Wednesday, February 28, 2007


update - in italics, it looks like "YIN" instead of "Y/N" so I fixed it. It was pretty funny though. (I was tempted to change one random answer to "Yang" instead.)

This is a meme, scooped from the pixels of This Life. Heck, why not?
  • Aprons (Y-N): I actually own an apron, but truth be told, I have absolutely no idea where it's gone. Back in my table-waiting days, I had two, which still smelled of week-old grease no matter how ruthlessly they were laundered.
  • Baking (Favorite thing to bake): There are those infamous creme puffs I keep mentioning (but NOT cooking for Ms. Sister). Those are fun, but I've never made them on my own, only at Mom's house. I'm not ready to fly solo on the creme puffs. I do, however, have a great chocolate cake recipe, and have been known to cook the family lasagna. (Once I made a toaster-oven-sized lasagna in a loaf pan.)
  • Clothesline (Y-N): 16 years of apartment living have pretty much ruled that out for me.
  • Donuts: Mmmmmm... Donuts... When I do splurge, it's a coffee with one chocolate glazed and one toasted coconut. (Now that I'm about to wed, it's one chocolate glazed and one strawberry frosted.)
  • Every Day (One homemaking thing you do every day): I'm beginning to think that single guys are going to be very bored filling out this meme.
  • Freezer (Do you have a separate deep freeze?): No - but I do have a fun anecdote about my current freezer. I'm bunking with a college buddy until the Big Event; I began to wonder about him when I went into the freezer one day and found that all the ice cubes were about a quarter-inch thick. "Why such slender cubes?" I thought. "Why wouldn't you just fill the tray?" I had to use every last cubelet for my glass of whatever it was - then I refilled the tray for keeps - over the top like a man, so it would become all one cube when it froze. Then, just tonight, I went in there for some ice (it's been a few weeks) and darned if those cubes weren't fun-sized! They weren't slivers like last time, but still. So I asked about it and my buddy said, "Oh, we have a self-defrosting freezer. If you don't seal the cubes in something they sublimate." And we weren't doing this, why? Because we're single men and we use ice cubes once every lunar cycle, that's why.
  • Garbage Disposal (Y-N): Yes. Surprising the difference it makes.
  • Handbook (What is your favorite homemaking resource?): Carpentry for Dummies.
  • Ironing (Love it or hate it?): Actually, I kind of like it. It's sort of relaxing, and I've finally learned how to avoid shiny streaks of charred thread along the seams.
  • Junk drawer (Y-N) (Where?): Pretty much my whole room.
  • Kitchen (Design and decorating): I find that I like the Ladybug's ideas on the subject and picking stuff out for the future has gone smoothly. It will be pastels, mostly.
  • Love (What is your favorite part of homemaking?): The thought that I will actually have someone to make that home with.
  • Mop (Y-N): Yes. Used? Ummmmmm...
  • Nylons: No. I have no plans to pull a bank heist.
  • Oven (Do you use the window or open the door to check?): If I don't open the door, I can't pay the delivery guy, now can I?
  • Pizza (What do you put on yours?): Mushrooms, black olives, or sausage... But usually not more than one of them at once. After that, season with garlic and oregano to taste.
  • Quiet (What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?): That depends on the moment. Right now, type this. Other times, I chat with my best girl, or read, or write the MOUS.
  • Recipe card box (Y-N): I am addicted to the use of index cards for quick notes, lists, reminders, phone numbers, and such - but not for writing recipes.
  • Style of house: To Be Determined.
  • Tablecloths and napkins? Yes, yes they are.
  • Under the kitchen sink (Organized or toxic wasteland?): Surprisingly organized.
  • Vacuum (How many times per week?): Once; maybe every two weeks if I'm just not noticing. (There's guy clean, and then actually clean.)
  • Wash (How many loads of laundry do you do in a week?): Two or three. My fiancee teases me about it sometimes. "You're always doing laundry when I call you!" She must think I wash stuff one sock at time.
  • X's (Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?): Daily? No. I have my index cards, but I don't often use them for a to-do list. The formal To Do List usually only comes out on special occasions.
  • Yard (Who does what?): The apartment complex hires guys to do the yard stuff. It's almost all pine trees around here so I don't really recall seeing them out with leaf blowers and etc, though I know that they had to have done it. Growing up, once I got old enough I was the primary lawn mower and leaf raker, so theoretically I remember how.
  • Zzz's: If only. It's clicking past midnight out here. I have periodic fights with insomnia and it's one of my weeks right now.

If anyone else wants it, take it away - I have a strict No Tag policy, but you are free to participate of your own will.

Wait a minute, we have a GM?

Suddenly the Islanders look suspiciously like they know what they're doing.

It's amazing, actually. The Isles traded away Mike York and Alexei Zhitnik for Randy Robitaille and Freddy Meyer; then they traded recently for defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron. They got younger, cheaper, deeper, and quicker. Then they used the money they saved to pick up Richard Zednik from Washington and Ryan Smyth from Edmonton.

Smyth was pricey - their first round pick this year, and two former first-round picks. One of those, Ryan O'Marra, looks solid to me and there's some risk to this long term, especially if the Isles can't sign Smyth to a deal at the end of the year. (It would be an awfully expensive rental.) But, for the first time in a dog's age, the Islanders actually made several trades that all built on each other. In fact, they had a plan. I haven't known what a plan looked like on Long Island since I moved to New Jersey 20 years ago. Seriously, it's like Bill Torrey is back in town.

I'm cautiously optimistic. Just typing that probably ripped Rick DiPietro's ACL or something, but I can't help it. We have a second center! TWO scoring lines, holy shamoley! And we got a guy who can be a leader and a focal point so Alexei Yashin can just play hockey, which he does best when people ignore him and let him play.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I found Jesus 23 years before Cameron did

But I didn’t find the whole family:

Archaeologists and biblical scholars have poured scorn on a Hollywood film director's sensational claim that he has discovered the coffin of Jesus Christ.
Oscar-winning 'Titanic' director James Cameron's assertion that the bones of Jesus and his family were hidden for centuries in a Jerusalem tomb caused an outcry in the Holy Land.

