September 2004

Specifically, by asking what if America were like Iraq? (more…)

And hurrah for Slashdot, as it provides a link to Social Impact Games,
a catalogue of “serious” games, ie games with purposes other than
entertainment, including training in professional services, etc. (more…)

And the pics are out(more…)

I talked a bit about Kuma Reality
a few weeks back.  They run a subscription service that gets you
new 1st & 3rd-person shooters every couple of weeks, based on
real-life battles.  They aim to make current conflicts more
“accessible.”  They call this, I shit you not, “interactive

Anyway, they released a game
based on the Navy records of Kerry’s swiftboat mission that earned him
a Silver star.  If you follow the link, there’s even a screenshot.

I am squicked. (more…)

The subject says it all.  Recent logs indicate I’ve got someone
reading from Portland (hello to you) and someone in or around Chicago
(hello to you), someone in Philadelphia (hello to you) and someone in
Taiwan (what the fuck?, unless it’s Casey, in which case I’m waving to you
right now, as I type this, because I’m that talented).

The most interesting new visitor I’ve noted, though, is someone or something at Cyveillance,
an “Online Risk Monitoring & Management Service.”  I haven’t
been able to suss out exactly what it is they do, other than apparently
provide a very comprehensive, very private search engine that covers
more than just websites, and provide information to their clients
regarding a broad swath of potential risks inherent to the
Internet.  I’m quite accustomed to seeing search engines plow
through on occasion, but given I’ve had more than one visit from a
Cyveillance IP address, and given at least one visit from a client
coming through on what I imagine may be an anonymizer/proxy, I’m
intrigued.  Given that they’re also located in Arlington, VA, I
figure it’s probably best to go ahead and nod.  I’ll not be so
gauche as to ask if you’re hiring remote employees, and I’ll not be so
freakishly paranoid as to also file this post under “conspiracy
theories,” though that category is right there, looking at me, arms
crossed over its chest and its eyebrows raised a little as if to say,
“Oh?  You aren’t?”

At any rate, welcome to all.  As always, I am reachable from the
mailto: link constituted by my name at the bottom of every post. 
If you’ve got any, you know, questions for me, email away. (more…)

Via a circuitous route (ie, Slashdot), today I read that there’s rampant speculation of a new, smaller form-factor model of the PS2 being released in the next few weeks.

Given that it would be super-cool to have something like that, I think getting a PS2 and DDR just got put on hold.

Now I must debate Burnout3 with myself. (more…)

So, I started on the new Kitty Kelley book last night.  Let me
tell you, this one is a brick and a half.  It’s not as long as
Clinton’s book, but it’s not far off.  It clocks in around 650
pages when you drop the Bibliography & such, if I remember

Also, it is way more fun than it should be.

In the introduction, Kelley hints at how tight-lipped the Bushes can be
regarding family members.  After pointing out some “undesirables”
that have been air-brushed out of the official family tree, she
describes how it took two years, dozens of phone calls, several letters
and a lawyer to get the federal government to release a thin puff of
information on a relative who’d been dead for 25 years.  Also,
she’s very catty.  Very catty.  I like catty.

I’m currently somewhere in Chapter 3, still very much dealing with the
young adulthood and rise to power of Prescott Bush, Bush41’s father and
43’s grandfather.  But it’s already disturbing to note the
differences wrought in the family over the course of four
generations.  Prescott’s father was an upper-middle-class
businessman with very progressive politics, particularly regarding
women’s rights.  Now his great-grandchild is as far-right as it
gets, richer than God and convinced he’s the only person in the world
who knows what the hell he’s doing despite having run every venture
he’s ever captained – including the Executive Branch – right into the
ground.  Prescott, meanwhile, is this handsome, popular athlete
who makes his one collegiate goal the acquisition of social power
rather than academic knowledge.  He pulls pranks, he lies about
his experiences in war, he goes out of his way to deride what others
take very seriously – gosh, that sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?


What I really want, though, are the goods on Barbara.  Apparently
someone in the book refers to her as “bull-dyke tough,” and I’m like, “Duh.” 
I think of her and I think of cast iron.  You want power behind
the throne?  Bar makes Nancy look like a doting aunt. 
Barbara seems powerful in the same way Emperor Palpatine is powerful,
and that’s always fascinating and horrifying.

