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October 29, 2004

No Draft If Bush Reelected Say Officials

Seeking to assuage fears amongst young Islamic extremists, top Al Qaeda officials vowed that the draft will not be reinstated if George W. Bush remains president of the United States. "We don't see the need, frankly, given the debacle in Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the rising tide of anti-Americanism around the globe," said Al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Khayr at a press conference today. "A second Bush term should ensure ample recruits for our cause, and allow us to continue to fighting the War For Terror using an all-volunteer jihad." Khayr also cited the wide variety of terrorist organizations that have now joined forces in opposition to US policies, and expressed confidence that, if given four more years, Bush would continue to serve as a uniter, not a divider.

Squirrelly's Revenge

Okay, well, I was joking about stealing The Squirrelly's flu shot in that last post. But one thing I mentioned is true, as imposible as it sounds: it's been eight months since the kid up and got himself borned.

And guess what he figured out how to do last week. Here's a hint: now when I set him down at some spot in the living room and wander into the den to play Diablo II for 20 minutes, I return to find him on the other side of the room and licking a light socket.

Yes, The Squirrelly has discovered the joys of locomotion. Naturally, he immediately used his newfound superpowers to make some minor revisions to the household pecking order.

The first day home from the hospital

"Vengence is mine!"

Possibly the only critters in the house less thrilled with this development than the kitties are The Queen and I, since we had decided to forego babyproofing the house in favor of steadfastly pretending that this day would never arrive. So now we have to, like, put padding on the edges of coffee tables, and I can no longer keep my collection of obsidian arrowheads in bowl on the living room floor.

And what did The Squirrelly do two days after learning to crawl? That's right: he started grabbing onto things and pulling himself into a standing position, getting ready to start walking. JEEZE STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES FOR A SECOND WHY DON'T YOU KID?!

Oh well -- maybe if he's an early walker he'll also be an earlier talker, and we can put him into kindergarden a year early, and then he'll skip a few grades here and there and and start high school at the age of 10 and get all A's and receive a full scholarship to some college and move out of the house when he's 14 and then The Queen and I can start seeing movies again as early as 2016! Oh man, that's gonna be great.

"Lookit me crawl! I'm your worst nightmare!"

October 28, 2004

Candy From A Baby

Being a new father is a lot of hard work, but it's not without its advantages. My eight-month old son is eligible for the flu vaccine that I and the vast majority of other Washingtonians cannot receive, for instance. So today I took him in to the doctor, and, just as she was giving the shot, I quickly thrust my arm between the needle and my infant. Booyah, innoculated!

I knew that fatherhood would be a rewarding experience, but only now am I truly starting to see the benefits. ENJOY THE FLU CHILDLESS SUCKERS!!

Update: Dear The Onion, Jinx! You owe me a coke!

Comments = Broken?

I just upgraded to Movable Type 3.1, but despite that fact that I have the "Enable Unregistered Comment Moderation" field unchecked in the configurations, it's still insisting that I approve all incoming comments. Has anyone else had this problem, and did you find a solution? If so, drop me a line ... or tempt fate by -- ha! -- letting me know in the comments.

Update: Fixed! Thanks to everyone who tipped me off to the MT 3.x / mt-blacklist 2.x incompatibility -- that was, indeed, the problem.

October 27, 2004

Point Counterpoint

There is a woman at my bus stop who, at least once every week, wears a t-shirt reading "If you don't like my attitude, STOP TALKING TO ME!!"

I've often fantasized about making and wearing a t-shirt that says "I don't like your attitude so much I'M NEVER GOING TO TALK TO YOU!!" But in my heart I know I won't do it.

October 26, 2004

Games: San Juan

As long time readers of this site know, I used to review board games in this space fairly regularly. These days, though, it's pretty rare to see a here -- not because I am playing less (although The Squirrelly does crimp my ability to stay up until 3:00 am playing Risk and drinking Pabst), but because most of my board game reviews now appear in the magazine Undefeated. (Uhh, did I ever mention that I now write board game reviews and strategy articles for Undefeated? Maybe not. But I do. You should subscribe!)

