Monday, July 30, 2007

Where I should be living...

Downtown living ain't easy, but some people are doing it with more style than others.

My philosophizing would be extra-Cryptic in these digs.

Slime in the ice machine no more

As a former Houstonian, I ponder the passing of Marvin Zindler, the toupee-wearing, slime-in-the-ice-machine-exposing, Chicken-Ranch-closing weirdo of Houston's Eyewitness News. No one will ever wear unnaturally-tinted sunglasses indoors the way you did.

Say it with me: Maaaaaaaaaaarvin Zindler, Eyyyyeeeeeeewiiitnessss Neeeeewwwwwsssss!!!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

America's fucked-up priorities

Just read this. Then get mad and say fuck. It won't hurt anyone.

It's not easy being red

From Think Progress via HuffPo, Gonzo seems to have fewer and fewer friends lately:
[Fox News host] Chris Wallace revealed that no conservative would willingly defend Gonzales on Fox. “By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales,” said Wallace. “We had no takers.”
Ah, sweet, sweet Schadenfreude.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Victory in the War on Terror...oh wait...

I'm horrified that this happened in my town, and I am mystified that it occurred without so much as a hiccup from "War on Terror" proponents.
When Paul Ross Evans was arrested in April and accused of leaving a bomb at an Austin clinic that performs abortions, he had with him, according to court documents, the name of the clinic and other names and addresses that could hint at greater plans.


"Mr. Evans placed a live bomb packed with nails in a place where he knew people would be hurt or killed if it went off," U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said in a statement. "Through good police work and a little luck Mr. Evans' plan was prevented."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Taking quizzes completes me...

Just for fun, I took the "What Kind of Conservative Are you?" and "What Kind of Liberal are You?" quizzes (h/t to OYSH). The results were not all that surprising.

How to Win a Fight With a Liberal is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Conservative Identity:

You are an Anti-government Gunslinger, also known as a libertarian conservative. You believe in smaller government, states’ rights, gun rights, and that, as Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Take the quiz at

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

I think these two are consistent, kind of.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Donations appreciated

Thanks to a brilliant suggestion from an adoring fan, I am now accepting donations to the Buy Me a Tank Fund. Contributions are not even remotely tax-deductible. Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Teh kitteh goes primetime

The Economist opines on lolcats. So does Time.


Makes me feel funny...

Pib and Pog demonstrate the dangers of digitally-encoded video discs:

Watch at your own risk :p

More Pib and Pog fun:

Why, it's concentrated sulfuric acid!!!

Politics and hotties

I'm fascinated by politics. I'm fascinated (flummoxed?) by hotties. I don't think, however, that hotties in politics is the most pressing issue of the day. I guess Chris Matthews doesn't think he has anything better to do.

Cat proves to be smarter than human owners

Here's a thought: if you're going to be moving from Hawaii to California, keep an eye on your cat while you are packing:
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A cat that spent nearly three weeks crossing the Pacific inside a shipping container with no food or water appears to be just fine.

Pamela Escamilla lost sight of her 3-year-old calico, Spice, while packing a large container with household goods in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii. The container was shipped June 15 to Southern California.


As it turns out, Spice spent 18 days in the pitch-black container without food or water before arriving at the San Bernardino home of Escamilla’s parents on Tuesday.

“We really thought that cat was going to be dead,” said Edward Gardner, Escamilla’s father.

When Escamilla opened the container, she and family members noticed fluffs of cat hair on the floor. They started removing items, and Escamilla climbed into the container to search.

She said she saw Spice poke her head out from behind some bicycles.

“I started to scream,” she said.

Escamilla gently picked up the cat and took her to a veterinarian who said the feline’s prognosis was good. Spice’s kidneys had shrunk and her bowels were backed up, but she managed to get some food and water down at the vet, Escamilla said.

Escamilla said the veterinarian told her that calicos have a strong survival instinct.

“It’s always a good day when the cat’s alive,” said Escamilla. “We didn’t know what we would find.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Meat & hotties

I don't know WTF this is, but I figured it's worth passing on to you:

A humorous interlude

Still want to have a beer with the guy?

