Friday, January 20, 2006

NC-11: Heath Shuler

I mentioned some time ago that Heath Shuler (ex-Tennessee Volunteer and Washington Redskin QB and currently real estate guy) is running against the horrid Charlie Taylor for the 11th District congressional seat in NC (happens to be where my parents vote). A blogging buddy of mine sent me the link to and it certainly didn't surprise me that such a thing already existed. But after reading it, it turns out that the site is run by a Deadskins fan who has a hate on for Shuler the QB, not Shuler the potential Congressman.
One thing we want to reiterate -- this has nothing to do with politics. This is about football, and the city of Washington. If he was running for governor, we wouldn't care -- he wouldn't be coming back to DC. We dread the day we're pounding a few at the Hawk & Dove and we run into him. We'd really prefer he stays where he is.

So they hate him because he sucked as a QB for the DC team and they don't want him back in town. Sheds a much different light on things, don't it?


No, the title is not an attempt to drive traffic to my blog. I first ran across the term in a lively discussion in the comments of Blue Ridge Blog but subsequently have found a number of very different definitions for the term. In the context of Marie's blog, the discussion is around the color-enhanced, airbrushed, Photoshopped-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life shots one finds in calendars and glossy magazines (the idea being that it is not unlike Playboy-model unreal depictions of women). I don't particularly resonate with those shots (I like real life, including real women) but I don't find them dangerous like some people tend to.

What I found interesting was googling the term and finding some very different definitions for ecoporn or eco-porn. One is found in the Urban Dictionary:
A corporate advertisement that extols the company's environmental record or policies - usually by a company known to rape and pillage the environment as often as possible.

The example given is of oil company ads that extol their virtuous contribution to the environment, but I think more about those watercolor Weyerhauser ads that they've run around here for years. There also seems to be a literary form of "feminist ecoporn" that I never really found examples of but I think we can imagine what they might consist of.

My favorite definition and example though was one that is the most literal - it really is filming human sex (in the case I'm about to mention, lovemaking is quite likely the most accurate term) in eco-settings with the money raised by people paying to see it going to environmental causes. The main proponent of this seems to the folks at (oh, so incredibly NSFW) who film themselves doing the good thing in natural settings, charge people $15 for a month's access and donate everything over server/admin charges to environmental groups. Unfortunately, they've apparently had their money returned by the WWF so they've started working with smaller groups and started some projects on their own. You know what? Might not be my cupotea, but more power to 'em.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"GOP" non-profits

This is not end-of-our-democracy stuff. You might even see it as coming out and saying what we all know to be true but legally can't say. But I think it's just another example of both the arrogance and the flat-out dumbness of the present Republican Party.

As The Raw Story reported on Monday, the Republican National Committee's website listed a number of 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations as "GOP groups". I've been associated with a number of 501(c)(3)'s so it is no surprise to me that non-profits are legally able to lobby for causes but not for specific candidates or parties. As The Raw Story put it:
501(c)(3) law--referring to the provision in the Internal Revenue Code that designates organizations exempt from corporate and property taxation and makes donations tax deductible--strictly prohibits groups from endorsing candidates or political parties.

A nonprofit "may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate at all in campaign activity for or against political candidates," the IRS law reads.

At least six "GOP groups" listed and linked on the Republican National Committee website are tax-exempt nonprofits. These include the American Enterprise Institute, American Values, Coalition for Urban Renewal, Frontiers of Freedom, the Heritage Foundation and the Leadership Institute.

If any of these groups self-identified as "Republican", they'd lose their tax-exempt status. So who was the doofus at the RNC website that screwed THIS one up? It has been changed now, of course, and again - this isn't a big deal (it's more a funny than anything else). But I think it is indicative either that the people in charge are totally inept or that they're convinced that they can do anything they want 'cuz they're in charge. Maybe it's both.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


With all the crap going on before the holidays, I never got around to posting a bunch of stuff. Unfortunately one of those things was my recommendation for a gift for video gamers (a cold recommendation as I haven't played it myself) - Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse! Why play yet another game where you blast shambling, brain-eating zombies when you can BE the shambling, brain-eating zombie?!

According to the website, you can:

Convert bitter enemies into a horde of zombie allies by eating their brains.

