Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Keith Olbermann is my hero

I have been an Olbermann fan since the days of the Big Show on ESPN. While I disagree with a lot of his politics, I really like the guy to this day.

Now, he has taken another step up in my estimation.

After Sean "Windbag" Hannity said on his TV show that he'd undergo waterboarding "for charity", Olbermann has stepped in and offered $1,000 per second that Hannity can withstand the treatment.

No response from Hannity.

Everything I have ever read from people who have been subjected to waterboarding tells me that, regardless of your training, experience, general level-headedness, or toughness, it is terrifying. Your body believes you are drowning. I believe it is torture. Whether it's effective or not, I really have no idea.

I would LOVE to see Hannity do this. Put up or shut up, you blowhard. Hell, I'm in for $10 per second (I don't make the coin Olbermann does) to the charity of Hannity's choice.

C'mon, Sean, Put your kiester where you mouth is!

Bird humor

Have you heard about the man who did it with a parakeet? He contracted chirpes.

And the worst thing? It was untweetable.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine flu: Not sure what to make of this yet

Swine flu has taken hold in Mexico, killing upwards of 70 people (and many more if you believe on-the-scene comments on BBC) and spreading to a variety of other spots around the globe. The Mexicans are in a tizzy, the CDC is on alert, but I'm not sure if the bang matches the hype.

I certainly don't mean to trivialize the deaths of 70 or more people. However, I suspect snake bites take out more than 70 people per day on this lovely little planet of ours, and I don't see hordes of slithery little bastards on the front page of MSNBC.

I am intrigued by the flu story. A few things that pique my interest:

1. The rapidity of the spread, both in the population of Mexico City and the amount of geography covered by more recent cases.

2. The reported genetic structure of the virus, which seems to combine DNA from pig flu, bird flu, and people flu. Viruses are constantly mutating, and this may be all in a day's work for a virulent gene, but it sure strikes me as odd.

3. The out-of-nowhere-ness of the whole thing. Maybe this sort of thing happens, on a smaller scale, in the world of infectious diseases, and we just never hear about it. Whatever the case, I have never heard of anything like this, or presented in this matter, before.

I certainly don't want to be alarmist, or sound paranoid, or make more of this than it is. However, my little Tom Clancy-inspired brain can't help but ping on the thought that there's maybe more to this than we know.

Just suppose the Iranians, or the NKs, or someone else who has a ton of resources and a healthy dislike for the West in general and the good ol' USandA in particular (there's a lengthy list, yeah?) wanted to f**k with us in a big way? That part is not too far-fetched, right? There's no shortage of groups who would like nothing better than to go tinkle in our breakfast cereal.

Here's where I fear I am veering off into black helicopter-dom:

How hard is it to splice together your own virus? Obviously you're not doing it with a couple of test tubes and an Easy-Bake oven - it would clearly take the resources of a nation-state or the equivalent, and it's not the sort of thing you do in a cave in South Waziristan. But it can probably be done.

Next, if you were going to try to clandestinely bio-bomb the US, wouldn't Mexico be a great place to start? Especially if you had something really virulent and really easy to spread amongst humans? I mean, it's not like the security services in Mexico are in the MI-6 league, right? And its not like the US really has a grip on the border, right?

So, a couple of things are really wrong with my little hypothesis. One - Mexico City, which seems to be the epicenter of this thing right now, isn't right on the border. Tijuana, Juarez, or Matamoros seem like better places to start. Next, this virus, at least right now, doesn't seem to spread all that effectively - the cases which have popped up in the US and Canada (and elsewhere) seem to be less serious than those down south.

I'm sure there are about 20,000 other things wrong with my thought. I'm no scientist. I'm just a guy who reads too much, has a healthy dose of historical Jewish paranoia, and some well-earned 21st century skepticism.

I'm reasonably sure I am barking at shadows here. But I have to admit it popped into my little melon right away...

