Thursday, March 29, 2007

UK Citizens can't find dentists, the jokes write themselves folks

The British government introduced reform last year to only pay Dentists an annual stipend based on the business they did in 2006. If their costs run over that stipend they have to swallow the costs. The result: dentists can't accept new patients or perform more procedures than in 2006.  I first learned of this from the BBC Newspod Podcast

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to resume fretting over the new crown I'm getting in the morning.

Dueling Covers, three versions of "Hurt"

Johnny Cash



Kermit the Frog



NIN, the original but as you can see, not the best.

Fluffy Bunny used as news story distraction

To prove I didn't make this up, I'm also posting the link to the original website.

When white Christians Rap: "I LIKE BIG BIBLES"

Please tell me this is supposed to be parody. Please tell me this is supposed to be a joke...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Useful Utilities for you Computer Repairmen

There are a few programs here I hadn't heard of before.



read more | digg story

Scrapple

I've been hankering for some scrapple, but the lack of a functional stove means I can't cook any up if I even found some!

Anyone know of restaurants near Boston that serve good scrapple?

"There's two kinds of Scrapple. The good kind is made from the parts they won't put in hot dogs. The bad stuff, the stuff not worth eating, well hot dogs are made from the parts they won't put in that scrapple."

McCain gets caught stealing Bandwidth

Bandwidth thieves. You know who they are. They're the folks who hot link to images you host on your own site, making you pay for the page hits their sites receive. Many solutions have been used, from simply watermarking images to scripts that check the referrer and either deny the image or replace it with something offensive. (Rotten.com for example uses graphic imagery of an exhibitionist transsexual as the replacement graphic.)

John McCain’s MySpace Site used a stock template, and linked to images on the template creator's own site.

Unfortunately for McCain and his crew, the template was created by Newsvine Founder and CEO Mike Davidson.

What did Mike DO?

He did what any self respecting geek would do, he returned fire.

Specifically, he replaced a large, prominent image used for site navigation with the following statement:
Today I announce that I have reversed my position and come out in full support of gay mariage…particularly marriage between two passionate females.
Here's a screen shot copied from TechCrunch (Click the image to enlarge.)



Sadly, the typically clueless media is insisting upon using headlines like "McCain's Myspace Hacked!" to describe the event. This if course accomplishes a number of things. It further dilutes the term "Hacked", it casts Newsvine in a negative light and casts McCain's staff as the victims, when they were in fact the thieves. I prefer the headline "Blogger Teaches McCain Some Cyber Manners"

EDIT:

I just sent the following comment to McCain via myspace.com:

Subject: New Stance on Gay Marriage

Body: Mr McCain,

I was thrilled to learn of your new stance on gay marriage. It's unfair and discriminatory that heterosexual couples are allowed to marry and homosexual couples are not. The logic that Marriage is for propagating the "Family Unit" in a world where many married couples never even have children is in itself flawed and absurd.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Integrity Balls, where Oedipus Rex meets Fundamentalist Christians

Chastity Balls are all over the news these days. People are abuzz with both pro and con commentary on these ceremonies designed to emulate a wedding ceremony, so a Father can pledge to keep his daughter a virgin while she pledges to keep her legs locked at the knees.

I'll admit my post about Purity Balls was a bit disorganized, largely because I was left somewhat speechless by the perverse nature of the balls. Not only were women being treated as property to be safeguarded by their father, but this was being done in a manner that might as well be a case study for the Electra complex.

I'm a bit more level relaxed now, as I've seen that in it's own way, sexual equality has peeked into Fundamentalist Christian households and introduced the Integrity Ball.

"The sons get to take their mothers out for an evening of fine dining and fun, while reinforcing that young men should remain abstinent until marriage. The evening was coat and tie minimum, so it wasn't slouchy at all, but was very classy."
-- Dakota Voice Blog

You'll notice right off the bat a big difference between Purity Balls and Integrity Balls. In all the "Pro Ball" write ups I've seen, the Father was the one who took his Daughter to the ball. Here, the Son is taking his Mother out.

Why isn't the Mother taking the Son out to the ball?

The Blog cbeinternational goes into more detail about the difference between the two balls, but I'll summarize it as follows:

The Mothers never make a pledge. The boys however pledge to remain "pure". The Dakota Voice article on Integrity Balls explains the logic boys are supposed to use:
“So you’re dating someone else’s future wife,” he told them. He also told them that someone else may be dating their future wife.


Notice the difference? If you've done any reading about Purity Balls, you'll notice how it was all about protecting the virtue of the Daughter. Integrity balls however are all about not messing with someone else's future wife.

Despite the effort to create a comparable "ceremony" the sexual bias is only strengthened by Integrity Balls. The women are property. Women aren't supposed to have sex because they're their Father's Property and then their Husband's Property. men aren't supposed to have extramarital sex because in doing so they would be messing with someone else's property.

All of these efforts to preserve a child's virginity ignore a simple fact:

Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

"Purity Balls", AKA "Chasity Balls"

Abstinence only Sex Education increases teen pregnancy rates. This is according to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP). Providing contraception information results in reduced teen pregnancy rates. Despite the research proving this, many Conservatives insist in believing the opposite, and insisting upon fear mongering abstinence only sex education.

Now, conservatives have created "Chastity Balls" also known as "Purity Balls." The general idea is to have the father vow to protect his daughter's chastity in a wedding like ceremony, where the daughter similarly vows to remain a virgin until her marriage. They dress up, he wears a tux, there's a ring exchange, he feeds her wedding cake and the ceremony goes on to make the whole event resemble "Marrying your father" as much as possible.

Even nine year olds are participating.

There's even an Oedipal version for sons and mothers called an "Integrity Ball" that involves "telling boys to abstain from sex is so they won't defile someone's "future wife.""

The pledge read by the fathers:
I, [daughter's name]'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.


I guess seeing women as property is perfectly natural to many even in this day and age.

Glamor Magazine has an exhaustive article on Purity Balls.

Bill Maher on the practice:



As pointed out in the Glamor Magazine article, kids who take "purity pledges" are more likely to have unprotected sex and get pregnant out of wedlock. Sadly, Conservatives choose to pretend this can't be the case.

Below is a promotional video advertising one of the firms who put on Purity Balls. Watch it, and decide for yourself.

Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

From the online Quote Database:

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

"Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage."

"The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame."

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life."

"Avoid the base hypocrisy of condemning in one man what you pass over in silence when committed by another."

"Success, the real success, does not depend upon the position you hold but upon how you carry yourself in that position."

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." - Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger." (1894)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hillary vs Obama



Of course, the above has been tracked to the Obama campaign.

Myspace, full of spammers or just plain pathetic?

On a whim, I signed up for a Myspace profile. I listen to a few podcasts that have a myspace page and I thought I might as well create one of my own.

All of a sudden, I started getting innodated with "Friend" requests. I found this odd, because I hadn't told any of my friends about the page, and most my friends use LiveJournal as their primary social networking site anyway. I'd even used an obscure, somewhat mangled name which few if any of my friends even know about.

I looked through the messages and predictably found that none of them were from people I know. Some of the messages were clearly dating site come ons. "I hope you're still available" was one line, despite the fact that my profile was only 24 hours old and I listed myself as married. There was the friend request from a Los Angeles dance troop , despite the fact that I listed my location as Massachusetts and gave NO indication of any "Dance" interests in my profile.

I joined the Any Sedaris, David Sedaris and Distorted View groups. The Distorted View group was the only one where I already knew anyone, but as I didn't use the same username as I'd use on the Distorted view Forum, no one knew who I was, and as a result, had no way of knowing I was someone they'd even WANT to friend. I got still more friend requests and messages, and none of them were from accounts that were already members of the three groups I'd joined.

