Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How Do They Do It?

You know those comments that pop on within the same minute you update your post? It's always some kind of comment "spam," basically - they tell you how great your blog is, and click here for free money, blah blah. I'm not interested in all that per se. What I want to know is: how do they do it? How do they get their mass-produced form-letter comment to post out into the wide world, onto all those blogs just as they update?

I'm sure it's pretty simple. I'm computer-savvy in a lot of little ways. I'm guessing these people probably use some sort of computer program. It would identify all the blogs that have just been updated, by looking at the list of "blogs just updated" that scrolls up the main page. Then it would just log over to each blog and post the same comment on each. All in an attempt to drum up business for their vile scam!

Now, I don't have any scam to run...but I thought, "such a system could also be utilized for the good of all! To create a publicity bonanza, when employed properly for the innocent purpose of promoting my 100% legitimate blog!"

I would send out the same comment to everybody as they update: "Interesting post! Hi, I read your blog and it sucks. That made me think you might be interested in other blogs that suck. My blog which, if anything, sucks worse, would be of crucial interest in such a scenario. Come by and check it out, you might read something." Then people would read the comment be all, "hey, that's one of those scams I bet."

But they'd be wrong about that!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

So I Just Got Back from the Video Store, and Now I'm All Confused

Was Bring It On a Comedy?

I'd have classed it as Melodrama, and admittedly, they didn't have a Melodrama section...but even so.

Okay, maybe I was already confused.

The Spanish Flu Epidemic and Its Potentially Far-Reaching Implications

A lot of experts have been puzzling over the disappointing failure of the current bird flu scare to bloom into a full-blown pandemic. I think you might find the roots of this puzzling failure in the famous Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.

As we all know, the Spanish Flu Epidemic was so virulent that a guy could feel the onset of the symptoms as he boarded the subway, and be dead by the time he reached his stop. We've all heard that anecdote. Or if we haven't all heard it, I've heard it enough times for all of us. My dad never gets tired of pointing that shit out.

But I was wondering, how exactly were these details established? It sounds a little fishy to me. Who was this apocryphal subway guy? Chances are, they didn't just coincidentally notice he was dead right at his stop. They probably didn't notice until the end of the line, and by then, there's just this dead guy still sitting there. How would they even know which stop was his?

I could see if it was a bus trip. Maybe the driver knows his regulars. But this is an impersonal subway, in the biggest city in the...wait, now that I think about it, I'm not sure that they specified New York. But how many American cities even had a subway, back then? TEN?? Probably not even that many!

Apart from the difficulty of establishing which stop was his, how did they know that he felt the onset of the Spanish Flu just as he got on board? Did he announce it?! "I've just felt the onset of the Spanish Flu! Time me!" This isn't the sort of thing one is likely to publicize in the middle of a deadly epidemic.

But while as you can see, the effects of the Spanish Flu have been greatly distorted and exaggerated, it cannot be denied that a significant number of people succumbed to the reaper over the due course of that fateful plague. It was a disaster the likes of which are on a par with something we can't even compare. And therein lies my original point: exposure and susceptibility. I believe that the Spanish Flu was so widespread, so virulent, and so deadly, that nearly all of the most genetically susceptible specimens within the human population were weeded out. I think it likely that those who were exposed to the flu and survived, were those who had a greater degree of resistance to it - which was then passed on to their descendents. In other words, us. We're like those penicillin-resistant bugs.

Obviously, any degree of genetic susceptibility may not be as important as other factors such as age and overall physical health, when dealing with the flu. Equally obviously, there are different strains of the flu, and probably no one is genetically invulnerable to all of them. But there certainly may be greater or lesser degrees of resistance to the flu, within the general population. If a really awful flu came along and struck down all of the most susceptible, later generations might well be in a sense "inoculated," to a limited degree.

This theory might go part of the way towards contextualizing the puzzling failure of the current avian flu scare to "catch on" in a big way with today's populace.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Whistleblowers Are Protected

I love it when I find out I have more crazy new rights that I wasn't aware of. America the beautiful, baby! I just happened to peruse this giant "it's The Law!" ("es La Ley!") wall banner whilst awaiting my turn at the employee restroom. Check this out:
1. An employer may not make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy preventing an employee from being a whistleblower.

2. An employer may not retaliate against an employee who is a whistleblower.

3. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for refusing to participate in an activity that would result in a violation of a state or federal statute, or a violation or noncompliance with a state or federal rule or regulation.

4. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for having exercised his or her rights as a whistleblower in any former employment.
I'm not sure what relevance #3 has to the whole bold pro-whistle stance being staked out here. Oftentimes a rival group of lawmakers will tack on some totally unrelated clause like that as a "pork barrel" measure. Which seems to be what happened here.

But screw it, who cares? I am going to bring my whistle in tomorrow, and blow it piercingly to my heart's content! And they can't do a thing to stop me. I know my rights! I even know how to say "whistleblower" in Spanish. It's "denunciante." Pretty El Sweeto!

Moleste el denunciante...es prohibido.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Disillusionment Sets In

Almost every other time I post one of these things (a post), there's a comment on it within seconds. I always feel a little jazzed about that, even though I know what it will be.

It's always just another one of those, "I've read your blog and I'm impressed." (translation: "I've created a macro to post this comment randomly on blogs that have just been updated.")

"You must have put a lot of effort into it." (translation: "you are probably an easy mark with an inflated belief in your own writing skills and a lot of time on your hands")

"But wouldn't it be great if you could earn $$$$ at it?" (translation: "yes, it would be great, but as it's my scam not yours, you won't be the one earning $$$$")

I get a lot of those, and not once has any one of them panned out. It's almost to the point where I'm going to have to enable that weird type-y thing where you have to translate the gibberish word stretched across that lopsided grid. That thing is hard!

Anyway. Just venting my frustrations. Wouldn't it be great if I could earn $$$$ at it?

Wow

Yesterday's was kind of long. Sorry!

I'll make up for it today.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

My Dreams SUCK.

By and large, anyway. It all goes back to my childhood. For as long as I remember, I've never been able to be harmed in a dream. I remember one dream from back before I was in school: I was playing in a large indoor maze with other kids, running around playing some sort of tag game. Part of the game was that some of the kids had real guns. Long story short, I got shot in the face and fell down "dead" with a big hole in my forehead.

So I lay there awhile, trying to lie still in my pool of slow-spreading blood. Watching the other kids run past me, laughing and playing. Then I got up and started playing again, still with the bullet-hole in my head. The other kids who saw me stopped, getting all serious. They told me in low voices, disapproving tones: "Stop it!" "You're dead, you have to lie down." "You're not playing right!" It seemed unfair to me, but I grumbled a bit and lay back down anyway.

But even apart from my general sense of invulnerability, my dream life has never been realistic enough to fool anyone. It isn't that I automatically know "I'm dreaming now" (although sometimes I do come to that realization). It's more that the essential character of my dreamlife is so different from real life, that I have learned to instinctively act differently, and expect different things, when I'm dreaming.

I guess I used to have nightmares. But since I knew on some level that I couldn't really be harmed, they lacked teeth. Still, there were certain disturbing incidents that would occur and reoccur. A big one was the tidal wave. I grew up on an island on the Jersey shore - a summer beach town. So it's entirely surrounded by water, as befits an island. The problem was that, ever since I saw The Poseidon Adventure on tv as a small child, I could not look out to sea in a dream. If I did, I knew what would happen: if I kept my eyes on the horizon, I would soon see a long white line stretching across that horizon: the breaking foam of an approaching tidal wave.

And if I averted my eyes quickly - it would never come in! I could go back to playing in the sand, or chatting with friends, or whatever. Sunning myself. Secure in the knowledge that as long as I studiously avoided looking out at the horizon, everyone on that beach would be safe.

One time I said: screw it! Bring it on, wave-boy! I stood on top of a dune just at the edge of the beach (it was winter; no beachgoers in jeopardy) and tried to stare that thing down. But there was no chicken in this wave. It just kept coming on. By the time it hit the shore it was a foaming, crashing monster - at least sixty feet high and thundering like a hundred freight trains! It smashed the entire beach, overbore me and swept me all the way down 11th Street South, collapsing rows of buildings on either side of the street as it went. I body-surfed for four blocks. It was pretty fun actually. After that, the tidal wave wasn't such a menace, but it remained a major annoyance. I mean, I wasn't really scared of it anymore, but if I was interested at all in what was already going on in the dream...a rampaging wall of water is a sure bet to change the whole course of the plot.

It was always things like that. I knew as a child that if I was playing outside the house, and the thought occurred to me that there might be a Tyrannosaurus Rex coming down the block from the general direction of the golf course...sure enough, that's all it would take. I had to get inside real quick (or more likely, in slow-motion, since I was never able to move fast once that thought took hold). One time, after the T. Rex loped by while I peeked at it through the rec room blinds, it occurred to me to try an experiment: what if I tried as hard as I could to visualize an X-Wing from Star Wars, waiting for me out on the front lawn? It worked! Sort of. I think the deliberate effort had brought me pretty far out of the dream. I could make my way out of the house, and walk around my new X-Wing. I was even able to climb onto it and into the open cockpit, but it was all pretty hazy and indistinct. I couldn't get the damn thing to work.

