Those crazy spammers are sure getting more clever. Now they’re sending e-mail messages with gigantic blue links in them:

Luckily they’re using easy-to-remember web site names, so I can return over and over to buy my “male performance” products. Why, just the other day I was thinking how I should visit okliondeyunjdefunpsade.com!


“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

— George Bernard Shaw


No, they’re not dead.

Laralee rented a DVD called Yoga for Athletes, and she and Kyra were using it the other day. I came upstairs from my office and found them laying on the floor like this. Apparently it’s some kind of exercise. Imagine how many calories they’re burning!


Alex has a friend at school whose nickname is “Cheeto”, presumably because he enjoys snacking on Cheetos. When asked about his own nickname, Alex responded that it was “Calculator”. He admitted, however, that it was a name he invented for himself, and in fact no one really calls him that.

However, the planets must have been aligned or something because we went to the kids’ school tonight for their annual Fall Festival, where the kids play games and win candy or crappy plastic toys. Two things happened.

First, we ran into Cheeto. He was– surprise!— walking around with a bag of Cheetos, getting little orange crumbs all over his shirt. He said hi to Alex and tagged along with us for a bit.

Second, and even funnier, we were walking along and one of Alex’s classmates said hi to him and mentioned to another kid standing there, “He’s really smart.” A third kid in the hall chimed in with, “Yeah, he’s like a calculator.”

I thought it was a riot. I guess Cheeto and Calculator live up to their names.


Questions and selected answers from an elementary-school test:

What causes the tides in the oceans?
The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.

What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

How are the main parts of the body categorized? (e.g., abdomen)
The body is consisted into three parts: the brainium, the borax, and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O, and U.

What is the fibula?
A small lie.

What does “varicose” mean?

What does the word “benign” mean?
Benign is what you will be after you be eight.


President Bush, in defending the Military Commissions Act he signed into law this week, said something profound– something that basically sums up the entire position he has been using to justify all of the horrid things the government has pursued for the past five years:

Over the past few months the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex. Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat? Every member of Congress who voted for this bill has helped our nation rise to the task that history has given us.

This is a ridiculous argument. It is government excesses, and overreaction to a situation, that cause more problems than they solve. We can never truly be completely safe, and even if we give up all of our rights, we will find there are still ways we can be hurt. The ever-present threat of the Terrorists is one that will never disappear.

Dr. Joseph Elias, a professor of history, wrote in the New York Times:

What does history tell us about our earlier responses to traumatic events? My list of precedents for the Patriot Act and government wiretapping of American citizens would include:

  • The Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which allowed the federal government to close newspapers and deport foreigners during the “quasi-war” with France
  • The denial of habeas corpus during the Civil War, which permitted the pre-emptive arrest of suspected Southern sympathizers
  • The Red Scare of 1919, which emboldened the attorney general to round up leftist critics in the wake of the Russian Revolution
  • The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was justified on the grounds that their ancestry made them potential threats to national security
  • The McCarthy scare of the early 1950’s, which used cold war anxieties to pursue a witch hunt against putative Communists in government, universities and the film industry.

In retrospect, none of these domestic responses to perceived national security threats looks justifiable. Every history textbook I know describes them as lamentable, excessive, even embarrassing.

But it defies reason and experience to make September 11 the defining influence on our foreign and domestic policy. History suggests that we have faced greater challenges and triumphed, and that overreaction is a greater danger than complacency.

Yet the Terrorists are still “out there”, and I’m sure the current administration– with help from Congress, no matter who wins the impending elections– will do everything they can to pursue their inattainable and truly ridiculous goal.


Mmm… I have my new widescreen LCD monitors now. It’s amazing what a few extra inches can do for a guy. (Hah!)

It reminds me of the classic song “It’s All about the Pentiums” by Weird Al Yankovic:

“I’ve got a flatscreen monitor forty inches wide; I believe yours says ‘Etch a Sketch’ on the side.”


As if the internet wasn’t bad enough, now you can buy


(Also available in powder form, apparently.)