I never did, but now I really don't after reading this.

On language

Here's an interesting thought from Sasha Volokh:
There is no such thing as the English language. Every person speaks slightly differently, understands a slightly different set of words, uses words slightly differently. When we say that a set of people "speaks English," this is a sloppy shorthand that means that when each of them speaks the way he normally speaks, the other people in the set can mostly understand what he's saying, and the meaning he's trying to convey is more or less the meaning they get. It's just an empirical statement about the degree of overlap between each person's "language."
Language is really a contract of sorts, and some of its terms are much more clear than others. When I use the word "dog," for instance, with another English speaker, it is mostly likely agreed that I am referring to a member of the species Canis lupus familiaris, a/k/a the domestic dog. However, "dog" could have other meanings as well, depending on the context, but it is unlikely that serious errors of understanding could occur between English speakers over the word "dog."

The real problem occurs with so-called "abstract" words, i.e. faith, justice, liberty, etc. Where the "contract" of language breaks down altogether is in politics. "Liberal" and "conservative" mean different things to each person saying the words. I like to use the word "conserfascist" to describe those currently in power in certain branches of the government, because their actions run so counter to my conception of "conservatism," yet as part of the Republican Party they get to claim conservatism's mantle.

My favorite example is a quote, allegedly from Winston Churchill, that gets tossed about these days:
Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
Churchill, if he ever said this, was probably referring to political parties of his day, so the quote's usefulness in today's context is quite questionable. These days, at least in the parlance of the White House and its media flacks, opposition to the Iraq occupation and misdaventures of the Bush Admin makes one a "liberal," and unquestioning fealty to said Admin makes one a good "conservative." Churchill would probably be scratching his head at this.

The sad right-wing legacy

I'd been thinking about what to write regarding the sad--pathetic, really--legacy of the past six years, and what it might mean for America moving forward. Thanks to the Smirking Chimp (great name, BTW), I can just second what he said:
Hypocritical homophobia and equally disingenuous Clinton-bashing. That seems to be the remaining platform of the Republican Party. They can no longer claim to be fiscally responsible, strong on defense, or more committed to the family values they've used as an ongoing wedge issue, so they are reduced to these two weak and twisted arrows in their near empty quiver: Democrats are sissies, and Bill Clinton was worse than our guy.

What a powerful case. Though the American public bought this bill of goods for far too long, it should come as no surprise that we're not buying it any longer.

But that's all the right has left.
Everything boils down to a cry of "we are manly men" and "whatever we've done, Clinton was worse." Not much of a way to lead a nation. We can do better, and I hope we will.

Monday, July 23, 2007

At least she's trying something - UPDATED

So Cindy Sheehan has threatened to run for Nancy Pelosi's House seat if she doesn't push impeachment against Dubya, and now she is starting to make good on parts of her threat by coming to Washington. For my part, I say bravo. I may not agree with every single thing Sheehan has done, but she is doing something, which is more than most can say.

And what sort of response does she get? Not at all surprisingly, the press is quite lukewarm to the idea of impeachment, as are many Democrats, and nobody really seems to understand the situation (although they are more than happy to lecture the rest of us.) USA Today's DeWayne Wickham offers a primer on "the politics of impeachment" (h/t to War Room):
Like Pelosi — and just about every other Democrat in the House of Representatives — Sheehan wants Bush to withdraw American forces from the sectarian quagmire that rages in Iraq. But unlike Pelosi, Sheehan doesn't seem to understand the politics of impeachment.

While Democrats have the simple majority that is needed to adopt articles of impeachment against Bush, assuming the vast majority of House Democrats would support such a move, the 49 Senate Democrats and the two independents who are aligned with them fall far short of the 67 votes needed in that body to convict Bush of an impeachable offense. In fact, not a single Republican senator has shown any willingness to support a move to impeach Bush, the GOP's titular head.

