Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


The Blue Screen of Death!

Yes, last Friday when I turned on the computer, I got the dreaded Blue Screen of Death!!!! Somehow a virus got into my hard drive and killed it dead. Sam the Technician came and took it away. He gave me his business card. On it was simply written: "Sam." He needs no last name - he saves computers! So he kept it for a few days, and now it's back - still wounded, but able to function. We need to reconnect our DSL, we need to re-install some other stuff, but the Internet and my Word documents are back, and I was pretty happy that all my bookmarks didn't get wiped out - that would have been vexing. I just wanted to say hello and tell you I'm back, because I know your lives have been empty without updates from me. Krys and I have been joking the past couple of days, because she said I might actually spend some time with the kids now instead of surfing the 'net. Well, that time is over. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

Back later. The Blue Screen is no more!



Great songs, according to me (Part 18)

Let's check out another fun ten songs that I, personally, think are great. This is turning out to be quite the project, ain't it?

As usual, you can always check out the rest of the songs. The archive of the first 150 is here, while Part 16 is here and Part 17 is here. And away we go!

171. Eye for Eye (by Think Tree on the album Like The Idea, 1992): I enjoy doing these alphabetically, because I could go long stretches without mentioning a band I like, and then get a few songs in a row. Such is the case with Think Tree, whom we first came across in Part 17. "Eye For Eye" is another nifty little song by the group, as they twist their weird techno/lo-fi vibe and add a bit of honky-tonk to come up with a truly bizarre, and great song. Peter adds nasty lyrics like "Glances at the telly and it latches up her belly to believe the shot/of a perfumed Pocahantas with her swinging young Adonis lovin' what she's got/she's mad just to be ponderin' how the catch is simply wonderin' when her time will come/when she's forced to crave the honor of his pounding flesh upon her and she's numb with cum." The song is about yearning for celebrity, fame, good looks, carved bodies, meaningful relationships, but when Moore sings "You were promised a taste of honey and wine, all you got was a waste of money and time" we know that those things can't fill that empty hole in your soul. In your soul!!!!
172. Eyes of a Stranger (by Queensryche on the album Operation: Mindcrime, 1988): This song ends a truly great album, and it's nice that they put such a strong song to finish up. "Eyes Of A Stranger" works in the context of Queensryche's concept that has been running through the whole album, but it also works on its own, as a devastating critique of love and the American Dream. The guitars drive us through the song, but Geoff Tate's howling lyrics stay with us - when he sings "Is this all that's left of my life before me, strait jacket memories, sedative highs," the snarl in his voice chills you and reminds you that for many, life is horror-filled and bearable only with drugs. Tate's "character" wants nothing more than to be cured, but he can't find any way out of the prison he's constructed in his mind. The mirror never lies, indeed.
173. Face the Change (by INXS on the album The Swing, 1984): This is a kicky tune from one of the band's best albums, and it shows once again that Hutchence and the boys were a lot more than just new-wave-ish dance pop. Hutchence is telling us that things change, and that's nothing to be afraid of - we just have to accept it and make it a positive change. Of course, because it's INXS, you can dance to it, but it's a strong statement by the band and, consequently, a great song.
174. Factory Girls (by Flogging Molly (with Lucinda Williams) on the album Within A Mile Of Home, 2004): There's nothing fancy about this tune - it's just a straight-forward twangy pseudo-country song with the Mollies' Irish twist. It's a sad song about lost innocence, with that Irish nostalgia that makes dying in the potato fields sound wonderful, but Williams' raspy cigarette-and-whiskey voice grounds it, and the final verse, with the wistful longing for lost days, puts the whole song in context and pushes it to greatness.
175. Fade to Black (by Metallica on the album Ride The Lightning, 1984): I've never been a huge Metallica fan, but this album, and in particular this song, are simply brilliant. This is pretty much an ode to suicide, but it's still a haunting tune, made even more chilling by Hetfield's subtle growl, as if he wants to kill himself but first he's going to rip out your throat with his teeth. As with many Metallica songs, it starts off soft and builds slowly to an instrumental storm, but because it stays quiet for so long, the internal tension keeps you on the edge of your seat. As love letters for offing yourself go, it's brilliant.
176. Fading Lights (by Genesis on the album We Can't Dance, 1991): Genesis took a horrific wrong turn with Invisible Touch, and it seems as if they knew it, because they waited five years to release another album (their "last," even if Rutherford and Banks put one out in the mid-1990s), and it was a nice return to form for the band. Sure, it had its goofy tries for pop relevance, but Genesis was never about that and shouldn't have been about that. "Fading Lights" is a beautiful coda to this album and their career in general, as Phil sings about memories and how everything ends and it's okay. Halfway through the song, in true Genesis fashion, the boys launch into an extended instrumental jam that just reminds you how good they really are, and the song ends with Phil singing quietly, "And you know that these are the days of our lives ... remember ..." as the music floats off into the ether. A nice way to finish a nice career.
177. Fairytale Of New York (by The Pogues (with Kirsty MacColl) on the album If I Should Fall From Grace With God, 1988): This is one of those songs that has taken on a life of its own outside of just Pogues fans, probably because MacColl died young and it's a Christmas song. Those two factors make this a famous song, but it's a heart-breaking and ultimately wonderfully uplifting song about love and living together and making things better. MacGowan can really belt out a tune, and MacColl's humanizing touch to such lyrics as "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot" make it a celebration as well as a tiny bit of a dirge. It's a beautiful Christmas song and a beautiful love song. And if you don't like The Pogues, then I weep for your lonely soul.
178. Faithfull (by Pearl Jam on the album Yield, 1998): In the early-to-mid-1990s, when Pearl Jam was the biggest band in the world, someone must have said something rude about their musical abilities, because they went out and made No Code, which was an interesting failure. Eddie and the gang got their heads back on straight and released Yield, which was a good old-fashioned rock-n-roll album. There's a lot to like on the album, but "Faithfull" [sic] is the highlight, even though Eddie's lyrics are somewhat oblique. Essentially it's a song about what we believe in and what this turns us into. Eddie decides he's going to be faithful to love, which is awfully sweet of him, and suggests we do the same. The music transcends the rather vague lyrics, and Eddie, as usual, howls with conviction, which is what we like to hear from our rock gods.
179. Falling to Pieces (by Faith No More on the album The Real Thing, 1989): When I first heard "Epic," I didn't like it, and this kept me from buying this album for a while. Silly me. This was the second single off the album, and it convinced me to check it out, and I'm glad I did. This is a fantastic song, from its thudding bass introduction to its weird light-hearted keyboard riff to Mike snarling the excellent lyrics: "Because I'm somewhere in between my love and my agony, you see, I'm somewhere in between - my life is falling to pieces ... somebody put me together." The rap part of the song doesn't overwhelm it, like it does a bit on "Epic," and it's much more comprehensible than that song. I absolutely love this song.
180. Famous Last Words (by Billy Joel on the album River Of Dreams, 1993): Another song that ends another "last" album, in this case Mr. Joel's (he's released a few since then, but none of original, "rock" songs). This is another one that really encapsulates a career nicely, from the rollicking yet slightly melancholy piano to the theme of everyone leaving the beach at the end of the summer and winter setting in. Joel has always had that element of lounge singer for the tourists in him, and here he acknowledges it. He gives us a moving tribute to better days and good times, while recognizing that it's time to move on. It's a great song, made nicer by the context in which it's presented.

