Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Fun With Site Meter...

Or, how people arrive at EIP. Part Five (? - I'm not really keeping track) of an occasional series. Some of the more bizarre searches that cause folks to click-through, although their exact reasons remain as obscure as their search terms (usually) are. We open with this gem from Kuwait:

Time of Visit Jul 31 2007 3:48:28 am
Last Page View Jul 31 2007 3:48:28 am
Page Views 1
Referring URL: http://www.google.co...&hl=en&start=10&sa=N
Search Words: powerful african leopard superb Viagra

OK, I’ve heard about the (supposed) aphrodisiacal qualities of rhino horn, but African leopards?

And this, from the UK:

Time of Visit Jul 31 2007 3:39:14 am
Visit Length
13 seconds
Page Views 2
Referring URL: http://images.google...0%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN
Search Words: pregnant ladies

They clicked through on an image of the Deuce Four Ladies I stole from Michael Yon, none of whom look pregnant. And clicked through again.

I get enough of these to make me think about changing the name of the blog to “Impala SS:”

Time of Visit Jul 31 2007 11:23:04 am
Visit Length 3 minutes 3 seconds
Page Views 2
Referring URL: http://images.google...svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den
Search Words:
96 impala ss


Time of Visit Jul 31 2007 12:57:48 pm
Visit Length 0 seconds
Page Views 1
Referring URL: http://images.google...0%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den
Search Words: 96 impala for sale

Or this:

Time of Visit Jul 30 2007 8:39:18 am
Visit Length
3 seconds
Page Views 2
Referring URL: http://images.google...0%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den
Search Words:
1994 impala ss hot pink

Hot pink Impala SS? You gotta be kidding me, right?

Seriously…I get at least three hits a day on this term, or variations on the theme. That and “67 Chevelle.” OTOH, the sheer numbers of folks looking for a ’96 Impala makes me wish I would have kept that car. I probably would have kept it, had I retained a more conventional life-style.

Culinary Confusion Dept?

Time of Visit Jul 30 2007 11:00:15 am
Page Views 1
Referring URL: http://images.google...0%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN
Search Words:
new mexico pasta

It’s “New Mexico Chile,” Italian pasta. Doubly confusing: this was an image search and they clicked through on my pic. No noodle jokes, please.

This one, and variations on its theme (there are many, this is but the most recent), always cracks me up:

Time of Visit Jul 30 2007 8:51:54 am
Visit Length 15 seconds
Page Views 2
Referring URL: http://images.google...%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN
Search Words:
nuclear plant painting

If you click the link, you’ll see the oil painting of SWWNBN I posted a link to. I didn’t post the actual picture, Gentle Reader, just the link. Why people click through on this when there’s absolutely zero relationship (SWWNBN and nuclear plants? C’mon…) to their search baffles me.

Just The Few, The Recent. Ain’t the ‘net a wonderful thing?

Old Titties and Other Things of Note

Well, this post title ought to do wonders for my google hits... but let's get on with it.

Via Gerard, we find Zombie still monitoring…and recording
(for posterity!)…the Lib-Left-Craziness that infects the Greater San Francisco Bay Area Soviet Socialist Republic. This time Zombie was on hand to record, in photo essay form, the joint Breasts Not Bombs/Code Pink protest at a Hillary Clinton campaign function. The link is NOT work safe, assuming your workplace would rather you be doing…um…productive work, rather than looking at titties that are (to be more than polite) well past their prime. That, Gentle Reader, is my understatement of the day. Other than to say Zombie is a brave man, indeed. (Assuming he’s male; I don’t know his/her gender).
What would we do without eggheads? Here’s “Why do people have sex? Researchers explore 237 reasons.” Federally funded research, no doubt, but there’s an outside chance certain pharmaceutical corporations might have been involved. The article is short but includes the following:
“Why people have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied,” Buss said. “Surprisingly, many scientists assume the answer is obvious, but people have different reasons for having sex, some of which are rather complex.”
Well, I don’t think “why people have sex is extremely important,” in the general scheme of things. But Hey! If the research keeps these types off the streets and out of our classrooms where they can corrupt The Children, it’s OK with me. I think. I also think the answer to the question IS obvious, but what do I know?
Update at 1500 hrs: The NYT has a better and more extensive article on this subject here.
And speaking of The Academy… (I was, in a way) there’s this article in the NY Post, via Ed Driscoll: “Wages of Ward: Academy Exposed.”
Despite the mountain of evidence against Churchill, it took more than two years for the wheels of justice to turn. As he received more due process than ordinary Americans ever receive in the course of their professional lives, Churchill's dogged fight to keep his job only reinforced for many the notion that faculty members view themselves as a breed apart - entitled to lucrative lifetime employment no matter what they do.
That will be Ward Churchill's lasting legacy. He was the tipping point. Now, it's not just leading conservatives who view the academy as an out-of-control, disconnected bastion of petulant entitlement. In a recent Zogby poll, 58 percent of Americans reported that they now believe that political bias of professors is a "serious problem." Even more, 65 percent, viewed non-tenured professors as more motivated to do a good job in the classroom.
The academic left decries the "chilling effect" of Churchill's firing, but the only individuals who should feel "chilled" are those professors publicly spewing deranged invective at that same time that they conceal a professional past rife with fraud and abuse. In reality, there was no chilling effect in Churchill's case - only a cleansing effect as higher education scrubbed itself of the man who, more than anyone else, proved that something is very wrong with our universities.
Dark cloud, silver lining and all that. In any event, this might just be some of the best news I’ve heard lately. And I’ve read anecdotal evidence that some alumni are sending scathing letters of condemnation about academic bias in response to the annual Ol’ Ivy Fundraising Letter, in lieu of checks. More good news, that. Money, or in this case, the lack of same, always gets people’s attention.
Today’s Pic: I stayed in a lot of RV parks during my time on the road and, once in a great while, some “unimproved” locations. Today’s pic is of the camp site where I stayed overnight while visiting Fort Robinson State Park, NE. No electric, no water…just a bucolic place to park the ol’ RV. And it was wonderful, Gentle Reader. I could do that sort of thing in small doses, and it was fun. In small doses.
Fort Robinson, NE. May, 2000.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lotsa Links Today

SN1 gets his 15 minutes* from Myrtle Beach Online, in a McClatchy Newspapers article:

Capt. Buck Pennington's military orders to move to McEntire Joint National Guard Base came as a surprise.

