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April 21, 2005

Have Gun, Deputize Thyself

I like this one:

Reservist who held migrants at gunpoint won't be prosecuted

Robert Anglen
Associated Press The Arizona Republic
Apr. 21, 2005 08:57 PM

No criminal charges will be filed against an Army reservist who held seven undocumented immigrants at gunpoint this month at an Arizona rest stop.

Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Thursday that Sgt. Patrick Haab had the legal right to make a citizen's arrest because the man smuggling the immigrants into the country was committing a felony and the immigrants themselves were conspiring with the coyote to commit a felony.

Arizona law allows a private citizen to make a legal arrest if a felony has been committed and the citizen believes that the person he is arresting committed the felony....

Read more.

You've got to love that one. There is, of course, more to the story. You can't just pull your gun on anyone you happen to think is an illegal immigrant. Here's the Patrick Haab defense website which was created when he was arrested.

Posted by Jeff at 11:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

XHTML Line Breaks

I kept having problems tonight with this error on one of my pages when I tried to get it to validate as XHTML 1.1:

  1. Line 9, column 5: end tag for "br" omitted, but OMITTAG NO was specified


    You may have neglected to close a tag, or perhaps you meant to "self-close" a tag; that is, ending it with "/>" instead of ">".

  2. Line 9, column 1: start tag was here


  3. Line 9, column 12: end tag for element "br" which is not open


    The Validator found an end tag for the above element, but that element is not currently open. This is often caused by a leftover end tag from an element that was removed during editing, or by an implicitly closed element (if you have an error related to an element being used where it is not allowed, this is almost certainly the case). In the latter case this error will disappear as soon as you fix the original problem.

I searched Google all over for the answer to the problem, and I ended up searching through the document type definition (which finding the answer to a problem through is often like trying to find a needled in a hay field). But this time it came easily:

These tags must have nothing in between them. The tags must be empty, like this:


Someone else with the same problem and searching Google just may find it easier now through this page.

Posted by Jeff at 11:56 AM | Comments (15)

April 19, 2005

I like this new pope

So, a new pope has been chosen for the Catholic Church.

Frankly, I don't really give a damn. To me, he's just some character running around in a funny hat. He's a bit similar to a clown in that regard. However, there's a lot of people annoyed at his selection, or, rather, the selection of who he is, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 78, of Germany, to be the pope. It seems that he's too fundamental, too conservative.

Based upon what I've read so far from those who are against him, I'm rather pleased with the choice. Here's why:

As I understand it, the pope is the representative of God, not of the people. If any one Catholic, or each and every Catholic alive, disagrees with the direction of their church, then they can just stuff it. They don't get to choose, God does. Theirs is not to question why, theirs is to just buck up, quit whining, and do as they're told...by the pope.

While I don't go for this church organization thing, nor the infinitely less tenable super-human "God" thing, the situation is symbolic of reality: truth is not subject to vote. We've been living in a politically correct atmosphere in which anything perceived as a slight (such as using red ink to grade tests, or having hard drives labelled "master" and "slave") gets afforded monumental significance, the relevance of facts has been subordinated to the relevance of self-esteem, and emotions have become far more persuasive than reason (Gerry Spence, a lamentably successful attorney, actually wrote a book advocating from cover to cover emotion over reason in arguments, citing his tremendous success in court using precisely those methods).

This pope seems to be against all of that. He basically says, "You don't like it, tough." Or, put another way: Grow up.

That rocks.

"When I was back there in seminary school, there was a person there who put forth the proposition that you can petition the lord with prayer.... Petition the lord, with prayer.... Petition the lord...with prayer!

--Jim Morrison and The Doors


Posted by Jeff at 11:47 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2005

Drinking and Driving Soon to be Illegal

...in Montana.

Okay, I just assumed that it was illegal everywhere. But, apparently, it isn't. But it seems that it will be come October:

This spring's second insult to freedom-loving cowboy types was graver yet, although its implications might be hard to fathom for non-Montanans. The state's drivers, as of October, will not be allowed to drink alcohol in their vehicles. Outsiders may find this development astonishing. Drinking and driving was legal in Montana? Yes. And not only legal but rather popular. In a state that measures more than 700 miles from its southeast to northwest corners and where most of those miles consist of empty highway enlivened only by blowing tumbleweeds and the occasional bloated mule-deer corpse, a cold can of beer was viewed by some as a necessary, invigorating diversion.

That's from a Time Magazine article titled, "Why Montana is Turning Blue".

One very refreshing bit of subtext in that article is that losing freedom goes hand in hand with an increase in Democrats:

The biggest changes came just this month, however. First, in a frontal assault on the state's image as a vast frontier-era saloon where a person is free to lose his life to vice as long as he doesn't take other people with him, the legislature prohibited smoking in all public places, including bars and restaurants.

That, my friends, is the essence of freedom: a person is free to lose his life to vice as long as he doesn't take any other people (or their money) with him. And that freedom is going away, primarily because of the "blue" folks.

It's nice to see Time Magazine get that right.

Posted by Jeff at 09:50 PM | Comments (3)

April 17, 2005

Who should you vote for?

Well, it's not much good to me since I'm an American, but it's interesting to see how I would fit into a political context somewhere else:

United Kingdom Vote
Who should you vote for?