So there's another batch of songs in the book. Be as cruel as you want in your criticism! We all know I am impervious!

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24 February 1500, 1525, 1530

Emperor Charles V experiences some important events.

I have mentioned this most famous of Habsburg emperors before, but 24 February is his big day. First, he was born on this date in 1500. By the time he was 19 his father and grandfather were dead, his insane mother was locked up in Spain, and he was master of more land in Europe than anyone since the Roman Empire. So how did Charles celebrate his 25th birthday? With a huge victory of his enemy the king of France, François I at the Battle of Pavia in northern Italy! At Pavia, Charles even captured the French king, which had to be humiliating. François spent a year in Madrid as a prisoner, and Spain dominated the Italian peninsula for years. This is significant because Charles basically took the pope prisoner, and that same pope, under Charles' instruction, refused to grant Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, who happened to be Charles' aunt. Ah, history is so neat when it all ties together!

Finally, in 1530, Charles had the pope, Clement VII, officially crown him in Bologna on this date. He had been emperor for 11 years, but there's nothing like a good ceremony! He was crowned in Bologna because Charles' troops had kind of destroyed Rome earlier. That must have been an awkward ceremony.

Charles was the most powerful man in Europe for 40 years and one of the most powerful rulers of all time. In 1559, worn out by religious battles with Martin Luther, he retired to a monastery. Interesting guy.


Arizona's spineless legislature

I really don't mean to bash Arizona all that much. Sure, I don't like it, and sure, it has its problems, but every place has problems, and a lot of people like it here and hate it in southeastern Pennsylvania and Portland, Oregon, two places I would choose to live over Phoenix. However, one thing that really bothers me about Arizona, and I've mentioned it before, is the lack of water-saving planning and, hand-in-hand with this, the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar over long-term solutions. In the 19 February issue of the Arizona Republic, we read this editorial: "Dicey gamble in Mohave County." Here's a map of Arizona with Mohave County clearly marked. In case you don't know your geography, if you travel slightly to the north and west of Mohave County you arrive in Sin City itself - Las Vegas. Hence the name of the article.

Here's the deal: two Las Vegas-based developers, Jim Rhodes and Leonard Mardian, have planned to build 165,000 homes in the county. They have done this because in 2008 the Hoover Dam bypass is scheduled to open, which will put most of the county within an hour's drive of Vegas. Mohave County currently has about 14 people per square mile. The water supplies, obviously, are uncertain, as is the road system, and the economy of the area is, to use the word, "dicey." The county relies on ground water, and residents have drilled deeply for water, and wells have gone dry. There has been no study done of local aquifers. State law requires developers in Phoenix, Tucson, or Prescott to demonstrate a 100-year supply of water, and obviously, sucking an aquifer dry is not an option.

So what's the problem? The Legislature doesn't protect rural water supplies. Even if the Department of Water Resources determines that the water is insufficient, developers are allowed to forge on. County supervisors could ask developers to scale back on the scope of their developments, but these are, of course, subject to legal challenges. The editorial points out the long-term problems that could occur:

- A new well, depending on the shape of the aquifer, could dry up existing wells. Many Mohave County residents already have sketchy yields from their wells or have lost water altogether.

- Lowering the level of an aquifer can cause the ground to subside and crack, damaging property and roads. Severe problems with subsidence and fissures have developed in areas with similar terrain.

- If water supplies last only a few decades, the rest of Arizona will be stuck figuring out how to help tens of thousands of households.

There will be, naturally, commuting problems. U.S. 93, the route from Kingman to Nevada, is one lane in each direction. Construction to widen it has risen to $80-85 million, and it's slow. Imagine that. The new construction was also designed to alleviate the existing problems, not handle a massive influx of new commuters.

The Legislature could solve all of this. They could allow Mohave County officials to negotiate with developers on their own terms, in order to make sure that their residents will not get shafted. They could look around at what rampant expansion has done to the Basin and Flagstaff, from air pollution to awful congestion on the freeways to the destruction of the very nature of the desert to the creation of a "ghetto" class of people that exists only to serve out-of-state celebrities and receives none of the benefits of the expansion. Mohave County would become a ghetto of Las Vegas, which the Legislature should see as even worse, as all that money would be flowing out of the state and into the slot machines. The Legislature could do all this. We have a Republican-dominated Legislature, however, and the Republicans (Democrats, too, but more so Republicans) stopped caring about anything but money a long, long time ago. Expansion has turned Phoenix into the sixth-largest city in the country! Whoo-hoo! It must be good, right?

I'm sure this kind of scenario is playing out all across the country in multiple ways. I hope the politicians don't act surprised when the revolution comes.

23 February 303

Diocletian orders the persecution of Christians.

