Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mine's 60 Feet

Excited astronomers are watching the skies this week for signs of a supernova some 440 million light years away. An initial burst of gamma radiation from near the constellation Aries was detected last week by a satellite. Such bursts are usually indicative of exploding stars or dental x-rays. The nova's brightness is expected to peak in the next few days, though it will only be observable through large, high powered telescopes. Afterwards scientists will compare notes, collate data, and argue about whose telescope is bigger.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Dropping Like Flies

I have to stop logging on to my computer. Every time I do, I find out someone else has died. The latest is Dennis Weaver, who played Chester on "Gunsmoke." A few years later he went on to star in "McCloud," which is the role I best remember him for. "McLoud" was in a rotation with "Columbo" and "McMillan and Wife," taking turns as the NBC Mystery Movie of the Week.

For those of you too young to remember (Probably anyone younger than 40), McCloud was a modern day lawman from New Mexico who was sent to New York city as part of some sort of law enforcement exchange program. While in the Big Apple, he of course continued to wear his cowboy hat and boots. McCloud's police captain was always getting exasperated with him and threatening to send him back home. But then in the end, McCloud would always redeem himself by rounding up the bad guys in some sort of unorthodox chase sequence.

And let's not forget the TV movie that gave Steven Spielberg his start: "Duel." Weaver was a motorist who ends up being stalked by a mysterious truck.

Jeez.... Maybe I should start taking bets on who's going to croak next.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I'm starting to feel old again. It happens every time I have to shovel my sidewalk, read about another icon from my youth passing away, or stare at a cheerleader.

The latest reminder of the expiration of my youth--aside from the Olympic cheerleaders--was the passing of Don "Barney Fife" Knotts. Although he is best remembered from the "Andy Griffith Show," Knotts did much more. My personal favorite was "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," which made me want to grow up to be a fish.... At least until I realized I couldn't swim.

Hopefully St. Peter will let him keep his bullet.

But the other person that just passed away, and whose death is likely overshadowed by Don's, was Darin McGavin. The name may not be immediately familiar, but you'll recognize him when I tell you he played The Old Man in "A Christmas Story." Forget "Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life;" if you want to watch a film that best captures the holidays (as well as the innocence of childhood), "A Christmas Story" is the one.

McGavin also played the lead in "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" back in the early '70's. Kolchak was a reporter for some tabloid in Chicago who was always running into critters like vampires, werewolves, and headless motorcycle riders. While the special effects were a bit cheesy, the show usually made up for it with humor and clever writing. Though Kolchak only had about 13 episodes, it was enough to capture the imagination of Chris Carter, who went on to create the "X-Files."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Is It Considered Taxable Income?

Robbers in England have pulled one of the biggest bank heists in history, getting away with an estimated 25 million pounds.

It was not immediately clear how they were able to lift that much weight.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The REAL Greatest Generation

We've been hearing a lot the last few years about the so-called "Greatest Generation." Yeah, yeah, I know. They stormed the beaches at Normandy and saved the world from the Nazis. That's all very impressive, and I certainly don't mean to demean the old farts in any way.

However, Leonard Steinhorn has made a rather convincing case that it's actually we baby boomers who are, in fact, the greatest generation. He bases his arguments on the massive changes in society that took place as the boomers reached adulthood. Some examples:
* In the 1950's professional basketball limited the number of black players that could be on the court at any given time.
* A 1957 university study found that 80% of adults thought that a woman must be sick, neurotic, or immoral to be unmarried.
* In 1958 94% of whites disapproved of interracial marriage.

He goes on to point out changes in workplace rules, religious tolerance, and our attitudes towards the environment. And quite frankly, I feel pretty damn good about myself and my fellow boomers.

Just don't ask me to storm any machine gun emplacements.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I'm going to take a brief break from beating up on Bush over the Katrina fiasco, and instead beat up on him over this deal with the ports.

In case you haven't heard, a company in the United Arab Emirates is set to take over control of six major U.S. ports. This is happening because the Arab company recently purchased the British outfit that had been running the ports.

Now if my credit card company wants to outsource its customer service department to India, that's one thing. But outsourcing the country's economic lifeblood? To a middle eastern company? Belonging to a nation that produced two of the 9/11 hijackers? Granted, we're not actually at war with the UAE, but this deal is still wrong.

Bush, however, is defending the sale. He has even threatened to veto any congressional attempt to block the transaction. So if Bush feels that strongly about it, then it must be a good deal, right?

Except that Bush didn't even freakin' know about it!!! That's right! Our President didn't even know we were about to turn those ports over to a potentially hostile power until Congress began asking questions about it!!

