Archive for November, 2007

I'm runnin' ur country, dissin' ur books

November 29, 2007 - 3:44 pm Comments Off

Apparently, Patricia Cornwell’s latest book isn’t being recieved too well.

Who could possibly be behind such a state of affairs? A few bitter fans upset at the direction her books are taking? The fact that maybe she’s lost her game?

Nah. It’s Bush’s fault.

Really!

Soon after the book was released, there were about 50 bad reviews posted for a book that has gotten the highest reviews for any book I have ever written. If you see what I am saying. Interestingly, this all started right after a Pentagon high official tried to get me to make a pro Bush, pro war appearance on an aircraft carrier and I refused, politely, a photo opportunity to contradict what is in my novel! Not to mention my battle over Ruth Graham’s burial. Suddenly, I got a barrage of reviews that basically discourage people from buying my book.

That’s right: the leader of the free world, aware of the crucial boost to his reputation that could come from the endorsement of Patricia-freakin’-Cornwell and the devastating sag if she doesn’t TOE THE PARTY LINE, has set out to destroy her reputation.

Via bad reviews on Amazon.

I didn’t think an author could do a crazier, sadder public wank meltdown than Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton, but here it is. Hat tip to Dear Author, who is nefariously funnier than me. I think it might be a Democrat conspiracy. CURSE YOU HILLARY!

Also, does anyone want to start a betting pool on how long before we get “George Bush Stole Christmas”, either as a serious media meme or an unfunny Comedy Central special?

I DO need to get out more.

November 28, 2007 - 8:14 pm Comments Off

We spent the evening dining at the home of a family that’s been friends with Stingray’s for a long time. Their son, his wife, and her baby were home, which was the occasion.

The family dog (an extremely cute Schipperke) immediately took up station under the baby’s chair. Jokes were made about how it only took about one day for the dog to learn that sitting under the baby chair was like sitting under a Magic Food Rain Machine. I *just* managed to bite my tongue on “Yeah, alligators like to hang out under water bird nests for basically the same reason.”

Somehow, it struck me that it just *might* be inappropriate to compare the situation to clumsy baby birds and happy alligators.

Also, I should probably never have children. When the baby’s father made to give her olives (which apparently she loves), my next impulse was to say “Make her do a trick first!”. When she remembered to cover her mouth when she coughed (neat trick for a two-year-old), I experienced a brief stab of “you’re doing it wrong!” that she didn’t get a treat for that.

I wonder if clicker training works on toddlers, and I wonder if that would be considered child abuse or mere eccentricity?

As Tam says…

November 28, 2007 - 3:32 pm Comments Off

You’re doing it wrong.

Never in a million years.

Google does not contain that information.

On Restaurants and Music

November 27, 2007 - 8:13 pm Comments Off

Everybody likes to go out for a meal once in a while. Maybe you’re sick of cooking, maybe you didn’t have time to get to the store, maybe you just burned the shit out of whatever you were making. The point is you find yourself about to step in to a place you may or may not be familiar with for the purpose of purchasing food, and possibly enjoying conversation with your companion(s). It’ll be a great time!

There’s one small hitch with this plan. Some damn addle-brained twit decided in a moment of utterly epic idiocy to hire a fucking minstrel.

Is there a factory churning these atonal, barely competent pseudo-pstrummers out? It’s always some slightly-underfed, facial-hair sporting jackass with a guitar that looks like it came from a late-night infomercial strumming the Greatest Hits Of Songs That Make People Kill over an amp that sounds like a microwave oven set to overload. If that description didn’t pop half a dozen examples of this fucking pod-creature into your head, I want to know where you eat. Is there a mold somewhere we can destroy? Some vat they’re grown in that could be poisoned? Whatever the source, I will happily take up arms to destroy it. Astute readers may have surmised by this point that LabRat and I were subjected to this torture yet again this evening. What’s worse, it came from a restaurant which had previously been noteworthy for its attempts to actually improve their service and food. This may not sound significant, but in Los Alamos it’s an outright miracle. Most places here consider “surly” to be more than adequate for the waitstaff, and cooked-to-order only means you have a decent chance at getting the entree you requested, cooked however the chef felt like. After a noble effort to learn the meaning of “medium rare,” this particular establishment opted to lure patrons in with promises of better-than-mediocre, only to fling a giant bucket of steaming shit at the dining room in the form of an inept bard.

Who in his or her right mind thinks hiring these creatures is a good idea? The miserable little fungus-creature abusing our eardrums with the three chords he learned from a bargain-bin “Teach Yourself ____________ While You Crap” manual invariably has a voice that could only sound good if used underwater. Preferably attempting to scream “Help help, I swear I’ll never play another note!” If you’re fortunate enough to ever hear one of these abominations unto music actually say something to that effect, do not be fooled! Keep your boot on top of its head until it has ceased twitching for at least two minutes! Our particular anti-entertainment this evening raised the bar though. Instead of simply being atonal, he made a very credible effort at being outright averbal as well. Between us, LabRat and I counted maybe two dozen actual words over the course of dinner. The rest was just garbled phonemes, seemingly random combinations of pseudo-consonants and half-formed vowels.