I friended Hometown Tales and Margaret Cho, but still, none of the friend requests or messages were related to those profiles. I began to wonder why I was getting all these requests. Having largely ignored myspace I knew little about it. I knew it was prone to attack by various hackers, many myspace pages are painfully ugly, it's full of hideous graphics, it's owned by a large media corporation, is worth 6 Billion and likes to threaten other web sites with lawsuits but that was about it.

The dating and porn site spam made sense. After all, Myspace was founded by a spammer. Why then were random people, many of whom had no obvious connection to something that they were advertising, wasting their time pinging random strangers?

I decided to do some research into the benefits of myspace.com but found noting to enlighten me. The friend requests from the LA dance troop made sense, as the were advertising something, engaging in a form of spam. That still left the people with nothing to sell, nothing to advertise who were sending out friend requests and messages to random strangers.

I've seen a little of this behavior on LiveJournal. People friend dozens of other folks in an attempt to bulk up their friends page, despite not actually reading any of those journals. I know most the people on my LiveJournal friends list in person. The few whom I don't know from real life (AKA meat space) are people I've met online with whom I actually interact. Myspace seems to have the same problem, but on a much larger scale. At first glance, it looks like half of myspace is full of people who are desperately trying to validate their existence by collecting as many virtual friends as possible.

The question then becomes, is Myspace full of pathetic, lonely people, or are more of them myspace spam profiles than I suspect?

I ignored the account for a few days. When I logged back in today, I noticed that most of the messages and friend requests were replaced with text advising me that the profile that sent them had been deleted. Could they ALL have been from people who threw a sissy fit and deleted their profile, or were they myspace spam profiles, deleted by the moderators? Given the spam soaked origins of myspace, can they be trusted to ferret out the spammers on their own service?

To use a tired old chestnut, "Only time will tell."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Researchers misquoted by Focus on the Family fight back

With fake or discredited scientists proving to be an embarrassment, the right wing sought a new tactic. It would try to bolster its shaky credentials by co-opting the work of renowned researchers, professors and authors. To counter this effort, Truth Wins Out recently began informing researchers when their work had been twisted...



read more | digg story

Bambie III: Out for Justice

This is Disney's latest foray into action movies. Here's what I found on the dust jacket of the Pirate DVD a friend bought in Hong Kong:

Bambie III: Out for Justice
The forest is under attack, and Bambi's father is dead. Every night is spent tormented by nightmares of the man who killed both his mother and father. Every day is spent fleeing the hunters who wade into the underbrush, killing everything that moves.

Then comes the day when his lifelong companion Thumper is gunned down. While cradling his dying friend in his hooves, Bambi vows vengeance.

Armed only with his new antlers and his thirst for justice, Bambi sets out to foil the murderers who, he learns, are planning a final attack on to kill every rabbit, deer, skunk and four legged creature in the forest.

Can Bambie and his rag tag band of forest creatures triumph against the guns, bows and traps of the enemy? Can they even survive, let alone find victory?

And who is the small, mysterious creature speaking words of encouragement from the shadows? Is it a friend trying to help, a foe leading him into a trap or is Bambi simply being driven mad by the terror of war?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ohio cops steal woman's identity, hand it over to stripper, and it's legal

Ohio liquor-control agents took her identity and gave it to a 22-year-old recruited to work undercover as a nude dancer. Her father David Dawson: "It certainly looks like identity theft." "But it’s not," said Miami County Prosecutor Gary Nasal. It is unclear how liquor-control agents obtained Haley Dawson’s License and Social Security Number.



read more | digg story

Monday, March 19, 2007

Phrase of the Day

Get CIA on your A**

A play on "get medieval" it refers to torturing someone using modern methods as opposed to medieval. For example, Water Boarding and Thumb Screws are used instead of Blacksmith Tools and the Iron Maiden. The emphasis of "Getting CIA on your Ass" is less putative and more focused on attempts at information extraction. Death is considered an unfortunate error as opposed to the ultimate goal.

The CIA reference is derived from the "alternative interrogation methods" authorized by the Bush Administration for use in the Guantanamo Bay Naval base and other locations. The typical use of the term to date has been in reference to documented US Torture techniques used in the "War on Terror."

Example:

"If this suspect doesn't start telling us what we want to know, I say we get CIA on his ass!"

I'm Banned in China!


Ever wonder if your web site was banned in China?

Now you can test to see if China blocks your URL.

Go on and test your site. You know you're curious.

A "Gay" reporter flirts with a male Westboro Baptist Church member

Bukkake Brand Milk (Oddly, SFW)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Jasper chilling after a feeding

I've been giving Jasper about 100ml of Critical care a day via syringe feeding. This picture was taken a few minutes after a recent feeding. He was laying back, rather relaxed in my wife's lap.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mac Software Links

Resources are always a good thing. In this case, resources for Mac software are a good thing, as my primary home machine is a Mac.

This is posted mainly for my own reference.

Sites to peruse:

coolmacapps.com This site lets users vote on their favorite Mac apps. Hopefully it will remain in that lovely sweet spot. Popular enough for the results to be useful, but not so popular that greedy Spammers game the site to pimp their wares.

macupdate.com

pure-mac.com A simple categorized list of applications. The link is to their Graphics Section.

DarwinPorts

macsoftwareguide.com "Only the best will survive, we promise"

Here's a list of applications I really should get around to trying for myself.

Quicksilver: http://quicksilver.blacktree.com/
Textwrangler: http://www.barebones.com/products/textwrangler/index.shtml
Silverkeeper: http://www.lacie.com/silverkeeper/ (I personally prefer iBackup)
Adium: http://www.adiumx.com/
Handbrake: http://handbrake.m0k.org/
iSquint: http://homepage.mac.com/tylerl82/
VirtueDesktops: http://virtuedesktops.info/
Unarchiver: http://wakaba.c3.cx/s/apps/unarchiver.html
VLC Media Player: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
iTerm: http://iterm.sourceforge.net/
http://journler.com/
Loro (Tiger only)
SimpleImage has been recommended as an Irfanview replacement.

This Digg discussion is interesting mainly because of the alternative applications discussed in the comments.

Remove misspelled words from your Firefox dictionary

We ain't none of us perfect, so if you've ever accidentally added a misspelled word to your Firefox dictionary, here's how to remove the misspelling to avoid looking like a fool in front of your friends, family, and coworkers

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Truffle munching away on some hay

Truffle munching away on some hay

"No, I be concubining,"


The Cincinnati Enquirer tells the story of Ricky Lackey. A man expecting six children by six different women "expected to deliver in August, September and October."
Ricky Lackey has six children on the way.

Don't call them sextuplets - they're each with different women.

When Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh asked Lackey during sentencing Friday on a charge of attempted theft how many children he had, the 25-year-old said, "None, but I have six on the way."

A stunned Marsh tried to clarify. "Are you marrying a woman with six children?" she asked.

"No, I be concubining," he said.

Prosecutors said Lackey is the expectant father of six children with six different women. The women all are expected to deliver in August, September and October.

Lackey's lawyer, Stephen Wenke, stopped his client from saying more.

Marsh said she wasn't sure how to respond, so she let the issue drop since it wasn't relevant to the proceedings.

Lackey, a music producer who told Marsh he was on the cusp of a $2 million deal that would net him $300,000 upfront, was convicted Friday on a reduced charge of attempted theft.

Prosecutors say the Avondale man defrauded U.S. Bank out of $3,975 by depositing empty envelopes into ATM machines, claiming they contained cash, and depositing bad checks before withdrawing cash on the falsely inflated balances.

Lackey has repaid the money, according to court records.

Marsh ordered no other sentence, because restitution had been paid.

As Lackey left the courtroom, a group of teenage girls there for another case appeared to know Lackey.

"Oh, there's Ricky Lackey!" one swooned.

Lackey shrugged the attention off with one word and a wave of his hand.