How the hell could Bush not have known? Isn't the National Security Agency supposed to be monitoring our overseas phone calls? How could they have missed this? I mean, it's not like the paperwork for the warrants got lost, right?

Gotta go. The FBI's at my door again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Blessing In Disguise?

During the heat of the 2004 campaign, a fair amount of criticism was directed at Dick Cheney because he had received five deferments to avoid serving in the military during the Vietnam war. The vice president has since said that he had "other priorities" at the time. Unpatriotic democrats had the nerve to call that hypocrisy since Cheney was so eager to send others into harm's way in Iraq while weaseling out of it himself.

Well, in retrospect, it's probably a good thing Cheney avoided military service. Otherwise he probably would have ended up shooting his own men.


As New Orleans was going the way of Atlantis last summer, we kept hearing that police officers were abandoning the city. But as with so many other things in the news, the truth is often far more complex than the rumor.

It turns out that many of those officers were faced with a disturbing choice: Stay on the job, or save their own loved ones. USAToday has an article explores that question further.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Killer Pop Quiz

Researchers have devised a test which can predict how much longer you have to live. The questions are fairly straightforward, asking things like if you can push a chair across your living room floor without getting winded and whether you're a smoker.

The one that really stumped me, though, was the question about the square root of Pi. I was only able to figure it out to 27 decimal places, but those picky SOB's wanted it all the way to 40. According to that stupid test, that means I'm supposed to die within the several minu

Never Mind

A new study says that highly educated people deteriorate much faster if and when they develop Alzheimer's. Well, that would seem to make sense. After all, smart people have a lot more stuff in their heads to forget in a short period of time.

On the other hand, I don't know enough to forget anything, so I should be all right till I'm in my early 140's.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006


A just released report called "A Failure of Initiative" has indicted all levels of government for failures in the days before and after Katrina struck. It accuses both state and federal of bureaucratic blundering, as well as disregarding ample advance warnings about what was about to happen to New Orleans. The report is best summed up with two sentences:
"All the little pigs built houses of straw. Katrina was a national failure, an abdication of the most solemn obligation to provide for the common welfare."

Oh, and remember when Bush said "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees" a few days after the storm? While not specifically calling the President a lying sack of crap, the report does point out that
About 56 hours before Katrina made landfall, the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center cited an "extremely high probability" that New Orleans would be flooded and tens of thousands of residents killed.

The report goes on to cite critical lapses in judgment and disturbing breakdowns in communication that contributed to the tragedy.

And regarding the various bureaucratic bullshit that slowed help to the drowning city, the report also says that
"earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response" because he (Bush) alone could have cut through all bureaucratic resistance.

The report also amounts to a serious indictment of the head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. He is described as "detached" from what was happening in New Orleans, and failing to follow up with FEMA director Michael Brown. Most importantly, the report also says that Homeland Security was geared to respond to terror threats rather than natural disasters. In other words, if Katrina had been wearing a turban, the government would have taken the storm more seriously.

Incidentally, it should also be pointed out that this report was the result of an investigation conducted by the House of Representatives. In other words, Bush's fellow Republicans are the ones that prepared it, so you can't blame the Democrats for its harsh statements.

Meanwhile, there are those who believe the death toll from Katrina is still rising. Although the official toll stands at just over 1300, local funeral homes and medical facilities are reporting much higher rates of deaths and chronic illness, apparently brought on by stress among the survivors.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Post-Snow Driving Challenges

If those stupid pandas were any damn cuter, I'd end up heaving my guts all over the keyboard....

Anyway, it's good to be back home. It's been a difficult day for driving. No, not because the roads are icy or covered by snowdrifts. In fact, it was close to 60 (about 15 Celsius) and sunny today. And therein lies the problem: All that snow from a few days ago was melting like crazy.

You see, I made the mistake of going to the carwash this morning. Understandable, since the car was filthy with dirt and grime. But after having it washed, it became a major challenge to keep it clean. One ends up having to weave into oncoming traffic occasionally to avoid the wet spots in the road, or slam on the brakes to keep from getting roadspray all over the windshield from the guy in front of you. And that's not even counting having to drive with your head down to avoid Cheney's buckshot.

If President Bush wants to redeem himself in my eyes, he should push for legislation requiring a three day minimum clean car guarantee from carwashes: If it rains, or a bird poops on the windshield, or you drive through snowmelt within 72 hours of your wash, you get a free one.