On this date 1700 years ago, Diocletian, the architect of the brief Roman renaissance of the 4th century and one of the most powerful emperors ever, began an empire-wide persecution of Christians. In Nicomedia, the city in which Diocletian lived, soldiers and city magistrates broke into the most important church in town and burned the Scriptures contained within and leveled the building. The next day Diocletian ordered the first of four famous edicts ordering the destruction of churches throughout the empire and the persecution of Christians in general.

Why did Diocletian do this? The 3rd century in the Roman world was a horrible time, and when Diocletian became emperor in 284, he immediately began reorganizing the empire and restoring order. By this time, Christianity posed a bigger problem to Roman order than it did back in Nero's time. Christians had spread across the Mediterranean world, and they had fractured into squabbling sects. Diocletian wanted public order, and Christians arguing over the nature of Christ was a threat to that. Christians, naturally, refused to worship Diocletian as a god, which was treason. So the persecutions worsened. In April 304, Diocletian's last edict commanded all Christians to worship Roman gods on pain of death. Naturally, this led to horrible slaughter across the Roman world.

Diocletian stunned his subjects in 305 when he retired to his villa by the sea in Anatolia. A year after that Constantine, another emperor who prized order, became ruler, and instead of slaughtering Christians, he decided to accept the inevitable and make Christianity the official religion of the empire. One wonders how the bishops who suffered under Diocletian acted with their new power. Oh, that's right - they simply turned on anyone who wouldn't worship Jesus. The irony was no doubt lost on them.

Just when you think our president couldn't be any more of a tool ...

Bush was unaware of the ports deal before its approval. Remember "the buck stops here"? Remember when politicians governed? Bush doesn't know what Congress is doing, he doesn't know what's going on in Iraq, and he doesn't know what his own administration is doing! Now, I can forgive his ignorance on a lot of things, but when it deals with national security, the only reason people re-elected him, one would think he'd take a bigger interest. He has proven to be the worst two-term president in history (I'd stick some one-term losers ahead of him). It's very unlikely, but how bizarre would it be if a Republican-controlled Congress impeaches him? Would they take those steps, because Bush is not a Republican and so is fair game, or do they think it would destroy the party? I think that would strengthen the Republicans, actually, because it would show they don't take this crap from the dictator. I think handing over the ports is a stupid idea, but whatever - Bush is the king, and we allowed him this unlimited power, so shame on us. What I can't believe is that every time he opens his mouth these days, we see more and more that he's a sock puppet. Why is Steven Grant the only one who calls it like it is?


The most difficult question EVER!

Philosophically deeper than "What is the meaning of life?" More puzzling than trying to find the asymptote. More vexing than "What's for dinner?" It's ... The Ultimate Question!!!!

What's worse - having genital herpes, or being the actor who portrays someone with genital herpes on a commercial?

That sound you hear is your brain exploding.

21 February 1916

The Battle of Verdun begins.

At 7 o'clock in the morning on this date, the Germans began shelling the French-held salient north of the city of Verdun. In the early evening, the bombardment paused and the Germans sent their infantry out to probe the French lines. This began a pattern of fighting that lasted for months. The best thing for the French would have been to fall back across the Meuse, but French national honor was at stake, and the French decided to make a stand at Verdun. Philippe Pétain organized the defense, and after 23 June - the Germans' furthest extent - the tide began to turn. By December the fighting had settled down to the usual trench warfare.

The total casualties at Verdun numbered 700,000 dead, missing, or wounded. The French hailed it as a great victory, but, like most of the Western front in that most useless of great wars, neither side really won anything.


Picture Day means, well, pictures!

Yes, it's time for another installment of Krys and Greg's Journey Across America! When last you joined us, we were at the Grand Canyon. We left there and headed ... not west, but south to Sedona, Arizona, which is steeped in history! I know it's older than that, but I just love that it wasn't incorporated until 1988. Anyway, Sedona is a trendy little artists' colony that, of course, now attracts people from all over - my mom loves it, because it's pretty and it's not as horribly hot as it is down here in the Basin. It's also right at the end of Oak Creek Canyon, which is a very pretty area. We drove through Sedona (we had no money, and it's a bit of a tourist trap, so we just moseyed on through) and up through the canyon, where there are many beautiful scenes. What's nice about this area of Arizona is that it's sparsely populated, there are a lot of trees, lots of nice rock formations, and this strange thing we here in the south have heard tales of and marveled over: they call it water. I didn't take as many pictures here as in the Grand Canyon, but I still had to capture many rocks on film.

We drove through the canyon and up into the hills. Trees were blooming, the creek was bubbling, birds were singing - it was like a Disney movie! At the top of the canyon is a charming picnic area with a nice overlook. There was also a group of Indians selling their wares - it's all about the capitalism, people! I stood on the edge and took a picture back down the canyon. Strangely enough, nine years later I stood at the exact spot and took the exact same picture. I couldn't remember if I had taken the picture, so I snapped the photo. When I got home, I checked it out, and it was strange - the picture was exactly the same!

After visiting Sedona, we drove west. We spent a completely awful night in Kingman, Arizona. I don't know if the town is nice or not, but the camp site we stayed at was horrible - there was no one at the site, so we just drove in and had to find our own way around, and it rained. All night. Constantly. Very hard. Late August is the "monsoon" season in Arizona, and I guess up north it gets a bit more monsoony than here in the Basin, where we might get an inch of rain over two weeks. The only good thing about our night in Kingman was that there was nobody at the guard station when we left, so we didn't have to pay the camping fee. That day we headed toward Nevada, and we drove past the Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is kind of neat. But it's a dam. After driving through the dam we set up shop at a camp site near Lake Mead. We had hundreds of miles of desert sand on us, so we put on our swim gear and headed into the lake. Here is Lake Mead. Yeah, I know - it's just a lake. But it's a nice place to take a dip. Krys has claimed it in the name of Spain!

So those are our pictures this week. That night (the final day of August, 1993), we headed into the Pit of the Beast - that's right, people, Vegas!

20 February 1872

The Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York.