"Fans," he said.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Church of the SubGenius membership costs woman her son

Summary:

A woman has a son. She and the child's father part ways, but she retains custody.

She remarries.

At some point she starts participating in Church of the SubGenius events.

Years go by.

The ex decides he wants custody, so he starts the legal proceedings to declare the woman an "unfit mother." As evidence, he submits pictures of the woman at a SubGenius X-Day event.

The judge is so morally outraged by the pictures, which include a parody of the crucification with Jesus in clown makeup being beaten with, among other things, a Dildo, that he not only grants the ex full custody, but orders that the woman have NO contact with her son. The Judge confuses the SubGenius with a real religion, and refers to the "Art performances" as "Orgies."

Legal battles ensue. At this point, the custody battle has cost the woman over $73,000 USD and she still doesn't have her son back. The current judge continues to confuse SubGenius with a real religion and does things like order her to remove all SubGenius materials from her home.

The full story, complete with up to the minute information can be found at modemac.com

The Cleveland Free Times article is a bit easier to parse than modemac.com's write up.
When Rachel took Kohl to the airport on December 18, she had no idea that a few days later Jary would tell a judge in Orleans County, New York that Rachel was homeless. No idea that without checking on the claim — without even sending a perfunctory notice of a hearing — the court would grant her son's father sole, temporary custody.
Click here to lend your support to: Reverend Magdalen Legal  Fund and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Really Messed up News

Germany has it's share of messed up events. Thanks to mantarctica.net, I've learned about one that's twisted by even Germany standards.

The duo pictured in this photo (copied from mantarctica.net, but not hotlinked, don't steal bandwidth!) are in love. They have four kids, but the law is trying to keep them apart.

Why would the law intervene? Why would this man go to prison over their relationship?

Because they're brother and sister.

The brother had a vasectomy to try and persuade the government to let them stay together.

They're even challenging the law that makes it illegal for bother and sister to get together. The grounds for that challenge? Because it wasn't illegal to bang your sister until Hitler made it so. "This is a NAZI law! We should abolish it!"

(Side note, Hitler was himself the product of generations of incest.)

They're making such a fuss that the media is even talking about Incest, and the places where it's legal.

The story of accused Child Molester Mario Sims is downright mild by comparison. While he did cut off an electronic monitoring bracelet to skip the state and appear on Jerry Springer, he's only trying to marry his half sister, and they only have ONE kid together. Mantarctica once again has the best write-up of the stupidity.

Japer Update

I figured out how to get Jasper to eat Critical Care.

The 1 ml medicine syringe is too small to draw in the mixed Critical Care, but the larger feeding syringe can. I can't use the larger feeding syringe to feed him, because it's nozzle can't get past his molars, which is the only way to get him to swallow syringe fed food.

However, the nozzle of the large food syringe is exactly the right size to fill the smaller syringe from the back end.

I mix up some Critical Care, and fill the large feeding syringe. I then pull the plunger out of the small medicine syringe, fill it, replace the plunger and feed him. The syringe can't suction up the Critical Care, but it can expel it. It's slow and annoying, but it works. I used this trick to get about 18 to 20cc of Critical Care into him this morning. This is in addition to 8cc of banana baby food My Wife helped me give him.

While he still isn't eating pellets, he is eating lettuce, carrot slices, sugar snap peas and a little broccoli. He's also been seen chewing at least a little hay.

The family who adopted Tatum and Winona gave My Wife and I a gift basket that included some Oxbow Vitamin C treats. These have a bit of sugar, so I can't give them to our own bunnies, (Most of whom need to lose a few ounces) but Jasper eats them like candy. I mixed some in with his pellets and scattered some among his greens. At the very least, he'll snuffle among his pellets to get the treats.

All told, he's up to 4 pounds, 8 ounces. This is the weight he was at when he came to us, and is up and ounce from where he was yesterday. His droppings have even gotten larger.

He gets dropped off at the vet's office tomorrow. If all goes well, Tuesday night he'll have freshly trimmed teeth!

Thank you for all the well wishes and advice. A number of the tips I've been given have proven useful. Now if only I could find which box our food processor is packed in...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I've outsmarted a rabbit!

My wife and I foster rabbits for the House Rabbit Network (HRN). A few days ago, my wife and I took in three new foster rabbits, which were transferred from the MSPCA.

One of the new foster bunnies, Jasper, is underweight and lethargic. He's close to a pound beneath the healthy weight for a rabbit his size, which on a bunny currently weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces is a significant problem.

We've been trying to get him to eat. Yesterday, my wife noticed that he had molar spurs. These are points on a rabbit's ever growing teeth that cut the tongue and gums. This makes it next to impossible to eat.

We've scheduled a dental appointment for Tuesday (The earliest they could see him) but we needed to get him eating in the mean time.

The problem is, he hasn't even been paying much attention to liquid or mash foods. The teeth are so bad, that merely swallowing appears to be painful.

We tried syringe feeding him, but he would simply let most the food drool out.

We got some pain medication from the head of HRN, and when giving him the first dose, I got an idea.

The food syringe is rather large, but the medicine syringe is only a milliliter. I got him to take the medicine by pushing the tip of the syringe past his molars and towards his throat. This is an old trick that gets the rabbit chewing on the syringe, but renders them unable to do anything but swallow the medicine.

As an experiment, I grabbed some of the baby food carrots I'd picked up for him (The critical care is too chunky at the moment to go into the syringe) and was able to give him four milliliters of purred carrot. About an hour later, I gave him another four.

Remembering Fuzzface's medical problems, I knew that two to three feedings of ten milliliters of Critical Care will be needed for him to start gaining ground. If I mix the Critical care with water instead of water and Pear Sauce, I should be able to get it into the smaller syringe.

The sum of all this?

I now have a way to get him to eat until the vet can trim his teeth Tuesday.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Ted the Caver

Thanks to Stumbleupon, I recently stumbled across the tale of "Ted the Caver".

The tale of Ted the Caver is one of suspense and mystery. A few cavers are trying to find out what's beyond a small opening deep within an underground cave. They enlarge the opening and persevere through a variety of eerie and unexplained events until...

Well, you'll just have to read it to find out.

There's debate about the truth of the tale. Is it real, or is it a fantasy? Fake, fiction or a hoax?

What of the PDF that supposedly explains it all? Why is the link broken? If you hunt for the file, do you find the real origin of Ted's account, or is it a clever deception mean to dissuade investigation?

Read, and decide for yourself.

Help me collect SHAWS Receipts As a Fundraiser

House Rabbit Network is participating in a fundraiser that Shaw's has going on right now.

Basically this is what it is:

Members of your group collect Shaw's register receipts from family, friends, business associates, relatives, neighbors, anyone who shops at a Shaw's or Star Market. 1% of the total of all the receipts we collect will be donated by the corporate organization to House Rabbit Network.

THE SKY'S THE LIMIT
There is no limit to the amount of register receipts you can collect and submit. However, only original register receipts will be accepted. Register receipts will not be returned.

If you are interested in helping with this and you shop at Shaw's, please mail your receipts to me (NOT House Rabbit Network) or give them to me in person. (If you don't have my address and need it, please email me at halleyscomet at gmail dot com and I will reply by giving you my address.)

Help me raise some cash to care for foster rabbits!

How do you caffeinate?

I recently saw a post on Livejournal where someone referred to Mountain Dew as "manna from the heavens." I was perplexed by this, as Mountain Dew is, well, nasty.

Back before my doctor told me to cut back, I used to start the day off easy with a double espresso. When I got to work, I'd kick back a couple of bottles of Bawls doctored with a shot or two of Skyrocket Syrup. Now THAT was manna from heaven!

Of course all that would fall by the wayside if I could find a place to get Jones Whoop Ass Energy Drink (Sold in cans of course!)

What are your favorite forms of caffeination?

