Friday, June 27, 2003

Keep swimming
L.A. Times | Fish Flushers Learn Life Does Not Imitate 'Nemo'
Margie Valadez, a dispatcher for RotoRooter, is used to calls from upset customers whose watches, rings or even cell phones were accidentally flushed down the toilet. Lately, though, she's been taking calls from hysterical parents asking if plumbers can rescue fish.
"I hear kids crying in the background," she said. "But there's nothing we can do. They're gone."
...Sasha De Marino, manager of Aquarium Stock in Los Angeles, said she has received seven calls from parents whose children won't believe them about the real destination of flushed fish.
"I've had to explain to these young kids that flushing them doesn't take the fishes to where they would want to go," De Marino said.

The story goes on to explain exactly what really happens to a fish that goes down the drain. I wasn't expecting this level of detail. It ain't pretty.

But I told you all that to give you the punch line:
But Dan Mathews, vice president of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, agreed with the movie's message that "any fishbowl is just a hellish prison." He said he hoped that parents would "have the brains and the sense to tell their children fish are better left in their natural environment."

Count on the L.A. Times to be sure that this perspective isn't overlooked. After all, sales of clownfish are way up.

By the way--I loved Finding Nemo. Yes, I cried, darnit.
The Friday Five: This week's questions:
1. How are you planning to spend the summer [winter]?

Returning to some work, somewhere. I don't think the job I'm collecting disability from is still there.

2. What was your first summer job?

Bagging groceries at my father's grocery store.

3. If you could go anywhere this summer [winter], where would you go?

Beeeeeach. Clearwater FL or Jekyll Island GA will do fine.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

When I was a kid, my dad took a notion to drive all week. We went north on I-75 as far as we could go, turned east around Lake Erie and cut through Canada, re-entered the U.S. at Niagara Falls, then back south via the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-85. Camping every night. I hate camping.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

Hm. Tampa/Clearwater FL, about five years ago. We were down for a radio theater appearance at a science fiction convention, and stayed an extra day just to loaf around.
The Thursday Threesome::Rings, things and fine array::
Onesome: Rings- Hmmm.. How are you about jewelry? Do you wear any? ...none? What is your day to day complement. ...and what one particular piece do you save for special occasions?

I don't do jewelry.

Twosome: Things- Ah, and how about those 'things' about the place? You know, the ones that you cannot throw out, but don't seem to really have a place of their own... Where do they end up? The Drawer? ...or do you have a better place for those bits of randomness that just seem to show up now and again?

We throw them out, generally. If it's something we actually need to keep, it has a place where it belongs.

Threesome: and fine array- Okay, so Summer's here (except in the Land Down Under)... What is your "fine array" to clothe yourself in for the next few months? Do you still maintain? ...or do you 'go native' with vengence? Hmmmm???

My wardrobe doesn't change much seasonally. I'm just looking forward to being warm.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome: Free. Do you watch the ads for "Buy this and get this trinket free" just so you can get that second gift? ...and then wonder what to do with the first one?
No, I don't. Getting two things I don't need for the price of one is no bargain.

Twosome: Gift How the heck do you figure out how to buy gifts for family members? You know, the ones with no list who say, "Oh, whatever..."
If you don't know what to give, give money. It's always appreciated.

Money is better than gift certificates. Gift certificates force the recipient to shop at a particular store convenient for you, which might not be convenient for them -- and if you're so sure where they want to shop, how can you not know what they would like there? Plus, did you know that some GCs have expiration dates?

On the other hand, if you're giving money, you have to give more money than you would have spent on a gift.

Threesome: Wrapping Are you a wrapping maven? ..or are are you wrappingly challenged? Who does the gift wrapping around your place anyway?
If I do say so myself, I wrap pretty good. But what kind of ingrate feels less grateful for a gift if its wrapped badly?

The Friday Five is still on vacation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

The trouble with making a statement that sometimes you're not saying what you think you're saying.

Take this American Apology Shirt, for example. Perhaps you've seen it: A multi-lingual text-based shirt, bearing the legend "I'm sorry my president's an idiot. I didn't vote for him." The marketer, Joel Aufrecht, claims it's intended for international travel: There's a variant for domestic wear, missing the English version, implying that anyone likely to be offended won't be able to read any other language. (Which is absurd: I don't remember much of my high school Spanish or college French, but I remember enough to parse this.)

But then, I'm not really offended by this. Astonished, yeah. Amused, marginally--though I'll find it terribly amusing if I actually see someone wearing one. Does Mr Aufrecht actually imagine that it will be taken at face value? Is it possible that it would be?

The question this brings to mind is this: At what point does any public figure forfeit the expectation of respectful disagreement? Is it possible for someone on the left to be so screwloose that it's okay to say the equivalent of "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot"?

