Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ring Around the Planet

If all goes according to plan, and assuming NASA scientists didn't screw up their metric to english conversions again, the Cassini space probe will slip between two of Saturn's rings later tonight and go into orbit around the planet. It will spend the next four years there, snapping pictures, taking measurements, performing spectro analyses, conducting experiments, and desperately looking for Saddam's missing weapons of mass destruction.

In what is expected to be the mission's highlight--assuming that no ties to Al Qaeda are found--Cassini will launch the smaller Huygens probe in January. Huygens will then parachute into the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and slowly descend to its surface. Scientists hope that data gathered during its descent will solve the longstanding mystery of why a satellite of Saturn would be named after an NFL football team.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Pin Up Memoirs
I finally went out and bought a copy of Bill Clinton's book, but it looks like I'm going to end up taking it back.

Someone's already ripped out the centerfold.

Monday, June 28, 2004

---------------Drew Sheneman, Newark Star-Ledger

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Quite a Bash
Death and mayhem erupted in New York earlier today when a crowd of Bush bashers coming out of a showing of Fahrenheit 911 ran into a mob of Clinton bashers protesting outside a bookstore.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Wedding Bells
Word is that part time virgin/full time vixen Britney Spears is engaged to one of her backup dancers. And Kevin Federline sounds like quite the catch, too! He already has a two year old daughter and another child in the oven with his previous girlfriend, so he obviously has experience raising a family.

This news comes a few months after Britney's quickie marriage/quickie annulment in Las Vegas. There is no word on how long the current engagement will last before the happy couple actually ties the knot. However, it appears that this time Miss Spears is not rushing into anything she may later regret, and that she wants to be truly sure that this is indeed the man she wants to spend the rest of her weekend with.


957 Pages.... Or Less if They're Stuck Together
Much to the consternation of Clinton bashers, the former President's "My Life" has been setting sales records. Borders says it sold 50,000 copies the first day, more than twice the total of the previous non-fiction record holder, Hillary Clinton's "Living History."

Experts say this may well be the first time in well over a decade that Bill has been on top of Hillary.

---------------Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Friday, June 25, 2004

Seven Of Nine Doesn't Do Sixty Nine
Illinois senatorial candidate Jack Ryan has withdrawn from the race amid allegations that he had forced his now ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to participate in bizarre sex clubs. After the story broke, Ryan's chances for winning the election became about the same as the chances of success for the incoming Iraqi government.

It was not immediately clear how these recent developments will effect Ryan's career as a fictional character in various Tom Clancy novels.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Wake Me In 17 Years

The Great Cicada Invasion of 2004 has come to a close in the DC area. The neighborhoods that first experienced them have been quiet for a couple of weeks now, and by today, even the stragglers that joined the party late were silent. So in any given locale, the whole thing lasted maybe three weeks. And while some people may want me arrested for saying this, I miss their incessant sound.

Come August, the eggs that our now deceased friends laid will be hatching, and the nymphs--smaller than an ant--will literally take a leap of faith and drop to the ground. Those fortunate enough to land on soil will quickly burrow underground and find a tree root to call home for the next 16 1/2 years. The unlucky ones who land on a sidewalk, or pavement, or your car parked in the shade.... Well, they'll have had a really, REALLY short lifespan.

Though a few people did tend to freak out, the cicadas were completely harmless. They don't carry disease, they don't sting or bite, and they don't eat. Their only negatives are the noise (audio clip on this page, about 3/4 of the way down), and something called flagging, which is experienced by trees. We're seeing a lot of that now.

Flagging occurs when the leaves on the very tips of tree branches turn brown and die. That's caused by the females' laying of eggs, which involves slicing into the bark. If it occurs near the tip of a branch, where the wood is thinner, it can cause flagging. However, even that considered a benefit because it serves to prune the trees and spur more growth later on. Other benefits include turning the soil as they emerge, and releasing nitrogen as their bodies decay. Indeed, there are at least 17 other uses for dead cicadas.

But perhaps most importantly, they serve to remind us that there are still forces in nature that don't care what we silly humans do to each other (Excellent article on this topic by one of my favorite Post writers, Joel Achenbach).

