Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bill Frist: Balls O' Steel

Prior to being elected to the Senate in 1994, Bill Frist was a highly respected cardiologist in Tennessee. Someone like that is obviously a well-educated, principled man of science. But when he became Senate majority leader a few year's ago, and especially after his despicable, opportunistic behavior during the Terry Schiavo circus this spring, it became clear that Frist had allowed himself to be emasculated by the Christian right. In his zeal to win over the evangelical wackos of America and use their support in a 2008 run for the presidency, Frist had apparently turned his back on science.

That's what makes today's announcement that he will support the stem cell bill currently before the Senate all the more remarkable. In so doing, Frist has told both President Bush--who continues to oppose federal funding of stem cell research--and the religious nutcases seeking to return this nation to the dark ages to go piss up a rope.

It is not yet clear what effect this break will have on Frist's quest for the Oval Office. Bush, for his part, says he respects Frist's decision, even though he probably would like to send the Senator off to Guantanamo for a few rounds with the guard dogs. And the Christian right? Well, they're understandably upset that someone would dare embrace science, when it should be perfectly obvious to everyone that diseases are caused by evil spirits and can be cured by nothing more than prayer.

Their chief argument against embryonic stem cell research is that it, well, destroys fertilized eggs. To them, that is a worse sin than allowing someone to slowly die of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, the complications of Diabetes, or a host of other gene based diseases. What makes their opposition to such research even more mind-boggling is that these same surplus embryonic cells would otherwise be discarded--incinerated or otherwise disposed of--by fertility clinics. If they're going to be destroyed anyway, why not put them to good use, for crying out loud?

Frankly, Senator Frist, I'm impressed. It's not every day a man finds his balls again.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Space, The Final Frontier... For Glue

NASA has decided to ground the shuttle program while it yet again confronts the issue of why the fuel tank sheds insulation foam during launch. It was such a piece that struck the wing of Columbia during its January, 2003 launch and led to the craft's fiery demise two weeks later. To prevent a recurrence of that disaster, engineers at the space agency redesigned the tank, changed the composition of the foam, and came up with new techniques of applying it. The people with the fancy-schmancy PhD's vowed that the problem was solved.

So what happened during launch of Discovery earlier this week? The fuel tank was shedding foam faster than a cat sheds hair on a brand new sofa. While Discovery does not appear to have been damaged, the decision was made to postpone future missions until the issue of how to make the insulation adhere better to the tank is resolved.... Again.

Excuse me, but has anyone thought of driving over to the Cocoa Beach Wal-Mart and picking up a tube of Super Glue?

Meanwhile, astronauts already in orbit on board Discovery are conducting a six and a half hour spacewalk. Orbiting at 17,000 miles per hour, that means they will have traveled 110,500 miles during their excursion.

If you figure that the latest fitness statistics recommend we walk briskly for 2 miles three times week to maintain cardiac health, that means those lucky bastards are set for the next 18,416.666 weeks.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Accentuate The Positive

Former NFL star and Heisman Award winning homicidal maniac O.J. Simpson has been fined $25,000 by a Miami Court for pirating satellite signals. The charges stemmed from a 2001 raid on his mansion. Police at the time turned up devices used to illegally decode DirecTV signals.

It angers me that the media continues to zero on O.J.'s problems. Sure, what he did was wrong, but do people always need to focus on the man's shortcomings? Can't society and the press for once pay Mr. Simpson a complement? Or is that too much to ask? Well, I for one am going to break away from the mob and write about the positive aspects of his case.

O.J.: If you're reading this, let me be the first to congratulate you on not killing the cable guy, hacking his body into little pieces, leaving his remains on the sidewalk in a pool of blood, and leading police on a humiliating low speed car chase.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Keeping Abreast Of The News

Armed bandits in Brazil recently stole a shipment of 400 breast implants. The theft comes at the height of the country's plastic surgery season, as clients seek to take care of cosmetic surgery during the southern winter. That way, by the time the spring beach season rolls around, their new selves will be ready for public consumption. However, the criminals may not have been aware that the silicone implants carry individualized serial numbers.