Pennington didn't understand why the Air Force was sending him, an active duty officer, to a Guard base in South Carolina.

Was this a career killer?

"At first there was a lot of concern because I hadn't heard of this before," Pennington said.

Pennington's assignment came through a new Air Force idea called "active association."

The 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire is the Guard's first fighter unit to go through the program. The plan is to assign regular Air Force officers and enlisted airmen to National Guard units.

Buck is the commander of the maintenance detachment (jet maintenance, as in F-16s) at McEntire JNGB. The “J” is for Joint, replacing the usual A, for “Air National Guard Base.” One needs a program to keep up with the acronyms these days. Come to think on it, nothing’s changed in that regard.

Photoshopping celebs so they look like real people…here. Is this some new sort of art form? I had some fleeting and oh-so-slight flashes of name recognition as I browsed the photos, but my reaction to 75% of the names was “Who?” I guess I just don’t read or watch the right stuff. You may or may not find this interesting, Gentle Reader.

h/t: Clicked…a blog aggregator worth a look in its own right. Forget you saw “MSNBC” in the url. Two more cool things I picked up there: The World Drinking Map [legal age to drink] and Police Cars from Around the World. My fave cop car is from Texas, but I wouldn’t mind owning this one. Paint jobs are relatively cheap. The reader comments have lots of links to other cop cars, some more interesting than others. You can kill some serious time here if you happen to be a gear head.

Good Lord. I felt a twinge that could only be described as “homesickness” when I looked at this photo. And this one, too. Send help. Quickly. (Say what you will about its politics and its residents, there is no other city in the US of A with a more breathtakingly beautiful geographical setting. None.)

There are many, many large format photos to be browsed on this site. Another serious time waster site you can spend quality time on…especially if you’re a photographer, or like to think you’re one (in my case).

Speaking of photography… Our photo contest attracted thousands of photographers from 86 nations. And the winners are...” Go see all 50 finalist’s photos; there’s wonderful work there. Last years winners are linked, too. The photo on the right is from the “Americana” category. You can’t get much more American than a ’59 Caddy, now, can ya?

I’ve been meaning to blog about this since perusing the photos in the June Smithsonian in the quick-oil-change store’s waiting room last week. And perusing the photos in the entry immediately above triggered that dormant “you should.” Blogging life is like that…

What people with more money than sense do for fun…


Futurists rarely get it right, the classic example being “Where’s my flying car?” for those of us who grew up in the ‘50s on a steady diet of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. But the guys at DEC were right-frickin’-on.

This video was produced in 1994, Gentle Reader, and virtually (no pun…) everything in the vid has come to pass. One just has to ask, though…if DEC was so visionary, why aren’t they around today? There was a point in time when I thought everyone in the whole frickin’ world was gonna do it on a PDP-11 or some flavor of VAX machine…and lots did. Now? Swallowed up by HP, by way of Compaq.

This is good stuff. The web site appears to be done completely as a Flash app, and that’s too bad. Coz I wanted to cut ‘n’ paste some of the copy on the site to use here as a teaser. At any rate, I picked up a bag of Hershey’s Cacao Reserve truffles (the 65% cacao variety) while out shopping yesterday, and they are excellent. Mouth watering. The filling in the truffles is creamy and complex, and the chocolate surrounding the center is rich, just slightly bitter, and dark, dark, dark. The finest kind… While the stuff ain’t quite up there with Godiva or any number of Belgian chocolates, it’s pretty danged good.

Today’s Pic: Since SN1 has today’s lead item, I thought it would be appropriate to show him in his work environment. Here he is along with SN3 in a Cannon AFB hangar, with an F-16 as a backdrop.

As always, click the pic for the larger version.