If Pelosi did push the House to impeach the president, Congress would plunge into an even deeper partisan divide and there would be little hope of a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq before the president's fate is decided.
First of all, there have been a mere two successful impeachments in U.S. history (Nixon doesn't count), and no president has ever been removed from office after an impeachment. To speak of understanding the "politics of impeachment" is to ignore the almost total lack of precedent in this endeavor. Wickham acknowledges that there are probably enough votes in the House to impeach Bush (and/or Cheney), but states (correctly) that there are not enough votes for the 2/3 majority needed in the Senate to actually remove him/them from office. Moral of the story: if you can't win, don't try.

This of course runs counter to just about anything one would teach a child, so why is it okay for American politics? The Repubs had to have known in 1998 that there would not be enough votes in the Senate to remove Clinton from office, but they did it anyway. If lying about a blow job and trying to cover up lying about a blow job were enough to merit impeachment less than nine years ago, even without the likelihood of a conviction, why is impeachment off the table now? The most difficult part for the House Judiciary Committee ought to be which scandal to choose. Then, make the Repubs explain why these guys shouldn't be impeached and removed.

But is the Clinton impeachment debacle really something we should want to repeat? Wickham goes on:
The Republican effort to impeach President Clinton dragged on for four months from October 1998 to February 1999 — a time during which much of Congress' other business virtually came to a halt.

So why should Pelosi lead House Democrats into that political bog?

If Sheehan's goal is to end the war, and not just drag Bush into an impeachment process that he would likely win, she should set her sights on the House and Senate Republicans who are thwarting the efforts of Democrats to enact legislation that would force the president to accept a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

If it's an election fight she wants, Sheehan and her supporters should take on those Republicans. But, instead, Sheehan threatens to rain friendly fire down upon Pelosi, a leader of the anti-war forces on Capitol Hill.

That doesn't make sense.
Yes, it does make sense, and I will tell you why in a second. But first of all, what other business will be neglected during an impeachment drive? As a corollary to that question, is Sheehan's main goal to end the war? I haven't asked her, and I don't think Wickham has either. This is bigger than the Iraq occupation (not so much "war") nowadays. It is becoming a question about what sort of nation we want to be, and whether we really want the sorts of freedoms and liberties we have supposedly stood for to remain. Congress is tasked, in part, with acting as a check on the power of the executive, so what possible business could be more important than setting the balance of powers straight? Wickham continues:
Impeachment should be treated as a serious matter — and not a means of settling political scores. It shouldn't be used to resolve a policy dispute. As misguided as I think the president was in ordering an invasion of Iraq — and as wrong as I think he is to keep U.S. troops immersed in Iraq's civil war — I don't think his bad acts rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
The irony of using language about "settling political scores" notwithstanding (unless you really believe the Clinton impeachment was about a love of truth and honesty over all), the very fabric of our democracy, as shown through the transparency of our government and the accountability of our leaders, is much, much more than a "policy dispute." This administration has gone farther perhaps than ever before in asserting near-absolute power without oversight, and the people have responded quite vehemently against such moves.

So why does it make sense to put the pressure on Pelosi? Because Bush is the scorpion in the fable. He is accountable for his actions (at least morally), but he will never change. His administration has shown, time and again, that they will act in the interests of themselves and their cronies, and they will piss on your boots and tell you it is raining lemonade for as long as they are allowed to do so. Nothing is going to change that. Pelosi and the Democrats have been given a chance to do something, and if they cannot do it, why even have an opposition party? The Democrats have controlled Congress for six months now, and if they can't get the job done, maybe someone else can. If booting out the Democratic leadership means unrestrained Repub rule for the foreseeable future, well, that is the bed America has made. The Republicans are not going to change--in their minds, 2000 and 2004 taught them that Americans love showers of lemonade. Whether the Repubs shape the future of this country or simply fade away (like they so richly deserve to do) is in the hands of the people America hired to stop them.

So, Mr. Wickham, I suppose you would have us trying to unseat more Republicans in the next election, or staging more protests, or something. In other words, you would have us fiddle while the city burns. I don't believe America voted the way they did in 2006 so that changes could be made in 2008. And I do not believe that Congress can get into much of a "deeper partisan divide" than they already are, so what are the Democrats waiting for?

I sincerely hope that the big question in 2008 is not why members of Congress chose to waste their time on an impeachment effort, but why so many other members instead chose to allow our democracy to slip away.

