Now gluten-free!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

America: Land of the Free

O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I guess Francis Scott Key forgot to add the words "Except in Ohio."
More on this idiocy here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

King Pong

Now that people are trampling each other to get their hands on the new Playstation 3, I thought we should take a look back at the world's first home video game. From
The video game history started in a strange and complicated way and it is important to avoid confusions with what happened in the 1950s and 1960s. The real video game history started with Ralph Baer as early as 1951. One very important thing to remember is how the video game has been defined in the 1960s before modern tehnologies allowed video games to be played on computers.

A video game is defined as an appartus that displays games using RASTER VIDEO equipment: a television set, a monitor, etc. In the 1950s and 1960s, computers were not only exceedingly expensive, but used a technology that could not allow integrating them into a video game system. Only mainframes could allow playing a few games. These games qualified as COMPUTER games, not VIDEO games. ...

... In 1966, Ralph Baer worked again on his 1951 TV game idea and designed a series of seven prototypes that played several video games. The first playable video game was a Chase Game: two squares chasing each other. The last prototype built in 1968 (also known as Brown Box) played Ball & Paddle games, Target Shooting games, and more. After several demonstrations to TV manufacturers, Magnavox signed an agreement in 1971 and the first video game system was released in May 1972: Odyssey. The history of PONG games and derivates just started, would spread all over the globe, and die in the early 1980s.

In the USA, it started on May 1972 with the Magnavox Odyssey (first home video game) and Atari in November 1972 (their first PONG arcade game). Atari's game was quickly copied and improved in 1973. Later in 1975, home video games became popular and were sold by numerous companies. Some like Executive Games started from a five-student MIT project. Others like First Dimension ran a poor business and did not survive the strong competition from Atari, Sears, Coleco, Magnavox and others.
I'm not that old, but I certainly don't have any childhood memories of people camping out in front of a store for three weeks to purchase a Pong game. I guess we were either smarter then or just had better things to do with our lives.

Mosaic Law

If you like pictures, you'll want to take a look at this site. Let's just say there's more than meets the eye.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wreck the Malls with Bouts of Folly

Wreck the malls with bouts of folly
Fa la la la la la la la la!
There's no need for melancholy
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Don we now padded apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la!
Strolling into Yuletide peril
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Black Friday"

Yesterday morning I had to help cover the early shift at work. That means I have to be at work at 4:35am, rolling out of bed at...well 4:35 minus exactly how many minutes it takes me to roll out of bed, pull on a pair of jeans, cover my bed-head hair with a baseball cap, and drive 8 miles of empty streets to the studio. As I rolled past the shopping center a few blocks away from my house, though, I saw that several hundred people had already risen ahead of me. And for what? To stand in a line that extended a block away from the front door of Best Buy! IMHO, that's just stupid. Don't get me wrong, I love electronics, and I spend my share of time and money at that same store. But, just why are we so desperate to save a couple bucks off some stuff in a land where we have retail goods bulging out of every orifice?

Excerpts from a couple news articles:

A Black Friday promotion at a Southern California mall turned into a stampede.About 2,000 shoppers rushed for 500 balloons filled with gift certificates at the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance. An elderly woman and nine other people were hurt in all the pushing and shoving.Police said some people forgot about safety in an effort to get a prize. The mall management said it was "completely overwhelmed" by the turnout for the promotion.
(The Associated Press)

Now in Aisle 8: Black Friday shopping stories -- Thousands of shoppers took advantage of Friday’s balmy weather to swarm Des Moines and suburban malls and big-box stores....“We were originally heading to Best Buy but our friends are already over there, and they told us don’t bother. It’s just packed so we headed over here,” said Adam Carney, one of about 70 shoppers waiting outside CompUSA at 4:50 a.m. “We typically don’t do this but we are in the spirit of greed and ready to go, and it’s warm out this morning,” said Carney, who was looking for a computer monitor....
...At the Merle Hay Mall Kohl’s...the line was half the length of the Des Moines store. Michelle Ortiz, who was holding her mother’s place while her mom shopped for a few more items, was so far back she couldn’t even see the cash registers. After previous stops at Toys “R “Us and Wal-Mart, the lines tiring Ortiz. “They’re really long, and they’re annoying,” she said. At least the crowd at Kohl’s was calm, she said. That hadn’t been the case at the Windsor Heights Wal-Mart. “They were practically killing each other to get some stuff, some Bratz dolls,” Ortiz said. “I think a little baby even got hit in the head with one of them. They were screaming and yelling and the cops came....”
(The Des Moines Register)


Christmas has already been over-commercialized for years, but shopping the day after Thanksgiving has now become an emblem of mindless, herd-mentality consumerism. I find it beneath my dignity as a self-willed human being participate. I know I'm supposed to think of others as being better than myself, but I'm about to start making an exception for people who are willing to stand in line and push and shove their way into any retail establishment in an effort to get their hands on some discounted piece of plastic crap.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Unnatural Selection

Here are some animals that even Darwin never dreamed of...