I didn't really need an X-Wing, though. I could fly, in my dreams. If I set my mind to it, I could do just about anything. I was pretty great at flying, too. I could soar high and straight and far - until I saw "The Greatest American Hero." Damn the power of suggestion!

Anyway, as my life has gone on, my dream life has become just lamer and lamer. There doesn't really seem to be anything I can't do, and nobody's really impressed by any of it. Some tough guy was threatening me, so I picked up a car over my head and said, "back off!" He wasn't even concerned. It was like he knew it was a dream, too! Maybe he did.

Sometimes, frustrated by its inability to get up a decent nightmare, my unconscious mind tries to trick me with something stupefyingly boring. That used to happen back in high school a lot. I'd be stuck taking a test or something. But my dream can never keep a straight face for very long. Sooner or later, something completely wacked-out would happen ever-so-casually, and I'd realize "god-damn it! It's another dream! I am NOT taking this test." At that point I'd throw my desk through the wall and take off on foot, generally chased by priests and dogs. Catholic school, you see.

The same thing would happen later, at work. I was always careful, upon realizing that "it's all a dream!", to make my escape in a manner that would not be physically possible to my waking self. This was a precaution. I was always wary of the possibility that I might one day say to myself, "hey! This is a dream! I'm not wasting my dream time at work, I'm cutting out!" - only to find out that it was not in fact a dream, after all. Leaving me to explain to my confused co-workers why exactly I would choose to leave for the day by picking up a chair, throwing it through the glass enclosing the office, and diving through the resultant hole.

Which brings me to my other complaint: why do school and work have to be so boring that one finds it preferable to spend one's time being chased by priests and dogs?

Friday, January 26, 2007

We Need to Eliminate "Nudity" Entirely

When a warning pops up on something you're about to watch, and it says something like, "graphic violence, nudity, strong sexual language, adult situations" etc etc - what the heck are we supposed to expect by that "nudity"? Some guy's balls??

I'd hate to sit through the whole thing just to get that. They need to get a lot more specific, if the warning is to have any value whatsoever. I have two proposals. Either:

1. There should be two separate words for male nudity and female nudity. I don't care what they are. You could go with "nudihe" and "nudishe" for all I care (although, I for one would like to think we could do a lot better than that - nudity and dudeity, perhaps?). But with a more specific, gendered approach, the viewer will be more adequately warned as to what they can expect to get!

2. Alternately, why not just itemize everything? "Warning: this presentation contains graphic violence, strong adult language, explicit situations, and at least one instance of each of the following: tits, ass, ass (male), wang, and cho-cha."

Now with a warning like that - you've been adequately warned! Am I right?

I admit, it is true to some degree that such a level of detail might ruin the suspense involved in watching any quality film. But at a certain point, you have to draw a line in the sand and say: what's the point of a warning if it doesn't let you know what to expect? It's about giving the scrupulous viewer what he or she needs to protect his or her own personal sense of decency. I think that's a reasonable thing to ask.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Hitler Mustache

Right. Anyone who's ever read this blog before is no stranger to my bizarre obsession with Hitler. The constant flow of Hitler-themed posts is no less than borderline disturbing. But screw that - it's not my obsession, it's the culture that's obsessed! I'm just an innocent bystander, or if you will, by-participator, in that obsession. Now let's talk about facial hair.

Do you think that if Hitler had only worn a goatee instead of that little upper-lip soul patch, we would have been spared that entire look? That whole, so-called, "goatee craze"? I mean, come on! Goatees. It's been like, ten years now, people! Shave that thing off. The only person who ever looked decently awesome in a goatee was Rosey Grier.

I bet Hitler could have pulled it off, though.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blog Comment Etiquette

Can anyone tell me how this works? If someone comments on your blog, is that implicitly an invitation to go comment on their blog? And if you go over, and you read some stuff, and it's cool - should you only comment once? And that completes the dance?

