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Monday, February 26, 2007
Everything I Ever Needed To Know

...I learned from watching Quiz Show. This is one of my favorite movies from 1994, and this is from the scene just before the Senate hearings on the fixed game shows.

Dick Goodwin:
The questions are to take no longer than five minutes. You're to receive the questions in advance, and I'm to thank you for the courtesy of attending this hearing.

Martin Rittenhome: Mercy. What a grueling line of inquiry.

Dick Goodwin: Must have a familiar ring, the questions in advance.

Martin Rittenhome: Would you excuse us for a moment, please? And take this, please. Thank you. Young man…

Dick Goodwin: The ratings went up if the same contestant came back week after week. There was only one way for that to happen. You had to know that.

Martin Rittenhome: Young man, I sell over $ 1.4 million a year worth of Geritol. That's the kind of businessman I am. That show, Twenty-One cost me $3-1 /2 million year in, year out. Sales went up 50% when Van Doren was on. Fifty percent. So the very idea that I was unaware of every detail or aspect of that show's operation...well, frankly, it's, it's very insulting.

Dick Goodwin: So you knew.

Martin Rittenhome: (grinning) That's even more insulting.

Dick Goodwin: You had to know. That's what you just said.

Martin Rittenhome: It's not about what I know. It's about what you know.

Dick Goodwin: You don't know what I know.

Martin Rittenhome: You know that Dan Enright ran a crooked quiz show.

Dick Goodwin: Oh, he never informed you?

Martin Rittenhome: (grinning again) Did he?

Dick Goodwin: Let's see what he says.

Martin Rittenhome: Dan? Look, Dan Enright wants a future in television. Okay? What you have to understand is that the public has a very short memory. But corporations, they never forget.

Dick Goodwin: He's not that stupid. He knows he's through.

Martin Rittenhome: Oh, no. He'll be back. NBC's gonna go on. Geritol's gonna go on. It makes me wonder what you hope to accomplish with all this.

Dick Goodwin: Don't worry. I'm just gettin' started.

Martin Rittenhome: But even the quiz shows'll be back. Why fix them? Think about it, will ya? You could do exactly the same thing by just making the questions easier. See, the audience didn't tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money.

Rob Morrow, the guy best known for Northern Exposure plays the attorney in the movie, and the executive in the scene was played by Martin Scorcese. Scorcese won his first Oscar last night for The Departed, but he should have gotten one for this scene. That kind of brilliant smugness ought to be rewarded.

posted at 7:06 PM


Saturday, February 24, 2007

It is almost 1130pm. In four hours, I will load up my rental car to drive 100 miles in freezing rain to an airport to catch a 7am flight home. When I fill up the car with gasoline, I will drink a can or two of Red Bull, since I'm pretty tired from overeating for the past three days. Exhausted really.

But it's not just the food, I've been on kind of a weird schedule since I arrived here. Let me explain.

My flight was supposed to arrive at {destination redacted} at about 955pm, and was right on schedule until it became obvious that fog had settled in, and no one was landing anything at that airport. I'll admit that I was surprised that you couldn't land a plane in the fog, given the instrumentation that exists on modern aircraft. I say, go for it, I have things to do.

The pilot informs us that we will be diverted to {redacted}, which is about 200 miles west of {destination redacted}. He also makes it clear that given the weather, no attempts will be made to fly to the original destination before the next morning. This is bad for a couple of reasons:
  • My original destination is not the place I am actually going.

I decide to fly in to {destination redacted}, even though it is about 90 miles from where I really want to go, because it saves me about 250 bucks to do so. Making the drive myself is no big deal, and is actually sort of enjoyable.

Now, however, I am in a city that, while not much further by car from where I want to go than {destination redacted}, is not the city I will be flying back out of a few days later. Thus:

My car rental reservation is useless.

Also, a new reservation would be for a car that I would be renting from one city, and returning in another. Those of you who have rented cars know that a one-way rental costs an arm and a leg because the rental company has to pay someone to bring the car back from wherever you left it. I am not interested in incurring this sort of expense. You would think that sort of thing would just balance itself out, but apparently it doesn't.

