Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often

Swiss police busted a severely Type A saleswoman for driving while working on her laptop and chatting on her handheld mobile phone.

So, what should be outlawed?

A. Laptops
B. Mobile phones
C. Women drivers
D. Stupidity
E. All of the above

Submit your votes now!

The business case for upgrading to Windows Vista

Fascinating post on Microsoft Watch today, examining the business case for/against upgrading to the next version of Microsoft Windows, the highly touted Vista.

If you ask Microsoft, Vista is going to add significant value in a number of areas, including ease of deployment, reduced support, increased security, improved reliability, and increased user efficiency. All true, and much of this is quantifiable.

However, the part the Microsoft won’t spend much (any) time discussing includes beefy hardware requirements to run it, a hefty price tag to upgrade, and the professional services required to deploy some of the really cool collaboration features included in the OS.

As a good Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, I’m going to tell you an upgrade will pay for itself, but I’d have a tough time proving it.

How do you quantify the cost savings of security improvements? It’s like spending money on better Mississippi River levees, right? It’s sunk dough until you need those levees. Even then, how do you prove the increased spend was what protected you?

User efficiency? Same thing, how do you prove it saved you money? Some of the efficiency will be offset by the user’s ability to do more things. So, yeah, they’re more efficiently turning out more/better work, but you didn’t save money there.

Microsoft (and those of us in the Partner community) is going to have its hands full quantifying a reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) for both Vista and Office 2007. The “shiny new toy” effect only works for geeks, which describes very few CFOs.

It’s worth mentioning that this is not a new phenomenon. Every time a major software upgrade is released, by Microsoft or anyone else in the business, we go thru this same argument and same “prove it” exercise. As always, the proof will be partially objective, but partially a leap of faith as well.

Don't let your preschooler see this

The Teletubbies, those loony Brit imports which will keep your 2-year-old kid glued to the TV for half an hour, are a mixed blessing. They will, as mentioned above, keep your little one quiet long enough for you to take a shower. However, an adult subjected to more than a couple of minutes of the show may break down into hysterical fits of sobbing and screaming.

Well, here's the adults' revenge: A Flash game that has you pitted against Tinky Winky and friends, armed with a variety of weapons, including a chainsaw.

I can't decide if this is genius or psychotic.

Glenn Ford is dead

Sad news today: Glenn Ford, all-American actor, is dead.

In roles from The Blackboard Jungle to Midway, Ford always played the stoic, righteous type. Back in the less-controversial Hollywood of yore, Ford was a consistent, low-key actor and human.

While we note his passing with some sadness, I have to tell you, I would have guessed "already dead" if asked before today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Get your sissy H2 outta my way

The Armet Gurkha is now the baddest ride on the planet. Look for balding 40-something white dudes who feel the need to compensate lining up to buy one.

Hybrids go racing

According to Jalopnik, some Formula 1 constructors are looking at hybrid technology for future F1 cars.

I sorta doubt this means you'll see an advertiser-adorned Toyota Prius competing in the streets of Monaco. Instead, I would expect some manner of braking-energy capture which power a "burst of speed" electric motor, giving the car a very short blast of power for passing or somesuch.

Regardless, this is a significant sign that hybrid technology is, in fact, ready for prime time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ernesto continues to fizzle

The good news keeps coming this hurricane season. Ernesto, which looked to be headed for a big strike in the Gulf, is now looking like a fizzle which may miss the US entirely.

The storm is now over Cuba and losing strength rapidly. Once it hits the Straits of Florida, it will get stronger, but may be too far gone to regenerate into much of anything.

In addition, the forecast track of Ernesto has been moving further and further east since late last week. The most current map shows the eastern edge of the cone moving out over the Atlantic.

One wonders when the other shoe will drop, but, so far, even Aug has been quiet. It ain't over yet, but 2006 couldn't be less like 2005 so far.

Some food mysteries solved

MSNBC's ConsumerMan answers a few longstanding questions regarding food:

1. Aspartame (NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda) have been tested like mad, and show no signs of being bad for you in any way (whew).

2. Cooked meat can hang out in your fridge for 3 to 4 days - I always wondered about that.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Iran flips the bird at the rest of the world, proceeds w/ nuke program

The Dale Carnegie graduates in Tehran are up to their usual tricks, as they've inaugurated a new phase of their heavy water reactor project in Arak. This is in direct defiance of demands, pleas, and nicely-worded requests aimed a stopping the Iranian program by just about the rest of the world.

Ahmadinejad, of course, insists Iran is no threat to anyone, even the "Zionist regime, which is a definite enemy of the people of the region."

Where's the line for these guys? Does anyone, anywhere have the stones to say "no" and make it stick? Will we just stand by and watch the most aggressive, destablizing nation in the world, a nation which has called for a member of the UN to be physically wiped from the Earth, produce it's own nuclear weapons?

Sure looks like it.

One simple question before we end: Why aren't the Sunnis scared s***less over this? Iran makes a lot of noise about the US and Israel and sends their minions after the Jews, but the last bunch the Iranians actually went after first-hand was the Sunnis.