I don't know. Most of the people who mention to me something that they read on here, don't really seem to comment. I'm like "don't you want to comment?" They're like, "not really." I guess they just read. Anyway, praise from strangers rings truer than the kind indulgence of friends, in the starving heart of the cynical artist. Not that most of my comments are literally what you might call "praise"! And you will note, that I do not specifically identify myself as the aforesaid cynical artist. In fact, I admit that I personally tend to take all comments as praise. Even the insulting ones. It's nice that they they took the effort!

Or would that be, "it's nice that they made the chance!"? Nice that they took the...opportunity? Took the...I'm not really feeling "made the effort" for some reason. I mean, I know it's right, but the sense isn't what I'm after.

So. Anyway. Moving on in my conversational style: "From time to time, people I don't already know will comment on my blog, and I'll go over and read some of theirs, and like I'm saying above, what is the expected etiquette? A lot of the time I'll read and enjoy immensely, but not have anything particular to say in response. So in that case, I don't comment. I wonder if that's considered a slight?

Conversely, I may see two or three posts of theirs that spring potential comments to my mind. And I want to know, if somebody posts one innocent comment on my blog, and then suddenly within weeks I'm over there posting three comments on their blog like a maniac...is that going to cause them a little consternation? Am I coming off like some kind of blog-stalker? I always worry about that. It hinders my free and expressive nature.

I'd like to point out for the record that on my blog, ALL COMMENTS ARE WELCOME. I mean all comments made by an actual human and not by some advertising auto-posting e-thug are welcome. I will only delete your comment if it's clearly some kind of form letter blog-for-money come-on, and most of those post within seconds of when I update anyhow.

So like I'm saying, that's where I stand, but I'm not sure about the community at large. There may be some etiquette out there I need to keep being wary of. We'll see how it works out."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Confessions From When I Was Dumb

When I was a kid, I thought "Heartache Tonight" was the best song by the Eagles. But now, thinking about it, was I so far wrong? Come on! "you can beat around the bush or you can get down to the bone or you can leave it in the parking lot but either way there's gonna be a..."

I remember standing in the back yard on the concrete by the stoop, trying to bounce a basketball and clap to that same beat. I ended up having to make the ball bounce be the clap, and my hand-clap be the bass kick. It's impossible to do the double-bounce quickly enough to match that double-thump.

It was a good song when you were an 8-year old, with a lot of experience at heartache. But you know, I tbink it may have contributed a bit towards my essentially pessemistic view of love. I tend to go into pretty much every night saying to myself, "somebody's going to hurt someone. Before the night is through." Even if I'm just sitting home. I still kind of expect there to be...a heartache tonight.

The moon's shining bright. So turn out the light.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mad Mathematician: Progress Update on My Research Lately

I've semi-proved the existence of God using binomial probability theory and a spool of quantum superstring. The problem is, I'm not sure I should go the rest of the way through the proof. I've got it to the point where I can demonstrate irrefutably that God is in a quantum state of existing and not-existing at the same time. It has been theorized, by me, that this unique mode of being is in fact the key to God's godlike powers.

But that sort of empty rationalization can't satisfy. The question still remains to be answered, one way or the other! Does God exist or not? How can I get God to resolve into one definite state? And from an experimental standpoint - is it worth the risk?

Here's what I mean by "risk." Suppose that God does exist, and is capable of all sorts of good things, potentially. If the outcome of my quantum experiment is that God collapses into a single state, and that state is non-existence, then all of the true believers out there are going to be pretty pissed at me for doing that. I mean, the possibility alone - of me being responsible for something like that - the mind balks. I don't want to be the bringer of that about!

But suppose that, speaking in a general way, God does NOT exist. And then, through my meddling in quantum peculiarities and stuff, suddenly God DOES. Definitely does. What would God be likely to do in such a situation? Is God, in all God's newborn glory and awesomeness, going to be grateful to me for giving God a hand up like that? Maybe. But I think God would be more likely to look at me as a threat. In such a situation. I know I would.

And there's a more troubling, third possibility. There always is. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but there is always a more troubling, third possibility.

Bottom line: I think that I'd better leave well enough the hell alone on this one from here on out. I've done some pretty damn mind-provoking groundwork, but I've taken it as far as I'm willing to take it. Let braver paramathematicians than I solve that final equation.

Next up for me: I do believe it's time I looked into this whole business of pi r squared. Can it really be as simple as all that? Surprise! I have the beginnings of a notion that it might well not be!

Stay tuned as we upend the universe from our armchairs.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In Lieu of Flowers...

When I die, I want my wishes to be known. I want to be sent off in a manner befitting those wishes:

* In accordance with the wishes of the deceased, it is to be a nude funeral. That means the mourners as well - not just the guest of honor!