If the he could pull that off, I'd even forgive him for embarrassing the nation during the, er, "Katrina unpleasantness."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Not As Serious As Full Scale Death

The fellow hunter accidentally shot by Cheney has suffered what is being termed "a mild heart attack," which is suspiciously like saying someone is "mildly deceased." The problem arose when one of the shotgun pellets lodged in his body apparently traveled a little closer to the heart. Although doctors don't expect any further complications, they have moved the guy back into intensive care as a precaution.

This raises an interesting question: Suppose--heaven forbid--the man's condition should worsen and he does end up mildly dead. Could the vice president end up being charged with murder? Or would it be "slight murder?"

Should that happen, the nation could end up moving into uncharted legal territory. For example, the Republican Congress has already said that top elected leaders can be impeached for receiving blowjobs. But what about murder, to whatever degree? Is that an impeachable offense? Or is a fellow Republican's taking of a human life less serious than a Democrat's oral non-sex?

Pretty "heady" stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pass The Cheesecake

For as long as I can remember, doctors have been telling us to stay away from high-fat foods. "They'll kill you," we have been repeatedly told. "If you want to live a long time, eat low-fat foods." Low-fat foods are just plain healthier. They reduce your chances of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. This point has been repeatedly drilled into all of us until we're sick of hearing it.

Well, guess what? New evidence strongly suggests that eating a low fat diet does NOT make us healthier!!!

Excuse me? You mean we've been avoiding red meat and drinking soy milk, and for what? For nothing!?!?! Forget Saddam. It's these damn scientists who've had us eating wheat germ for the last 30 years that have committed the crime against humanity. I'm going to track down every last one of those bastards and shove tofu down their throats till they choke.

But first I'm going to McDonald's for a lard shake.

Hmm.... Maybe We Could Send Pat Robertson On A Hunting Trip

Hey everyone! Here's a chance for you to go quail hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney himself, and you don't even have to be a major political donor! Enjoy!

Er, you may want to make sure your personal affairs are in order first, though.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

One Way To Give Head

A Haitian woman attempting to enter the United States has been arrested in Miami for attempted smuggling.... of a human head.

Myrlene Severe was arrested by alert customs officials when she failed to declare the head on the appropriate forms, which apparently means it's okay to bring human body parts into the country provided you have the proper paperwork in triplicate.

Apparently Ms. Severe was planning to use the head in some sort of voodoo ritual.

Well, as long as it was in the name of science....

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Retraction

I hereby take back everything bad I've ever said about the Bush Administration. I apologize for it all. Every last, derogatory comment. Even the ones about the President being too ignorant to turn on the damn weather channel to see what was happening in new Orleans. Oh, and especially those snide remarks about Bush invading the wrong country because he couldn't tell the difference between Iraq and Iran. Those were W-A-A-A-Y out of line. Anyone could have made such a simple typo. Happens all the time.

No, it's not that I've had a change of heart. I just don't want to get shot by Dick Cheney.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Flaky Forecast

For much of the last month, we had been blessed with fairly mild weather. Most days it was comfortably in the 50's, and on a few occasions it even went well above 60. This, of course, had the effect of making people think it was already spring.

What fools these mortals be!

It's actually not all that unusual. We often get a spell of mild weather in the middle of winter. And as sure as the Iraqi people greeting an invading army as liberators, we end up having to pay a price.... Well, okay, maybe it's a little more certain than that.

For those living along the east coast, Mother Nature's bill for the warm January weather arrived in the mail today. The DC area is forecast to get as much as ten inches of snow. Needless to say, all the anticipated white stuff has former DC mayor/current city council member Marion Barry quite excited!

Further to the north, however, it will be even worse. Blizzard warnings are in effect for much of New England, and 15" is expected there, which is almost two inches more than what I have....

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Conveniently Timed Revelation

President Bush yesterday revealed details about a 2002 plot to crash a hijacked plane into a Los Angeles skyscraper. The President is saying that the foiled plot justifies his warrantless spying on Americans.

Color me cynical, but one has to wonder about the timing of these revelations. The administration has taken a lot of flack in recent weeks for its domestic surveillance program. Even Arlen Specter, a prominent Republican Senator, has questioned its legality. After almost four years, the President has chosen now to trot this out as an example of good intelligence gathering?

What the President is NOT saying, however, is whether intelligence gathered WITHOUT warrants was used to break up Al Qaeda's plans. In other words, did Bush's loose interpretation of the law actually save lives in this case, or was the information gathered through more traditional channels.

Administration officials have also previously said that if the warrantless spying had been in place prior to 2001, then perhaps 9-11 could have been prevented.

Now that one is most certainly NOT true. What COULD have prevented 9-11 is if government officials had been paying to attention to the clues that were popping up around them like bodies in a New Orleans flood.

