The Second Side

I could put something really witty here if I wanted.

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When you stop believing in coincidence, paranoia is only a heartbeat away.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Life Can Be Embarrassing

  • This is mostly a question for the guys, but I suppose the gals could speak to it, too. Have you ever been in a public restroom, and the person next to you farts so loud you instantly stop peeing? I didn't think it was physiologically possible to stop pissing in midstream, but last weekend I was standing at a urinal, and the bloke next to me let out a trombone blast that nearly scared me out of my shoes. There wasn't even any need to shake it off, I just got the hell out of there before Foghorn Leghorn caused an acid rain to fall. Bastard.
  • One of the things we men love about women is their habit of walking along at a brisk pace and then stopping suddenly without warning. I can't count the number of back-to-front collisions I've had with my wife. Well, today was the prize winner. I was at the store in the soda aisle, and just as I stooped to get a 12-pack of Coke, the lady (not my wife) who was walking (briskly) in front of me chose that exact moment to pull the ol' suddenladystop, and the crown of my skull rammed into the bubble of her ass. She went, "Ooo!" and I apologized and we went along our own red-faced ways. It reminded me of those old Reese's peanut butter cup commercials, remember those? (Your chocolate is in my peanut butter.) Only our commercial went more like, "Hey, your head is in my ass. Oh, no, your ass is on my head." I hope she's not a criminal, cause she might have some strands of my hair on the seat of her britches.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Crack is Whack."

I couldn't believe this story about Whitney Houston. Absolutely heartbreaking.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What Would Scooby Doo?

Saw that on a bumpersticker.
  • I watched that "Funniest Home Videos" show Sunday. If I see one more video of a dog (or something else) terrifying a little kid who runs around screaming while the dad laughs and videotapes it, I'm gonna fucking kill someone. That shit ain't funny.
  • In my Film Studies class, and I noticed that nearly everyone, during down time before class, is on a cell phone, laptop, iPod, you name it. There I am with a book of poetry, feeling like an old fart.
  • Saw a kid wearing a red (how apt) ski cap with Che Guevara on it. Putting aside the fact that Che was a mass murderer, he also hated capitalism. I thought about asking the kid if he thought Che would approve of having his image marketed on hats, T-shirts and thongs. It reminded me of the time I saw a death penalty protester on TV wearing a Che shirt. Brother, that's irony.
  • I hate to bring up the Iraq war, but I was thinking about how conflicted I feel about it at times. I realized that the conflict is one of (perceived) opposites: the liberal in me supports the removal of a brutal dictator oppressing the helpless little guy, the conservative in me feels that, awful as things were there, it was still none of our business. A reversal of roles, so to speak. That's why I think the most compelling voices against the war are people like Pat Buchanan (a righty), and the most compelling voices for the war are people like Christopher Hitchens (a lefty). Interesting, don't you think?
  • I've come to the realization that I want to be against the death penalty. My reasons are twofold: 1) The American justice system is a hopelessly mutilated and corrupt institution, and cannot possibly be counted on to keep innocent people from being wrongly executed, and 2) considering the massive body count of world governments in the last century alone, it is not a power that the state should have. Better to use those child murderers for AIDS research, if you catch my drift.
  • My writing teacher told me that the new (or forthcoming) Chuck Palahniuk book is about men who dress in drag, go to clubs and sing Carol Channing songs, and charge the patrons $10 a pop to punch them in the face; they keep doing it until they can't take any more punches. Supposedly, it's based on real people. If that didn't make you laugh your ass off, you need to get the hell out of here.
  • Speaking of Film class, tonight we watched "The Player," and now I know what Tim Robbins's wiener looks like.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Remember that shit you said last February?"

(That's a Richard Pryor line. Sorry for the obscure reference.)

Scientists are stumped by a woman who can remember everything, and I mean everything. She can bring back dates and historical details in a snap. She can remember the weather and events from her personal life . . . there would be no living with this woman.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"I Knew Thomas Jefferson"

Addwaita, a tortoise believed to have been 250 years old, has died in a zoo in India. If the zoo records are accurate, he was the world's oldest documented living animal. Oh, the stories he could tell.

Fare thee well, old man.

Monday, March 20, 2006

How William Shatner Changed the World

I'm sure I don't have to tell Tree about this. It's a show on the History Channel about the influence "Star Trek" had on the development of gadgets such as computers and cell phones. I haven't seen the entire show, but I caught part of it the other night. He talked about a primitive computer people could order and put together. It was called Altair (after the Altair system, but you knew that), and did absolutely nothing except blink some lights. It did, however, get the attention of unknown computer geeks like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who used Altair as a starting point to developing a practical home computer.