I know that Meredith Viera on the Today Show was downright moist over the idea that a pillar of Christianity was brought down. But since Meredith and Matt wouldn’t know the Gospel account if it jumped up and bit them auf Ihrem Po, they would not know the right questions to ask Mr. Cameron.

Let’s set aside the fact that the names are common Jewish names.

Let’s set aside the fact that these bones were discovered 27 years ago and rejected by scholars then.

Let’s also set aside the fact that a poor family from Nazareth wouldn’t be burying people in Jerusalem.

Let’s set aside the fact that DNA from these bones could prove the deceased were related, but unless the Holy Spirit is brought in to give a sample you cannot prove who they were.

Here’s my question. Jesus of Nazareth was a famous person; his burial would not be a secret. When his disciples started going on about Him raising from the dead, why didn’t Pilate or the Sanhedrin dig up His body and parade it through the streets of Jerusalem, thus ending this fairy tail in its infancy?

Corinthians 15:14
and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Today is a good day to blog

Today the Hive clicked past its 20,000th visitor since August of '05. We both would like to thank everyone for the patronage. I do have to apologize, however, for the one-sided posting lately. As you can see below, the Sisko has been shut out by New Blogger and has to post from the Mobile Command Unit.

I guess that makes me the Worf of this blog - which is apt, since I feel like throwing down with a bat'leth when I can't fix stuff like this. In any case, we'll think of a workaround for everyone who's been pining for the harder stuff around here.

At Least It Felt Good

The State of Virginia apologizes for slavery:

Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery.

My dad once told me that if I did what the Virginia legislature did I would go blind. This was political masturbation: 70% of black babies will still be born out of wedlock, the lips and car stereos of black men will still be the only place I will hear the N-word; thugs and gangstas will still show up at the NBA All-Star Game (and be indistinguishable in appearance from NBA players) and Jamaal will still be drinking a 40-once (Old English 800 – it’s got your number!) on the corner of 140th Ave & 12th St in Tampa.

I once worked on a refrigeration unit in a food store in a black neighborhood. I was on the other side of the glass as I heard the shrieks of those who could not get cold malt liquor at noon on a Tuesday. Of course, I walked outside to see Karl Rove and Dick Cheney forcing a black man’s mouth open and pouring Colt 45 down it.

Sorry for this brief moment of insensitivity. Damned right the Sisko is angry!

It’s my computer. I can post at work but not at home.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A long-fallow seed springs to life

Remember back in August when I ranted about the Transformers?

Well, neither did I. [badumdum] It was a fun way to blow off some steam and have a laugh - sort of like the laugh the producers had on everyone who shelled out their six bucks back in 1986. [rimshot]

Turns out that it's true what they say about "nothing goes away online." I actually got my first comment about that post, nearly six months later. I'm pretty sure that it's a put-on. If not, some poor kid is really taking me way too seriously. Dude - it's a cartoon movie about toys. You probably came up with better on Christmas morning, laying on your He-Man bedspread, making all the sound effects.

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. It's hilariously bad, but I actually do own it, from the grand opening sequence right down to the abrupt closing credits. (No kidding - they just sort of launch into them right on top of the big finish, as if they're too embarrassed for that little fadeout: "It's finally over! But - for how long????" I've never seen credits pull a Blues Brothers getaway before.) I also own Weird Al's UHF, the non-MST3K version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and an old VHS copy of The Mole People.

In short, there are many meats in our cultural stew. I enjoy them clean, sober, and hat-free. I won't insult your tastes if you don't insult mine. Just next time, you may want to read a little further than the post you got by googling "Orson Welles + Big Toy."

Thoughtcrime revisited

Maybe my tribal name is Beats a Dead Horse, but here we are again today - ESPN's Bomani Jones:
Wednesday night's game between Illinois and Michigan at Assembly Hall in Champaign will be emotional for some. Halftime will be the last time that Chief Illiniwek will dance as the the Fighting Illini's official mascot.

Dan Mahoney, who portrays Chief Illiniwek, believes "[Tonight] is going to be very tough for a lot of people." Ahhh, but those people should keep their eyes on the bright side -- at last, Illinois will move into the 21st century!

If Mahoney only knew how wonderful things are in the present. Does he know that in the 21st century, people are able to connect to the Internet without having to plug cords into their computers? Shoot, pretty soon cars might even pop up on campus that use gas and electricity and get about 60 miles to the gallon! And wait until he and his fellow Illini find out about this HDTV thing. They'll be able to read the players' tattoos without getting courtside seats!

But wow, it's a good thing no one will see Chief Illiniwek in HD after Wednesday. I'd imagine that crystal clarity would make it obvious what Chief Illiniwek often was -- a white kid dressed in feathers and using a stereotype of Native Americans in the name of entertainment.

Save the arguments that Illiniwek was intended to honor the state of Illinois' Native American heritage for someone dumb enough to believe them. As Ron Froman, the former chief of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma (the closest living descendents of the Illiniwek Confederacy), said, "I don't think [Chief Illiniwek] was intended to support us, because, they ran [us] out of Illinois."

Finally, Chief Illiniwek has been run out of the Univeristy of Illinois. Welcome to the present.

I've printed the whole thing because it's on Page 2's main intro for today, and since that gets updated every afternoon I don't think there's any sort of permalink. It's nice, of course, to see a shorter-format essay, not so nice to see the contents.

1. "Moving into the 21st century." It's a favorite theme to quote calendars in support of the truth, and to say that one's opponents are stuck in the past. Sometimes, it even makes sense. In this case, I'm not certain, since the scorn comes fast and heavy - hi-def TVs! Wireless internet! As if technology somehow changes what is or is not true. Look, if Illiniwek is insulting, he's insulting - and would be whether or not we still all rode horses and sent telegrams.