How do you fare?

Posted by Jeff at 04:15 PM | Comments (1)

Movable Type Has Gone Crazy (Ping)

My method for browsing weblogs is fairly simple: I visit Movable Type's website and choose from the list of recently updated sites. What I like about browsing using this method is that everyone on that list (including myself) has paid for the right to be there, which indicates a certain dedication to site and content.

But Movable Type is no longer showing updated sites. For days, whenever I've visited, I see this list of sites - the order never changes:


Sometimes I visit and the list is new and I'll think, "Fixed...finally!" But when I click on some of the links of what I think is a newly updated list, I find weblogs which haven't been updated in days (April 11th and 12th were dates of a couple sites)! Then, after returning back to Movable Type, mysteriously, the list above returns.

It's not a caching problem on my computer. My computer is on a network, and I've tested this fairly by using other computers. My network is connected with a router that does not cache, so the caching would have to occur elsewhere, such as my ISP. But it's not my ISP that is caching, because Rex Swain's HTTP Viewer, when I've used it to check the contents of the updated site script (http://secure.sixapart.com/updates/updates-us.js), returns the same list as is pictured above.

No responses from Movable Type when I've reported this issue.


Posted by Jeff at 06:10 AM | Comments (1)

Corporate Abuse of Asian Workers

In more than half of Nike's factories, the report said, employees worked more than 60 hours a day. In up to 25%, workers refusing to do overtime were punished.

--Nike lists abuses at Asian factories

Those evil capitalists!

Posted by Jeff at 05:37 AM | Comments (1)

Save the Chicken

I like this guy:

Man saves chicken with mouth-to-beak

[A Colorado man] claims he saved his fowl by giving it mouth-to-beak resuscitation.

Uegene Safken says one of the chickens in his young flock had gotten into a tub of water in the yard last week and appeared to have died.

Safken said he first swung the chicken by the feet to revive it. When that failed, he continued swinging and blowing into its beak.

"Then one eye opened. I thought it was an involuntary response," Safken said. The chicken's beak opened a little wider, and Safken started yelling at it: "You're too young to die!

"Every time I'd yell at him, he'd chirp," Safken said.

--from an Associated Press story

The man cares about his bird. I tend to avoid eating them, myself.

Posted by Jeff at 01:49 AM | Comments (5)

April 16, 2005

A World You Never Experience

Rats Like to be Tickled


I don't know what they intended to be studying, but what Jaak Panksepp, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and his students found was a clue to the origins of laughter. It seems that rats enjoy being tickled, just as children enjoy being tickled, and rats will even become conditioned to the approaching hand and will react with laughter as it approaches, just as do children:

[They]...found that the rodents emit gleeful "chirps" when playing, but only at ultrasonic tones five times higher than the human ear can hear. Once Panksepp hooked up an ultrasonic detector to listen in on rats in his lab and started tickling the animals, he realized the effect on them was dramatic.

"We used our hands as if they were playmates and pounced and tickled the rats with our fingers. The chirping sounds were out of sight, just out of sight," said Panksepp, who wrote about the studies in this week's issue of the journal Science. "The animals became bonded to you and came back for more. Every possible measure of whether they like it shows yes, they love it."
--ABC News (Not linked, because clicked from anywhere but Google, it redirects to a registration page.)

The laughter is at a frequency range that doesn't travel far, thus helps to protect them from predators which can hear the range, and keeps the rest of us from hearing it at all.

Bees See Things We Cannot

JB: This is Earth and Sky, with a question from Anita Sutherland.

DB: She writes, "I am a teacher at South Side Elementary School in Johnson City, Tennessee. One afternoon, my class was outside watching a large bumblebee hovering over a bright yellow rose. One child asked, 'Can bees see colors we can't?' "

JB: Anita, what we see as sunlight reflects from objects -- and all visible light is part of a larger spectrum of energy. Bees can see ultraviolet -- a color humans can only imagine -- at the short-wavelength end of the spectrum. But, unlike humans, bees can't see red -- at the longer wavelength end of the spectrum. Red looks black to bees.

DB: Many flowers have ultraviolet patterns on their petals. Bees can see these patterns. They use them as visual guides -- like a map painted on the flower -- directing them to the flower's store of nectar. Some flowers that appear non-descript to us have strong ultraviolet patterns.

JB: Bees' eyes are different from our eyes in other ways as well. For example, honeybees can perceive movements that are separated by 1/300th of a second -- so that if a bee flew into a theater, it could differentiate each individual movie frame being projected.
--Earth and Sky, apparently a children's webzine which would, unfortunately, baffle and/or bore most adults.

The point is that we tend to think that we see the world as it is, and most of the time, what we see usually, in fact, is. But we only see a very small slice of the universe. Other creatures see other slices. The world is different to them.

And that's true for other humans, as well. For instance, some humans are completely colorblind - and they don't know it. I was shocked when I took a color blindness test and failed on a certain bit of red. Perhaps I should not have been, because I remember once when I was young, my grandmother pointing up at the side of a mountain in early fall and asking, "Isn't all that red on the side of the mountain beautiful?", to which I responded, "What red?"

It's just something to think about.

Posted by Jeff at 06:39 PM | Comments (4)

April 15, 2005

Happy Tax Day, Americans!