That's the best I have. Sorry. I could have told you about Tyrolean patriots and the deaths of obscure Austrian emperors, but this is more interesting. The Met is cool. Go visit it now. Make your travel plans today!


Don't say "populism," the strange world of King George, kids saying "BOOB," Ninja Made Easy, and religious wackiness - all in the links!

Another week, another batch of links. I actually made time to find them this week! When CPS takes my kids away, I hope you all appreciate the work I do for you to bring the terrible wonder that is the Internet!

N.B.: Some of these links are a few weeks old. I started exploring the web and found some cool stuff before real-world concerns overwhelmed me. But I hung onto them because they're neat. Just so you know.

HERE'S SOME FUNNY STUFF. We must always laugh in the face of Armageddon!

Why you should eat venison.

The Dick Cheney shooting explained with comic book covers. More specifically, Jonah Hex covers. Very funny. I got this at Superfrankenstein.

Another Cheney joke, as Chris McLaren brings us the eleventh way Dick Cheney can kill you. I just like the first ten ways:

GayProf plays matchmaker. Look out - it's pretty gay!

Disintegrating Clone gives us masterpieces with crap endings!

POLITICAL GARBAGE. It's not all fun and games, people!

The South Dakota House has passed a bill banning almost all abortions. All hail taking rights away from women and giving them to tiny blobs of protoplasm! This is, of course, a tactic designed to get an abortion case in front of our new, medievally-minded Supreme Court. Won't that be fun! I found this at Balloon Juice.

Democratic Peace links to a very interesting post: The same Google search inside China and outside of China.

David Brooks says liberal blogs are "Stalinist." Charming. That makes conservative blogs "fascist," I guess. I saw this fun tidbit at Donklephant.

The new dirty word in the world is ... populism! How dare people vote for whomever they want instead of whomever the Americans want!

This is an interesting post: Did we have a chance at good relations with Iran but screwed it up to invade Iraq? The post includes links to the various sources.

THE STRANGE WORLD OF KING GEORGE. What color is the sky there?

This has been making the rounds through the blogosphere, but what the hell, I'll link to it: Glenn Greenwald talks about the new definition of a "liberal" as someone who disagrees with Bush. And he's conservative, mind you. Of course, conservatives everywhere ripped him a new one, and he discusses the reactions here. The first link is from Andrew Sullivan, another conservative who knows about getting ripped by Bush cultists. A lot of people have spouted off about this and one of the more interesting posts about it is here.

Here's the story of a VA nurse who wrote a normal, First-Amendment-protected letter to editor critical of Bush, and who got investigated for "sedition!" As Kurt Wagner would say, unglaublich. Welcome to Bush's America. This comes to us from Andrew Sullivan.

Did this get a lot of press and I missed it? I'm not sure. It should have. Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Tim Russert on Meet the Press that Bush is above the law. Simply astonishing.

The Bush administration is planning to sell lots of public land in the near future. I'd say this is surprising, but it's not. That's our land, you know, not Bush's. And nobody we vote for cares. I saw this at Shakespeare's Sister.

Speaking of selling things, our wonderful government also plans to let oil and natural gas companies pump on federal land without paying royalties. Very nice. This is from Welcome to the Sideshow.

CHILD-REARING. I certainly don't know anything about this.

The great battle: Putting kids to bed!

Give that kid an Academy Award!

What happens when your kid learns the word "BOOB."

EDUCATING THE KIDS. After the rearing comes the teaching.

Here's a shocker: Parents and teachers don't see eye-to-eye on students and how to deal with them. I know - try to control your surprise. It's actually an interesting article.

Not only do they not see eye-to-eye, but a lot of parents don't understand the need for better math and science education. This comes from Education Wonks.

THEME LINKS. It's all about themes at various blogs.

Ye Olde Comic Booke Blogge this week has been all about being a ninja! Yes, it's Ninja Made Easy Week! Here's the introduction. Then we have how to meditate, how to skulk around like a ninja, the tools of a ninja, how to become invisible, and finally, the use of martial arts. You'll be joining G.I. Joe or taking over the Japanese underworld in no time!

Meanwhile, over at Dave's Long Box, which needs no advertising from a small fry like me, has been doing Dude Looks Like A Lady Week, in which male comic book characters are inexplicably turned into women. Ah, comics! We've seen Guy Gardner, Mantra, Glory, and J'onn J'onnz. I don't know why J'onn isn't female more often - he's a shapeshifter, for crying out loud!

Finally, over at The Comic Asylum, James Meeley brings us: Guy Gardner Week! He looks at Green Lantern #59, Green Lantern Corps #207, Justice League America #45, Justice League America #33, Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #25, Guy Gardner: Warrior #42, (the one where Guy turns into a woman, as seen above!), and Justice League #5. Good stuff for Guy-haters everywhere!

OTHER COMIC BOOK GOODNESS. Because you love them so!

Avi Green, who blogs about comics from an almost reactionary political position, has a very interesting new blog, The Comic Book Discrimination Dossiers. He talks about what it is and why he did it here, and he's already (or only) posted two characters: Elasti-Girl and Sue Dibny. I dislike a lot of what Avi writes (his main blog is The Four Color Media Monitor), even though he's usually erudite, but this is a very interesting project.

Frank Miller is close to finishing his Batman vs. al-Qaida comic book. How fun! I first saw this here via Ace of Spades, although it's been floating around cyberspace for a few years. More thoughts here.

Comic book speculation is back! This is from Comic Book Commentary. For comic book fans, there's really no worse word to hear than "speculation," as it almost destroyed the industry in the early 1990s.

Sleestak points out the time DC snuck something past the Comics Code Authority. Those subversive madmen!

CARTOON AND COMIC STRIP STUFF. Totally different from comic books, you understand.

Nik links to this page, which features cartoon characters' skeletons. Like Betty Boop's!

The Phantom turned 70 on Friday. Here are some fun facts about everyone's favorite purple-suited hero! (Warning: facts may not be accurate.)

How to make "Garfield" interesting? Remove all of Garfield's speech:
More strips at the link. Strangely surreal! I found the link to these at the Ministry of Information. (Sorry about the size of the strip. You get the gist, though, right?)