2. "I'd imagine that crystal clarity would make it obvious what Chief Illiniwek often was -- a white kid dressed in feathers and using a stereotype of Native Americans in the name of entertainment." It's true that the kid in the outfit was usually not Native American. And I seem to remember that the leprechaun mascot of the Fighting Irish was once black without the whole Emerald Isle marching on South Bend in their umbrage. The race of a person is wholly unimportant. It does not matter that Illiniwek was often performed by a non-Indian. Think about it this way - this white kid was proud to represent a Native American image - he felt a connection to the ideals that Illiniwek was created to represent. He had risen above ethnic ties to embrace a common humanity. And the feathers and the dancing were researched thoroughly, so whatever else one may think, this wasn't merely a caricature or stereotype, but as authentic as could be discovered.

3. "Save the arguments that Illiniwek was intended to honor the state of Illinois' Native American heritage for someone dumb enough to believe them." Mr. Jones, meet the people dumb enough to believe them - the people who helped create Chief Illiniwek 81 years ago. That actual tribes were driven from the state is true and regrettable - would we prefer to forget they ever existed on top of that? Would we prefer to know nothing of them and their philosophy of integrity, as represented by the name Illiniwek? "They spoke a dialect of the Algonquin language and used the term 'Illiniwek' to refer to the complete human being -- the strong, agile human body; the unfettered human intellect; the indomitable human spirit."

4. "Welcome to the present." Unfortunately, the present often sucks. Consider the pay-for-grades, booster kickbacks, thug culture, and general arrogance and entitlement rampant throughout many of the NCAA's flagship programs. I mean, Lamar Thomas cheered on the UM-FIU football brawl from the broadcast booth - ON THE AIR. (There was a reason for all those "Catholics vs. Convicts" t-shirts they used to sell.) There's the wonderfully tactful remark Steve Spurrier made while head coach of Florida, regarding Tennessee's inability to beat the Gators: "You can't spell Citrus without U-T." Great example, there, ballcoach. I see that example followed all the time - teenaged roller hockey players acting like they're immortal talents (and immortal jackasses) after scoring goals in rec league games, for crying out loud. Chief Illiniwek sets a far better example and represents a far greater ideal than most of the NCAA can boast, and instead of a reflexive condemnation based on mere appearances - "He wears feathers! It's a Native American! Hostile!" - we should take the time to do a little reading and consider that there could be something positive to be learned.

Now, the moment that you point this out, someone will hurry to talk about how the good old days weren't really a golden age, and that there's good and bad in every time. True - and another argument against using the calendar to approve or disapprove of someone's behavior.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


A genius post from Ricki... A fine description of the casual ingratitude of everyday life, the constant feeling of being aggrieved, all stemming from the far-overgrown entitlement some feel is their birthright.

It shouldn't be amazing that a people who are losing their sense of a God above them think that everything else is beneath them. Still, I do find a heavy helping of irony in Ricki's observation that people behave as if inconveniences, minor and major, are specifically aimed at them - they discount a God in the heavens to bless, but attribute misfortune fully to enemy action. It's as if they really do believe in the Devil, albeit a "tamed" concept of him: an infernal mischief-maker who seeks merely to vex and annoy.

Considering the effect these vexations have to rob some people of all joy, peace, and good humor, they ought to consider re-upgrading him.

Ricki does point out (and I agree) that we all have these moments where we huff and puff and blow our own houses in. What? I wasn't accepted? You gave away our table? Whaddya mean, sold out? But there's a difference between a person who gripes and a griper. We all get exasperated - but not everyone enjoys the feeling of being put-upon that exasperation brings. Some people, odd as it seems, don't seem to really come alive until they're complaining about ill-usage, real or imagined. As long as they have a resentment against someone else, they are justified in being as mean and dismissive as they please. In short, they hold grudges. Each one entitles the bearer to raise himself one notch on the tote board of self-regard.

This puts one in an awkward spot, considering the popularity of the Friday Flip-Off over at It Comes in Pints. What is that if not a full-blown case of "Why Me?"

Well, what it is is a healthy way to share our vexations without letting them define us. The things people kvetch about over there aren't the things outside anyone's control. As I recall, there have been very few (if any) "Winter can flip off" sorts of commenting* - but there is a great deal of "Lousy drivers can flip off." In other words, the FFO targets casual rudeness, the complete inability of some people to follow through on common decency: tailgaters and line-crashers, the selfish and the ridiculous. We're not mad because we're entitled to better, but because it's amazing how little other people think of their fellows. In some cases the people in question are putting others in physical danger by their thoughtlessness.

If one didn't say something about it, one would instead be forever nursing that hurt, looking for a way to pay everyone back for it - that's the behavior that Ricki's talking about, and it's the opposite of a public forum for scolding.

*There was, however, the fabulously insane font flip-off thread (scroll down a little). (OH - and LANGUAGE ALERT. They don't say "flip.")

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Mighty Wingman Contest - update

Folks, your inventiveness knows no bounds. I got quite a lot of votes, online and off. There is, however, a little bit of a problem. As I compiled, I found that people went out of their way to name people whom they hadn't seen listed yet, and as a result we have something like a 17-way tie. It's fabulous brainstorming and I'm impressed.

Partly to honor all the choices, and partly because I'm having such fun seeing what you came up with, I'm going to take the nominees and list them here (not in any particular order). People in gold already have multiple nominations; people in green are those not nominated at all but on the huge list I had when I made my own top-ten. You can vote for anyone here or you can write someone in. If you want to keep your list from before that's cool too.