Sadly, this is not the worst part of things. One of LabRat’s least favorite songs is Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” of which we were of course given a rendition. Personally, Neil ranges over the spectrum from “Am I in a Gitmo Torture Room?” to “Hey, that’s pretty damn good!”, but a lot of that hinges on the fact that Neil Diamond has that distinctive voice, as opposed to garbled off-key blitherings that sound like they’re coming from an acid-tripping raccoon with a high voltage electrical transformer. For most of the evening, the rest of the dining room had the good sense not to encourage the embarassment to his mother with applause. Unfortunately, no one threw anything at him either, but there was a large plant blocking my shot. After several further minutes of attempting to talk to LabRat, each side of the conversation consisting mostly of “What? I can’t hear you!” because it’s federal fucking law that if you’ve got an amp that sounds like a winch under load you damn well better turn that fucker up to 11 to compensate, a new family arrived. Of course, they had a baby with them, ’cause hey, let’s add actual screaming to the mix! Think we’ve hit bottom yet? Guess again, bucko.

The fucking kid made some happy noises after whatever his next song was supposed to be (I think the title was “How To Make Diners Attempt Suicide #897″) and the family started clapping. As the clapping died down, there came a moment of horror so perfect, so pure and clear that I could finally understand the oft abused literary device “I could feel my sanity slipping away.” The fucking kid spoke:

Pway Cat in da Cwadle an’ Siver Spoon!

I’m going to go see whether I can blast the horrible out of my head first with “Bark at the Moon,” “Cowboys from Hell,” and “The Dethalbum“, or if the neighbors will call the cops before the urge to stalk music shops with ballpeen hammers goes away.

I have figured out what my problem is.

November 26, 2007 - 7:06 pm Comments Off

My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing, filled with lists
of things to do and things I’ve done
Another sleepless night’s begun

- Bare Naked Ladies, “Who Needs Sleep?”

And that problem is: for the last couple of months, I’ve been averaging around 6 hours of sleep a night. That’s it. In a nutshell.

What’s recommended as a healthy amount of sleep is 7-8 hours. Humans vary a lot as to where they fit on the scale of “a healthy amount of sleep”; there are a few outliers on the left side of the bell curve who only seem to need about 4, and others over on the right who need a lot more. Age matters, as do health and activity levels; teenagers are famous for the amount they sleep, but they actually need it- it’s normal. The older you get, the less you seem to need- or possibly it’s just harder to come by, it’s hard to tell. If you have a rigorously physically active schedule, you need more- sleep is when all the repairs and upgrades happen to your body. If you’re working out, you will gain nothing if you don’t get enough sleep for those repairs to happen. (One of the signs I wasn’t getting enough is that exercise gradually stopped making me physically better instead of just beating me up.) If you’re sick or injured, you need a LOT more, because all your energy is going into fighting off the infection or repairing the injury; one of the various things your immune system does to your body is release hormones that zap your energy levels and induce you to sleep more. It’s not just the infection that’s taking away, your immune system makes active efforts to make you lie the hell down. (Taking a bunch of medication to block symptoms and working normally can make the difference between a cold that lasts three days and one that lasts two weeks.)

Lack of sleep is cumulative. If you short yourself a few hours a night during the week and then get the normal 8-7 on weekends, you won’t be all better on Monday; only a bit better. The smaller the short, the longer it takes to build up into a real problem, but believe me, it still will- if necessity requires losing sleep as part of the schedule, plan a day or two in your week where you devote a huge chunk of the day to sleeping. Medical interns and residents may only be losing a couple of hours a night (or a few on-call nights where no sleep at all comes), but if they don’t get those catch-up days they’ll start to show the same symptoms subjects of sleep deprivation experiments do after a few days in a row of no sleep at all. My father used to tell me stories of the various tricks to (sort of) safely driving home when you’re experiencing mild to moderate visual hallucinations, that he learned during those times. If you chronically short yourself, you won’t experience the most severe risks of prolonged sleep deprivation (which include death), but you will suffer- it’ll raise your risk of various diseases, especially heart disease, across the board.

Unfortunately for me, I seem to be one of those sorts that stands over on the right side of the bell curve when it comes to need for sleep. Less than eight hours, and I’ll feel noticeably worse; I think slower, am grouchier, and have much less energy. (For most, it’s more like less than seven.) “Optimal” for me seems to be about nine. This is not a huge help in a society with mottoes like “sleep is for the weak” or “you can sleep when you’re dead”, and “work hard, play hard”. To top it off, I’ve had mild to moderate insomnia since I was about twelve; can’t-fall-asleep, wake-up-at-dawn, you name it. I can’t sleep without chemical help if: I’m remotely upset or worried or angry about ANYTHING AT ALL, I have an idea that’s got me, the room is too bright, the room is too quiet, there’s too much random noise (even very small sounds) instead of white noise, I’m someplace unfamiliar and I’m not exhausted… it goes on. Naps are as complicated as a NASA mission for me for this reason, and I almost never can take them unless I’m utterly, utterly exhausted.

