December 2004

I have no idea whether the science of this thing is for real, but I know some people who could knit it.

I also think it’s fairly self-evident why, when challenged to knit
“something useful,” she didn’t knit him a pair of mittens or a cap or a
scarf – because he’s an asshole. (more…)

In today’s Altercation on, there’s a letter from a reader named Wally Bowen.  Mr. Bowen is the Director of Mountain Area Information Network
I had never heard of them before today, but now I’m all swelled up with
a little mountain pride.  I may have to eat a little crow
regarding my general opinion of my native region.  Below is a
portion of the letter published in Altercation:

…The Mountain Area
Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, N.C. is a nonprofit Internet
Service Provider (ISP).  Our annual budget is comprised primarily of
revenue from our dial-up and Web hosting services.  We also offer
wireless broadband in a growing number of local communities we serve
here in North Carolina.

Wireless broadband in Asheville?  Hell yeah.  It turns out
the wireless broadband is available in three of the most rural counties
in that area, and they got the ignition funds from the NC Rural
Internet Access Authority, which is housed within the NC Rural Economic
Development Center.  They do more than that, though – including
aggressively priced webhosting, including half-off rates for
nonprofits.  Bowen makes clear, both in his letter and on the
site, that MAIN considers providing dial-up access to rural areas their
highest priority. 

It’s my personal opinion that Broadband over Power Lines will come, one day, and change everything
– but it’s going to cost hella more than $14.95/month when it
does.  Bowen goes on to describe some pretty ambitious plans,
including a proposal to spend 1% of their annual gross on progressive
causes chosen by letting subscribers vote on recipients.

Have I mentioned their bumper stickers?  “Think Globally, Connect Locally.”

I love it.

A recent major
network upgrade now allows us to offer unlimited dial-up Internet
access NATIONWIDE.  This service will be marketed under the brand of “IndyLink
(the Web site is near completion) to progressives who believe in
supporting an independent media and progressive causes in general.  At
$14.95 a month, this service will include spam/virus filtering,
dial-up  accelerator, and pop-up blocker.  We also have the strictest
privacy  protection of any ISP. 

short, we are giving progressives — who only need or can only afford
dial-up — the ability to put their Internet dollars where their values
are, rather than continuing to send their dollars to support an
undemocratic corporate media.


So, the Washington Post today has a story on secret CIA prisons,
including one just slap full of “ghost detainees” inside the larger
prison of Gitmo despite the Army commanders at Gitmo requiring the CIA
to register their detainees, guarantee access by the Red Cross, and all
the other things required at military prisons.  It’s… chilling,
to say the lest.

Now, add this to the stories about new reports of detainee abuse by Marines, the Keric debacle, stories circulating that military leaders may be the ones who bring the heat
to keep Gonzales out of the Attorney General post (since he was
essentially the sponsor of the administration opinions that may have
led to or encouraged either or both torture of prisoners and subsequent
attempts to keep that torture quiet), Rumsfeld under the lights in
front of a bunch of Guard members and reservists – and now the subject of conversation even among Republicans,
the media perhaps, maybe, just a little bit growing a backbone and the
raft of people willing to come out and talk about pressure being
applied to analysts at the CIA to force their intelligence into line
with the administration’s wishes (I read about this on, but I can’t get their search function to work right now – alas) and you start to think, Great.  Where were these stories two months ago?

A re-election campaign is supposed to be a referendum on the incumbent,
we were told, and there are so many reasons to hate Bush that surely
he’d never survive any sort of vote of confidence.  So, seriously,
where were these stories?

That they’re just coming out now doesn’t say to me that anyone
was silenced or otherwise kept out of the spotlight.  No, it says
to me that a raft of powerful and informed people assumed, just as I
did, that there was no way Bush would win.  With him out of office and a new administration – any new administration – on its way in, surely something would get done.

Then they got a big surprise.

Fascinating.  Perhaps all these people were just waiting for a
change of power so they could try to deal with some of the problems
BushCo have either caused or inflated through negligence.  Perhaps
now they think they’ll never get that chance, never have the
opportunity to clean anything up for real, so the least they can do is
talk about it.

I think this is a potential take on these stories’ sudden appearance that we’re not likely to hear on CNN anytime soon. (more…)

I am so tired of customers whose own stupidity makes them angry.