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Information all Rabbit Owners Need to Know

In the time my wife and I have had pet rabbits, we've dealt with a variety of issues with our furry companions.  From behavioral problems to life threatening states of GI stasis, we've been through a wide range of the things that can happen to rabbits.

None of it has deterred us from wanting to keep rabbits as pets.  We love these curious, investigative, playful and exuberant creatures, and wouldn't trade them for anything.

Below are things my wife and I wish we'd known about when we first started keeping rabbits as pets.  I'm offering this as a resource for new rabbit owners, and I hope it helps.

Resources:

My wife and I volunteer for the House Rabbit Network (HRN).  They have a list of articles about rabbit care , including an excellent Bunny Basics guide that gives a brief and effective summary of bunny care.

HRN also has a Blog with a variety of resources.  It's a good place to ask bunny related questions, as most of the people on the Blog are HRN members with experience fostering rabbits.

A lot of people will link to articles on the House Rabbit Society web site.  HRS is a larger organization than HRN with more chapters nationwide.  Both are rabbit rescue groups geared towards providing accurate information to rabbit owners.  HRS also has more articles and information on their site, including articles on keeping rabbits with dogs, keeping rabbits with cats.  HRN has an article on Guinea Pigs as Rabbit Buddies

Rabbit Health in the 21st Century: A Guide for Bunny Parents is an excellent book on how to care for your pet rabbit, and includes a lot of information that isn't readily available on the web.

"How to live with an Urban Rabbit". This book is a good overall look at bunny care.  While a lot of the information it contains is available online, it's convenient to have it in one place.

Vets

All vets are not equal.  There are a lot of vets who are excellent with cats and dogs, but do not necessarily have all the specialized knowledge necessary to care for rabbits.  Rabbits are considered "Exotics" and you need a vet who has an exotics specialist on staff.  Check with your local rabbit or animal rescue group for vet recommendations.

While your regular vet doesn't need to have a 24 hour emergency care ward, you should find out where the closest one is, in case you need to get your bet to the vet at 3:00 am.  Your regular vet is likely to have a 24 hour vet that they work with, if one is available in the area.

Health Insurance for Pets.

My wife and I have gotten health insurance for our rabbits from VPI.

The basic idea is that you pay for the care up front. There's a form that the vet's office needs to fill out.  You or the vet then fax it to VPI. VPI then reimburses you directly. All the vet has to do is fill out some paperwork and give you the necessary invoice.

The first year my wife and I got it for our rabbits it paid for itself within six months. Rabbit care can be expensive. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what is and is not covered.

The Breeder is not necessarily the best resource

There are a lot of people breeding rabbits for one reason or another who are caring, informed and knowledgeable people.  Unfortunately there are also people who breed rabbits who don't really know much about them, aside from the basics of feeding and housing them enough to reproduce and keep enough alive to turn a profit. I ask that the reliable, well informed breeders please ignore the next few lines, as they aren't about you.

I know HRN members who've been warned by some breeders to never take their rabbit to a vet, "Because the vet will just experiment on it." Some breeders have also advised people to not give their rabbits hay or greens and just feed them pellet food.  Anyone who gives that kind of advice doesn't really know what they're talking about.

There is a lot of misinformation out there that, if followed, will damage the health and well being of your pet rabbit.  Be aware of the source of your advice.

Rabbit Diets:

Breeders will sometimes recommend feeding your rabbit an Alfalfa based pellet food.

Pellets should be a significant component of your rabbit's diet, but much of their food should come from hay and greens.  The HRN article How to Choose a Good Pellet will get you started.  The Calvin's Care Corner - Rabbit Treats article gives the following advice:

An adult rabbit's daily primary diet is basic.

  1. unlimited grass/timothy hay
  2. restricted high-fiber pellets [apx. 1/4 c. per 5 lbs. body weight
  3. Fresh veggies [apx. 2 c. per 5 lbs. body weight]
  4. unlimited fresh water, especially in hot weather
Anything else is secondary, and thus a treat

Rabbits are NOT omnivores.  Most of the "treats" you see in the pet store are very bad for your rabbit, particularly the yogurt based threats or anything that contains sugar.

Pineapple and Papaya possible life savers:

I highly recommend getting your rabbit(s) accustomed to dried Papaya and fresh pineapple.  Many people believe that enzymes found in pineapple and papaya help break down the fur that a rabbit ingests.  Lacking the ability to vomit, rabbits can't cough up fur balls the way cats can.  As a result, furn can build up and cause potentially fatal blockages, which results in Gastrointestinal or GI Stasis.  This is also why frequent brushing is necessary, particularly during the major shedding periods.

If you like fresh pineapple you're in luck, because rabbits are very happy to eat the fibrous cure that humans generally avoid.  Remember to only give your rabbit no more than a teaspoon or a tablespoon of pineapple during any given day. Too much fruit will cause diarrhea.

Calcium and your Rabbit:

Rabbits metabolize all the calcium they eat.  Because of this too much calcium can be very harmful to your pet.  This can include various forms of  Dental Disease and bladder sludge.  In extreme cases kidney stones are possible.  This condition, while treatable in humans, is often fatal for rabbits.  I also recommend you get Up Close and Personal with a Bunny’s Molars

Young, growing rabbits, or rabbits that are nursing, pregnant or are females being used for breeding need a higher calcium diet.  That's why high calcium foods such as Alfalfa hay an alfalfa based pellets are good for them.  Adult rabbits who are not nursing or being bred however, should be on lower calcium diets.  This includes Timothy hay and timothy based pellets used in place of Alfalfa.  High calcium greens such as broccoli and spinach should be fed sparingly if at all.

Get your bunny fixed!

When my wife and I bought Beanbag into our home, we decided to get her four year old female rabbit Fuzzface fixed.  This was done largely because the hormone reduction would make it easier to bond the bunnies, and because we had a vague awareness that it would be better for her to be fixed.

The vets found a tumor on her uterus when they spayed her.  Fortunately, it was caught very early.  In the vet's words, "We don't have any survival statistics, because we almost never find them this soon."  That was the first, but not the last time Beanbag saved Fuzzface's life.

We later learned that "Up to 85% of female rabbits develop uterine cancer by the age of four if they have not been spayed." (HRN, Why Spay Your Rabbit?)

Neutered Male rabbits are less aggressive, less territorial and express fewer territorial behaviors, such as spraying.

Rabbit Litter:

Picking the right litter for your rabbit can be a surprisingly convoluted process.

Most clay based litter made for cats will clump around a rabbits fur.  It may be ingested when the rabbit grooms which can lead to a fatal blockage.  It should ONLY be used if you have a slat bottom cage that doesn't allow your rabbit direct access to the litter.

Litter made from Pine, Cedar or other aromatic wood shavings are bad for most small animals, rabbits among them.  The pine and cedar oils can cause significant respiratory irritation.  There is some evidence to indicate more serious ailment can result.

There's a cat litter on the market named sWheat scoop.  It's made, as the name implies, from wheat.  The problem with this litter is that wheat expands in the stomach, and can cause fatal blockages in rabbits.  I know of two cases where a rabbit exposed to wheat based litter needed gastric surgery due to a blockage.  This is major surgery, and aside form being expensive can lead to numerous health consequences down the road, assuming the rabbit even survives.

Corn can have a similar impact upon a rabbit's digestive system.  Because of this I recommend against corn and corn husk based litters.

Paper based litters are often a good choice, provided your rabbit doesn't eat much if any of their litter.

Fortunately, the two best options for rabbit litter are also the least expensive.

Critter Country Litter 'N Bedding is a compressed straw bedding.  It shouldn't matter if your rabbit eats it, as it's essentially straw anyway.  While it won't provide much in the way of nutrition, it at least won't do any damage.  It's generally cheaper per pound than most the other litters in your average pet store.