July 2004.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Small Stuff

Just a nit, but worth a mention… My neighbor across the way got out and began mowing his lawn at precisely 0700 this morning. Sunday morning. I think that’s rude and inconsiderate. It’s the noise, Gentle Reader. Power mowers are loud and their sound is obnoxious at all times, but on Sunday morning it’s particularly so, especially in an environment where residents live in close quarters. I say this with the full understanding that it’s much easier to mow the lawn when it’s 68 degrees outside, vice 85 and up. But couldn’t you wait until 0830, say? I think you could.
Oh…I had been up since 0500, so the noise didn’t awaken me. Irritate me, yes. Wake me up? If it had been yesterday, yes. But not today.
On nerds…in today’s NYT (Who’s a Nerd, Anyway?):
By cultivating an identity perceived as white to the point of excess, nerds deny themselves the aura of normality that is usually one of the perks of being white. Bucholtz sees something to admire here. In declining to appropriate African-American youth culture, thereby “refusing to exercise the racial privilege upon which white youth cultures are founded,” she writes, nerds may even be viewed as “traitors to whiteness.” You might say they know that a culture based on theft is a culture not worth having. On the other hand, the code of conspicuous intellectualism in the nerd cliques Bucholtz observed may shut out “black students who chose not to openly display their abilities.” This is especially disturbing at a time when African-American students can be stigmatized by other African-American students if they’re too obviously diligent about school. Even more problematic, “Nerds’ dismissal of black cultural practices often led them to discount the possibility of friendship with black students,” even if the nerds were involved in political activities like protesting against the dismantling of affirmative action in California schools. If nerdiness, as Bucholtz suggests, can be a rebellion against the cool white kids and their use of black culture, it’s a rebellion with a limited membership.
Cue up the Geico caveman, please. To wit: “Yeah, I’ve got a response… uh … WHAT?”
It’s WAR! Normally I’m a live-and-let-live kinda guy, and my tolerance extends to creatures great and small. Included in the “small” community are various bugs, with the exception of flies and mosquitoes, which are terminated immediately with extreme prejudice…always. Take spiders, for example. Spiders are generally good, as they eat other small critters and generally stay out of my way. And I enjoy their webs, which are both small-scale engineering feats and supremely artistic, as well…as anyone who’s seen an early morning web covered in sparkling dew will attest.
My tolerance ends, though, when spiders begin to overwhelm my personal space and get presumptuous about territory and such, thinking it’s theirs for the taking. While I love and appreciate outdoor webs I don’t like to see the things hanging off my table lamp, or worse, have a small spider drop down on a gossamer filament right in front of my face while I’m surfing the other web (heh). And that’s just in the front of the house. Things get worse, much worse, as you move to the rear of El Casa Móvil De Pennington. Lately I’ve been involved in a daily ritual that involves wiping away webs that have been spun overnight in both the bathroom and the kitchen, and the spiders have become so numerous that they’re scurrying around in plain sight. It’s time for a new strategy: we’re gonna surge.
It appears that GHQ Arachnid is located in the bathroom. Yesterday I took extreme measures on the HQ… emptying both bathroom cabinets, thoroughly cleaning out the spaces, and finishing off by liberally spraying the interiors of both cabinets and the surrounding baseboards with Raid. Result: no webs in the bathroom this morning. The kitchen will be a little more problematic because I don’t want to engage in unrestricted chemical warfare in that operational area. The risk of collateral damage (to YrHmblScrb, hisownself) is just too high. So we’ll just content ourselves with applying forceful thumb pressure on the little terrorists as they transit from nook to cranny. And waging chemical warfare along the baseboards and other spaces in the kitchen where the risk of collateral damage is low.
We have evidence the surge is working, as noted above. There will be NO political settlement, and we’ll take no prisoners. All I’m asking is a return to the status quo ante, or in other words, if the spiders stay in their space, I’ll stay in mine.
Peace in our time.
Today’s Pic: A rather cheeky-looking SN3 in a restaurant on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. We were just finishing lunch and getting ready to go on a cruise around the Bay. And the following transpired as we were getting off the boat, after said Bay cruise:
Me: Well, what didja think?
SN3: It was kinda boring, Dad.
Me: (Dumbstruck silence, followed by a change of subject…)
June, 2002. (SN3 was five years old.)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Strange, Stranger, and Strangest

Progressive? Or Liberal?

Just 20% said they consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically liberal while 39% would view that description negatively. However, 35% would consider it a positive description to call a candidate politically progressive. Just 18% react negatively to that term. Those figures reflect a huge swing, from a net negative of nineteen points to a net positive of 17 points.

How about “clue-free?” That works for me

Read Hillary’s mail… Well, not really. But there are interesting excerpts from her letters to a high-school friend, written while she was at Wellesley between 1965 and 1969. A former Goldwater Girl gone bad. Hell, I can relate; we had the same sort of experiences, politically. But I came back

And she’s gonna be president. Where’s the justice in that, Gentle Reader?

Hell, I use ‘em…why not?

Emoticons, the smiling, winking and frowning faces that inhabit the computer keyboard, have not only hung around long past their youth faddishness of the 1990s, but they have grown up. Twenty-five years after they were invented as a form of computer-geek shorthand, emoticons — an open-source form of pop art that has evolved into a quasi-accepted form of punctuation — are now ubiquitous.

No longer are they simply the province of the generation that has no memory of record albums, $25 jeans or a world without Nicole Richie. These Starburst-sweet hieroglyphs, arguably as dignified as dotting one’s I’s with kitten faces, have conquered new landscape in the lives of adults, as more of our daily communication shifts from the spoken word to text. Applied appropriately, users say, emoticons can no longer be dismissed as juvenile, because they offer a degree of insurance for a variety of adult social interactions, and help avoid serious miscommunications.

Emoticons: effectively preventing miscommunication since 1991 (or thereabouts). ;-)

Today’s Pic: Would you let this man and his crew of 25 or so UNIX gurus/sys admins/Wintel techies (none of whom were even close to their 30th birthday) manage your multi-million dollar commercial website? American Airlines did, along with a few other Fortune 100 companies. Stranger things may have happened in 2001, but I kinda doubt it. (I took this pic for a dating web site. And it worked, surprisingly. But only in the “losers” demographic, come to think on it.)

In my apartment in Berkeley, CA. February, 2001.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Morning Coffee

So. I took my morning coffee on the verandah today…three cups of it, anyway, accompanied by about a third of a cigar. And, in so doing, I put off my usual routine of coffee/making the virtual rounds until rather late in the morning, as defined by folks with real lives and…um…dare I say it?...jobs.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when I stepped outside, coffee in hand, this morning. And it was already up to 75 degrees at 0830. A beautiful day, in other words. So, there I sat, coffee in one hand, cigar in the other, feet up and feeling pretty danged good about things. I got to thinking about days gone by and of other places I’ve had my morning coffee.