A quick trip through my game review archive will reveal that my favorite game of approximately forever is the strategic powerhouse Puerto Rico. So it was a no-brainer for me to pick up San Juan, a card game based on Puerto Rico and by the same designer, Andreas Seyfarth.

As with it's progenitor, the players of San Juan are trying to produce commodities and construct buildings; unlike the complex Puerto Rico, though -- which comes equiped with game boards, money, colonists, ships, goods, buildings and plantations -- San Juan is played entirely with a deck of cards. The cards depicts buildings and can be played as such, but, in an ingenious twist, can also be used as money (as you will see below).

On a turn, a player chooses one of five Roles. Each Role permits everybody to take a certain action, with the selecting player receiving some modest advantage. When someone chooses the Builder, for instance, each person may play a building from their hand and pay for it by discarding a number of additional cards equal to the building's cost, with the person who chose Builder paying one less for his building. Other Roles allow players to produce goods, sell those goods to acquire more cards, or take cards directly from the deck. The game ends when someone builds their twelfth building.

The buildings are the heart of the game, and come in two varieties: Production Buildings and Violet Buildings. Production Buildings are used to generate commodities for later sale, while each Violet Buildings confers some special advantage onto the player who has it in his city. A players with a "Smithy," reduces the cost of all Production Buildings for one, for example, while the owner of a "Tower" can hold up to 12 cards in his hand (the usual limit is seven). With 24 different Violet Buildings in the deck, the players can acquire a wide variety of benefits, and some of the cards interact in powerful ways. Discovering interesting combinations is part of the fun, and the myriad of building permutations allows for plenty of strategies for players to pursue.

Halfway through my first session of Puerto Rico I felt "the buzz," the sense that the game before me was something an extraordinary. I have never felt the same about its little brother. That said, I enjoy San Juan quite a bit, and I'm always eager to play it. At first I liked S.J. because it "felt" like Puerto Rico in half the time. Now, after repeated playings, it no longer feels like P.R. at all -- and that's a good thing. Now view San Juan a fine game it its own right, and not just the card game equivalent of a tribute band. Yes, the game is quicker than P.R., and lighter, and more dependant on luck, but there's quite a lot of room for skillful play, and the decisions to be made over what to build, what cards to discard when building, and what Roles to pick are always compelling.

San Juan is also one of those rare games rated from 2-4 players that actually works well with two players. And the art on the cards and game box is really rather handsome. Sure, it's no Puerto Rico, but that's a mighty high standard to hold any game too. Judged on its own merits, San Juan gets high marks as a solid, medium-weight strategy card game, and that's good enough for me.

October 25, 2004

Not Me!

Sales of my Impeach Dean bumper sticker have become inexplicably sluggish in the last couple months, so I'm trying to think of a way to recoup lost revenue. With the election so close, though, it's almost impossible to predict which way it's going to go.

One thing is certain, however: regardless of who wins, approximately 46% of the population is going to be really pissed off about it. That's why I'm thinking of marketing this all-purpose exculpation:

Or, for my principled customers:

Who possibly object to that sentiment? Ass = covered.

October 22, 2004

Bad Review Revue Extra: Surviving Christmas Is Awesome!

The critics are raving about Surviving Christmas:

"Absolutely awesome in its relentless mediocrity." -- Desson Thomson, WASHINGTON POST

"Hans Blix is still searching for bombs, he should check out Surviving Christmas, a crass, shrill and laughless disaster of a holiday comedy with a desperately mugging Ben Affleck that should be banned under the Geneva Convention" -- Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST

"This ghastly comedy emits the subliminal whine of a sucking chest wound." -- Jessica Winter, VILLAGE VOICE

"Destined to offer Ben Affleck bashers satchels full of new ammunition." -- Brian Lowry, VARIETY

"At less that 90 minutes it's chronologically short, but psychologically eternal." -- Chris Hewitt, ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS

"It's the sort of stupid swill that gets spewed out by a studio committee, slapped together without a brain, a heart, or a good idea about where to put a camera or when to cut a scene." -- Wesley Morris, BOSTON GLOBRE

"Ben Affleck's goose is cooked with Surviving Christmas, a movie that makes Gigli look like one of the crowning moments in his career." -- Jami Bernard, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

"From conception to execution, an unalloyed, unqualified, unmitigated disaster." -- Carrie Rickey, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

"A lame comic premise, a tiresome-bordering-on-obnoxious protagonist and a script devoid of humor is a lot to overcome for any movie, and Surviving Christmas is not the one to do it." -- Kirk Honeycutt, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

"There are no survivors here." -- Lisa Schwarzbaum, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

One a scale of 1-100, Rotten Tomatoes currently has it as a 7.