Movie greatness

I caught Schindler's List on HBO last night. It was certainly not the first time I've seen it, as it is required viewing for any Jew over the age of about 13 - it may have been incorporated into the Bar Mitzvah process, and if it hasn't, it should be.

This was probably the fifth or sixth time I sat thru Spielberg's masterpiece, and with this level of familiarity, I noticed some new things this time around.

Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler is pitch-perfect throughout. He has the physical presence to portray a man who will, alone and without hesitation, enter the gates of Auschwitz to pull "his people" back from the abyss. He completely sells the transformation of Schindler from womanizing snake-oil salesman to great, compassionate, righteous human - a man who starts as all flash becomes substantial enough to comfort with a gentle kiss the traumatized Jewish maid/punching bag of a concentration camp commander; a man who begins the film with no significant visible morality is, by film's end, capable of such moral clarity and strength that he is able to turn his back on everything he had professed to be interested in and care only for the victims he sees around him.

Casting Neeson was a masterstroke.

The rest of the cast is equally exceptional. The music is perfect. The little use of color in the film is perfect. Sets, continuity, staging, photography - all exactly right.

All this is to point out the perfectly obvious: Steven Spielberg is the greatest maker of movies in the history of movies.

Schindler's List is clearly his masterpiece, and, given the subject, may be the greatest movie ever made. Add to that his other spectacular success - Saving Private Ryan, ET, Close Encounters, Raiders of the Lost Ark (Indy in general), I could go on and on and on - my God, what a talent.

Sure, AI gave me a headache. Catch Me If You Can and 1941 were trifles (but entertaining trifles), and I'm still not sure what to make of Minority Report. No one hits a home run every time. Except Pixar, but that's another story - call me when they match Spielberg in longevity and production, and we'll compare notes.

I said to myself a number of times during last night's viewing, and have repeated it a number of times since: How fortunate are we to be around to see this guy's work as it happens.

The great news is he shows no signs of losing grip of his powerful gifts. Nor does he show any inclination to stop doing what he does so masterfully.

Thank you, Mr. Spielberg. Here's hoping you spend many more years embellishing your record as the greatest ever at what you do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

World's greatest business card


And, from the same secret stash - the card you get when you meet Steve Martin on the street:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cool picture with a downer of an explanation

I ran across this photo and was instantly intrigued. What the heck is it? A huge stadium in the midst of paradise? Some Bahrainian sheik's summer getaway?

Unfortunately, its nowhere near as cool as either of those things. Instead, it is a concrete dome which shields a crater and soil left over from H-bomb tests in the 50s.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Another example of this blog writing itself:

Sex offender found nude, self-mutilated; bit tip of own penis off: cops

Some info you haven't seen on Somali "pirates"

Much has been written about the pirates of Somalia, so I'm not going to rehash any of the recent news (other than to pass along an emphatic "well done" regarding the most-impressive marksmanship clinic put on by the SEALs last weekend). Instead, I'd like to point you at some back story that I hadn't seen before. Perhaps you have not either.

So, let's get one piece of business out of the way straight off: Some, perhaps most, of the "pirates" we are reading about lately are nothing more than thieves, hooligans, gangsters, etc. A sizable percentage of these guys are lowlifes in the truest sense of the word. The jerkoffs who are attempting to hijack ships loaded with food and supplies bound for Darfur and other African disaster areas are the worst kind of parasites. Nothing I am about to discuss applies to these cretins. These types deserve a Special Forces love-tap, and you will never hear a peep from me beyond "Bravo, boys".

However, there are some Somali "pirates" who do not fit this description.

Did you know (I did not) that, at about the same time Somalia's last true government collapsed in the early 90s, mysterious ships began dumping barrels of waste into Somali coastal waters? Turns out this "waste" was from European hospitals and power plants, and was medical and nuclear.

You read that correctly: Persons unknown were dumping nuclear waste into the water off Somali beaches.

Not surprisingly, the populace in the area started to get sick and have malformed babies. The 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami washed hundreds of barrels of this crap onshore, where more pronounced radiation sickness began to occur.