UPDATE I - A very good summary of what I'm worried about can be found here.


From the wondrous world of Yahoo! Photos "Most E-mailed", today we have the world's fattest man (and he's not even American! Or German!).

This is followed closeley by the world's most flexible men.

On a lighter note, the category is rounded out by the world's cutest puppy:

Feel free to comment that the dog has a heart on.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Generation Chickenhawk

Great commentary at Crooks & Liars and Pandagon.

Of particular note is the guy who says he hasn't enlisted because he is more "career-oriented." I presume that means he's too fucking important to act as cannon fodder in the war he supports so much. Seriously, how do these people sleep at night?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the mostly opaque brown liquid that washes up onto the Galveston shore...

...necrotizing fasciitis comes along. At least as of yesterday, the man was still alive & fighting. Good luck, man. That's nasty, scary stuff.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Slow news day?

Florida jailbait struck by sturgeon, with video.

The limits of nudism (no oldies!!!)

Waste of space

Dear Michael Vick:

If even half the allegations against you are true, then you are truly a pitiful and pathetic waste of space, perhaps useful for your salvage value after you fight those trained dogs yourself--that's my recommended punishment, anyway.


Vote Sideshow Bob...

I think I get it now. Repubs in Congress make it impossible for the new Dem majority to get anything done by doing all the same things they recently chided the Democrats for doing, except doing it with more brazenness and assholery. That way, they can later mock the Democrats for being weaklings. Vote for the bully.

We've seen this before:
A TV commercial for Sideshow Bob is shown.
[scene shows prisoners going in a revolving door and coming out immediately]

Voice: Mayor Quimby supports revolving door prisons. Mayor Quimby even released Sideshow Bob -- a man twice convicted of attempted murder.

[scene shows prisoners leaving on escalator and ski lift]

Can you trust a man like Mayor Quimby? Vote Sideshow Bob for mayor.

Immigration blues

Dear Minutemen:

I don't doubt that you have a deep and abiding love of this country. I don't doubt that you believe you are doing the right thing. I may completely and absolutely disagree with you, but at least you are being honest about your beliefs and feelings.

And those beliefs and feelings have become increasingly horrifying to this particular proud American. Please try to remember that a lot of (perhaps most) Hispanics were born here, and therefore have every right to be in this country. Harassing Catholic Churches will get you nowhere--and please, please, please stop making Bill Donohue seem like a reasonable man!!!


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RIP, Lady Bird

Once again, Texas has lost one of its great ones. That's three in just the last year: Ann Richards, Molly Ivins, and now Lady Bird Johnson. Say what you will about her husband (the other LBJ), but she had class and she made Texas a better place. Amid all the controversy and homage, remember that Texas is a far better place just for these three having once been here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What the *&!%$@ was this guy thinking???

Just read this excerpt. I'm speechless.
RED OAK, Texas - An 18-year-old man was arrested Friday and accused of killing a zebra named Zambi in a drive-by shooting.

Zambi was shot dead July 5 as he grazed in a pasture at HiView Farms outside of Waxahachie, about 30 miles from Dallas, said Lt. Kevin Ketchum of the Ellis County Sheriff's Office. The farm is also home to camels, llamas and ring-tailed lemurs.


Joshua Romano and four friends were swimming in a creek but had to leave because of rain. They spotted the zebra as they were driving down a road near the farm. That's when Romano pulled out a deer rifle and shot Zambi dead, Ketchum said. The animal was worth about $10,000.

Romano's friends tried to prevent him from shooting the zebra, and the driver sped up to make the shooting more difficult, Ketchum said.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the Middle East

Juan Cole has a great post today on the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and elsewhere, and how this whole U.S.-occupation-of-Iraq thing could lead to bigger problems.
[T]here is at the least an issue in the Kurdish terrorist groups that are operating from US-occupied Iraq against Iraq's neighbors. The US is not able to stop the PKK from operating against an ally, Turkey, so I don't think it could stop the Iranian Kurdish terrorists, PEJAK, from operating against Iran. But it is also probably true that there are elements in the US military, in the intelligence services, and in the Washington power elite that are connected to PEJAK and are either happy about its activities or subtly enabling them.
It's a lot of speculation, hearsay, and other inconclusive whatnot, but it is worth being reminded that there is a whole nation in the region that spans several countries and may piss off a lot of said countries while getting pretty pissed itself. Kurdistan was supposed to become a separate state after World War I, but it didn't happen. Now Kurdistan exists in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and slivers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, among the largest distinct ethnic groups without their own state. The Iraqi Kurds have done alright since 1991, but things can get complicated really fast for all of Kurdistan if we're not paying attention. And we're not.