"Patriotic Snake"

"Tiger Wabbit"




(View other examples of unnatural selection here and here.)

"What are you drawing?"

"A liger."

"What's a liger?"

"It's pretty much my favorite animal. It's like a lion and a tiger mixed...bred for its skills in magic."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Only in America

From AFP:
    US restaurant serves up burger to die for

    A restaurant in the south-western US state of Arizona that proudly admits to trying to finish off its customers has introduced a new item on its menu - the "quadruple bypass burger".

    The burger at the Heart Attack Grill restaurant is stacked with four beef patties, cheese, onions, tomatoes and fried bacon and weighs in at 8,000 calories - more than three times what the human body needs in one day.

    Patrons who have no appetite for the quadruple bypass burger can opt for the triple or double bypass.

    John Basso opened the restaurant 10 months ago.

    "It's not good for one's health, but it's only a joke," he said.

    Customers who have room for more can also order French fries "fried in pure lard" and can purchase cigarettes off the menu.

    As a courtesy, the restaurant offers its "best customers" a wheelchair service to their cars by waitresses dressed in slinky nurses' outfits.

    The idea, however, has not gone down well with the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The board has expressed concern that some patrons may confuse the waitresses with real nurses.

    To avoid any confusion, Mr Basso has posted a long message on his restaurant website saying that his employees in no way are medical professionals.

    He says his ultimate goal is to open a restaurant in France.

    "I am dreaming of opening a restaurant in Paris," he said.
Uh, yes. I'll take one Quadruple Bypass Burger and a large order of Flatliner Fries. Does the value meal include the Lipitor shake and the angioplasty? Great! Can I get that to go?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Amazing Headlines

These headlines found on my Google homepage this afternoon:

Democrats Need A Leader, Not A Follower - CBS News
Neanderthal DNA Shows No Interbreeding With Humans - Forbes
Al-Queda Threat 'Not Appreciated' - BBC News
Vatican: No Change on Celibacy Policy - CBS News
DR Congo Opposition Rejects Election Result -
Palestinians Escalate Attacks - Monsters and
New Democratic Leaders Deliver Remarks - Washington Post

Wow! Life is a never-ending series of surprises!

Surf's Up!

The "stoner" stereotype attributed to surfers made perfect sense when I saw this:
But I don't want to be guilty of stereotyping anyone. Let's just say that I would certainly have to be high in order to attempt something like that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pining for the Fjords

This is a geological (or hydrological?) Rorschach test, based upon Norwegian fjords. Please record your initial impression of what each picture resembles. These photos courtesy of Google Earth:









No, I'm sorry. The correct answers were:
1) a stick
2) a stick
3) a stick
4) a stick
5) a stick
6) a stick
7) a stick
8) a stick

Um...don't mind my asking, but do you have a history of mental illness in your family?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Around the World in Crazy Ways

Chuck Norris vs. Chuck Norris

You are probably aware of the Chuck Norris fad sweeping the Net. If not, here are some of the interesting "facts" you might have missed:
  • Guns don't kill people. Chuck Norris kills People.
  • It takes Chuck Norris 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.
  • Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin. Its decendants are known today as Giraffes.
  • When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up; he's pushing the Earth down.
  • When Bruce Banner gets mad, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns into Chuck Norris.
  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
  • Chuck Norris makes onions cry.
  • When Chuck Norris plays Monopoly, it affects the actual world economy.
  • Chuck Norris has two speeds: Walk and Kill.
  • There is no chin under Chuck Norris' Beard. There is only another fist.
  • Chuck Norris once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. They made him blink.
  • Chuck Norris' hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.
  • Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy; it is a Chucktatorship.
And there are plenty more.

But what does Chuck Norris the Man think about Chuck Norris the Phenomenon? As a columnist for WorldNetDaily, he addressed the issue in a recent article:
    I've got a bulletin for you, folks. I am no superman. I realize that now, but I didn't always. As six-time world karate champion and then a movie star, I put too much trust in who I was, what I could do and what I acquired. I forgot how much I needed others and especially God. Whether we are famous or not, we all need God. We also need other people.

