Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bush to Survey Disaster Area

This kind of falls into the "what more needs to be said" category, but... I came across this yesterday and meant to post it, but my favorite coffee shop closed early and I didn't get to it. It's shown up in several other blogs today, but WTF, if you ended up Outside the Interzone and haven't seen it, take a few minutes. Another couple of notes: I tend to zone with TV news. I just watched it again and there's some fine comments I missed the first time through. Also, two of the people I showed this to yesterday were initially confused, thinking this is real. No, it's from the Onion. Our faithful news puppies would never, ever imagine saying that the last seven and a half years have been an unmitigated freakin' disaster.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Roll Out the Blogroll, part II

I got a couple of comments from bloggers whose sites I stuck up yesterday. I think I noted previously that sometimes blogging feels weird, like talking to yourself in a dark room. When you have no sense that anyone is reading what you've written, it seems pointless and self-involved. Getting an occasional comment makes all the difference. Eventually I'll figure out a way to monitor site traffic, but I haven't yet.

So here are today's additions:

Whiskey Fire Mostly Left Blogostan news, politics and opinion. They've got a funny post right now on how those of us who grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy perceive the overall story differently from those who have grown up with the second trilogy as their first exposure. The first Star Wars movie came out the summer I graduated from high school; I went and watched that movie once a week for ten weeks. So I got a good chuckle out of this post. I have to admit I don't bother reading Molly Ivors' posts on Maureen Dowd anymore. Generally I find Dowd tedious- a well off NY, youngish-middle-aged semi-attractive woman who has no idea about the lives of the rest of us peons, but enough of a gift for gab to try and fail miserably over and over. But Poor Molly! I picture her with blood pressure so high that blood cells are oozing out her pores. Molly: just quit reading Dowd. Really, you'll be happier and healthier!

A Salute to Some Stuff This is one of those blogs that is not so busy- sometimes days go by between posts. But the quality! Yesterday's post on Alt-advertising is a case in point. There are a number of recurring themes I love such as politics with critters (here's an older post). Enough stories about friends and family to make me feel at home, rather than watching a newscast. Good laughs- I enjoy the "Doodles by Splotchy for Manx." Even though I've seen them dozens of times, they still lift my spirits- e.g. "Alien talking to predator on a rotary phone," and "A night owl punching an early bird."

I Was Just Wondering I commented to a person just a bit ago (and sort of implied two posts ago) that I enjoy puns. I had been reading this blog for months before it dawned on me that the blog's name is a pun: the blogger's name is Jess Wundrun. What a great name! This is another blog that has plenty of news and politics, but manages to convey a real sense of person, and allows the stranger to feel a growing sense of familiarity and friendship, a sense of feeling at home. The mundanities, the joys and, yes, the tragedies of life shine through here, and provide a context and counterpoint for the fury and despair and hope that is politics in the US these days. I learned quite a bit about insurance issues from the posts on the Midwest flooding earlier in June.

I, Splotchy A big favorite. Less on politics, but some- Splotchy developed the "Go Away, Bush" counter that I try to hit at least a couple of times every day. It recently passed 1000, and is now in the mid 1100 range. I'm going to try to figure out how to paste it here eventually, but haven't got to it yet. He's big into music, and just got back from NYC where he saw the Feelies perform. I hadn't heard of the group, but there was an article in the NYT on them, and it sounds like a great band I will track down eventually (actually, their music- live music tends to be too crowded and noisy for me to cope with, and nearly impossible for me to actually enjoy). He regularly posts couplets that are kind of intriguing- like, I know I've never seen these lines before, but they seem familiar. Splotchy is also the creator of the doodles I mentioned under "A Salute to Some Stuff;" you can see bunches of them if you click on the doodles button under his "highlights" list.

A Tiny Revolution More Left Side Stories. As you get accustomed to reading more and more news, politics and opinion, it's interesting to see how a story reverberates- one site will opine on another's opinion. ATR is a big player in this process. I suppose the right sees this just as I see them- self reinforcing, pig-headed, blind adherence to the hive mind. I can't stomach reading righty sites very often. But IMO, left sites argue and disagree with each other, and attempt to better understand a situation thereby- as opposed to the right, which looks to FOX news and Cheney for their cues and then follow. Humor is not all-important to me, but I do tend to remember and follow sites better if they give me an occasional giggle. Check this one out.

So that's my five for today. I want to point out again that the order of putting these up is contingent simply on the order I stuck them in my favorites list, not on which ones are "most favorite."

Is it torture? Yes.