* Open-casket, as long as the manner of death was not too hard on the corpse. Poor corpse!

* Okay, I was kidding about the nude funeral. That's just mean to those poor mourners. People should only have to deal with unreasonable requests like that at weddings.

* Speaking of which, this isn't the sort of thing where I could "force the issue," but if any of the mourners were engaged to be married to each other, and they wished to move up the date so as to have their wedding at my funeral, I would be touched and tickled at the prospect! It would be a nice counterpoint. Circle of life! PROVISO: I don't want the bride to be hugely pregnant at the altar. Now, that's a perfectly fine thing to see at a modern-day wedding, and I'm perfectly in step with today's more relaxed attitudes. I approve of people being less uptight, as a general thing. But at my funeral...it's a little gauche.

* As mourners file past my open casket, my right arm is to be propped up extending outward, so that each passerby can give me one last hearty handshake on the way out.

* The funeral announcement is to specify that in lieu of expensive floral arrangements with which to festoon the funeral hall, well-wishers should spend an equal amount of money on balloons. You just get a lot more bang for the buck. And no black balloons, either! I want colorful balloons.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Neat Little Tricks to Pull

Sometimes you might want some neat little tricks to pull, to liven up various situations. Here are some!

When you're out and about, have a friend who lives in fairly well sound-proofed lodgings call you on your cell phone every now and then and just scream at you at the top of his or her voice - unreasonably loud, so loud that people near you can hear it. Meanwhile, you talk back in a relaxed, even, amiable tone for the whole conversation. It doesn't even matter what you discuss, really.

When you are out on a date at a really nice, gourmet-style restaurant, after you've ordered an expensive bottle of wine, some interesting salads and a couple of impeccable entrees, turn to the waiter and ask, "And to start off with...do you have anything like Cheezy Bacon Taters?" Because if they don't - they should!

In every coffee shop and laundromat in town, hang up mimeographed 2-color flyers - you know, the kind of flyers you see advertising poetry lessons, or free kittens, or guided group meditation walks - only your flyers say: "I TEACH BEAT-BOX" in bold letters above a bad photo of you - unrecognizably posing in an imposing rap getup and big chunky shades. But then at the bottom of the flyer, where it has been cut into vertical fortune-cookie-sized strips for the phone number - all the strips have been ripped off already, by eager pupils! Maybe one or two of the stubs have a tantalizing two-and-a-half digits of the phone number visible, but not enough to go on. Too bad for beat-box wannabes! Left with no one to school them.

Aw, that's a little sad though, when you look at it through their eyes. :-(

This one's another restaurant one, but it requires a certain common situation to unfold before you can work it in there. When you walk into the restaurant with your date, and you walk straight up to the guy at the podium and you're standing there right in front of him, and he looks at you and asks "what can we do for you?" Just start ordering: "Thank you, we'll start off with the mixed greens salad, she will have the house vinaigrette, I will have blue cheese..."

There was another one I had but that's less of a neat little trick to pull and more like a stinky prank for someone you really hate. Plus it's pretty gross. Doesn't fit the light-hearted tone of these others. But skip that one - let's try a few more!

Give your girlfriend a BEAUTIFUL multi-thousand dollar diamond engagement ring at dinner - but just as a present! No strings attached! Sweet move - first she'll be totally faked out, and then you'll both laugh. Then she'll be thinking to herself, this guy's a real prize!

Actually let's just leave it at that. That's as good a place as any to stop.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Drifting Consciousness

I had a feeling when I first woke up this morning, that everything was going to turn out okay. A giant wave of calm and tranquility crashed into me, sweeping me out into the sea of peaceful awareness and battering my limp pink body against the sharp rocks of enlightened insight.

No more falling asleep at the beach.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

(isolated thought)

Insanity is terrifying. But of course, so is sanity.

That's a haiku!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Day That Was Long Foretold

Long has the coming of this day been foreseen by the wise, and now: Lo! it is upon us! Those who scoffed at its coming now see the error of their ways paved in scarlet across their faces, as their humiliation rains down upon them like the blows of a thousand tiny red hands. For this day long forseen - long plotted out, calculated from afar by those of far sight - has indeed arrived: Wednesday, January 17th 2007!

Let none now say that the sooth speakers spoke false sooth on this one. The proofs are proved plain upon the scrolls of days, pre-printed and sold across the land to be displayed upon the walls of all who shun the false gospel of the "here and now" and heed the wisdom of those who would fain see us look ahead!