I do not understand this interweb and that makes me so mad! they all say.

Fie on them.  Fie.

Today I described the “conversation” I had with a customer as follows, when IM’ing a co-worker:

Me:  I honest to the gods do not understand how he crosses the street without arguing with the crosswalk sign.

I hate customers.  It would be so much less stressful to break
into their houses and steal the money from them in their sleep, but
unfortunately they are too dumb to find their own beds. (more…)

Final Fantasy, in concert, on tour across the USA

Hell yes.

If this comes anywhere near NC, I’m there.  I’m so, so, so, so, so there. (more…)

Heavens!  Politics clearly are no longer limited to the realm of
Sunday morning shows, news channel talking-head festivals and Capitol
Hill.  Oh, commentators like to harp on political apathy, and
sadly, there is still a good deal of political apathy in our
country.  I should note, however, that I don’t mean apathy among
the electorate.  I mean apathy at the very top.  How do I
know?  Just read a few headlines and there it is, everyone trying
to fight it out alongside everyone else – unless they’re already at the
top, in which case they’re too busy doing jack-shit to pay attention to
a single thing going on around them.

I mean, seriously, let’s just start in Pennsylvania.  The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (a name you just have to love) are suing the Dover Area School Board
to stop them from forcing science teachers to include “intelligent
design” in their curricula.  For those of you living blissfully
outside the blast radius of half-assed idiocy, “intelligent design” = creationism without (most of) the crucifixion scenes
The argument that evolution must be false because the universe is
“fine-tuned” to life as we know it is, of course, a round-the-block
dumbassery routine.  Of course what’s alive today gets along well
with its environment.  The ones that didn’t dropped dead when
their environment changed.  The only things alive are things that
can survive.  Duh.  Please see the contents of the gas tank on your car for further information.

On a more personal level, the “morality police” folks are plenty glad to kick your ass
if they don’t like what you say.  Admittedly, I admire this guy
for beating up That Guy Who Talks On His Phone At A Restaurant, but not
because dude was cussing.  I hate to break it to the Aged Avenger
there, but every time you step out your front door you run the risk of
being offended.  Sometimes you run the risk of being offended just
by waking up in the morning.  It’s a hard ol’ world out there,
dude.  Suck it up.  There are questions of etiquette in the
guy on the phone’s behavior, undoubtedly – but trying to beat someone
up is not high on Emily Post’s list of accepted responses.  The
guy who tried to lay the smack on his opponent is quoted as saying he
knew people talked like that in The City, but he couldn’t handle it in his town
Ah, so cussing’s right out, but beating the crap out of people for no
real reason is A-OK.  What is this, the Family Films section of

In the meantime, the Ukraine has discovered whole new ways of
influencing voters.  Tired of hearing candidates talk? 
Poison the crap out of ’em.  Yuschenko now holds the 2nd place
spot in the race to see who can have the highest dioxin levels in
recorded history.  Seriously.

What’s my point in all this?  That we are not a politically
apathetic society.  I saw a lot more bumper stickers and people
standing in line at the polls in 2000 than I’d seen before, and yet
more again this year.  My Kerry/Edwards sign is still up in the
yard.  My parents have made the final leap to being rock-steady
Democrats – for only the 2nd time ever, everyone in my immediate family
voted for the same person, and we’re all pissed about the same
issues.  My father is so angry at Bush that he’ll talk politics –
something he considers deeply personal and private.  Farenheit 9/11
made shitloads of money.  Documentaries with overt or more subtle
political commentaries, in fact, did better than ever across the
board.  And even though their movies weren’t very well regarded,
even the right-wing managed to turn their digicams away from their next
best shot at the prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos to record, um,
films about things like liberal conspiracies to brainwash our yung’ns and how aliens and possibly liberals are to blame for 9/11.  Also, WWII, because (insert random output from Greatest Generation PanderBot 3000 here). 