Use your body as a weapon: explosive gut grenades, toxic zombie sputum, a severed hand that can crawl through tight spaces and posess the living, and unholy flatulence.

What more could you ask of a video game? How about this ringing endorsement from JoeMentum?

"It's just the worst kind of message to kids," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn

That's right, kiddies, cannibalism is bad. If Joe doesn't like it, it's gotta be good! MaximumPC gave it a 7 out of 10, liking the storyline and (mostly) the gameplay but taking points away for fairly low-res graphics. Being a cheap-ass adult instead of a teenager with money to burn, I usually wait until the price starts to drop on new games, so I'll check it out this summer and let you know how it is... while I eat your brain!!! Ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Into You Like a Train

By my rough count, I've read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings at least once a year every year since 1976 when Kevin Garrison loaned me his copy of Fellowship. That means at least 30 times from beginning to end. So why is it that this weekend was the first time I noticed the following in the description of the dragon-shaped finale to the fireworks at Bilbo's birthday party?
The dragon passed like an express train, turned a somersault, and burst over Bywater with a deafening explosion.
An express train? Say what? Probably a good thing that I didn't notice it ten or fiften years ago as there would have only been a handful of people that I could have discussed the oddity of that phrase with. Thank goodness for the Internets!


I'm trying it again...

I watched the first three or four episodes of "24" Day One but lost the thread of the story after missing a couple of episodes. In the seasons since then I've thought about trying it again, but didn't think I'd be able to stick with it. But with Sean Astin, Connie Britton (Spin City) and Jean Smart in the cast and the chance to watch the first four hours in a couple of days, I decided to give it a shot. As it turns out, I missed hour 3 and the first half of hour 4 this evening but I've got it on tape and I think I've got the gist of what's going on anyway, so I'm good. And hey, four hours into it and Jack hasn't tortured anybody yet!

I'm still waiting for "The Real 24" - maybe next season. I mean, the show does primarily take place in Southern California so I'm waiting for:

"24" 9:00 (Fox) - Episode 6X02 7:00-8:00 - Jack sits in traffic on the way to CTU headquarters.
"24" 9:00 (Fox) - Episode 6X07 12:00-13:00 - Jack and the CTU team try to decide where to go for lunch. After 20 minutes, they settle on Quizno's then spend 15 minutes trying to find a decent parking space. Then they all have to order "to go" so they can get back to the office in time for a 1:00 meeting.

Notes on Air Travel

I haven't done much business travel in the last three years. There was a period just prior to that (and after 9/11) when I was traveling almost every week, but it was non-stops to Philly or Baltimore, so no real travel hassles there (except for watching late one Friday night as the plane I was about to board for home in Philly was surrounded by about 10 fire vehicles and a bunch of guys in hazmat suits, but turned out there was just a report of a little smoke in the cabin - got a different plane out of it though). The trip last week though was a little more complex, involving multiple hops as well as border crossings, but luckily everything went pretty well.

Highlight: sitting at the gate at LaGuardia on the way to Ottawa, watching a young mother reading her kid How to Take Care of Your Monster by Norman "Clifford the Big Red Dog" Bridwell, which I remember quite well from Scholastic Book Club in 1970 (I was far older by that point that the target audience but it was still very cool). The kid (about 4 or 5 I think) has apparently decided to be a werewolf when he grows up.

Emotional moment: flying into LaGuardia for the first time since 9/11. I was on the west side of the plane on a beautiful winter afternoon as we flew low past the Statue of Liberty and Battery Park and up over Brooklyn. The shock of not seeing the WTC was only somewhat muted by the number of photos I've seen since then of the new skyline. I've always loved that approach, looking out over the river at the Empire State Building and the UN and banking low over the US Tennis Center and Shea Stadium before landing. JennySlash doesn't understand it, but there's something about NY that gets even me, despite having not spent more than 6 or 7 days there my entire life.

Near lowlight: My flight home took me through O'Hare on a Friday night, which is dicey at the best of times. My flight to RDU though showed only a 30 minute delay, so I found a stool at the terminal bar and sucked back a couple of Sams while watching a golf tournament on one screen and CNN inaccurately reporting the death of al-Zawahiri on another. I decided not to have a third Sam and instead wandered back over to the gate where I found that we were BACK ON SCHEDULE and were about to board! How the hell was I supposed to know that? Given the number of empty seats on the supposedly full flight, some folks didn't find out in time. Ack!