This was not the only indignity thrust upon Somali coastal dwellers.

As you might suspect, a major local industry is fishing. Coastal Somalis feed themselves from the ocean, as do coastal dwellers the world around. In the past 20 or so years, with no government to assert sovereignty over Somalia's territorial waters, Euro fishing trawlers have been illegally clearing the sea out (thanks, U2), leaving greatly reduced fish stocks for the locals. Needless to say, this threatens the livelihoods, and the lives, of said locals.

Local Somalis started going out in speedboats to dissuade the Euros who were illegally dumping or illegally fishing, or to collect a "tax". Hence, the emergence of "pirates".

Now, it's clearly devolved from there. A bunch of dirt-bag opportunists have co-opted what was a pretty legitimate activity on the part of the locals. The current situation has much less to do with real grievances, and much more to do with a bunch of thugs looking to make some quick cash.

That doesn't invalidate the original activities, though.

I had no idea. I'm thinking maybe you haven't heard this stuff either. So here it is.

Just another public service from your friends here at CIT.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A city official with a sense of humor

The natives are restless in San Francisco, where efforts to expand the use of medical marijuana are causing all sorts of furor.

I have gone on record many times in my support of the legalization of marijuana, and just about everything else, so I won't go off on rant here. Instead, I will point you to a story on the San Francisco Chronicle's site, where you will find the following gem:

"The mayor will have to hash this out with public health officials," press secretary Nathan Ballard said. "It's the mayor's job to weed out bad legislation. And to be blunt, this sounds pretty bad."

This, my friends, is genius!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Boston University Terriers - 2009 NCAA Men's Hockey National Champs

I should have got to this yesterday, but its still worthwhile.

I'm sure you ALL joined me on Saturday night on ESPN-HD, as my beloved Boston University Terrier hockey team hit the ice against the Miami (OH) RedHawks in the National Championship game. If you were so inclined, you saw one for the ages.

BU held a 1-0 lead for a good chunk of the game. But a series of mistakes late in the 2nd and into the 3rd allowed Miami to grab a seemingly-invincible 3-1 lead. After Miami's third goal at 15:58 in the third period, I actually said, "Well, that's it. Church."

I just needed to have a little faith.

A furious 6-on-5 which started with more than 2 minutes left resulted in two goals, both scored with less than a minute left. I almost knocked the lamp off the side table after the second.

And off we go to OT.

After half a period of overtime, which the Terriers dominated, although the RedHawks got off a few shots which nearly stopped my heart, BU's Colby Cohen launched a wrist shot at the net. It bounced off a Miami player and dropped like a dying quail over the goal-tender's shoulder without him ever seeing it.

I scattered couch cushions all over the place as the BU bench emptied, Miami players sank to the ice in tortured disbelief, and (no doubt) 400 beers and other drinks were raised inside T's Pub on Comm Ave.

What a game! What a win! We may not have football, and most of our other teams may be spare to fair, but hockey is always big-time, and very good, at Boston University.


Friday, April 10, 2009

A great gift idea

I think this is somewhat disrespectful of the office...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Daily YouTube: Creed is soooo talented!

I just about spit my drink across the desk at this one...

(Language warning, btw)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Something to look forward to....

My son and I have been wandering around in a daze, without purpose, without meaning.

Now we have both:

Why not have some fun, eh?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Daily YouTube: Hamas continues to spread peace and understanding...

Picked this up from Jewish Issues Watchdog today: Hamas has put on a little play at the Islamic University in Gaza, in which two actors dressed as Hasidim talk about how they hate the Muslims and want to drink and wash in Muslim blood.

First, I feel compelled to point out how chopped up the video is. I'm relying on the supplied sub-titles, and overlooking a great many, obvious edits. Is this thing REALLY as inflammatory as it appears? I don't know. We know this isn't much of a break in the normal tone of Hamas' "cultural education" agenda - any "culture" which can spawn a kids character as evil as Farfour, the martyred, hate-spewing Mickey Mouse ripoff, is certainly capable of staging a play about Jews drinking blood.