Thanks to Daniel Jacobs for calling this train wreck to my attention.
October 21, 2004


I can go months without hearing a good joke, but yesterday, while trawling the Internets, I came across three that made me chuckle and/or openly weep.

Q: How many Spaniards does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Juan.

* * * * *

Person 1: Knock knock.

Person 2: Who's there?

Person 1: Control freak.

Person 1: Now you say "control freak who?"

* * * * *

Q: What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?

A: George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.

Note: Hundreds of more jokes in the comments.

Nobody Likes A Homonym

Worst news I heard yersterday: I was in the kitchen doing dishes and The Queen was out in the living room watching TV. Suddenly, I remembered that the Red Sox / Yankees game was on. "Quick, flip to KSTW and see what the score is," I hollered. I heard the channel change, and The Queen shouted, "the Yankees won!"

Best news I heard yesterday: Then the Queen continued, "... and the Red Sox eight, bottom of the sixth!"

October 20, 2004

Cars And Kismet

If you had to pick a single word to describe me, and "callipygian" was for some reason disallowed, you couldn't go wrong with "lucky." I consider myself to be an inordinately fortunate guy. And I don't just mean in the passive sense of having a wonderful wife and a great kid and two awesome cats and living in the best nation on Earth, although all of that is certainly true so long as you replace "awesome" with "worthless." No, my luck is more active than that -- or, rather, reactive. It seems that, just when I need it the most, fate will step in and save me from one disaster or another, usually of my own making.

This story is just one such example. Truth be told, the Cosmic Cavalry pulls my fat from the fire fairly often. And lest you think this phenomenon is all in my head, let me assure you that other people have noticed it as well. Once, back in college, I spent my last $5 on a ticket to a movie ticket, even though my next paycheck was two days away and I had nothing to eat in my house. When I told The Queen this -- whom I had just begun to date, and had accompanied to the film -- she marvelled at my idiocy, but I assured her that it would all work out. And sure enough: before the movie began an usher came out and announced that they were going to hold an impromptu raffle. He pulled a ticket stub from a bucket, and when I stood up to announce that the number matched my own he said I'd won a free meal at a local pizzeria. To this very day she begrudges me that.

Anyway, last Saturday my car ran out of gas. Do you like the way I used the passive tense there, like no one was to blame, despite the fact that I'm the only one who drives this vehicle? Anyway. Halfway across Washington's famous floating bridge, the car gave one last, hearty "vrrrrRRRRRRMMMMMmmmmm" and coasted to a stop.

Now, his was all sorts of bad. For one thing, I don't own a cell-phone, as part of my plan to eventually become a cranky old geezer out-of-touch with modern technology . For another, the shoulder of the bridge is just a smidge wider than a single car-width, so by abandoning my Toyota there I was running the very real risk of it getting hit by some passing vehicle. And, worst of all, I was at least a mile from the nearest gas station. I knew that, in the time it would take me to jog to Mercer Island, purchase a gas can, fill it up with fuel and return, my car would almost certainly get towed.

The shoulder was so narrow that I couldn't exit on the driver's side without stepping into traffic, so I clambered over to the passenger's side and squeezed out the door. Only after I locked and closed the door behind me did I realize that I'd left the keys in the ignition.

Now thoroughly dispirited, I trotted to the nearest town (about two miles away), called The Queen, told her the situation, and asked that she come pick me up. Twenty minutes later she arrived. We stopped at a station, filled up our gas can, and hopped back on the freeway.

Nearly an hour had passed since I had ditched the vehicle, and I had no hope that my car hadn't been hit or towed in my absence. Sure enough, when we reached the bridge we could see flashing police lights ahead, right where the car had died.

"They must be towing it right now," I groaned.