The first place that came to mind was here, and this is a pic of my deck at the ol’ homestead in Fairport, NY. I was always an early riser back in my working days, and I’d often take my first cup of coffee on the deck (and sometimes the second cup, too, depending on the schedule) and watch the sun come up over the neighborhood…say around 0530, or so. In the summer time, of course, the deck being not quite as accommodating in the winter, as you can see. The thing I loved about this particular place and time was the quiet…traffic hadn’t yet begun its crawl out of the sub-division, the birds were chirping, most of the world was still asleep, and there was always a certain coolness in the air before the summer sun began warming Upstate New York. It was very peaceful, in other words, and a good place to get organized while contemplating the upcoming day.

So…various and sundry other places popped into and out of my mind, as well. The dining room table in Ferndale, Michigan that overlooked the backyard, aka “the garden,” as the Brits say. Watching the dogs chase the squirrels in the early summer morning, windows open, and warm, humid breezes blowing in and billowing the lacy curtains back and forth.

Or sitting on my patio at the house in Oklahoma City (Choctaw, actually, a suburb of OKC), looking out over the property which consisted of two acres dotted with numerous scrub oaks and two or three “real” trees (i.e., over ten feet tall). One of the real trees was a towering oak of about 40 feet or so that sported an old-fashioned two-seat swing suspended from a thick low-hanging bough. Coffee was taken in that swing too, often in the company of The Second Mrs. Pennington…but she usually only joined me in the swing on the weekends.

And then there were those times back in my Work Days, when I was on the road and had to arise, get cleaned up, and get fully dressed before I had my first cup. I took those first cups in various dining rooms or coffee shops at the hotels I stayed in. London. Singapore. Beijing. Moscow. The coffee was uniformly bad, nearly always. A good cup of coffee, in the days before Starbucks and especially overseas, was a rare thing, indeed. Eventually I took to carrying my own coffee with me.

I thought about other places where morning coffee was had…places like the various apartments I’ve lived in, the Air Force chow halls, and the RV parks I’ve stayed at/in, too. My morning coffee, and the rituals surrounding it, is perhaps the one thing that has remained unchanged throughout my life. A lot of things change in life as we move forward …people, places, and things… but some things remain the same. And my morning coffee ritual is one of the constants. The end is nigh if that ever changes…

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Pretty Danged Cute...in reference to the Little Guy

Here’s another paean to Robert Heinlein, this time in the WSJ

Science fiction at one time was despised as vulgar and "populist" by university English departments. Today, it is just another cultural artifact to be deconstructed, along with cartoons and People magazine articles. Yet one could argue that science fiction has had a greater impact on the way we all live than any other literary genre of the 20th century.

When one looks at the great technological revolutions that have shaped our lives over the past 50 years, more often than not one finds that the men and women behind them were avid consumers of what used to be considered no more than adolescent trash. As Arthur C. Clarke put it: "Almost every good scientist I know has read science fiction." And the greatest writer who produced them was Robert Anson Heinlein, born in Butler, Mo., 100 years ago this month.

The list of technologies, concepts and events that he anticipated in his fiction is long and varied. In his 1951 juvenile novel, "Between Planets," he described cellphones. In 1940, even before the Manhattan Project had begun, he chronicled, in the short story "Blowups Happen," the destruction of a graphite-regulated nuclear reactor similar to the one at Chernobyl. And in his 1961 masterpiece, "Stranger in a Strange Land," Heinlein--decades before Ronald and Nancy Reagan moved to the White House--introduced the idea that a president's wife might try to guide his actions based on the advice of her astrologer. One of Heinlein's best known "inventions" is the water bed, though he never took out a patent.

I learned something new from reading this— as is the case with nearly all the reading I do —and now have a new favorite quote (Heinlein, of course):

"Some people disparage the female form divine, sex is too good for them; they should have been oysters."

Ah. Good, innit?

A Bad Idea… US Senators call for universal Internet filtering.” I’m aligned with these guys (a case of strange bedfellows, if there ever was one), rather than the geriatric yet illustrious Senators Inouye and (most specifically) Ted Stevens, he of inter-tubes fame. The whole thing about Stevens was beat to death last year, but just in case you’ve forgotten…here’s a partial quote:

Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day got... an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

[...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

In a monumental first for EIP, I’m gonna quote Jon Stewart (from the wiki article on Stevens):

Stewart compared him to "a crazy old man in an airport bar at 3:00 am", then going on to answer his question, "Why?" with, "Maybe it's because you don't seem to know jack shit about computers or the Internet — but that's okay — you're just the guy in charge of regulating it."

(Stewart’s a funny guy, I don’t deny that. But his “usual targets” are people and things I hold dear and thus I don’t find him all that funny. Most of the time. But he’s spot-on, here.)

The good senators claim government regulation filtering blocking censorship is needed to “protect the children” from child pr0n and predators. Just how blocking and filtering technology is going to affect the process and mechanics of on-line child predation escapes me completely, but…whatever. In Stevens’ defense, he’s asking the FTC to “form a working group to identify blocking and filtering technologies in use and identify, what, if anything could be done to improve the process and better enable parents to proactively protect their children online…” At this point, that is. Gub’mint being gub’mint, there will be studies, proposals, laws and finally funding for the FTC, the FCC, yadda, yadda, yadda. And it’s hard to argue against the effort, because it’s “for the children.” I’ve seen this movie before.

But the basic answer to Inouye and Stevens’ proposals is “No!” PARENTS are the responsible parties, not the government, thank you very much. Slippery slope, First Amendment, and all that minor stuff.

Captain Ed is on the same page as I.

Today’s Pic: For the Children! This is perhaps my absolute favorite pic of SN3 and I. I may have posted this before, but whatever…everyone goes into re-runs occasionally.

