can i get a "hail yeah"?

In what might be the most spectacular collision of 21st century technology with redneck sensibilities since hunting deer on the internet, farmers in the central valley of California are hoping to keep hail off of their crops by shooting giant booming cannons at the sky.

I really have nothing to add to this, except to say that right now I wish I was a California citrus farmer so I'd have a plausible reason to buy a hail cannon.


nous sommes tout cylons

BSG 3.5 is a wrap. Apparently the Cylons are into Dylan. And now I can't think of a reason to keep cable around for the next 9 months.

Does anyone reading this care besides [m] and me? Just wondering...


smoke 'em while you can

...because when North Carolina bans it, the game is pretty much over.

I know, I know...everybody hates smoky bars and restaurants (except, of course, the people that like them) and I hate coming home smelling like an ashtray, even when I was contributing to it... but...it's...a...matter...of...principle...

Oh, fuck it.

Just don't come crying to me when they come after your food.

Oh. Right.


gardasil for all!

I have to admit that mandatory vaccinations reside in the fuzzy penumbra of my libertarian sensibilities. However, if one accepts the public health rationale for requiring vaccinations for measles and such, to exclude one vaccine from that kind of program simply because the disease happens to be sexually transmitted seems pretty arbitrary and stupid to me.

Still, Merck is backing off its campaign to promote state laws mandating administration of Gardasil, its breakthrough vaccine against human papiloma virus:

[Lobbying efforts by Merck] stirred opposition from two groups from different ends of the political spectrum. HPV is sexually transmitted, and religious conservatives became incensed that state government might try to force their daughters to be inoculated against an STD.

They found allies in more liberal big-pharma skeptics, who were suspicious of the relationship between Merck and state lawmakers.

Of course Merck is not a disinterested party in this matter. This doesn't mean that they are wrong. Sometimes I think Big Pharma's perennial critics would expect the company that developed a cure for cancer to publicize and promote its product quietly, if at all. (While Merck hasn't cured cancer here, it's gone a damn long way towards preventing one kind of it, and this is a huge accomplishment.)

Besides, if you have the religious right joining forces with the reactionary anti-corporate left on an issue, it's a pretty safe bet that sensible people should take the other side.


happy st. paddy's day

May you be drunk and safe. But not too much of either.

watching control room in 2007

Today I finally got around to watching the documentary Control Room, which is about Al Jazeera's coverage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. (I had kicked around the idea of driving down to Fayetteville today, but this was much easier.) In addition to being something that everyone in this country ought to see just because of what it depicts, it's also an exceedingly well-done film, focused like a laser beam and superbly edited. (I think most documentaries falter under the weight of footage the director just can't let go.) I couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry at all the clips of Rumsfeld pontificating about manipulation of the facts to press an agenda.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the film is the arc of Marine Lt. Josh Rushing. You see him early on, sticking to the talking points that it was his job to deliver, even as he awkwardly fields pointed questions from Al Jazeera's Hassan Ibrahim. As the film develops, he continues to do his job like a Marine, but the inner turmoil he experiences about what the U.S. is doing and how the American media in particular are portraying it is written all over his face. The exchanges between him and Ibrahim are both heartening and heartbreaking.

An interesting coda to the film: Rushing left the Marine Corps a few months after the film's release, in part because he had been ordered not to talk about it. He has since been hired by Al Jazeera International, the English-language service that I would happily trade Fox, CNN, and MSNBC for in a heartbeat, if for no other reason than their reporters don't let anyone spout off bullshit unchallenged.

Among the most disturbing parts is the footage of reporter Tareq Ayyoub on the roof of Al Jazeera's Baghdad offices, just before an American A-10 launches air-to-ground missiles at the building, killing Ayyoub. The military has always claimed that they were taking fire from that location, but there really is no evidence of this. If that was happening, it wasn't happening anywhere close to Ayyoub, who for his part looked more like Micheal Dukakis in his flack helmet than anything. Except utterly terrified. Add to that the fact that Al Jazeera had relayed the coordinates of their offices in Iraq to the DoD, that Abu Dabi TV was hit the same day, and it becomes very difficult to think that this was an accident.