Few indeed looked to the coming of this day, it is true. Despite the clear warnings, squared off, alotted and marked out long, long hence, only a faithful few kept vigil awaiting its coming. Yet come it has! In such ways is the wisdom of the world repaid, for those too foolish to spurn it!

Mark ye, and neglect not your ways.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

*hack*

*cough* I've been under the weather lately. Hence, the lack of posts.

You know what I'd like? I'd like to get some desktop wallpaper that looks like the wallpaper that used to be in my grandmom's living room when I was a kid. That was some sweet wallpaper! Rose and eggshell in vertical striped sections, livened up by little paisleys and other decorative elements. You never see desktop wallpaper like that.

Conversely, I'd like to wallpaper my room with large-format shots of today's hot rap stars, movie celebrities and tabloid sluts. But can you imagine how hard it would be to get the sections of the photos to line up at that size? Have you ever tried to hang wallpaper? Wow, it's hard.

Okay, that's enough. I need to regain my strength.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Once Upon A Legend...

Once when I was a callow youth, I lost my footing and slipped sideways into a parallel world called Mythtasia. It was a wide, dangerous, beautiful land teeming with demons and elves, with princesses and knights and adventure! After long labors and legendary quests I was finally able to return to my own world - to this world - only to find out that I hadn't aged a day in my absence! What's more, neither had anyone else.

It was as if I had never gone.

I immediately decided to thrill the world and make my fortune by setting down in print the amazing true tales of the story of my adventures! Unfortunately, preliminary market research revealed that bookstore shelves were already glutted with any number of cheap paperback fantasy novels, pretty much identical to my own experiences in terms of overall setting, action, and tone. Even some of the specific incidents and characters were almost identical! I was deeply chagrined. It seemed that, even though my experiences had the advantage of reality, I had been "beaten to it" - and who would believe? Eventually I decided to let the idea drop...until one day, inspired by the online publishing revolution, I decided "what the hell! I'll serialize the whole thing in blog form!"

It is with great burgeoning trepidation, therefore, that I bring you Skullshirt: The Chronicles of Mythtasia!!!

(I had been wearing a shirt with a skull on it at the time of my sudden shift into parallel worlds - so such became my dread name!)

CHAPTER ONE

With a hoarse battle-shout rending my grinding lungs as I clung to the back of my soaring Hnarnot (these are great beasts like smelly dragons, only with dank, matted fur instead of a scaly reptilian hide; and with feathered wings instead of stretchy bat-wings, and with two gaping, hideous mouths, one on each side of the face - one mouth lies, the other mouth tells the truth!), I drew my glittering scimitar and reminisced about poor Decamair. She had been the first friendly face I'd seen in my mysterious new home. She had saved my life! Little did I know then that she was Princess Decamair - Princess over all Mythtasia!

Had I not been so prideful, so headstrong, we would be together now - and I would never have gone down the road that led me here to this pitched, desperate, aerial, all-but-hopeless battle high above the Mokwa Plains. I began to think back to the first time we met...I had just come through the dwimmering portal...

Then it goes into the flashback where you find out how I got there, and how it all first seemed. See how I put you right in the thick of the action first, then pull back using a narrative device? That builds a great deal of suspense. I'll be doing that all the time, back and forth, back and forth. They'll straighten it out in the movie version.

Anyway, for now, just sit back and await another thrilling installment in our next thrilling installment!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Musings on Lost Innocence

When I was a kid, I thought that "ness" was a whole separate thing - a type of ephemeral personal quality, or a type of state of being. "Ness" described the essential flavor or character of one's self or a particular item at that moment. You could have many different types of "ness." You could have happy ness, sad ness, sweet ness, new ness...occasionally you got useless ness.

There was also something called "itty" that seemed to have a lot of different permutations.

The language seemed simpler then.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Things I Always Wondered #2: Hemophilia

Why is it called "hemophilia"? That doesn't make any sense. If anything you'd think that what they call "hemophilia" would in fact induce hemophobia. I mean, it's not like you hear a lot of these exchanges:

"Dude! You're bleeding everywhere!!"

"Yeah, I know. I love it!"

By and large, your so-called hemophiliacs don't love blood. But I love blood. Blood has so many uses - from the physiological to the purely decorative!

I've always thought blood was great. It's this whole fluid that we run on. It just keeps on absorbing bad stuff and dropping it off where it can be excreted, and then absorbing good stuff and dropping it off where it can be used. This is known as the Bessemer Process. The whole thing runs on a complex system of chemical checks and balances, partly to do with osmosis, but mostly it goes beyond that. I think it's pretty marvelous, and I should know.