So, my options are now to hang around in the airport where we have landed waiting for a flight to my destination which is not really where I want to go, or I can take a chartered bus to where I was supposed to be flown in the first place.

Around midnight, the bus leaves, and I'm on it.

The bus ride is boring for the most part, and I cannot sleep, and have taken to timing the speed of the bus using my cell phone's stopwatch and the mile markers we pass.

Show me how far and how long and I will give you the width of the universe...

So at a little after 3am, we arrive at {destination redacted}, which is where I was supposed to have been five hours earlier. The fog is incredible, but I don't mind driving in it, because I want to drive my 90 minutes and go to bed.

Of course, I can't do this, because the rental car counter doesn't open until 5am.

So, I'm in the airport. I can't sleep because that's not my best thing anyway, plus every ten minutes the automated announcement telling me to keep an eye on my luggage is played, so that I and the one other person in the airport who is traveling will make sure to keep terror in check.

It was a long two hours, it really was.

Finally, at 5am, the rental car place opens. There is paperwork, and waiting, and they have lost the fucking keys to my car. They will be found, but I will not leave the airport for another 45 minutes.

At about 7am, I finally arrive at my actual destination and go to bed about an hour later. I wake up around 1230pm, feeling like shit, and understanding implicitly that this feeling will likely not go away before I head home.

This is the second trip I have taken by air in the past five months where I did not arrive at my destination on the day I was supposed to, and the third time in the past few years.

The last one, back in September, was a trip that connected through Houston. The first leg of the flight left an hour late on a perfectly clear day because the plane was late arriving at my home airport.

Whatever. I had about an 80 minute layover in Houston.

The plane arrives at George Bush International Airport (kill me) about 20 minutes before my outgoing flight is due to leave. I race across the airport on a half-dozen people movers and two trains and arrive at my gate about five minutes before departure.

The plane, quite naturally, has already left.

It is about 8pm. The flight to my final destination is the last time that day that this aircraft will be flying, and for it to be ten minutes late is of no consequence. The airline made me late arriving at my connection, and refused to call the gate and ask them to hold departure for a couple of minutes.

Through no fault of my own, I am now stuck in Houston. I am hoping against hope that I will not be murdered before I can leave town.

I walk to the ironically named hospitality desk for the airline to see when I can get the hell out of Houston. There are no more flights to where I want to go that day on this airline. There are no flights to where I want to go on any airline. I will be stuck in Houston until late into the following morning. I am offered a voucher for a hotel room that will save me a few dollars on a room.

"Who pays the rest?"

"You do."

"You couldn't be more wrong. It is entirely your airline's fault that I am stuck in a place that I have no desire to be, simply because no one bothered to make a phone call."

Secretly, I am angling for flight vouchers, while mentally stabbing myself in the eye over the notion, since I never want to fly on this airline ever again.

While I am performing mental gymnastics, and apparently looking very disturbed, I am offered a free room at the Marriott near the airport. It is the best I can hope for, and I am too wiped out to spend the effort to get more.

I would eventually arrive at my destination sixteen hours later than scheduled.

I am sick of air travel, and would not mind it very much if I never had to fly anywhere ever again. I used to enjoy flying, but it just completely fucking sucks now. The way the airlines are run, I am honestly shocked that three planes don't fall out of the air each week due to incompetence.

I see ice hanging from trees and street lights now as the rain continues to fall. I am 100 miles and seven hours from my scheduled departure time. If I do not write in this space again, avenge my death.


posted at 11:20 PM


Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Lego My Escher

Seriously cool:

posted at 2:32 PM


Thursday, February 15, 2007
Not Just a River in Egypt

Every so often, an article shows up in the paper about some reprehensible douchebag who denies the Holocaust ever happened. Most notable is British writer, David Irving, who calls himself a historian, even though no one reputable would use that word. Irving spent the better part of 2006 in an Austrian prison for the crime of Holocaust denial.

Today in Germany, a man named Ernst Zundel was sentenced to five years in prison for anti-Semitic activities, including contributing to a Web site dedicated to Holocaust denial.

Ernest Zundel. Now, that's
the name of a Holocaust denier!