"Yer Welcome, Billy Joe!"

A man donates skin to make a new penis for his cousin. No, really.

The Envelope, Please

This is interesting. It's the Popular Science Movie Awards. My favorite category? "Most Irrationally Beautiful Mathematicians."

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Week That Was

  • A bumpersticker I saw yesterday: "Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?"
  • I'm beginning to think that Big Brother (the dictator, not the show) may not be such a bad idea. All around there are plenty of indications that people are completely incapable of handling freedom. I'm no exception. I look down at the steadily growing spare tire around my waist and realize that I can't be trusted to maintain my own body. Take my advice, everybody, and get in on a job that will give you power in the totalitarian future. They'll love us.
  • Today is St. Patrick's Day, and since it falls on a Friday, the Archbishop of Omaha gave Catholics permission to eat meat so they can have their corned beef. I can't imagine needing permission to eat what I want, but then again, I refer you to the point above.
  • Speaking of Catholics, I don't mean to offend, but I don't understand some of the things you give up for Lent. Some that I've heard over the years: chocolate, sugar, sugared soda, caffeine, usually food of some kind. My dad and I were discussing this and he asked, "how come you never hear of people swearing off gossip or hypocrisy or dishonesty?" Indeed.
  • This is a little after the fact, but George Clooney has really been under my skin ever since the Oscars. I had to chuckle at his acceptance speech, where he patted himself on the back for being "out of touch" in a good way, such as talking about AIDS when it "was just a whisper." Nice try, George, but you (Hollywood) came late to the party on that one. I'm old enough to remember that AIDS was anything but a whisper. Hollywood was nearly ten years late addressing the AIDS issue.
  • And what about Clooney's assertion that "we talked about civil rights when it wasn't really popular." Talk is cheap. In over 70 years, there have been only 18 black best actor/actress nominations and 3 wins. One name did come to mind when George mentioned civil rights, though: Charlton Heston. I have a sentimental soft spot for Heston. I always loved watching "Ben Hur" and "The Ten Commandments" as a kid. Heston marched for civil rights long before it was popular. He sat at segregated lunch counters. He hand-picked Rosalind Cash to be his co-star in "The Omega Man" at a time when black female leads were nearly unheard of. He took up arms against fascism in WWII. Yet all George could say about Heston was to mock his Alzheimer's disease, and when given a chance to take it back, said "he deserves whatever anyone says about him." Why? Because he was president of the NRA. So much for that vaunted liberal tolerance. You're full of a lot of hot air, George, but how do your actions stack up against the towering artistic and humanitarian achievements of Charlton Heston?
  • Speaking of movies, I finally saw "Walk the Line," the Johnny Cash movie. I highly recommend it. Joaquin Phoenix is nothing short of amazing. It goes way beyond a simple impression of a legend. It reminded me of Anthony Hopkins in "Nixon," where they don't really look like the historical subjects they're portraying, but you believe every second of it. The actors did their own singing, which is a huge risk, but they pull it off. I read a review that claimed I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Phoenix's singing and Cash's. That's bullshit, but still a great performance.
  • There are grumblings that George Bush launched this latest major assault in Iraq to prop up his sagging poll numbers. Of course, the right wing commentators harrumph at this idea, but I figure if Bill Clinton is capable of launching military actions to distract from Monica's grand jury testimony, then George is capable of something similar. Politics is all about power, acquiring it and keeping it. It matters not if you're of the party of the elephant or the jackass. Those who lust for power will sacrifice any person or principle to get it and keep it.
  • I promise never again to post a picture of my ass, unless you'd like to see the pics we took after a chocolate lab bit me on the tushie.
  • And finally, I'd like to share a moment with my daughter, Laura, that I'm sure I'll remember on my deathbed:

Have a great weekend.

Create Your Own Dan Brown Novel

This is funny. Just keep hitting "refresh" to get a new one.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I Have No Shame

I felt a disturbance in the Force, like Fletcher and Davis were in need of a really good laugh. Also, I offer this as a lesson to my daughters. Girls, someday you will find yourself in your teen years, and you will be convinced that your parents are the squarest people on the planet, and you'll probably be right. Just remember, though, that when we say we once did some nutty things, you can believe us . . .

Check out the Rickenbacker bass . . .

