Month: June 2007

Things you learn from Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me

I get the podcast for Wait Wait… Don’t Tell me and listen to it on my way to work, or walking around, or just assuming horizontal position and laughing out loud at the funny bits, which is most of the show.

When listening to it on the way to work or walking around I’m prone to sudden bits of laughter. But today I actually learned something. Apparently in certain parts of Britain it is customary to kiss people full on the lips as greetings.

I didn’t know that but then it got me to thinking. Many parts of what is now the UK were once Roman outposts. And the kiss on the lips thing is definitely Roman in origin.

As I study the Italian language and more about the culture I’m constantly reminded of one common theme. Living life to the fullest is what it’s all about for most Italians. I see a strong streak of that in myself and I’m only half Italian. I love life, I love life, good food, good wine, good beer. I love the sunshine, I love absorbing all I can about a subject.

Speaking of that – I like to walk. I do so pretty much everywhere in the city and notice things that I hadn’t seen before. Today I was up where North Main St merges with Benefit St right near Olney St. Sitting on the corner of the University Heights complex is a fairly large tree and I’d never before noticed the plaque at the base of the tree.

That is the Liberty Tree, planted on July 25th, 1768. Yes, RI was out there on the liberty and independence thing a little less than eight years before the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Of course it isn’t the original tree – this one was planted to commemorate it in 1968. But still, it’s pretty cool to live in the birthplace of the modern Democratic movement. Sure, Massachusetts may have been the bigger star, but some pretty damned important stuff happened in Rhode Island too. For example, there was the Burning of the Gaspee which predated the Boston Tea Party. We also gave Nathaniel Greene to the country.

Sheesh – here I was thinking about the little history lesson Wait Wait had given me, and here I am giving one.

Rate your Blog

Well, I took the bate. Mingle is a dating site but this blog test is pretty accurate. Here’s how I rated:

Online Dating

Mingle2Online Dating

Here’s the interesting part, I ran a few of the blogs that I visit through the engine and the results ranged from G to NC-17, with the heaviest sampling in the NC-17 range. The minute you mention ‘gay’ or ‘sex’ it gets an NC-17 rating it seems.

I’m happy I landed in the NC-17 category though. It means I’m not afraid to say anything which is pretty true.

So if you’re under 17, get the fuck out of here before you read something that could make your head explode.

Gettin’ Personal Again with TMI #89

1. Does the carpet match the drapes?

Indeed it does. I’m a guy and we don’t have that compulsion about changing hair color like the wind. Well, there are some guys that do that too. But I don’t.

2. Have you ever used personal information about someone to blackmail them?

Personal or criminal? I’ve used criminal when need be but personal is just too squicky.

3. What is the best way to mend a broken heart?

It assumes that one has a heart to be broken. If that is the case, just move on.

4. Have you ever had sex in a place of worship? (i.e., church, temple, mosque, etc.)

Being that I stopped actively going to church around the age of eight, I can’t say that I have. But I have always wanted to desecrate an altar in a Catholic Church.

5. If you watch video porn, do you buy it in a store, from a catalog, online, or download it? LINK!!! ;)

I’m old school, VHS baby.

Bonus (as in optional): How often, if ever, do you “fake it?”

As a male it is physically impossible for me to ever fake it. Lets put it this way, when it does happen there’s a physical manifestation that is just too hard to ignore, or fake.

Lying Liars and the Lies they Tell

There are many who say there is very little difference between Democrats and Republicans these days. Even I might be heard saying that very same thing.

But I have to ask, when’s the last time you heard of Democrats pulling shit like this?

Republicans are so craven, and so lacking in self esteem that they have to stack the deck in order to compete. For them a fair election is anathema. That they’re packing the courts with ideologues scares the crap out of me. Imagine a federal judiciary with judges in the model of Fredo Gonzalez. BTW, I don’t know what the big deal is about the name Fredo, it’s a contraction of Alfredo. I have an uncled named Alfredo and we call him Freddy.

Or they could be in the model of K-K-Karl Rove. There’s a real piece of work! If you have kids and they’re bullied in school, stop it right now else you could end up raising the next Rove.

This entire administration and congress will be known as the MOST corrupt in the history of the United States. And if we don’t wake up and do something about this, it might just get worse.

Al’Cohol – Wines I like.

The reason I separated the word Al’Cohol is because it’s originally an Arabic word. Al being the equivalent of ‘the’. Allah used be Al’Ilah, in essence THE God. Then there are the stars in the constellation of Orion, Al Nilam and Al Nitak. If I recall correctly those translate to the belt and sword stars of Orion. Yes, the early astronomers were Muslim Arabs which begs the question, what the hell happened? But you get the point, Al == The in English.

Anyhow I’ve now entered my wine experimental phase. I’ve written about it before but added a few to my repertoire. I’m becoming such a wine snob. This from a guy who also knows the difference between a pilsner, ale and stout and know that I like my brews with a bit more hops.

I found I definitely dig German Rieslings. I also found that I like Sauvignon Blanc better than Pinot Grigio.

Rieslings are sweet white wines. Sweet to the nose, on the pallet, sweet on the tongue with a nice after taste. If you think your tastes run towards sweet wines, try this one out.

The Sauvignon Blanc is interesting. Powerfully sweet aroma, yet very light and dry on the tongue and pallet. It’d go good with pork actually. Which is good because tonight I’m doing my brined pork chops on the grill.

