30 October 2006 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

Barnum was right.

Witch Hazel

A German court has ordered a self-proclaimed witch to refund a disappointed client her hefty fee for a spell that failed to win back the woman’s partner.

The Munich administrative court said Monday it ruled that the witch must pay back the $1,275 on the grounds she offered a service that was “objectively completely impossible.”

After her boyfriend left her in 2003, the client consulted the witch on a spell that would bring him back.

30 October 2006 · Comments Off on Hypocrisy, Reprise · Categories: Uncategorized

Dick Polman on the racist Republican ad in Tennessee:

He’s (Ken Mehlman’s–ed.) technically right about the campaign finance laws, which limit how much the national parties can directly spend on individual campaigns – but which permit the parties to spend with unfettered abandon if they set up “independent” committees that operate without any oversight from the party overlords.

But here’s the key point: Mehlman hired the person who in turn hired the person who produced the “independent” Tennessee ad. So even though Mehlman may have been officially in the dark about this specific ad, it strains credulity to believe that he didn’t know what kind of ad his “independent” ad producer would create. Especially since this ad producer would not have been hired in the first place, to act “independently” and provide Mehlman with official deniability, unless he had been sanctioned by top GOP officials.

’nuff said. But I’m not stopping without saying too much.

The issue here is not whether Ken Mehlman or any of his colleagues are bigots. Rather, the issue is that they are willing to harness bigotry to their cause. And, clearly, they are.

While wrapping themselves in virtue.

A sheet, dammit, is a sheet. Whether it comes from Target, Walmart, or Bloomingdale’s. It does not make for attractive wearing apparel.

A Sheet

30 October 2006 · Comments Off on Too True To Be Good · Categories: Uncategorized


There’s plenty of it to go around, of course.

But those who would wrap themselves in virtue should be careful to wear clean undies.

30 October 2006 · Comments Off on Mind Candy · Categories: Uncategorized

Click the pic:

Oh, fudge!

29 October 2006 · Comments Off on Gutenberg Bible · Categories: Uncategorized

What is it?

And it’s online, here.

With thanks to the Quotemaster.

29 October 2006 · Comments Off on Computers · Categories: Geek Stuff

From the Quotes of the Day (a litle while ago–I’m catching up):

For a long time it puzzled me how something so expensive, so
leading edge, could be so useless, and then it occurred to me
that a computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do
incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart
people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things. They
are, in short, a perfect match.
– Bill Bryson, Notes from a Big Country

The question of whether a computer can think is no more
interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.
– Edsger Dijkstra

I have a theory about the human mind. A brain is a lot like a
computer. It will only take so many facts, and then it will
go into overload and blow up.
– Erma Louise Bombeck, 1927 – 1996

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.
– Joseph Campbell

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any
invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of
handguns and tequila.
– Mitch Ratliffe

The computer is a moron.
– Peter F. Drucker

28 October 2006 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

. . . rock.

This week, I have received two chain letters.


Not emails. Real physical letters with, like, stamps and postmarks and return addresses and stuff.

They are going here:

CHICAGO IL 60606-6100

Someone is going to be very surprised . . . .

and it ain’t a-gonna be me.

(Public service announcement: You can forward the electronic kind to uce@ftc.gov. Don’t expect a reply, but they all go in the hopper.)

28 October 2006 · Comments Off on Spam Bust · Categories: First Looks

Good news:

An Australian firm and its director have been fined a total of A$5.5m (£2.2m) after it was held responsible for sending out more than 230 million spam emails, 75 million of which were successfully delivered, during a two year spamming blitz.

Wayne Mansfield, and his company Clarity1, of Perth in Western Australia, fell foul of the Spam Act 2003, which came into effect in April 2004. The court action stems from an April 2006 raid of Clarity1’s offices during which investigators seized computer equipment.

28 October 2006 · Comments Off on Change-Ringing Comes to New York · Categories: Uncategorized

Trinity Church re-introduces change-ringing:

Change-ringing bells rotate a full 360 degrees as they are rung and produce a shimmering, cascading sound quality in a complex, inexhaustible combination of changing tonal patterns. They are uniquely beautiful and require extensive training to ring. In preparation for the installation of the bells, the Trinity steeple will be appropriately reinforced with a new interior. Scaffolding is being erected as the work proceeds. The new bells, which range in weight from a few hundred pounds to over a ton, are currently being cast at the Taylor Foundry in the UK.

I have never heard change-ringing, but I first heard of it here, in one of the best mystery stories ever written.

Now that I have contacts in New York, I will make plans to hear the bells.