I’m enjoying this way, way more than I should. (more…)

The evolution of the Work Ethic over the course of an average week:

Tuesday:  Why do anything?  This place is going down the tubes anyway.

Wednesday:  Maybe everything isn’t going down the tubes.  What a productive day!

Thursday:  That the rumor mill produces disturbing prophecies of our viability as a workplace and
that the worrywarts are spreading inaccuracies to feed their own
grapevines are not mutually exclusive scenarios.  We can both be
doing fine and be going down the tubes at the same time.  We are
both the observer trying to predict the state of the cat and the cat in the box itself.  With this in mind, how to interpret the conflicting reports of our health?  Hmm.

Friday:  Maybe I’ll take my next level in Wizard.  Woot! (more…) carries a tale of woe
regarding a chain of bridal shops in the industrial states going out of
business rather abruptly and screaming hordes appearing outside.

Crazy. (more…)

Rep. John Conyers, of Michigan, is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.  He’s also asking the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate whether a pair of speaking tours A.G. Ashcroft took last year violated a law against lobbying by executive branch officials.

When Ashcroft came to Durham to speak at the Sheraton Imperial, the
Compound turned out in force to protest, as did a few hundred other
people.  To find now that the tour wasn’t just offensive, it was illegal?  That’s awesome. (more…)

(With a nod to apostropher)

You thought your senior portrait was bad?  Just take a gander. (more…)

Last night, it being the middle of the month and all, and Bruce seeming
particularly agreeable as he had wallowed in my lap while I scratched
his ears, I decided to give him his monthly flea/tick treatment.

This is something to which he has always, every month since I’ve had him, acquiesced with grace. 

Oh, but not last night.

So after a while chasing him around, having gotten half the concoction
onto him but not all, I gave up and let him sulk for a while.  I
did eventually get the rest of it on him, but in the meantime he took
up various positions of blistering resentment, sitting in various
places where he was prominently on display, his back to me, squinting
hate with every glance.

I figured I could just enjoy Fiddler’s Green‘s
incredibly yummy chicken alfredo while Bruce pouted all he
wanted.  As I did so, with Bruce at the far end of the kitchen,
back turned to us, staring at the floor, Mr. Saturday asked, “Can any cat sulk more prominently?”

“Oh yes,” I said.

“Oh yes.” (more…)

So, all of a sudden I can’t login to my robustmcmanlypants @ RoadRunner account, except via the web. 

And I can’t send email from iBiblio, though I can receive it and receive it and receive it.

On the upside, books I ordered from Amazon
and was told would arrive a week from now are randomly being delivered
today because, hell yeah, technology may hate me but books never
withhold the love.

I am shamefully excited about the new Kitty Kelley book.  I read
the interview with her at Salon yesterday and she says the Bushes put
The Sopranos to shame.  If half of what’s been going around about
the book turns out to be in there, I’m going to spend days giggling
while I read it. (more…)

So, the NCSU thing isn’t happening.  They sent me a very polite
“no thanks,” which sucks, and which put me in a very foul humor for a
little while on Saturday and then I got over it.

In the meantime, I played most of the rest of Crimson Skies 2.  I
also played some Undying, so that I could shoot critters. 

Last night I also discovered the horrors contained within Google’s
image search.  It started with me trying to come up with a flyer
for a birthday party we’re having at our house the first weekend of
October, and ended with me discovering, unintentionally and quite to my
surprise, that there are images on the Internet of bondage
clowns.  All I wanted was something bad happening to a clown and,
oh my, I found it.  Yeesh.

That’s when I just stopped using the computer for a while and went and
watched some TV and tried very hard not to think about anything at all.

Now it’s Tuesday and I don’t want to be at work and I’m touchy and
sleepy and generally blah.  But soon I will take a break to read
blogs and read comics and that will make life much, much better. (more…)

According to, Basic Instinct 2 has been revived as a project.  Frankly, I think Sharon Stone wants a paycheck as bad as anyone else.