Boris Becker, explaining in court why he neglected to pay $3 million in taxes from 1991 to 1993:

"The only thing I had
     on my mind
          was tennis
               and sometimes girls."


Posted by Jeff at 03:12 AM | Comments (1)

April 14, 2005

Muscidifurax raptor and House Flies

Okay, these things are cool (I borrowed these photos from the Universal Chalcidoidea Database):

Male Muscidifurax raptor

That is a male Mucidifurax raptor, a wasp which parasites on Musca domestica, the house fly (I'm guessing it goes after other flies as well).

Here's a female depositing an egg within the pupa of a house fly:

Female Muscidifurax raptor.png

I've been reading about Musca domestica because they and their larvae seem to be on the menu at Internet bug stores, such as the American Cricket Ranch, for the feeding of various critters. I just bought 150 of them because I wanted to get something for my chameleon to hunt besides crickets...they're too easy and she must get a bit bored with them. Besides, variety is important for nutrition. One hundred and fifty was the smallest amount I could get for the low-low price of just $3.99 plus shipping. Another dealer wanted to sell me 5000 pupae which would emerge in just a couple of days for $15...what would I do with 5000 flies?! I'm thinking that 150 is over the top. So I was also wondering what it'd take to raise the suckers for myself. After reading about that for a bit, I decided that it's probably something best avoided. But when I visited this page on the house fly, I was introduced to that awesome little wasp with the cool name: Muscidifurax raptor.

Check out it's life cycle:

Muscidifurax raptor and Musca domestica's life cycles

(I borrowed that image from a page about the wasp, where it is credited still elsewhere, the Ciba-Geigy Corporation.)

The place that wanted to send me 5000 house fly pupae, Beneficial Insectary, apparently sells those little wasps to people who want rid of their flies. Remember that the next time you find yourself trying to deal with those suckers.

Posted by Jeff at 10:59 PM | Comments (7)

April 13, 2005

Man, it's cold

I generally keep my house under 70 degrees in the winter. Sometimes when it gets really really cold out, and the walls therefore radiate less heat, I'll need to use the furnace to raise the ambient air temperature above 70 to feel as warm as on normal days, but that's unusual.


I have to agree, though I don't know why, with Jan on this Day By Day comic. Lately I've been just freezing. I'll think that I must have turned my heater down obnoxiously low, or something, only to find that it's a few degrees higher than normal. Checking thermometers around the house tells me that my home is at temps that I'd ordinarily be dying of heat stroke in. Yet, IT'S WARM OUTSIDE.

I just don't get what is going on.

Posted by Jeff at 10:11 PM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2005

Life in Bolivia

This is one of the most interesting personal weblogs I've ever read:

Life in Bolivia

It's written by a young lawyer who followed his wife from the United States (Portland Oregan) to Bolivia where she's working and he's a house husband. He gives colorful descriptions of his days there which make me long for a more simple life while also making me very thankful to be living in America.

Posted by Jeff at 04:24 PM | Comments (0)

The President's iPod

The "big" news today is that someone leaked the song list of President Bush's iPod. I've found no list, yet, of what the songs actually were, and I suspect that the topic is, in the final analysis, really quite boring.

What isn't boring is what people around the world are suggesting on this BBC news report should be on his song list:

I'm a Loser, by Beck
Stephen, NY, USA

Ozzy Osbourne's "Thank God for the Bomb" would be appropriate.
Mark, Ausitn, TX

The imperial march from Star Wars
Thomas Bloxham, Birmingham

Eminem's "Criminal."
Dave, Kansas City, USA

Green Day's American Idiot.
Marianne, Harare, Zimbabwe

"Check Your Head" by Beastie Boys
Paul Serwinski, New Britain, CT, USA

I reckon he should be listening to Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On, a great song, and an apt title for him.
Buffy, Parma, Italy

How about "Let Down" by Radiohead, and a bit of "Karma Police"
Damien, London, UK

A.K.A. I.D.I.O.T. by the Hives
Andy, Richmond, Surrey

Bob Dylan's...'Hit the Road Jack'.
David Anderson, Belfast, Northern Ireland

You can beat a metal reference from the 80s. How about 'Demolition Man' by Def Leppard. Rock on, George!
Dan Oliver, Bath, UK

How about 'Glorious Fool' by John Martyn all about another old former White House resident called Ronald.
Gary R-H, Henley on Thames, UK

How about "Waiting for an alibi" by Thin Lizzy?

ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart, repeat (stars and stripes) by the Manic Street Preachers, Another Man's Cause by the Levellers
Tom Stagles, Eindhoven

Nine Inch Nails, 'the hand that feeds'.
Jo, UK

How about "Day Dreamer" that sounds about right for this Chap.
Mark Ames, London

Army Dreamers by his name-sake Kate Bush. "Shoulda been a politician but he never had a proper education. What a waste..."
Chris, London

'Beautiful People' - Marilyn Manson (Antichrist Superstar). 'The Unforgiven II' - Metallica (Reload). 'The Kids Aren't Alright' - The Offspring (Americana). And, of course 'American Idiot' - Green Day
Mark, Brighton, UK

[No you won't fool] The Children of the Revolution by T.Rex
rz, NH, US

"Bedtime for Democracy" by Dead Kennedys.
Thorfinn, Hertford, England

How about Blondie-Atomic? Or the final countdown, maybe? Or even 'It ain't over till it's over'?
Joss, Bristol, UK

Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon
Maude, USA

W should listen to "The Terror State" by Anti-Flag and "eMotive" by a Perfect Circle. And a LOT of Clash might do him some good. It's a bit too late for music to save him now, though.
Holly Henschen, Charleston, Illinois

'Deliverance' - The Best of Banjo
S Mason, London

Star Spangled Banner, Hendrix. Thirty six years on and we're questioning that all American righteousness, again.
Fabio, Rome

"Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas
Shawna Brown, Rochester, NY

Happiness is a warm gun - The Beatles
Paul Buchan, Johannesburg, South Africa

Surely it has to include 'Charmless Man' by Blur.
John Paine, Hampshire, UK

Scissor Sisters "Comfortably Numb".
Gary, Runcorn, UK

Poor Misguided Fool by Starsailor.
Jackson Taylor, Glasgow

Oil by Asian Dub Foundation.
Brian Hamburger, New Orleans, USA

He should listen to Black Eyed Peas- 'Where is the the love' to remind him of universal brotherhood, love and care.
Adeyanju Apejoye, Kano, Nigeria

"War?" from System of a Down
Dru, Newcastle

Surely "The Teletubbies' Greatest Hits"?
Stefan, Strasbourg, France

The Clash's "I'm So Bored With The USA", War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues"
Tricky, Aberystwyth

Good for him. How about some Celtic rock to get the blood pumping? And to all the sarcastic lefties, get off the computer and get some exercise, maybe you'll lose some weight and improve your mood.
Tim Seeley, Manitoba, Canada

Bang & Blame by R.E.M.
Joel Guerin, Ancaster, Canada

"United States Of Whatever" by Liam Lynch!
Warren, Cyprus

Us and Them by Pink Floyd.
Tony Peters, London

Hail to the thief by Radiohead
Pradeep, UK

Bob The Builder - Can we fix it?
Oli Else, Godalming, Surrey, UK

"Let's stay together" by the Rev. Al Green You cannot be angry with the world when you are listening to the R 'n' B master. And definitely "I am in love with the world" by Chicken Shed... (this was on the Princess Diana memorial album) - both these should calm him down.
Dodie, Toronto, Canada

Greenday, American Idiot!
Max Thompson, Hastings

American Idiot (Greenday) - How fitting.
Adam, Birmingham

Green Day - American Idiot. (He probably loves it...)
Martin, Manchester, England

'Why can't we be friends' by Smash Mouth
John, Dublin

Doors "Riders on the storm" or "The End" would be good for him and his bicycle ride.
Marko, Zagreb, Croatia

Green Day's latest album, along with U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb!
John Nolan, New York, NY - USA

I'm surprised no-one's posted "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears yet. Or "Hold On To Your Friends" by Morrissey. Or for that matter, "America Is Not the World".
Phil Beharrell, London, UK

War. What is it good for? Seems appropriate somehow.
T Campbell-Smith, Fareham, UK

War of course! What's it good for?
Robert, Edinburgh, Scotland

Give Peace A Chance - John & Yoko
Adrian, Plymouth, UK

Perhaps he might listen to Elgar's Nimrod from Enigma Variations.
Gregory, Aberystwyth

"Public Speaking for Idiots" audio book.
Peter Morgan, Cardiff, Wales

English for beginners!
Gerard, Dublin

Tony Blair's current favourite is Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Be Your Dog".
Tim, Bangkok, Thailand

Idiot Wind, by Bob Dylan. Need I say more?
Andrea Castellano, Brooklyn, USA

Megalomaniac by Incubus.
Nick Mitchell, Milwaukee, WI

The theme tune of The Muppet Show.
Simon S, Oxon

R.E.M. - The End of The World As We Know It.
Barry Murphy, Galway, Ireland

"It's the End of the World as we know it" by R.E.M.
H Kim, Seoul, Korea

The Bravery's album - not only a great album but an ironic reminder of Bush's past 'bravery'. And also Green Day's American Idiot: An album with both a political message and a perfect description of Bush!
Paul, Newcastle

Get Back - the Beatles.
Graham Carmichael, Dubai, UAE

I bet he also has an 'aide' push the buttons on his 'High Pod'. If Al Gore invented the internet, why do all the addresses begin with a 'W'?
Phil Dagnan, London, UK

"Know Your Rights", by The Clash, "Fight The Power" by Public Enemy, "Masters Of War" by Bob Dylan, and the entire "Nebraska" album by Bruce Springsteen. Oh, and The Dixie Chicks.
Noel Phelan, Dublin, Ireland

He should definitely listen to the people of America and the rest of the world on his iPod, because he sure is not doing that the rest of the time.
Daryl Northrop, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

He should definitely throw some Alice Cooper into the mix. Then he'll really get the "hard core" he's looking for, some really great music, and a Republican-supporting musician.
K, Montreal, Canada

Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven.
Lester, High Wycombe, UK

How about Monkey Man by the Specials?
Islay Reid, Montrose, Scotland

Outkast - 'B.O.B.' (Bombs Over Baghdad).
R Williams, Brighton

"Breathe in...breathe out...breath in..."
Gary Varga, Eccleshall

The Emperor In His War Room - Van der Graaf Generator.
Jeremy, Hampshire, UK

I think he should have "Where's Your Head At?" by Basement Jaxx.
Larelle Read, Luton, Beds