Heck, you want to get really down to street level?  We had people bashing in windshields and threatening to kill their girlfriends
and every week there’s a new revelation that, whoops, some of the men
& women Over There might more fittingly be described as Out There
for the unabashed glee they express when torturing prisoners, something
that carries heavy political weight and deeply unsubtle political and
cultural overtones whether intended or not.  Call me crazy, but
that’s not apathy – that’s obsession.  Our Kerry/Edwards sign isn’t the only one still up in our neighborhood,
last I checked.  The people I talk to in daily conversation are
politically motivated – I think “fired up” might be the best term.  My parents are willing to sit around chewing the fat about politics and have been pushed so far as to agree with me. 

No, the apathy seems to be right up there at the top.  After all,
Keric is out of the running because it turned out there were a couple
dozen good reasons he’d never make it past the Senate floor but the
White House managed to miss those entirely in their background
checks.  And whoopsie, the person at the White House who’s in
charge of those checks is the White House counsel – you know, the guy
who just got nominated to be Attorney General, in charge of the
FB-freakin’-I.  I sure hope he doesn’t have to investigate
anything over the next four years!  Whewf!  As for the rest
of the cabinet, there are an awful lot of empty deck chairs at the
moment and the White House seems desperate to find someone – anyone –
willing to fill them.  If John Snow could survive the transition,
they must be ready to take anyone with a pulse and apparent respiration.

Yeah, we’re all just dumb, apathetic, know-nothing hicks down here at
street level, sitting on our asses in the mud, chewing stalks of hay
and scratching our foreheads in our absolute inability to comprehend
anything happening in politics much less form opinions on them. 
The wisdom from on high states that many or most of us don’t care
what’s happening and that it doesn’t matter whether we do or not,
anyway, because we’re such a “divided electorate.” Sure.

In the meantime, the current administration is trying to govern purely
by showmanship, choosing nominees who will look good in the TV movie of
the history of the administration but are actually entirely unfit for
their jobs – and when that fails, trying to juggle as fast as they can
and counting on no one noticing. 

Bush rolled into office and coasted for four years on the fear and
sadness of one event and a general assumption that no one really cares
about politics anyway.  At the close of his first term, with his
second looming large on the horizon, I hope he does exactly the same
thing – after all, it can only carry him so far, and there are lots and
lots of people down at street level who are watching his high-wire
routine and waiting to see him fall. (more…)

This just in from the interwebs:  you can lead a redneck to money but you can’t keep him from getting drunk and busting shit up.  Why
this is a surprise to anyone is beyond me.  However, I am not
without some sympathy.  Should this lady wish to relieve herself
of her troubles, I’d be more than glad to take some of those fat
dollars off her hands. (more…)

Well, it looks like Sega/ESPN NFL games have gone the way of the dodo:  the NFL has signed an exclusive agreement with EA to produce NFL-licensed videogames for the next 5 years.

So much for the franchise I enjoyed.

Thbthbthbthbthbthpth.  Madden can bite me. (more…)

So, the parental units have come and gone.  Their stated mission
had been to “come up, see the house, turn around and leave,” and in
fact that’s what they did.  They showed up, walked around the back
yard, walked around downstairs, said they loved it and asked if I was
ready to eat.  My sister is down with tonsilitis so they wanted to
get back quickly.  One short trip to Ruby Tuesday later and they
were on the highway headed back to the mountains.  They were
affectionate and profuse with their praise, and although they didn’t
mention one word about it I think, somewhere in there, was a nudge that
they were happy for me.  It was so strange.

Oh, they had a secret agenda – it just wasn’t the one I thought it
would be.  Rather than coming up here to nose around in
everything, they came up here to dump old shit on my porch and leave it
there.  If anyone wants a Duke University t-shirt from when I was
in junior high, it’s in my trash bin at the moment.  The crap they
offloaded from the bedroom they had saved for me – up, apparently,
until this very moment, when with the realization that I have a
boyfriend and a house and a life they decided they didn’t need to save
a bedroom for me in their home – wasn’t even in good enough shape to go
to the thrift store.  I’m serious.  The t-shirts from 7th
grade were tattered rags.  Half of it’s in the trash bin and half
of it’s sitting on the front porch, waiting for me to do something with

I think I owe my sister a thank you.  She got the ball rolling on
it and now, with their children in their thirties, my parents have
recognized both our adulthoods.  Amazing.