Key West, FL. March, 1998. And my our (? - TSMP took the pic) 52nd digital photo…ever.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rant State: "ON"

One of my bigger hot buttons
(and I have more than a few) is all those frickin’ “direct to consumer” pharmaceutical ads on TeeVee. I am SO tired of them, in each and every respect. The one thing that galls me the most, however, are the government-mandated “warnings” included in these ads. I went googling to find out just who, or what, is responsible for this BS. In so doing, I found this:

As required by the US Federal Drug Administration, direct-to-consumer press ads for pharmaceutical products currently carry acres of small print, spelling out warnings of potential side-effects.

Big Pharma doesn't like this. Nor apparently does the Federal Trade Commission, which on Tuesday urged the FDA to allow drug print ads to run "brief summary" risk alerts of the kind used in broadcast commercials.

The FTC request was contained in a letter to the drug regulator, whom it also urges not to stand in the way of direct-to-consumer drug advertising. The FDA is currently engaged in a review of its rules for direct-to-consumer drug marketing, which annually generates an estimated $2.4 billion (€1.99bn; £1.39bn) in adspend.

Suspicions confirmed: it’s the FDA. I kinda agree with the FTC; I seriously doubt anyone ever reads all the mandated small-print warnings in magazine drug ads, while they’re not “acres” of small print, they are pages of same. Literally pages (plural), Gentle Reader. But that’s print, not TeeVee. You can thumb right over a drug ad in a magazine and ignore it on your way to finding out how Paris survived her jail time, not so when the bastards come right into your living room and tell you that you need — or should consider, at the very least: “Ask your doctor about…” — the latest wonder drug to control your leaky bladder, lower your blood pressure (and your cholesterol, while you’re at it), settle down your restless legs, or revive your flagging ardor…or the means to that end.

Some pharma-firms have gone all “creative” with these warnings, to the effect of having the actor/model-spokesperson recite the warnings as part of the scripted ad dialog… As an example we have the fat, bespectacled, and otherwise highly obnoxious chef of the fictional TV show “Cooking Healthy” (could be another title, I write from memory) going on about how her prescription drug of choice lowers her cholesterol while working in her digestive tract, not her liver, and may not be appropriate for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.” WTF? Doesn’t this eliminate all women who are post-puberty and pre-menopausal…including, presumably, her-own-self? That’s just one thing I don’t get…

And then there are the “E-D” ads. I’ve written about these before, especially about the fact these ads are broadcast during prime-time, and the inevitability that your average curious nine-year-old will ask Mom or Dad “What’s erectile dysfunction?” Just how the Hell does one answer that question? Other than “never mind, Dear.”

The pharma industry claims these ads are educational in nature, and serve to increase public awareness of treatment options and alternatives. I call bullsh!t. These ads exist for the exact same purpose as any other advertisement: to sell product. The kicker is you can’t just jump into the car, drive down to the pharmacy and ask for a handful of Viagra, or Nexium, or Enablex. Nope, you gotta ask your doctor for a script. And I’ll bet that drives your average doctor freakin’ nuts…probably more so than the ads irritate me, and that irritation, Gentle Reader, is much more than considerable.

I liked life a lot better before the drug companies decided it was OK (with concurrence from the AMA and the FDA) to barge into my living room and flog drugs I neither want nor need.

(Just a note…I think the E-D drug manufacturers really missed the boat when choosing names for their products, e.g., Viagra, Cialis, et al. Since I’ve only just recently begun seeing ads for Enablex, one assumes this is a relatively new drug and the name, or variations on it, was available during the ED drug development cycle. If I would have been in charge of choosing a name for, let’s say, Viagra, I’d have used “Enables-X” instead. Say it out loud.)


Today’s Pic: Apropos of absolutely frickin’ nothing, other than the fact I’ve been thinking of the woman a lot over the course of the last few, here’s the ex-GF and I.

Dallas. February, 2004.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scandalous Behavior

While I haven’t been following the latest scandal(s) du jour in pro sports all that closely, I am generally aware of them. It’s a sad state of affairs, really. But…as a hockey fan, I’m compelled to draw your attention, Gentle Reader, to the following, written by Pamela Barone, at NBC Sports:

While three professional sports leagues sit embroiled in scandal, we hockey fans can sit back and laugh. Steroids? Nope. Point-shaving? Don't think so. Dog fighting? We're talking about Canadians, here. (ed: and Swedes, and Russians, and Czechs… and Kazakhs, too!)

Sure, there aren't many of us these days. But maybe these latest headlines will be enough to convert some disgruntled fans of the so-called big three. If not -- who cares? We know why the NHL is the best professional sports league.

Just in case, though, I thought I would take this time to review some of the reasons.

As Ms. Barone sez: “Let’s review.” And she does a bang-up job of it, as well. My basic point, aside from the power, grace, beauty, speed, and excitement of the game (did I miss anything?), is this: you can’t find better role models in the community of professional athletes than hockey players. Period. Full-stop. Hockey fans know this fact is as constant as the eastern sunrise. Want your kids to emulate a sports star? Point him towards the rink, Gentle Reader. You can certainly do worse these days, and I’ll submit you can do NO better.