Zundel and Irving are the worst sort of bigot, because their hatred is presented with a veneer of respectability. The ignorant racist craves the gilded words of men like these, since it helps them believe that what they feel may actually be true. Prison is really better than people like that deserve.

That being said, I really don't think either one of them has committed a crime.

I know in a lot of countries in Europe, denying the Holocaust, along with other forms of racism, are considered crimes, and punishable with prison time. Considering anti-Semitism has been a popular pastime there for a couple of millennia, one has to wonder why in the past few decades, Europeans have been so hyper-vigilant to protect members of the tribe.

Guilt, I suppose. And rightfully so.

If Europeans have decided en masse to stop being racists, I'm all for it. Having said that, I don't think you can make someone's ignorance or hatred illegal. In the US, penalties for certain attacks can be punished more severely if they are deemed to be "hate crimes."

The problem is that you're getting into the area of policing thought, and that's one place I'm not comfortable being. Freedom of speech is a non-negotiable freedom, and I believe that extends into the realm of thought. While there are obvious reasons for criminalizing the act of yelling "FIRE!" in a crowded theater, things of that nature fall under the auspices of inciting panic resulting in injury. You can always yell "FIRE!" in your home, or out in the park if you so desire. The words and the action are not illegal.

It seems to me that if the authorities want to keep an eye on people like Irving and Zundel, that may not be a terrible thing. Tracking down the people who subscribe to the newsletters and attend the meetings probably isn't a bad idea either. If any of these cowards ever actually commits a crime, then you can be all over them like stink on shit, which is maybe the most apt simile ever used.

The European laws are the overreaction of a guilty conscience. Criminalizing hateful thought and speech is inherently Fascist, which of course, is another European creation. I would rather deal with racism than Fascism, although I would prefer to deal with neither.

If Germany wants to marginalize Zundel, all they need to do is refute what he says with the millions of documents and photographs that make it all too clear that the Holocaust happened. Stifling this sort of trash only gives it legitimacy in the eyes of the ignorant, and makes it look like the government has something to hide. Most likely because it is being run by the Jews...

Anyway, if Zundel, Irving and the like must be detained, I would suggest some sort of Clockwork Orange-style conditioning regimen to help them truly appreciate the history that they so fervently deny. Maybe things would just sort themselves out from there.

I woke up. The pain and sickness all over me like an animal. Then I realized what it was. The music coming up from the floor was our old friend, Ludwig Van, and the dreaded Ninth Symphony...

posted at 4:25 PM


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Whatcha gonna do when you get out of jail?

posted at 11:37 PM


Friday, February 09, 2007

Ted Haggard, former head of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals, and pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, upon further review, is 100% heterosexual.

Well, of course he is!

Oh, sure, very recently he had to admit, that despite being the moral shining light for millions, he had been paying another adult male for the privilege of, ah, fellating said person.

There are lots of reasons why this could happen to a person that is 100% heterosexual.
  • It was a youthful indiscretion.

I'm told that younger folk, especially while in college, do a whole lot of experimentation related to sex. Not me, unfortunately. I didn't have any idea that the option of having sex with another man without being gay was an option. On the plus side, I didn't have any interest in other men, so it kind of worked out in my favor. On the negative side, despite my vast interest in hundreds of women during college, it just didn't work out as often as I would have liked.

It's not easy being 19 and funny-looking.

But upon closer examination of the Haggard case, he was 50 when his proclivities came to light, so this excuse doesn't fly.

  • Research

Ted Haggard and his ilk are the most heterosexual people on Earth, if the literature can be believed. They say that your sexuality is a choice that you make, so if you choose The Gay, you deserve to go to hell.

But they are still a compassionate bunch. Admittedly, there's nothing that they can do for gays except to pray that you'll stop doing that. But perhaps, a closer look at The Gay might reveal clues as to how to combat it.

Pastor Ted took an incisive look at some of these activities, and even went so far as to go undercover to learn more about The Gay. It turns out that The Gay enjoys receiving oral sex from evangelical ministers, a satisfaction that is actually enhanced by being paid to allow this to be done.

Fascinating stuff to be sure! It's hard to believe that with this level of commitment to the scientific method, people like Ted Haggard find so much of science to be dubious.