I’m interested only because the first one was, I am ashamed to say,
such a deeply formative experience.  Here was a movie that played
only at the new art-house cinema in my tiny hometown, when it came
out.  The theatre
had just opened in the ballroom of a once-great hotel, a relic from
Hendersonville’s distant past as a spa town.  By the time I was in
high school, our tourists were mostly the children of those spa-goers,
come there now to die rather than relax, but the Skyland Hotel was
still standing, converted into apartments though honestly I never knew
of anyone who actually lived there.  A few shops took up its freet
strontage and otherwise the building had sat in decay for decades.

Then the Skyland Cinema opened and all of a sudden Skyland Hotel was a
treasure of downtown in desperate need of restoration and
attention.  And it played movies that would never cut the mustard
at our new multiplex (it had four screens, considered an absolutely
unreasonable number of options).  And it was a theatre that had real tables and real chairs and you could order hamburgers and beer (gasp) and have them during the movie.  It was crazy

The first movie I saw at it was Basic Instinct.  I was old
enough to go, as were two friends, but our friend Matt was deeply
underaged.  He was really, really tall, though, and he had a deep
voice, and he was desperate to see Basic Instinct.  I was,
too – it had gay people in it, and at the time I would have gnawed
through titanium to get to anything that had gay people in it.  It
turned out Matt and I were desperate to see Basic Instinct for the same
reason.  Even in Horse Shoe, gaydar works.

At any rate, I bought my ticket and Sheila bought her ticket and
Stephanie bought her ticket and as Matt endured the internalized
gauntlet of asking for a ticket to an R-rated movie in a tiny town at
the tender age of 15, I cringingly moved far ahead through the
lobby.  I would have abandoned him on the spot if things
hadn’t worked out for him, so great was my cowardice and so starved was
I for anything outside the Bible Pie served up as culture in our
hometown.  But I knew, even before the nice old lady behind the
counter handed him his tickets without question, that we would be
okay.  The other nice old lady behind the counter, you see, asked
me if I wanted a beer or a glass of wine, and I realized instantly that
they lived in our town, too.  They knew the risk they were
taking showing the movie – genuine risks, as there were plenty of
heavily armed fundamentalists who had decried the arrival in our town
of something so immoral as Basic Instinct, a movie that didn’t just have gay people in it but gay people who killed straight people and got away with it
(the finer nuances of bisexuality as opposed to homosexuality were
entirely lost on them, but so were they lost on me at the time). 
And those nice little old ladies knew we needed more than anything to
be exposed to the outside, to live dangerously if vicariously for a
couple of hours, to see the other facets of life, good or ill. 
They knew I wasn’t 21 – they knew Matt wasn’t 17.  They also knew
we were terrified and starved, and they saw us into the theatre with
knowing smiles.

The movie was, from my perspective as a 17-year-old, unbelievably good.  It was great.  It was the Best Movie Evar!!1!  Looking back I think it’s enjoyably trashy.  It’s not War and Peace, but neither is it Cruising
It did make me want terribly to go to a nightclub, but most of all it
made me realize there were people who had thought like this, lived like
this, seen movies like this, and survived.  No one in the theatre
(all thirty of us, nearly a full house) seemed scandalized.  No
one talked.  No one gasped.  No one cried out in
horror.  They just watched, and absorbed, and then when it was
over they went back to their lives.  What was left of the
guilt-mythos, the idea that a thought was as bad as the sin itself, the
notion that association with someone less than saintly would mean one’s
own utter downfall, the concept that by mere exposure to something
other than Bible Pie we’d be poisoned to death – what very little of
that remained in my head was shattered, ironic as that may be considering the plot of the movie itself.  And for that, I think Basic Instinct may have to remain one of my favorites of all time.

The place was full enough that we couldn’t all sit in a row. 
Sheila sat next to me and Steph and Matt sat behind us.  The
minute things got weird, steamy or both, Matt started kicking the back
of my chair during the more intense bits.  He kicked my chair a lot
We knew that as a gaggle of otherwise hick kids in a theatre full of
world-wise grown-ups, watching a grown-up movie, we would be no better
than the rest of the barbarians at the gate if we sat and giggled and
talked, but Matt had to get it out somehow, and he expressed himself
toe-first on the back of my chair.  We were all getting an eyeful
of life outside of Horse Shoe, one we’d wanted like a dying man wants
water, and it was glorious. 

Whenever I think of that movie, I think of THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD during the pan through the bathroom in the gay bar.

Sometimes, Horse Shoe was alright. (more…)

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