Sure to offend uptight Christians and Muslims everywhere - it's "Jesus and Mo!" Of course, if you have a sense of humor, you'll like it. "Buy your own spikenard!" Tee-hee. I found this at Andrew Sullivan.

RELIGIOUS WEIRDNESS. I respect people who are spiritual, but religions are just bizarre.

Villages in Vanuatu worship an American called John Frum - he promised them "planeloads and shiploads of cargo" if they worship him. This is from Pharyngula.

This is a depressing story: This preacher goes around the country holding seminars that teach elementary schools kids how to challenge evolutionary statements by their teachers. Just sad. And pretty disgusting, too. Send your damned kids to private Christian schools or home-school them if you want to stuff them full of narrow views. I found this at Balloon Juice.

You knew this was coming: Brokeback Mountain has been banned in Muslim countries. Because, you know, people can turn gay from watching movies. Why, after I saw My Own Private Idaho, Swoon, Edward II, and especially Top Gun, I know I couldn't help myself any longer! This is from Andrew Sullivan.

Who will care for your pets after the Rapture? That's assuming you're heading heavenward, of course. Go here to find a fine, upstanding heathen to watch Fluffy. I found this at Pharyngula.

In case you're a Christian and you're simply not offended enough by the world, apparently AOL is raising up the anti-Christ. You see, their new Instant Messaging system's slogan is I AM (IM - get it). Some Christians think this is blasphemous. I'll put that in italics in case you didn't get the full impact. Some Christians think this is blasphemous. This link is a few weeks old, so AOL may have backed down by now, but it's still a wacky story. I found this at Andrew Sullivan.

You know that woman in Texas who cut off her daughter's arms and killed her? Yes, it's a charming story. Well, her pastor testified this week and he said that she's not insane, she's possessed. According to this guy, all mental illnesses are really demonic possession. I wonder why I studied the Middle Ages in school, because we're living through them right now.

THE RISQUÉ SECTION OF THE LINKS. Whatever you do, don't let the children see these! Think of their future!

I'm sure you know that curling is the hip sport of the Winter Olympics. Well, of course there has to be ... a nude calendar of lady curlers! The photographer's site is here, and you can buy it here, where it's "temporarily sold out," or if you're one of those wacky Europeans, here. It includes photos like this:

Let me tell you, that would have to be the official curling attire to get me to watch it - it's freakin' shuffleboard on ice, people! I stole this picture from this site, where you can learn about every nude calendar ever created, including this one.

Do want more breast enhancement information? Sure you do! Go here!

A weaving driver was pulled over recently. Why should you care? Turns out he was distracted by several porn magazines on the seat next to him. Now that's multi-tasking!

Sarcastic Sex Toy Blog reviews the "Rich Bitch Doll." Warning: that second link takes you a place you may not want to go! The review, however, is very funny.

X-rated cookies were accidentally sent to Brooklyn politician's fundraiser. Yeah, "accidentally." Sure.

Did everyone know it was sex week at Yale? Some people, naturally, were a little upset. I'm upset I didn't study harder so I could go to the Ivy League!

This is quite possibly the most disturbing blog I've ever seen. I'm totally serious. Don't click on the link, please! PLEASE! It's devoted to touring virtual prostitutes and rating them. I honestly can't believe I just typed that. If that's your thing, this is the place. Don't believe me? Where would I have gotten this picture?

STUFF YOU CAN BUY ON-LINE. Never let it be said I don't love capitalism!

Those South Koreans - always trying to make the world better! Don't believe me? Just check out The Bust Doctor! How can you resist the hook: "15 minutes per day is efficient to make good shaping bust"? Answer: You can't! Get yours today! This link is courtesy of Dave Barry's blog.

Chris McLaren found something scary in his travels across cyberspace:

I'm not spending much time in that house! He found that picture here, where you can find more creepy family photos from the 1970s and, of course, products with the photos on them!

VALENTINE'S DAY STUFF. Smell the romance!

Star Wars Valentines. Lots of good ones, including:

I found this at Sarcasmo's Corner.

The always-hilarious Chris Sims brings us Valentines from the crypt!

Wouldn't you like a nice, violent Valentine like this? Beaucoup Kevin links to X-Men Valentines. How 1990s!

SEXUAL HARASSMENT LINKS. Because some people suck.

This is a weird story. A Baltimore comptroller and ex-Maryland governor makes woman who brought hima drink come back and walk away again so he can check out her booty. Apparently the guy, who's 84, has a history of this sort of thing, and women who work with him don't mind in the least. The story doesn't say what the reaction of the woman was. One would hope she poured the drink into his lap, but I doubt it.

Good advice for you wild people out there: Always film your gangbangs. That link contains extremely graphic language, but it's a depressing story - a woman claimed a bunch of college students raped her, but someone filmed it and she was apparently loving it. False rape claims get me down. There's too much real rape in the world for people to treat it so cavalierly. I found this at Ace of Spades.

Some guy in Tulsa allegedly bit his girlfriend's nose off. Yeah, I know. I couldn't quite believe it either.

SPIDER-RELATED MISCELLANY. Because the eight-legged will inherit the earth!

Check out this assassin spider! Talk about bizarre. I found this at Blog for Arizona.

Spencer Carnage discusses the Spider-robot developed by NASA. In answer to the question of his post, yes, I am scared.

MORE ANIMAL MISCELLANY. We can't just single out the spiders, can we?

PZ Meyers brings us the Friday cephalopod!


Metrokitty gives us cool pictures from England, including this one, my favorite:

POPULAR CULTURE GOODNESS. You must love the culture that is popular!

How will you be defined in the dictionary?

Gregory Burgas --


A person with a taste for acorns

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

From Mah Two Cents.

Roger rants about Beatles albums. Because Paul McCartney was actually in a band before Wings! (Yeah, I know. Old joke.)

Chris tells us what he learned while watching VH1's Top 100 Teen Superstars.

Is Bollywood remaking Fight Club?

GayProf waxes nostalgic about TaB. My sister and I used to drink TaB by the caseload. It was the only soda my grandmother had in her house. Now I can't imagine drinking it. It's disgusting.