How about John Lennon's "Imagine"? A pretty nice choice for a president with a lot of imagination...He's tearing down borders alright.
Ognyan, Sofia, Bulgaria

That's an easy one: Edwin Starr's "War".
Adam, Rickmansworth, Herts

World Leader Pretend by REM
Martin, Warks, England

Rage Against the Machine's "Killin' in the name of" is all about him. I suggest he also listen to a little Willie Nelson, preferably "What ever happened to Peace on Earth", in order to remind himself of what his Christian beliefs are really supposed to support.
Saidhbhin, Dublin

Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair; Donovan's Universal Soldier, and John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance. That should make him fall off his bike, contributing in a modest way to making the world genuinely safe for (as opposed to from) democracy.
Deborah Hubbard, Pretoria, South Africa

Just so long as it's not the Chemical Brothers, 'Push The Button'....
Dom, London, UK

Anything from the Top Gun movie soundtrack. Duelling Banjo's. Mongoloid by Devo. War by Edwyn Star Suicide is Painless (Theme from Mash) That song by Randy Newman, 'Let's drop the big one there'll be no-one left to blame us' Hard hand to hold by Willy Mason Although possibly Mr Blair should be listening to that one.
David Coyle, Perth, Scotland

That's very trimmed down, although I tried to allow for some repetition to indicate what's being favored. It's interesting to see what BBC readers have to say, most of whom probably just found the site through Google.

I suggested "Screaming for Vengeance", 'cause he ought to be.

Tim Seeley of Manitoba, Canada, you're a good man.

Posted by Jeff at 04:04 PM | Comments (75)

My Favorite Weblog

The mayor of Portland Oregon has taken a stand against blatant gender-fascism, just as he took against racism last year:

A great big Toot o' the Hooka to Portland's Mayor Potter for his courageous stand against gender fascism by refusing to endorse the Mrs. Oregon Pageant.

In a thinly veiled attack on the Gay and Transgendered Community, the pageant has now officially restricted itself to females who were born without penises and are married to members of the Opressor Gender. The same right-wing lunatics who are destroying America with their religious idealism have apparently hijacked the annual pageant and turned it into some sort of beauty contest.

This is nothing new. Last year, the mayor cut his vacation short over the pageant's new "No Mustaches" rule, which essentially disqualified 3/4 of Portland's female population.

As we all know, the darker complected women have a stronger tendency toward visable moustaches, and this blatant racism should not be tolerated!

Read more of this entry, then bookmark the site. It's worth a visit every day.

Posted by Jeff at 03:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005

Killing Cats

I guess I'll skip the commentary and just say that I'm against this one:

Both sides bare claws in debate over shooting feral cats

Emotional debate heated up proceedings in packed meeting halls in Greenfield, Waukesha, Cedarburg and Madison, as local representatives of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress met to elect new delegates and discuss conservation and wildlife issues. The most controversial topic was Question 62, a proposal to take feral cats off the protected species list, making them eligible to be shot like possums and skunks when they become a nuisance. Currently all cats are protected under state laws that prohibit cruelty to domestic animals.

(Other stories. [Time sensitive.])

Maybe Garfield lives in Wisconsin? I s'pose that Michele, of A Small Victory, would vote the other way if that were the case.

By the way, this incident is so hot of a topic that virtually every single one of my readers has emailed me about it (i.e., no one). Some news stories really light our fires.

Posted by Jeff at 11:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

What not to do with a can of compressed air

So I'm cleaning out an air filter and, being the thrifty individual (cheapskate) that I am, I get the idea that blowing the dust out of the dirty filter will allow me to use it for a few months longer. Thus, I head for my can of Dust Off - that "compressed air" that is typically used for blowing out computers when they've been opened for the first time in two years.

Now the instructions on the Dust Off label says to "pull trigger in a series of short blasts". That's code for: if you really want something accomplished and thus you need to get a sustained release of air at high pressure for more than a couple of seconds, then this isn't the product for you. Basically, they're telling you not to expect much. I rarely use this "short blast" method, and the task at hand surely wasn't going to be accomplished in that manner.

So I press and hold the trigger of a just opened can until it grows cold, ice forms at the end of its straw, and it scarcely continues to make any wind at all. I've been there before...many times. One method of dealing with this is to run the can under hot water until it gets back to room temperature. This restores the pressure to the inside of the can, and further it allows the liquid inside (whatever it is) to achieve its boiling point when the pressure drops upon pulling the trigger (that's where the "air" comes from). But I don't think that I've ever done that using quite so full of a can as I did today.

After a few brief moments of running it under the hot water, and before I'd expected the can to be warmed back up and ready again to go, suddenly I heard a loud *POP* and I felt a "hit" to the can that actually hurt my hand. I looked over and noticed that the top was suddenly higher than it had been before:

Cans of Compressed Air

I'm feeling kind of lucky that the welded seams didn't break. It probably wouldn't have been that big of a deal, unless a lot of the liquid managed to blast out all over my skin and do damage, but it sure gave me a shock.