    If your whole life is spent trying to make money and you neglect the people important in your life, you will create an emptiness deep in your heart and soul. I know. I fell into that trap. I dedicated my whole life to fame and fortune. I had a huge hole in my heart and was miserable until I met my wife, Gena, who brought me back to the Lord. ...

    ... I'm flattered and amazed by the way I've become a fascinating public figure for a whole new generation of young people around the world. But I am not the characters I play. And even the toughest characters I have played could never measure up to the real power in this universe.
Despite all of the fascinating "facts" out there, I gotta side with Chuck Norris the Man.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In Smog We Trust

I really don't even know where to begin with this, so let's jump right into it:
    Smoggy skies 'created life on Earth'

    Hazy, smoggy skies on baby Earth could have provided the chemical building blocks of the very first life on our planet, according to a study of one of Saturn's moons.

    Primordial Earth likely had a layer of atmospheric haze, similar to the one currently on the moon Titan, that may have served as the principal reservoir of life's building blocks, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    One of Titan's most striking features is its thick hazy layer of organic aerosols, which arises from chemical reactions between the methane and nitrogen molecules high in the atmosphere, driven by ultraviolet light.

    Prof Margaret Tolbert at the University of Colorado and colleagues mimicked Titan's chemistry by using UV lamps in various simulated atmospheres.

    The researchers found that a methane-nitrogen mix would produce multiple types of long-chain hydrocarbons, including some aromatic compounds such as benzene.

    The predicted products match well with some of the known components observed by the Huygens probe to Saturn. The researchers then added carbon dioxide gas to the mix to see if conditions that were probably present on early Earth would produce a similar haze.

    "It turns out that organic haze can form over a wide range of methane and carbon dioxide concentrations," said Prof Tolbert. "This means that hazy conditions could have been present for many millions or even a billion years on Earth while life was evolving."

    The researcher calculate that Earth could have produced more than100 million tons of aerosols each year, and thus these organic chemicals in the haze could have served as the primary ingredients for primitive life.
If you look at the complexity and uniqueness of life on Earth and conclude that there must be a Creator, then you're an uneducated moron. However, if you study gases on a moon that's completely devoid of life and conclude that magic smog appeared out of who-knows-where and gave birth to the complex, unique life we see today, then you're a scientific genius.

Do I really have to point out what's wrong with this picture?

Google Through the Looking Glass

!tsiwt a htiw elgooG

.sdrawkcab ni smret hcraes ruoy epyt ot evah uoy :hctac enO

!yrt a ti evig ot ereh kcilC

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wow. I Didn't See This Coming...

Britney Spears Files for Divorce
The singer confirms split after two years of marriage

Britney Spears has filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Federline. Court officials in Los Angeles confirmed the split, which was blamed on "irreconcilable differences". The divorce papers state that Spears is seeking custody of their two children - Sean Preston and Jayden James Federline - and she has asked that each party pay their own legal fees. She also requested that her earnings, "miscellaneous jewelry and other personal effects" after the separation be confirmed as separate from her husband's property, reports BBC News.

Federline, a former dancer for
Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake, has two other children with his former partner, TV actress Shar Jackson. Spears previous marriage to childhood friend Jason Alexander was annulled two days after vows were exhanged in Las Vegas in 2004.

© IPC MEDIA 1996-2006, All rights reserved

Oh, and kudos to those brilliant writers who came up with "Britney is K-Fed Up". I am K-Fed up with everybody getting divorces all the time!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Awwwww, Poor Baby!

We take you now to Republican headquarters for a reaction to last night's election results...

(Since I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican, I can get away with posts like this. Besides, it's my blog!)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What's in My Inbox

* Acknowledgement: An e-mail I received recently from fellow harangue-utan, Chris Wilde, inspired this post.

Spam. You know what I mean. Not the world-famous canned "meat" that's made right here in Minnesota; I'm talking about the stuff that clogs your e-mail inbox. It's annoying, and I never open them, but I have to admit that some of the subject lines are hilarious.

You have got to hand it to these spammers for their persistence. Rather than just using trickery (Please confirm your signup, RE: Your Online Order), or trying to sneak past spam filters with slightly altered words (C ! A L ! S, VlhAGRA), they are getting more creative.