No doubt the police are looking forward to checking those numbers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Failure Is Not An Option

A British teachers union is seriously debating whether or not to replace the word "fail" with "deferred success." The concern is that "failure" could discourage students from studying harder. The term "deferred success," on the other hand could make even total nincompoops look reasonably good.

Hmmm.... Guess that means that Bush has achieved deferred success in Iraq.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Ya Gotta Love The French

French President Jacques Chirac recently said that "the only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow." Well, I'm on the other side of the other Atlantic, so I can't say for sure whether or not that's true.

France's contributions to Europe--indeed, the world--are beyond question, however. They have given us excellent wines, wonderful champagne, the world's finest cuisine, and all while perfecting the art of the unconditional surrender.

A Really Bad Idea

What the f--- is NASA thinking?
In what has to be the stupidest damn decision in the history of mankind--or at least the time some moron decided to invade Iraq based on faulty intelligence--NASA has decided to go ahead and launch the shuttle Discovery tomorrow. This is being done despite the fact that the problem with the fuel sensor that caused the delay in the first place remains a mystery. More importantly, they are proceeding with the launch in violation of their own safety rules. Never mind that the lives of the people on board the spacecraft are riding on this; never mind that a 4.5 billion dollar piece of equipment is at stake; and never mind that if the disaster strikes, it may well spell the end of the manned space program in this country. No, we'll go ahead and takeoff with a faulty fuel sensor.

Here's a suggestion: Take the idiots who made this decision and stick them on Discovery as well. THEN let's see if NASA is still willing to proceed with liftoff.

The danger is that even though there are four sensors, if any two of them register the hydrogen tank as empty, the engines will shut down. And if that happens while the liquid oxygen is still pumping, the whole thing will go BOOM.

Personally, if I were one of the seven astronauts on this mission, I'd go ahead and schedule an emergency root canal for tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pedal Power

Congratulations to Lance Armstrong, who has won his seventh consecutive Tour de France race. He had previously announced that this will be his last one as he is retiring from bicycle racing.

Thank God. There's nothing more hideous than an 82 year old guy in bicycle shorts.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Friday, July 22, 2005

Maintenance Lesson

Computers are complicated pieces of equipment. Not only do you have to worry about outside threats such as viruses, worms, hijackings, cookies, spyware, and phishing schemes, but there are constant maintenance issues as well. The obvious ones are occasionally defragging the hard drive and NOT throwing a half full glass of whiskey at the damn thing when you get pissed off.

But then there are the lesser known ones as well. For example, how many of you know to periodically clean the inside of your monitor? (Turn your sound up for this one.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Protecting Our Children

One of the most violent video games around is Grand Theft Auto. Players routinely get shoot each other while playing, as well as innocent bystanders and cops. It also features violence against women. Despite all the controversy, it has never gotten itself banned.... Until now.

The new version, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas enables players to reward themselves by picking up hookers. This has finally gotten the game banned.

In other words, exposing young kids to gratuitous violence, murder, and mayhem is perfectly acceptable. But sex? No way. Absolutely not. We can't have that.

Thank God we have our priorities straight.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

President Bush , Plagiarist?

So I'm sitting in front of the TV, flipping through the channels, which is the 21st century equivalent of a man's instinct to hunt sabre toth tigers. And so it was that I stumbled across Patriot Games, starring Harrison Ford.

Big deal, Lugosi. Why are you telling us this?

Well, because I believe I have uncovered evidence that may finally lead to Bush's downfall.

Shortly after the big out shootout scene on the London street--near the beginning of the movie--several of the terrorists are sitting in a pub discussing it. One of them is rather shocked, and fears that a direct attack on the royal family such as the one that just occurred will backfire on the IRA. The other terrorist, who actually organized the attack, says these words to his reluctant comrade: "Either you're with us or you're against us."

Sound familiar? They should, for those are the very words Bush once said when urging other nations to join us in the War on Terror. Powerful words indeed, but unfortunately lifted from a Hollywood script without proper attribution.

That's it then. Let the impeachment hearings begin!