"Maybe we can get there before they take it away," The Queen replied, but I shook my head. "Once the tow truck arrives, they won't let you get your vehicle until they've towed it to the depot," I told her. "We're going to have to pay for the towing no matter what."

Then, as we got closer, things looked worse. Not only was there a cop car stationed there, but was a huge tanker truck parked on the shoulder as well, a few feet behind my vehicle. The obvious reason for it being there, of course, was that it had hit my car. "Aw, crap!" I told The Queen. "It looks like the Baldwin luck ain't gonna save me this time."

We pulled over to the shoulder. I grabbed the gas can, exited, and trotted up to the police car, where a cop stood waiting for me. Because the tanker filled the shoulder I was unable to see my car, and therefore didn't know what damage the collision had done to it.

The officer saw me approaching. "Do you own the Toyota?" he asked.

"Yeah, that's mine," I confessed, bracing myself for the worse.

"Okay," the cop replied replied.

I waited for a moment, before saying. "Uh, 'okay' what?"

"Okay, go ahead and fill up it up and leave," the cop said.

"Leave?" I was confused. "Didn't this tanker hit my car?"


I then occurred to me that the tanker might carry gasoline. "Are you guys refueling my car or something?"


I couldn't think of any other explanations for the situation. Finally I asked, "So, does this tanker have anything to do with my car?"

"Nope," said the police officer. "He overheated. It's just a coincidence he pulled over right behind you."

I nodded and headed towards my car. As I passed the cop he added, "Lucky for you, too: if we hadn't been so busy dealing with this guy, we would have towed your car half an hour ago."

October 19, 2004

Romance In Checkstand Three

While standing in the checkout line at the grocery store today, I noticed that the guy in front of me was purchasing three items: a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and a 12-pack of condoms.

It took all my willpower not to lightly punch him in the shoulder and say "Good luck, there, champ!"

October 18, 2004

Books: Stiff

"Hey, whatcha reading?"

"Oh, you know: a book about corpses."

I'm tempted to immediately reread this, just so I can keep saying that.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is 300 pages about dead people. Or, rather, it's not about the people at all, but what they leave behind. In fact, one of the first things author Mary Roach does is emphasize the distinction between the quick and the dead.

But once she has made her point -- that that "dead people" are best regarded as 100% dead and 0% people -- she launches into a gleeful account of what ghastly things are done to their remains. She begins by covering what most people think of when they consider life postmortem: medical research and organ donation. But from there she catalogs some of the more exotic adventures a cadaver could undertake during it's detour from the morgue to the graveyard. Car manufacturers, for example, have yet to build a crash test dummy that simulates a human body as accurately as a, well, a human body. And when trying to determine what kind of footwear mine sweepers should use, nothing works quite as well as an actual, severed foot.

The most interesting chapter, to my mind, covers about the role in corpses in determining the cause of plane crashes. By noting the composition (and decomposition) of the bodies, investigators can infer a remarkable amount about what transpired in the final moments of a doomed flight. If some (but not all) of the cadavers have burns, for instance and they can identify the remains, the can use the blueprint of the plane and the seat assignments on the tickets to determine where the charred passengers were located, and perhaps pinpoint where an explosion or fire began. And did you know that people who fall from a certain height or higher will have all their clothes knocked off when they hit the ocean, while people who fell from below that height will be recovered clothed?

Despite the macabre nature of the subject matter, Stiff is remarkably funny. Yes, you heard me: funny -- even, at time, snort-out-loud-while-riding-the-bus funny. Throughout the book, Roach employs a tone that's breezy and matter-of-fact, and throws a joke or two into every paragraph. But this doesn't mean the book is light: in fact, it struck me as so meticulously researched that I found myself questioning the sanity of any author would delve into a subject to such a depth. But by injecting liberal amounts of humor into her narrative, Roach makes what could have been a grim and depressing tome into a eminently readable page-turner, the kind of book you could read and enjoy on vacation. (In fact, I took Stiff along during my recent trip to D.C., and even wound up reading the chapter on plane crashes while on the plane.) More impressive still is the fact that the use of humor in no way detracts from the profound sense of respect for the people who donate their bodies that the author manages to engender in the reader.