Blog-buddy Morgan has had admirable success in the realm of on-line dating (see his comment here). Ah, would that I could make the same claim. In those same comments linked in a preceding sentence I gave you the “Reader’s Digest” version of my issues with on-line dating. And now for a short war-story about this sort of social activity…

I was pretty active in the on-line dating game for a few years, most notably in Rochester, NY, and during my two-year sojourn in the Peoples Republic of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. It was in SFO that I had one of my most traumatic on-line dating experiences…

It started as these things always do…I read her ad, dropped her an e-mail, she responded, we spent a few hours on several consecutive nights in instant messaging conversation, followed by several phone calls. We both decided we should meet, and we did. She turned out to be everything she appeared to be, and I was happy with that. There were distinct possibilities, in other words, for something other than casual dating. In a nutshell: articulate, intelligent, owned her own business, a voracious reader, great conversationalist, and not at all hard to look at. Fetching, if I may go that far.

So. It was on our fourth date, and we’re having coffee and cognac after dinner at one of SFO’s numerous superb restaurants. We don’t have any firm plans for after dinner, and I casually ask “Well, where to now?” She smiles and says “Your place?”

There couldn’t possibly have been a better answer.

We get back to my place and I’ll spare you most of the details, Gentle Reader, save for this one tiny thing. The lights are low, things are getting hot and heavy, we’re in a state of dishabille, and the deal is about to go down. Suddenly, and I DO mean suddenly, she sits up on my couch, pushes me away to arms-length and says with a very serious look on her face “I have something to tell you.”

“Uh, OK,” sez I, thinking “WTF?”

“I have herpes.”

Wow. Talk about mood-killers! So. The lights come back up, I go to the kitchen, freshen our drinks, and return to the couch, where we spend the next hour or so discussing her problem. “There are ways to work around this,” sez she. “Umm-hmm,” sez I, nodding. The bottom line, as she suggests, is that we should both give serious thought to where we’re going and what we should do. I agree. We finish our drinks and I take her home.

And that, save for two subsequent phone conversations wherein I explained myself in great detail, was that. Work-arounds or no, herpes is forever. I wasn’t willing to take the risk. She understood, and we went our separate ways.

I’ll always appreciate the woman’s honesty, if not her timing. I hope she found someone because, with the exception of this one tiny (?) flaw, she could have been a potential mate.

There are eight million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them. But it’s pretty illustrative of my experiences with on-line dating. I don’t have any good stories to relate, in other words, Gentle Reader, and I have a couple that are worse. Much worse. But let’s not go there.

Wrong and Oh-So-Right

This is just wrong From BlogCritics (I left the links intact):

Today I filed an Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint against Kos Media, LLC., better known as DailyKos.com. I allege that they operate as a political committee and are therefore subject to FEC rules.

I first thought of this complaint during the Cindy Sheehan debacle over at Daily Kos, where Cindy pledged to run as an independent against Nancy Pelosi, and the Daily Kos basically turned on her. While some conservatives took great delight in this, I really didn't care because it's politics as usual. The right has thrown their fair share of people under the bus for not drinking the Kool-aid too.

The last sentence is correct, to be sure. There are lots and lots of folks on the Right who are still pissed at John McCain for that abomination known as “McCain-Feingold,” which was the first (recent) step down the slippery slope of limiting political speech. McCain deserved to be thrown under the bus for that, to cite but one example of under-the-bus-throwing. But it’s flat wrong— incontrovertibly WRONG — to attempt to limit a blog’s speech, even a blog like dKos. On top of that, the action is supremely inconsistent with the Right’s American principles, as championed by the Right. You gotta walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

I’m both amazed and appalled at the “conservatives” at BlogCritics that initiated this bullsh!t. Retract your complaint, Mr. Bambanek. It’s the only honest and honorable thing to do.

Great comments to Mr. Bambanek’s post, by the way. Can you spell L-E-A-D B-A-L-L-O-O-N? I knew you could…

(Via memeorandum)

Today’s Pic: Here’s the used-to-be inanimate object of my affections, nicked from SN2’s blog. She became mine back in 1978, for less than one thousand Yankee Dollars…a bargain, in anyone’s book. Miles of smiles, she was. And is, 29 years later. That's the cool part.

I spent many, many hours in her saddle seeking out— and finding — twisty-turnies in Oregon, California, Michigan, and Oklahoma…and a lot of points in between. Strangely enough, she was nameless (and remains so, as far as I know). She was always known simply as “The RD.” And she was blindingly quick in her day, able to keep up with and occasionally beat bikes twice her displacement where sheer acceleration was concerned. Note I didn’t say “fast,” as her absolute top speed was approximately 100 mph, but she got there VERY quickly. But that was almost 30 years ago, Gentle Reader. Motorcycle art and technology have come a long, long way. She’s still pretty quick from what I hear, but can’t begin to be competitive with today’s sport bikes.

The pic was taken by SN2, presumably in Omaha. Presumably recently.

I’ll be back in a bit.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Random and Strange Sort of Thought...

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced

—Bob Dylan (“Tangled Up in Blue”)

That’s my favorite Dylan tune and it’s played fairly often on Radio Paradise. I listened to RP a lot yesterday. And I was immersed in the music, paying close attention to the lyrics of songs new to me and singing along with the songs I know quite well (TUiB being just one of many), to the great annoyance of my neighbors, more than likely. The combination of sheer volume, coupled with my off-key singing, probably wasn’t as much fun for anyone within earshot as it was for me. Early in the day, anyway, while the windows and door were still open and before I buttoned things up and turned on the AC. The neighborhood got a lot more peaceful after that.

But good music and bad singing isn’t the point.

One of the most common questions a couple, any couple, gets is “Well, how did you two meet?” It’s not the first thing you ask someone, but the question always comes up in the process of making friends, at mixers of various sorts, and so on. It’s good, safe, polite conversation.

The Second Mrs. Pennington and I could hold forth on this subject for hours back in the day, given a little encouragement and interest on behalf of the person(s) asking the question. Everyone’s story of “how they met” is unique, yet I feel ours was pretty romantic, what with our having met in Tokyo — she an exchange student and me in the Air Force — on a blind date not with each other, and the subsequent adventures we had during our extended courtship in Japan and back in the US. There were many great stories to be told, good stories that got better and more treasured with each passing year. And that got me to wondering.