(That, and the memo leaked in the UK in 2005 indicating that Bush had discussed the possibility of bombing Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha--the most generous interpretation of which is that the President of the United States made a really, really inappropriate joke about using the military to attack members of the press, especially in light of all the evidence that he had, in fact, used the military to attack members of the press. For those of you keeping score at home, deliberate targeting of civilian non-combatants is a war crime by pretty much any standard you wish to apply.)

I could go on and on--but I just realized that I've now spent more time thinking and writing about the movie, as well as reading up on related topics, than I spent actually watching it. Which is about as good an endorsement of a documentary as I can think of.


i can't think of a title for this one

Between Walter Reed, the firing of US Attorneys, and that whole Iraq "thing" it seems that the Bush administration is actually suffering from Three Stooges Syndrome.

in praise of daylight savings

It is 8pm.

I just settled on the couch with a cold crispy Stella and my trusty laptop. My dog is happily chomping away at his food in the kitchen, alternating the sloppy sounds of his eating with the sloppier sounds of his drinking. (My dog has large lips that flap and resonate with every movement of his mouth. Soon he will come in here and present them to me to be wiped off. If I don't oblige he will wipe them himself on my lap, or perhaps a piece of furniture. Fortunately for us both, I have a paper towel at the ready.)

I left work at an astonishingly normal 5:15, just ahead of the worst traffic trying to get out of the Park (lately I've been leaving around 9, so 5:15 is pretty special.) Twenty minutes later, I was at the Y for a brief but vigorous workout. I was home by 6:30. The dog and I then took a pleasant walk through the park and around the neighborhood, stopping to converse with various neighbors along the way, lasting about 45 minutes. Arriving home, I realized I still had adequate light to run the lawn mower over the weeds in the backyard, in advance of tomorrow's predicted rain. I was able to do this in a leisurely and unhurried manner, pausing for the occasional draw from the aforementioned beverage.

This done I had time to put the roof back on my jeep, also in advance of the rain.

Back into the house for a quick round of wrestling with the dog as the sun set over the Carolina piedmont. And here we are, enjoying the luxuries of summer on the Ides of March.

All of this is to say that I couldn't care less whether extended daylight savings time leads to a net savings in power consumption. This rules. Let's keep it.


this is why i didn't bother voting

Democratic leaders are stripping from a military spending bill for the war in Iraq a requirement that President Bush gain approval from Congress before moving against Iran.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other leaders agreed to remove the requirement concerning Iran after conservative Democrats as well as other lawmakers worried about its possible impact on Israel, officials said Monday.


The measure provides nearly $100 billion to pay for two wars and includes more money than Bush had requested [emphasis added] for operations in Afghanistan and what Democrats called training and equipment shortages.


The whole "end the war by defunding it" thing is dead in the water--and always was--because the Republicans can't bring themselves to spend less on the military, and the Democrats can't bring themselves to spend less on anything.

(I know--that's funding for Afghanistan, but the same thing will happen in Iraq. In six months, we will be spending more, not less. If anyone wants to place a wager on that let me know...I need to cover my inevitable losses in the NCAA tournament.)

One more war-related point, that I heard over the weekend. You know we've stepped into it foreign policy-wise when the most sensible criticism comes freaking Iran:

"We are in fact facing a vicious cycle in Iraq. The presence of foreign forces justifies violence ... and violence is used to justify the presence of foreign forces."


silverman to coulter: stop stealing my act, bitch!

Comedian Sarah Silverman, who has made a career out of being a pretty girl that says outrageous and offensive things, is threatening to sue pundit and author Ann Coulter, who has made a career out of being a pretty girl who says outrageous and offensive things.

“I didn’t really know who Ann Coulter was until this whole ‘John Edwards is a faggot’ thing broke,” says Silverman. “I heard she said some pretty nasty things about Muslims after 9/11, but who didn’t, right?

“Anyway, I flip past CNN the other day, and here’s this skinny bitch all calling John Edwards a faggot, and I’m like ‘that’s like right out of my act!’ So I called my lawyer right away to see what we could do about it.”

Ms. Silverman is referring, of course, to the now widely circulated remark made by Ms. Coulter at the CPAC meeting in Washington last week, during which she quipped, “I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot'...”

When asked to comment on the possibility of a lawsuit, Ms. Coulter was defiant. “That Christ-killing c**t can sue me if she wants. This is America, and you have the right to say whatever you want, as long as you aren’t insulting Jesus or George Bush or undermining the war effort.”