Oh, the fun doesn’t stop there.  We’re sitting at lunch and our
conversation went off in tangents – between updates on the big
Hendersonville murder case, in which there are no updates – and all of
a sudden it came around to Iraq.  I was riding high on the wave of
newly recognized grown-upedness, but I wasn’t the one who broached the
subject.  Lord no.  Instead, it was my father – and once the
subject came up this is how the conversation went:

My Dad:  Well, all I can say is, we are in a mess over there.
My Mom:  Yes, and we need out of there, but now that we’re in it we can’t get out without making it worse.
Me:  Well, this is why we don’t go to war unless we have to.  Hubris and arrogance got us into this.
My Dad:  Amen to that.
My Mom:  Yes, it’s so arrogant.
My Dad:  I watched Fritz Hollings on 60 Minutes last night, and it’s like he said:  you can’t force democracy.  You don’t democratize someone at gun-point.
Me:  Oh, I agree.  I shouldn’t get started on it.  I can go for hours.
My Dad:  Oh, me, too.
Me:  You might notice my Kerry/Edwards sign is still up.
My Mom:  I saw that!
Me:  I’m living on Alternate Earth.  I’m just pretending Bush didn’t win.
My Dad:  Well, I don’t usually talk politics, but I can tell you I sure didn’t help put that man back in.
My Mom:  No one we know did.
Me:  (resisting the urge to point out in fact her sister
helped put Bush back in office, but hey, let’s keep it positive) I know
a couple of people from work who voted for him, but none of my friends
did that I know of.
My Dad:  No one with sense would have voted for him. 
No one.  Everything he does he does to prove he can do something
his father couldn’t or didn’t or thought was a bad idea.
Me:  Have you read The Family?  You should.

So there you have it, folks.  We’re a Blue Family.

Truly, this is Alternate Earth. (more…)

Note:  I’ve been having a little Pivot wackiness today, causing
comments to occasionally and randomly disappear and be
unavailable.  They should all be back now, but bear with me. (more…)

Sadly, Wigu is coming to an end on December 31st.  It’s currently my favorite webcomic.

I honestly feel as though there’s a hole in my future with the precise size and shape of a poisonous potato. (more…)

So… I’ve started to get materials for this year’s NEVERMORE website.  The Centerpiece Film?  It looks good.  It looks damn good.  It’s House of Flying Daggers, by the same guy who did Hero – only the reviews of HoFD say that Hero was just a warm-up for his real deal.

If you watch the trailer, you’ll notice one of the critic blurbs
included describes it as “a feast of blood, passion and silk brocade.”

Yum! (more…)

Combine Flash with learning, and you have OCD:

Place the states. (more…)

Truly, is there nothing videogames can fix?

TRENTON, N.J. – Letting children play video games on a Game Boy in the
operating room before undergoing surgery can help relax them better
than tranquilizers or holding Mommy’s hand, researchers say.

Patel studied 4- to 12-year-olds in three
groups of 26 children each. All had parents with them in the operating
room until they were anesthetized. One group also got a tranquilizer,
and the third group played with a Game Boy.

average, the Game Boy group showed no increase in anxiety before
surgery. But on a standard, 100-point scale for measuring preoperative
anxiety, the tranquilizer group jumped 7.5 points and the parents-only
group 17.5 points.

Hell yeah!

(more…) has up an interesting article
on what appears to be a classified defense program that’s pissed off a
bunch of Democrats in the Senate.  None of them will say what the
program does, only that it’s crazy expensive and also crazy crazy.

Concerns over the militarization of space have been expressed in
various quarters for years.  Putting spy satellites up is entirely
understandable, I think.  Putting spy satellites up that screw
with other satellites, though?  Hrm.  I honestly have to
think on that one.  I see electronic warfare, depending on how
it’s conducted, as a very different thing from the kind conducted with
tanks and soldiers and roadside bombs and “smart” weapons and grenade
launchers.  I don’t want to leap towards stating it’s just as bad,
because that opens the door to declaring any electronic or networked
attack equivalent to an act of war – or an act of terror.  Not
sure I want to be the first one to go there, to be honest.

That said, it does get me thinking.  Now I have to go home and outline a potential sequel to Shell Access.  My writing may stink, but luckily I’m just pretentious enough to make up for it. (more…)

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