Here's a sampling of some interesting subject lines that have appeared in my inbox recently:
  • specific theyre converted iPod
  • did you hear our boss got fired?
  • FWD: No work tomorrow; Office closed
  • Your future, ocean-severed
  • Your health, ox daisy
  • Rev up the fun at the Southern California Fair
  • compose GymnasticsMongolian wrestling Modern dance
  • Get Your Complimentary Chewing Gum Samples
  • citrus Inline speed skating Golfcross
  • Shinty Sports using bicycles or unicycles
  • Cycling Road hockey Discus
  • axial Aggressive skating Elephant polo
  • crematory Thoroughbred racing
  • contravene Wheelchair rugby
And, of course, my all-time favorite:
  • (no subject)
So, what's in your inbox? Please share with the rest of us some of the interesting subject lines you've run across.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Some Good Bad Movies and Some Bad Good Ones

There are movies that most definitely deserve to be listed among the all-time worst. Movies like Battlefield Earth (starring John Travolta as himself), The Conqueror (John Wayne as Genghis Khan? Are you serious?!), Zardoz (A revolver-toting Sean Connery wearing a Speedo and hip waders? Someone claw my eyes out NOW!!!), or that steaming pile of you-know-what, Highlander 2 (perhaps the dumbest sequel ever conceived).

Now, I realize that when it comes to movies, "good" and "bad" are entirely subjective terms. Everyone's tastes are different. For example, some movies I really like - Chariots of Fire, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, and Joe Versus the Volcano, to name a few - have been put forth by others as examples of terrible films. Conversely, there are plenty of popular favorites that I can't stand.

With that in mind, I would like to share with you a couple of lists. One is a list of "bad" movies - films that either flopped at the box office or were violently panned by critics - that really weren't as bad as everyone thought. The other is a list of "good" movies - films that were either box office hits or were enthusiastically praised by critics - that I just hated. (Note: I haven't included movies like Plan 9 from Outer Space. That's a classic example of a movie that's so bad it's good, I don't care who you are.)

Five "bad" movies that are actually pretty good

5. Aeon Flux
I know. This movie doesn't exactly showcase Charlize Theron's ability as an actress, but I've always been a sucker for sci-fi flicks about futuristic totalitarian societies masquerading as utopian paradises. And while it certainly doesn't rank up there with Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, Brazil, it does have its moments. Definitely not quite as bad as the critics made it out to be.

4. Ishtar
Many people will tell you that this is one of the worst films ever made. But that's only if you view the result after taking into consideration the all-star cast and huge Hollywood budget. As reviewer Rochelle O'Gorman put it, "If Abbott and Costello had made this flick, it might have worked."

3. Armageddon
Dazzling special effects made this film watchable, but a talented, eclectic cast made it enjoyable. If you have no problem suspending disbelief for a couple of hours, you might like this one.

2. Independence Day
This is one of those gratuitously patriotic, flag-waving films. In a time when most Americans seem all too willing to give up their freedoms to a corrupt government bureaucracy, Independence Day made me feel good to know that we can count on everyone to pull together if we're ever invaded by reptilian hordes from outer space.

1. Rocky V
Okay, okay. Rocky Balboa is getting old. But's Rocky Balboa, one of the most beloved cinematic sports heroes of all-time! And I'm not ashamed to say that I'll be going to see Rocky VI when it comes out.

Five "good" movies that I absolutely hated

5. Unforgiven
While I can appreciate Clint Eastwood's accidental study on the subject of total depravity, I like old-fashioned westerns - you know, good guys vs. bad guys. When you couldn't care less about what happens to the main characters in a movie, there's something wrong.

4. Titanic
Sorry, ladies. I realize this is your favorite movie of all-time, but I thought it was poorly written, sappy, and self-indulgent. In a word: garbage. I sat through it once; that was more than enough.

3. Pulp Fiction
Despite having a stylish flare, Quentin Tarantino is, in my opinion, one of the most overrated directors in Hollywood history. This movie was especially bad. Even if you overlook the fact that virtually every scene contains elements that were lifted directly from other films, it's still hard to get past the gratuitous violence. If there was a point to it, other than making sure the film lived up to its title, I missed it.

2. The English Patient
Seinfeld's Elaine said it best: "It's too looooong! Quit telling your stupid story about the stupid desert and just die already! DIE!!"

1. The Crying Game
I have a confession to make: I have not seen this movie in its entirety. Dawn and I walked out halfway through it. Not only was this one of the most unbearable films I've ever seen, it is THE reason I now never go to a movie without first knowing something about it. And the big "surprise" everyone was talking about? Give me a break. Any blind idiot could tell that chick was a dude.

Do you have similar lists? Are there movies some of your friends like that have made you question whether or not you should remain associated with such undiscerning freaks? Perhaps there are movies that you are too embarrassed to admit having seen. Feel free to share your thoughts. Let me assure you that what happens on this blog stays on this blog. Honest!

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