Here's a fun rant about 24. I was thinking about having an all-24 category, because I probably could if I wanted to, but I decided on just having one link about the wacky show.

This post from Dave's Long Box is the typically hilarious post, but the reason I linked to it is because I saw this on it. Just click it. I can't tell you what it is, because it would ruin the fun. Nothing dirty, I promise!

I bet you can't guess when the remake of The Omen is going to be released!

The question of the ages: Transformers or Gobots?

Ah, yes, of course it is: Chewbacca's blog. Find the entry for February 1. It's very funny and pretty offensive. Isn't that what makes the world go 'round?

Please don't build this car!

Laura points out the Top Ten Sci-Fi movies that never existed. Since seeing it there, I've seen it more than a few places. Interesting how that happens.

Dave's Long Box is stealing my linking schtick, but he has some very good ones, including What Should I Put On The Fence? and Antonio Banderas' blog (the handsomest man alive, mind you) and some creepy-ass portraits:

I recently told Kanye West to shut up, and now the ladies at Go Fug Yourself have a wonderful picture of the awful glory that is Kanye:

FUN WITH VIDEOS. Those moving pictures - they have a future, I tell ya.

It's the world's smallest Pacman game! This I found at Superblog!!

This is very neat: it's a Sleepless in Seattle trailer that turns the movie into a thriller/horror film. I found this a few weeks ago at Laura's blog.

For those who don't watch Saturday Night Live, the web offers the highlights, including this tribute to young Chuck Norris. Excellent stuff. I found this at AP's blog.

RANDOM NEWSWORTHY MISCELLANY. I can't fit everything into a category!

This is certainly freaky: A Canadian couple has electronic chips implanted in their heads that allow complete access to each others' lives. Go read it - it's bizarre. I got this from Heretical Ideas.

Should we have professional juries? An interesting question. I can't remember where I saw this. I'm sorry if I stole it from you and didn't give you credit.

Some thoughts about a neo-Nazi demonstration in, of all places, Seattle, one of the more liberal places in the country.

This is just sad. A teenaged girl has had her prosthetic leg stolen for the second time in three months. People who steal these kinds of things will go in the camps when I'm dictator, I'll tell you that much. I found this at Heretical Ideas.

Well, that's it for this week. Enjoy the grooviness, people! Remember - the Internet is not to be trifled with! Use it only with my supervision!

19 February 1945

U.S. Marines land at Iwo Jima.

This is famous, of course, for the staged propaganda picture of the Marines raising the flag at the top of Mt. Suribachi, but it was also a ridiculously important piece of tiny real estate - the island five miles end to end and is three miles wide - to both the Japanese and the Americans, who wanted it as a base for B-29 bombers to launch their air offensive against Japan. The famous photo was taken only four days in, but the island wasn't secured until 26 March. 6,000 American soldiers died among the 26,000 casualties, and less than 1,000 Japanese remained alive to be taken prisoners. Some newspapers back home actually questioned the toll (papers wouldn't do that today, would they?). Iwo Jima, however, became a crucial part of the bombing of Japan that helped end the war.

Links later today, I promise! X-rated cookies, governmental abuse, all sorts of fun Valentines, and how to be a ninja! You can't resist!


18 February 1478

The Duke of Clarence is drowned in a butt of Malmsey.

Another fun Shakespearean moment, on this day George, the brother of King Edward IV, was drowned in Malmsey, a sweet wine from Greece that he apparently really loved. Clarence was a horrible brother, constantly scheming against Edward IV, and finally, the king had had enough. He was brought before the Lord of Parliament in January 1478 and condemned to death for treason. Clarence asked to be drowned in wine instead of getting the axe, so Edward obliged. Shakespeare, of course, obliquely blames Richard III for the murder, but it's become pretty clear that Edward was as cold-blooded as his more famous and less successful brother Richard. Richard's biggest sins: he wasn't friendly, and he lost on the battlefield.

Today is the last day to send me your name for the CD exchange. Tomorrow I will send out e-mails to all the participants.


Women don't understand men

It has often been said that men don't understand women. I accept that. But women don't understand men, either. Women will scoff at this and either deny it or say "Who cares?" Well, they might have a point, but understanding each other is crucial to living together. Yes, men need to try harder to understand women, but the opposite holds true as well.

Case in point: my lovely wife recently bought me socks. I kept saying I needed to buy socks, but I kept forgetting (because I'm not too bright), so one day, while she was at the mall, she bought me twelve pairs of socks. Because she is, after all, excellent. She brought them home and showed them to me. They were all "sport" socks, they all had the yellow tips, they are all made of the same material, but there was one important difference:


Now, what's the big deal, some women might say. So six pairs were white, and six pairs were black. I explained to Krys that black socks are old man socks. She scoffed. "I can't wear these," I said, "I'd look like an old man!" She scoffed. "Wear them with jeans," she said. "Well, no shit," said I (the kids were asleep, so the profanity was flying!), "but here in Arizona, in the middle of an unseasonably warm winter, I'm wearing shorts more often. And I run out of socks (hence the need for new ones), so I am forced to wear the black socks with shorts! Why would you emasculate me like that, woman?" I believe she enjoys the emasculation part, actually.

She pointed out to me that if I folded the laundry more quickly, I wouldn't need to wear the black socks, but let's just put that aside for the moment, shall we? My point is: old men wear black "sport" socks. I asked Mia's physical therapist, who s a man, and he concurred. What say you, men of the world - am I correct? Does Krys need to understand this as I need to understand that it's never okay to say "What, is it that time of the month or something?" Back me up, fellow Y-chromosome bearers! Posted by Picasa

17 February 1673

Molière dies.

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, who took the stage name Molière when he was 22, collapsed on stage on this date and died a few hours later at the age of 51.

I've only seen two Molière plays: The Imaginary Invalid and The Misanthrope. Like Shakespeare's, his plays are easily adapted to the modern day (the version of The Misanthrope I saw had a nude scene, for crying out loud!), and he's much funnier than Bill. If you get a chance to see one of his plays performed, do so. It's a wonderful experience - he has a rapier-like wit and holds absolutely nothing sacred.