Coulter has also refused to back down from her comments about Mr. Edwards. “Please. No straight man is that good-looking. He’s so pretty and liberal that any red-blooded American male would probably be more likely to have sex with him than vote for him.”

When asked if she was offended by Coulter’s remarks, Silverman was surprisingly accommodating. “Oh, no. This is just about copyright infringement. I totally agree with what she said. Pretending that you can talk to dead people on TV is so gay.”


bsg 3.17

OK, so I won't elaborate on this for the benefit of people I'm married to currently in another time zone, but...gaaaahhhh!

Henley elaborates, and of course has a much bigger audience of people inclined to discuss such things.

non-linebacker w/ BMI of 29 runs sub-45-min 10k, credits new iPod

That's right. I finally bought an iPod today (quit snickering).

It isn't my first mp3 player. In fact, it's my 4th. The first two were such pieces of garbage I killed them in < 6 months each. The third has held up so long that it kind of got obnoxious...since I couldn't really justify getting "the real thing" until I wrecked it, too. Nearly two years later, it still works, though the LCD display has seen better days.

What actually spurred me to action was that I had bought a bunch of workout music off iTunes without realizing that they sell mp4 files, which means my little Lyra might as well have been an 8-track. I'd been downloading from Rhapsody, but I decided to try out iTunes for a change. Rhapsody is still worth $10/mo for unlimited streaming, but for downloading, iTunes selection is better. They've definitely cornered the market on Scandinavian death metal, I can tell you that. Also, they have Lacuna Coil, which I realize is probably something that 14-year-old goth chicks listen to, but whatever, I like it. (They're kind of like Evanescence, but, you know, good.)

Anyway, I got a second generation Shuffle (a gold one) and am happy to report that built-in clip held up to the titular run, clipped onto my waistband. No more arm bands to absorb my, ahem, natural perfume. The earbuds stayed in the whole time, and the sound quality is fantastic.

The one thing I would recommend is to never put it in your pocket, b/c is so small (about the size of a hotel matchbook) that it would be very easy to leave it in your pants and send through the laundry. You may think you are too smart to do this--bully for you--but I did this to my passport once and those things cost more than an iPod Shuffle nowadays.

Where was I? Oh, yeah...6.2 miles in 44:28. It felt great. And it should leave me nice and stiff for my first yoga class tomorrow night.


dept. of hidden treasure

I was waiting in an exam room at the doctor today* and the only reading material at hand was a copy of ESPN The Magazine from last August.

I should preface the following by pointing out that my interest in sports is pretty casual overall. I love watching football, but even during the season I watch maybe 6 or 7 games in their entirety. The NBA is boring, though I do like college basketball now and then (I hear it's pretty popular around here.) Hockey is great in person, but I've never watched on TV. Baseball is unbearable unless the weather is perfect and I have a designated driver so I can get pleasantly buzzed during the entire game. I'd rather wax my scrotum than watch NASCAR.

What I'm saying is, I'm not exactly the target demographic for a sports magazine, despite the fact that I am 18-35 years old and male.

So, believe me when I say that ESPN the Magazine is awesome.

The photography is stunning. The layouts are really innovative, drawing your eyes over the page in a different pattern every time. To tell the truth, it looks exactly like Seed, which is also excellent. As in the same fonts, the same cool text-to-photo flowchart designs, everything. I haven't been able to put the layout credits side-by-side yet, but I'm sure it's the same people. And they are very good at what they do.

And the articles I read were great. One was a photo essay of college football players, that talked about the physics of the various collisions they undergo. Another was on the new Cardinals' stadium in Glendale (as well as some other crazy futuristic stadiums around the world. But the one that really got to me was about Vladimir Chubinsky, (the story doesn't appear to be archived online, otherwise I would post a link) a Ukrainian trainer in Atlanta who has this incredible system of weight training. Basically, he has his clients lift huge amounts of weight through a very limited range of motion. His clients include a guy with MS who not only has gone from being nearly in a wheelchair to walking unassisted, but can also lift over 1000 pounds (the author describes him doing so firsthand.)

Anyway, if you are even remotely interested in sports, you should check it out. I'll probably order a subscription before football season starts.

*I'm fine. I had a kidney stone last month that I have managed to refrain from blogging about (until now) and this was the follow-up.