By the end of Stiffed I kind of felt like Roach was padding the book a little (a chapter on cannibalism goes into an extended digression of how the author was sent on a wild goose chase by an urban legend, for instance), and the humor occasionally gets a little wearying, like reading a forensic textbook written by Dave Barry. But by and large Stiff manages to blend informative and entertaining prose into an engrossing read (emphasis on the "gross"), and it's the best non-fiction book I've read this year.

October 15, 2004

Ghost Stories At A Guide To Visitors

Hey Seattlites, I'll be one of the storytellers at Monday's A Guide To Visitors "Ghost Stories" show. Information at aguidetovisitors.org.

The Bad Review Revue

Taxi: "As entertaining as watching a potato bake." -- Marc Savlov, AUSTIN CHRONICLE

Ladder 49: "Bearable only to people in deep mourning and vulnerable to emotional coercion." -- John Anderson, NEWSDAY

What the *$%# Do We Know?: "Like being stuck at a science fair, with a 5-year-old on one side asking questions and his hippie parents on the other fumbling to answer them." -- Jon Niccum, LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD

First Daughter: "Just one hackneyed, inauthentic, predictable scene after another." -- Michael O'Sullivan, WASHINGTON POST

Shall We Dance?: " [The original] Shall We Dance? was a wry and touching comedy perfectly at home in its Japanese setting. Now, forcibly deported to Chicago and peopled with American stars, the same story is huffed and puffed and squeezed into an entirely different cultural context. Guess what? Sayonara sushi, hello turkey." -- Rick Groen, GLOBE AND MAIL

October 14, 2004

Some Notes About The Debate IV: The Final Chapter

  • I'd call this one a very minor win for Bush, if only because (1) this was the only debate where I didn't spend the whole 90 minute incredulous that this guy was elected in the first place, and (2) I felt like Kerry just took his statements from previous debates and played them back on "randomize" ("I have a plan," "outsourced to warlords," "the president sided with the drug companies," "my lips are made of nouget and boy do I enjoy licking them," etc.) But while we could go back and forth over who won, the losers are clear: OB/GYNs, who didn't get a single mention. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
  • Bush, dude, your "it's kind of one of those exaggerations" line in response to the "not that concerned about Osama bin Laden" quotation was a huge gaffe. Huge! First of all, Gore was the exaggerator, Kerry is the flip-flopper, and Clinton was the waffler -- get your facts, straight, man! Second, did Kerry's stilted delivery of the line not make it painfully obvious that he was reciting a (close to) verbatim quotation from memory? Third and most importantly, how could you not know you said that? Everyone who follows politics knows you said that, Dems and Repubs alike. Ergo, I can only conclude that the most powerful politician in the world does not, himself, follow politics. One of the most common accusations leveled against you is that you are kept in a bubble by your advisors and, boy-howdie, you gave that charge a shitload of credence tonight by being unaware of your own words. Update: Kevin Drum says much the same thing over at Washington Monthly: "The answer lies in the cocoon Bush lives in. Not only has he convinced himself that he never really said that he wasn't concerned about Osama, but he has no idea that the outside world believes otherwise ..."
  • This just in: numbers are boring! Seriously, anyone who has been so inattentive to the presidential campaign that they are still "undecided" is unlikely to be moved when Kerry accuses the President of underfunding something by 733 dollars and 48 cents or Bush claims Kerry voted to raise taxes 491 times. We all know these figures are made up (even when there's some bogus "report" to back them up) so Iwhy don't they just say "his healthcare plan will cost an infinity-minus-one dollars in taxpayer money" and be done with it? And what the hell good is a president who won't even round his numbers for the American public?
  • Again with Dick Cheney's daughter. Am I the only person that finds these mentions of Mary Cheney terribly disrespectful, not only to her but to the entire gay and lesbian community? Kerry and Edwards are pretending to point out hypocrisy I guess, but these seem like fairly obvious appeals to homophobia to me.
  • Bush: "I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about -- oh, never mind." What the -? Was that a shot at moderator Bob Schieffer, from CBS News? Man, Bush is getting feisty. "Come on, I'll take on alla'yuhs! Get up here McCain, I'll kick your ass too!"