For a rather entertaining (in a sick sort of way) brief look at one of the most famous sleep deprivation experiments and its slightly terrifying results, look here: Eleven Days Awake

Anyway, I’ve made arrangements to make my schedule more suited to my slothiness, and hopefully my productivity will return in short order.

Kang meets Snow

November 23, 2007 - 7:12 pm Comments Off

This interminable unseasonable warmth has finally come to a close. After a chilly Thanksgiving, we happened to look out the front windows somewhere around 11ish to discover that not only had the weathermen finally gotten one right and it was snowing to beat the band, but the prediction of “about an inch of accumulation” was going to be more than a little low. We already know how Kodos reacts to snow. If you can’t see more than ten feet and the snow is falling sideways, he’s in hog heaven. Kang, on the other hand, has only encountered snow in the brief flurry we got over Columbus Day weekend, which didn’t last long, wasn’t hard, and didn’t stick. Because we invest way too much energy in the dogs, of course we took pictures. Slow connections continue at your own risk.
(more…)

Soon Kang will be posting filler herself.

November 22, 2007 - 1:16 pm Comments Off

In an effort to find something suitably entertaining to Kang to keep her out of trouble when inside, we bought a Busy Buddy Twist-n-Treat. Unscrew it, fill with treats, close it up, and let the dog figure things out from there. Now your normal dog will be entertained for quite some time with a setup like this, licking, biting, muttering faint doggy curses at the lack of opposable thumbs, etc. The first time we gave this thing to both Kodos and Kang, that’s more or less what happened. Kang figured out to pin it down with her paws, and work with her jaws and tongue to get the peanut butter out. This left the chunks of doggy biscuit untouched though. When we gave it to Kodos, he figured out to roll it along to make the chunks of biscuit fall out, but didn’t get much of the peanut butter.

Last night, we gave it to Kang again. Once again, she pinned it with paws and started working the top half. This time however, she figured out the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise. Within 20 minutes, she had it unscrewed and was plundering the delicious bounty within. She’s been starting to look a little too intently at doorknobs lately too, and has figured out regardless of which door she exited through which one we’re most likely to be near to let her back in. There is no way in hell I’m ever letting her near the gun safe. The bad news is that she has already seen me operate the chainsaw, which means it’s only a matter of time until LabRat and I become nothing more than an urban legend when Kang tries to show us a new trick.

Which setting was the choke again?

Mea Culpa

November 21, 2007 - 9:04 pm Comments Off

Sorry!  Sorry!

I’m feeling more than a little burnout and holiday stress; regular content WILL return, but probably not until after Thanksgiving.

Evidence for a universal human nature

November 19, 2007 - 7:49 pm Comments Off

When Palestinians Read Jewlicious

Beverage alert. If you’re drinking something, swallow before clicking.

After all the insanity and hate and irrationality and denial that you basically take a bath in whenever you read about the Palestinians and what they think about Israel, it’s kind of nice to know that at the end of the day, in the privacy of their own homes, no matter how much their society hates another, a significant percentage of it is still noticing that the enemy babes are hot. Or, for that matter, the dudes.

Slam friggin' dunk

November 19, 2007 - 2:59 pm Comments Off

See, I can rant about Intelligent Design and how deeply unfortunate it is that so many conservatives think it’s something that deserves to be taken any more seriously than young-earth creationism all I want, but at the end of the day I’m an atheist and it never really hits the high notes with anyone who doesn’t already agree with me. Then I feel like going off and beating my head against the wall for an hour or so, because the right’s embrace of this nonsense is one of those things that alienates conservatives from the sort of academia that’s involved with things of relevance, like science, rather than underwater Hopi basket-weaving.

So seeing this religious conservative molecular biologist punt it is IMMENSELY GRATIFYING, because he knows how to do it right- and show why it’s theologically bad as well as biologically silly. It’s also nice, because he knows things I don’t, so he can tie it all up with a bow like this:

Finally, I do not understand why many ID proponents are so easily threatened by the idea that man evolved. Personally, I don’t see any reason not to believe that we are only slightly removed from animals (but then I watch a lot of Congress on C-span). And I also don’t understand why that makes our having found God with our recently acquired humanity less remarkable than if God had just handed us our humanity.

In the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, Jesus is quoted as having said, “If the flesh came into being because of the spirit, that is a marvel, but if the spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels.” “Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.”

To believe in both evolution and God is truly to believe in the marvel of marvels.

To quote Kevin, Read The Whole Thing.