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We'll Always Have Paris

A simply gorgeous panoramic view of Paris, with Chartres Cathedral in the center (I think).

You gotta see this.

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Ok, Just a Little Pinprick"

I first became aware of the possible dangers from childhood vaccinations containing mercury in an article by Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton. Through her I learned that the mercury preservatives used in the vaccinations might be linked to an alarming rise in autism and other neurological disorders (such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) in children. My children were undergoing their first rounds of vaccinations at the time, and I was surprised at how damn many shots there are.

Not wanting to be a hysterical parent, but also not wanting to endanger my children, I corresponded with Dr. Baillie-Hamilton and other scientists who conducted the studies that concluded the vaccinations posed a danger. I also spoke to their critics, including the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. The CDC and WHO both assured me that there was "no evidence" linking thimerosal (the mercury derivative used in the vaccines) and autism. I found their assurances less-than-satisfying for two reasons: one, as an English major, I know that an Allness Fallacy ("NO" evidence) weakens an argument, and two, the WHO itself stated that mercury——the world's second most toxic substance——is unsafe in the body, in any form and in any amount.

I confronted Dr. Baillie-Hamilton and the other scientists with what the doubters had to say, and their rebuttal boiled down to this: medical science doesn't know what causes autism, and until they do, they can't say what doesn't cause it. In short, they told me to just stick with a mercury-free vaccine, and my kids should be okay.

At our next pediatric visit, I told the nurse that we would be using mercury-free vaccines from now on. She wrote it down, and muttered something about how they'd get "more mercury from a can of tuna fish." When the doctor came in, I asked him about it. He echoed the WHO and CDC that the harmful effects were unproven, and repeated the tuna fish line. I know talking points when I hear them. I didn't feel like arguing about it, otherwise I would have told him that most 6-month-olds I know don't eat entire cans of tuna fish and even if they did, that still doesn't make mercury healthy.

What brought this all to mind was a recent article in Newsmax. In it, we learn that autism rates—which rose dramatically as more and more shots were added to a child's vaccination schedule——are plummeting now that mercury is being removed from the shots. Some frightening statistics from the article:

  • Iowa banned thimerosal from child vaccines after a 700-fold increase in autism.
  • Prior to 1989, children only received 3 vaccines. By 1999, the CDC recommended 22 vaccines by the first grade.
  • In the 1990's, 40 million children were injected with mercury-containing vaccines.
  • Between 1989 and 2003, autism rates increased from 1 in 2,500 children to 1 in 166.
If you have children being vaccinated at any age, I strongly recommend getting mercury-free shots. It costs us an extra $5 to do so, but it's a small price to be safe. Don't ask the doctor "pretty please, my I have the mercury-free shot?" You tell them you want your child to be given the safe shot or you're taking your children to another doctor who will.

Please read the articles. Don't take the chance.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Remember Me?

Elephants in Uganda have taken to blocking roads and attacking villages, apparently without cause. However, scientists believe the attacks may be retaliation for massive poaching in the 70's and 80's, when elephants were orphaned and witnessed their mothers and fathers being slaughtered. Elephants are senstive and intelligent enough to take revenge, say the scientists.

"The more human beings they see, the less tolerant they become."

Tell me about it.

"Doc, My Wife is an Alien"

Here's a list of strange afflictions that sure beat the hell out of cancer. Among the highlights:
  • Capgras Syndrome: A mental condition in which the sufferer believes that his wife or spouse——or even himself——has been stolen and replaced with a sinister doppelganger.
  • Pica: A "compulsive appetite for non-edible items, including clay, stones, cigarette ash, paint, glue, laundry starch, ice and even hair," and rice cakes.
  • Foreign Accent Syndrome: Damage to the speech areas of the brain can alter pitch, pronunciation and speech patterns, and cause you to speak like Inspector Clouseau without warning.
  • Alien Hand Syndrome: "This bizarre syndrome involves losing control of one hand, which can do anything from gesticulating to unbuttoning clothes its owner is trying to put on with his or her other hand." Sorry, honey, I didn't mean to touch you there . . . it's my Alien Hand Syndrome.
  • Penis Panic: Common in less developed parts of the world, Penis Panic occurs when a man believes his dick is being stolen or is disappearing into his body. They don't realize that pee-pees shrink in the cold or in old age. They obviously have never seen the "I was in the pool!" Seinfeld episode.
In the meantime, I apologize in advance for my Alien Hand Syndrome.