  • The debate is a lot more fun to watch if (1) everytime Kerry says "I have a plan," you mentally substitute the phrase "I have a girlfriend in Canada," and (b) you shout "hi-YAH!" everytime Bush karate chops his podium. Hi-YAH!
  • Well, I guess Bush isn't wearing a wire after all. Because, if he was, I'm sure Karl would have told him to wipe the spit from the corner of his mouth instead of just letting him look like Mad Dog Dubya for half an hour.
  • I wish Bush would say it like they did in the old news reels: "Freedom ... on the march!"
  • No stem cell research question in a domestic policy debate? Well, that's probably for the best, because Kerry probably wouldn't have been able to resist name-dropping Christopher Reeves and then I'd be so disgusted that I'd have no choice but to vote for LaRouche.
  • Bush with his Paygo crack, Kerry on The Sopranos. What is this, "The Last Comic Standing?" A chunk of basalt has more comedic timing than these two jokers combined. Even if Kerry knew a funny joke, I suspect it would get thoroughly boringfied by the time it came out his mouth. And when Bush tries to crack wise, it's like listening to an inebriated guy at a bar trying to recount his favorite Dilbert strip. "So in the first panel there's, like, the intern, right? With a stapler. And he says .. no wait, I think it was the boss. Anyway, the intern, or the boss or whatever, says .. you know, maybe it wasn't a stapler ..."

  • "What is the most important thing you've learned from these strong women?" Worst question ever. Although the candidates did their best to live down up to the terribleness of the query, with Bush telling an charming little anecdote about how he welched on a promise he made to his wife, and Kerry going out of his way to reinforce the worst of the "married an heiress / gold-digger" stereotypes about him. Nice job, guys! As endings go, this one ranks right up there with Tim Burton's Planet Of The Apes.
  • Transcript here; the comments are open

    October 13, 2004


    Me and The Squirrelly went to the library yesterday. At the check-out counter, the woman behind the desk said "Oh my god, he's so cute! He looks like an 80 year-old man!"

    So if you are an octogenarian reader with a librarian fetish, drop me a line and I'll give you the 411 on the last person who considers you cute.

    How To Identify The Other Nerd In The Car

    When you are driving around with a group of friends and see a young woman precariously tottering down the sidewalk in four-inch heel platform shoes, exclaim "Jesus, she looks like an AT-AT walker" and listen for the person in the vehicle who snorts appreciatively at your analogy.

    Update: Dear Internet, stop sending me email about the AT-ST walker. Nerds.

    [ link | Humor]

    October 12, 2004

    Saved By The Bus

    Woman One is standing at a bus stop; Woman Two, carrying a stack of Watchtower magazines is walking by. Woman Two recognizes Woman One and stops in her tracks.

    Woman Two: Well, heeeeey!

    Woman One: Oh. Oh, hi.

    W2: What's going on?

    W1: Oh, just, you know. Waiting for my bus.

    W2: I hear you.


    W2: You been at work?

    W1: Yeah.

    W2: Me, I've been spreading the Word of the Lord.

    W1: Oh?

    W2: Oh, yeah. Because folks around here, you know, they say they have faith. But there's "faith," and then there's faith, you know?

    W1: Uh-huh.

    W2: So I give 'em one of these, and we get to talking. Have you heard of this magazine Watchtower?

    W1: Uh, I ...

    W2: Here, let me --

    W1: I think that's my bus.

    W2: Which one?

    W1: This one right here. Yeah, this is it.

    W2: Awwwww. Well it was great to see you! We should talk some time. You got my number. I don't know why you never call me.

    The Works: Humor Sites

    I'm on KUOW's The Works tonight at 8:00, talking about the history of humor on the Internet. Here are the sites we mention by name:

    • The Onion -- the great grandpappy of Internet humor sites.
    • Brunching Shuttlecocks -- sadly defunct, but the archives are still there for the browsing
    • Homestar Runner -- "Strong Bad's Email" is especially popular
    • Metafilter -- a great way to find the latest and greatest Internet funny, before it arrives in your Inbox
    • Fark -- another place you can catch memes before they spread
    • Worth 1000 -- Photoshop contests, often with hilarious results
    Here's a few we didn't mention but that are definately worth a look.If you have a favorite humor site, feel free to mention it in the comments.