Compressed Air

Whether it was intended to, or not, that little fold around the top of the can acted as a bit of a pressure relief valve which increased the volume of the can a bit to decrease the pressure. Kinda cool.

I think that, from now on, when I need more pressure immediately I'll just open a new can and let the old one resume room temperature in its own sweet time.

Posted by Jeff at 09:51 AM | Comments (4)

April 09, 2005

Killing Babies

Half of infant deaths in Flanders were euthanasia
By David Rennie in Brussels
(Filed: 09/04/2005)

Nearly half the newborn babies who died in Flanders over a recent year-long period were helped to die by their doctors, a new study reported yesterday.

Paediatricians in the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium either discreetly stopped treating the babies or, in 17 cases, illegally killed them with lethal doses of painkillers.

"Socialism. Killing babies by the hordes.
And that's what they want for America?

"Satanic, sadistic. Insane, masochistic.
Self loathing and evil.
Massive upheaval.
The One will stand against the many.
And His light never goes out."

--from the comments, #176

Posted by Jeff at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005

I *LIKE* This Woman

Not only did she write what I consider to be the very best epitaph for the hopes of "the angry left" that I saw, or could even imagine, the day after the last elections...

"What did you all believe in this year? Hate? Anger? You ran your own campaign, one filled to the brim with bile and acidic spittle and you wonder why you feel so black today? You were pinning your hopes on the the wish that the rest of America harbored the same intense hatred as you and would vote with their clenched fists. Now that you are left without the hoped for victory party as an outlet for your rage, you have to direct it somewhere else. If not at the candidate, then at his voters, right? What I am seeing today makes me pity you, and it's a pity tinged with disgust and should not be mistaken for empathy."
--A Small Victory
(Click the link, read it all - it's well worth it.)

...but yesterday she presented this jewel:

"So I received an email last night asking:

How come you didn't write anything about the Pope? You write glowing obituaries for the most obscure of pop culture figures but this world figure dies and you don't say a thing?

Well, xxx, in case you haven't noticed, I'm an atheist. Do you think some guy who runs a classical music blog wrote anything when Joey Ramone died? Probably not. Get my drift?
--A Small Victory

It's so nice to see examples of highly intelligent people out there who, although they supported and voted for the "right" side of the aisle in the last election, are not "right wingers" at all - at least not in the sense that the far-leftists attempt to make the right side of the aisle out to be. People like her prove that the rest of us in the "center" are in good company (no less a person than Mark Steyn led me to her weblog through one of his columns...now that says a lot!).

ps: I don't know much about this woman, but I'm glad that she's in our corner as well: Democrat attacked by vitriolic wacko.
Posted by Jeff at 03:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2005

Before Buying a Veiled Chameleon

I was asked within a weblog comment for advice on purchasing a chameleon. This is what seems to me to be most important from the beginning. In addition to this, you should read the care sheet, then follow the links at the bottom of the care sheet to read care sheets written by others. Some of them will give advice on selecting a healthy chameleon, as well.

This was all written at a moment's notice - I'll update it soon, and probably often.

First and foremost, realize in advance that a veiled chameleon is going to cost you a lot of money - and I'm not talking about the purchase price of the chameleon itself. I'm talking about what it takes to take care of it properly.

The temptation is to want to just get the pet, then make do with what you have at first and then to slowly, over time, improve the pet's habitat. But, really - don't skimp on this. If you do, it's the lizard that'll suffer. The biggest mistake that people make is purchasing the animal and then setting up its environment. Spend the money, then spend a few days, perhaps a week, getting an environment put together before purchasing the chameleon. Here's a setup list which mirrors what I have for my chameleon. I've taken no shortcuts, and I'd expect anyone who really wants to care for their pet to take none either:

Initial setup: Using Petsmart for prices (except where indicated)
Reptarium: (29x29x60) $149
Reptarium liner: $25.99
Substrate: $5.99
Clamp lamps: (At least two.) $20.98
Basking light bulb: $7.99
Nighttime heat lamp: $6.49
36" Florescent lamp hood: (PetCo price.) $48.99
36" UVA/UVB florescent light: (PetCo price.) $36.99
Hanging pothos plants: (I have 3.) $25.00
A small tree: $20.00
Cricket Keeper: $14.99

That's to get you started, and it totals: $362.41 (without sales tax) - and without the price of the chameleon!

Next you'll want to purchase a chameleon. Expect about $90 (without tax) local retail, or about that much including shipping if you buy online.

So now, just to get started, we're up to $452.91

If you visit many websites where people feature their chameleons, you'll probably notice that NO ONE has a cage that is less than about 2.5 feet by 2.5 feet at the bottom and about 6' high. Anything less is really skimping for a chameleon. They're climbers - they need up and down space, and lots of it.

So now that you've seen the price of getting started, consider what it'll cost per year:

Crickets: (10 small per day, or 6-7 large for older lizards - $0.80/day.) $292.20
Cricket food: (For gut loading - a necessity;PetCo price) $5.98
Cricket quencher: (Calcium fortified, also necessary.) $7.47
Vitamin powder: $5.99
Calcium powder: $11.99
Basking lamps: (About 3 per year.) $23.97
Nightime heat lamps: (About 3 per year.) $19.47
36" UVA/UVB florescent lights: (About 2 per year.) $47.92
Substrate: $23.96

That comes to, per year: $438.95 - without tax; with tax, where I live: ~$512.23 - or $36.58/month.