Most of the HRN volunteers, myself included, have become fond of using the wood pellets made for wood burning stoves.  These biodegrade as easily as straw and paper based pellets, which makes them a good choice for people who compost their rabbit litter. (The Magic Bunny Poo - A Composting Tale)  It's also costs significantly less than commercial  pet litters.


Most places that carry these pellets consider them a "seasonal" item, so stock up during the Fall and Winter so you have enough for the Spring and Summer.  Your local Agway or other farm supply store will probably have them year round, or be more than happy to order them for you.


Some wood burning stove pellets contain accelerants to make them burn faster.  Avoid these like the plague, as the chemicals they contain will be very harmful to your rabbit.

Litter should be changed every two to four days if you use a litter pan, depending on usage.  You don't need much litter in the bottom of the pan, perhaps enough to cover 90% of the pan's bottom.  Rabbits don't need to bury their pellets the way cats do.  You're basically looking to absorb the urine and prevent their feet from being scalded by uric acid.  Putting a little hay in the litter box will also be helpful.

If you're using a slat bottom cage that doesn't let the rabbit come in direct contact with their litter, then the change frequency can be weekly, assuming you use enough liter to absorb all the urine produced in that time, and you don't have any mold or fungal problems from the litter.

Bunny bonding, Love is in the air - sorta

Introducing two new rabbits, and trying to get them to live happily together or "Bond" them can be a problematic process.  A "Quick" bond is two weeks.  Three Months is not unusual.  Don't get discouraged.  Remember, YOU are the primate with higher brain function and opposable thumbs.  Most rabbits can be bonded, given enough patience and effort on your part.

These references should help:

Love Match: A Guide to Bonding Your Rabbits

HRN Blog: Bonding

You may be advised to take the rabbits on a drive in the car.  The general idea is to stress the rabbits so that they turn to each other for comfort and forget their territorial and dominance disputes.  Using a car for this purpose is falling out of vogue for two reasons.  First, it's dangerous as the rabbits are harder to mange in a moving vehicle.  second, it requires two people, one to drive and the toehr to hndle the rabbits. Finally, there are easier ways to do the same thing at home.

If you have a cloths washer, you can put the rabbits in a basket on top of the washer during the spin cycle.  Keep a towel handy to throw over the rabbits if they start to panic, and keep a tight grip on the basket.

An even easier trick is to put them in a cold dryer.  No, you won't be turning it on.  You'll just out them in the dryer, and if they start to make a fuss, turn rotate the drum by hand.  This will be enough to keep the rabbits on an uneven footing and will allow you significant control over the situation.  As a bonus, the steel drum of the average dryer will be easy to clean in the event of territorial wetting or pelleting.

Side loading washers are generally too damp for this purpose, and rabbit claws can catch, bend or break in the drainage holes that line a washer's drum.

Simply putting the rabbits in a clean, dry bathtub will also provide a slippery footing and neutral territory.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Microsoft Press Release About Their Next OS

Microsoft Headquarters,

Redmond, WA

Microsoft Software is pleased to announce a new product called WinTux.

WinTux will be a Microsoft Developed distribution of the popular Linux Operating System.

Aimed at the low-end server and desktop market, WinTux will offer the following advantages over existing distributions.

Increased Stability. By incorporating code from the Windows Server Kernel, the frequent crashes and freezes reported by many Linux users have been significantly reduced.

Better performance. The New WinTux kernel is a hybrid of Linux code and industry leading Windows Server 2003 stability and performance. WinTux will feature the expandability of NT with Microsoft Bob style ease of use.

More Software. WinTux will natively run all existing Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP programs and Linux elf binaries. It is the ONLY operating system which will allow you to run Microsoft Office alongside Sendmail or GIMP.

Ease of Use. The designers of the award winning product Microsoft Bob collaborated with interface designers from the former Packard Bell to create the easiest, simplest and most efficient user interface ever.

Lower Cost. WinTux offers significant benefits to small businesses who want the advantages of a reliable Microsoft product. Server user licenses are less than 50% of a comparable Windows 2003 Server Datacenter license, but include all the support and service packs Windows administrators have grown to expect from Microsoft.

Guaranteed compatibility with all Microsoft Software. WinTux and Windows Vista are the only operating systems that will be 100% compatible with the new Exchange FAT and MS-IPX. Both Operating systems also offer full compliance with the new MS/TCP/IP standard, which will be phased in by Microsoft, America Online and Mindspring during 2009.

Better Versions of Existing Unix applications. WinTux offers new software, featuring simpler, easier to use versions of the applications UNIX programmers have grown to know and love. Packages scheduled to ship With WinTux include MSEmacs.NET and MSvi.NET.

Freedom from the Command Line. Just as DOS has vanished from Windows, so has the cryptic and complicated set of UNIX shell commands been replaced by point and click implementations of the most important functions.

Better Development Tools. Microsoft Visual Basic.NET for WinTux will be released concurrently with WinTux, bringing the world's most popular and powerful language to Unix.

Faster Bug Fixes. Instead of waiting for a random hacker to find a quick fix to existing bugs, WinTux will have regular service packs and a dedicated, full-time development team working to ensure WinTux remains the most stable operating system in the market, second only to Windows itself.

Greater Resistance to "Hackers." Because the original Linux source code is readily available and authored by diverse sources of questionable reliability, it is inherently vulnerable to security breaches and unauthorized access. The WinTux development team has thoroughly reviewed all incorporated code for possible security holes, and restricted access to prevent the system from being compromised in the future. Moreover, you know you will be getting a reliable OS, because WinTux is distributed by Microsoft, and not the latest startup, quick-buck, no support IPO.

With Microsoft backing, WinTux will quickly become the industry standard in Linux distributions, offering more options, more software, and more reliability than any other distribution. WinTux will also be the ONLY Linux distribution which will be able to coexist on the same computer as a Windows Vista install after Service Pack 5.

History of WinTux:

Microsoft has long recognized the appeal of a Posix compliant OS such as Unix and Linux, but has refrained from developing such operating systems because of the reduced stability, scalability and security inherent in Unix style operating systems. Not until recently did it become possible to integrate MS Passport's security into the Linux kernel.

WinTux began as a result of Microsoft's purchase of Hotmail. Hotmail was running on Solaris Sun systems, and Microsoft has long desired to increase Hotmail's performance and security with Windows Server. Unfortunately, the Unix code caused significant portability issues. Microsoft subsequently purchased several firms specializing in Unix to NT migrations such as Interix.

After several weeks of research, the migration team coded a Unix Emulator to run under Windows, and WinTux was born. The new emulator showed an average 21%* increase in Unix software performance.

WinTux is no longer an emulator. The original code has been integrated into a Windows XP compliant kernel, producing a system that runs Unix and Linux applications with greater speed and reliability than their native platforms.

The first official release of WinTux will be three months after the introduction of Windows Revolution. Beta testers may apply for a special, low-cost, evaluation version at www.microsoft.com

*As measured in recent Mindcraft benchmarks.

88 ways to tell if you're stuck in the 80's

Back in 1997, a Russian exchange student e-mailed me the "88 ways to tell if you're stuck in the 80's," and asked me to explain them, since she knew nothing of American culture. I typed up the text in italics and sent it back to her.

1. your fondest childhood memory is when Skippy got his head stuck in the banister
This is a reference to a sitcom called "Family Ties." It was one of the most popular sitcoms on the air, and it made Michael J. Fox a star. Unfortunately he has been unable to get a part that is significantly different then the role he played on the show.

2. you relax by putting on your leg warmers and dancing to the "Footloose" soundtrack
Footloose was a movie about dancing. It was a popular film, and the soundtrack included songs by musicians who nobody listens to anymore...