When these critters last came out in 1987, it was a very different world. Not only was Ronald Reagan still President, but it was the year he delivered his memorable "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech. Mary Kate and Ashley were only a year old while the Bush Twins were in kindergarten and still sober. There was no internet and blogs were written on paper. Baby Jessica fell down a well. The year's top movie was "Look Who's Talking" and Bruce Willis was a TV star. Monica Lewinsky was practicing her technique on her thumb. Michael Jackson was still considered normal. Saddam was our friend, and Britney Spears.... Wait, Britney who?

And what will our world look like in May (or January, if current rates of global warming continue to hold) of 2021 when the soil temperature hits 64 degrees and a new generation of cicadas begins to emerge? Will Osama have won, and the survivors among us be living in caves? Will we talking about the good old days when gas was only two dollars a gallon? Will there still be TV's, or will the shows be beamed directly to our brains? Will President Jenna Bush be seeking to avenge her daddy's electoral loss by launching another invasion of Iraq?

Only time will tell what the future holds.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Udderly Ridiculous
In response to the skyrocketing cost of milk, the White House has announced plans to invade Wisconsin.

In an effort to head off international criticism of the move, President Bush is reassuring the world that the milk they produce "will continue to belong to the people of Wisconsin."


Family Values
Lance E. Champion of McMinnville, Tennessee, took it upon himself to pull over a sheriff's deputy he claimed was speeding. The deputy, however, failed to see the irony of the situation and ended up arresting the 23 year old Champion on charges of disorderly conduct.

Like any good son, Lance called his mother. And like any good mother, Janice Champion came to her son's aid. Irony once again reared its ugly head, and Janice was soon found herself in jail for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The head of the notorious crime syndicate, 47 year old Hal Champion, came straight from church to his family's aid. He ended up getting shot by a deputy's Taser and was also taken into custody.

Police are still seeking irony for additional questioning.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Adult Reading

---------------Dana Summers, Orlando Sentinel

As a public service, here are the opening lines to some of the greatest presidential memoirs:

Ulysses S. Grant: "My family is American, and has been for generations, in all its branches, direct and collateral."

Harry S Truman: "During the first few weeks of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's fourth administration, I saw what the long years of the presidency had done to him."

Richard M. Nixon: "I was born in a house my father built."

Jimmy Carter: "I had not been to bed since early Sunday morning, and I was discouraged and almost exhausted."

William Jefferson Clinton: "I never thought I would someday be writing a letter like this to Penthouse Forum, but a few years ago I met a young intern at the office."


---------------Mike Ramirez, LA Times

Monday, June 21, 2004

Rush Limbaugh: Preserving the Sanctity of Marriage

Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh and his wife, Marta, are getting a divorce after ten happy years together.

Under terms of the divorce settlement, Marta will get most of their house. Rush will keep the right wing.

Space, the Final Frontier

congratulations to everyone associated with the design of SpaceShipOne, which today became the first privately developed manned vessel to reach outer space. Future test missions will include one to return Michael Jackson to his homeworld of Freakozoid in the Weirdo Galaxy.

Though today's launch did not actually include an orbit of Earth, the accomplishment is nonetheless viewed by many as crucial to truly making space travel a viable commercial enterprise, and opening it up to the common man. However, in what may be an ominous sign, Al Qaeda has already made inquiries about training people to steer spacecraft without actually learning how to blastoff.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Party Time

Ohio Democrats have selected talk show host Jerry Springer to be an at-large delegate to their national convention in August.

Apparently party leaders are expecting a lot of incestuous midget wrestler lesbian cousins at their convention this year.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Evidence? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Evidence
In response to the below cartoon, Norman writes: "Who needs evidence when you have an Anybody But Bush agenda? Saddam didn't fly the planes, but to suggest there was no connection or collaboration is pretty stupid."

Yes, I do have an "Anybody But Bush" agenda. But it's not my fault. The problem is that I've allowed myself to be brainwashed by the facts:
* No weapons of mass destruction have been found.
* No evidence of collaboration between Saddam and Al Qaeda has turned up. Even the White House admits that, but then adds that there were "longstanding contacts" between the two. Huh? At least when Clinton was arguing about the meaning of the word "is," people weren't dying left and right.
* Iraq is rapidly approaching a state of anarchy, or is already there.
* Oh and let's not forget that Bush told the world we would "go it alone" if necessary, which he did. And now that we can't handle it "alone," he has the audacity to demand that other countries send their troops in there.