Rangers’ season = OVER

As stated here yesterday, the Rangers absolutely had to nut up and prove something against the Swingin’ A’s last night. The entire season seemed down to this late-Aug series w/ the Athletics, who held a 7 game lead on the local heroes going into last night’s game.

However, in typical Rangers fashion, the boys got their aces handed to them by Barry Zito, who took a no-no into the 8th before Mark DeRosa broke it up. And, also in typical Rangers fashion, the promising youngster on the mound got pounded, as Edinson Volquez only managed four painful innings.

Long story short, the Rangers blew it as badly as it could be blown, losing the first game of the weekend, 9-3.

As is typical around here, baseball season has lost all local interest before the end of Cowboys’ training camp. We’re now in full-fledged countdown-to-kickoff mode here in DFW and at CIT. You will hear very little about the Rangers until next spring, except for the occasional “Buck Must Go” post.

Ernesto is looking more serious

Ernesto seems well on its way towards both hurricane strength and the Gulf of Mexico.

It's far too early to identify a precise track, so if you're anywhere between Houston and the Florida Panhandle, this storm requires your attention starting now.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Late afternoon giggle

Swiped from Comedy Central:

In a murder trial, the defense attorney was cross-examining the coroner:

Attorney: Before you signed the death certificate, had you taken the pulse?
Coroner: No.
Attorney: Did you listen to the heart?
Coroner: No.
Attorney: Did you check for breathing?
Coroner: No.
Attorney: So, when you signed the death certificate, you weren't sure the man was dead, were you?
Coroner: Well, let me put it this way. The man's brain was sitting in a jar on my desk. But I guess it's possible he could be out there practicing law somewhere.

Drought in North Texas

This year, worse than any I can remember, we North Texans have been suffering through a nasty bit of drought.

Our fair burg (lovely and crime-free Frisco) went to Stage 3 water restrictions way back in June. Stage 3 means you get to water your lawn once a week, on your designated trash pick-up day. In our neighborhood, this results in the gutters being awash throughout the night each Thursday.

Brown has become the dominant color of nature around the DFW Metroplex this summer. Most homeowners have given up on keeping landscaping alive and are now just trying to keep their homes from disappearing into huge holes in the rapidly contracting clay soil we're blessed with around here. Public golf courses have "casual crevice" rules in place - if your ball vanishes into one of the huge cracks in the fairway, you get a free drop with no stroke penalty.

Our friend and resident psychotic, Gordon Keith, points out that not all North Texans are suffering equally. As usual, it's a class-warfare thing, which Gordon does a much better job of reporting than I could.

Rangers' most important series of the year

The Texas Rangers, who subscribe to the theory that "every day is game day", are gearing up for the make-or-break series of the 2006 campaign this weekend.

The Swingin' A's are coming to town, with their 7 game lead over the local heroes and a legit hot streak going (7-3 in their last 10). The Rangers, fresh off a topsy-turvy road swing which saw them make hay against the mighty Tigers and get pounded by the lowly Devil Rays, counter with a bunch of youngsters on the mound and an offense which is struggling to avoid flat-lining.

Tonight, young Edinson Volquez take the hill against Barry Zito. That's not the mismatch it appears to be. Volquez has shown a bit this year, both in OK City and during his most recent swim through the bigs, and the Rangers seem to have finally figured Zito out this year.

Saturday sees Eaton vs. Joe Blanton, while on Sunday we get Padilla vs. Dan Haren. Both of these games are also winnable.

Long story short, the Rangers NEED a sweep this weekend. Anything short of that probably puts a bullet into Texas' extremely slim playoff hopes. As evidenced by the fine work of the great Evan Grant in today's DMN, coming back from 7 games down this late in the season is near-miraculous, having been done only 5 times in the history of baseball, the most recent being the Bucky &%$#ing Dent Yankees of 1978.

By Monday, we'll know if this is going to be an interesting baseball Sept around here, or if were just in countdown-to-Cowboys mode as usual.

Tropical Depression 5 trying to aim itself at the Gulf

Here's another one to keep an eye on: TD 5 is kicking up down in the southeastern Caribbean.

According to Stormtrack, storms which fire up there typically do not make it to hurricane strength. However, as we all know by now, the models aren't always right on.

Again, take a look at the projected track on this baby, and keep an eye on the weather...

UPDATED 8/25 19:12 CT: And there you go, TD 5 is now TS Ernesto. It's just barely a tropical storm, but the forecasts are calling for it to strengthen into a hurricane, and just about all the models have it heading into the Gulf. Keep an eye on this one.

Cosmic outrage!

Been meaning to get to this since yesterday...

In a move sure to throw 6th grade astronomy classes and planetariums everywhere into complete chaos, the International Astronomical Union (a bunch of party ANIMALS, I hear) have stripped Pluto of it's status as a planet.

Instead, the IAU has come up with a new sub-designation called "dwarf planet", which they have applied to Pluto and a few other chunks of rock floating around the solar system.