28 October 2006 · Comments Off on To Tell the Truth · Categories: Uncategorized

Is its own reward:

Critics have accused (U. S. Envoy Alberto) Fernandez of not standing up for America in his comments aired last weekend by Al-Jazeera television, in which he said Washington had displayed “arrogance” and “stupidity” in Iraq.

Fernandez issued a written apology the day after the Oct. 21 broadcast, saying he “seriously misspoke.” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Fernandez was still on the job and the matter was closed.


25 October 2006 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized

It’s not fun. It’s not funny. It’s just cruel.


Words fail me.

And now a word about values.

Values are not what you say.

Values are what you do.

What the hell kind of values mock the sick? (Or send people to die for a lie, or loot the treasury to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. And so on. Pardon me. I have to go throw up.)

25 October 2006 · Comments Off on Bringing Democracy to Iraq · Categories: Uncategorized

Yeah. Right.

Trudy Rubin:

Recently I got a disturbing e-mail from a friend in Baghdad who wrote: “I’m leaving Iraq for good, leaving all my life behind, my memories and friends, leaving the way I’m used to living and heading for the unknown. Why am I leaving? You know better than many why.”

I do know why, and it raises troubling questions about what we Americans owe the Iraqi people. What is our moral responsibility as it becomes clear that our bungled occupation has sunk Iraq into chaos – and that the country is approaching all-out civil war?

My friend, call him George, is an Iraqi Christian, a middle-aged engineer who became a fixer for foreign journalists. He was my first Iraqi translator, and I was his first client. He called me “teach,” but he taught me more than I taught him.

George lived in Amariyah, a Sunni neighborhood from which Shiite families have been expelled. Most shops closed after three supermarkets were bombed. George’s wife stopped attending church after a series of attacks on Christians and was afraid to go out without veiling. George had to keep his work secret lest he be killed.

But the final blow came when he returned home one evening and saw a wounded man lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood and trying to wave down help. George – like everyone else – was too scared to stop, lest he be shot for helping the victim. As he hesitated, a white Volkswagen pulled up, and a gunman fired three more bullets into the man, then sped off.

Democracy on the march, no doubt. The benefits of staying the course.

Oh, I forgot. No one ever said that.

25 October 2006 · Comments Off on Appealing to the Base(st) · Categories: Uncategorized

The National Republican Party shows its true colors. Dick Polman:

I have long wondered how the Republicans would behave if it became apparent, during the final sprint to election day, that they were truly in danger of losing the House or Senate or both. To borrow a cat analogy, if the Republicans felt cornered, how viciously would they bare their claws?

Well, now we know. Just take a look at what’s happening these days in Tennessee. Basically, they’re suggesting that the black Democratic senatorial candidate should be defeated because he might be attractive to white women.

They have certainly put a lot of miles between themselves and the “party that freed the slaves.”

20 October 2006 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized

From yesterday’s local rag. Jerry Dorchuck, quoted in this excerpt of Tom Ferrick’s column, runs a company that does automated telephone campaign calls:

The not-so-benign use of robo-calls is in doing anonymous hit pieces on candidates. Unlike TV and bulk mailings, campaigns are not required to list the sponsor of the call in non-federal races. Besides, there’s been a profusion of soft-money groups, who do robo-call campaigns. You know, a smear piece on Candidate A done by the Committee for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Say who?

You have no idea who’s paying the bill or where these things emanate from.

It can get rough. Dorchuck told me he has turned down business where a candidate’s campaign wanted calls made to voters between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. – and have the message tout his opponent.

I will be that there is somewhere someone who took that job.

19 October 2006 · Comments Off on Make Mine a Double-Wide · Categories: Uncategorized

The funeral directors were in town this week. Apparently, their convention is a grave undertaking.

Interestingly, their business is also adjusting to the American growth rate:

. . . We’re too fat – that is, “heavy-set,” in funereal parlance.

“To accommodate the increased size of Americans, we offer Dimensions caskets,” said Kurt Soffer, a Utah funeral director. They’re up to 16 inches wider inside than standard.

People in the industry are actually injuring their backs more frequently with increasingly heavier clients.

Another difficulty with corpulent corpses: During viewings, it’s hard to keep the hands of fat people lying in their coffins from flopping from their stomachs to their sides, funeral directors said.

In many cases, the hands are sewn together. To avoid the big needles and the mess, Milwaukee funeral director Bernard Yonke invented a wristband that uses Velcro to keep hands in place.

“I had to do something,” Yonke said. “I had people over 300 pounds and I just couldn’t keep their hands up.”

I guess the old 6×3 pine box is moving towards 6×6.