Second, I notice that the turnout for the play is not exactly SRO.

I'm not really sure what it is that we're seeing here. It may be something very different from what it appears.

But maybe its exactly what it appears to be. It is Hamas. It is Gaza.

At any rate, watch this little jewel and decide for yourself.

Today's comedy ha-ha

A nun, a priest, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a rabbi and a blonde walk into a bar.

The bartender looks at them and asks, "Is this some kind of joke?"

Monday, April 06, 2009

Just when I had forgotten why life is worth living

Lest we forget all that is Charlie the Unicorn:

Now I feel much better.....

Thank you and good night!

Pre-Passover Jewish joke

A Jewish man and his wife, who is hard of hearing, are driving to the Catskills when they are stopped by a State Trooper and the following exchange ensues.

State Trooper, "Did you know you were speeding?"

Wife, "What?"

Husband, "He asks if knew I was speeding!"

State Trooper, "Let me see your driver's license."

Wife, "What?"

Husband, "He wants to see my driver's license!"

The State Trooper looks at the address and says, "So... you're from the Bronx? I once met THE MOST AWFUL WOMAN there."

Wife, "What?"

Husband, "He says he knows you!"

A day full of hope

April again, and a new baseball season is upon us. There are differences between April 2009 and Aprils of the recent past. I think there's reason to hope for a reasonably entertaining and satisfying season.

I can say this on April 5. Will I be saying the same thing on June 5?

So, what is different? Some minor stuff, and one critical, critical element. Allow me to elaborate.

I like this infield. A lot. The addition of ultra-prospect Elvis Andrus at SS, accompanied by Mike Young's move to 3B, and what should be a settled arrangement at 1B, solidifies things defensively. None of these guys are Tinker, Evers, or Chance, but, if the hype is to be believed, Andrus has a chance to star in his own poem and the whole bunch ought to improve over last year's butcher shop. The law of averages nearly ensures steadier fielding after last year's anti-clinic, right?

Offensively, the infield should be set for a pretty good, if not spectacular year. Young, Kinsler, Davis, and Saltalamacchia ought to produce some hits.

The outfield is OK, I think. I don't know that Andruw Jones has much left, but Rudy seems to think he's got plenty. I am still not sure if Rudy Jaramillio is Batting Cage Jesus or the most overrated dude to ever apply pine tar - if he's so great, how come this team hasn't hit with men in scoring position since the Clinton Administration? Either way, he seems to get some respect around the league, and if he says take a look at Jones, we probably ought to wait until at least early May before we run him out of town.

The biggest change, the biggest difference between today and the last 5 or 6 Opening Days is the state of the pitching staff. No, Walter Johnson and Cy Young have not returned from beyond the grave to don Ranger blue and red. We can look forward to mostly the same guys who have spared us to death over recent campaigns. However, for a change, we did not see a catastrophic injury in spring training. Shockingly, the Rangers start the season with the entire staff on the active roster.

This is a near-miracle. I mean, really. Not Parting of the Red Sea (how timely, yeah?), but pretty amazing.

Does this mean Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, et al are going to throw strikes? No, that remains to be seen. But the fact they're available at the start of the season is beyond encouraging.

All in all, despite the 50-degree chill in the air (and the freeze warning for tonight - alas for my newly-planted snapdragons!), I would like to be fighting traffic on Collins today in an effort to catch me some Opening Day festivities!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Daily YouTube: Aircraft graveyard

In midst of the Arizona desert, there is AMARC, where military aircraft go to be mummified.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Electrical happy fun time

For your amusement: A gallery of the scariest electrical/telephone/television wiring lash-ups you have ever seen.

And you thought the spaghetti behind your TV was bad...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Daily YouTube: This was my dream last night

I knew I shouldn't have had that hot-fudge-and-anchovie sundae right before bed...