Personally, I am outraged by this change of direction. My entire frame of reference has been shattered - I'm not sure how to get my bearings in a solar system which contains 8 planets rather than 9.

Heavens (literally)!

If that doesn't deserve a rimshot, then I quit.

"Entourage" tidbit of the week

Johnny Drama's resume.

If you're looking for someone to play a dead body, a bullimic pedophile, or a singing felon, Drama is your guy.

Surprising movie of the week: "Akeelah and The Bee"

It’s always an interesting experience to see a movie on a plane. Generally, its something you’d never choose to see (RV, Failure to Launch, Christmas With The Kranks, etc), but you plug the headphones in because what the hell else are you going to do?

Mostly, in-flight movies are nothing more than a distraction, forgotten nearly instantly, or a good sleep-inducer. VERY rarely do you see one that’s worth remembering or commenting on.

Recently, I actually saw an in-flight move that WAS worth remembering. And commenting on.

Initially, I was less-than-psyched to see Akeelah and The Bee. My memory of it consisted of a somewhat-favorable DMN review and perhaps a blurb on it by The Great Cogill, but never did it occur to me to go pay to see it. However, the old captive-audience thing came into play, and I went ahead and plugged my Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones (FABULOUS product, btw) in and tuned to channel 13.

What a pleasant surprise! A small film about an 11-year-old spelling prodigy (huh?) from South LA works wonderfully. A few big names (Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett [hot, btw], Curtis Armstrong [Booger from Revenge of the Nerds], Tzi Ma) are mingled with a few really good kids – keep an eye out for Keke Palmer (Akeelah), the kid’s got something – and everyone delivers. There’s some racial awareness – a few small bits about W.E.B. DuBois and Frederick Douglass, but nothing that will beat you over the head. Mostly, this is a movie about a kid, her family, and her community, and it could be anywhere.

The ending could have been overly sappy, but was executed so well, I didn’t even think about the potentially sappiness until afterwards. The performances were all superior, the script rang true, and the characters were all real people, a few of whom will surprise you with their depth.

Go rent this one. It’s suitable for kids, would make good family viewing, and is an unexpected pleasure.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No headline I write would give this story the proper reverence

Let me start by saying I think pollution and global warming are very big deals, and not the sort of things I should be joking about.

With that said, sometimes you run across stories which require no further comment from me. Here's today's example: Polar bear genitals are shrinking due to pollution.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

TO out again, or is it still?

Whee! Terrell Owens "reaggravated" his hammy and is out for the next preseason game, and probably won't practice until God knows when.

I am giggling my ass off! Yay, Cowboys!

Arizona morons

Some wacky pranksters in Phoenix released a couple of diamondback rattlesnakes in a movie theater. I'm sure said wacky pranksters thought their moronic stunt was a laugh riot because the film being shown was Snakes On A Plane.

Here is an example of some wacky pranksters who need the sh** beaten out of them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bob Dylan suffering from Good Ol' Days Syndrome

Crotchety old Bob Dylan says records made in the past 20 years sound "atrocious", with "no definition of nothing".

I'm sure he went on to say the equivalent of, "Those kids today don't respect nothing" and, "Today's music is to darn loud."

It happens to everyone eventually, doesn't it?

New tropical depression - maybe "Debby"?

Still a (thankfully) quiet season in the tropics, but Stormtrack has some news on a new tropical depression forming off Africa. It appears to be bending south, which may inhibit strengthening. However, if it does manage to get stronger, it may get a LOT stronger quickly, and head further west than originally forecast.

As usual, stay tuned...

UPDATE 8/23 11:47 ET - Tropical depression #4 is now officially TS Debby. The Stormtrack boys don't see it turning into anything very scary, nor do they see it threatening land, at least in the short term. The good news continues.

We're coming up on the one-year anniversary (if that's what you want to call it) of Katrina's strike on the Mississippi coast and glancing blow to New Orleans. Quite a difference this year.

Revised opinion: The Great Michael Irvin

For the most part, while I’m traveling, I’m not too terribly interested in conversing with my fellow travelers. I’m generally into the book or the mp3 player, perhaps the on-board movie, whatever. Anything but chit-chat.

There are exceptions, however. The most rare of exceptions is the famous person. Travel, especially when you reach upper status in the frequent flyer program and get the occasional upgrade to first class, brings you into contact w/ some people you might not normally get to hang out with. I recently had this happen to me, as I got to spend some quality time with former Dallas Cowboy Mike Irvin.

In days of yore, when Jimmy coached the team and they won back-to-back championships, I was as big a fan of Irvin as there was. I loved that he was never the biggest, fastest, or most gifted player on the field, but was often the most effective. He excelled through God-given talent (of course), but also, and maybe moreso, through an outrageous work ethic and a competitiveness and force of will the likes of which you see only in the very, very best in any field. Irvin was one of the unquestioned emotional leaders of those Cowboy teams, maybe the most important and effective motivator in the organization, and often, I think, the difference between a good team and a great one. What others saw as arrogance I often took for competitiveness and genuine joy.