So plan on spending around $450 just to get a proper set-up going. You may visit all kinds of online pet supply stores which advertise "complete set-ups" for much, much less - but I promise you, they're wholly inadequate and you'll feel bad keeping your pet veiled chameleon in such conditions. And you'll feel ripped off when you find yourself re-purchasing what you should've purchased in the first place: the proper size and type of set-up.

Next, plan on spending around $40/month on maintenance (food, etc. - and notice that I haven't included sales taxes anywhere).

If you're going to buy a chameleon, my advice is to print out this page and try to mimick it as best as you can - especially the size of the enclosure. And crickets alone aren't adequate food - more expensive food, most notably (for chameleons) butterworms, should be purchased and fed regularly. Good luck!

Posted by Jeff at 11:59 PM | Comments (279)

April 06, 2005

Shedding Sucks

This video (link below) was taken about a week ago.

The poor lizard. It looked so uncomfortable.

One funny thing, though, that you can't see much of in the video but you can get a glimpse of is the little bit of skin which was shedding off of the skin of its eye on its right side. As it moves its eye around, that little bit of white skin flies around like it's waving a little flag. That bugged the heck out of me - I just wanted to help the thing get the skin off. Even after a week, there's a little bit of skin still stuck to its forehead which has been there for days.

Veiled Chameleon Eats Shedding

Posted by Jeff at 12:16 AM | Comments (113)

April 05, 2005

My Computer Crashed

The shelf it was sitting on collapsed underneath it.

I just thought that was funny.

Posted by Jeff at 05:38 PM | Comments (1)

George Bush Cures Cancer

Okay, so President Bush hasn't cured cancer. But what if he did?

If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?
--Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic

Now that's hitting it right on the money, is it not? Compare:

...he has accomplished this genuinely momentous transformation [of the Middle East] in ways that virtually the entire foreign affairs clerisy--the cold-blooded Brent Scowcroft realist Republicans and almost all the Democrats--never thought possible. Or, perhaps, in ways some of them thought positively undesirable. Bush, it now seems safe to say, is one of the great surprises in modern U.S. history.... The significant fact is that Bush's obsession with the democratization of the region is working.
--Martin Peretz, editor in chief of The New Republic

Yet, you don't exactly see the people on the left singing his praises, do you?

Although the article is limited to subscribers of The New Republic, you can read quite a bit of it and with commentary at The American Future weblog.

Posted by Jeff at 04:50 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2005

Weblog Spam, Blog Spammers

Bad news for non-email spammers: Now you face arrest.

Apparently, according to CNet, a young man of 18 years of age by the name of "Anthony Greco" has been arrested after having sent one and a half million messages advertising porn and mortgages to members of MySpace.com, an online networking service. It seems, also, that young Mr. Greco had other plans as well:

In a further twist upon the scam, Greco had allegedly threatened to share his methods for spamming members of the group if MySpace.com didn't sign an exclusive marketing deal that would have legitimized the messages he was sending via the service.

Greco believed he was flying to Los Angeles to cement that agreement with MySpace President Tom Anderson.


Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hoffstadt confirmed the arrest was the first criminal case brought against an individual sending spam over IM. But he warned there may well be more to come. [My emphasis.]

So, if you're operating a weblog out there, and you're constantly having to deal with message board spammers, keep your logs, and expect things to change soon.

Posted by Jeff at 10:03 PM | Comments (4)

April 03, 2005

So how do you clean YOUR carpets?

I don't know how long I have had my Roomba. I think it's been about a year and a half. But it rocks. I've never been disappointed in it.

iRobot Rooma Robotic Vacuum

The Roomba is a combination sweeper and light vacuum (think Dustbuster on low). It just cruises around and chooses its direction based upon an algorithm which causes it to get into every nook and cranny. It's excellent over the middle of the floor, it does surprisingly well on edges, and is completely useless in corners. It won't fall down the stairs, but it will lose one wheel over a stair and get high centered if it begins to cross over the stair from a near parallel angle. I've never tried it on a shag carpet, but it works very well on wood floors and dense carpet with tightly packed threads.

Mostly I'm just posting about this today because I can't think of anything else and I want to make you envious.


Although I don't know why, they've improved it with new Roomba models.

Some groovy Roomba videos.
Posted by Jeff at 03:57 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

Terrorism in Iraq

Terrorism in Iraq seems to be completely disappearing from the news media. It used to be that any click to Google News would result in at least one of the top stories being about a suicide bomber ("homicide bomber?") somewhere in Iraq. Then a quick scroll down to the "World" section would often yeild stories of two or three separate incidents. Not anymore, though. Now you can go days or weeks without...anything. And since Google News is based upon the prevalence of a news story in the media, this tells us something.

But what?

It seems to me that it's one of the following:

1) The liberal media has given up on its over-reporting of a phenomenon which it had hoped would bring down a president - making room for one that would share its ideology. The election is over, after all.

2) The terrorism is going away. The war is being won. "Quagmire"? "Another Vietnam"? The liberal's wish just isn't coming true. Better luck next time. (Not likely.)

Or maybe it's both.