I’ve also been thinking about making my own wines. You can pretty much make it out of anything and I’d particularly like to try making it with strawberries, cherries, or peaches. Mmmm mmmm. Toxic fruit! I used to think about brewing my own beer and ales but it’s a process that takes a long time and requires lots of labor. Fermenting fruits is more my style so I think maybe this year I might become an amateur vintner.

Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason”

I just got it at the public library. First, I do love the fact that our public library can get a hot new book in someones hands so quickly. Plus the fact I knew the book arrived because my Library Elf RSS feed told me it was there.

Anyhow, The Assault on Reason is holding my attention rather well. I just started reading it this afternoon but there’s one section on television versus reading that really hits home for me. In essence it says that television enhances the entropy of the mind.

I’ll update this as I read more of the book since I’m only on page 21 right now.


I’m now solidly into the first chapter. Why the hell isn’t this guy our President? Seriously, he may be viewed as a wonk and all but isn’t it about time we had a brainiac in the White House?

Robots as fruit pickers

This is quite stunning. Right now there are no technical obstacles to such a scenario, and there are active projects in furtherance of such goals. The company behind all this is Vision Robotics.

This brings up some interesting points.

If you hadn’t noticed, more than 50% of the assembly of a car (Click Car once you open the link and note that was 1994!) is done by robots and the only reason the whole car isn’t robot assembled is political, not technical. The activities involved are relatively simplistic and easy to replicate. Computers are another area where robotics do the ‘heavy lifting’ of actually creating the circuit boards. The only thing is that labor is so cheap in Asia that it still makes sense to have humans dropping the chips onto the board. That won’t last long.

And we’re surrounded by simple robots if you really think about it.

Tap a button on your CD drive and the tray slides out and maybe even slides back in. A printer or scanner is also a robot. In the case of the printer it moves paper through at varying speeds below a print head that also moves. Scanners just move a scanning head across the page. An automatic dishwasher is another example of robotics. And if you really want to get technical cars are robots of a sort too. Cars also promise to become more robotic with the ITS program. The last element of danger in a car is the driver and it won’t be long before the driver is removed from control.

There is one thing robots do almost universally is to displace unskilled human labor. And that’s where you run into the problems.

What happens when the entire process of growing the food, processing the food and all the transportations steps in between occur? You essentially throw away human labor and create an untouchable class of society.

And you know sure as hell that even when robotics reduce overall costs that companies will NOT pass along any saving to the end consumer. Instead it’ll drive that money straight into profit for shareholders. Talk about the new sharecropping!

Of course robot fruit pickers may all be for moot if we can’t figure out robots to replace the bees that are mysteriously disappearing.

This will continue to happen

So long as the inequities of divorce law persist, every now and then you’ll get some guy with a weapon that the police can’t really match. That was the case here. He accomplished his goal, gunning down his soon to be ex-wife and child.

But I have to give props to the police sharpshooter. I’ve fired off an AR-15 and it’s not the most accurate weapon. But he dropped the guy no problem.

Michael Moore’s Sicko is on the net

You can watch it right here. It’s a few minutes over two hours but worth watching.

You’ll hear Republicans excoriate socialized medicine but they don’t want to admit that we already have socialized programs in the U.S. As Moore points out, schools, fire and police, etc. are all social programs. And I’ll go further, so too is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

But explain to me how in Britain, even with their high taxes (Which btw are pretty close to what ours are here in the U.S. once you add it all up.) a doctor working for the National Health Service as a general practitioner can make over $200K a year, live in a nice home, drive a nice car, and be happy? Not only is he happy, the people are too. It gets better, in Britain prescriptions are a uniform $10 in U.S. dollar regardless of quantity dispenses. And people under 16 and over 60 don’t pay a dime for prescriptions. Compare that to Medicare Part-D in the United States.

Or how about in Canada, where Tommy Douglas started their national health system. Of course you’ll always hear people, mostly Republicans go on and on about the evils of nationalized health care but the reality is something far different. And in Canada the average wait for emergency care is twenty to forty-five minutes. Try that here in the U.S. with the best insurance.

The most telling moment was when one gentleman in the film stated you could use money to start wars or to help people it became immediately clear to me what the problem was in the United States. We let for-profit companies run the show. And anytime a profit motive enters the picture, concern for the people goes out the door.

Instead concern is about the almighty dollar. Yet if they continue on this course, they’ll bankrupt this country sooner than later and create paupers of us all, with the exception of that 1% holding all the wealth.

If we want to effect real change in the United States we first have to start by stripping corporations of their alleged rights. I propose amending the United States Constitution to strip corporate entities of any rights conferred by the Bill of Rights. They deserve no such protections.

Were this to happen we’d see a few things, like truth in advertising. There’s one I’m sure we’d all like to see. We’d also see an end to political lobbying. I dislike using the word lobby since it’s been tainted for so long. Let’s call it what it really is, bribery.

Another quote is that in countries like France, where the work week is thirty five hours, they get five weeks of vacation, paid maternity leave, and all sorts of other benefits the government is afraid of the PEOPLE, instead of the PEOPLE being afraid of the GOVERNMENT. Here in the U.S. we’re the latter and we shouldn’t be.

Lets stop the craziness. The question is how do we send a clear message to our ELECTED representatives? One way is massive letter writing campaigns but they can ignore that since we don’t finance their campaigns. Another way would be to sit out elections but that doesn’t sit well with me.

I always say if the news on both local and national level reported on what was really going on in the U.S. you’d have rioting in the streets. And I remember that Benjamin Franklin said “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” I also don’t recall who said that the price of liberty was the blood of patriots but they knew despots and anarchy.