All this made it that much tougher for me when Mike found himself in all sorts of trouble late in his career. The trouble ranged from women to drugs, and generated additional seedy, if ultimately untrue, accusations. I don’t expect athletes to be angels – I’ve been around too many of them and have seen how they are treated by society as a whole, and realize very few people could avoid the temptations they are presented with. However, I do have a tough time supporting and cheering for felons.

Mike, unfortunately, became the poster-boy for my disillusionment with professional athletes.

Well, I’ve changed my tune on Mr. Irvin. He may have been doing the false humility bit with me, but, if so, it was a convincing act. I set out not to whip his ass and did no more than nod to him when he sat down next to me. It didn’t take long, though, for him to engage me in conversation – he’s one of those guys who will talk to a tree stump. Throughout the conversation, he was funny, laughed at my jokes, seemed to be honest and open, was interested in my opinions (granted we were talking about his topics, but still), and, more than anything, just wanted to talk.

A couple of high points of the convo:

Part of his self-described mid-life-crisis is the need to make his own travel arrangements. It turns out he’s terrible at it and keeps winding up in crappy hotels while his TV partners are staying across the street in the lap of luxury. Pretty funny.

He thinks TO is a very different dude (which I took to mean Mike thinks TO is basically nuts), but likes the guy and encourages us to give him a chance (I told him we’d have to agree to disagree on that one).

He REALLY wants to get into the Hall of Fame. I mean REALLY wants to.

He understands why he isn’t there yet, and doesn’t blame anyone other than himself for it.

He’s VERY protective of his image now, and tends to over-explain himself so there’s no doubt in the listener’s mind that Mike is up to only good stuff now.

Overall, it was a really great experience for me. I enjoyed talking to him, appreciated that he was willing to talk (and talk and talk), and enjoyed his insights.

So, anyway, count me as a fan of Mike from here on out.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Everything you ever wanted to know about English football

Our pal Bob has an excellent how-to-be-a-fan article on English football, including how to choose a team, rivalries, where to go for more info, and a whole bunch more. If you're at all interested in taking up an interest in the sport, here's where to start.

My experience w/ the World Cup was so disheartening that I can't imagine getting into the premiership. I might fly by to see if the Brits are as gay as those clowns from Portugal and elsewhere, who seemed to go down with crippling injuries every 3 minutes, roll around in utter agony for 10 minutes, then pop back up and continue playing as if nothing happened.

How NOT to market a restaurant

Not sure what Punit Shablok was thinking when he decided to name his Mumbai (Bombay) restaurant "Hitler's Cross" and went with the Nazi theme when decorating.

I suppose any publicity is good publicity, but this may be taking that axiom a bit too far.

The Jewish community in India (I had no idea there was a Jewish community in India, but there you go) is voicing anger and concern over the establishment, which you would figure.

It's worth noting no one is rioting in the street or threatening to kill the proprietor or destroy the establishment.

Unlike some other OTHER religions, you know?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lost returns Oct 4

Another six weeks or so until Lost makes its triumphant return to ABC-HD. I can't friggin wait.

Let's see: We've got two weeks left of Entourage, more inane NFL pre-season (the biggest waste of time on the planet for my money), and the Rangers in full melt-down mode.

Thank God for Comcast, er, I mean Time Warner (what is up with that?) On Demand.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Big bust in the drug war

The Feds made a huge bust off the coast of Mexico today, nabbing Mexican drug lord Francisco Javier Arellano-Felix on his yacht in international waters.

Remember when the drug cartels were the most pressing "clear and present danger" we faced? It's almost quaint now, isn't it?

Leading the UN peacekeeping mission in S. Lebanon – the FRENCH!

Some WONDERFUL news out of the UN today: the French Army (yep, the dudes in blue who have hit zero-for-every-single-war-since-the-American-Revolution) will be leading the multi-national UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon.

I’m sure this pleases no one so much as Hassan Nasrallah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. If either of those guys were to choose a country to lead the UN force, I suspect France would be right at the top of the list. Maybe just behind Chad, Venezuela, and Myanmar, but up there for sure.

No word on how the Froggies are going to disarm Hezbollah. Probably, they will taunt Hezbollah gunmen mercilessly with zair reedeeculous Frensh assents. Which should work, right?

What’s the over/under on this cease fire? I have 10 days, but I’m an optimist.

Don’t make any major vacation plans in Northern Israel anytime soon. Unless you enjoy shrapnel, of course.

Neighbor from hell, or comic genius?

Here's a little ditty about neighborly confrontation/tension - Salt Lake City-burb style.

It's funny as long as you're not involved.

Uh-oh - Breaking news

A United Airlines flight from London to DC diverted to Boston this morning following a "confrontation involving three passengers."

This is scary. Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.