Webb for President?

Just a thought. I haven't actually seen the footage from Meet the Press yet, but The Anonymous Liberal has some great commentary on Senator James Webb's handling of Lindsay Graham and on how to address the BS about Iraq:
It is not at all surprising that Iranians are assisting Shia militants in Iraq. The Saudis are doing the same thing for Sunni militants. If there's a proxy war in Iraq, it's not between the U.S. and Iran, it's between Iran and Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia. And we're caught in the middle. The primary fault line in Iraq is between the Sunnis and the Shia. Naturally, the countries that border Iraq, like Shia-dominated Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, have an interest in who eventually controls Iraq. This was an utterly predictable consequence of invading Iraq.
We are not at war with anyone in Iraq, really. The war was against the Iraqi armed forces and the Republican Guard, and that war ended in 2003. What we have had since then is an occupation, something very, very different from a war. There are no clear fronts and no distinct enemy armies to defeat. There are homegrown militias, insurgent groups, and a handful of foreign fighters with all sorts of agendas. To speak of "winning" and "victory" is quite simply childish. Occupations either end or they don't. Finally there is a Democrat with the cojones to stand up and speak some sense. Keep it coming, please.

Damn, dawg

I was going to post something about what a total bad-ass Zeta is after whupping up on everyone and everything at the dog park this weekend, but then I saw this fella (via FB&C):

She was born with a genetic defect which has left her looking like the Incredible Hulk of Hounds.

While her head, heart, lungs and legs are the size of those of a normal whippet, her gene defect means she is “double muscled”. She weighs 4st4lb [60 lbs] - twice as much as she should.
If she and Zeta could somehow breed, we could have a new strain of Überhunde.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Less than met the eye

It's been a week since I saw the Transformers movie, so I've had a chance to process my thoughts on the matter. In short, I have concluded that I have no coherent thoughts other than the following (SPOILER ALERT, sort of):

1. Glenn Morshower remains one of the most criminally-underrated actors out there--although I still haven't seen season 6 of 24, he portrays one of the only non-Jack-Bauer characters to survive five straight seasons.
2. Megan Fox almost supplants Charlize Theron for my title of too-beautiful-to-be-human. Almost.
3. Questions regarding the consistency, coherence, or even plausibility of the central plot and various plot points are pointless. There is an item sought by everyone in the movie that has the power to turn ordinary electronic items into evil robots. For no stated reason, it cannot create good robots. Whether this is a meditation on the ubiquity of evil in the universe and the ease by which the ordinary can become the malevolent, or whether this is a complete failure of imagination on the part of the screenwriters, is of no interest to me.
4. Bumblebee is supposed to be a VW Bug, dammit! OK, I'm over it.
5. Character development. It's important to a movie. Who the fuck are all these Decepticons that show up in the last twenty minutes? It's as though the writers suddenly remembered, in the final moments of the movie, that they needed some sort of resolution with the bad guys they had been ignoring. Plus, I didn't even notice that Megatron was voiced by Agent Smith.
6. Good call not making Megatron a large robot who turns into a small gun. It's nice to see at least one shout-out to the laws of physics. Plus, he's scarier this way.
7. It's good to see that the guy who voices Optimus Prime can keep it on his resume for this film.
8. Summer movies and deep thought do not go together.
9. Despite several hours of inundation with the message, I still don't want to buy a Camaro.

All I'm asking for is my own frickin' tank, people!

The JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank has been a mainstay of my wishlist for some time now, but to no avail. The nearly-$20K price tag is a bit daunting, sure, but is it so much to ask for that I be able to cruise around town at 40 mph in my own "unique, extremely rare land vehicle and battle tank"?