This is Surreal. Christopher Hitchens, a pro-Iraq war pundit, gets waterboarded... to the tune of some smooth synth-pop music that sounds like Enigma. I don't generally find two things in the Alternet newsletter that I want to address on a single day, but this is 1) not what I pictured, 2) completely riveting, and 3) just so wrong. Especially when you hear Hitchens describe the lingering psychological after-effects. After just a few seconds of "enhanced interrogation."

Hot Wet Punography

Gotta love this: apparently people are using their stimulus checks for something other than simple economic stimulation. If they had thought about it more, I think they could have packed more puns into the title- but that might have been gratuitous.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Roll out the Blogroll

I generally stay caught up with roughly 40 blogs each day. Some are pretty busy, some not so. But each has stuff that's interesting or engaging in some way (to me at least) on a regular basis. I've been meaning to start my Blog roll for a while, but I have to enter each URL, save, then go get each new URL. I don't remember URLs very well; I just have a lot of "favorites" files. It would be so much easier if I could just copy and paste that list, but c'est la vie.

So I'm going to try just doing five or so at a time. That will also mean that it's practical to give a short description and/or mention why I like the blog as I list them. Generally speaking they will be added in roughly the order I added them to my favorites, because that's the way they are listed on my laptop.

Electronic Cerebrectomy- like my blog, an eclectic mixture of stuff from all over the map: movies, a big fan of animation, pretty (sometimes stunning) women, teaching (elementary level), some politics, a little bit of science, and reaction to pop culture. I'm not a big fan of pop culture, but this guy has some pretty insightful responses to it- falls into the category of "he pays attention so I don't have to." Probably a lot of stuff I'm not recalling at this moment, but you get the idea.

Crooks and Liars: Left Blogostan News, Politics and Opinion. I'll warn you that before I'm done there will be an awful lot of these. I tend to start at the top and work down. C&L is often the place I hear about something first, simply because that's where I go first. This is one of those team sites, with a bunch 0f people all contributing: quite a bit of reading gets posted here every day. I started reading the internets in the mid 90's. C&L was one of the first blogs I started reading (I think around '02 or '03). I was offline for several years, but it was one of the first blogs I went back to when I got back onto the information superhighway.

Zaius Nation- Such a great sense of humor! Zauis made his first appearance in Planet of the Apes. He is somehow blogging 1700 years or so before his birth- I'm not too worried about the technology there. Film clips, visual gags, satire, some politics. I haven't really figured out who or what Germaine Gregarious is yet, but I think they were running against Dr. Monkerstein (of, to be rolled out later) for president. Not sure if it was bias from MSM or if there's a constitutional basis for orangutans and monkeys to barred from those offices, but I don't think they're running anymore (Though we have a simian and a crocodilian holding prez and VP now). I dunno... it's all so very confusing.

DistributorcapNY (AKA dCap)- History, economics, news, politics, opinion, personal anecdotes, etc. His cat George had to move along a few days back. Having just brought a cat into my life a couple of months ago, I'm feeling pretty bad for dCap right now. I left a pretty long comment on one of his posts last week, and he had the kindness to come read some of my stuff and leave a couple of nice comments. This is one of the people whose blogs really start to give you a sense of kinship, closeness and friendship. He is an antidote to much of the depersonalization culture I fear a little in netspace.

Happy Jihad's House of Pancakes- wonderfully foul-mouthed humor, criticism and commentary. I'm inferring from many of his posts that he's recently finished a graduate degree in language arts or literature, and is looking for a job at the college/university level. So a number of his posts poke fun at the useless verbosity of rejection letters. Other recurrent themes are atheism, pin-headed, hypocritical, sanctimonious religious righters, and evolution vs. anti-evolutionists and intelligent creationists, etc. There are a large number of people like this out there and they often get tedious. For example, anybody who uses the words "proof" or "proved" to defend or reinforce the scientific point of view understands neither the strengths nor weaknesses of science, and does not understand the hubris (nor how to avoid said hubris) that leads the fundies to make such collective asses of themselves on a daily basis. However, HJ's wit and unflinching willingness to type what is on his mind makes him a particularly entertaining member of this group.

So that's five for today. I look forward to the next group- this was kind of fun. As a concluding note, I've been meaning to comment for some time how difficult I find it to balance my consumption of news and blogs with composing and posting my own stuff. If you choose to read some of the blogs I have listed (and will list) here, you will see the issue: There's so much great stuff out there, it seems a waste to spend time and effort with my own.

More from Pirraro

I visit Dan Pirraro's Bizarroblog from time to time- I love his comics, and he often links some very entertaining stuff. This is a comic I saved (I think) sometime in May. It was never published be cause he felt it might be too controversial. Well, ummm, yeah.

There was a similarly heretical funny I came across a while back, "The Passion of Gummi Jesus."