  1. Samwise Gamgee - Frodo's faithful servant from Lord of the Rings
  2. Mr. Spock - Kirk's XO on the Enterprise; logician and occasional harpist
  3. Dr. James Watson - Sherlock Holmes' narrator and fellow adventurer
  4. Artemis Gordon from The Wild Wild West
  5. Sara Gaskell, Dean of the university in the film Wonder Boys
  6. KITT - Michael Knight's car from Knight Rider
  7. Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride
  8. Goose - Maverick's copilot in Top Gun
  9. Lt. Morris Schaffer, Clint Eastwood's character in Where Eagles Dare
  10. Eastwood again, this time the aptly-named Pardner in Paint Your Wagon
  11. Ned Logan - Morgan Freeman's character in Unforgiven
  12. Chewbacca - every smuggler needs a first mate, right?
  13. The Sundance Kid (that one was Redford) (AND that's two movies for Bill Goldman)
  14. Mickey Goldmill (everything you want to know about the franchise is at Obsession Central)
  15. Marion Ravenwood, Raiders of the Lost Ark*
  16. Larry/Curly from the Three Stooges
  17. Bert from Mary Poppins OR Sesame Street
  18. Egon and Ray from Ghostbusters
  19. Tyler Durden, Fight Club
  20. Elwood Blues, the Blues Brothers
  21. Harry Dunne of Dumb and Dumber (that's Jeff Daniels)
  22. The .44 Magnum, deadliest handgun ever made, etc. etc.
  23. Dr. Henry Jones Sr., Indiana Jones and the Last Penultimate Crusade**
  24. Minute Mouse (and great theme song, by the way)
  25. Dori of Finding Nemo
  26. Jane Bennett, "Pride and Prejudice"
  27. Agent J, Men in Black - clearly K's protege
  28. Jet Black - master of the Bebop, yet he's Spike's right-hand man, not the reverse
  29. Horatio, "Hamlet"
  30. Susan Ivanova, Babylon Five
  31. Silent Bob
  32. Gromit
  33. Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter books
  34. Juan Ramirez of Highlander (a double for Connery)
  35. Ed Norton, the Honeymooners - such a good wingman he inspired Barney Rubble
  36. Pikachu (hey, PT has four daughters, cut him some slack)
  37. Mike Wazowski, Monsters Inc. (Pixar comes up with great wingmen)
  38. James Boswell - the biographer of Samuel Johnson
  39. Friday from "Robinson Crusoe"
  40. Michaeleen Flynn, from the Quiet Man
  41. Sgt Bothari: "I am Lady Vorkosigan's dog." (But who's Lady Vorkosigan? Oh.)
  42. Al (Dean Stockwell) from Quantum Leap
  43. Tinkerbell - from a mere spotlight on the stage to a vixenous icon of her own right
  44. Fozzie Bear
  45. Milhouse Van Houten - Bart Simpson's running mate, also cast as Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man movie on the show (which makes him a double-second-banana!)
  46. Pompey from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (another great theme song)

*You could also go with Sallah, who returned in the third movie
**Wow, this was released in 1989?

You may also notice that I've eliminated some of the field candidates - the crew of the Serenity and "any officer besides Kirk." It's not fair either to give all the points to each candidate or to split them so many ways. Neither do I want to average out five or six spots and then let the next candidate sink all the way to the bottom. It would skew the results unnecessarily.


They won't touch this

FJM will ignore it, because it's hockey, so I'm up to bat. It's down along the bottom of the right side - Scott Burnside on Rick Tocchet and the Jersey gambling ring:
So, it's been a year since Rick Tocchet was implicated in the now-famous Operation Slap Shot betting scandal. "Implicated" is the operative word because, a year later, Tocchet still has not been formally charged but rather just put on notice.

New Jersey authorities plan, at some point, to charge him with a series of crimes in connection with the alleged betting ring. Some experts have recently said it's not unusual for authorities to take this long to bring charges in a case like this, but we can't help but feel some empathy for Tocchet, who is in professional limbo and barred from the NHL until the matter is cleared up.

So far, so good. I also feel for the guy - tough player, had a pretty good playing career. Things soon go awry, however.

New Jersey officials have been curiously tight-lipped about the proceedings, especially after all the convenient leaks that took place immediately after the probe hit the headlines.

That represents a sudden lurch into cholo-logic. First of all, the media whipped the leak into a good-sized stream because Tocchet was on Wayne Gretzky's staff in Phoenix. When the Great One is possibly involved, that's news - and ESPN was all over it along with everyone else. (This is the search result for "Tocchet, gambling" - just for It's a little curious that now Burnside is concerned about the effect it had on Tocchet's coaching career. Second, how is it curious that the law wants to try to keep better control of the investigation in light of what the leaks have caused?

The longer the wait for any formal action against Tocchet, the more this looks like an issue of rush to judgment and the greater the odor of law enforcement and state officials looking to make a name for themselves without having the goods.

Right - a rush to judgement that takes a full year. Brilliant.

Remember that search, above? This story popped up on the second page. It opens thus: "New Jersey state police were forced to arrest their targets in an illegal gambling ring allegedly run by Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet a day earlier than planned after an FBI agent inadvertently let NHL officials know about the investigation..." It also contains this beefy nugget: "...a wiretap on Tocchet's phone recorded a conversation between Tocchet and a league official. The league official reportedly discussed the investigation with Tocchet and told the coach his phone calls had been monitored. The conversation took place before news of the gambling ring was reported in the media." [emphases are mine - NF]

So - all this sniping about the New Jersey State Police and the AG? How about saving some of it for the people who essentially blew their cover, before the media even knew about it?

In the end, the real story may be the issue of justice for Tocchet.