3. you think the Two Coreys are "totally awesome"
Corey Feldman is one of them, Corey Haim is the other. "Totally awesome" was slang for saying something was "cool"

4. you're still bitter that Wham! broke up
Wham! was a band that played 80s music. George Michael was in it. He was the good one. (So you know they couldn't have been that good)

5. Punky Brewster is your hero
Punky Brewster was a sitcom about a grouchy old man who adopts an orphaned girl. There was a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon based on the show. The actress who played Punky is about my age (born in either 1976 or 1975) and I had a HUGE crush on her at the time. She has since had breast reduction surgery because of back problems.

6. you type all of your term papers on a Commodore 64
Commodore 64 was a computer. It had a green CGA screen. You can't find software for it anymore.

7. you still resent your parents for not installing a dumbwaiter in your house like Webster's
Webster was a sitcom about a white football star and his wife adopting the black son of a deceased friend. Webster was played by a young man who turned out to be a midget, which means he's still about as tall as he was when he was in the show. This was used by the producers to keep the "cuteness" appeal of the show long after the actor was too old to play the part. In one of the houses the family lived in, there was a dumbwaiter that connected the floors, and Webster used it as a personal elevator. This can give you an idea about how small he really was.

8. the only video games you play are Frogger and Pac Man
Frogger was a game in which you tried to get a frog across a pond or a road, while avoiding cars and the water. Pac Man was one of the first "arcade" games. I have a copy of the PC version if you ever want to play it. It looks just like the original.

9. you're building your own Clockwork Smurf
The Smurfs were little blue creatures that lived in Medieval England. There were magic, monsters and evil wizards. It was a Saturday morning cartoon show, and lasted for several years. They generated a massive marketing frenzy with numerous smurf-inspired products from stuffed Smurfs to figurines. Clockwork Smurf was a robotic Smurf built with Medieval Technology.

10. your summer attire is Jellies and Jams
Jellies are plastic sandals, and Jams were a bizarre form of shorts for boys, sort of like kool-ots.

11. A-Ha's "Take on Me" is still your favorite video
"Take on Me" was a popular song, and the video is actually pretty good.

12. you consider yourself truly, truly, truly outrageous, much like Jem and the Holograms
Jem was another cartoon, and she had a band called the holograms. The lyrics to the opening credits included the words "Jem, truly, truly outrageous."

13. you wonder why more people don't wear high heels, Jordache jeans, and lacy ankle socks
These were fashion trends popular among high schoolers during the 1980's.

14. you call all motorcycle cops "Ponch"
Ponch was a motorcycle cop on the TV show C.H.I.P.S. He has made guest appearances in music videos and movies portraying the character. For example, he had a cameo in "Loaded Weapon 1"

15. every time you go to the beach you look for Snorks
Snorks were an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Smurfs. They lived underwater, and had more internal conflicts.

16. you're still upset Madonna and Sean broke up
Madonna the "material girl" singer, and Sean Penn used to be an item.

17. you know who Stinky Sullivan is
He was the "Weird and clueless best friend" in the formulaic sitcom "Growing Pains."

18. you work out with "Get in Shape Girl"
This was a workout set designed for kids ages 7 to 12, and included a pathetic video, light plastic "weights" and a pole with a long ribbon attached. It is probably responsible for more bulimic and anorexic young women today then Barbie.

19. you want to be Molly Ringwald when you grow up
The single hottest actress ever to live. I still love watching "Breakfast Club," and "Pretty in Pink."

20. you enjoy dancing on the ceiling and wearing your sunglasses at night
These are references to the videos for two popular songs.

21. you know who Loverboy is
An 80's "New Wave" Band.

22. you think there should be a Kids Incorporated original cast reunion
Kids Incorporated was a show in which pree teens mutilated popular songs in a pastel restaurant with an entirely juvenile clientele. whenever one of the members of the group came near puberty, he/she was quietly replaced with a younger singer.

23. you think of Janet Jackson as "that girl who used to date Willis"
Janet Jackson used to date some guy named Willis....

24. you can sing the theme song to Small Wonder
Small wonder was a sitcom about an inventor who builds a robotic daughter who doesn't act very human, yet convinces most people she is flesh and blood.

25. every time you see a fountain you want to dance around it and yell "Fame!"
Fame was a movie that spawned a TV series. People danced around a fountain in the opening credits to the TV show.

26. you still have a shoe box full of Garbage Pail Kid cards
Garbage pail kids were disgusting rip-offs of the cabbage patch kids. They usually sported open wounds, mucus, severed limbs and other gruesome features. Each one had a personal theme, a way in which they were specially disgusting.

27. you petition Congress to make "Born in the USA" the national anthem
Born in the USA was a hit song by Burce "The Boss" Springsteen.

28. you still use your Snoopy Sno-Cone machine
This device was shaped like Snoopy's Doghouse, (Snoopy is a character from the Peanuts comic strip, animated movies, and animated TV specials, not to mention an Emmy award winning TV show) You put ice in the top, turned a handle to shave the ice, and poured flavoring on the shaved ice, eating it as candy.

29. you know it's not "comma, comma, comma" it's karma
Another song reference. This one by Culture Club and it's lead singer Boy George. Many Conservative Christians were up in arms over his gender bending attire, even though, compared 80's hair bands, all he really did was wear extensions and a little more eyeliner.

30. you stay up nights wondering what Bastian's mother's name was in "The Neverending Story"
"The Never Ending Story" was a popular film about a boy reading a book, only to discover that he was part of the story. The name of his dead mother is revealed as vitally important, but that gives away the plot. No one's really sure what the name is though because he screams it during a storm, making it unintelligible.

31. you have nightmares about the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak
This character was the villain on the cartoon show "Strawberry Shortcake" which produced a massive quantity of dolls and play-houses. She persists to a much reduced degree of popularity to this day.

32. you still practice your Care Bear Stare
The care bears were a cartoon show. Each one had a special symbol in their chest, and they could make the symbols do special things by "staring" at the villain in a special way. The more care bears staring, the more powerful a foe they could defeat.

33. you know that girls just wanna have fuh-un
This is a reference to a popular Cindi Lauper song. The video features a scene where a massive number of people pour into Cindi's bedroom for a party. (Think Groucho Marx to get the idea)

34. you can name all The Wuzzles
The Wuzzles were a cartoon show about an island where everything was a combination of two things. One character was Bumbelion, part bumblebee, and part lion.

35. you harbor a secret dream of being slimed by Alistair
This is a reference to the TV show "You Can't Do That on Television" Allanis Morisette was once an actress on this show. Alistair was one of the characters. Whenever someone said the words "I don't know" green slime fell from the sky, covering them. They also got drenched with water whenever they said "water." This was the first big show of the Nickelodeon network, and the slime has since become a trademark for Nickelodeon.

36. you can do the Safety Dance
Another New Wave Song Reference.

37. in your spare time you are writing "The Breakfast Club 2"
The breakfast club was a movie about a group of high schoolers in detention hall. It's a much better movie then the description I just gave would lead you to believe. I recommend renting it. Molly Ringwald is HOT!

38. you like to "connect the dots, la la la la!"
One of the many recurring phrases used by Pee Wee Herman in his children's TV show. The show was canceled when he was busted in an adult movie theater doing what amny people later claimed they "thought was part of the cover charge."

39. someone mentions Jennifer Beals and you don't say "Who?"
Who?

40. your prized possession is a collection of "Return of the Jedi" Shrinky Dinks
The third chapter of the star wars trilogy came out, and one of the products that bore the characters' likenesses were shrinky dinks. Shrinky-dinks were large paper drawings that you cut out, and put in the oven. Once they'd been in the oven for a while, the five inch cut-out would shrink to half an inch. I never understood the appeal of these things and imagine they were a huge fire hazard..

41. you know whose number is 867-5309
Another song reference. In the song reference it was the phone number of a girl named Jenny. The massive number of people who began calling the number is the reason the 555 exchange was set aside for use by the entertainment industry.