Posted by Jeff at 06:12 AM | Comments (1)

Gender Differences Online

I found this link at Respectful of Otters (linked at the right):

In the keynote speech at the American Library Association annual convention in 1994, Herring (1994:3-4) proposes that this is the case in that "women and men have different characteristic online styles" that echo the differences of culturization and integration into society: "The male style is characterized by adversiality - put-downs, strong, often contentious assertions, lengthy and/or frequent postings, self-promotion, and sarcasm"; while the female style, in contrast, is characterized by "supportiveness and attenuation" with expressions of appreciation, thanking, and community-building; as well as apologizing, expressing doubt, asking questions, and contributing ideas in the form of suggestions."

--Gender Differences in Email Communication

Check out the appendices at the bottom of the page, first. If you are logical positivist in your metaphysics, as I am, that'll help to assign appropriate meaning to the article.

Posted by Jeff at 03:29 AM | Comments (0)

Marry an Animal?

In the spirit of the entry below this one, I found this little ditty on yet another lefty weblog:

Colorado Legislator: Gay Marriage Will Lead to Interspecies Marriage

This should be an April Fool's joke, but it's not. Colorado state Representative Jim Welker of Loveland, Colorado (same neck of the woods as U.S. Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, chief proponent of the Federal Marriage Amendment that would ban gay marriage) warned his fellow legislators, with a straight face, that if we allow gay marriage today, we'll be inviting marriages between humans and animals tomorrow.

"Where do you draw the line?" Rep. Jim Welker asked. "A year ago in India, a woman married her dog."..."A guy in Boulder tried to marry his horse a couple years ago," Welker said.

These weren't even back-room comments....he made them at a press conference supporting a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

He's right to be up in arms over such an absurd proposition, obviously, because we've seen these kinds of scare tactics from the people on the right before.

One very relevant example helped defeat the "Equal Rights Amendment" from way back in the mid-70s. The opponents challenged that if the ERA were to pass, then it'd open the door for such things as "legalization of homosexual marriages", among other things.

The liberals, naturally, cried foul: Absurd!!! Obviously no one would ever support such a thing, even if the ERA does pass!

Unfortunately, this right-wing scare tactic ruled the day, in spite of the abjectly fatuous nature of the claim. "Homosexual marriages" indeed. PFFFFFTTTT! Give us a break, Republicans...it's getting old. Really, really old.

Posted by Jeff at 01:59 AM | Comments (3)

Cox and Forkum April Fools

I'm not sure what, exactly, is April foolish about yesterday's Cox and Forkum weblog entry, but its definitely different:


In addition to the missing dialogue, they also opened up the comment feature of their weblog (which I have never seen opened in the time that I've been visiting) allowing for others to share their own dialogues for the characters. It was pretty worthwhile.

In my mind, the ape - the 800 lb gorilla - represents social security. It think it's bizarre to apply anything else to it. Nevertheless, most people are hung up on the Terri Schiavo thing (a subject which will be completely forgotten in about six months, while social security is going to be an issue for...well, forever), so lots of people gave it Schiavo interpretations. However, while I consider the gorilla to refer to social security, there were much more funny interpretations. Here are my two favorites:

DEMOCRAT: I love him! And marriage is our human right!
REPUBLICAN: Well, as long as you're both not gay, it's okay with me.
GORILLA: P.E.D.A. People for the Ethical Dressing of Animals.

GORILLA'S SIGN: Democrats Hate America
ELEPHANT: I know...I TOLD him to lose the tutu.

Another rather fitting interpretation was, "Democrats are always screaming about something, Republicans are always responding with measured condescension, and there's always somebody/something in the middle that represents the truth." As an interpretation of the comic, I'm not sure that I agree with that bit about something in the middle representing the truth (actually, I'm quite certain that I'd disagree with it), but he certainly got the characters of the Democrats and the Republicans right.

Read more interpretations.
Posted by Jeff at 12:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

A Zeitgeist

Thanks to an example found at Discourse.net, I have added a Zeitgeist to this site. It's a page which tracks how people have found this site through search engines: 1) what they searched for, 2) what page they landed on, and 3) how many times those keywords were used to find the site.

I didn't much care for the zeitgeist plugin or module pre-designed by someone else to integrate with this site, so I wrote my own. Mine is so much simpler than the original that it makes me wonder if I've missed something important. I hope not. I do know that the original had one hell of an awful flaw, though: people often find my site by searching for "<applet>" and/or "<object>" - and the original zeitgeist plugin would fail to strip the "<" and ">" from the keywords. That would result in the browser attempting to load an object or applet - and it was crashing whenever I'd visit a zeitgeist page with those bracketed keywords present. That was just one thing I didn't like about it, and originally I just edited the plugin to fix it. But much more difficult was getting it to validate xhtml 1.1. I had to start over from scratch.

#3 (from the first paragraph in this post, above) is a bit of a bummer, by the way, given that the very same set of keywords may lead to several different pages (particularly if they're used in differing search engines), but the zeitgeist associates the keywords only with the last page which a searcher has landed upon for those keywords. I haven't thought through how to fix that yet. Perhaps it is too minor to worry about (the original zeitgeist makes that mistake as well).

Incidentally, my zeitgeist is a custom job and not a Movable Type plugin, nor is it a perl module. It would not be of use on other websites.

Posted by Jeff at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

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