Au contraire. In the end, Tocchet may escape jail time entirely because of the leak (caused by the FBI and the NHL itself, remember.) There had to be a reason why somebody decided to tell Tocchet about this... something perhaps along the lines of, "Dude, ixnay on the ookmakingbay. The edsfay are onto ouyay." He may never get "justice" in the sense that he can't work in the NHL any more; but neither will he get "justice" in the sense that he won't go to the pokey. Worst, if this comes to nothing, this little tip from the league will backfire for Tocchet. Many wouldn't believe he's done nothing wrong, because of the doubt caused by the official's actions. Hard to see how that could be the state police's fault.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Mighty Wingman Contest

updated Saturday, 2/17/07, oh-dark-thirty am - Rant is completed, and sits directly below this post.

updated Friday, 2/16/07, 5:18 pm - I've got some ire to raise, but I'd best not be rash about it, so I will be crafting, crafting... This may hold up the contest results for a couple of days but I was considering that anyway. Monday is a holiday and it gives me a good opportunity to put up a much better post than otherwise. It also gives all y'all a better chance to send in your votes! Stuff that box, kids! In the meantime, tune in just below for a fresh Saturday morning rant about the NCAA and the thought police.

updated Wednesday, 2/14/07, 11:44 pm - So far, so good. With mail entries and people I know who have chimed in, we have a good 15 or so ballots. Interesting stuff. Also, you will notice that there are tags on this thing now. Blogger has been shoving all of us old-school holdouts into the "new Blogger style" and the Hive's turn just came up. My fingers are crossed (or they would be if I weren't currently typing); if they just add a way to ask for a little help directly, I'll consider it a rousing success.

originally posted Monday, 2/12/07, 9:38 pm

In honor of one of the funnier beer commercials of the past ten years and the recent Fifty Fab Robots list thing, I've decided to run a little contest here. I will peg this post so that it stays up top all week; you, the reader, are cordially invited to name the best wingmen in movies and literature (or songs, or what-have-you). Here are the guidelines:

  • We are talking about the best of the wingmen - the guys without whom the leading man would be well and truly hosed. Try not to tab any comic relief or co-equals or love interests (unless you can make a case for one of the co-equals). For example, in the Mummy movies, Rachel Weisz' character, Evie, is NOT a wingman (co-equal), neither is John Hannah (comic relief). The wingman there would be Oded Fehr (hubba-hubba, ladies).
  • Your first place nominee will get 20 points.
  • Your second place nominee will get 15 points. (There's a bonus for being the top dog, the big cheese, numero duo honcho...)
  • Third place is worth 12, and so on down to one point for fourteenth.
  • If you name more than fourteen, anyone after that will get one point (think of it as a really big tie); if you name fewer, I'll stop where you left off.
You can vote in the comments, or drop me an email (nightflymail AT aol DOT com) if you like that whole secret ballot thing. I will tally me second bananas and come up with the winner on Saturday in the afternoon. Then I'll post the results, with a detailed look into my own list and why I chose as I did. (And yes, I do have a list.) I may also hit some of the highlights of the voting given enough time.

Have fun!

Big heap thoughtcrime

The NCAA has a policy not to allow certain universities to host postseason events, mostly on the grounds of "hostile and abusive" campus atmospheres.

This comes in handy when Penn State decides to flood the quad with chlorine gas on purpose, but not so much in other circumstances - for example, when your team is named after anything having to do with Native Americans. The latest casualty is Chief Illiniwek of the University of Illinois. It turns out that their appeal was in vain, and the University is striking its tent on this issue.

The major objection to the Chief, who has been around since 1926, is that he trivializes and stereotypes Indians. Another objection, seen here, is that his dance is too authentic, and thus trivializes Indian religious belief.

Lost in all of this is the actual history of Illiniwek, gleaned fairly easily from the University's athletic department website. What's written there suggests that the whole point of the Chief is educative, to show the strengths and virtues of the Native Americans:
The expression "Illiniwek" was first used in conjunction with the University of Illinois by football coach Bob Zuppke in the mid 1920's. Zup was a philosopher and historian by training and inclination, and he was intrigued by the concept the Illini peoples held about their identity and aspirations. They spoke a dialect of the Algonquin language and used the term "Illiniwek" to refer to the complete human being -- the strong, agile human body; the unfettered human intellect; the indomitable human spirit.

Agile and strong, unfettered mind, indomitable spirit... sign me up, please.

The first performance was well-received. The first student spent the following summer studying Indian culture, and his replacement, who wanted to give Illiniwek a genuine costume, hitchhiked to South Dakota to explain his intentions and was made an authentic outfit by three Sioux women. "Since then, five different authentic outfits have been used by Chief Illiniwek. The one used in performances now was purchased in 1983 from Sioux Chief Frank Fools Crow..."

This mutual cooperation and understanding is a little too much to bear for certain folks, who've banded together to be a colossal pain in the headdress. Now to start off with, I am going to be clear: they have the God-given right to be as colossal and painful as they please. I would never silence them. But that doesn't mean I agree with them. In fact, given some of the statements printed there, it's hard to disagree because one isn't sure what they mean. The most convoluted screed so far is dated November 17, 2006, by D Anthony Tyeeme Clark, "Why I Don't Do Interviews About the Chief." (Press releases, yes. Interviews? People questioning me about my public statements? Oppresion!)

The problem with print and television journalists is that they frame the issue of Chief Illiniwek around the notion of “objectivity” as it tends to be constituted in a so-called balanced journalism.
It figures. One of the few times the media actually strive to be balanced and objective, they get condemned.

Emerging out of a dominant culture and power of antagonism that elides the play of power in racism and colonialism,
Uh-oh. I smell some rifted writing coming on.

journalists uphold a racist, colonialist, ...
You already mentioned that.

... misogynist, and heterosexist status quo when assuming two opposite sides:
Oppresors! How dare anyone assume TWO sides!

... a multi-racial, majority-white critical mass who, through the lens of critical cultural theory, represent a form of homo-social Chief love rooted historically and psychologically in the fear of being emasculated (of losing white-male heterosexist power and privileges), and “the Native Americans,” who in local mass media represent chief hate, as well as assimilation.
It was more confusing, believe me, before I corrected the punctuation - but even the repaired version is nonsense. He seems to be accusing journalists of assigning people to two categories, both of which he himself has invented and neither of which is complimentary.