Seriously, check out this sales pitch:
The interior is fully carpeted and cozy, with accent lighting and room for up to five people. A 400 watt premium sound system with PA is mounted to project sound both into the cabin and outward from behind the windows. The exterior is a steel shell with a rust patina, and features head and tail lights, turn signal lights, trim lighting, underbody lighting, fixed slats protecting the windows, and a unique industrial-strength rubberized flexible skirt that shields and protects the wheels to within an inch of the ground, while still allowing for enough flex to give clearance over bumpy and uneven terrain.
Of course, they do stress that it is not licensed for use on public roads, but a man can dream. Those Digigrade Stilts would be pretty cool, too:

What I find especially amusing about the Badonkadonk, though, is the list of "also viewed" items associated with it that appears at the bottom of the page. This list includes a custom relaxation chamber, a gallon jug of milk, an inflatable party sheep, and a dead rabbit. Seriously, who buys milk online? I guess if you buy it in enough bulk, it is worth the shipping cost, but it still seems odd. Don't get me started on the rabbit.

Getting back to my original point, though...who wouldn't want their own battle tank? It's too bad that I live in a town with no adjacent deserts or salt flats to really rip it up, but we do have an awful lot of parks and green spaces that need protection from a custom-built battle tank.

My birthday is in September, FYI.

Friday, July 13, 2007

As if being in prison weren't bad enough

Check this out:
Red-faced officials at the scandal-racked Texas Youth Commission on Thursday canceled the release on parole of more than 150 teenage offenders after discovering that many had served little time on their sentences for serious violent crimes such as murder, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

They also announced a top-to-bottom review of their parole criteria as a result.
While that must really suck on a personal level for the 150 kids who won't be getting out of prison after all, it must really suck for TYC, who has been having a bad run of late anyway. If it weren't so disturbing, it might be funny:
One youth on the recent list had been sentenced to 40 years in the knife slaying of a classmate, who was stabbed 15 times. He had served less than three before the agency recommended his release.

Another, serving time for molesting six children, was recommended for release even though he had numerous write-ups in youth prisons for indecent exposure and for possessing a weapon. One was a sex offender who assaulted a Youth Commission employee about a year earlier.

Two of those recommended for parole were escapees who are still at large.
That is correct--TYC recommended parole of two individuals who had escaped and are still at large. If you ask me (I know you didn't), the Legislature (whenever they're around again) should either eliminate the entire agency and start over, or bring in someone to boost TYC's motivation. Just a thought.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Today in tragedies

This is actually quite tragic, sad, and recent. Tragic that people were hurt. Tragic that people died. Tragic that natural gas is so dangerous. Tragic that this may have been avoidable, very, very avoidable. While my initial instinct is to do more light mockery, I'll just quote the story and let the public decide:
CLEBURNE — A man whose wife died after their home exploded had been told not to light any more cigarettes nearly an hour before the blast, according to a city fire marshal's report.

After calling the Cleburne Fire Department's nonemergency number on May 29, David Pawlick told the fire inspector that "every time my wife lights a cigarette, a blue flame shoots up to the ceiling." Fire inspector Scott Oesch said he would check the problem and told Pawlick not to light any more matches, according to a memo written by Oesch two days later.

Oesch did not tell the family to leave the home — where authorities later discovered natural gas had seeped in but went undetected.

Before the inspector arrived, Pawlick's wife, Hazel, said she wanted to smoke. So Pawlick lit a match for his wife's cigarette, but it went out after a blue flash. He lit another match, sparking an explosion of blue flames in the house, Fire Marshal Bill Wright reported.

Seconds later, flames went through the ceiling into the attic. Another more violent explosion then ripped a hole in the roof.

Five of the family members were injured. Hazel Pawlick, 64, died days later from her injuries.

Hazel Sanderson, the Pawlick's daughter, and her daughter, Stephanie Sanderson, remain in critical condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, the family's attorney said.

Pawlick is suing Atmos Energy and seeking unspecified damages. Family attorney Dean Jackson declined to comment on the inspector's claim about Pawlick being told not to light any more cigarettes.