But let's get beyond such purely scientific, purely utilitarian concerns. Blood is just great from an aesthetic standpoint. Blood is sensuous. The thrum of your veins when your blood is up - thrilling! The color of blood - so beautiful, and so alarming at the same time. And when somebody punches you in the side of the face, and your inside cheek gets cut on your clenched teeth, that taste - salty, metallic, above all red - the taste of blood is just the perfect accompaniment to go with the jarring shock of a fist's impact, or for that matter, with the stabbing pain and dull, heavy throb of your poor tongue after you've accidentally bitten it.

Blood is also great as a metaphor. For a lot of things! You can just imagine.

Anyway, when you consider all of the different aspects, it all comes back to the same thing: I love blood. And yet, if I said I was a hemophiliac, everyone would be getting the wrong idea. Perhaps I should just go with "hemophile", but I bet you look that one up and it turns out to be some kind of fetish already.

I find the whole thing disturbing, frankly. Another symptom of the sick way our society pathologizes just about absolutely everything.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Atheism: Just Another Form of Divine Appreciation

Atheism is probably the most sincere compliment that an observant, critical, thinking human being can pay to God. Atheism is looking at out at the world, at the universe, seeing its chaos and glory and perfection and messiness, and then saying to God: "I don't see your hand anywhere, in any of this. I don't believe you created it. It's so perfect and logical, it could just as easily have sprung into being all by itself."

Now that's quality craftsmanship! That's well put-together.

Your strident Theists who argue that the evidence of God's involvement is littered all over creation are a bunch of blasphemers. They are calling God a hack! Think about it: let's say the universe was cobbled together so shoddily that there were seams showing, so that there was no way to interpret it in purely natural terms. Or, let's say the universe was not convincing as a closed system, capable of running in its own courses quite smoothly for eternity without an ounce of divine intervention. What would that say about the creator of such a wobbly, half-assed, non-self-sufficient universe? If the universe can't run without constant miraculous interference, then the creator did a shitty job. That's all there is to it.

But it does run quite well, thank you. With not an ounce of proof or a smidge of evidence left behind to show whodunnit. So perfect in conception that it could easily have sprung into being by itself. So flawless in execution that it stands on its own, with no outside assistance and no explanation required. The universe is the most perfect forgery ever executed, by a master artist who prefers to remain anonymous.

In other words: "good job, God!" You've fooled just about us all.

Not me, though. You haven't got me fooled.

The Night We Drove Ol' Dixie Down

Did you ever notice that the North has no Civil War nostalgia songs?

I could be wrong, but I don't think there are any. Certainly nothing to the extent that the South has. I wonder about that. Both sides did a whole bunch of fighting and dying and stuff. Plenty of red badges of courage to go around. Yet by and large, only the South seems to have developed a morbid tradition of looking at the whole thing in this romanticized way. And they lost! What the hell. If I was the South, I'd give it a rest already.

No offense, but seriously: anyone injured in the conflict has been dead for some time. Give it a rest. And this whole "one day, the South will rise again" bit...what!?! You mean after all of this time...has not the South already "risen again" by now? Because if not...if the South can't "rise" within a United States context, after more than 7 generations come and gone...then son, they just need to admit they don't ever deserve to rise up anywhere for anything. Ever.

I mean, I've been to the South. Looked to me like their shit was up and running, strong. Leastways, no less so than the North. What they need to do now is act like they know that.

Hell - look at Germany. They and the whole world knew they were on the wrong side of that fight. They don't try to turn it into some kind of tragic virtue after the fact! Not that I'm comparing Nazis to slavemasters. I would be pretty hard pressed to do that concept justice.

Ahhhh. Another series of minefields successfully negotiated!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Disclaimer: The Following Is Not Legal Advice

Whenever you are drawing up an agreement or a contract, there are two things to bear in mind. Of course the first thing you need to realize is that every warranty is an implied contract, and every contract contains implied warranties. The implied distinction there is crucial. I can't overstate the cruciality of it. You also have to ask: how clear must the language be? The answer: "very clear indeed, my friend!" If there is any room at all for dispusal, you run the very real risk that the least favorable interpretation will prevail when the chips are down. Often those who are so smug in their own obtuseness find that they've misplaced a word a little to close to being interpretable, and ended up outsmarting themselves and their clients. Next stop: a black eye in the reputation department, and a fat stipend to be extracted from the bruised wallets of those who should have known better. Better to have kept it clear in the first place, wouldn't you have said?