We have improved nothing by going into Iraq. Indeed, we've only created even more instability in the Middle East. If you think we have high gas prices now, wait till you see what happens if the House of Saud falls.

As I've said before, we should have concentrated our efforts on Afghanistan, and if necessary, gone across the border into Pakistan. If we had done that, then we would probably have caught the son of a bitch responsible for 9/11 by now. Then we could have tied Osama's dead body to the back of a New York city firetruck, and dragged it through the streets of Manhattan, thereby achieving some sense of closure.

Had Bush accomplished that much, then I'd say fine, let's go get Saddam. Or Qaddafi. Or Kim. Or the Iranians. But instead we're still spinning our wheels in the sands of Iraq.

If we had stayed focused on Afghanistan and Pakistan, would 839 American soldiers still be dead? Possibly.

But at least they would have died defending the United States against a proven threat.


---------------Rex Babin, Sacremento Bee

Friday, June 18, 2004

Economic Realities
As further proof that Bush has mismanaged the American economy and caused many to lose their jobs, now comes word that the 9/11 hijackers had originally planned to use ten planes but were forced to cut back to only four.

Fortunately the laid off terrorists have since found work in Iraq.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Anybody Find A Chest?

Hmmm.... Either that guy on the far right has a pair of really nice legs, or that girl on the far right has one butt ugly face.



---------------Aaron, Magruder, Boondocks

After two years of anticipation, I've finally joined the world of high speed internet. My cable company is Adelphia, and as you probably know, it's founders are currently in jail having women point at their genitals. Consequently the company has been a little slow in catching up with the rest the industry.

I almost got it last week, but when the cable guy came out to install it, he found that the ethernet card on my laptop wasn't working properly, in addition to my computer needing more memory. I told him hey, it wasn't easy finding a Commodore 64.

Anyway, a friend of mine took care of the said issues, and I went by the cable office this morning to pick up the self-installation kit. And since I was doing a self-install this time, I had to sign a piece of paper basically saying that if I screw it up, I'll have to pay $50 to have the cable guy come back out here and fix my mistake.

The setup process went smoothly at first until I suddenly hit a dead end with the installation CD. No matter what I tried, it wouldn't finish loading. Being a patient sort of psychopath, I began screaming, cursing, and flailing my arms over my head. And since I wasn't about to shell out another fifty bucks, I was about ready to pack everything back up and take it back when I stumbled across a support phone number. So I called it, and much to my astonishment, I got an English speaking guy who actually knew what he was doing.

After having me check a couple of things on my end (is your modem plugged in, Is the cable connected to the wall, etc.), he found the problem: The person at the local cable office who gave me the self install kit neglected to activate the internet access service. In other words, the problem was on Adelphia's end.

Now in addition to being a patient psychopath, I'm also a paranoid schizophrenic, so I have to wonder if the cable guy had come out, would he have explained that it was their fault, or would he have magically "found" some other problem, fixed that, and then charged me the fifty?

Not that I'm paranoid or anything.... Where are my meds?

Speaking of psychopaths, this week marks the 10th anniversary of O.J. Simpson's debut as a rookie homicidal maniac. In honor of this very special occasion, my 1994 "archives"
are now online.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Just Stay Away From Uranus

The Cassini spacecraft, which is due to go into orbit around Saturn on June 30, has sent back dramatic pictures of one the planet's moons, Phoebe. The photos show a pockmarked surfaced, obviously quite old and weathered.

It is not immediately clear if the other five characters from Friends look this bad without their makeup.

Yahoo! My Tuckus

Yahoo announced a month or so ago that they were increasing the storage space on their free accounts. And while they denied it, it was fairly obvious that they were doing it in response to gmail's plan to offer a full gigabyte.

Yahoo unveiled its new service today, and the whole thing has me quite peeved off. Now don't misunderstand: I have no problem with their increasing storage space to 100 MB, BUT did they also have to revamp their sign-in screen as well as the graphics on the actual email pages?

This whole thing has me quite upset. You would think the bigwigs at Yahoo would have taken the time to personally contact yours truly, maybe even buy me a cup of coffee (mocha latte, tall)(oh, and with whipped cream). But N-O-O-O-o-o-O-O-O!!! They just went off half cocked, giving absolutely no thought to the longterm consequences of their actions, and made their changes. Hell, given the reckless nature of their actions, you'd think they were Bush Administration officials invading a foreign country!