Best airport gift shop souvenir: A t-shirt at the US terminal in Ottawa -
Canadians - Unarmed Americans with Health Care
I was one of the lucky ones that got pulled for the random extra checking at security in Ottawa. I didn't mind - had plenty of time to get through and go on through customs (the US customs is in Ottawa - convenient). I apparently got pulled because I was the next one after a FEMA rep walked through. They're also still doing the shoe thing, so unless you're absolutely sure there's no metal in your shoes, better make sure you're wearing socks with no holes in the toes. I do have a system down though - shoes and jacket in the first bin, laptop in the second and briefcase along behind - always in that order (and stick your change and watch and stuff in a jacket pocket or your briefcase so you don't have to deal with yet another bin). That way when you get through, you can put your shoes on first (loafers are the way to go), grab your laptop before someone walks off with it and stuff it in the briefcase which will now have come through. And if they delay to scan your briefcase a couple of times (sometimes happens), you can at least keep an eye on the laptop. The other thing I try to do is wear a nylon belt (look for 'em at outfitters like GOP or REI) so you don't have to walk through security beltless. Okay so I'm hardly a seasoned traveler and I'm sure Curtis and others will have more and better tips than me, but these work for me.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

We Don't Have the Only Idiot-as-Leader

Nanny Blair Stikes Again on Parenting

So because of complaints of noise, harassment or people coming and going at all hours, the Brit government will now be able to lock people out of their homes (private homes too, not just council flats) and send them off to "sin bins" for three months for a little behavior modification. Clockwork Orange, anyone?

And police will get powers to seize assets worth £1,000 or more, even without a suspected criminal being convicted.

The number of the controversial Community Support Officers, who receive only three weeks training and have no power of arrest, will be expanded from 6,000 to 24,000.

Under current rules, only police and education welfare officers can round up truants, but this power will be extended to the CSOs, who have been dubbed 'plastic police'.

In addition, the worst 200 schools in the country, responsible for 13,000 truants, will be targeted. Truancy officers will set parents a target for their child's attendance.

Failure will be punished with an on-the-spot fine. Most controversial is the state's attempt to seize control of parenting. Currently, only parents of children who break the law or are served with an Asbo can be hit with a parenting order. The directives, backed by a fine or prison term, force mothers or fathers to attend behaviour classes so they can teach their child how to be a good citizen. They are backed with curfews and truancy orders.

Now Mr Blair is extending them to unruly children under ten - who cannot technically commit a crime because they are below the age of responsibility.

The tabloids of course are loving it - not surprisingly The Sun set up a hotline for people to rat on their neighbors. I expect there are a lot of people around here that would think this is all a pretty good idea for here as well. Like the people who see nothing wrong with the illegal wiretapping done by our own government, they're always convinced that they are never going to be the ones on the wrong end of this stuff. Not smart.

Going Mobile

I briefly had a post up last week about a business trip to Ottawa that I took down after a half hour or so for security reasons. In fact I left Tuesday and got back late Friday night (early Saturday morning to be accurate). I'm still not sure who thought it would be a good idea to schedule a meeting for Ottawa in January (I've been up there before in Jan/Feb and -25C is not unusual). As it happened, it was quite unseasonably warm - actually above freezing for much of the trip.

In past trips, I've always stayed at downtown hotels, despite usually having to drive out to the tech corridor for meetings. There's a lot to do within walking distance with By Ward Market, the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill all within a mile of each other (J and I have seen the changing of the guards from our hotel room at the Westin before). But this time I stayed at the Brookstreet Resort out in Kanata, which turned out to be quite a nice place - beautiful room, nice restaurant, decent gym.

I have to have my tunes with me when I travel and the MP3 player I bought a couple of months ago takes care of most of that need admirably, but I still need CDs for the rental car and I'm always afraid I'll leave one in there when checking the car back in. I don't know why it's taken me this long to think of just burning one specifically for the trip and just leaving it with the car. Just did one for this trip, starting with The Police' Driven to Tears and finishing up with The Who's Going Mobile. Hope whoever cleans out the car gets some enjoyment after it.

Anyway, it's good to be home!