UPDATED 10:02 CT - It's starting to sound like a nut-job, not a terrorist incident: "...the woman (the apparent source of the disturbance) was carrying Vaseline, matches, a screwdriver and a note referencing Al Quaeda."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bruno Kirby - dead

Holy cow! Bruno Kirby, featured sidekick in a couple of classic films (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, Good Morning Vietnam), has gone to his Eternal Reward.

He died of leukemia at the young age of 57. I didn't even know he was sick. The last time I saw him was on Entourage about a month ago.

Not a major passing, but definitely a guy who's work I enjoyed. I am sorry to report this one.

Atrocity or theme park?

I have to tell you, if I'm gonna schlep all the way to Cambodia, I'd probably want to see Anlong Veng, Choueng Ek, and Toul Sleng.

Maybe not if the Japanese build a gift shop next to racks of human skulls, but it's probably on my itinerary.

You. Are. Screwed.

A federal judge decided insurance companies are not liable for damage caused by Katrina's storm surge.

If you live on the coast, esp the Gulf Coast, buy flood insurance. And read it carefully.

God, this sucks. But that's the way the game is played. Oh, and insurance rates? They're going up anyway.

Cowboys held hostage - Day # I don't know

TO missed practice again.

Is it too early to say, "I told you so"? Yeah, probably. I'll be the guy in the back of the room, warming up his voice, though.

Anyone want to try to counter this?

Gotta love those subtle-as-a-lead-pipe Iranians. They're holding a Holocaust Cartoon-Fest in Tehran to "test the West's commitment to freedom of speech."

And what, dare I ask, would happen if the Israelis hosted a dance party to celebrate the Crusades? How about a luau to warmly reminisce on the Bam earthquake?

Full-scale riots in the capitals of every major country on earth? Screams of rage from Muslims and liberals worldwide? Immediate invasion of Israel?

Someone ought to call these effing jerks' bluff. No one is that brave, but it would be nice to see...

Oh yeah. Remember those dudes?

Israel's Foreign Minister is on her way to the UN to remind Uncle Kofi about those two IDF soldiers who were kidnapped by Hezbollah.

Israel still wants 'em back.

How bad will business travel suck now?

As reported here last week, I had the distinct honor and privilege of flying from Hartford CT to DFW the day after last-weeks AQ Hullabaloo (oh, that’s catchy) and, I gotta tell you, it sucked every bit as badly as I feared it would.

Bradley “International” (I think they have two puddle-jumpers a day to Ontario, so it’s “International”) Airport has one of the most inefficient and bad-tempered TSA crews in existence under the best of circumstances. They were not at their best at 0500 on Friday when I rolled through there.

Oh, did I say rolled? Let me amend that to crawled. On my belly. Backwards. And upside down. Forget about the dude with the walker passing me. I was jealously eyeing the garden slug on the wall that was lapping me, while pointing it’s antennae at the imaginary scoreboard.

It was really, really bad, man.

Now, I will give my fellow travelers a break. Its not as easy as you might think to get all the liquid and gel out of your carry on bag. I went thru my trusty LowePro laptop bag compartment by compartment on Thursday night and, if it even rattled, it went into my check bag. Emergency contact lens solution? Gone. Emergency tube of toothpaste? Gone. Spray-on screen cleaner? Gone. Pack of Bubble-Yum (strawberry flavor)? Gone. Folding 9” commando knife? What the hell was that doing in there? Gone.

Not everyone went thru their bags with the same gusto before they got to the airport. The surly TSA agents were unhappy to do it for them, but they did it anyway. The number of party-sized bottles of Listerine, Diet Coke, soap, baby oil, cooking oil, body oil, motor oil, and what appeared to be lime jello, but may have been a vat of Nickelodeon Slime, pulled out of travelers’ hand luggage was staggering. What were these people thinking?

A big part of the problem in Hartford is the sheer number of olds who go thru the place. I’m all for respecting my elders, but it’s tough to keep smiling when the wrinkly old bag in front of me, the one with the remaining 75 hairs on her head (argh) dyed a color which will be found in no rainbow (fwap!); with arms that look like a Stretch Armstrong at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit but wearing a clingy, sleeveless tank top, WITH spaghetti straps, anyway (bleaghh!!); with earrings so oversized her earlobes are brushing her shoulders (dear GOD!!!) and the piercings in said earlobes are so stretched I can see the full profile of the guy on the other side of her through them (and probably play catch with a softball if we’re both good shots) (digging my own eyes out with a soggy Popsicle stick now!!!!); yeah, that one, moans to the security dude, “What new restrictions? I haven’t heard about any new restrictions. I demand to speak with your supervisor.”

Kill me now. Blow me up, dawg. Get it over with.

Two and a half hours in line. Time off my life which I will never get back. But, I was desperate to get home. So I rode it out. Yay, me.

So, now I’m looking at heading right back to Hartford/Springfield/Hell next week. I got a week’s stay of execution, but next Mon, I’m back to it. How bad will it suck?