Once I get used to something, and decide I like it, no one should be allowed to touch it. I don't like change. Change confuses me, distorts my already vague notions of reality, and turns my world upside down. It makes me want to just sit in the corner with my hands over my ears, rock back and forth, and mumble incoherently to myself.

Kind of like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.

Monday, June 14, 2004

A Fatal Dose of Irony
A cameraman for KETV in Omaha was killed a few days ago while doing a story on a dangerous intersection which had been the scene of several accidents. Authorities are still investigating, but they believe that Jeff Frolio failed to see an oncoming car when he attempted to cross the road.


Reality Sucks
NBC has announced plans for yet another reality TV series. This one will be called Iraqi Fear Factor. The object will be for contestants wearing "I Love the USA" t-shirts to run across a street in downtown Fallujah without getting shot, blown up, or kidnapped.

Despite the million dollar prize, no one has signed up yet.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Into the Sunset

---------------Mike Ramirez, LA Times

In stark contrast to the last 48 hours, today is a miserable, damp, and dreary day in DC. In a sense, it sums up the mood of many people in this town--indeed, the country--as the plane carrying Ronald Reagan's casket lifted off from Andrews Air Force Base. Later this evening, our 40th President will arrive in California. After a 45 minute drive to the grounds of the Reagan Library, he will be laid to rest in a ceremony intended to coincide with sunset.

And so will end our time with Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Take a Message... And a Hint

Senator John McCain said today that once the Iraqis sign their new constitution, it will send a message to other middle eastern countries that the days of religious extremism are over.

Forget Iraq. Could someone please send the same message to the Republicans here in the US?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Funeral For A Leader

Any time the President of the United States goes somewhere, he departs from Andrews Air Force Base outside DC. And when he returns home, that's where he lands. Indeed, it's a matter of routine. After all, it's the facility that hosts the planes that serve as Air Force One.

During his eight years as President, Ronald Reagan flew in and out of Andrews hundreds of times. Perhaps someone somewhere even has a precise count. But regardless of the actual number, it was his arrival at Andrews this afternoon at 4:50 PM that was to be Reagan's most memorable, for it was also to be his very last.

DC had spent the last several days preparing for its first state funeral in over 30 years. And if you look at it simply in terms of the pomp, pageantry, and solemnity of the event, and think about the logistics involved in pulling it off, it's all very impressive. The army's Third Infantry, which handles funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, performed its duties today with nothing short of complete precision and total dignity.

But the impressive ceremonies are only a small part of the story.

We all saw the images of people lining the roads in California as Reagan's hearse went by, and more of the same was expected here. However, I don't think anyone thought it would occur on the scale which it did. Literally hundreds of thousands of people braved the day's oppressive heat and lined both sides of Constitution Avenue for a momentary glimpse of the coffin. And despite all those thousands of people, there was complete silence as the casket was moved from the hearse to the caisson, and continued on to the Capitol.

Our 40th President certainly had his naysayers, and that's fine. There's always someone somewhere blaming everyone else for the world's problems. But what was seen in downtown DC today were the multitudes of ordinary Americans who loved and respected Ronald Reagan. They came out to offer their heartfelt thanks, and their final goodbyes.

---------------Dana Summers, Orlando Sentinel

Ever wonder what's going through the minds of those service men and women who provide the backdrop for these stately and somber proceedings? Stephen Hunter normally writes movie reviews for the Washington Post. Today, however, he has penned a piece about Dwight Eisenhower's funeral, and his own brief tour in the Third Infantry at the time. It's worth reading.


Some People still Don't Get It
In the latest bit of evidence that some people are just too stupid to be allowed to mingle with the rest of society, Lilia Belkova refused to heed flight attendant's instructions to put down her cell phone as her plane began to taxi towards the runway. Then one of the two Air Marshals on board repeated the request, and Ms. Belkova slapped him upside the head.

Bad idea.

Ms. Belkova is currently in a Miami area jail awaiting arraignment. No word on whether she still has her phone, which in this case would give new meaning to the term cell phone.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

But Will You Be Hung Like a Hippo?
Scientists have discovered that Hippopotamus sweat not only makes a great sunscreen, it has strong antibiotic properties as well. It was also found when dried in combination with mucus, the combined secretions are longlasting.