42. you get depressed thinking about Anthony Michael Hall's career
One of the stars of ""16 Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" he turned down the starring role in "Ferris Bueler's Day off" despite the fact that the director had written it expressly for him. Some other guy got the part and became a huge star, while Hall drifted in obscurity, his biggest role being as Bill Gates in a TNT made for cable movie.

43. you're starting a write-in campaign to MTV to bring back Remote Control
Remote control was a show on MTV that has since been canceled. It was on during the days when MTV's programming consisted primarily of music videos.

44. you drink Diet Coke because Max Headroom told you to
Max Headroom was a computerized pitch-man for Diet Coke. The character was so popular he got his own hour-long TV show. The show used more computer graphics then had ever been employed on TV before, but only lasted a couple of seasons. The world had yet to become cynical enough to accept the show.

45. you consider Jo vs. Blair the major philosophical conflict of the 20th century
Jo and Blair were characters on "Facts of Life" a sitcom that started off being about a girls' prep school. The show stayed on the air for a VERY long time. Jo and Blair, although true friends, never stopped bickering and insulting each other. Jo was a "tom-boy" from the wrong side of the tracks and Blair was from a family that was probably a member of the Illiminati.

46. you have a duck phone and ride around your house on a little train
The sitcom "Silver Spoons" was about a rich kid and his father. The family fortune was based on toy manufacturing, and as a result there was a small train in the house used to get around the first floor, and a phone shaped like a duck. These were some of the more mild peculiarities of the house and its inhabitants.

47. you want to be one of the Solid Gold Dancers
Solid Gold was a "Soul Train" type show, featuring popular music and scantily clad women dancing to it. These women were called the Solid Gold Dancers.

48. you still watch things on Beta
Beta was Sony's attempt to tap into the home video market. The tapes were smaller then modern VHS cassettes, but they held only an hour's worth of video, not long enough to hold a movie.

49. you want to change your name to Rio and dance on the sand
Song reference.

50. you know that "Weird Science" was a movie before a TV show
Two guys turn a Barbie doll into a "real" woman. Unfortunately the geniuses didn't do enough math to realize there were two of them, but only one of her. She was something of an electronic Genie.

51. your favorite proverb is "some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on"
This is another song reference.

52. you always waited for the Sweet Pickles Bus to visit your house
The Sweet Pickles was a children's show. They had a bus. Enough said.

53. your favorite party game is Hungry Hungry Hippos
four plastic hippos grab for little plastic balls.

54. you saw the New Kids on the Block when they were Tiffany's opening act
Both were teen star singers. The New Kids on the Block were the more annoying of the two, and both got their start performing in malls.

55. you liked Tom Hanks better when he was a cross dresser
A reference to the TV flop, "Bosom Buddies," about two men who pretend to be women to live in a "women only," hotel.

56. you know which Hollywood Square Jm J Bullock was in
Hollywood Squares is still on today. Entertainment has-beens sat in a big cube in a horrifying cross between a quiz show and tick-tack-toe.

57. you practice getting in and out of your car through the windows
The Dukes of Hazard was a show about two hayseed hicks who were always escaping from the law in their souped up car, the "General Lee." The entire county budget was spent replacing the cars the local cops totaled while chasing the rebel hayseeds. As a result, urban renewal was a pipe dream. That didn't matter though, since there wasn't even any urban areas around, unless you count the trailer park. Their chief enemy was a fat man in a white suit named Boss Hog.

58. you have the tendency to turn up the collar of your polo shirts
Another unfortunate fashion trend, and a "Trademark move" of the "Preppy" on "Saved by the Bell."

59. you're still wondering who really was the boss
"Who's the boss" was a TV show about a man working as a live-in maid for a woman. They were in love from day one, but it took most of the eighties for the duo to jump in bed. They didn't get together until the last half of the last season. The show is often considered a GOOD example of how to build and maintain romantic tension between two characters in an ongoing drama. It's also considered proof that it works better to keep the two from getting together until the end of the series. Alissa Milano got her start on this show. I wish she'd stuck to tom-boy roles after reaching adulthood though...

60. you know what the "P" in "Alex P. Keaton" stands for
Alex was a character in the already mentioned "Family Ties."

61. you keep asking your teachers if instead of the quiz you can take the physical challenge
A reference to the kids TV quiz show Double Dare. Failing to answer a question resulted in a physical challenge that involved slime, water, whipped cream and similar messy consequences. Studies show that people who watched the show as a child were 79% more likely to have a food fetish as an adult.

62. you organize weekend tournaments of TV tag
No clue. Possibly related to Laser Tag...

63. you still drink New Coke
New coke was a sick, misguided attempt to generate revenue. It was probably created by the same lab that thought up Crystal Pepsi (Clear Pepsi). If you want to know how both drinks tasted, imagine sucking on an old shoe right after chewing a lemon rind. New Code was quickly discontinued and "Classic Coke" was introduced. It consisted of the old Coke recipe with (much cheaper) Corn Syrup substituted for sugar.

64. when you watch "Terminator 2" you wonder where Vincent is
Terminator: The future is full of disaster and doom, time travel, cyborgs, obsession and a computer controlled future. I'll give away the plot a little by saying Vincent, a time traveler in love, dies near the end of the first film.

65. you know ALF's real name
Gordon P. Shumway

66. you never go out for a night on the town without frosted blue eye shadow and feathered bangs
Another reference to the strange things people did to themselves to look "trendy."

67. you can name all of the Thundercats
A cartoon about sentient space cats who crash land on earth thousands of years into the past (Or after global Armageddon, there wasn't any way to tell for sure.)

68. you got a hankerin' for a hunk of cheese
Catch phrase on an Ad campaign?

69. everything in your wardrobe is either pastel or fluorescent
The two dominate color schemes of the time period. Apparently, massive numbers of people went color blind in the 1980's

70. your musical inspiration is Sonny Mann
No clue.


71. sometimes you just want to shout, shout, let it all out
Another song reference.

72. you're planning a dream vacation to Mepos
"Perfect Strangers," was a TV show about two distant cousins living together in Chicago. One of the characters was a rural rube from Mepos, a country somewhere near Greece where vests are the ULTIMATE in fashion.

73. you use your Speak and Spell to phone home
A dual reference. The first is to an educational toy, (The Speak and Spell) that tried to teach kids how to say words by showing them on a green LCD screen while croaking a robotic mangling of the word. The second reference is to the hit movie E.T., where a somewhat disturbingly cute alien is stranded on Earth and tries to "Phone Home"

74. you know the original members of Menudo
A group of pre-teen boys who sang. When they turned 16, they were booted out and replaced with a younger kid. Rickie Martin got his start in the group.

75. sometimes out of the blue you just got to shake your love
This has GOT to be another song reference.

76. when you're stuck in traffic you tell your car to engage Turbo Boost and are surprised when it doesn't talk back
A reference to the TV show "Knight Rider." A sentient black car shared the spot light with David "Baywatch" Hasselhoff. "Turbo Boost" allowed the vehicle to essentially defy gravity for short periods of time.

77. you remember when Vanessa sang Kareoke to "Locomotion"
No Clue

78. you know that Mr. Steele functions best in an advisory capacity.
No clue

79. people are constantly gagging you with spoons
A big 80's high school catch phrase was "Gag me with a Spoon." Sort of like "Talk to the hand" in the late 90's

80. your idea of appreciating ancient cultures is "Walk Like an Egyptian"
A hit song that created a ridiculous dance craze. Pretty sure the Bangles sang it. (Hot lead singer though)

81. the only thing you know about the Nazis is that they threw Indy to the snakes
A reference to "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" Rent it. It's a great movie.

82. you still use your hair crimper before going out on a hot date
Another reference to 80's fashion.