Well, I’ve got to get used to the idea of checking a bag again. I never do this when I’m traveling alone – it all goes in the laptop bag or the roll-aboard. No more. Assuming I want to, you know, shave and brush my teeth while I’m there, I’m going to need to check the roll-aboard. So there’s 20 to 30 minutes tacked onto a trip (10 minutes to check the bag on the front end, 20 minutes to retrieve the bag after arrival, longer if it’s DFW – the world’s slowest baggage claim).

And since I’m checking a bag, I have to prepare myself for some TSA wanker going through my unmentionables. I have had no bad experiences myself, nor have I heard first hand of anyone else having things go missing. However, I get the really, really unpleasant mental image of 300 lb, bald, lispy, flatfooted, mama’s boy with thick glasses and poor dental hygiene poking through my South Park boxers with an unnatural grin on his face. Gives me the willies just thinking about it. It makes me want to strap my open suitcase to the roof of the rental car and make a few passes through the Exxon car wash, you know?

Lines at security? Who the hell knows? One would hope that Auntie Volcano-hair (see above for details) will get the word and pack accordingly. However, we all know Cousin Elmer Wayne isn’t going to watch the news or look online (“Inter Net? Is this a fishing question?”). He’ll probably show up with four quarts of fuel for his Zippo and that old Intermatic lamp timer he’s been trying to fix for the last four years, both in his carry-on. And I’ll have to wait while they violate a few of his civil rights.

And how is this going to affect the low-cost airlines? Their whole bit is turnaround time and minimal checked baggage. These new restrictions appear to hit them right in the business model. Low cost airlines don’t mean much to us in the DFW market – Southwest isn’t allowed to fly anywhere, and American has the rest of the market so monopolized that $1,400 airfares don’t even make us blink hard. But in those areas where they’re big (like, everywhere else on earth), this is big, and not good, news.

Oh, God, have I prattled on. Anyone still with me? Zeus the Waffleball pickled Ambrosia’s refrigerator kite. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. No? Me either.

So, long story long, we’ll see, won’t we? I will be back out there next week, braving the perils of the sky. You can count on me for up-to-the-minute, obtuse observations about the accompanying miseries.


Maybe I should stop citing Wikipedia

I really thought it was a reliable source. Maybe not.

Well, thank God for YouTube, where you can believe EVERYTHING you see.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today's comedy joke

Dennis Miller, funny guy:

"We need anything politically important rationed out like Pez: small, sweet, and coming out of a funny, plastic head."

They're back

An interesting morning so far, by any definition.

As you are no doubt aware, the Brits arrested a whole passel of guys last night on what appears to be pretty solid evidence they were planning to simultaneously blow up a large number of commericial airliners over the Atlantic. Apparently, the 21 "young British men of Pakistani descent" were going to smuggle some sort of liquid explosive onto the planes in their hand luggage.

There's coverage of the facts in all the usual spots (and some not-so-usual ones as well). I won't bore you with any other details.

I do want to express my thanks to the fine folks in the Brit and US intelligence and law-enforcement services. It sounds like they have averted what could have been another multi-thousand-dead, "spectacular" terrorist attack. Good show, boys and girls. Please keep up the good work.

I have two items to address in relation to this story:

1. My whiny, self-absorbed rant about how this will affect my flight from Hartford to DFW tomorrow.

The Brits have essentially banned all hand luggage, and that actually might be the way to go - just check everything. As always at DFW, it will take an hour to get my bags, but I can live with that. The alternative sounds like no liquids of any sort in hand luggage. Clearly, that would include the bottle of mouthwash, but what about the can of shaving cream and the tube of toothpaste?

Security at Bradley International (the Hartford/Springfield airport), is taciturn, surly, and inefficient under the best of circumstances. It is the only airport I've ever been thru where a line of three people in front of me at Security means a 15 minute wait. On a Friday, with more stringent controls, I'm preparing for a three hour wait. No kidding.

I am not excited about any part of this trip.

2. Why has the UK turned into a jihadist factory?

This is a puzzler to me. The Brits have absorbed the brunt of the AQ assault for the past while, or it at least seems that way to the casual observer. This seems VERY strange to me, as the Brits have more counter-terrorism experience and expertise than anyone this side of the Israelis.

Is the radical Muslim community more concentrated there than it is in the US? Are young Muslim men more radicalized by their interaction w/ British society than they are w/ American society?

I just don't know enough about this to render any sort of opinion, but it sure has me wondering.

You know what scares me the most about being on the receiving end of another AQ Lollapalooza? Not the risk of my own harm, as the odds of that are nearly nonexistent.

No, what keeps me up at night are these two thoughts:

a. Another three thousand or so husbands, wives, sons, and daughters meeting their Maker ahead of schedule.

b. You think the Federal govt is in your business now? Worried about your phone calls being tapped and your email being read? Concerned about the erosion of your civil rights? Brother (or Sister), you ain't seen nothing yet. If AQ manages to score another doozy, all bets are off.

There are so many reasons to pray for the continued good work of those who protect us. You can choose any one of them for yourself.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Why does everyone hate the Jews?