How does TSMP answer that question today?

There are several possibilities, and I’m just spit-balling these scenarios:

We met in Detroit several years ago, back in the early ‘90s. And change the subject. Or…

We were introduced by a mutual friend. True enough…that friend would be me, of course. Or…

We were friends for quite a while before we became lovers. We met in Detroit; I moved away for a few years, we kept in touch via instant messaging during that time becoming closer and closer and we began seeing each other when I came back to Detroit to visit. It got serious, I moved back to Detroit, and the rest is history… Once again, true enough but it's not "the whole truth and nothing but the truth." The devil’s most certainly in the details. Or…

What’s-His-Name saved me. I was trapped in a loveless marriage and he came along and showed me what true love is. I sincerely doubt this is the answer, but ya never know.

Whatever the story is or has evolved to be, I’m quite sure it has little to do with the way things actually happened. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and listen to the response the next time that question’s asked. Or maybe she just turns to what’s-his-name, gives him a look and he starts into “Tangled Up in Blue.”

It could happen.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Better Day Today

By way of The Flight Deckan achingly beautiful song by a woman who “gets it,” who loves her man, and respects what he does. Originally posted at The Wood Shed.

Now, I ask you: Is that beautiful, or what? And the song is excellent, too.

It was but a few short days ago I posted a link to a snarky article that mentioned, in an offhand way, the fact that Jana Bennett, the BBC’s director of vision, had invited BBC producers to come forward and confess their sins…specifically the sin of misleading the public with distorted programming. Well, come forth they did:

Much to the apparent surprise of Bennett and Abramsky, two experienced and highly respected corporation bureaucrats, a procession of contrite and nervous producers came forward to ’fess up. The public, it seemed, had been deceived with unnerving consistency, particularly over programmes with phone-in polls and competitions. And on the corporation’s most noble flagship enterprises, too. Comic Relief and Children in Need, for example.

“We just sat there absolutely stunned,” one executive board member told me, “shocked beyond belief. Nobody had any idea that this was going on on such a scale.”

Not even Bennett and Abramsky, when they asked for producers to come forward?

“Nobody. Nobody at all. And we had the very powerful sense that there was a lot more to come. And we thought this time no excuses, something really has to be done.”

Dang. The proverbial light bulb illuminates above their wooly heads. But what’s to be done?

In the short term this might mean the ceremonial defenestration, for the benefit of a baying Fleet Street and an angry public, of some high-ranking executive. Bennett perhaps, even though she is one of the corporation’s most talented and savvy apparatchiks?

“But if Jana, why not Mark [Thompson, the director-general]? He is about as remote in the hierarchy from what went on as she is.”

The feeling within the upper echelons of the BBC is that the sacrifice of a senior figure would be a capitulation too far to critics, although how far that view is shared lower down is a moot point. There is a certain glee and schaden-freude in some parts of the corporation, long dismayed at the grubby and antiReithian business of chasing the ratings with lowest common denominator broadcasting.

It’s one of those nightmare moments that occur in every organization, no matter the size. There used to be this ol’ saw floating around many years ago about the six phases of a project, the last three steps of which were “search for the guilty,” “punish the innocent,” and finally, “distinction for the uninvolved.” No doubt— abso-frickin-lute-ly none at all — this is what’s gonna happen here. You’ll note, if you read the Times article, that this has already happened in the case of an outside production company that was a source (just one!) of the current brouhaha.

Unfortunately the issue will not be resolved by throwing one, two, or three very senior members of the Beeb’s senior management out of Auntie’s top floor window…or even getting rid of the whole frickin management team. The issue will only be resolved when individual reporters, copywriters and editors (especially editors) at the working level are fired for demonstrated and substantiated incidences of biased and/or misleading reporting. Once the word gets out amongst the rank and file that it’s hazardous to your financial health to introduce your personal point of view into news (as opposed to op-eds), the biased reporting will stop. But not until then.

I saw on the news last evening Algore’s son is being charged with two counts of felony drug possession, two misdemeanors for drug possession without a prescription, and one misdemeanor count for marijuana possession. No schadenfreude here…I feel genuinely sorry for Al Gore III. And his parents. At the same time, I sincerely hope more sons and daughters of our political shooters get busted for drugs…simply to highlight the sheer ridiculousness of our drug laws.

The cost of this massive growth in incarceration is staggering. Americans will spend nearly $40 billion on prisons and jails in the year 2000. Almost $24 billion of that will go to incarcerate 1.2 million nonviolent offenders.4 Meanwhile, in two of our nation's largest states, California and New York, the prison budgets outstripped the budgets for higher education during the mid-1990s.5

The number of people behind bars not only dwarfs America's historical incarceration rates; it defies international comparisons as well. While America has about 5% of the world's population, almost one in four persons incarcerated worldwide are incarcerated in the US.6

Perhaps if more relatives of our politicos (and other “nice” or “good” people) get their asses put in this particular sling there will be sufficient motivation to change the laws. The general public is apathetic, at best, and vengeful, at worst, about our drug laws. By “vengeful” I mean… “they got it comin’”, ya know? I hear this reaction more often than not when the subject of drug laws comes up in “polite company.” Spirited debate always ensues…but I’m quite certain it’s just talk, no minds are ever changed. Change requires a catastrophe, and a catastrophe is when something bad happens to ME…not YOU.

Today’s Pic: Going deep into the archives…Here’s the fountain in the central plaza of Matamoros, Mexico, with the cathedral in the background. (apologia: taken with a first-generation digital camera, quality commensurate. But you get the picture, right, Gentle Reader?)