And Probably In An Aluminum Foil Coffin

Gerry Thomas, the man who is creditted with inventing the TV dinner, has died.

He will be buried with a side of peas and carrots.

One To Beam Up

First we find out there were no weapons of mass destruction, and now we learn James "Scotty" Doohan was a freakin' Canadian!?!?! What universally held truth will be next to end up shattered upon the floor of history?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Monday, July 18, 2005

Panda Update

The baby panda born at the National Zoo some ten days ago appears to doing well. Although several cubs were born to a previous pair back in the 80's, none lived more than a few days, so the current newborn's longevity is a good sign.

The little one doesn't have a name yet, and according to Chinese tradition, panda cubs aren't named until they are 100 days old.

Don't be surprised, however, if Republicans in Congress introduce a bill to name it after Ronald Reagan.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Learning Survival Skills

Several new studies seem to indicate that excessive TV watching hampers academic skills among children. This may or may not be true, and it may or may not carry profound implications for this nation's next generation of leaders. I'm not ready to jump to any conclusions just yet, but I will certainly research it further by looking up the word "hampers" in the dictionary. In the meantime, however, Gilligan's Island is on, and it's the one where the Harlem Globetrotters end up on the island.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Take Off, Eh?

By now the space shuttle Discovery was supposed to be in orbit. This would have represented NASA's first manned launch since the one that ultimately doomed Columbia in 2003. However, the mission ended up being scrubbed a few hours before the scheduled launch because of a faulty fuel gauge. It has now been rescheduled for Saturday.

On the one hand, it's good that NASA is being careful, but one can easily be overly cautious. For example, I once used to own an old Dodge Dart that had a sticky fuel gauge. It was an inconvenience, but I didn't stop driving the car because of it. Besides, sometimes a quick tap on the dash right by the gauge would make it start working again. Did any of the astronauts even try banging on the shuttle's dashboard?

I will admit that eventually my balky gauge eventually stopped working entirely, and I can see where such a development when you're in orbit 350 miles over the Earth may prove somewhat disconcerting. But again, I was able to compensate. I knew I could get easily get 300 miles on a tankful of gas, so I would just reset the odometer whenever I filled up. In the case of the space shuttle, I'm sure NASA knows how many orbits it can get on one tankful of premium unleaded rocket fuel. And if the mission happens to encounter strong headwinds while in space, they should be able to easily compensate for that by returning to Earth a little sooner.

Once again, I'm the one who has to think of everything.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

You Better Be On Your Lunch Break, Pal

According to a recent survey by AOL (which sucks), Americans waste an average of over two hours a day while at work. Missouri came in first, with workers goofing off an average of four hours every day. Good ol' Virginia, which is where AOL is based, came in seventh at 2.7 hours.

No word on how AOL's own employees fared.

The number one way of wasting time among those surveyed was--not surprisingly--the internet. This includes things like checking personal email, instant messaging, and general surfing of the net. Other popular time wasters included personal phone calls and general socializing with coworkers.

This news is disturbing. Such unproductive time ends up costing employers $759 every year, and that is money that in turn affects everyone through higher costs for goods and services. Quite frankly, an argument could be made that this is indicative of a general decline in the work ethic as well as morals, for what these slackers are doing is, in essence, stealing from their employers. Furthermore

Boss coming--BTW

Monday, July 11, 2005

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Dennis the Menace

Hurricane Dennis is at this moment pounding the holy sh*t out of the Florida and Alabama coasts with its 120 mph winds. Rated as a category 3 storm, Dennis is the first major hurricane to hit the US during July in over 70 years. It's also only the 7th major hurricane to form (the others didn't make landfall) in 150 years of record keeping (major hurricanes are defined as ones of category 3 or higher). Finally, Dennis is also the fourth named storm of the year, the first time in history this many storms have formed this early. This could be an ominous portent of what's to come, since the hurricane season doesn't usually peak until September.

I'm not sure how yet, but give me time and I'll figure out a way to blame all this on President Bush.