I guarantee you that the critical mass doesn't look at things through the lens of critical cultural theory. They're not gullible enough. They couldn't care less, and thank God for it. For example, Mr. Clark, looking through his lens, darkly, thinks that people's love for Chief Illiniwek is based on fear of being emasculated. I think the psychologists call this "projection," personally, but leave that aside for a moment. About the only thing clear here is that Mr. Clark prefers demonizing those who disagree to explaining his objection to the Chief. He's hit every PC buzzword for "my enemies are evil" - misogyny, racism, heterosexism, and colonialism. (I wouldn't be surprised if they all had really big carbon footprints, too.) He's so opposed to the objective approach that he's decided to be barking mad to to set himself apart.

Chief Illiniwek can be understood simultaneously as a dignified symbol of the university and an example of what Renato Resaldo terms “imperialist nostalgia,” a widespread tactic used by white peoples and people of color collaborators in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (and, before apartheid ended, South Africa) to cover up domination and transform those responsible for the oppression of indigenous peoples—including American Indians—to act as innocent bystanders.
Um... really? So, it's insulting for Illiniwek to be a dignified symbol? I don't get it. Historically, oppressors destroyed the cultural and social practices of those they conquered. Rome didn't celebrate Carthaginian or Etruscan achievements, they obliterated every possible trace of them and plowed the very soil with salt. The admirable stuff (like the Hellenic gods and art) they simply stole and renamed. It's a strange oppression that consults with an indigenous people for a more authentic expression of their nobility and power.

Thus, love for the high-stepping, jumping official symbol of the University comes into view in ways that empower adoring fans and university alumni to ignore the history (e.g., genocide) and its lingering residue (such as legal title to stolen land) from which most white people and many non-Native American people of color continue to reap untold benefit.
Oh, criminy. Look, the U.S. is not giving back Chicago, OK? For one thing, they built it. For another, Native American persons have equal rights under law with everyone else, so even with the country's faults we're coming out ahead of most similar situations in history. (In fact, since Indian nations are still technically sovereign, sometimes Native Americans have more rights under law in US Courts than they do in tribal proceedings - little things such as trial by jury and the right to counsel.) The treatment of the conquered Native American peoples isn't something to be proud of, but making the misdeeds of history the only parts that matter is patently dishonest.

Oh, and he does go on... it's all about power, blah blah, and "the struggle for hegemony." He's half-right, at least, on that count - but he's the one who wants the hegemony. He wants the University of Illinois to adhere to his ideal of white behavior: bowing and scraping and forever apologizing, pausing every moment to acknowledge the evils of their past (but NEVER the successes or virtues); and forbidden to admire a culture other than their own. This permanent sorry is more acceptable than a vigorous debate between free minds: the best way for us hegemonic oppressors to deal with our profound dread and apprehension is to be made to constantly feel it.

Dominant culture and power constitute a reaction formation of visual impressions, assumptions, stereotypes, and expectations that transform unacceptable urges into their opposite and free white people and their people of color allies from the necessity of dealing with profound dread and apprehension.
Just to recap - you're not allowed to admire a foreign culture, and you're not allowed to transform unacceptable urges into their opposite. In the old days, that was called improving your character; now it's just a smokescreen, a way to dodge unpleasant feelings.
Thus, through an enduring life-cycle of repetitive signifying practices (from children's literature and activities such as “sitting like an Indian” to scouting and Y-Indian Guides and Princesses) Illinoisans link their children and themselves through reaction formation to the institutionalized authority of spiritual guides such as Chief Illiniwek who capture their imaginations and offer them cathartic reproof of their ancestors' injustices and conceal their complicity in the ongoing oppression of Indian peoples.

As for the "substance" of the objections: scouting? Lord Baden-Powell, trying to instill character in young men, was doing evil? He was oppressing Native Americans? Horse feathers. All of these hundred-dollar words really just boil down to one thing: D Anthony Tyeeme Clark is furiously determined to take his offense. If facts don't back up his umbrage, he will denounce them as false objectivity. If Illiniwek were a caricatured savage he'd complain on those grounds, but since he's meant as a noble figure of admiration and pride for the school, he'll complain on those grounds instead. Admiring the Chief means oppressing the rest of us! You are complicit! And I will toss as much sociology and grievance jargon at you as I need to avoid your questions!

Really, if he just says, "Chief Illiniwek offends me," then we can discuss why. If he further says, "I think that holding up Illiniwek as a wholesome image after having warred against actual Indians, confining them to reservations, is patronising lip service," then we have an actual position to be argued. In doing so, he may actually change some minds - but he also runs a risk of having his own mind changed. People discussing an idea from two different sides are in one sense colleagues: searching for a consensus, trying to reach a true answer or at least an accurate understanding of each other's thinking. This is obviously unacceptable - he says as much when he brands those who cooperate "collaborators." Descriptively, it's accurate, but he's not trying to define, but conjure. When he says collaborator he wants us to think quisling. Beyond that he doesn't want us to really think at all. He's so proud we are not allowed to admire his pride, his people so noble that we are not permitted to want to be like them. According to Mr. Clark, we are permitted only to be inferior and acknowledge it, never to improve on it. This amounts to racism, and Mr. Clark's fancy dress terms don't make his hatred virtuous, any more than putting a warthog in a prom dress makes it the homecoming queen.

Forgive me if I decline to share in delusion, however erudite.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


At first, I was wondering if this was a WW2 anniversary of some sort and feared my ignorance... Then I got it - it was the other thing in which all is fair.

Romantically speaking, I was the fat kid for a long time... I didn't get too many of the sweet and winsome Valentines that Ricki mentions, and felt rather put off by the "bling for a fling" genre of gift-giving. I mean, some of those ads really strongly imply that a woman is obligated to pleasure a man given a certain dollar-value gift - or worse, that the man is obligated to meet that dollar value to repay a woman's attentions.

I'm learning the other side of this fence now that I'm getting married.

A woman naturally likes to know that she's a treasure herself; from there it's easy to introduce the lie that to tell her so requires spending a treasure, and from there easier still to drop the truth entirely, and let men think that spending the treasure is the only thing required. Well, you can tell it's a lie because it doesn't work. The woman stays unhappy and thinks she's neglected, and all the guy can do is say, "But I got you x, y, and three of z!" And then the woman feels guilty because he did do that, but it wasn't what she really needed - they both bought a total bill of goods along with all of that ridiculous pink swag.