Perhaps most importantly, you will have an entire section of beach to yourself because, well, you're going to smell like a hippo.


---------------Aaron Magruder, Boondocks

Monday, June 07, 2004

Put Your Venus Away

Many astronomy types are excited about tomorrow's "transit of Venus," in which our sexy neighbor passes directly between the Earth and the Sun. The last time this happened was in 1882, and some folks seem to think this is a big deal just for that reason. Granted, that may seem like a long time, but it's only about 7.2 generations of cicadas.

It always helps to keep these things in perspective.

Besides, like so many other celestial events involving the sun, this one comes with a catch: You can't look directly at it, or you'll go blind!! That means you have to go out and buy #5 welders glasses, or set up those stupid pinhole contraptions, or trick someone you don't like into staring directly at it and providing you with a blow-by-blow description.

Unless, of course, you happen to live in the western United States. The transit will be taking place before sunrise there, so you'll be able to watch it without fear of going blind.

That reminds me.... How do blind people who are allergic to dogs get around?

Saturn.... Which has absolutely nothing to do with Venus but looks way cooler

These so-called Venus transits take place in predictable intervals, and back in the 18th & 19th centuries, scientists tried to take advantage of them to calculate the distance of the Earth to the sun. The theory goes that if you position several observers around the Earth, and have them record the exact times the transit ends, you can calculate the various angles and distances involved. Of course, such primitive methods provided them with wildly inaccurate estimates. It wasn't until the dawn of the space age when astronauts were finally able to compute the now accepted distance of 92,955,887.6 miles by laying a whole shitload of rulers end to end.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

---------------Michael Ramirez, LA Times

How Much Did he Pay For The Gas?
A man in Granby, Colorado, reached the breaking point in his zoning dispute with town officials and went on a rampage. But rather than grab a gun and start shooting willy-nilly the way most such people do, Marvin Heemeyer took a bulldozer and welded armor plating all around it. He then drove it through the center of town, knocking down or otherwise damaging nine buildings. A friend estimates that it probably took Heemeyer over half a year to design and construct his modified vehicle of destruction. It was even equipped with cameras and monitors so the driver could see where he was going.

Well, it's good that Heemeyer put a lot of thought and planning into this. So many people, when they snap and go on a homicidal rampage, do it on the spur of the moment without giving any serious consideration to the process.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Wilson Reagan
February 6, 1911-June 5, 2004

Friday, June 04, 2004

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Survey Says...

A new study shows that today's high school students are smoking less, getting into fewer fights, and having less sex than students back in 1992.

In other words, school's a lot less fun now.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Cicada Central

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "Thank God Lugosi has made another entry about those lovable little cicadas!!" Yes, indeed. And if you think THAT'S eerie, just wait till you catch me peeking in your bathroom window.

My continuing quest for worthless knowledge has led me to the following site, which is actually quite funny:

Over the weekend I went to a cookout at a friend's house in nearby Reston. i don't remember what I had to eat, nor do I recall who was there. No idea what we had to drink. We probably talked about something, but I'm not sure.

What I do remember, however, with absolute 100% certainty, is the absolute, incessant, unrelenting, mind-numbing NOISE.

Reston is an older community (relatively speaking) built back in the '60's and '70's, and one of it's most distinguishing characteristics is the area's preservation of trees. And if there's one thing adult cicadas enjoy more than humping one another's brains out, it's trees. They absolutely live for them.

And the backyard of this particular house is practically all woods, with a lot of trees providing shade for the deck in the back. It's all very nice... and all VERY loud.

It's no exageration to say that if you were sitting right next to someone, you had to keep your voice raised to be understood. And if you were trying to get someone's attention 10 or 15 feet away, you pretty much had to shout to be heard. The million or two cicadas in the treetops directly overhead didn't leave us much choice.

However, I'm glad to report that everyone was cool with the experience. No one was complaining about the din, and most importantly, no one was freaked out by them. This last point is important, because cicadas were constantly landing on the deck, on the railings, on our plates, and on our bodies. And while I'm not sure, it's a safe bet that some of them were incinerated when they landed on the grill (there were no wings on my burger patty, however; I checked). One even landed in the wading pool that was set up for the lone child. And through it all, everyone kept rescuing the horny little bastards.


My Point Exactly