  • Ted Haggard dislikes kissing

Most human beings enjoy sharing a kiss with someone that they care deeply about, or at least a person close enough to grab. But just like there are some weirdos out there that don't like chocolate, there are certain to be people who don't care for the lip-to-lip kiss.

Ted Haggard would appear to be one of these poor souls.

I would imagine that after Ted's "research," Mrs. Haggard is not likely to french the pastor any time soon. Mission accomplished!

  • It was an accident

As any emergency room physician can tell you, people wander in all the time with objects stuck inside of them. Sometimes it's bullets or knives, other times it can be large splinters or pieces of windshield after an accident. It might even be pasta.

The human body is not impenetrable, after all. Especially the anus.

Now let me be perfectly clear: No one is accusing Pastor Ted of engaging in anal sex, either with male prostitutes or his wife.

However, people show up all the time to the hospital with objects lodged in their person. It's invariably an accident, usually people slipping after a shower before they've had a chance to put on protective undergarments. You're flying through the air, hoping desperately that you won't land awkwardly on a screwdriver, a light bulb, or a live artillery shell.

Accidents happen.

I would like to posit that if so many people can fall, hmm, backward onto objects, then it is possible that Ted Haggard may have taken a headfirst dive into a man's crotch by accident, and inadvertently engaged in a homosexual act.

And also that it happened dozens of times over many years. Inadvertently.

After incidents like these, it would only be Christian of Ted to pay this poor man for the embarrassment that this sort of buffoonish pratfall must have caused.

As you can now see, there are many explanations as to how Ted Haggard is now straight, and always has been. Three weeks is all it takes to make it happen.

I hope your company's insurance plan covers it.


posted at 4:57 PM


Friday, February 02, 2007
I Can't Remember Before

"Do you know how long a year takes when it's going away?" Dunbar repeated to Clevinger. "This long." He snapped his fingers. "A second ago you were stepping into college with your lungs full of fresh air. Today you're an old man."

"Old? I'm not old."

"You're inches away from death every time you go on a mission. How much older can you be at your age? A half minute before that you were stepping into high school, and an unhooked brassiere was as close as you ever hoped to get to Paradise. Only a fifth of a second before that you were a small kid with a ten-week summer vacation that lasted a hundred thousand years and still ended too soon. Zip! They go rocketing by so fast. How the hell else are you ever going to slow time down?" Dunbar was almost angry when he finished.

"Well, maybe it is true," Clevinger conceded unwillingly in a subdued tone. "Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it's to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?"

"I do," Dunbar told him.

"Why?" Clevinger asked.

"What else is there?"

For some reason this week, I was just thinking about how things are and how they've always been. I can't believe how long the past six years have been going on. Even though I know it's not true, it seems like George W. Bush has always been president, like the war on terror has been going on my entire life, and the stripping of our civil rights has just been the inevitable way things are. I have a vague recollection that things were different before, but it's almost like I've been trying to wake up from a dream.

We've always been at war with Eastasia.

I have a keen sense of history, so I know better. God, what a fucking drag these past six years have been. Just watching Congress hand over what little power it still has to our idiot president, and even when they pretend to have backbone, he just issues a signing statement and does whatever he wants, anyway.

I know it's going to end at some point, although the only guarantee that I have is one written into the Constitution. I still think it will be enough.

In the meantime, it is time to start pushing back. I need to go dig old up newspapers, and read stories about balanced budgets, and American prosperity. Oh, and presidential blowjobs being treated as though they actually mattered. Now all we have is a president admitting to felonies in the form of illegal wiretaps on US citizens, and the treason of a vice-president revealing the identity of undercover CIA agents.

But who cares? The stock market is at an all-time high, and if you own shares of Exxon or Halliburton, these are heady times, indeed. Get what you can, patriots! This war can't last forever, unless it continues to be profitable.

This is depressing, and I'm not out to bring you down. Keep your head in the game, and don't forget that this is a great country, and will be greater still once we rid ourselves of the current criminal class running things. Nothing is forever, and that's healthy.

Being awake for 21 hours, however, is not healthy.

posted at 9:29 PM

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