    Update: Good lord, how did I forget b3ta and The Sneeze (home of Please Steve, Don't Eat It!)?

    October 11, 2004

    I Made A Bumper Sticker

    Last political post until Thursday, I promise.

    I came up with what I thought was a great idea for a nerdy bumpersticker. I even made a copy and put it on my car. Alas, I appear to have been too clever for my own good: when I showed it to my focus group, most confessed to not getting it.

    Oh well, I still think it's funny. Here's the image -- if you have label paper for your printer and a secret desire to be inscrutable, you can print one out and slap it on your Honda.

    Update: Okay, everyone is writing me to say they don't get the sticker. Here's a hint: the red squiggle is what editors and proofreaders use to indicate "remove this letter." I probably should have mentioned that this was "grammar nerdy," not "tech nerdy."

    Update: Reader Patrick Kent envisions the conservative's rebuttal.

    October 08, 2004

    Some Thoughts About The Debate III

    I was in the car for the bulk of tonight's presidential debate and listened to it on the radio. Consequentially, I have very little to say about it. After all, mocking the candidates' facial expressions and mannerisms has pretty much been the mainstay of these posts, and, lacking that, I got nuthin'. Well, maybe I got a little. We'll see.

  • Bush sounded really, really loud for the first half of the debate, like a guy at karaoke standing way too close to the mike while belting out "I'd Stop The World And Melt With You." When he jumped on Charles Gibson it sounded like a tiger attack in the middle of a Siegfried and Roy show.
  • A lot of people are saying Bush won the debate by virtue of not doing as poorly as he did in the first. I think Kerry did better too, so I still think he won. In fact, I had a brilliant insight* just after the debate finished: it all comes down to whether you think Kerry won the first debate because Bush did poorly, or whether you think he won it because he did well. If you think the former, you may well conclude that Bush won this debate because he did so much better; if you thought the latter, you probably think Kerry won this one because he, too, improved. Since I thought Kerry won the first by exceeding my expectations (honestly, I didn't expect much from Bush, and he met that expectation), I thought Kerry won this one as well.

    * Well, actually it was some NPR guy's brilliant insight, but, you know, I'm sure I would have come up with the same thing if he hadn't blurted it out.
  • Now Kerry is talking about OB/GYNs too?! What the hell? Are the seven undecided votes all gynecologists or what? Cripes, they're going to propose putting portraits of OB/GYNs on the backs of nickels by the time the election rolls around.
  • Bush: "We've just got a report that said over the past 13 months, we've created 1.9 million new Internets." Heh, no he didn't really say that. But he did mention "the Internets." And although this gaffe rates as "sooper dooper trivial," I wonder if this will have the same effect on Bush Jr.'s reputation as the Supermarket Scanner myth had on his father's, making him seem dangerously out-of-touch with modern technology. Bear in mind that Bush mentioned "the Internets" in response to a question about the draft, which means that his reply will be of particular interest to high-school and college kids -- the very demographic that's likely to be the most Internet-savvy and a prone to seeing this as some old "geezer" not being "hip" to modern "lingo." Good thing kids are too apathetic to vote!
  • I think Kerry might be in trouble for the last debate. The conventional wisdom, going into these things, was that Bush would do best on foreign policy (which is why his campaign wanted it first), the second debate would be a draw, and Kerry would win last on domestic issues. The assumptions behind this prediction were that Bush is strong on foreign policy matters -- the war on terror and Iraq are two issues he clearly cares about -- and indifferent to domestic issues, and this would show. Now I'm starting to think that the underlying assumptions are true, but the conclusion is 100% wrong. Bush blew the first debate and the first half of this one because he's so passionate about Iraq and the war on terror, so passionate that he can't take Kerry's criticism without resorting to grimaces, eye-rolling, and hollering. But once the conversation turns to domestic issues -- issues that Bush, frankly, has never really shown much enthusiasm for -- he gets bored enough to start sounding reasonable again. He may care so little about the topics in the third debate that he comes across as -- dare I say it -- presidental.
  • Transcript here; comments are open.

