a PC jockey.
  • iMote. It's not really a plug-in, but it gives menu bar access to track controls, star ratings, and features a pop-up floater when tracks change with info and album art.
Mail. I use Gmail, but I don't really care for the Web interface so I POP it. Apple's Mail is capable of essentially all the same groovy functionality Gmail has thanks to Spotlight integration and Smart Mailboxes. Plus I get a local archive of all my mail in case I need a message and I'm in the WiFi-less wilderness.

Meteorologist. This is a nifty little menubar item that shows a weather icon and the temperature. Clicking the icon gives you the current conditions and forcast. There are several similar free programs around.

NeoOffice. It's ugly as sin, but this free, open source office suite does everything Microsoft Office can, and it's fully compatible.

NetNewsWire. An oustanding RSS and Atom newsreader. A built-in browser and the ability to flag items indefinitely come in handy. This is the only non-free software on this list at $25.

Pinki. This little program does one thing: make thumbnails of images. But it's so much nicer to be able to glance at a list of image files and actually see what they are without having to select them.

Proteus. This is a multi-protocol chat client that I use to simultaneously connect to AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Google Talk. A lot of Mac people swear by Adium for its truly astounding customizability. I do have Adium installed, but Rachel uses it and I stick with Proteus. Now free!

Tomato Torrent. A simple, easy to use BitTorrent program.

UNO. Purely for eye-candy, UNO gives all Mac OS X windows the same appearance, rather than some being brushed metal, some plastic, some Aqua, etc.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Me and my kind

Have you ever heard a commentator or pundit, perhaps around Christmas, blathering on about how Christians are a persecuted minority in the now-Godless America corrupted by liberals and heathens? Funny, that. And far from the truth, according to the University of Minnesota.
From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher.
Edgell also argues that today's atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past--they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. "It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common 'core' of values that make them trustworthy--and in America, that 'core' has historically been religious," says Edgell. Many of the study's respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.
It's hard for me to be surprised at these sorts of surveys anymore.

[via Pharyngula]

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cameras capture your soul

Our old digital camera was... old. It was starting to suck and have some problems. So we bought a Canon PowerShot S2 IS. It's about fifteen steps up from our previous model, and capable of some actual photographic adjustments rather than just point-and-shoot snapshotting. Now I'm all inspired to take photos of junk and stuff.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


In non-snake non-plane news...

I saw V for Vendetta on Friday. I haven't read the graphic novel, though I will now. It sure made for a good movie. I understand original writer Alan Moore didn't like it because V was more of a liberal than an anarchist. I'm not an anarchist, so i can't say I care...

The latest Turkey City writer's workshop was yesterday. I need to write more. And, like, sell it.

Spring Break is over, which means kids will need teaching and I'll have to get back to it tomorrow. At times like these I wish I had inherited a large windfall and could sit back and do nothing all the time, instead of only on various school holidays.

My head hurts. Excedrin Migraine, here I come.

Snakes! On a plane!

Snakes on a Plane Exclusive Footage

Ah, the most famous movie nobody has seen. I think I just crapped myself laughing. If you've missed this meme's propagation through the blogosphere, you've really missed out. Here's the key: watch the footage above and then remember this isn't a parody.

Samuel L. Jackson in Premiere magazine:
They had already changed the title when I got to Canada to start shooting. I let it go for a while. Then one day all the producers were standing there, and I'm saying, "So are you seriously going to leave this name like this?" And they're going, "Yeah, we don't want to give too much away to the audience." I'm like, "Yeah you do. That's the way you get them in here. Nobody wants to see Pacific Air Flight 121. People want to see Snakes on a Plane." When I picked up the script and I saw the title, I didn't even read it and I said, "I want to do it." You know, before I opened the first page, Snakes on a Plane. If this is what I think it is, I want to be in this. I want to be on a plane full of poisonous snakes. And I want to see other people on a plane full of poisonous snakes. You say Snakes on a Plane, people who don't like snakes are intrigued. The people who don't like to fly are intrigued. The people who don't like both are totally terrified now. People who just like seeing mayhem are ready for that. They want to see, you know, people enclosed in a big tin tube getting attacked by poisonous snakes. Come on! What could be more exciting than that, you know? What do you do? What do you do until the plane lands? Come on, Snakes on a Plane, that's the title. And, you know, somebody heard that comment, people on the Internet got behind it. "That's right! [pounding the table, with gruff voice] We want Snakes on a Plane!" So now, there's, I don't know, five, six websites, you know, that are dedicated . . . There are T-shirts, there are bags, there are jackets . . . Snakes on a Plane. [pauses, then looks wide-eyed] And by the way, you get some good snakes too!
Good enough for me.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

In my belly

I give new Doritos brand Fiery Habanero flavored tortilla chips my official seal of approval. Which is to say I ate them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not a Christian nation

The Constitution... or the Bible?

American University Washington School of Law Annapolis University law professor Jamie Raskin testified at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage.
At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: "Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?"

Raskin replied: "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

The room erupted into applause.
[via Pharyngula]

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Random Ten

Shuffle those media players and see what pops up. Resist the urge to hide the embarrassing stuff...
  1. Smashing Pumpkins, "Tonight, Tonight"
  2. Tori Amos, "Goodbye Pisces"
  3. Franz Ferdinand, "Michael"
  4. Kanye West, "Get 'Em High" (feat. Talib Kweli & Common)
  5. Death Cab for Cutie, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"
  6. Radiohead, "Let Down"
  7. Blackalicious, "Make You Feel That Way"
  8. Goo Goo Dolls, "Black Balloon"
  9. My My, "Klatta"
  10. Foo Fighters, "Times Like These"
For what it's worth, the Blackalicious track might well be the best hip-hop song I've ever heard.

Monday, March 6, 2006

"No more questions."

Natalie Raps

I'm a geek, but I'm not much of a Star Wars geek. So maybe I came late to the Natalie Portman game. But after seeing this video, I think I officially have a crush. Which is both funny and scary, given the content...

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Sodomy makes all the difference

South Dakota Bans Abortion

As many of you know, a new South Dakota law would outlaw abortion under almost any circumstances. Republican State Senator Bill Napoli, a backer of the bill, was asked about what would qualify for an exception.
A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
In other words, it's not enough to be raped, you have to be a religious virgin who was sodomized. If you weren't a virgin, after all, you were sexually active and thus deserved to get impregnated. And you have to be religious, because rape would be plain old sex if the fear of God wasn't the thing keeping you chaste. Rape is easy on atheists, apparently. They probably wear slutty clothes and ask for it, or have unprotected sex and cry rape when they get pregnant and it's inconvenient. I think he threw in the sodomy just because he's a sick fuck. But that's who we're dealing with here: someone who thinks the only acceptable reason to save a rape victim from having to birth her attacker's child is if the attack was brutal enough to make her suicidal and thus eligable under the "mother's life at risk" clause. Any other rape is bearable, and she can just deal.

[via Pandagon]

Real-life Simpsons intro

Live action Simpsons

Be amazed and amused.

[via WWdN]

Thursday, March 2, 2006


So, President Bush. The day before Katrina hit, he gets videotaped being briefed about levee failures and Superdome disasters-within-disasters, and says the national government is ready to do whatever it takes. Five days later, after some time campaigning, birthday-partying, and guitar-playing, 1300 people are dead, a city is destroyed, and the president tells us that nobody could have predicted the breaks in the levees. What. A. Shock.


I'm writing pretty heavily again. There's a Turkey City workshop in 16 days, and that's good motivation.


Octavia Butler died last week at the age of 58. If you don't know who Octavia Butler is, you should. If you know who she is but haven't read her work, you should. Sad.