Here’s a funny “future warning sign” from Flickr.


It’s awesome to come back from a meeting and find this sticky-note on my monitor:


Hoo boy, here we go.

Secretary Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Insecurity said this today:

We now have a capability of someone to radicalize themselves over the internet. They can train themselves over the internet. They never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else and that diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination. Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites.

While I don’t think “radicalize” is a word, this ominous statement definitely spells the beginning of the end of the internet. If people can really go online and learn about how to make a bomb (seriously? you can do that?) we absolutely must shut down the single greatest communications device in history. We can’t risk it.

Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, chimed in today with his own frightening rhetoric:

Terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms.

Whoa. So the internet is basically a place where terrorists and pedophiles hang out? I’m so dumb. I thought it was used for all kinds of good stuff. But gee, if it’s possible to use it for something bad, like Terrorism, it’s got to be eliminated. That’s the only solution.

With the elections coming up in a few weeks, I envision desperate Republicans jumping on the Internet Terrorist Bandwagon and screaming about how unacceptable this is, and how the new laws just enacted are simply insufficient to combat such a serious menace. They’ll have the internet shut down by Christmas.

I guess I’ll have to quit my job then, and become a shepherd.


“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

— George Bernard Shaw


On February 14, 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft turned and snapped a picture of the Earth from four billion miles away. Circled in blue here, you can see the tiny pale blue dot suspended in a beam of sunlight.

Of the photo, Carl Sagan said:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there– on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors, so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

It’s both humbling and awe-inspiring to recognize how tiny we are in the cosmos.


Ahh, ’tis the season. The Congressional elections are in a few weeks, and that means every few days I get another phone call where some recorded voice tells me how horrible such-and-such candidate is.

A few days ago it was actually a live person– some guy who wanted to know whether I’d vote for Representative Musgrave (the incumbent) or her opponent. I told him that I wasn’t going to vote for either of them, since I’m generally a Libertarian and vote for the candidate who I feel best represents me, rather than blindly following a party line.

Whee, politics!


Many people enjoy a nice caramel apple for Halloween. But consider this delicious snack:

Carmel and bacon. (And almonds.) Mmm!


Halloween is almost here, which means it’s time to start shopping for costumes. And if you’re walking down the aisle looking at the various monster masks and fairy princess costumes, I’m sure you’d stop dead when you saw the toilet costume!

Wow. Words fail me.

And not only is the costume itself beyond words, the kid modeling it definitely has some special needs too.

What’s that you say? Little Billy doesn’t want to be a toilet Tuesday night? Well, never fear, because he could always slip into the whoopee cushion costume!

Same kid– and time for his medication, I think.

Also, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if you gave him a big hug. Would you release some kind of deafening, ear-shattering, Armageddon-class fart noise?


I’ve got a dual-monitor setup in my office– two 17″ LCD panels that are super sweet. Having two screens is so much more productive than a single one, and in the year or so I’ve had them I’ve loved using them.

Yesterday I found a killer deal on some new 20″ widescreen LCD displays, and started thinking that if a pair of 17″ers could make me so much more productive, imagine what another three or four inches would do! (Funny, that sounds like those spammy e-mail messages I get daily.)

Anyway, I was looking at the specs and pondering whether it’s worth the expense and whether it would really make things that much better when Laralee walked into the office. I told her what I was thinking, and why I was hesitating, and she immediately said I should buy them.

A bit surprised, I asked why. She said because then I could give my existing LCDs to the kids (each of them have a computer in their room) and lose the hundred-pound CRTs that are on their desks. I thought that was sort of a strange reason, but who am I to argue with a mom who’s looking out for her kids?

So I ordered them, and should have forty inches of computer display sometime next week. Woo hoo!


“Don’t sit on the fence. ¬†You will never fully enjoy what’s on either side.”

— Paul Seamons


Although the solar system is down one planet, there are still some pretty spectacular things to be found out there. Here’s a photo of Saturn, taken by Cassini, with the sun backlighting the rings. It even clearly shows a previously unknown distant ring. Amazing!