Pop Goes The Weasel--And The Panda

In something of a surprise development, the National Zoo's female giant panda, Mei Xiang, has given birth to a 4 ounce cub. Granted, it probably would have been even more amazing if the male panda had done it, but it was still somewhat unexpected. It is notoriously difficult to tell when a female panda has been knocked up, and even skilled veterinarians are easily fooled by the false pregnancies these animals can exhibit.

In fact, even the mommy panda seemed a little taken aback when her little one popped out at 1 A.M. Friday morning. Maternal instincts quickly kicked in, and she began bonding with her offspring.

At last count, 17 NBA players have denied being the father.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005

One Possible Reason Sunscreen Doesn't Sell At The South Pole

Scientists have discovered that the exhaust plume from space shuttle launches can eventually lead to an increase of cloud cover over Antartica. To a certain extent this can be expected, since the shuttle burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. What was surprising, however, that this water vapor can eventually make its way that far south.

These findings carry important ramifications for the study of global warming, some of which is based on evaluating cloud cover over the poles.

Now I like to think I'm as environmentally conscious as the next Bush basher, but quite frankly I find it hard to be concerned about this. Who cares whether or not penguins can work on their tans? There are much more important things to worry about when it comes to the shuttle program.... Like if I'm going to get hit in the head by a piece of it on the way down.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Nearby Dulles Airport has an interesting payment system for its parking lots. To save on time, you're supposed to take your little ticket into the terminal with you. When you're ready to leave--whether it's two hours later or two weeks--you insert the stub into a machine inside the terminal and pay the appropriate amount. Then you head out to your car. As long as you make it to the booth and insert the ticket into the little slot within a certain grace period, you're good to go.

In an effort to encourage people to follow this procedure, the airport has put up banners that say "Plan your exit strategy now."

Hmmmm.... What a novel idea! Plan your exit strategy now, BEFORE you go in!! Maybe the parking attendants at Dulles should be running the damn country while Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld go manage the lots at the airport!

Then again, you may never get your car out of there.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Will Ducking Help?

Astronomers using a sophisticated telescope have determined that the Andromeda Galaxy, located a mere two million light years from Earth, is three times as large as previously thought. The team of scientific geek types based their conclusion on careful observations of stars along the edge of the galaxy.

Meanwhile, geophysicists here on Earth, using exacting GPS measurements and highly detailed infrared satellite photography, have concluded that Michael Moore is also three times as massive as previously thought.

However, none of this may soon matter as NASA's Deep Impact space probe will soon deliberately crash into the Tempel One comet. The resulting debris field is expected to yield a treasure trove of information about the makeup of comets. These heavenly objects are believed to have seeded the primordial Earth with water billions of years ago. Curious scientists, never content to leave well-enough alone, have decided to go mucking around with celestial mechanics in an effort to further expand our horizons of knowledge.

The impact between the probe and Tempel One is scheduled to occur at 1:52 A.M. eastern time tomorrow morning. Scientists insist that the collision will in no way alter the orbit of the massive comet.

Let's these are NOT the same scientists who once accidentally destroyed a Mars probe because they failed to properly convert metric units into english.

On the other hand, if they're wrong, at 1:53 A.M. we can all begin running through the streets and screaming for our lives as giant fiery shattered comet chunks rain down upon us.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Gravity Of The Situation

Virginia Governor and likely contender for the 2008 democratic presidential nomination Mark Warner took a tumble off his bicycle the other day, breaking two bones in the process. Warner was apparently taking a drink of water with one hand while applying the brakes with the other. Unfortunately, only the front brakes gripped, giving the governor a painful lesson in inertia, physics, and gravity. He later underwent surgery to have a couple of metal pins inserted, and is expected to be in a cast for several weeks.

I personally went through a eerily similar incident two years ago. While reaching for a bag of Duritos, I took a spill out of the recliner and ended up facedown in the bean dip. In the process, my own right wrist became lodged between the coffee table and the mini fridge, and it was in a cast for over a month (my wrist, I mean; the minifridge was thankfully unharmed).

Needless to say, having my right hand immobilized put quite a damper on my sex life.