"Why the world hates the Jews" - Michael Medved has written as clear-eyed and non-defensive an explanation as I've ever seen from a fellow Jew.

Give it a read.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Science is our friend

This from the Beeb (love saying that) the other day: US scientists have proposed an idea to pump excess carbon dioxide gas to the bottom of the sea, where it will be stored in huge quantities literally forever.

Carbon dioxide gas is, of course, one of the main culprits in global warming.

There have been suggestions of using geologic formations to store CO2 before, in depleted gas fields, or injecting it directly into sea water. This new suggestion is potentially better in that the gas will be transformed, by the high pressure and low temperature of the deep water, into a liquid heavier than the surrounding water. This makes the storage of the liquefied gas much safer.

This sounds like a GREAT idea, and definitely one to keep an eye on.

Friday, August 04, 2006

TX DOT needs an a**-kicking

Last night, I drove the fam down from lovely, crime-free Frisco to San Antonio for a weekend of splashy fun at SeaWorld. We did an outstanding job of getting everyone organized and out of the house by about 7:00 p.m. and I anticipated a largely traffic-free, five hour run down I-35 to the Alamo City.

My theory held all the way to Austin. For 200+ miles, I averaged a nice, steady 75 mph or so, encountered very little traffic, and was basically feeling pretty good about things.

For reasons that are unclear to me, TX DOT closed the two right lanes on I-35 (three lanes wide at that point, btw) just north of the TX 290 interchange. While that in itself would probably have been enough to jam traffic but good, TX DOT was not satisfied with a mere jam. They wanted to full-on colossal balls-up. So, they left all of the on-ramps open, including those in the stretch of lane closure.

The resulting snarl was absolutely legendary. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes (and, I'm guessing, $15 in gas) to cover 4 miles.

We rolled into SA around 0200 this morning. I was PSYCHED!

Thanks, TX DOT. You guys rule! I'm gonna ask you guys to plan my next social event. I'll probably ask you to be guest speakers at the next PMI "How Not to Manage a Project" symposium.

Thank goodness I'm not bitter!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OU kicks out starting QB

OU has delivered a shocker of the highest order today, by apparently dismissing starting QB Rhett Bomar from the team permanently.

How blatantly and outrageously do you have to be cheating to get thrown out of OU? Ah, maybe I'm just cynical. Oh, wait, Barry Switzer is still BMOC in Norman. I repeat the question.

For the record, it looks like Bomar was "working" at a private business and was caught taking “payment over an extended period of time in excess of time actually worked.”

Translation: A booster was paying Bomar to play at OU, and put him (Bomar) on his (the booster's) company payroll to make it legit. Of course, the company is probably located in Fairbanks AK and someone wondered aloud how Rhett was still drawing a paycheck while participating in two-a-days in Norman.

I have said this before, and I'm not the only one who says it: Every single major college football program cheats. Every single one.

Time to talk about TS Chris

August is here, and the third tropical storm of the season is slowly building strength in the Atlantic.

Right now, TS Chris is heading for south Florida, and doesn't look like it's going to turn into anything too nasty. However, forecast models have been uniformly wrong about this storm so far, so take that with a grain of salt.

Current projections say South Floridians should watch out for Sunday and Monday.

One other tidbit to point out: Look at the projected track of the storm. That gap of water between Cuba and Florida? The one that has the track of the storm going right thru it? You know what's right on the other side of it, don't you?

Yep, that would be the Gulf of Mexico.

It's WAAAYYY too early to start panicking. It's not too early to start paying attention, though.

UPDATE: Wind shear has blown TS Chris to pieces. It's possible, if the remaining disturbance which used to be Chris makes it to the Gulf, the storm could regenerate. Most likely, however, we've heard the last of Chris.

Another bit of tech genius from Sony

The Sony GPS-CS1 is a little gizmo that clips to your digital camera and automatically tags your photos w/ latitude and longitude.

This is PURE GENIUS. Never again will you have to ask a beaten-down question like, "Honey, was this from Florida or California?"

My only question would be: How does it do indoors? If you've used GPS navigation devices, you know that being in a parking garage gives those things absolute fits. If the GPS-CS1 freaks out similarly, that would pretty much ruin it for me.

Why the Cowboys will suck again this year

It gives me GREAT pleasure to write this post.

The Cowboys (I am going to have to come up with a good, degrading nickname for them, as I am wishing nothing but failure on them this year) will be no better than last year for one, indisputable reason: Their OL is still terrible.

Drew Bledsoe, the Cowboys' ONLY option at QB, is at his worst when he's running for his life. He will fumble, throw INTs, and take bone-crushing sacks all day long if his protection is below average. And the Cowboys have NOTHING behind Bledsoe.

Last year, Bledsoe took 49 sacks, including a record 25 in the final five weeks of the season. Anyone wonder why the Cowboys finished 2-4 in their final 6 games? Look no further than the sack numbers.

The remarkable part was that Bledsoe remained upright and coherent through the entire season. I wouldn't want to bet that will happen again.