(Ah, Seattle. Might have known.)

Mostly I find myself jealous that I haven't thought of some pithy marketable political statement I could raise a few dollars with. There was a time, back when flag burning was in the news and Jay Leno was advertising Lay's potato chips, that I toyed with having bumper stickers made with the slogan, "Burn all you want: We'll make more." Today, of course, thanks to CafePress and services like it, it's only a moment's work to actually make it happen--but few people remember the snack commercial that would make the joke clever (if, in fact, it is clever at all).

Ah, well. My version of the Iraqi Deck of Cards is out there somewhere, waiting for me to think of it.
Adventures in Oz

CNN | Democrats pledge support for affirmative action
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," said Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

Oh, good, that's another of those supremely stupid things that every body is already on. Or, at least, the bloggers are. Glenn Reynolds thinks this remark is (or should be) a Trent Lott moment, and wonders why more people don't seem to think so. I am saddened, but not surprised.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Happy Potter's Day
Yes, there is a reference to water-skiing budgies in the first chapter.

My son is reading it now. Me, I'm going to bed.

Friday, June 20, 2003

The Friday Five: This week's questions:
1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?

Straight and shortish.

2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?

It used to be extremely blond. Now, that which remains is "dark blond" (light brown) with gray.

3. How do your normally wear your hair?

Oh my head. Combed straight back, loosely parted on the left.

4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?

My bald spot would disappear.

5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?

Not really. Men don't have "disasters", just the occasional bad haircut.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

The Thursday Threesome::Harry Potter Mania::
Onesome: Potter- Which Harry Potter character is your favourite? Why do you like him or her?

Poor Ron Weasley. One of a crowd of Weasleys and the hero's best friend. Doomed to be overlooked and ignored no matter what he does. (Interesting contrast with Harry, who spent ten of his first eleven years being hated, four years being Famous, and would now give anything to be overlooked and ignored.)

Twosome: Publication- Is there one publication that you just have to read? A paper you read daily, a magazine you read weekly or monthly? Newsletters? And do you buy it for the articles, or just to look at the pictures? ;) Whatever it is, tell us about it!

Nope. Well, I'm enjoying the current run of The Amazing Spider-Man...

Threesome: Party!- The festivities begin tomorrow night in bookstores across the US and England, (and elsewhere too, probably!) with fun and games for the kid in all of us. Do you plan to be there standing in the queue when the clock strikes midnight to pick up your copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix?

Why, thank you so much for an opportunity to plug the release party at the Perimeter Mall Barnes & Noble, where the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company will present readings from the first four books. Your correspondent will be appearing in several supporting roles, including Arthur Weasley, Nearly Headless Nick, and James Potter. My son will be Colin Creevey, and my daughter (!) is Draco Malfoy. No, really. The magic of radio.
(Well, she has the right coloring. Blonde hair, pale skin, all that. Wearing her school uniform in Slytherin colors, she does look like she could be a Malfoy. We just have to convince her that however snotty she thinks she has to be to play Draco, double it. There's no way to overdo this.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Continental drift in the blogosphere
Because I posted that snarky little comment about Bill O'Reilly, and because I linked back to the transcript of Mr O's original comment, I showed up on Technorati's inbound link list as a "fresh link" for, and got a fistful of page views out of it. I hope they weren't disappointed.

Between Technorati, Popdex and Google, the whole Blogopolis dynamic is changing. I'm sure someone with more patience than I can (possibly already has) come up with a way to "game" the system.

Or is it changing? Do these tools just quantify what was already happening? I notice that the activities they reward -- frequent posting, linking to sources -- are pretty basic, and it's no surprise that Instapundit, who was already doing these things and achieving deserved popularity thereby, remains the Blogfather of Blogdom as it currently stands.
Playing saxophone on the street corner
Andrew Sullivan can make six figures from blogging? Maybe I should play up my ongoing disability and my appalling cash flow situation...

Naah. I'm no Andrew Sullivan, in any category. I agree with Photodude on this one. There's a tip jar on the left, for the same reason I buy the occasional lottery ticket. And I figure it has about the same odds for a significant payoff. It's been used exactly once. I'm okay with that. I do this for giggles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Unrestrained speech
Naah, nothing for me to add to the public humiliation of Bill O'Reilly. Everybody, and I mean every body, is already on it.