The next step to understanding your position is to take a closer look at the underpinnings of the whole she-bang. Who said what where first may not be relevant here. In fact, it's far more likely to backfire, depending on the specifics. A blunter approach is called for: all the concerned parties should meet together in one of those rooms with a big table in it, and hash things out in a very tense standoff-like atmosphere, like one of those scenes in a movie.

An alternate approach is the ever-popular two-ostensibly-antagonistic-lawyers-meet-informally-and-haggle-out-the-fates-of-their-respective-clients'-lives-while-eating-lunch-and-cracking-off-color-jokes. This approach may work, but unless you're one of the two lawyers you are bound to miss out on the whole unfolding aspect of it.

Which might not be a bad thing, depending on your personal preference.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Some Interesting Facts About the Common Cold

For instance, I've discovered that the Influenza virus - AKA the "Common Cold" - is capable of surviving for up to 30 days at 0 degrees Metric System (that's as low as 32 degrees on the Thermometer Scale)! And that's not all: at lower temperatures, it can survive indefinitely. Meaning, "who knows how long?"

I believe that this may hold the key to why the Common Cold tends to hit hardest during the winter months. It makes sense: since the bug can keep its freshness so much longer when the weather is cold, and because the weather is coldest during the winter, we see that those cold months just set the proverbial stage for an infection fiesta - replete with sneezing, coughing, runny noses and all the attendant misery that we associate with Mr. Common Cold.

Have you ever been out drinking, where you knew when you went out that you were coming down with something? Maybe you already had that nasty tickle in the back of your throat, a little phlegmy activity going on, or your eyes started burning a little like they do - but you just went out drinking anyway? And then you're having those cold beers, and it's not really helping the situation but at least you're getting drunk? I kind of like that feeling! Your head is starting to get a little hot and light, but you keep downing those beers. In those cases, I think that the drink can help you reach a different appreciation of the beginning stages of a real knock-down drag-out cold.

Another thing to consider: is "feed a cold, starve a fever" a myth? It could well be. With so many reversals these days in the field of medicine, the name of the game is: "adapt or change." You can't afford to rest on a stack of old wives' tales, not with your health at stake. I'd look into that if I were you.


Note: This article has not been ratified by the Federal Disease Board, and may be riddled with inaccuracies.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Meaty Thought of the Day

If I were in charge of The Amalgamated Meat Corporation (or some similarly-sonorously-named meat-centric organization), I would bring out a whole line of meaty goodies and tout them as "Soy Replacement Products."

I think that would go over fine!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Extreme Capital Punishment

There's a lot of debate about the death penalty - whether or not we should do it - but not enough debate about the forms that it takes. Most of these forms are pretty played-out, and don't resonate with today's hip youth. As a result, they fail in a twofold manner: first, these lackluster execution methods fail to provide an effective deterrent to today's hip young potential murderers. Second, the trite nature of the executions gives death penalty advocates nothing to get excited about. As a result, the pendulum swings the other way.

Now, I'm not an advocate on either side of the issue. I prefer to stand apart from the process. But even an impartial, disinterested observer such as myself can see that the capital punishment industry needs some serious sprucing-up if it wants to remain a relevant social controversy going into 2007 and beyond.

Therefore I offer my suggestions for three exciting new methods of execution to be phased in over the coming months:

Virtual Electric Chair: the condemned murderer sits in his seat of destruction, but he has a slim chance for temporary survival! Strapped into a virtual reality video-game helmet of the type once projected to revolutionize all forms of entertainment, the criminal squares off against the victim's family. If the family wins - BZZZZZZZT!!!!! If the criminal wins - he gets a one-week reprieve. Each week that goes by, the difficulty level rises as the family get better and better virtua-weapons. This Xecution has the added bonus of potentially reviving interest in the all-but-moribund virtual reality video-game helmet industry.

Extreme Lethal Injection: this one is so easy. Switch out the boring sodium potassium whateverithol for a megadose of pure, sweet heroin. Not only does this Xecution reek of bad-boy outsider chic, not only is it just as certain and sure as your conventional poisons (when administered in the proper dosage), but it definitely puts to rest those allegations of inhumane treatment that have been dogging the lethal injection method for ages.

Bungee Hanging: you can just imagine!

With these three new, improved, Extreme Capital Punishment methods worked into the rotation, capital punishment can once again be something for us to get excited about. And why not? Even the staunchest of death penalty opponents would agree that the taking of human life should never be boring.