A few more days for the CD Exchange!

This weekend I'll send out the names of all the people who are participating in the Mix CD Exchange. Go read all about it and then send me an e-mail, good people. We have a small group so far, but that's fine if it's all we get. However, good spots are still available. If you don't join in, you know, the terrorists win. That's what they want - for people to stop making mixed CDs and exchanging them with others!

15 February 1898 (a day late)

Not a lot of good stuff happening on 16 February, so let's do yesterday, especially since Blogger crapped out on me last night and I didn't get to post anything:

The battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor.

About 9 in the evening of 15 February 1898, the Maine, which McKinley had sent to Cuba to reassure Americans living there that they were safe in the continuing revolt by Cubans against Spanish rule, exploded. 260 of the 350 men on board died when it sank. Nobody knew why the ship exploded (in 1976 the Navy determined the ship's coalbunker blew up by accident), but in fine sensationalistic journalistic fashion (we can imagine FOX or CNN doing exactly the same thing today), William Randolph Hearst, who wanted to sell newspapers, blamed the Spanish and called for war. Yes, this is where we get the famous line: "You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war." The government, spurred on by a patriotic fervor of the populace, demanded that Spain withdraw from Cuba, and by April the Spanish-American War had begun. This is direct contrast to today's government, which carefully considers all the evidence for a crime and doesn't allow itself to be swayed by crazed emotion before it goes to war. Spain was a pretty pathetic country by this time, and eight months later the Americans forced a treaty on them by which we took Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. U! S! A!

What a stupid war. As you know, I'm opposed to war in general, but this was really, really stupid. Thank God we don't arbitrarily go to war simply for the sake of natural resources or territory anymore.


I MUST stop screwin' with my template

I got rid of the option to expand longer posts until I can figure out how to get rid of the option at the bottom of posts that don't need to be opened. If anyone knows how to do that, let me know. Anyway, the "Blogger" bar at the top of the blog, which somehow got scrunched up into a smaller box and annoyed me, is now in the middle of my post telling Kanye West to shut up (where Roger left an interesting comment about Mr. West's race, so go read it. What happens when that post goes off the main page? Blogger is weird. I have to learn more about web design and get my own damned site.


Happy Birthday here in the wasteland

There's a charming passage near the beginning of T.S. Eliot's epic poem "The Waste Land":

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.

This is almost a perfect description of Arizona, and it's to Arizona we must now turn our thoughts. You may ask why I am ranting about Arizona yet again, even though the question you should ask yourself is Why don't you rant about Arizona every day? Well, I'm ranting about Arizona because today, 94 years ago, Arizona was the last of the 48 contiguous states to achieve statehood. Valentine's Day, 1912. And look how far it's come!

Phoenix, specifically, is fascinating because it's kind of a petri dish for unbridled expansion and capitalism. People should come here to study what happens when a metropolitan area has no plan to deal with growth except to say, "Bring it on!" In this area, fast food restaurants and other chain businesses actually set up camp way out past the terminus of civilization - they know that in a few years, the houses will catch up. It's freaky.

I have mentioned before that it feels like Phoenix has no soul. The area could be magnificent, with spectacular xeriscapes and the rugged ring of mountains encircling it, but people don't want that. They want convenience. At the major intersection nearest to my house, on one corner is an office park, on another corner is a Safeway, on another corner is a 7-11 fronting a strip mall, and on the final corner is a Walgreens fronting yet another strip mall. This could pretty much describe about 80-90% of the major intersections in the Phoenix area.

Another problem is the sheer overwhelming number of shitty businesses. We have a lot of strip mall space to fill, people! Therefore, although there are plenty of independent businesses, there are a lot of chains. And because this is America, there are a lot - A LOT - of fast food restaurants. Near my house are close to a dozen, probably more if I really thought about it. In the strip mall surrounding the 7-11 there are five (5) fast food restaurants, plus a few others that might count.

To the west of the convenience store sits a Taco Bell. Between the Bell and the 7-11 is a Dairy Queen.

Right behind and north of the 7-11 is an Arby's. In the strip mall behind the 7-11, a Subway is located. Across the street, behind the Walgreens, is everyone's favorite - a McDonald's.

These businesses are all located within a few hundred yards of each other. Add to that the children's pizza place, the Mexican restaurant by the Walgreens, another pizza place in the strip mall behind the Walgreens, a pizza place down the street from the Safeway ... it gets pretty overwhelming. You may think the choices sound great, but it's really all crap food, isn't it?

You'll notice a few other things in all these pictures: the wide streets and the beautiful sky. Well, the beautiful sky is kind of an illusion - we have a TON of pollution here, because there is nothing to stop it. Arizonans care about a few things, but controlling business isn't one of them. I posted pictures the other day of the Grand Canyon - it's as if Arizonans said "We're going to keep certain sections of the state pristine, but screw the rest of it." Yes, I'm aware that this is a big city and it attracts a lot of business and pumps a lot of money into the local economy, but it's the great debate once again: how much is enough? The big wide streets factor into this. I have mentioned before that it's almost ridiculous to walk anywhere in Phoenix. The blocks are huge and the streets are wide. It's like the city designers were begging people to drive their cars.

It's easy to bash the state (as you can tell, I take great joy from it), but it's also interesting to speculate on how and why it got this way. I have nothing against the desert - I don't like it, but I can see its charms. Sixty years ago, I bet this place didn't look so horrible. I bet it was unpleasant because of the summer heat, but I doubt if it was as hot during the day, or certainly at night, when it really gets uncomfortable. The winters were cooler, and instead of the thick, brown, polluted air, you could smell the orange blossoms from the orchards from miles away.