    October 07, 2004

    Some Thoughts About The Debate II
    "Join me, and together we will rule the republic as father and son."
    Two disclaimers. One: Despite two longish political posts in week, I assure you this isn't becoming a political blog. Well, maybe a little bit. But only for the next 60 30 days (my how time flies). After the election, regardless of who wins, I promise to go back to not caring, Honest Native American. Two: I realize I'm a little late to the vp-debate analysis party, but I didn't get back from DC until late last night and only now have had the opportunity to weigh in.

    Overall I thought things were kind of boring, but I did like the ending, when Cheney cut off Edward's hand and then revealed himself to be his father.

    Heh. Okay, just kidding. Here's my real thoughts:

  • I'd call it a tie. I know that "tie" is what people say about debates when they think their side lost, but, seriously, I thought the whole thing was a wash. The only time I ever predicted a winner during the course of the event was about halfway through, when I announced that Edwards was "cleaning up." But somehow, by the end, I decided that it was just sound and fury, signifying nothing. It was like matter and anti-matter: Mr. Positive and Mr. Negative collided in a flash that left nothing in its wake except a mysterious, 100-minute void in time.
  • Early in the proceedings, Edwards repeated, verbatim, a few lines Kerry had used in the first debate. I dunno if that was planned as an effort to drive home a few key points or if Edwards was nervous and could only cough out some recycled one-liners, but it was a poor opening gambit either way. Wasn't one of the major criticism of Bush's performance that he kept repeating the same thing over and over?
  • After the debate the commentators on MSNBC were remarking how surprising Cheney's performance was, because he didn't come across as a "go fuck yourself" barking ogre and instead seemed staid and respectable. Do these people have no short-term memory whatsoever? That's exactly how Cheney presented himself in the 2000 vice-presidential debate, to the point where many people (myself included) found themselves thinking that a Bush presidency wouldn't be that bad, what with such a reasonable, cautious second-in-command. Since then Cheney has unmasked himself as the nephew of Satan, sure, but why people thought he was going to present himself as anything except dignified is beyond me.
  • Edwards: "I think the vice president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing." That might be the most wince-worthy thing I've ever heard in a debate. I don't know what's worse, Edward's implication that Cheney might not love his daughter, or that it takes such a Herculean effort to love gay offspring that parents who do deserve respect.
  • You got to admire the way that Cheney can repeat known falsehoods ("I've never suggested there's a connection between Saddam and 9/11") without a trace of visible shame. No, seriously: you've got to admire it, by law. It's written into the Patriot Act.
  • What's the point of having a "backup buzzer system" if you're not going to use it whenever Edwards breaks the "no mentioning your running mate's name" rule?
  • Edwards says that America is taking "90 percent of the coalition casualties." Cheney replied, "Classic example. He won't count the sacrifice and the contribution of Iraqi allies" and that, by saying "they shouldn't count, because you want to be able to say that the Americans are taking 90 percent of the sacrifice," Edwards is demeaning them. In response, Edwards blusters "I'm not demeaning!" Great comeback, there, tiger. And this guy was a trial lawyer? How about pointing out that you were talking about the coalition and Cheney isn't, so it's apples and oranges. How about saying "This administration is so desperate to disguise the true cost of the operation that they want to count the Iraqis as part of the coalition to invade Iraq. Now there's your classic example."
  • Laugh out Loud moment: Cheney talking about his disappointment over how divided America is, as if it was just some unlucky break. Yeah, I'll be sure to use that same tact in my next performance review with my boss: "One of my great disappointments with my job is how much time I spend surfing the Internet instead of doing actual work."
  • Vice-presidental debate transcripts here: part 1, part 2. Comments are open.

    October 01, 2004

    Autos and Aircraft

    I'm thinking about donating my old car to the Seattle Council For The Blind. But I have some reservations because, you know, I'd feel totally bad if some blind guy got in an accident while driving a car I donated.

    Mount St. Helens is erupting and, judging from the above, I've run out of funny things to say, so I guess that's my cue to fly to the East Coast. I'll be in D.C. on Monday and Tuesday of next week, and updates will be sporadic.

    [ link | dy]