The Pawlicks' house did not use natural gas. But fire investigators say a nearby natural gas leak traveled into a sewer line leading into the house.

A condensation line from an air-conditioning unit dropped into the sewer pipe. The result was aunit that worked as a pump, sucking natural gas from the sewer line and distributing it through the air-conditioning ducts, Wright wrote.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Two by two they went...

From Bloomberg (via HuffPo), there is a story about a trend among billionaires to buy their own personal submarines:
The ocean floor is the final spending frontier for the world's richest people. Journeying to see what's on the bottom aboard a personal submersible is a wretched excess guaranteed to trump the average mogul's stable of vintage Bugattis or a $38 million round-trip ticket to the International Space Station aboard a Russian rocket.

Luxury-submarine makers and salesmen from the Pacific Ocean to the Persian Gulf say fantasy and secrecy are the foundations of this nautical niche industry built on madcap multibillionaires.

``Everyone down there is a wealthy eccentric,'' says Jean- Claude Carme, vice president of marketing for U.S. Submarines Inc., a Portland, Oregon-based bespoke submarine builder. ``They're all intensely secretive.''

Who owns the estimated 100 luxury subs carousing the Seven Seas mostly remains a mystery.

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., warned his boat builder that loose lips sink ships.
Perhaps I am being paranoid, but there may be a trend that it quite troubling here. We have heard about the disappearing frogs and honeybees, but now our billionaires are retreating to the bottom of the ocean...

What do the billionaires know that the rest of us do not? Be afraid...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

10 Minutes

This is a short from Bosnian director Ahmed Imamovic. Gives you an idea of how shitty the world can be. Just a little something to bum you out if you were having a good day.

From the YouTube description:
10 minutes by Ahmed Imamovic. 1994. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Rome, Italy. How many different things can happen for only 10 Minutes. The film won the award for the best European short film in 2002.

This short film, as its title indicates lasts only 10 minutes, but it tells a much longer story which unravels only in our imagination upon seeing the end of the film. While 10 minutes in someone's life mean nothing, they can be fatal in another: a boy and his loving family, tragedy in a war-torn city, death and destruction. All in just ten minutes. The film follows two simultaneous story lines: one set in Rome, and one in Sarajevo, in 1994, the worst time of the war in Bosnia. Although the Rome part was not filmed on the original location, that does not take away anything from the quality of the film, it was just a symbolic element anyway. Cast is great, story is very compact and well written, direction dynamic and precise. There is nothing out of place in the film: well structured, stripped of false pathos, realistic, it is very straight forward. In other words, this is a jewel of a film, and it was not by chance that it won the award for the best European short film in 2002. 10 minutes for me is definitely one of the most moving and powerful films about wartime Sarajevo. Behind the scene: I read that the director Ahmed Imamovic, in search of Japanese for the role of the tourist, had to go to the Japanese Embassy in Sarajevo and ask one of the staff to perform in the film. Luckily for the director, the Embassy allowed one of their employees to star in the film.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

My inner geek is vindicated

Because cheesy internet-based quizzes do not lie!!!

You scored as Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica), You are leery of your surroundings, and with good reason. Anyone could be a cylon. But you have close friends and you know they would never hurt you. Now if only the damn XO would stop drinking.

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Serenity (Firefly)


Heart of Gold (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Moya (Farscape)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Which sci-fi crew would you best fit in with? (pics)
created with

You scored as The Doctor, You are The Doctor, the last of the Time Lords. You regenerate if you 'die' and always travel with a companion.

The Doctor




Gen. Jack O'Neill


Luke Skywalker


Which Sci-Fi Hero Are You?
created with

You scored as The Goa'uld, You are a Goa'uld, the evil race of symbiotic worms that take a human host and enslave them. You claim to be a god, bud aren't

The Goa'uld


The Master


The Wraith


Darth Vader


Which Sci-Fi villain are you??
created with

Amazing time waster!

This is how I spent several hours of my 4th of July holiday. Kind of sad.

Still too pissed off for words

Take it, Keith:

Bush, Cheney, and Libby all belong in prison. Better yet, Iraq (it's their soiree, after all).