So, no, the whole idea of being bullied into buying expensive dust-catchers doesn't please me. (The Ladybug, thankfully, does not do this.) On this score, being engaged is, in essence, one long V-Day - "Oh, this package is ten bucks more per person; this cake has a small upcharge; for $100 bucks more you can also... and isn't it worth it on her special day?"

Ahem. First off - "Her" is STANDING RIGHT THERE. If she's worth the extra ten bucks a head, she can be spoken to directly. Second - we plan on the day being special because of the special person we're marrying, not because we sprang for fireworks and a flight of doves over the reception hall. I'd love to give her a fairy-tale event, but I'd much prefer the happier-ever-after.

I do have a question for Ricki, though - you say, "...don't EVEN MENTION the other made-up holiday that some talk about celebrating on March 15." Maybe this one really is a WW2 anniversary, because the only other thing I can think of here is the Ides of March. I mean, I could round up all my senator friends for a little stabby fun, but is that romantic?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Diaper-wearing astronaut jailed in love triangle plot

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist:
The Orlando police allege that Nowak drove 950 miles from Houston to Orlando wearing adult diapers used in space and disguised herself in a dark wig, glasses and trench coat to confront Shipman in the parking lot of Orlando International Airport, according to a police affidavit. Nowak considered her a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut, Bill Oefelein, according to the affidavit.

Haggard says he's not McGreevey

Maybe the former NJ governor can follow in the footsteps of Ted.

It sounds like a late-night commercial: "In just three weeks you can become completely heterosexual!"

The Rev. Ted Haggard emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is "completely heterosexual" and told an oversight board that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser.

The only reason I believe that he only had one boyfriend is because they would have all come out (no pun intended) of the woodwork as soon as Pastor Ted was busted. In describing this he is using the language of the secular. If he means that he will never be tempted by manflesh again, he is going to be in for a revelation. We junkies need to keep ever vigilant.

1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Set phasers to mockery, Mr. Chekov

Via Ms. Sister of the Swilling, a tale of a publisher's blurb:

More than a coming-out memoir, The Confession is the story of one man's quest to repair the rift between his public and private selves, at a time in our culture when the personal and political have become tangled like frayed electric cables. Teeming with larger-than-life characters, written with honesty, grace, and rare insight into what it means to negotiate the minefields of American public life, it may be among the most honest political memoirs ever written.
Or, the really short version - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

This is so badly written it's hard to credit it to a publishing company; it sounds more like it was written by a tenth-grader who thinks that, since he knows what the word "cogent" means, he doesn't have to bother being cogent himself. Just throw a half-dozen similes onto the page and you've got a mosaic of meaning!

Fish, meet barrel. Time to get shooting...

More than a coming-out memoir,

Much more, in fact - first, he already came out at the press conference, and second, both the conference and the book have served to divert attention from the corruption responsible for James McGreevey's resignation as Governor.

The Confession is the story of one man's quest to repair the rift between his public and private selves,

It may well be, although I'd be more willing to credit that explanation if McGreevey had saved it for the book and not mentioned it at all in the resignation. But my concern here is with the blurb itself. As a descriptive this more accurately fits the Star Trek episode where Kirk splits into a good half and a bad half, than any political process I've heard of.

at a time in our culture when the personal and political have become tangled like frayed electric cables.

Yeah, it's getting worse. Oh, what a tangled rift we repair! Our blurbist can't possibly think that a rift is like a tangled electric cable - or a tangled, frayed electric cable. Or a bunch of frayed electric cables that are tangled. More likely, the blurbist isn't thinking at all, and is merely hoping that we'll mistake an impressive vocabulary for good writing.

I'll also note, at this point, that "the personal is political" is bollocks. It's much closer to true to say that people make the political personal - a process that this memoir is unlikely to interrupt. Instead of this flowery crap about rifted selves (that are tangled, don't forget), it would be simpler to say that politicians long have been parading their families as photo ops without actually being good family men; that all of their talk about promises and integrity has no intention to keep either. Strunk and White were right, bless them - "Be concrete."

And, if you'll forgive the bluntness - is a guy who left his wife and daughters a good choice to write a book about bringing those things back together?

Teeming with larger-than-life characters,

Electrical cables teem?
A memoir of someone's life has larger-than-life characters?
OK - I admit that I didn't read the thing. Did the publisher?

written with honesty,

Hey, kids! Our author didn't lie in his own memoir! BUY TODAY!

grace, and rare insight into what it means to negotiate the minefield of American public life,

(At this point, your brain may hurt. Take a moment, sip some water.)

This is just shoddy writing. Strunk and White again: "Shoddy writing is shoddy thinking." For example: what rare insights can the guy have? He dealt a state job to his supremely-unqualified lover. Hardly rare. Nor would I call it "negotiating the minefield of American public life" when he was caught, and resigned amid scandal. You may as well read my book about what it takes to colonize Mars.

And - again with the bluntness and the hurting and flayven! - life would be far less of a minefield if one simply wasn't a crook. Integrity doesn't mean skirting the law, or not getting caught, or looking stern while saying serious things on TV. It means that all of one's faculties cooperate - that one's public and private selves never get rifted. (I'm beginning to heart that word.) One need not be in public life to benefit, either.

it may be among the most honest political memoirs ever written.

It may be honest? You're not sure? You seemed sure a couple of sentences ago... though, as we've seen, it's rather hard to tell. Are you even sure it's rare? There's a whole industry that caters to celebs and politicos in disgrace - it's called "hitting the confessional circuit." You don't even have to do anything, either, except talk about how lousy you feel. This would seem to indicate that the lack of integrity that caused the disgrace is still in operation, and that "confessional" is therefore not an accurate term. "Fooling oneself" or "wasting all of our time" are far better, though they don't read as well on the back of a dust jacket.