First of all, a 1999 study prepared by the National Intelligence Council warned that bin Laden operatives could hijack a plane, load it with explosives, and crash it into buildings such as the Pentagon. Yes, the report was prepared during the Clinton presidency, but former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has said that Bush administration officials were aware of it.

Secondly, let us also recall that at a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001, a report was presented that bin Laden was "determined to stirike in the U.S." and that buildings in New York were being cased by possible terrorists.

And finally, let us recall that during the months before the 9-11 attacks FBI agents in Minneapolis and Phoenix were trying to warn their superiors about suspicious people at flight schools. That information was gathered not through questionable phone taps but through old fashioned gumshoe work.

So the information was out there, much like a certain late August weather forecast for New Orleans. All the intelligence in the world, whether gathered legally or illegally, is not going to help if the people in charge don't bother to connect the dots.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's People Like Her Who give Blondes a Bad Name

Britney Spears is finding herself in trouble after she was photographed driving away from a Malibu Starbucks with her four month old son in her lap. Putting aside the fact that this is a violation of California law, it is also a serious breach of common sense. What happens if she has to slam on the brakes, or heaven forbid, she hits something and the airbags deploy? The coffee would have spilled all over the dashboard!! Maybe she doesn't have to care about having a four dollar latte go to waste like that, but those of us who have to work for a living would never be so loose with our hard earned money.

Ms. Spears' excuse is that photographers were harassing her, and she was scared. Well, if anything, that only reinforces the idea that what she did was stupid. She basically just admitted that she was acting on instinct, in a hurry, and therefore not thinking clearly. Circumstances like that only make an accident even more likely.

Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed to have her as my fantasy love interest after this incident. On the other hand, it's not her brains I'm after.

If there's one thing I've learned during my many years as a getaway car driver, it's that you do not cut corners on safety. That's why no matter how many cops may be shooting at me and my crew outside a bank, I always make sure everyone is securely belted in and the mirrors are properly positioned to minimize blind spots. Then and ONLY then do I floor it and go careening down the sidewalk at 110 mph.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

The Department of Homeland Security has unveiled a new program to encourage families to plan for emergencies together. Similar to the old "Duck and Cover" drills of the fifties but hopefully cheerier, it is called the "Ready Kids" campaign.

Unfortunately, its website says it will help you prepare "for many different kinds of unexpected situations!" Unexpected situations!?!?! Well, what are we supposed to do if a major category five hurricane--accurately forecast for several days in advance--hits? Die? More importantly, do we really be telling our children that they should be prepared to die some sort of prolonged horrible death at any moment?

But perhaps what is most disturbing about this Ready Kids thing is the mascot, Rex the mountain lion. Quite frankly, he looks like he might be a character out of Disney's upcoming animated musical, "Brokeback Mountain Lion."

Forget the death thing; Is Rex really something we should exposing our kids to?

Monday, February 06, 2006

I Need A Cigarette

I've been playing with this Orgasmic Simulator all afternoon, and I'm exhausted!!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Halftime Update

I was just watching the Rolling Stones perform during the Super Bowl halftime show when something incredibly horrible happened. I think I saw Mick Jagger expose his nipple.

Well, at least Barry Manilow didn't sing "Unchained Melody."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Is That A DeLorean In Your Pants Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

And the Brokeback Mountain spoofs just keep on a-comin'! Here's a "preview" for one called Brokeback to the Future.

Friday, February 03, 2006

But Siriusly...

I ended up ripping my Sirius radio out of the car earlier today, beating it to a pulp with a baseball bat, and throwing it into a deep lake. Afterwards, as an added precaution to prevent any possible cross-contamination, I doused the car in gasoline and set it on fire.

Some people may consider such actions to be extreme and the work of a deranged individual, but believe me when I say I did it for the good of humanity. I mean, Sirius played Barry Manilow's version of The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody," for God's sakes!!! What else could I do?

Anyway, I still have my XM radio.... Though now I guess I need a car to put it in.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Fool And Her Money Are Soon Parted

A Maryland woman has been charged with "fortunetelling without a license" after bilking a woman out of $75,000. According to authorities, Grace Uwanawich offered to break a curse that Linli McKay's family had suffered from since "the building of the Great Wall of China."

Um, okay, but why is Uwanawich being charged with anything? I mean, if you're walking down the street minding your own business and some moron walks up and offers you 75 grand to break a curse, what would YOU say? If anything, McKay is the one who should be arrested for "practicing extreme stupidity without a license."

And a truly wise judge would offer to sell her one.