And yet, the Cowboys are doing exactly that. They added two O linemen this offseason, one a starter (Kosier) and one a backup (Fabini). And they let Larry Allen (according to Madden, the greatest OL in the history of the game) go.

Doesn't sound like much of an upgrade to me. According to our pal Bob, who's out there in Oxnard watching practice, it isn't:
They did get Kosier and Fabini, and we must hope that those two and the
return of Adams make all the difference in the world. But I will tell you,
practice indicates that this is still a major weakness.

Maybe Flozell Adams is the world's greatest offensive lineman, and his return will change everything. I sorta doubt it, but what do I know? Esp in comparison to the Pear-Shaped Football Genius.

And I haven't even mentioned the Cowboys' atrocious running game from last year. Think that's getting any better behind this line?

The big splash this offseason was adding T.O. (henceforth to be known in this blog as The Incredible Me). Got news for you, kiddies. If Bledsoe is in mortal danger every time he drops back, I don't care if your receiving corps includes Rice, Hayes, Irvin, Largent, and the The Amazing Stick-Um Guy. No one is catching much.

Good luck, Cowboys' fans. I think it's gonna be a long, long season for you.

And Mr. Bledsoe, I hope all your insurance is paid up. God bless you, sir. I am praying for you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Supply your own headline

It must be ComicCon time again...

Qana - I'm riled up again

Believe it or not, I really want to stop posting about Israel, Lebanon, and Hezbollah for a while. However, I keep reading things that get me riled up and I can't help myself.

Today, it's Qana. This is the town in southern Lebanon which was hit by the IAF over the weekend, resulting in near-destruction of the town and the deaths of 57 civilians, most of them women and children.

On the surface, it sounds like an out-and-out atrocity and war crime committed by the Israelis. And that's the tenor of the vast majority of the coverage of the story: Those dirty Israelis, murdering innocent civilians again.

Before you jump on the "Israeli murderers" bandwagon, stop and look a little deeper, would you?

This is not the first time the IDF has hit Qana. A decade ago, IDF shelling of the town killed approx 100 people, many women and children, and ended an Israeli military offensive against Hezbollah on the same ground.

What precipitated both of these strikes?

How about the fact that Hezbollah routinely uses the town to launch missiles at Israeli civilians in northern Israel? Prior to this last strike, Hezbollah was launching 10 or more missiles a day from Qana.

I like simple explanations of things. It might be naive or even stupid on my part, but I like to uncomplicate things as much as I can.

So, here's my effort to uncomplicate the debate (or dogpile) on Qana:

1. Israel does everything it can to get it's civilians out of harm's way and to protect them from the enemy.

2. Hezbollah puts civilians in harms way, and does so purely to play to the Western TV cameras. They keep firing missiles from the center of a town until the IAF comes and bombs the place into the Stone Age. Get 57 women and children killed? Call CNN, fast!

Help me understand this: Who's committing the atrocities?

The most frustrating part of this campaign: Israel appears to be making the right moves militarily, but is getting clobbered in the court of public opinion. Israel does, in fact, have the moral high ground in this fight. Why can't Olmert and the rest make the case convincingly?

Zimbabwe: It's not a devaluation. Really.

In a move the central govt refuses to call a currency devaluation, Zimbabwe has announced that three zeros will be taken off every bank note. In other words, that $1,000 Zimbabwe note you have in your wallet is going to be replaced by a $1 Zimbabwe bill.

The move is an effort to help consumers deal with the 1,200% annual inflation rate. No typo. Inflation is running at 1,200%.

President Robert Mugabe, as you would expect, blames shadowy internal and external "enemies" for the current mess. More clear-eyed commentators point to Mugabe's failed land reform and the subsequent collapse of the once-robust agricultural sector.

Oh, and by the way, consumers are being given three weeks to exchange all of their Zimbabwean currency for the new and improved notes.

Start giving to Oxfam now. Zimbabwe is going to need the help sooner rather than later.

Early Borat reviews

Once you get past yet another unfortunate AICN headline (this one by Moriarty), here are several GLOWING reviews of the new Borat movie.

I can't wait for November. Borat might take the Triple Crown (funny, tense, and offensive) from current holder Team America.

Funny Hezbollah "press release"

According to AbbaGav, Hassan Nasrallah has issued a statement lauding Mel Gibson for his drunken, anti-Semitic tirade the other day.

In case it isn't obvious, this is fake. It's still funny.

I think this is what "convergence" really means.

Cindy Sheehan "hunger strike" update

As mentioned here a few weeks ago, Cindy Sheehan and selected other peace activists are on "hunger strike" until the troops come home.

Here's an update on said "strike" - it seems that Cindy is allowing herself smoothies and ice cream.

What, exactly, is this supposed to galvanize us to do?

Somewhere in the Great Activist Beyond, Bobby Sands is either tearing his hair out, or laughing his ass off.

For God's sake, if you're going to protest, PROTEST. Don't waste everyone's time with this crap. And don't open yourself up to this kind of criticism.