Of course by now I've run both my points into the ground, dug them out, pummeled them, and left the scraps for the buzzards. I'm sorry to be on about it so long. For the three of you still conscious: don't write like this blurb. Ever. Please. Don't rift your selves like tangled cables that teem with rare insight and (perhaps) honesty. You'll be happier and you won't have to bother with writing a book about it.

This has been a public service announcement of Bloggers Against Rifted Writing.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Touched by a spammer

Mostly the same spammer too - a mysterious sort whose visits don't register on my SiteMeter count. Probably it means that the little visitor was a bot plugging directly into the commenting URL and not getting there at all through the post.

Hast been duly reported, and hopefully quashed.

The volume of spam at work is far greater, of course, but in some ways even a little bit fun. For one thing, we have excellent filters now, and they catch a good majority of the stuff. For another, I get to browse the list of subject lines and enjoy the evolution of spam. I have three theories on it:
  1. Spammers all spam each other, too, and get ideas for new wording from each other
  2. Spammers are actually like vast schools of fish, moving like a solid curtain, with no individual responsible for any change of direction
  3. There is an Ur-Spammer, like the Master Control Program in Tron, issuing its imperious commands. (End of line.)
Any of these would cover the facts as observed, to wit: spammers keep up one pattern for a couple of days and then swap. So, for a few days I'll get a hunk of subject lines: "Name says." Then, all at once, it will be "Name wrote." And THEN all at once it will be "Talk to Name."

Yeah, well... no thanks, anyway. You're all Nigerian discount mortgage casinos that sell foreign drugs. But I do find it fascinating to see how you all turn on the same dime. There's never any overlap. It's not like I'll see a stray "Name says" after everyone is saying "Talk to Name."

For a while after that, I saw something new - fake news headlines. Or rather, real news headlines cribbed from actual news sites, only used as subjects. For a little while, they were even introduced as (for example) "CNN: Bush to ask for higher troop deployment." Very quickly, however, the CNN was dropped in favor of the generic "News Service."

[And THAT was quite interesting. We small fry don't have the deep pockets to permanently end these annoyances - but don't tick off Ted Turner.]

It didn't last long. In fact, for a while "Name" returned to action; it was like meeting an old college buddy you'd lost touch with after school, when it became obvious you hadn't really had much in common in the first place beyond a class and the same dorm floor. Not one of those pleasant meetings either - a meeting where you're shocked at how Federlinish he looks, and are trying to escape after 23 seconds.

At home, weeding through blog spam, one finds a different tone. They don't work nearly as hard in the home version of this game. Usually there's nothing more than their suspicious little URL, sometimes not even hotlinked. One may get a string of words that one normally avoids using in the body of posts precisely because it attracts spammers - in other words, it's like spam cannibalism (Spamibalism?); they'll catch other spambots but no actual readers.

Sometimes I think I'd rather have Bingley's breed of spambot, who generate fabulous names like "Euphonious K Dirigible" or "Daunting Y Mallomar." Those are fun.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Got some disappointing news last night: the folks at Sega and Sports Interactive have scrapped my current favorite game.

I mention this, not just because the game itself is so engaging and well-planned, it's to recognize the developers, who have apparently known that this was a definite event for a while now - but still worked extra hours to produce the latest game patch, to leave us all with the best possible product.

Sounds silly, doesn't it - gee, they made the game work, isn't that their job? - but in this case I want to recognize them for it. First, there are plenty of larger, more famous companies notorious for stranding people with buggy, inferior product and simply expecting that they'll deal out 50 more bucks next year for little more than a glorified roster update. To hide this, they toss in cockamamie "features" that add nothing to the experience except aggravation. (I hated the EA:NHL 'player cards' and their pathetic 'career mode' that only lasted ten seasons.)

Second, it isn't their job anymore. They've been working on Sega/SI's other titles for a month or more, but they still pushed themselves for us - and by "us" I mean maybe 8,000 worldwide. That's it.

So, business decision for unpopular, high-quality title to bite the dust. Again, it's a blinding flash of the obvious, right? Well - that brings me to the Rant Section of our little tale. Part of the reason for the sluggish sales has been game piracy. No-talent, cheapskate stooges put up mirror sites to download the demo version (free for half a season of the game); those sites got many more times the downloads of Sega/SI's legit site. Even if the full game hadn't been available, that's a bad sign; if people were planning on buying it they'd have downloaded the demo from Sega/SI in the first place, not a hack site. But the full game is also out there, thanks to Russian and Chi-com hackers whose activities are tacitly approved by their governments in a form of freelance economic combat.

So theft and dishonesty cost us future versions of a fabulous, fun game and the developers all get shuffled to other work - at least they were lucky enough to keep their jobs in this case. And I'm lucky enough to have a special place to let fly at these hacking jive turkeys, once Emily has finished typing. Break out the knobs for this one...

My toilet is not Muslim-friendly

Someone tell me this is a gag:

Toilets in one London prison are getting a face-lift — or rather, a change in direction — to accommodate Muslim inmates who can't use them while facing Mecca, a British newspaper reported.

Government officials ackowledged using tax dollars for the changes to the facilities, but maintained that moving the toilets was part of "on-going refurbishment," according to an article in The Sun.

Islamic code prohibits Muslims from facing or turning their backs on the direction of prayer when they use the bathroom. Muslim prisoners complained of having to sit sideways on toilets so as to not break code.

Faith leaders in the government pressured officials to approve turning the toilets 90 degrees at HMP Brixton in London.

Muslim American rights worker commended the London prison system for their actions, but said the problem, so far, doesn't appear to be an issue in the U.S.

"There have been very significant and numerous complaints at U.S. prisons on issues of regulating hygiene and respect for dietary laws," said Ibrahim Ramey, director of human and civil rights work for Muslim America Society. However, Ramey said he was unaware of any specific complaints regarding the direction of toilets in U.S. prisons.

This is a comment from the orginal report, which you can read here:

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said: “As far as I understand this rule only applies in a place of worship."