Of course, I'm sure things weren't all that idyllic. I, for one, probably would have still hated it. But my point is, the place hadn't been overrun. Air conditioning made it a desirable place to live. Evil, insidious air conditioning. I love mine, but I have decided it's pure evil. Think about it. Here in Arizona, you had a bunch of Indians who had gotten used to the heat, and then the tough people. You had to be tough to live here. But then, you could cool the air easily, and anyone could enjoy these winters. But, of course, the more people who came here, the more air conditioning they used, the more pollution they caused, and the more crap they produced and discarded, and the worse this place became. It's a vicious cycle, too, and nobody, especially not politicians, have the will to stop it.

I mentioned the trash lying around, which almost makes me go Crying Indian on these people. Cities throughout the world are trash heaps, I know, but that doesn't make it right. In Portland, there were trash cans everywhere, and people generally used them. The cleanest city I've ever been in is Melbourne, but Portland, for an American city, is pretty damned nice. It's fascinating, because it's not hard not to litter, yet people here treat the desert like their own personal garbage can. My big grand theory is that in other places, people feel worse about littering because the space looks like nature - it's green, there is grass and there are trees, the landscape isn't flat, there may be water - but in Arizona, people look at the desert and they see a wasteland. It isn't, of course, but people don't think that far ahead. It's ugly, they think, so who cares if we dump some trash? I don't like the desert, but that's not an excuse to shit all over it.

The saddest thing about it is that nobody seems to care. I'm certainly not calling for government control over everything - we saw where that got the economies of the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Cuba. It annoys me that whenever there is a whiff of what some people might call "socialism," everyone goes ballistic, never wondering if perhaps capitalism without inhibitions might be just as bad as extreme socialism. There has to be a balance. Phoenix cannot allow itself to continue to grow at this pace. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating: there is not enough water here. It's astonishing how bent out of shape some people in the Letters section of the newspaper get when the paper mentions this fact. They've looked for aquifers. We don't got them. We're sucking the Colorado dry and we're fighting Nevada for that right. We need the government to step in a restrict some of the outrageous plans people have for this area. Like I said, capitalism is fine, but this is unharnessed capitalism, and it's going to get people in trouble. Intel won't care when the area runs out of water - it will just pack up and leave. Britney and Jennifer/Vince won't care - they'll just find the next hot spot and leave Scottsdale choking in the dust.

How do we solve these problems? They're not necessarily unique to Phoenix, although I have never lived anywhere else where it seems so obnoxious. Do we have a problem to solve? Should I just stop worrying and let the money flow? I don't know. I know I will continue to dislike this place and continue to look for a way to leave. We want to live someplace that feels real, and not like a mall.

When life hands you lemons ...

... Destroy the source! With that in mind, today we chopped down the lemon tree in our backyard. We cannot tell a lie - it was just getting annoying. That sucker grew so quickly (18 October - last day with rain, remember) and threatened to overrun the house. I'm totally serious. And we don't like lemons. If it had been an orange tree that would have been different.

So now there's just a stump where the tree used to be. The guy will come by tomorrow to grind that up.
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But that's okay - we're going to put some nice palm trees in the spot. Palm trees know their place!
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(Yes, this is a pointless post. But I felt a tiny bit of sadness when that chipper started revving up. Just a tiny bit. So I wanted to share.)

14 February 1400

Richard II dies.

Well, maybe. Most historians agree that on this night, Richard II, who had been deposed a few months earlier as king of England, died in captivity at Pontrefact Castle in Yorkshire. Richard, whose reign began auspiciously in 1377, screwed up in 1399 when his best advisor, John of Gaunt died and the king sent John's son, Henry Bolingbroke, into exile and confiscated his lands. Richard then went to Ireland, leaving behind a bunch of angry nobles led by an angry Bolingbroke, who had a claim to the throne (he was Richard's cousin). Richard had no support, so he abdicated. He was put in prison, but Bolingbroke (now Henry IV) became convinced he was too dangerous to live. According to that completely unbiased historian Bill Shakespeare, Henry had Richard killed, but when his body was exhumed in the 17th century, there were no signs of violence. Nobody knows how Richard died, but his death brought an end to the main line of Plantagenet kings and opened up a whole can of Lancaster/York worms with the cadet branches. Henry's grandson, Henry VII, a horrible king if there ever was one, was partly to blame for the Wars of the Roses.


A ditch carved by God 3000 years ago is the site of today's Picture Day!

So we drove from southern Utah to the Grand Canyon, which is obviously the remnant of a crazed kung fu chop! by God 3000 years ago when he was fighting, I don't know, Darkseid or someone. I think that's in Leviticus somewhere, so it must be true!

We were at the Canyon for a few days, and took a LOT of pictures. These are the highlights. It's a cool place. Have fun!

Yes, it's the canyon. Not much to say. It's big. And deep. And wide.
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In the morning when we woke up, the canyon was covered in fog. It gradually cleared, but for a long time we couldn't see anything. I did, however,get a cool shot of the fog snaking its way through the canyon. Then the sun came out and all was well.
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These are the swanky hotels right on the edge, or, as we called them, "places my mother would stay." We stayed in a campground not too far away. Now that's living in style!
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Here's another coolio shot of the canyon. It's difficult to convey through pictures (even professional ones, and I am far from a pro) how awesomely awesome the canyon is. But I'm trying!
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It's also difficult to convey how deep it is. It's deep.
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Ho-hum. It's all very grand.
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I call this the Boba Fett rock. For, I hope, obvious reasons.
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We hiked down into the canyon for a bit (hardly at all in the grand scheme of things, but it took us a while) and then hiked back out. I told Krys to stand against the rock while I took her picture. Look how wee she is!
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So that's the Grand Canyon. Very cool place. It's an obvious tourist trap, but it's totally worth it. Interestingly, we've lived in Arizona for over 4 years and haven't been back. It's kind of a rough trip, especially with two small children. We would love to ride mules down to the river and stay overnight, but it's a crapload of money (my parents, of course, have done it) and we don't know when we would find the time. At least we've seen it. It's highly recommended. God would want you to see his handiwork!

Despite the objections of some people, everyone should really join in my CD exchange. You know you want to! Gary said we can just pull music off the Internet, and he's right, but when someone makes a mix, you get to see what kind of weird things are going on in their heads as well. That's why it's cool. Just a thought.

Next week: Sedona and its environs!