I hadn't caught up with his posts since near the beginning of June, so I went through and did so last night. He had a couple of videos that I liked; one a politically funny comment:
And another that was gut-churning to me. I have had a couple of unpleasant experiences with heights; I wasn't afraid of heights when I was young, and I wouldn't describe it as a phobia now, but I do find this video very unnerving. Pirraro suggests watching this full screen; depends on what your attitude toward heights is. To watch full, click on the little rectangle in the brackets in the lower right. (Follow-up: I just went back and watched it again. I remembered it as 10-15 minutes long; it's about 6 1/2. That's suspense. And just word of reassurance: the clip does not end with the camera plummeting toward the rocks below. I'm going to try to find out more about this place, but I will never visit it.)
And finally, another political comic of his that seems just too obvious. A common defintion of genius is the ability to see obvious things that no one else has noticed. I don't want to post too much of his stuff here- it seems like plagiarism. So you should visit his blog regularly, and encourage your local rag to pick up his syndication. Our local barely has the courage to run "Family Circus;" "Bizarro" would be way too much for them. Thankfully, the Oregonian does carry it, so some of my money eventually does wend its way to his pocket. Now that I've plugged him and his work, I feel a little less guilty about swiping his posts and links, and I can point you at a great comic.

LOLCatz Skellytuns

Some blogger regularly posts LOLcat pics, and it took me a while to catch on. This style of funny is pretty new to me, but I love it. Herewith, a couple that I've really enjoyed.
From I, Splotchy, on this post:

From That's My Skull, posted in comments to the above:

Monday, June 30, 2008


Criminy! I hadn't realized that Arthur C. Clarke had died. Back in March! I try to avoid pop-culture news, but I guess I just assume something of that magnitude would cross my radar a little quicker than 3 or 4 months. Bummer. Nice retrospective of his contributions to astrobiology here, the article that cued me in.

Any Fact Writers Out There?

This is just wonderful at so many levels... "must have strong writing skills..." "Excellent communication and writing skills are also required" Shucks! All my writing experience is in non-fiction. Guess I won't bother applying for this one. Via Dependable Renegade.

McCain in Flip-Flops

We're having some of our first real summer weather of the season- we got up to 100 on Saturday; today is a much more tolerable 80. A muggy 80 by Western Oregon standards, but more tolerable than 100 by any standards.

But by flip-flops, I'm definitely not talking summer footwear. Anybody of sound mind who has been watching the elections has undoubtedly witnessed McCain's "repositioning" on at least a few issues, sometimes within minutes of contrary statements. I have been thinking of compiling a list, with documenting links, but silly me! Someone already thought of it! Saves me a lot of work. Fine.

Read'em and weep. This guy is being seriously considered for the most powerful office on the planet?


Today is the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska event- one of the largest known meteorite explosions of historical times, if not the largest. The general consensus is that it was some sort of space rock. I've always felt the hypothesis that it was a comet (a ball of dirty ice) made the most sense- the ice would completely vaporize, leaving nothing but some dust. While due to the explosion and devastation of about 800 square miles of trees this is considered an impact, no crater has ever been discovered.

Based on observations made by the first scientific investigation to travel to the area, 19 years afterwards, the blast is estimated to have been in the range of 15 megatons, nearly 1000 times more powerful than the blast over Hiroshima! Based on this figure, it is estimated that the object itself was about 120 feet in diameter and traveling 33,500 miles per hour. These figures are from an article in SpaceDaily (There's another article here). Another site that looks pretty reputable puts the estimate at closer to 60 Hiroshima-sized bombs, and the diameter of the object at 30 meters (roughly a hundred feet). The latter site has some interesting paintings based on eyewitness testimony, and a number of fascinating quotes, usefully translated into English. Wikipedia also has a good article, with some good eyewitness quotes.

So I went looking for some cool pictures to put up with this post and found myself at YouTube. None of these match the Tunguska impact well, but are worth watching. Try to imagine something much less energetic than the first, much more energetic than the second, and much less corporate than the third.


A Real one:

A funny one:

Much is made over the Chicxulub impact, generally believed to have killed off the dinosaurs as well as an enormous portion of other species. But the consequences of a relatively "small" impact could be severe. From what I know, I think we would recognize and track an incoming meteorite that was "only" 30 meters in diameter. But how do you think our leadership and military would respond to the utter destruction of an American city if we missed it? This was the basis of a short SF story I read many years ago- Can anyone remind me of the author and the story's name?

I've found a couple of pictures linked in the comments at the BadAstronomy post. This post, written by a real astronomer, is well worth reading. Observers noted that trees had been knocked down radially away from the center of the explosion; trees near the center were still standing, but were stripped of their branches and bark. Dead trees here and here. Also a couple of articles at USA Today and BBC