Unfortunately, the bean counters at Fox will consider it free publicity for the show, and the irony of the situation is probably lost on Mr O'Reilly. I did find it amusing that the screed opened with an allusion to "sex lies and videotape", which (1) had nothing to do with the rest of the essay (being sparked by a true but arguably incomplete NEWSPAPER report regarding the departure of a RADIO show from the San Francisco airwaves: an error is not a lie, and there's no sign of sex and videotape in the story at all), and (2) is what passes for cutting edge currency in the world of O'Reilly, being fourteen years old. And it ended with an equally amusing assertion that there was no "Most Ridiculous Item" for that date, which is blatantly false, except that the host's own opening statement will never be considered for that honor.

Ah, well. As I said, I have nothing to add.

Say, did you hear there's a new Harry Potter book coming out? Maybe.

Friday, June 13, 2003

The Friday Five: This week's questions:
1. What's one thing you've always wanted to do, but never have?

Oh, I can't tell you that.

2. When someone asks your opinion about a new haircut/outfit/etc, are you always honest?

I try to be. That may be why so few people ask me such questions.

3. Have you ever found out something about a friend and then wished you hadn't? What happened?

Nothing. They were never found. :)
No, I have a serious answer, but it may be too serious to follow that joke. In the course of a conversation, a female friend confided in me that she had, not long previously, been raped. She was still bearing bruises and scratches from that attack. She was such a sweet girl that I wanted to apologize to her on behalf of all men, which I quickly realized would have been a stupid thing to say, so I said the only thing I could say... which was, basically, to express shock and sympathy. I still don't know what else I could have said.

4. If you could live in any fictional world (from a book/movie/game/etc.) which would it be and why?

Oh, being a member of Lazarus Long's extended family (see Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love) sounds pretty good. Wealth beyond imagining, eternal life, and constant sex: Who would turn that down?

5. What's one talent/skill you don't have but always wanted?

Well, aside from the ability to make money without working? I wish I could draw.
The Thursday Threesome::Quoth the Raven, Nevermore::
Onesome: Quoth- Do you use quotations much? all? What is your favorite quote? ...and why, pray tell?
I don't use quotations much. I'd rather not risk using them out of their proper context. I'd rather be sure that I'm using them in a way that accurately reflects their original intent. Favorite quote? I think I answered that a couple of weeks back in the Friday Five.

Twosome: the Raven- The symbol of the raven has a lot of mythology and superstition attached. How are you in this area? Do you avoid ladders with black cats perched on them on Friday the thirteenth? ...or do you just toss a pinch of salt over your shoulder and move along about your business? Hmmm?

Well, that was a bit of a stretch. No, I'm not superstitious. Except for comic effect. Knock wood.

Threesome: Nevermore- ...and the softball of the week: What is it that you've tried that is on the "Nevermore" list? ...and do people even dare to bring it up around you?

Hm. There are plenty of things I don't do, but nothing that stands out in my mind in this context.

Monday, June 09, 2003

WMDs: Do they matter?
In some contexts, no. Instapundit has more. Specifically, scroll down to the letter from Major Diggs Cleveland, who has just taken my breath away.
I say that one only needs to look into a mass grave, filled with the bones of children scattered among dolls and toys, to know that this war was necessary.

If you are not prepared to accept that, then don't bother reading the rest of the post. Nothing the Major, the Professor, or I can say is likely to persuade you.

Saturday, June 07, 2003

The Friday Five: My, what...profound questions this week.
1. How many times have you truly been in love?

Truly? Once. (There was another close call, though. *Sigh*)

2. What was/is so great about the person you love(d) the most?

I don't have the bandwidth to tell you. But read the stuff she wrote while I was in the hospital and you'll get a clue.

3. What qualities should a significant other have?

Above all, tolerance. With me, she'll need it.

4. Have you ever broken someone's heart?

I think so. My first relationship ended very badly.

5. If there was one thing you could teach people about love, what would it be?

It's worth it.

LATER: I just read some of the other answers, and I see someone else gave the same answer to question five. In fact, they said it first. I never claimed it was an original insight, just that it is the truth.

I stared at it for a while before I hit the "post" link, thinking that it needed more elaboration, perhaps some qualification. I need to justify my reputation as a writer and generally deep thinker. But no. It's one of the few Absolute Truths in Life, and anything I could add weakens it.

I repeat: It's worth it.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

The Thursday Threesome::Rice Krispies Treats::
Onesome: Rice- Okay, what's the preference at your place at dinner time, rice or potatoes? ...or something else? Hmmm?

Generally the family prefers potatoes, although I prefer rice.

Twosome: Krispies- ...and how about breakfast? If you're a cereal person, what is your favorite? ...or is there something else you'd prefer to start your day with?

Cheeri-Os. Preferably with a side of two microwave sausage links and a small bowl of chunked cantaloupe.

Threesome: Treats- Has anyone not seen "Finding Nemo"? What treat did you have to buy (or slip in) for it to be a "Theatre Experience"?

I haven't seen "Finding Nemo". And movies need popcorn.