February, 2000.

Oh. I owe ya. For the record, I took the Tylenol yesterday morning and finished the coffee without going back to bed. Further…it rained off and on all freakin’ day, but we came nowhere near the forecasted high of 85. We might have hit 70, but that would have been a stretch. We did get some serious rain, though. And we’ll pay today with murderous humidity.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The skies match my mood today: overcast, gray, raining on everyone's parade (here in Beautiful La Hacienda Trailer Park, anyway). All I'm lacking is the thunder, and the most I can muster in that particular category would better be described as "grumbling." I almost wrote “whining,” but I never whine. Ever.

This, Gentle Reader, is the result of staying up way too late, sleeping in way too late, and…to top off a perfectly ugly sort of morning: a mild headache. The headache piece may or may not be the result of not being fully-caffeinated as of yet. Whatever. I see Tylenol in my future. My immediate future.

Today's Pic: Taken about seven minutes ago, just before a brief (yet violent) cloudburst that produced enough rain to make the Green Hornet look like the Green Leopard, but not enough to do the lawn vegetation any good. Forecast: thunderstorms all day, 85 degree high. Mississippi-like WX, in other words (I’m speaking of the heat/humidity combo only).

I might be back later. Right now it’s a toss-up: back to bed or another cup? I’ll let ya know. Eventually.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harsh and Harsher

Dang, Ralph…that’s harsh!

FP: What are your thoughts on Obama wanting to attack Pakistan? That is after all where the terrorists are lurking.

Peters: It's a classic example of the fateful mix of hubris and naivety on Capitol Hill. Mr. Obama has yet to supply any details, so let me help him out: Sure, we can invade Pakistan. Of course, we'll need a draft to round up enough troops. And we'll have to kill, as a minimum, a few hundred thousand Pathan tribesmen and their families, and we'll have to remain as an occupier for many years. Oh, and Pakistan's got nuclear weapons and it's already torn by civil strife. But no worries there for good, old Barak--who was too important to serve in the military himself (military service is just for chumps like me or for those who are, as John Kerry pointed out, so stupid they're stuck in Iraq).

Now, I'm all for targeted air strikes and special ops raids in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan where al Qaeda has been re-grouping. But, hey, I've actually been there. It's some of the toughest terrain in the world, and the mountain ranges are vast. A classic military invasion isn't the answer. So, if Obama wants to invade, I'd just like to hear the details of his plan. Of course, he hasn't got one. He's just blowing smoke. He knows less about military matters than I do about neurosurgery. The difference between us is that he's convinced he's qualified to operate.

In the Queen's English, the guy's a wanker.

For those of you unfamiliar with Brit slang, here’s the definition of “wanker.” I think Col. Peters got it right, even though it’s kinda hard for me to visualize Her Highness calling anyone a wanker.

Hat tip: Lex.

Harsh, Part II. Or...About Today’s Pics… Two views of a radar site that overlooks Layton, Utah, taken while I was visiting SN1 last month. This particular site is most likely owned and operated by the FAA, but it could very well have been part of the extensive network of USAF radar sites that were built in the ‘50s and decommissioned in the ‘70s. There was once a time when every single square inch of the Lower 48 was swept by a USAF radar beam every 20 seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Continuously. Not so any longer.

I spent two-thirds of my USAF career on sites just like the one in the pictures…the only thing that really varied from site to site was the elevation. In the flat parts of the US of A, the sites were situated on the highest ground to be found in the vicinity, which was often only a slight rise of 20 to 25 feet above the rest of the countryside. In other places the sites were perched on mountain tops that were literally thousands of feet above sea level, specifically in the coastal mountain ranges of the west coast and up in Alaska, where some truly spectacularly scenic locations existed. “Spectacularly scenic,” of course if you only just looked at a picture of two little dots perched on a mountain overlooking, say, the Bering Sea…not if you had to live and work in that sort of isolation for a year, which was the “standard” tour. And if one was in the radar business back in the day, one could look forward to doing a “remote” tour every four years or so, just like clockwork. I never did go to Alaska, but I did have orders to Cape Newenham that were canceled at the very last minute. I was sent to Fortuna AFS, ND, instead. And was probably the only guy to ever report in to that God-forsaken location with a smile on my face. At least Fortuna was in the US of A, albeit just barely.

So why am I on about this today? Simply because I chased up another Lex-link, this time it was photography of abandoned military bases. Buried within that link was a mention of Boron AFS—another radar site I called “home,” once upon a time. And then the synapses began to fire off, just like clockwork. The mind is a funny thing.

Update: If you follow the Cape Newenham link, don't miss the "Information Brochure," circa 1976. Since I received my orders to Cape Newenham in 1977, the chances are quite good I would have received this very same brochure, had I not been diverted to Fortuna. Just reading the thing sent shivers up my spine...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Everyone on the Right Side of the ‘Sphere Is Gonna Link This…

…so why should I be different? She Who Will Not Be Named is taken down, mightily, in the flipping Guardian, of all places. The epic narcissism of (SWWNBN)” is an epic read. With great links, too, I might add…not the least of which pictures SWWNBN laid out on the grave of her son for a Vanity Fair photo shoot. The last two sentences of the piece reads thusly:

(SWWNBN) is a self-styled sanctimonious didact. May her second retirement come swiftly, and may it last a lot longer than the first.

Oh, yes. What he said. One wonders how she’s managed to remain in the spotlight, such as it is, now that the Left has abandoned her and the Right shunned her from the very beginning.

Who among her supporters remain? (Aside from “Don’t call me Hew-Go,” that is…)