83. you hatch plots to break Murdock out of VA hospital
A reference to "The A-Team." The show's opening credits are pretty self - explanatory. A group of guys are kicked out of the military for unnecessary roughness and become mercenaries of justice. They had the ultimate custom Van, complete with missile launchers and a battering ram. Murdock (Known as "Barclay," to Star Trek, The Next Generation fans) was a nutball who was always getting thrown in the psych ward.

84. you know which five people Serpentor's DNA came from
Serpentor was a genetically engineered bad guy in the cartoon, "G.I Joe." (Count Dracula, Sgt Slaughter, Ghengis Kahn & ?)

85. you have "We Are the World" on 45
A lame song a bunch of famous people got together to sing in an attempt to raise people's consciousness about some cause or another. No one really remembers the cause, just the very bad song. A 45 is not a reference to a malt beverage, but a vinyl object known as a "record" the dominate method of music distribution before Compact Discs (CDs) became popular. It was called a 45 because it was round, and spun at 45 Rotations Per Minute..

86. you're still sending death threats to Mr. Rubik
Rubik's cube was a device used to torture people in the 1980's, with the end result of driving most its victims insane.

87. you can feel St. Elmo's fire burnin' in you
No Clue. Song reference?

88. you watch NYPD Blue thinking, "Well, they're no Crockett and Tubbs, that's for sure"
The Stars of the Pastel adventure police show, "Miami Vice."

Lied to in High School

Memories of High School.

I went to three different high schools. One of them was a Summer school I attended to get ahead in some courses. Another was the public High School from which I graduated.

The third was Lutheran High School Westland. I refer to my time there as "My Two Years in Purgatory." I'm protestant, and as such don't even BELIEVE in purgatory, but I was there for two years.

I have a lot of stories about Westland. This is one of them:

Being raised in a Conservative Christian home has many side effects. One of them being that you're taught that Genesis is a literal account of how the Universe came into existence, and that Evolution is the Devil's work to devalue human life.

Now, my actual beliefs are ones which, how shall I put this, my mother would find blasphemous. In High School however, my critical thinking skills had been suppressed as behooves a Right Wing upbringing, and by gum, Genesis was literal dang it!

There Are a lot of apologetics in the Christian Community concerning "Creationism," many of them with a scientific foundation that would be viewed as fairly strong if evaluated by a truly objective reviewer.

None of these supportable views were presented to me. I had to hunt them down.

What I WAS given, instead of a real, intellectual discussion of the matter was a standard line about "Faith" and a handful of accounts that I will talk about below.

The first of these accounts was the claim that men have one less rib than women. This medical "Fact" supports the story in Genesis where God creates the first woman from one of Adam's ribs. This was presented as a solid, medical fact by my Sophomore year Biology teacher at Lutheran High School Westland.

The second "Fact" concerned "Joshua's Missing Day."

The links below give more detail on this Urban Legend, but I will thumbnail it here. In the Old Testament of what Christians call the Bible, God holds the Sun in place in the heavens while the Israelites are engaged in battle. The sun stays in it's place in the sky until the battle is won. The Urban Legend part comes from the claim that NASA has "proven" this to have actually happened after an analysis of astronomical data.

Here are the links:

http://www.freethought-web.org/ctrl/urbanmyth.html

http://css.peak.org/newsletter/1999/mar99/meme.html

http://answering-islam.org.uk/Hoaxes/joshua2.html

This fanciful tale was presented in that same Lutheran High School Biology class as a scientific fact. A ditto sheet was passed around,a nd all the students were wowed like good little Sheeple. One girl even went on a tirade about how the suppression of this information was a conspiracy to hide the truth. She didn't use such complex a sentence to convey this thought, but that is the essence of what she said.

These slices of information were provided to the class as facts, and I didn't give much thought to the matter myself.

Some months later, I was reading a book by one of the "Creationist" writers. Part of the content was an argument that the geological record supported a Creationist view of the Earth's origins better than it did an Evolutionary model.

At one point in the book, the author went on a rant against those who refused to allow what he saw as a healthy debate between Creationism and Evolution, and instead relied upon "fallacies" to support their beliefs. He explicitly mentioned the two slices of data above, and spent a page and a half tearing into them and explaining how such "nonsense" damaged the arguments and reputations of those who were working towards a more scientific view of things.

"How can we tell others the truth if we are made to look ridiculous by the tales of others."

"Any pre-med student will laugh at the claim that men have one less rib than another."

I am paraphrasing the lines above, as it has been a good decade since I read the book in question.

Of course, the "Missing Day" nonsense is just as foolish. If there were indeed a missing day in the cosmos, it would NOT throw a computer into error. There is not set of indexes saying what was where when, only calculations based on present observation. If the day was missing, then it would either be swallowed in the margin of error for the computer's calculations, or throw off the estimates of where the planet Earth was in the distant past. The computer, nor anyone researching the matter, would have no way of knowing the difference.

Both tales are an insult to intelligence, and the fact that they are still taught as facts in some places are nothing short of a crime against education.

Net Send Spam Art

On December 31, 2002, our server was hit with 20 copies of a the new wave of SPAM messages sent via the Windows Net Send command. I took a screen shot for the heck of it, and suddenly decided that it was a great source of artistic expression.

The images below were created with the Windows port of the GIMP, and the thumbnail page was created by Irfanview. The SPAM is provided via the Windows Messaging Service.

Thus I present my example of SPAM based Art.

net_send_spam.jpg
Original Image
31.78 KB
net_send_spam_cloth.jpg
Cloth
66.13 KB
net_send_spam_coffee_stain.jpg
Coffee Stained SPAM
33.63 KB
net_send_spam_cubist.jpg
Cubist Spam
26.55 KB
net_send_spam_emboss.jpg
Embossed Spam
32.21 KB
net_send_spam_globe.png
Globe of Spam
15.00 KB
net_send_spam_grayscale.jpg
Grayscale Spam
29.84 KB
net_send_spam_illusion.jpg
Illusionist Spam
50.43 KB
net_send_spam_julia_fractal.jpg
Julia Fractal Based on Spam
11.49 KB
net_send_spam_supernova.jpg
Spam Interrupted by a Supernova
31.31 KB
net_send_spam_tunnel.jpg
Tunnel Lined with Spam
11.17 KB
net_send_spam_tunnel.jpg
Spam Rendered as a Massive HTML Table
4.4 MB
net_send_spam_weave.jpg
Spam Weave
42 KB

E-Books, the legal kind

In College, I started using the Internet with regularity. One of the first things I found that I really likes was Project Gutenberg, an online archive of Public Domain literature that was constantly growing.

Well, in October 2003, they reached the 10,000 mark for online books.

In honor of this occasion, I have put together this brief listing of online literature sites. All of these sites are legal, offering up licensed or Public Domain content.

http://gutenberg.net/ The Granddaddy of them all, and probably the largest collection of electronic texts outside the CIA or FBI.

http://gutenberg.net.au/ The Austrailian branch of Prject Gutenberg. It contains a number of files that were removed from the United States public domain by a controversial US copyright extension. Keep in mind that it is a violation of copyright law to download these files in the US, but legal in countries that don't recognize US copyright laws.

http://www.baen.com/library/ A "Proof of concept" site by Baen Books. they've taken some of the books they pubish and put them online in several formats with "no strings attached." I've read a few of tehir books, and recomend Black on Black by K. D. Wentworth

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/

http://dave.pluckerbooks.com:81/

http://www.plkr.org/index.plkr

http://www.oreilly.com/

http://press.oreilly.com/pub/pr/1042

http://www.creativecommons.org/

http://www.ibiblio.org/gutenberg/

http://www.pgdp.net/c/default.php

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/

www.literature.org/

www.online-literature.com

http://www.cs.uu.nl/~franka/ref Programming language theory texts online